The UK and the European Union (EU) have reached another Brexit deal, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced early Thursday. Should the new agreement be approved by the Parliaments of both the UK and EU, it will take effect after the current deadline, October 31. Should the deal be approved by both Parliaments, it would bring to an end a period of uncertainty for the UK’s travel industry.
Brexit uncertainty was one of the factors blamed for the recent collapse of iconic UK travel brand Thomas Cook, along with a decline in the value of the pound (also partially due to Brexit uncertainty), changing booking habits and unusually hot weather that discouraged Northern Europeans from traveling. The company filed for insolvency and ceased operations early last week, stranding hundreds of thousands of travelers and prompting the UK’s largest repatriation effort since World War II. Following Thomas Cook's collapse, all of the company’s UK storefronts were acquired by independent UK travel agency Hays Travel.
CNN reports that lawmakers in the House of Commons have voted to hold a session on Saturday, October 19, in which they will likely consider the deal; this session would mark only the third on a Saturday since World War II.
According to NPR, a number of leaders in the House of Commons, where Johnson’s Conservative party does not hold a majority, have criticized the new deal. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, called it “a worse deal” than the one that had been negotiated by previous Prime Minister Theresa May, which was rejected in Parliament three times. Additionally, the leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said that the DUP could not support the proposed agreement “as things stand,” although he said the DUP would continue to work with the government on a deal.
CNBC reports that the deal would see Northern Ireland remain part of the UK’s customs territory, and that it would be the entry point into the EU’s single market. Importantly, under the terms of the deal there would be no regulatory or customs checks at the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, something that many commentators had said would be key to preserving the peace of the Good Friday Agreement. The deal also calls for a transitional period that would last through the end of 2020.