As Boris Johnson has rightly said, we are coming out of the EU on October 31, come what may. MPs promised to respect the result of the referendum. More people voted to leave than have ever voted for any political party in any general election. Parliament has voted to trigger Article 50. We must get Brexit done and leave the EU on 31 October.
We also want to leave with a deal. That’s why the Prime Minister has met with European leaders to clearly outline a new Brexit deal that should meet the needs of both the UK and the EU. So we have proposed a clear deal to the European Union that protects Northern Ireland, abolishes the backstop, and most importantly of all, gets Brexit done.
The five principles of our Brexit Deal
Any deal that we sign with the EU must respect the UK’s vote to leave. It also must respect the EU’s Single Market and the integrity of the United Kingdom. It must protect the Good Friday Agreement and ensure there is democratic consent for any special arrangements in Northern Ireland.
Our proposal is based on this fundamental compromise and understanding. As such, our proposal is based on five key principles:
- The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement must be respected. It provides, and must remain, the fundamental basis for governance in Northern Ireland.
- UK-Ireland cooperation must continue. There must be no checks at or near the Northern Ireland border. There must be a special arrangement for Northern Ireland to provide flexibility for all parties.
- There must be an all-island regulatory zone in Ireland covering certain goods to ensure the integrity of the Single Market.
- The zone must depend on the democratic consent of those affected – the people of Northern Ireland through the Assembly and Executive. No international deal can be signed without a clear democratic path for people to change how they are governed.
- To maintain the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland must remain part of the UK customs territory. The UK will not be part of a customs union with the EU, but there will be sensible cooperation on customs between the UK and EU to avoid checks at the border.
Our Brexit deal means we’ll leave the EU amicably
Our new deal will enable Britain to leave the EU in a friendly way.
Unlike the previous deal, our new deal means we will take back control of our laws and our borders. We cannot be trapped under European law as we were in the previous deal.
There will be special arrangements to help make sure that United Kingdom – Republic of Ireland cooperation will continue. It will also uphold and maintain the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and ensure democratic consent for future arrangements.
This deal also respects the fundamental integrity of the EU Single Market.
So if we can get Brexit done and the EU agrees to our proposal, we can leave the EU on the friendliest terms.
A good deal for Northern Ireland
There must be no checks at or near the Northern Ireland border. The Prime Minister has been clear on this issue from the start. The vote to leave the European Union was about taking back control of our country, our laws and our borders, and the backstop would undermine that. We cannot be trapped under European law, as we were in the last deal.
Our Brexit deal offer would ensure the integrity of the EU’s Single Market, and there will be an all-island regulatory zone for certain goods.
Under these new proposals, Northern Ireland will be part of the UK customs territory - not the EU’s Customs Union. There will be no need for checks at the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Indeed, we have already given an absolute guarantee that the UK government will never conduct checks at the border. We urge the EU to commit to the same.
A fair and reasonable offer
This government's objective has always been to leave the EU. Our deal is a fair and reasonable offer. We hope very much that our friends in Europe are open to discussing this further, because if we fail to agree on a deal, then the alternative is no deal.
We have gone back to the EU with an offer to resolve the exact nature of future customs checks of future customs checks, with the hope that the EU will meet us in the middle and come to a sensible agreement.
We are ready for no deal
We need a new deal, or no deal -- but no more delays.
If the EU wants to make a deal with us, this is the final opportunity to do so. The alternative is a no deal Brexit. And it’s not an outcome we want, but no deal is an outcome we’re ready for.
If the EU maintains the position that in effect Northern Ireland is never allowed to leave the Customs Union, then it is impossible to negotiate any deal – in which case there will be checks according to the Commission’s own logic. This will be seen by everybody as a crazy policy. We have offered a compromise to avoid this situation.
If the EU ends negotiations by rejecting this last chance for a fair and reasonable offer, then the Government will focus on preparing to leave on 31 October. The government will not negotiate a delay at the EU Council on 17-18 October. Government policy is to oppose any further delay, of which would be extremely damaging for democratic politics and the economy.
Let’s get Brexit done by October 31st
Our proposals should now provide the basis for rapid negotiations towards a solution in the time that remains. We have shown great flexibility in the interest of reaching an accommodating compromise with our friends in Europe and achieving a conclusion.
We hope that we can summon the collective will to come to an agreement in the national interest, get Brexit done, and move on to our domestic priorities: investing in the NHS, schools and the police.