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Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, has announced that he and Maroš Šefčovič, the European commission vice president, have reached an agreement in principle on all the outstanding issues relating to the Brexit withdrawal agreement. This means, primarily, the rules governing trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain that will apply from next year under the compromise plan – adopted as an alternative to the backstop – that will leave Northern Ireland in the single market.
These arrangements will apply whether or not a trade deal is negotiated. But the very fact that they have been agreed removes an areas of dispute, and this will be seen as a move that could make a trade deal more probable.
In view of these mutually agreed solutions, the UK will withdraw clauses 44, 45 and 47 of the UK internal market bill, and not introduce any similar provisions in the taxation bill.
Delighted to announce agreement in principle on all issues in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. Thank you to @MarosSefcovic and his team for their constructive and pragmatic approach.
At the Downing Street lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesman was also asked if Boris Johnson agreed with the concerns raised by the Scottish and Welsh governments (see 10.38am) aboout the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s train tour around Britain to say thank you to people who have contributed during the pandemic.
Normally a Conservative government is all too happy to speak up for the royal family, but the spokesman sidestepped the question. He said:
That is obviously a matter for the palace and I would point you towards them. But we set out clearly the tiers and the advice around the current guidelines that we are asking the public to abide by.
I’m making the general point that we have set out the regionalised tier system that is now in place and the guidance that we are asking people to abide by.