It has taken longer than expected. It is a gigantic fudge. Yet Brexit moved closer today after the UK Prime Minister Theresa May travelled during the night to tango in Brussels with Jean-Claude Juncker. Sufficient progress has been made to move to trade talks in January.
Easy to forget that today’s announcement includes not only Ireland, which has been across the news all week since the Democratic Unionist of Ulster rejected Monday’s text, but also money and citizens’ rights. Money was the big topic before Ireland, and citizens’ rights before that. This text gives confidence both to EU citizens in the UK, of which there are many more than UK citizens living in the entire EU. Both groups have clear protection of existing rights until and beyond Brexit day itself in March 2019.
This document itself is the key to trade talks, but does not represent a final settlement. These are the three principles (Ireland, money, citizens’ rights) deemed most critical by the EU Commission. They do not represent the three priorities of the UK government, which can succinctly be described as: trade, trade and more trade but without free movement of undesirables.
As with all of these things, virtually nobody will read the sixteen page ‘joint report’ issued this morning. You would be massively ahead of 99.99% of the population of the EU were you to take ten minutes to glance at it this morning. Here is the cover:-