Belfast Telegraph

New Brexit deal explained: What it says on Northern Ireland

The new Brexit deal sees Northern Ireland legally in the UK customs territory while applying the EU's rules and procedures on tariffs
The new Brexit deal sees Northern Ireland legally in the UK customs territory while applying the EU's rules and procedures on tariffs

A deal has been done on Brexit which could allow the UK to leave the EU at the end of the month.

However, the agreement still requires parliamentary consent and Labour, SNP and the DUP have indicated they will not be supporting it.

The revised protocol on Northern Ireland replacing the backstop contains four key elements, two of which are on regulations and customs:

Regulations

Northern Ireland will remain aligned with Single Market regulations on goods. Checks and procedures on such goods will take place at ports and airports in Northern Ireland and not on the border. The UK authorities will therefore assume responsibility for applying the EU rules in Northern Ireland.

Custom duties

Northern Ireland will remain a part of the UK's customs territory, so it will be included in any future trade deals struck by the Government after Brexit. However, the region will also remain an entry point into the EU's customs zone. UK authorities will apply UK tariffs to products entering Northern Ireland as long as they are not destined for onward transportation across the border. For goods at risk of entering the single market, the UK will collect EU tariffs on behalf of the bloc.

VAT

EU rules on Value Added Tax and excise duties will apply in Northern Ireland, with the UK responsible for their collection. However, revenues derived will be retained by the UK. The UK will also be able to apply VAT exemptions and reduced rates in Northern Ireland that are applied in Ireland.

Consent

Stormont Assembly members will vote whether to continue to apply the arrangements after an initial four-year period following them coming into effect at the start of 2021.

Significantly, that vote will be conducted on a simple majority head count at Stormont and will not require the support of a majority of unionists and a majority of nationalists under the contentious "petition of concern" mechanism. This means the DUP will not have the chance to exercise a veto.

If the vote is carried, the arrangements will be extended for another four years.

However, if it transpires that a majority of unionists and a majority of nationalists do ultimately vote in favour of the move, then the extension period will be for eight years.

If members vote to come out of the EU arrangements there would be a two-year cooling off period before that happened.

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