British Prime Minister Theresa May and Eu chief Claude Juncker have announced a “breakthrough” deal for Brexit that will allow talks to move on to the next phase.

The agreement will include a “divorce bill” of between £35bn and £39bn and a commitment to avoid a hard border in Ireland – an issue which had caused a stumbling block in recent discussions.

The key to today’s breakthrough was cited as the addition of a single paragraph in the 7,200-word joint report which replaced the text “regulatory alignment” with “no new regulatory barriers”.

Paragraph 48 reads: “In the absence of agreed solutions, as set out in the previous paragraph, the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unless, consistent with the 1998 Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland.”

The European parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said MEPs were now ready to support the next phase of talks and was welcioming of the UK’s committment to EU nationals living in the UK.

“Our recommendation to the European council is now to go to phase two of the negotiations and that will be an important statement by the European parliament in the resolution next week,” Verhofstadt said.


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