Leader of the DUP Arlene Foster; a statement from the DUP this morning
The Democratic Unionist Party released a statement saying the party cannot support the current Brexit deal that is being negotiated between the UK and the European Union.
Meanwhile, earlier this morning.
Just after 1am.
RTÉ Europe Editor Tony Connelly tweeted the latest on Brexit:
Ok, here, late in the day, is what RTÉ News understands EU and UK negotiators have agreed as the revised backstop. Bear with me…I’ll break it down into Customs and Consent.
Customs: Northern Ireland is legally in the UK’s customs territory, but would it would apply the EU’s rules and procedures on tariffs.
Northern Ireland would also be aligned with the rules of the single market for industrial goods and agri-food products, meaning both regulatory and customs checks and controls on the Irish Sea for goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
However, the extent of the controls would be reduced thanks to a series of tariff exemptions.
There would be an automatic exemption for personal goods and possessions carried by those travelling back and forth between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, or, for example, if an individual was moving house.
However, there would potentially be a broader category of goods and tradable products that could be exempt from tariffs and controls if there was no risk whatsoever of such goods entering EU’s single market across the land border.
These categories of goods would be decided on in the future by the Joint Committee of EU and UK officials by consensus.
The Joint Committee was established in the original Withdrawal Agreement as a way for both sides to manage the new arrangements.
The intensity and scope of Irish Sea checks would be limited by a risk-analysis. However, the EU would, through the Joint Committee, have a veto over which kinds of goods would enjoy an exemption from tariffs and controls.
There would also be a system of rebates for goods shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland if those goods attracted an EU tariff that was higher than the UK tariff.
Consent: The mechanism essentially provides a qualified opt-out of the revised backstop arrangements via the NI Assembly.
Northern Ireland would take on the new customs and regulatory regime for four years after the end of the transition period, which is due to conclude at the end of 2020.
At that point Stormont would have to take a view as to whether or not to opt out of the new arrangements.
If Stormont voted to opt out, then there would be a two year cooling off period, during which all sides would have to find an alternative way of complying with the Good Friday Agreement and avoiding a hard border.
If at the end of the two years no alternative was found, then the Protocol would lapse, meaning Ireland would be back to a hard border scenario.
However, if the Stormont Assembly were to collapse during that period, then the default would be that the Protocol arrangements would continue to apply (ie, the revised backstop).
But there will be also be important variations on how Stormont votes for a potential exit.
If Stormont decides to use a simple majority vote, which is seen as less favourable to the DUP, then if that vote to opt out does not succeed, then Stormont would vote again four years on an opt out.
However, if Stormont decided to go for a cross-community majority vote, which is seen as more favourable to the DUP, and the vote did not pass, then Stormont would have to wait another eight years before having another opt-out vote.
Complex, convoluted, politically fraught, but does it square the circle? It’s a weighted approach that gives the DUP cover but the opt out might never take effect because if a hard border looms SInn Féin could just collapse the assembly and the default is the revised backstop.
This morning, Mr Connelly tweeted:
Senior EU official: consent issue is not currently the subject of last minute negotiations.
Senior EU official: at a certain point some [leader] will say before we approve the text we need to study it, we fully trust the Commission, but that could be a problem.
Senior EU official: People are waiting for the text, they are waiting to translate it into 23 official languages.
Senior EU official: consent is a key question. Is it the issue which remains open at the level of negotiators? That issue was discussed and there was agreement. But of course nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. But Barnier was clear that on consent there was agreement.
Senior EU official: there could be another summit before the end of October.