UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, ahead of the opening sessions of the European Council summit at EU headquarters in Brussels. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
Mr Juncker added: “We have a deal. The British PM has to make sure that the deal will pass the hurdles of Westminster.
“I will have to make sure it can pass the hurdles of the European Parliament, that’s all.”
Asked if he would rule out a Brexit extension if Mr Johnson asked him to, Mr Juncker told reporters: “I gave a brief doorstep with Boris Johnson… and I was ruling out that there would be any kind of prolongation.
“If we have a deal, we have a deal and there is no need for prolongation.
“That is not only the British view, that is my view too.”
Responding to Mr Juncker’s comments on allowing an extension, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage tweeted: “So an unelected, retiring bureaucrat says: No extension, take this new treaty or just leave.
“He is overriding the Benn Act. The EU shows itself to be a thuggocracy – power without accountability. Appalling people.”
So an unelected, retiring bureaucrat says: No extension, take this new treaty or just leave.
He is overriding the Benn Act. The EU shows itself to be a thuggocracy - power without accountability.
Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “Don’t be fooled by misleading reports. It is not within Jean-Claude Juncker’s powers to rule out an extension if we vote down Boris Johnson’s deal on Saturday. It’s up to the Council of EU27 leaders who will grant an extension.”
The revised protocol on Northern Ireland contains four key elements, two of which are on regulations and customs:
Regulations: Northern Ireland will remain aligned with Single Market regulations on goods. Checks and procedures on such goods will take place at ports and airports in Northern Ireland and not on the border. The UK authorities will therefore assume responsibility for applying the EU rules in Northern Ireland.
Custom duties: Northern Ireland will remain a part of the UK’s customs territory, so it will be included in any future trade deals struck by the Government after Brexit. However, the region will also remain an entry point into the EU’s customs zone. UK authorities will apply UK tariffs to products entering Northern Ireland as long as they are not destined for onward transportation across the border. For goods at risk of entering the single market, the UK will collect EU tariffs on behalf of the bloc.
The other key elements of the Northern Ireland protocol are on VAT and consent:
VAT: EU rules on Value Added Tax and excise duties will apply in Northern Ireland, with the UK responsible for their collection. However, revenues derived will be retained by the UK.
The UK will also be able to apply VAT exemptions and reduced rates in Northern Ireland that are applied in Ireland.
Consent: Stormont Assembly members will vote whether to continue to apply the arrangements after an initial four-year period following them coming into effect at the start of 2021.
Significantly, that vote will be conducted on a simple majority head count at Stormont and will not require the support of a majority of unionists and a majority of nationalists under the contentious “petition of concern” mechanism. This means the DUP will not have the chance to exercise a veto.
If the vote is carried, the arrangements will be extended for another four years.
However, if it transpires that a majority of unionists and a majority of nationalists do ultimately vote in favour of the move, then the extension period will be for eight years.
If members vote to come out of the EU arrangements there would be a two-year cooling off period before that happened.