EU ex­pects May to sign deal to­day

Brussels sources say Brexit agree­ment is ‘close’ to com­ple­tion with Ir­ish bor­der is­sues ironed out

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Peter Fos­ter, James Crisp, Gor­don Rayner and James Roth­well in Dublin

THERESA MAY was last night un­der­stood to be fi­nal­is­ing a Brexit deal with the Euro­pean Union that will un­lock talks on trade and Bri­tain’s fu­ture relationship with Europe, sources in Brussels told The Daily Tele­graph.

The Prime Min­is­ter was work­ing into the night to get fi­nal sign-offs from Belfast, Dublin and Brussels on the new text of a “di­vorce agree­ment” af­ter talks broke down on Mon­day.

Three sep­a­rate Brussels sources said last night that they were hope­ful that, bar­ring any last-minute slip-ups, Mrs May would ar­rive in Bel­gium as early as this morn­ing to fi­nalise the deal.

Mar­gari­tis Schi­nas, a spokesman for Jean-claude Juncker, con­firmed last night that the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pres­i­dent had spo­ken to both Mrs May and Leo Varad­kar, the Ir­ish prime min­is­ter, and that an “early morn­ing meet­ing [is] pos­si­ble”.

Don­ald Tusk, the Euro­pean Coun­cil pres­i­dent, an­nounced that he would make a state­ment on Brexit at 6.50am to­day, be­fore the fi­nan­cial mar­kets open, prompt­ing spec­u­la­tion that he could an­nounce a deal has been done. A pre­vi­ously un­sched­uled meet­ing of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Brexit work­ing group was ar­ranged for 7.30am to­day.

A se­nior EU diplo­matic source said that the deal was “close but not con­firmed”, while an Ir­ish of­fi­cial told Reuters that events were “mov­ing quickly” and that a deal was just “hours away”.

Mrs May was un­der­stood to be pre­par­ing to seek a fi­nal sign-off on the new text from Mr Varad­kar and Ar­lene Fos­ter, the leader of the Demo­cratic Union­ist Party who ex­er­cised a veto on the pre­vi­ous deal on Mon­day.

The con­tours of the new deal emerged three days af­ter Mrs May was forced to can­cel a pre­vi­ous agree­ment at the 11th hour in Brussels. The Tele­graph un­der­stands that a new “agreed text” was com­mu­ni­cated to Mr Tusk by Mrs May late yes­ter­day af­ter­noon. A White­hall source said a text was be­ing cir­cu­lated and was “be­ing amended all the time”.

Late last night DUP sources in Belfast said there was still “work to do to­mor­row”. How­ever, the DUP’S West­min­ster team was said to have agreed the word­ing, af­ter Nigel Dodds, the party’s West­min­ster leader, spent the day in talks with Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

Bri­tish of­fi­cials urged cau­tion, mind­ful of the sen­si­tiv­ity of an is­sue that has soured re­la­tions be­tween Lon­don and Dublin and threat­ened to cre­ate an im­passe in the ne­go­ti­a­tions. Yes­ter­day af­ter­noon EU sources told The Tele­graph the deal was “done” and that Mrs May was ex­pected to ar­rive in Brussels first thing this morn­ing in or­der to seal the deal. Bri­tish of­fi­cials de­nied any im­me­di­ate travel plans, say­ing the Prime Min­is­ter would only travel to Brussels if there was a rock-solid agree­ment.

The text was be­ing kept a se­cret af­ter leaks of the pre­vi­ous com­pro­mise lan­guage of­fer­ing to en­sure reg­u­la­tory “align­ment” be­tween North­ern Ire­land and the Repub­lic of Ire­land un­rav­elled the agree­ment. The Tele­graph un­der­stands the text will con­cen­trate on of­fer­ing ad­di­tional as­sur­ances to the DUP that will help to re­duce con­cerns that North­ern Ire­land will be forced to adopt a “spe­cial sta­tus” com­pared with the rest of the UK. Chris Grayling, the Trans­port Sec­re­tary, used the phrase “reg­u­la­tory equiv­a­lence” to de­scribe the Ir­ish bor­der deal, pro­vid­ing a clue to the word­ing that could re­place the con­tested phrase of “reg­u­la­tory align­ment”.

He told the BBC the UK could have laws that had a sim­i­lar goal and effect as EU laws, with­out be­ing forced to mir­ror them ex­actly, or be­come a rule-taker from the EU – a key de­mand of Brex­i­teers who want to pre­serve the UK’S op­tions to con­duct an in­de­pen­dent trade policy.

CHIL­DREN of EU cou­ples liv­ing in Bri­tain who are born af­ter Brexit will be guar­an­teed the same rights as their par­ents in a fresh con­ces­sion by Theresa May, ac­cord­ing to a leaked doc­u­ment seen by The Daily Tele­graph.

The chil­dren’s rights will be pro­tected even if they are born abroad, giv­ing them su­pe­rior rights to the off­spring of Bri­tons who start a fam­ily abroad with a non-eu part­ner.

