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Technical update to the Withdrawal Agreement 12 April 2019

An exchange of letters between the EU Commission and the UK setting out and confirming technical updates to the Withdrawal Agreement reflecting the extension of Article 50.

(…and you thought that the EU was not going to change the Withdrawal Agreement !!)


Also included is an updated copy of the Withdrawal Agreement reflecting these updates.

Letter from the European Union to the UK concerning the Withdrawal Agreement

(Local copy pdf)

Letter from the UK to the European Union concerning the Withdrawal Agreement

(Local copy pdf)

Updated Withdrawal Agreement including Article 50 extension

(Local copy pdf)

An Extension to the Extension (Art. 50)

Theresa May has written to Donald Tusk requesting a further extension to the Article 50 period.


Prime Minister’s letter to President Tusk: 5 April 2019 (pdf)

Some key points:

An extension to 30 June 2019 with an option to terminate early

and in terms of the forthcoming elections for the EU Parliament…

The Government is therefore undertaking the lawful and responsible preparations for this contingency including by making the Order that sets the date of the poll.

Customs Union – What’s it all about ?

A Customs Union is a trade agreement between two or more countries where the members agree to apply the same import tariffs on goods entering into the area covered by that union. No tariffs are applied to goods and services moving within that area.

The EU Customs Union applies to member states only and will not apply to the UK when no longer members of the EU. It is managed by the EU Commission which also sets the common external tariffs.

The EU Single Market is a broader agreement and covers the free movement of goods, services, capital and people within EU member states.

A Free Trade area differs from a Customs Union and allows members to trade freely with each other but members are still able to set their own tariffs on goods from the rest of the world.

The Customs Union between Turkey and the EU was implemented in 1995 and the tariffs charged on goods coming from countries outside the customs union are set by the EU Commission and Turkey must change its tariffs accordingly.

Further analysis about the EU-Turkey Customs Union can be found in documents published by the World Bank:

Evaluation of the EU-TURKEY Customs Union (2014)

The Turkey-EU Customs Union at 20: Time for a Facelift (2015)

and interesting articles on the EU Customs Union are available from The Institute for Government

Leaving the EU Customs Union: what is involved?

Five things to know about a customs union

Has a proposed Customs Union arrangement between the EU and UK already been discussed as part of the Withdrawal Agreement and is it possible that this become the basis of a future Customs Union between the UK and the EU ? Around 200 pages in the agreement define in great detail the obligations of the UK in respect of the “single customs territory”

Included in the Withdrawal Agreement, as part of the Protocol on Northern Ireland, Article 6 states:

Until the future relationship becomes applicable, a single customs territory between the Union and the United Kingdom shall be established (“the single customs territory”). Accordingly, Northern Ireland is in the same customs territory as Great Britain


Annexes 1 to 10 shall form an integral part of this Protocol.

These annexes define the obligations demanded by the EU of the UK in respect of the single customs territory which, more than likely, would morph into a future Customs Union with the EU.

I hope our illustrious Parliamentarians have read and considered this part of the Withdrawal Agreement and understand its possible implications when considering a future Customs Union with the EU.

Is Brexit looking LESS likely ?

After a marathon cabinet meeting on 2 April following the failure of the latest round of indicative votes by MPs the previous day, the Prime Minister emerged and gave the following statement.


I have just come from chairing seven hours of Cabinet meetings focused on finding a route out of the current impasse – one that will deliver the Brexit the British people voted for, and allow us to move on and begin bringing our divided country back together.

I know there are some who are so fed up with delay and endless arguments that they would like to leave with No Deal next week. I have always been clear that we could make a success of No Deal in the long-term. But leaving with a deal is the best solution.

So we will need a further extension of Article 50, one that is as short as possible and which ends when we pass a deal. And we need to be clear what such an extension is for, to ensure we leave in a timely and orderly way.

This debate, this division, cannot drag on much longer. It is putting Members of Parliament and everyone else under immense pressure and it is doing damage to our politics. Despite the best efforts of MPs, the process that the House of Commons has tried to lead has not come up with an answer.

