The EU and the U.K. have reached a new Brexit deal, and European government leaders have already given the deal their approval. Support may prove to be harder to win in the U.K. Parliament, however, as Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have announced their opposition to the deal.
Following the conclusion of the deal in Brussels, the deciding factor will be how British MPs vote. ETV news broadcast Aktuaalne kaamera took a look on Thursday night at how the vote may play out.
Should British MPs vote in favor of the deal, the steps to follow will depend on whether or not the U.K. manages to draw up the relevant legislation and amendments in time. If they do, the U.K. will exit the EU with a deal on schedule on Oct. 31, which in the current situation would be the easiest scenario.
Should the U.K. not manage to change its laws in time, the British government may ask for yet another short extension, assuming the EU is willing to grant it.
Should the MPs reject the deal, however, by law the U.K. should ask for an extension to the end of January 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, however, has said that he is not interested in an extension. Thus, the possibly of a no-deal hard Brexit on Oct. 31 cannot be ruled out.
Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the new Brexit deal ahead of the European Council meeting in Brussels attended by EU heads of government.
"We have a deal," Juncker said. "This means that we do not need any extensions anymore. This is a fair and balanced deal. I believe that it is a very good deal for both the EU and the U.K. It is a reasonable and fair result."
Northern Ireland compromise reached
According to the new deal, Northern Ireland will continue to follow the majority of European Single Market rules, but will nonetheless officially be part of British customs territory. Border controls as such will apply along the Irish Sea.
"All goods-related procedures will take place upon entry into Northern Ireland, and not on the island itself," EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said.
"I think it's a good deal for Northern Ireland, Ireland and the EU in general," Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) confirmed ahead of the European Council that Estonia is prepared to support the deal.
"Estonia is definitely prepared to support it, but this will depend very much on what happens in the U.K.'s House of Commons," Ratas said.
Bahovski: Approval may be tricky, but opposition not united
"If we look at who has expressed opposition to the deal — laborists, the Scottish National Party (SNP), Northern Irish unionists — then it seems possible that the deal may fail in the British Parliament," Diplomaatia Editor-in-Chief Erkki Bahovski told Aktuaalne kaamera. "The hope is that rebels within those parties will vote in favor of the deal, and that may give Johnson the opportunity to force the deal through after all."
Should the deal pass, supporters of a hard Brexit in the U.K. and Northern Irish unionists could be considered among the losers, Bahovski found.
"The EU, Boris Johnson and to some extent Estonia seem to be the winners," he added.
"No doubt the deal is beneficial to Ireland and Northern Ireland too, because if we look at the additional clause, it contains a lot of references to the Northern Ireland peace process," the editor-in-chief highlighted. "And that is the most important thing, that the movement of people between Northern Ireland and Ireland remains unchanged."
Bahovski doesn't see an easy path forward for Johnson as prime minister, however.
"Johnson will at least initially remain prime minister going forward, and at some point there will be special elections," he said. "His winning those elections seems increasingly unlikely, as one of his promises was that he would lead the U.K. out of the EU on Oct. 31. Now it is a matter of whether the U.K. will in fact still leave on Oct. 31, and how."
Editor: Aili Vahtla