How­ever, Mrs May has won a vic­tory for Bri­tish cit­i­zens cur­rently liv­ing in the EU, as they will be al­lowed to re­tain free­dom of move­ment within the bloc af­ter Brexit, some­thing Brussels had pre­vi­ously re­fused to sanc­tion.

It came as Boris John­son warned Mrs May that any deal on the Ir­ish bor­der must not in­ter­fere with “the whole of the UK tak­ing back con­trol of its bor­ders”.

As Mrs May worked into the night to put the fin­ish­ing touches to a di­vorce agree­ment that could be an­nounced as early as to­day, a leaked draft of a Euro- pean Par­lia­ment res­o­lu­tion on the Brexit talks pro­vided an in­sight into some of the things the fi­nal agree­ment is likely to contain.

It makes clear the EU will de­mand that the UK fully im­ple­ments all EU laws and court judg­ments dur­ing a tran­si­tion pe­riod, while in trade it warns that the EU will guard ag­gres­sively against any UK at­tempt to seek com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage over tax or work­ers’ rights.

On se­cu­rity and de­fence, the doc­u­ment leaves the door open for close EU-UK co­op­er­a­tion, but only if the UK ad­heres to EU pro­to­cols on se­crecy, data-shar­ing and hu­man rights.

It also rules out any role for the UK in de­ci­sion-mak­ing on EU for­eign and se­cu­rity policy.

Ac­cord­ing to the eight-page draft doc­u­ment ob­tained by The Tele­graph, Bri­tain has agreed that EU na­tion­als liv­ing in the UK af­ter Brexit will be al­lowed to bring fam­ily mem­bers and spouses into the UK if they were in a long-stand­ing relationship.

Ac­cord­ing to the text, the UK has agreed that “core fam­ily mem­bers and per­sons in a durable relationship cur­rently re­sid­ing out­side (Bri­tain) shall be pro­tected by the With­drawal Agree­ment and that this is also the case for chil­dren born in the fu­ture and out­side (Bri­tain)”.

The UK has also, ac­cord­ing to the draft, ac­cepted that EU cit­i­zens can “ex­port all ex­portable ben­e­fits” as de­fined by EU leg­is­la­tion af­ter the coun­try leaves the Euro­pean Union.

This would be a step back­wards from the agree­ment won by David Cameron to curb the rights of EU cit­i­zens to col­lect and send home child ben­e­fit pay­ments for chil­dren not liv­ing in the UK – though that agree­ment lapsed when the UK voted for Brexit in June 2016.

How­ever, in a “win” for UK ne­go­tia­tors, EU cit­i­zens who wed non-bri­tish spouses af­ter the Brexit tran­si­tion pe­riod will not be able to con­fer the ben­e­fits of the deal to them, be­cause fu­ture mar­riages do not ap­pear to be cov­ered by the guar­an­tee.

In an­other ap­par­ent com­pro­mise, Bri­tain also ap­pears to have agreed EU fam­i­lies can ap­ply for “set­tled sta­tus” on a sin­gle form, re­duc­ing the cost and pa­per­work in­volved.

The UK had sug­gested EU na­tion­als should pay £75 a head to reg­is­ter, al­though MEPS still want the process to be free.

In a con­ces­sion that pro­voked the ire of sev­eral lead­ing Tory Brex­i­teers, in­clud­ing Iain Dun­can Smith, the draft re­ports that the UK has “ac­cepted the com­pe­tence of the (Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice) in re­la­tion to the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the With­drawal Treaty”.

EU sources have clar­i­fied with The Tele­graph that this will ap­ply to the law un­der­pin­ning the rights granted to EU cit­i­zens in the UK, and en­sure that the UK Supreme Court will not be able to make rul­ings that al­ter Euro­pean Union case law.

The de­ci­sion to write the With­drawal Agree­ment directly into UK law also cre­ates a “di­rect effect”, which is to en­able EU cit­i­zens to take cases to court directly if they feel their rights un­der the agree­ment are be­ing in­fringed.

Yes­ter­day Mr John­son, the For­eign Sec­re­tary, made his po­si­tion on the Ir­ish bor­der ques­tion clear when he an­swered ques­tions from jour­nal­ists fol­low­ing a for­eign policy speech in Lon­don.

Mr John­son, in com­mon with the DUP, was un­happy with a pas­sage in a draft di­vorce agree­ment that called for “reg­u­la­tory align­ment” be­tween North­ern Ire­land and the Repub­lic of Ire­land.

The phrase de­railed talks be­tween the Prime Min­is­ter and Jean-claude Juncker, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pres­i­dent, on Mon­day be­cause it was in­ter­preted as mean­ing that ei­ther North­ern Ire­land was go­ing to leave the EU on dif­fer­ent terms to the rest of Bri­tain or the whole of the UK was head­ing for a “soft” Brexit by yok­ing it­self to Brussels.

Mr John­son said: “What­ever way we de­vise for get­ting on to the body of the [Brexit] talks, it’s got to be con­sis­tent with the whole of the United King­dom tak­ing back con­trol of our laws, of our bor­ders and of our cash.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.