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Friday, October 18, 2019

How Johnson's Brexit deal is worse for the UK than May's

The Independent has taken a look at the deal which will be put before MPs tomorrow and have concluded that Boris Johnson has managed to negotiate a package that will lead to a harder Brexit than under the terms of Theresa May's rejected agreement, with less alignment between the UK and the EU and more barriers to trade.

They say that the agreement struck by the EU and UK on Thursday risks weakening workers' rights and environmental protections, while IPPR think-tank researchers have also warned that the deal could lead to a "decade of deregulation" and would leave the NHS "on the table" during discussions with the US over a trade deal:

The IPPR said that Mr Johnson's deal, unlike Ms May's, would not see the UK enter into a customs union with the EU if no trade deal can be agreed as a way of keeping the Northern Irish border open.

This means that there would likely be new barriers imposed on UK-EU trade in the event that no future trade deal is agreed. New customs and regulatory checks would also be needed on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK - a fact that appears to have cost Mr Johnson the DUP's support for his deal.

The new backstop plan only applies to Northern Ireland, whereas Ms May's would have applied to the whole UK. Because of this, the rest of the UK would operate on the same terms as in a no-deal scenario if thebackstop comes into effect. While Northern Ireland would not impose tariffs on goods travelling to and from the EU, Great Britain would need to.

Mr Johnson has also removed the so-called "level playing field" protections from the Withdrawal Agreement. These include workers' rights and environmental protections and are designed to ensure fair competition between EU states.

While the Political Declaration that accompanies the deal says standards should be maintained "at the current high levels", this document is not legally binding - a key difference that is likely to fuel concerns among some Labour MPs who were mulling backing the deal. The IPPR said there was now "less certainty" that these protections would be maintained.

Why there is not much outrage about the detail of this deal is difficult to understand. We must not allow relief that this whole Brexit sage is coming to an end to blind us to the consequences. The best deal is still the one we currently have.
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