Theresa May’s new Brexit deal: point-by-point analysis

The prime minister has made a 10-point offer to MPs.

Here are the pledges she made


1. Alternative arrangements

What is it? A pledge to seek another way to solve the Northern Irish backstop conundrum by finding different border plans, most likely involving technology, before the backstop deadline of December 2020.

Who will like it? It is aimed at Tory Brexiters and the Democratic Unionist party, but the pledge is not new and too woolly to be worth much.

2. Keeping Northern Ireland aligned

What is it? A promise that if the backstop does come into force, Northern Ireland will stay aligned with the rest of the UK on regulations and customs rather than be separated by a border in the Irish Sea.

Who will like it? See point one. This is aimed at the same people, and they will be similarly underwhelmed.

3. MPs’ approval

What is it? It says “negotiating objectives and final treaties” must be approved by MPs.

Who will like it? In theory, a broad range of MPs will be encouraged by this guarantee of their role. In reality, it makes little difference.

4. Workers’ rights

What is it? A promised new bill guaranteeing that workers’ rights in the UK will not lag behind those in the EU.

Who will like it? Labour MPs in leave seats, although this has already been promised several times and is thus factored in.

5. Environmental protection

What is it? Similar to the above point, a guarantee that standards will not dip below EU ones, with a new independent watchdog to monitor this.

Who will like it? Mainly Labour MPs and green-minded Tories, though again, apart from the promised watchdog, this is nothing new.

6. Frictionless trade

What is it? A promise to seek “as close to frictionless trade in goods with the EU as possible while outside the single market and ending free movement”.

Who will like it? This is essentially a restatement of the blindingly obvious implied by May’s longstanding commitments, so it’s hard to see how it will impress anyone.

7. Just-in time supply chains

What is it? A pledge to match EU rules for goods and agrifood products that might otherwise face border checks, thus avoiding excess delays for businesses.

Who will like it? As with six, it’s not so much that anyone will object to this as whether it can be delivered.

8. A ‘customs compromise’

What is it? MPs will be allowed to decide on post-Brexit customs arrangements – but from a choice of a temporary customs unions or May’s existing plan for a “customs arrangement”.

Who will like it? Potentially, no one. Some Tories will dislike the prospect of even a temporary customs union; Labour MPs want a permanent one, which is not on offer.

9. Second referendum

What is it? A guarantee of a Commons vote on whether the final deal should be subject to a confirmatory referendum.

Who will like it? Again, possibly not very many people. Opponents of a second referendum will dislike the concession; those who back the idea want a guarantee of a new public vote.

10. Changes to political declaration

What is it? A “legal duty” to secure the necessary changes to the political declaration added to the deal with the EU to reflect the changes.

Who will like it? This also seems like a completely obvious thing to do, raising the possibility it was mainly added to the list to round it up to 10.

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