Brexit deal agreed as UK PM Boris Johnson heads to EU summit

Johnson’s future as prime minister hangs in balance as he breached COVID laws by hosting a gathering on his birthday on June 19, 2020 in Downing Street, the prime minister’s office and residence.

The UK and the European Union (EU) on Thursday (October 17) declared that they have agreed to a new Brexit deal for Britain’s withdrawal from the 28-member economic bloc within the October 31 deadline.

British prime minister Boris Johnson referred to the agreement as a “great new deal” that has been confirmed ahead of a crucial meeting of European leaders in Brussels, Belgium.

“We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control,” he tweeted, before going to Brussels for the EU summit.


The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker called the deal a “fair and balanced agreement” and recommended it for member-countries to be ratified at the EU summit.

“Where there is a will, there is a deal — we have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions,” Juncker said on Twitter.

However, the two sides still require the approval of both the UK and European parliaments, and if Johnson would have the required numbers in Parliament to get it through.

Both Johnson and Juncker have asked their respective Parliaments in the UK and EU to back the new deal which is almost similar to the agreement struck by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May.

The crucial difference between the new deal and the previous one lies in the missing controversial backstop, which hard Brexiteers had opposed as a threat of being tied to EU rules long after Brexit.

A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that the new deal would get rid of the backstop of the “insurance policy” to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, which saw Theresa May’s version of the deal defeated several times in the House of Commons.

The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) supports his Conservative Party government in the Commons. The DUP has cast doubt on its sign off and said that they still cannot support it due to concerns that Northern Ireland would be treated differently from the rest of the UK on customs and VAT after the new deal.

Also read: Britain’s Brexit talks with EU on verge of collapse

The Opposition parties are equally opposed to the deal, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saying that the deal sounded “even worse” than what was negotiated by Theresa May, and “should be rejected” by MPs.

“This sell out deal won’t bring the country together and should be rejected. The best way to get Brexit sorted is to give the people the final say in a public vote,” said Corbyn, as he called for a second referendum.

Anti-Brexit Liberal Democratic leader Jo Swinson added that her party would not support the deal as it was bad for the UK economy. “The next few days will set the direction of our country for generations, and I am more determined than ever to stop Brexit, she said.

Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon also said that her party’s MPs would vote against the deal. Anti-EU Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage also called for the deal to be rejected.

Britain is due to leave the European Union by October 31.

Talks between the UK’s Brexit team entered a crunch phase on Wednesday (October 16) to try and put out something that the leaders of the 28 EU member-countries can approve during their two-day summit.

(With inputs from agencies)