Britain, EU reach transition deal

Sophie Lionnet

Sterling pushed to its best level against the euro since February 8, rising as much as 0.6 per cent to 87.55 pence per euro, as talk of a agreement filtered out of a meeting between Britain's Brexit minister, David Davis, and European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday.

Earlier today, EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier told media with Brexit Secretary David Davis that none of this is legally binding until a whole treaty is ratified before Brexit a year from now.

Theresa May has come in for criticism over a transition deal struck with Brussels after conceding a series of her high-profile Brexit demands and agreeing to the "backstop" plan of keeping Northern Ireland under European Union law to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

Chuka Umunna MP, leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign, said: "Despite once claiming they held all the cards in the negotiations, in the end the Brexiteers have been prepared to compromise and surrender on nearly every single point".

The EU and Ireland had insisted, in turn, that the "back stop" option was simply the translation of an agreement struck in a joint report between the United Kingdom and the European commission in December.

But James Stewart, Head of Brexit at KPMG said there is no legal certainty to key issues such as passporting, highlighting that the transition agreement has been just that, agreed, but not yet signed.

Shelagh's comprehensive run down of Brexit transition deal terms.

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The issue will be on European Union leaders' agenda on Friday morning, and one question will be whether they think that enough progress has been made on Ireland.

A "status quo" transition deal is to be announced at this week's European Council, helping lift cloud of uncertainty for firms on both sides, negotiators confirm.

"This agreement could have been signed months ago, but ministers wasted time fighting among themselves, holding out on negotiating objectives that they have failed to achieve and pursuing their reckless red lines", he added.

Normally, this kind of a deal would risk provoking an outcry from hardline Brexit supporters in the UK The crucial difference is that the European Union has given May permission to pursue the dream of numerous keenest Brexit supporters: to strike new free-trade deals with other countries around the world. Legal certainty is what counts."So until we have legal certainty, our clients will continue to take action to prepare themselves for a "no-deal" scenario", Stewart said".

However, "the transitional period will only come after everything is agreed", said Barnier. "It reduces the risk of a "no deal" outcome and provides negotiators with more time to reach a final deal that keeps future divergence to an absolute minimum", chief executive of Ibec Danny McCoy said.

Therefore, it is hard to see how this issue has been significantly advanced from the EU-UK Joint Report from December 2017.

Mr Powell the Government's proposal of enjoying "the benefits of the single market in the areas we choose without taking on the obligations it requires" is at the centre of the problem.

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