A Brexit deal has been agreed by the UK and EU, but what does it all mean?
We answer a sample of the questions we have received from readers.
If Parliament rejects the deal, does Boris Johnson have to apply for an extension? – Freddie Moore, London
Under law, yes he does.
The Benn Act, passed by MPs last month, says that Mr Johnson would be required to request a three-month Brexit delay – unless he can pass a deal, or get MPs to approve a no-deal exit by 19 October. That’s Saturday.
Parliament will be sitting that day, which is when MPs are likely to hold a vote on Mr Johnson’s new deal.
Does the UK still have to pay £39bn? – Richard Smith, Southampton
The UK will still pay a “divorce bill” under Mr Johnson’s deal.
However, because the UK has had an extended stay in the EU, the actual bill would now be about £33bn.
The new proposals are much the same as Theresa May’s deal. The main difference is on the crucial issue of the Irish border and whether the UK will leave the customs union entirely after the transition period.
How will travelling to the UK after Brexit be affected? – Homey_kitchen
The UK does not plan to introduce visas for tourists from the EU.
So, for short-term trips, things should be more or less the same.
Will holidays get more expensive after Brexit? – charltonannabel
Since the UK voted to leave the EU, the value of the pound has fallen. This is despite a small rise after the deal was announced.
This is because of all the uncertainty around what Brexit might look like.
It’s hard to predict how the value of the pound will change. One common suggestion to get the most out of your holiday money is to change half a few weeks before, and the other half a couple of days before, to hedge your bets.
Why does Jeremy Corbyn think it is worse than the original deal? – Jane Francis, Yateley
The Labour leader said the deal is worse than Mrs May’s because the proposals “risk triggering a race to the bottom on rights and protections”.
He said the deal would be “putting food safety at risk, cutting environmental standards and workers’ rights, and opening up our NHS to a takeover by US private corporations”. Mr Corbyn said the deal should be rejected.
Can a Brexit deal be legally implemented without Commons approval? – Henryadam_
No, not as the law currently stands.
The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 says that in order to make a withdrawal agreement valid, it has to be approved by Parliament.
All I hear is ‘Northern Ireland’. How does this deal impact the rest of the UK? – Simon, Waddington
You are hearing about Northern Ireland because the removal of the old backstop is probably the biggest single change. Other parts of the withdrawal agreement, such as the transition period, citizens’ rights, and the money the UK has to pay, will stay the same. The UK will still follow EU rules and regulations until the end of 2020.
But under the new deal the whole of the UK will definitely leave the EU customs union at that point. The UK will also leave the single market, but Northern Ireland will continue to follow all its regulations for agrifood and industrial goods.
There have also been changes to the political declaration which sets out plans for the long-term relationship between the UK and the EU. It says the future relationship will be based on a Free Trade Agreement, but there’s no guarantee one can be agreed by the end of 2020.
What does this deal mean for UK nationals living outside the UK? – Zoe Howard, Netherlands
Mr Johnson’s deal mainly focuses on solving the problem of the Irish border. When it comes to citizens’ rights, he has kept the agreements made by Mrs May.
UK nationals living legally in an EU country at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 will be able to stay and enjoy the same rights.
Anyone arriving after that will be subject to each country’s immigration rules. Up until the end of transition, UK nationals will still be able to move freely to the EU.
Under this deal, will there be a hard border in Ireland? – William Methven, Fermanagh
No, there would not be a hard border as long as the provisions of the deal stay in place. Under the deal there would be no customs checks or regulatory checks on goods going between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The solution – in this deal – is to effectively have the customs and regulatory border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK (you will hear people talk about “a border in the Irish Sea”).
The EU has said – in practice – this will mean all checks on goods will be done by UK officials “at points of entry” in Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Assembly would get a chance to vote on these arrangements four years after the end of the transition period (which finishes at the end of 2020 but could be extended by a year or two years).
And even if they were voted down – which is considered unlikely – there would then be a two-year cooling off period for other arrangements to be made to try to avoid a hard border.
Does this deal allow the UK to trade independently with the rest of the world? – Kelly Osadolor, Swindon
Yes, the UK would leave the EU’s customs union, through which matters of trade are negotiated for all of its members as a bloc.
That means the whole of the UK will be able to strike its own trade deals with non-EU countries as well as with the EU – although this could take some time.
How long is the deal expected to last for? – Brian Pederson, Oxford
The deal states that at the end of the transition period is in December 2020, while the rest of the UK will leave all of the EU’s institutions, Northern Ireland will have to keep to some of the EU’s rules. In some cases it will have to charge EU taxes on certain types of goods.
This situation will continue until a new agreement on the future relationship is reached, or Northern Ireland votes down the deal. Its government will have the opportunity to vote on the provisions of this deal after four years, and then at least every eight years after that.
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