Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigns over draft Withdrawal Agreement

The Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, yesterday told the Irish Parliament that he believes that the Good Friday Agreement “is not negatively impacted” by the draft of the Withdrawal Agreement. He also suggested that the agreement should be put to a vote of the Parliament in Dublin. He acknowledged that it was “quite a difficult time” for the Unionist community in Northern Ireland, adding that Unionists “may be feeling vulnerable, isolated and quite worried about what may be agreed.” Speaking after the UK cabinet agreed the text, Varadkar stated that the backstop arrangement to prevent a hard Irish border, which creates a UK-EU customs union and sees Northern Ireland subject to EU customs and regulatory rules, would remain “unless and until” a better solution is agreed. He added that the “trading arrangements envisaged in the text…represent a genuine economic opportunity for Northern Ireland.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic Unionist Party’s Brexit spokesman, Sammy Wilson, has likened the Brexit deal to a “punishment beating” administered to the UK for voting to leave the EU. Wilson said he believed that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, “couldn’t survive losing a vote in the House of Commons.”

Elsewhere, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has said that the Brexit deal could mean “the worst of all possible worlds for Scotland.” Referring to the backstop proposals, Sturgeon said that Scotland could be left “competing for investment and jobs with Northern Ireland, which would effectively be staying in the single market.”

Separately, Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois said, “I’m hoping for a sense of responsibility now” from the UK, adding that it will be “a great challenge” and “the situation is very, very precarious.” He added, “This is such an important historic moment for the welfare of the British, but also our welfare, our 16.000 SMEs and jobs related to them.”

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