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Deal on Irish Borders Fuel Brexit Hopes

The agreement on Northern Ireland’s borders was reached in the discussions between Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and EU commissioner Maroš Šefčovič in Brussels…reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and EU commissioner Maroš Šefčovič

The UK government has announced it will withdraw controversial clauses in the Internal Market Bill after it reached an agreement with EU on how rules in the Brexit divorce deal relating to Northern Ireland’s borders will work in practice, according to reports.

The agreement was reached in the discussions between Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and EU commissioner Maroš Šefčovič in Brussels.

According to BBC, the two sides have reached an “agreement in principle” on issues including border control posts and the supply of medicines.

“Delighted to announce agreement in principle on all issues in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. Thank you to @MarosSefcovic and his team for their constructive and pragmatic approach. I will be updating Parliament tomorrow,” Gove tweeted.

The government also said it will now pull the controversial sections in its Internal Market Bill.

“UK will withdraw clauses 44, 45 and 47 of the UK Internal Market Bill, and not introduce any similar provisions in the Taxation Bill,” said a joint statement by the co-chairs of the EU-UK Joint Committee.

The bill was a real obstruction to the ongoing post-Brexit trade talks.

The details of the agreement have not yet been published, but are expected to be rubber stamped before the end of the month, according to BBC.

It is learnt that they will apply regardless of whether both parties agree a deal to govern their trading relationship after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) meets with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in London, Britain, (Photo by Ray Tang/Xinhua/IANS)

‘Conditions not there’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had earlier said that the conditions for finalizing a trade agreement “are not there due to the remaining significant differences” between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU).

The leaders issued a joint statement after a phone call on Monday, the second in 48 hours, which ended with no major breakthrough, Xinhua news agency reported.

“As agreed on Saturday, we took stock today of the ongoing negotiations,” the two leaders said in Monday’s statement.

“We agreed that the conditions for finalizing an agreement are not there due to the remaining significant differences on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries,” the statement said.

“We asked our Chief Negotiators and their teams to prepare an overview of the remaining differences to be discussed in a physical meeting in Brussels in the coming days,” it added.

According to the BBC, Johnson is expected to travel to Brussels for the next crucial phase of the trade talks.

A previous phone call between the two leaders took place on Saturday as both sides’ chief negotiators paused negotiations over major differences on the core issues.

Also on Monday, a spokesman for the prime minister said Britain is prepared to negotiate a trade deal for as long as it takes, but rejected any extension of a Brexit transition period or further talks past this year.

“We are prepared to negotiate for as long as we have time available, if we think an agreement is still possible,” said the spokesman. On the possibility of talks continuing next year, the spokesman said: “I can rule that out.”

The trade negotiations are at a crucial stage as time is running out for both sides to secure a deal before the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.

Failure to reach a free trade agreement means bilateral trade will fall back on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules in 2021.

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