Britain, EU agree terms for Brexit transition deal

One sticking point that could unravel the agreement is the issue of the border between the Republic of Ireland, which is, and will remain a part of the European Union and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK. A weekend of intensive talks, however, has broken the deadlock - for now. However, he did say that there was more work to be done including resolving the Ireland border situation.

In a joint press statement, David Davis, the UK's Brexit secretary, and Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator announced the areas they'd agreed on.

Chris Hobson, Director of Policy at East Midlands Chamber*, said: "Along with the British Chambers of Commerce and many of our members, we have been calling for a transitional period so that we don't suffer the potential consequences of an unruly exit".

"We must have a workable and practical solution to avoid a hard border and protect north south cooperation", Barnier said.

"It remains our intention to achieve a partnership that is so close as to not require specific measures", Davis said on Monday, insisting on a solution "that is acceptable to both sides".

Longer term, the transition deal may buy people time but business still faces a "cliff edge" of uncertainty come 2021.

"Despite once claiming they held all the cards in the negotiations, in the end the Brexiters have been prepared to compromise and surrender on nearly every single point", he said.

Britain is due to leave the European Union at the end of March 2019, but Brexit talks must be concluded by this fall to leave national parliaments in the bloc time to ratify any deal.

After a weekend of intensive talks, Britain and European Union have agreed to a "large part" of the 129-page draft treaty that will lead to the "orderly withdrawal" of the UK. Brexit firebrand Nigel Farage said "Theresa the Appeaser" had "let people down again" by agreeing to European Union demands to keep free immigration during the transition.

"Agreeing transition is a critical milestone that will provide many hundreds of businesses with the confidence to put their contingency planning on hold and keep investing in the United Kingdom", she said. "And this option will allow citizens who so wish, to have immediate legal certainty on their right of residence after the transition period", said Barnier.

Barnier will this week discuss the agreement with EU foreign ministers, the European Commission and on Friday, EU heads of government, apart from UK Prime MInister Theresa May who is not invited.

All have backed Irish demands on the border, although some of Britain's nearest neighbors, with most trade to lose from Brexit, also pushed for a quick transition deal to help their own businesses.

Davis said businesses could "continue to operate and invest with confidence", as the agreement would serve "as a platform on which we build our future relationship".

  • Tracy Klein