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PM Theresa May under fire over Brexit transition deal

20 March 2018

Brexit Secretary David Davis said it remained the UK's intention to achieve a partnership that was so close it did not need Northern Ireland-specific measures and pledged to engage in detail on all scenarios set out in December's Joint Report between the two sides.

The transitional period is set to last from 29 March, 2019 to December 2020, and is meant to smooth the path to a future permanent relationship.

EU27 citizens arrive in Britain during transitional period will have same rights with citizens arriving before the Brexit, said the deal.

British Prime Minister Theresa May sent a notification letter to the European Union in late March last year, triggering a two-year countdown to Britain's withdrawal from the bloc after more than 44 years of membership.

However, the hard work is far from over.

But major questions are still up in the air after months of negotiations, most prominently how to handle the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. The draft agreement is set to be considered by European Union leaders later this week.

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Mr Coveney will meet EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels today. Britain has been keen to get the transition part resolved by the time European Union leaders meet in Brussels on March 22- 23 in a bid to give certainty to businesses anxious by the lack of firm plans for economic ties after Brexit.

The bloc says May has already agreed to it in principle last December, despite expressing outrage more recently as the bloc translated the earlier deal into "operational detail" that added up to having Northern Ireland de facto stay in the bloc's customs union.

Critics raised fears that a lack of a solution to the Irish border issue could still scupper the whole deal. Barnier said that the period would be "of a limited duration", ending on December 31, 2020.

He ruled out any consideration of Norway-Sweden or US-Canada border models but said the Government would "enthusiastically" support efforts for an EU-UK trade deal that is "comprehensive enough" to avoid a hard border.

The idea was also deemed "unacceptable" by the pro-British party in Northern Ireland that props up her government.

Some issues remained to be settled, including the thorny question of the Irish border and the governance of the eventual withdrawal agreement.

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Even though it is not legally binding, the transition agreement is seen as important for May's government, which has been eager to offer assurances to businesses to help mitigate uncertainty over Brexit.

But according to the agreement, the negotiators agreed to what has been termed a "backstop" solution for the border.

"We agree today that the backstop solution must form part of the legal text of the withdrawal agreement", he told reporters. This year, Prime Minister Theresa May insisted that the rights of those newcomers would be "different".

The EU and Ireland had insisted, in response, that the "backstop" option was simply the translation of an agreement struck in a joint report between the United Kingdom and the European Commission in December.

The agreement must be approved by EU leaders including taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a European Council summit on Thursday and Friday this week.

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PM Theresa May under fire over Brexit transition deal