Brexit: What is the deal MPs are voting on?" width="976" height="549">
The withdrawal agreement is 585 pages long, while the political declaration is just 26 pages
MPs will debate and vote - for a third time - on Theresa May's Brexit deal. If it passes, 22 May 2019 will become the UK's new scheduled leaving date.But this time there is a key difference: MPs will only vote on the withdrawal agreement and not the political declaration. Previously, both of these were voted on and rejected. So, what are they and why have they been split up for this voteWithdrawal agreement
This is the deal the UK government negotiated with the European Union, over 18 months, and it sets out the terms of the UK's departure from the EU.First published in November, it is almost 600 pages long and some of the key areas it covers are:
The transitionUnder the withdrawal agreement, the UK would enter into a 21-month transition period with the EU after Brexit. During this time the UK would continue to follow EU rules and remain in the single market and customs union to allow frictionless trade to continue. The UK would also lose membership of EU institutions. The transition period could be extended, but only for a period of one or two years. MoneyThis is known as "the divorce bill" - the amount of money the UK would need to pay the EU to settle its obligations. Although no figure appears in the document, it is expected that the UK would pay at least ?39bn over a number of years.The Irish backstopThe most controversial part of the withdrawal agreement is the Irish backstop, which has proved to be the main reason it cannot command a majority in Parliament.">
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During the transition period, UK citizens in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK, would retain their residency and welfare rights after Brexit.The withdrawal agreement also allows citizens who take up residency in another EU country during the transition period (including the UK, of course) to be allowed to stay in that country after the transition.
Brexit withdrawal agreement: what it all means?
Political declaration
The political declaration - also published in November - is all about the future relationship between the UK and the EU, after Brexit.This document is far shorter (just 26 pages) and, unlike the withdrawal agreement, it is not legally binding. Some of the keys areas it covers are:TradeThe document calls on the trading relationship to be "as close as possible" and says there would be an "ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced" economic partnership. But it does not a set out what the final outcome for UK-EU trade will look like.CustomsThe political declaration refers to an "ambitious customs arrangement". The concern, from some, is that this could turn into a permanent arrangement that could prevent the UK from pursuing its own independent trade policy. The government dismisses this concern, and argues that there is nothing wrong in wanting ambitious customs arrangements in the future.Irish borderTechnology and other alterative arrangements would be considered in order to keep the Irish border open with no physical infrastructure (eg border posts). However, presently, there is no border which the EU shares with a non-EU country that is entirely open and frictionless.
Can technology solve the Irish border problem?
Freedom of movementThe UK, according to the document, would take back control of its borders and free movement of EU citizens to the UK (and UK citizens to the EU) would come to an end.The document says both sides want to preserve visa-free travel for short-term visits (don't worry about your holidays) but it suggests by implication that visas could be introduced for longer stays.
Brexit: what's in the political declaration?
So, why the split?
One of the reasons for the split is down to the Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow. He ruled that the government could not carry on bringing back the same vote on Theresa May's deal.Mr Bercow stated that any motion must be "substantially different" to the previous ones - so by splitting it, it gets past this requirement.Also, the EU offered a Brexit delay to 22 May. This extension was conditional on the withdrawal agreement being passed - it doesn't mention the political declaration. Therefore the government believes it has a better chance of winning the vote if the political declaration is left out.But UK law makes it clear that both the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration require a vote in Parliament.The EU has indicated that it would be open to revising the political declaration, for example if the UK decided to remain in a customs union and/or the single market after the transition period.But the EU would be unwilling to negotiate a change to the political declaration if it fundamentally contradicted the withdrawal agreement, says Georgina Wright from the Institute for Government.Brexit vote: What are MPs doing on Friday?
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