New Brexit deal agreed, says Boris Johnson

A Brexit deal has been agreed between UK and EU negotiating teams before a meeting of European leaders in Brussels.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "We've got a great new deal that takes back control."

The two sides have been working on the legal text of a deal, but it will still need the approval of both the UK and European parliaments.

The DUP has cast doubt on its success, saying they still cannot support it.

The Northern Irish party earlier released a statement saying they could not back proposals "as things stand", and – after the PM's announcement – said their statement "still stands".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the deal sounded "even worse" than what was negotiated by the PM's predecessor, Theresa May, and "should be rejected" by MPs.

But European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said it was a "fair and balanced agreement".

In a letter recommending the deal to European Council President Donald Tusk, he wrote: "It is high time to complete the withdrawal process and move on, as swiftly as possible, to the negotiation on the European Union's future partnership with the United Kingdom."

Both he and Mr Johnson have urged their respective parliaments to back the deal.

No 10 sources have told the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg that Mr Johnson will later ask EU leaders to reject requests for an extension to the Brexit deadline of 31 October.

MPs passed a law in September that requires the PM to request an extension on 19 October if Parliament has not agreed a deal or backed leaving without a deal by that date.

Skip Twitter post by @bbclaurak

No 10 source says Johnson will ask leaders to rule out a further delay – hes expected to ask them to make clear its the new deal or no deal but no delays he will tell EU leaders

— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) October 17, 2019

End of Twitter post by @bbclaurak

Mr Johnson's proposals for a new Brexit deal hinged on getting rid of the controversial backstop – the solution negotiated between Theresa May and the EU to solve issues around the Irish border after the UK leaves.

By removing it, he hoped to secure the support of Brexiteers in his own party and the DUP – which could hold the key to getting the numbers for a successful vote in the Commons.

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the new deal rests on four main elements:

  • That Northern Ireland will remain aligned to a limited set of EU rules, notably related to goods
  • That Northern Ireland will remain in the UK's customs territory, but will "remain an entry point" into the EU's single market
  • That there is an agreement to maintain the integrity of the single market and satisfy the UK's legitimate wishes over VAT
  • That Northern Ireland representatives will be able to decide whether to continue applying union rules in Northern Ireland or not every four years

Mr Barnier told a press conference in Brussels that the final point – allowing for votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly – was "a cornerstone of our newly agreed approach".

The decision would be based on a simple majority, rather than requiring a majority of both unionists and nationalists to support the rules in order for them to pass.

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