An op-ed on the Joint Report published after Phase 1 of the negotiations.
The UK Government has exuded palpable relief at finally clearing the hurdles of phase one of the negotiations, covering the financial settlement, citizenship and Northern Ireland.
In keeping with the notion that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’, the UK Government have sought to talk up the progress that has been made without dwelling on the details. The published Joint Report is, in many places, opaquely worded.
This space for constructive ambiguity is important, as specific details will only emerge as further issues relating to the UK’s future relationship with the EU are tackled in the next phases of the talks.
It also allows Theresa May to keep her parliamentary majority from fragmenting, at least for the time being. Conservative MPs and their DUP allies maintain a wide spectrum of positions on Brexit.
The shape of the Phase One agreement nonetheless tells us much about the final shape of Brexit.
Three key issues are central to understanding how this Report changes the dynamic of Brexit insofar as it impacts on Northern Ireland:
- first, the categorisation of individuals,
- second, the difference between EU rights and freedoms,
- and third, the role of consent in any change to the status of Northern Ireland.