Brexit deal is finally done, Boris Johnson announces
Posted on December 24th, 2020

Courtesy The Times (UK)

Britain and the European Union struck a Brexit deal today that will define their relationship for decades to come.

After 24 hours of last-minute haggling over fishing quotas, Boris Johnson hailed the agreement as a great treaty” which allowed the UK to take back control of our destiny” and resolve a question that had bedevilled” British politics for decades.

This deal means a new stability and a new certainty in what has sometimes been a difficult and fractious relationship,” he told a Downing Street press conference. Although the arguments with our European friends were sometimes fierce this is, I believe, a good deal for the whole of Europe.”

It is up to us all together as a newly and truly independent nation to realise the immensity of this moment, and to make the most of it.”

The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, described the negotiations as a long and winding road” but said that the final deal was fair and balanced”.

She added: At the end of a successful negotiations journey, I normally feel joy. But today I only feel quiet satisfaction and — frankly speaking — relief.

I know this is a difficult day for some. To our friends in the UK, I want to say: parting is such sweet sorrow. But to use a line from TS Eliot: what we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning.

So to all the Europeans, I say: It is time to leave Brexit behind, our future is made in Europe.”

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, added: The clock is no longer ticking. Today is a relief but tinged with sadness when we compare what we had with what lies ahead.

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The deal does not reproduce the rights of membership and on January 1 things will be very different with real changes.”

Mr Barnier outlined regrets, however: I have just two regrets in terms of our societal co-operation. Firstly, the British government decided not to participate in the Erasmus [education] exchange programme.

Secondly, the level of ambition in terms of mobility assistance is not in line with our historical ties, but that again is a choice of the British government.”

Mr Johnson said that the Erasmus student exchange programme — which had seen participants able to study across Europe — would be replaced by a worldwide scheme named after Alan Turing, the Bletchley Park codebreaker. Mr Johnson said it was a tough decision’’ to pull out of the programme, for financial reasons.

The deal comes exactly four and a half years after the European referendum result on June 24, 2016, and just seven days before the transition period ends.

The agreement runs to about 2,000 pages including hundreds of annexes and covers future arrangements for trade, security and fishing as well as future scientific co-operation and regulatory alignment.

British firms will now continue to have tariff and quota free actress to European markets beyond the end of the year. However, ministers are still warning of additional delays at cross-Channel ports as a result of new customs procedures on top of the existing Covid-19 disruption.

The fish-covered tie the prime minister wore to announce the agreement alluded to the difficulties surmounted in reaching it

The fish-covered tie the prime minister wore to announce the agreement alluded to the difficulties surmounted in reaching itPIPPA FOWLES/NO 10 DOWNING STREET/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Parliament will be recalled on December 30 to ratify the agreement in UK law ahead of December 31. Labour today confirmed that it would vote in favour of the deal when it comes to the Commons.

The last-minute nature of the negotiations means that the European parliament will not get to vote on the deal in advance of December 31 and it will have to be provisionally applied after agreement by EU member states.

Lord Frost, the UK’s lead negotiator, said he was pleased and proud” to have secured an excellent deal with the EU”.

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said that while the deal will enter into force by provisional application” over the coming week, MEPs and national governments will scrutinise it early next year.

Micheal Martin, Ireland’s prime minister, described the accord as very welcome” following four long years of negotiations”.

There is no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’ for Ireland,” he said. But compared with the prospect of no-deal the negotiators have worked hard to minimise the damage.”

David Cameron, who called the referendum on leaving the European Union, tweeted: It’s good to end a difficult year with some positive news. The trade deal is very welcome — and a vital step in building a new relationship with the EU as friends, neighbours and partners.”

Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader, said: The war is over”.

The delay to agreeing the deal was caused by an embarrassing mix-up by the European Commission over the detail of fishing quotas and last-minute wrangling over who got what in the share out of allowable catches.

On fishing, in a breakthrough move that unlocked the deal, the UK has conceded that the EU will only need to give up 25 per cent of its current quota, keeping three quarters of the fish catch by value, phased in over the next five and a half years.

The EU fishing catch in British waters will decline 4.5 per cent annually, meaning small national reductions when shared among European coastal states.

The new treaty will create a binding enforcement and arbitration mechanism to enforce fair competition rules on subsidy control, social and environmental standards called the level playing field”.

Binding arbitration would introduce new tariffs or quotas if either side was found to be undercutting the other with subsidies or lowering standards. The government will stress that the arbitration mechanism frees Britain from EU regulations and institutions such as the European Court of Justice.

