Boris Johnson hails £660bn Brexit trade deal which finally 'takes back control' from the EU
Boris Johnson: “We have regained control of our laws and our destiny. We have regained control of every point of our regulation in a complete and unrestricted manner. '
Boris Johnson hailed a £ 660 billion Brexit trade deal that will regain control from the EU more than four years after Britain voted to leave.
The Prime Minister said the Christmas Eve deal resolved the European issue that had "tainted" British politics for generations.
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He said that in negotiating a "huge" free trade agreement with Brussels, his negotiating team had achieved what cynics called "impossible" but the British people "instinctively" knew it could be done.
The deal, which allows UK companies to continue trading duty-free or quota-free with Europe, was halted by a last-minute dispute over EU calculations on fishing rights.
It was finally resolved after a nightly meeting in Brussels that stretched into the afternoon of Christmas Eve before it was sealed with a thumbs up by Mr Johnson in a video call with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
The prime minister said the deal would protect jobs, give businesses security and "give the country the best possible chance to recover strongly" after Covid.
Speaking at a press conference on Downing Street, Mr. Johnson said, “We have regained control of our laws and our destinies. We have regained control of every point of our regulation in a complete and unrestricted manner.
“From January 1st we will be outside the customs union and the internal market.
"British law will only be enacted by the British Parliament, interpreted by British judges sitting in UK courts, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will end."
Addressing the cynics who said such a deal could not be carried out, he said it "accomplishes something that the people of this country instinctively knew was doable, but which they were told was impossible be".
The final obstacle to an agreement - an agreement on fishing rights - was removed when Mr Johnson dropped his call for the EU to return 50 percent of its quotas on January 1st and accepted a 25 percent return.
The EU, which initially called for a 14 year transition period for fishing rights, had a five and a half year transition during which the UK will gradually increase its share to two thirds of all fish in UK waters before regaining full sovereignty and annual allocation of Odds.
The European Court of Justice won't play a role in the UK from January 1st, and the UK will be free to enter into free trade agreements with other countries - of which it has already secured 61 - while maintaining free trade with the EU.
In a last-minute concession, Brussels dropped its demands to be able to impose "lightning tariffs" on Great Britain without the need to initiate arbitration proceedings. There will also be a four-year review of the functioning of the agreement. At that point, the deal could be renegotiated or the UK could pull the plug on the trade deal.
The 500-page agreement will now be put to a vote in parliament on December 30th and must also be ratified by the European Parliament and the 27 member states.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labor leader, said his party would vote for the deal because at a moment of such national importance it "does not believe Labor is on the sidelines".
Mr Johnson said the final deal was "a very, very long day's march" from Theresa May's Checkers deal, on which he stepped down as Secretary of State who had proposed a common set of rules and dynamic direction.
The UK is free to deviate from European rules and regulations, although the EU will be able to turn to an independent arbitration board if it believes the UK has gained an unfair competitive advantage that could lead to the imposition of tariffs .
Cooperation on issues such as climate change, energy, security and transport will continue, and the service industry, which accounts for 80 percent of UK exports, will be included in the deal, albeit with some concessions from the UK.
Mr Johnson said, "There is good language for financial services equivalence, perhaps not as much as we would have liked, but it will nonetheless allow our dynamic city of London to go on and thrive like never before."
Frau von der Leyen said: “We have finally found an agreement. It's been a long and winding road, but we have a lot to show.
"It's fair, it's a balanced deal, and it's the right thing and responsible for both sides."
Ms. von der Leyen said she felt "silent satisfaction" and "relief" that a deal had been made.
"It's time to leave Brexit behind, our future is made in Europe," she added.
The European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs has promised to convene a “star chamber” of lawyers to ponder the details of the deal, despite Labor promising that any Tory rebellion is symbolic rather than decisive.
EU diplomats receive a Christmas Day briefing from Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier.
Business leaders welcomed the trade deal, saying it was a "great relief" even though it was so late in the day.
Tony Danker, general manager of CBI said, “Companies will investigate the details immediately when they can to understand the implications for their businesses, clients and customers. However, immediate government guidance is required in all sectors.
"Above all, we need an urgent confirmation of the grace period to smooth the cliffs from data to rules of origin, and we need to ensure that goods keep moving across borders."
In a taped Christmas message for the nation, Mr Johnson joked that he had a "present for anyone who might be looking for something to read in this sleepy moment after Christmas."
He took a copy of the 500-page document and added, "The oven-ready deal was just the beginning. This is the feast - full of fish, by the way.
"I believe that this will be the basis for a happy, successful and stable partnership with our friends in the EU in the years to come."
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