Statement on final Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration


"EU leaders have now approved the legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement which sets out the terms of the UK's exit, and also the Political Declaration which sets out the framework for the future UK-EU relationship.

"This is another important step towards the UK’s orderly exit from the EU in March next year, and the document provides further clarity on the process of withdrawal and on the jointly agreed intent for our future relationship.

"Critically, there is the “clear intent for both parties to develop in good faith agreements that can come into force by the end of 2020  (paragraph 138) which would obviate the need for any backstop.

"Also, the opportunity to extend the implementation period beyond 31st December 2020, if needed, is clear and once again prevents the need for any backstop. 

"And beyond these two things, there is the “determination to replace the backstop solution on Northern Ireland” (paragraph 19) with alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

"There is also specific wording on the “development of an independent trade policy by the UK” (paragraph 17), and it is clear that the UK and EU “will form separate markets and distinct legal orders”. 

"And there is explicit reference to the fact that “the principle of free movement of persons between the Union and the UK will no longer apply”. (Paragraph 50). 

"Clarity on these points should reassure people that this deal is the right one for the UK, achieving a balanced and fair compromise that enables us to embark on an orderly withdrawal from the EU and to start building on commitments to create a close and ambitious relationship for the UK with our European neighbours, while also being able to forge our own trade deals with key growth markets around the world."


Damian Hinds
November 2018

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