© European Union 2018 - Source : EP

"UK must follow EU's fiscal, social and environmental rules after Brexit"

The former Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, has welcomed the draft accord reached between the UK and the EU on Brexit and stressed that until a new agreement is reached on the future relationship between the UK and the EU, Britain has been tied in to many EU rules.

Mr Verhofstadt, who is the leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament and the co-ordinator of the parliament’s Brexit steering group says: "We have ensured that the single market isn't disturbed."

If no further agreement is reached the entire UK will remain part of the customs union.  No import levies will be due on goods and services entering the EU.

Guy Verhofstadt: "There will be a long transition period that can run until Christmas 2021.  If we don't reach a new agreement in the meanwhile, there is a backstop or insurance policy.  This is why the draft agreement is so long because it describes in detail the arrangements.  Within the customs union the UK must follow all EU ecological, social and fiscal rules!"

Guy Verhofstadt is also upbeat on Northern Ireland: "This accord seems to provide watertight guarantees that there will be no border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.  Northern Ireland will more or less remain part of the internal market."

Mr Verhofstadt sees any border down the Irish Sea as the consequence of the British decision to leave the EU.