Revealed: Nine Key Points Tucked Away In The Brexit Phase One Deal

Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker shook hands this morning on a deal which allows the Brexit talks to move on to trade negotiations.

While leading Brexiteer MPs including Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have hailed the agreement as the right step forward, others such as Nigel Farage are worried it shows Britain is now heading for a so-called ‘soft Brexit’.

HuffPost UK has examined the draft agreement and the separate ‘Communication From The Commission To The European Council’ document to pick out the key points.

The details reveal:

  • The European Court of Justice will still have an influence in UK courts for eight years after Brexit.
  • The EU wants freedom of movement to continue during the transition period.
  • There is still disagreement on the rights of future spouses of EU citizens living in the UK.
  • The agreement on the Northern Ireland border means that in the case of no deal, the UK will have ‘full alignment’ to the rules of the Single Market and customs union – a huge win for Remainers.
  • The UK will keeping paying money to the EU for years to come, and the total divorce bill is estimated at £40billion.

We’ve ranked which side come out on top in the three negotiating points of the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, the divorce bill to be paid by Britain and the Irish border question.


1) An EU or UK migrant currently living abroad will still be able to be joined by their spouse, partner, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren and a person in a so-called “durable relationship” after Brexit.

However, any future foreign spouse will need to meet whatever immigration rules that country has. For example, a French migrant living in the UK who marries a Spanish person after Brexit will only be able to bring their partner to Britain if they earn enough money.

Yet, in contradiction of the agreement, the Communication From The Commission To The European Council document also published today suggests this matter is still up for discussion.

“In the Commissions view, the reunification right referred to in the previous paragraph shall also cover future partners or spouses of Union citizens and United Kingdom nationals, who are not yet partners or spouses at the ‘specified date’, as defined above. This important matter should be dealt with in the second phase of the negotiations and will inevitably be linked to the level of ambition of the future partnership between the EU and the United Kingdom.”  

2) The EU wants free movement to continue until the end of a “transitional period” – most likely March 2021. The UK has not yet agreed to this, and Theresa May has repeatedly said free movement will end in March 2019. It may be that a form of words could be found which allows free movement to continue, but it’s labelled as something different.

3) The application process to get permanent residency status cannot cost more than it does for a Brit to apply for a passport – around £70. Those who already have “settled status” can exchange this for the new residency status for free. If a citizen moves out of the country for five years, they lose their residency status.

4) When it comes to upholding EU law around citizens’ rights, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will still have a role in the UK. British courts will have “due regard to relevant decisions” of the ECJ, and for eight years UK judges will be able to ask “questions of interpretation” of the ECJ. A crucial part of the agreement is that the UK and European Commission will both have the right to “right to intervene in relevant cases” before each others courts.

VERDICT: The possibility of freedom of movement continuing throughout the transition is political dynamite, and will irate the Farage wing of Brexiteers. While the continued role for the ECJ is a win for the EU, the fact May has diluted its power, and agreed a limit of 8 years, will be welcomed by many.

EU 1-1 UK


5) If no special agreement can be reached on the Northern Ireland/Ireland border, the UK has agreed to “maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union”, which both “now or in the future” support North-South cooperation, the all island economy and the Good Friday Agreement.

This was hinted at by Brexit Secretary David Davis in the Commons on Tuesday. Tying the UK to the rules of Single Market and the Customs Union could have an impact on the nature of trade deals which can be struck with other countries.

6) In keeping with the previous point, there will “no new regulatory barriers” between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. This meets the DUP demand that there should no red line in the Irish Sea.

VERDICT: A result which both the Brexit-backing DUP and remain supporting Anna Soubry can cheer. The promise of “full alignment” with Single Market and Customs Union will please business groups in the UK and EU, especially as this seems to be the worst-case scenario.

EU 1-1 UK  


7) The UK will not write a lump sum cheque to the EU on the day of Brexit. Instead it will continue to pay into the EU’s 2019 and 2020 budgets as if it’s a member. It will also keeping handing over cash for programmes financed by the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework until their closure – which could be well beyond 2020.

8) The UK will get money back from the European Investment Bank each year for 12 years from the end of 2019. However, Britain will still be liable for the money it gets back until the EIB replenishes its funds back to its current levels.

9) The total amount the UK will pay in the divorce bill is estimated at £39billion (€40-45billion).

VERDICT: The EU will be happy they are still getting lots of cold, hard cash from the UK for many years to come. Many Brexiteers will find this hard to swallow, but if a good trade deal comes out of it they will tolerate it. It is less than the rumoured initial demand of €100billion.

Result: EU 2-1 UK


The EU has got the dosh it wanted, and clearly thinks some of the citizens rights demands are up for grabs. The UK will be pleased just to clear this hurdle, even if that cost a bit more than it was willing to pay.

Final Score: EU 4 – 3 UK