Looking at the newspapers here and in the UK, there is a huge contrast in how the draft withdrawal agreement is being received. It is 585 pages and it outlines in detail 45 years of deep integration, protecting certain rights, defining outstanding obligations and sets out a transition period in which both the EU and the UK can adjust. Commitments in the document go up to 2030 and beyond. It sets out how the rights of EU citizens who live in the UK can be catered for and how UK citizens will be catered for within the EU. One of the protocols in the draft agreement makes unique arrangements for Northern Ireland. This includes protection of rights, security co-operation and the continuation of the common travel area. The Good Friday Agreement remains intact. This protocol also outlines the backstop arrangements and how these would remain in place unless a separate EU-UK deal replaces them.
This draft agreement allows the UK to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, which is only 165 days' time. It is a draft treaty until the EU negotiators meet on 26 November and, more importantly, until the UK parliament votes on it before Christmas. Our party gave a cautious welcome to the draft withdrawal agreement that has taken thousands of hours of negotiations and meetings and compromises from all sides. It is obviously in Ireland's, the UK's and the EU's interest to have a Brexit deal. The alternative does not bear thinking about because it will have huge economic and other ramifications for Ireland, the UK and the EU. However, the alternative no-deal crash out may become a reality and we will have to plan accordingly given what is happening this morning and continues to happen as I stand here. The Democratic Unionist Party, DUP, has, unfortunately, said it will not be voting for the agreement, even before having read it. The Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, resigned his post and two other junior ministers have also resigned.