The EU will emphasise that sanctions and tariffs will be introduced if the UK embraces the Singapore-on-Thames model” of high subsidies and moves to lower standards to decrease costs for industry.

European leaders ready to move on after trade deal
President Macron of France praised the EU for its unity and firmness” which he said had led to the successful conclusion of negotiations.

The agreement with the United Kingdom is essential to protect our citizens, our fishermen, our producers,” he added. We will make sure that this will be the case. Europe is progressing and can look to the future, united, sovereign and strong.”

The widespread unofficial French reaction was conveyed by the front page cartoon of Le Monde, the evening newspaper. It depicted Boris Johnson as a tantrum-throwing baby who is screaming: I’m out of here!” while a weary-looking Europe replies: It’s not too soon”.

French fishermen said it was too early to reach conclusions on the impact of the deal.

In Germany, Katja Leikert, the deputy leader of the chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, said it was a great relief” and singled out Michel Barnier for praise on account of his indefatigability and preservation of unity on the EU side.

She said: The winners in this deal are now the traders, businesspeople and workers on both sides of the English Channel. The other winners are those who continued to believe in the partnership between the British Isles and continental Europe . . . [Merkel’s centre-right] group in the Bundestag sincerely hopes that the solution on the table will prevent the Northern Ireland conflict from flaring up again.

To this end Prime Minister Johnson must do everything that is in his power. And the EU cannot rest on its laurels: it must do everything possible to swiftly establish a comprehensive security partnership that also covers counter-terrorism and military co-operation.”

In Italy, Giuseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, said: Good news: deal between the EU and the UK has been agreed. Interests and rights of European businesses and citizens guaranteed. The UK will be a central partner and ally for the EU and Italy.”

Enzo Amendola, the Italian minister for European affairs, said: We are happy the deal has been done and that Brexit can become a thing of the past. Let’s now move on.”

Italy has consistantly backed the bargaining position of EU negotiators during Brexit talks while avoiding criticising the UK too openly.

John Bolton, a former national security adviser to President Trump and longstanding supporter of Brexit, said that Britain was Free at last!”

Asked if the deal showed that Brexit can be made to work for the UK and indeed be advantageous, he told The Times: It has always been advantageous for a free people to control their own governance. The details of the deal, which remain to be reviewed, must meet this standard.”

On the long slog to achieve a deal, he added: Independence was worth a lot of effort for the US. Independence for the UK is worth that much as well. Free at last!”

Brexit deal is a huge relief for business
Industry leaders have welcomed the 11th-hour deal as a huge relief” for companies struggling through the Covid-19 crisis.

Ministers were urged to smooth the cliff edge,” however, by allowing businesses to adapt to the new economic realities carved out by the agreement. The Brexit breakthrough – just a week before the end of the transition period – boosted the pound and lifted London’s FTSE 250 to a ten-month high.

Retailers welcomed a crucially important step” which they said would avert higher prices on supermarket shelves, but manufacturers warned they would need to go through the accord with a fine tooth comb”.

While Mr Johnson faced calls to grant firms breathing space, directors described the deal as better late than never”. Tony Danker, director-general of the CBI, declared that the UK would begin a bright future” outside the EU on firmer ground” now that the trade deal has been finalised.

This will come as a huge relief to British business at a time when resilience is at an all-time low,” he said. But coming so late in the day it is vital that both sides take instant steps to keep trade moving and services flowing while firms adjust.”

Downing Street was told companies will be able to muster little more than a muted and weary cheer” as they face down the gargantuan task” of adjusting.

It is the responsibility of government to give firms clear, precise and detailed guidance so that they can make the required changes quickly,” said Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce. Far too many details and procedures have been left, literally, to the last minute.”

Sterling increased as much as one per cent against the dollar, above $1.36, as markets responded to the nullification of a no-deal departure. Shortly after the agreement was confirmed, it was trading up 0.4 per cent, at $1.354. Before the 2016 referendum the pound had been trading at $1.49.

At lunchtime the FTSE 250 closed for Christmas up 1.23 per cent, or 248.92 points, at 20,546.68 – its highest level since February – before Mr Johnson confirmed the deal. London’s mid-cap index has a larger proportion of domestic stocks than the FTSE 100, which rose 0.1 per cent, or 6.36 points, to 6,502.11

One Response to “Brexit deal is finally done, Boris Johnson announces”

  1. Nimal Says:

    Bad for UK,here the politicians playing to the gallery and it will lead to breakup of United Kingdom.

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