So today I am taking action to break the logjam: I am offering to sit down with the Leader of the Opposition and to try to agree a plan, that we would both stick to, to ensure that we leave the European Union and that we do so with a deal.

Any plan would have to agree the current Withdrawal Agreement, it has already been negotiated with the 27 other members, and the EU has repeatedly said that it cannot and will not be reopened. What we need to focus on is our Future Relationship with the EU.

The ideal outcome of this process would be to agree an approach on a Future Relationship that delivers on the result of the Referendum, that both the Leader of the Opposition and I could put to the House for approval, and which I could then take to next week’s European Council.

However, if we cannot agree on a single unified approach, then we would instead agree a number of options for the Future Relationship that we could put to the House in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue.

Crucially, the Government stands ready to abide by the decision of the House. But to make this process work, the Opposition would need to agree to this too.

The Government would then bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. We would want to agree a timetable for this Bill to ensure it is passed before 22nd May so that the United Kingdom need not take part in European Parliamentary Elections.

This is a difficult time for everyone. Passions are running high on all sides of the argument. But we can and must find the compromises that will deliver what the British people voted for. This is a decisive moment in the story of these islands. And it requires national unity to deliver the national interest.

Another Day, Another Vote 29 March 2019

Today is the day that the UK were due to leave the EU and the Government is debating (again) a motion to accept the the Withdrawal Agreement, the Joint Instrument and the Unilateral Declaration negotiated with the EU and laid before parliament on 11 March 2019. This removes the Polticial Declaration from the documents to be voted on this time and satisfies the Speakers requirement not to bring back a motion that is identical to one brought before the house previously.

That this House notes the European Council Decision of 22 March 2019 taken in agreement with the United Kingdom extending the period under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, which provides for an extension to the Article 50 period to 22 May 2019 only if the House of Commons approves the Withdrawal Agreement by 29 March 2019; notes that if the House does not do so by that date the Article 50 period will only as a matter of law be extended to 12 April 2019 and that any extension beyond 22 May 2019 would require the UK to bring forward the necessary Day of Poll Order to hold elections to the European Parliament; notes that Article 184 of the Withdrawal Agreement refers to the Political Declaration between the UK and EU agreed on 25 November 2018, but that the EU has stated it remains open to negotiating changes to the Political Declaration; notes that the House is currently undertaking deliberations to identify whether there is a design for the future relationship that commands its support; notes that even should changes be sought to the Political Declaration, leaving the European Union with a deal still requires the Withdrawal Agreement; declares that it wishes to leave the EU with an agreement as soon as possible and does not wish to have a longer extension; therefore approves the Withdrawal Agreement, the Joint Instrument and the Unilateral Declaration laid before the House on 11 March 2019 so that the UK can leave the EU on 22 May 2019; notes that this approval does not by itself meet the requirements of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018; and resolves that it is content to proceed to the next steps of this process, including fulfilling section 13 of this Act.

None of the amendments were selected by the Speaker.

Following debate, the motion was put to a vote at 2:26pm and defeated with the result

Ayes: 286 Noes: 344

34 Conservative and the 10 DUP MPs voted against the Government option

Conservative MPs were

Afriyie, Adam
Baker, Mr Steve
Baron, Mr John
Bebb, Guto
Bone, Mr Peter
Braverman, Suella
Bridgen, Andrew
Cash, Sir William
Chope, Sir Christopher
Duddridge, James
Francois, rh Mr Mark
Fysh, Mr Marcus
Greening, rh Justine
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Hollobone, Mr Philip
Holloway, Adam
Jayawardena, Mr Ranil
Jenkin, Sir Bernard
Jenkyns, Andrea
Johnson, Joseph
Jones, rh Mr David
Lee, Dr Phillip
Lewis, rh Dr Julian
Lopez, Julia
Mackinlay, Craig
Morris, Anne Marie
Patel, rh Priti
Paterson, rh Mr Owen
Redwood, rh John
Robertson, Mr Laurence
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowley, Lee
Villiers, rh Theresa