UK and EU strike new Brexit deal in last-ditch talks – CNBC

Negotiators from the U.K. and EU reached a draft Brexit deal in 11th-hour talks Thursday, although there are serious doubts that the agreement will be approved by U.K. lawmakers back in Westminster.

Sterling rose on news after the U.K. made concessions over the Irish border, an issue that had proven to be the biggest obstacle to a deal. The pound was 0.8% higher against the dollar, at $1.2929, reaching a five-month high but soon trimmed those gains as opposition parties in the U.K voiced their concerns.

“We have a great new Brexit deal,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted. He called on British lawmakers to back the deal when it’s put before Parliament on Saturday.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called the deal “fair and balanced.”

The “Withdrawal Agreement” will now be put before EU leaders at their summit on Thursday and Friday, and then U.K. lawmakers at the weekend. Negotiations had continued late into the night Tuesday and into Wednesday. The EU Parliament will also have to ratify the deal at an as yet unspecified date.

Speaking after the deal was announced, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said the deal was the result of intense work from both negotiating teams. “We have delivered together,” he said.

Giving further details on the deal, Barnier said that Northern Ireland will remain part of the U.K.’s customs territory and would be the entry point into the EU’s single market. He said there would be no regulatory or customs checks at the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the U.K.). That removed what had been a key issue for both sides. He added that Northern Ireland would remain aligned to some EU rules, notably related to goods.

The deal also covers the protection of citizens’ rights and a transition period that will last until the end of 2020. Barnier also said the EU and U.K. would work toward an “ambitious free trade deal with zero tariffs and quotas.”

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