Brexit deal is finally DONE and Boris Johnson will address nation imminently
BORIS Johnson gave the nation an early Christmas present this morning as he secured a historic Brexit deal which finally sees the UK take back control from the EU and end four years of bitter wrangling.
The PM is set to address the nation any minute now to reveal the pact, which will allow us to trade freely with the EU without tariffs or quotas and bring to an end four bitter years of Brexit wrangling.
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Four years, five months and 29 days after the British people voted to leave the EU, the PM will make an announcement from Downing Street shortly.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted a picture of himself smiling with both thumbs lifted in the air.
"The deal is done," he wrote.
UK sources promised that everything promised in the 2016 referendum was now delivered – and we would finally take back control of our money, borders, laws, fishing waters and trade.
A Downing Street source said: "The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK. We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved with the EU
"The deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth £668bn in 2019."
The record-breaking accord was forged in less than a year- after the withdrawal deal was signed off in January – and will allow free trade to continue without tariffs or quotas in a major win for Britain.
It means Britain will avoid a No Deal exit and trade will continue to flow; protecting jobs and allowing Brits to still enjoy holidays and low food prices.
The UK will finally cut ties with the bloc’s red tape, rules and meddlesome EU judges as promised in the historic 2016 referendum 1,645 days ago, while allowing business and trade to flourish around the globe.
And in a major concession, Brussels has dropped demands for powers to hit British goods with tariffs if we shut EU boats out of our waters in future.
This afternoon EU chief Ursula Von der Leyen used her press conference to mock Britain – and said the only real sovereignty was achieved through working together rather than going it alone.
In snide comments just minutes after the deal, she said:
Ms von der Leyen said: "It's about pooling our strength and speaking together in a world full of great powers.
"In a time of crisis, it is about pulling each other up instead of trying to get back to your feet alone."
And she added: "Parting is such sweet sorry" but vowed to work together with Britain in future.
It came as:
- The pound soared against the dollar after a deal was done
- Already Brexiteers were grumbling about not having enough time to analyse the deal when it comes back to MPs
- Sir Keir Starmer is preparing to urge his shadow cabinet to back a Brexit trade deal – and could hold a meeting later today to get their backing
- There was an eleventh hour row about protections for the UK car industry – which appeared to have been resolved
- Here's what happens next now a deal is done
The deal is a huge victory for the PM – who endured relentless criticism that he would fail to land an agreement – after his strategy of threatening to walk away without a deal saw the EU blink first.
Negotiators worked overnight and into the afternoon to iron out minor details in the 2,000 page legal text after the crucial fishing deadlock was broken.
It was suggested that some of the final wrangling was over specific species of fish allowed to be caught.
Already MPs came in to praise the PM for securing the deal defying the odds.
Trade Secretary Liz Truss tweeted: "Great that we have secured a trade deal with the EU. Congrats to @DavidGHFrost and the UK team.
"We will have a strong trading relationship with the EU and deepen our trade with partners across the world through our independent trade policy."
Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, said: "Absolutely thrilled the Government has achieved a deal with the EU.
"This is critical to the future of thousands of WM jobs and businesses.
"A wonderful early Christmas present."
Business leaders welcomed the trade deal with the EU, saying it had come as a "huge relief", despite being so late in the day.
The PM last night summoned his top team of ministers to a Zoom call late yesterday to update them on "a brilliant breakthrough".
Sources on the call told The Sun that Mr Johnson "lavished praise" on former rival Brexiteer Michael Gove.
The PM said he had been "indispensable" in getting a deal, with planning and No Deal readiness.
But he warned he would need all of them "sell the deal", which was designed to let "both the UK and the EU to retain their sovereignty".
"Neighbours become good friends" was the PM's message, said one insider.
The deal is major win for Britain and a personal success for Mr Johnson at the end of a tricky year navigating a global pandemic.
His vow to “get Brexit done” at last December’s general election gifted him a Tory landslide, but discussions hit the buffers repeatedly over fish, sticking to EU rules, and governance of the deal in future.
But already Brexiteers were grumbling over not having enough time to look over the deal before they are asked to rubber stamp it – likely on December 30.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis told LBC this morning: "I don't really like the idea that Parliament will have to agree a 2,000-page deal in one day."
And Nigel Farage warned the UK may "find ourselves far too closely aligned to EU rules in the years to come". He added that he hoped "this is the beginning of the end of the European Union."
Mr Farage told talkRADIO: "Hey, is [the deal] better than where we were five years ago? Yes, it is. Is it good enough to allow us to become Singapore, the really dynamic booming economy? No."
It was claimed last night that Mr Johnson had agreed for Brussels to hand back a quarter of its fish quota – meaning Britain will fish just over 66 per cent of UK waters.
And there will be a five-and-a-half-year transition phase, down from the EU’s ask of a decade.
France crowed on Wednesday that the EU had won "huge concessions" from Britain on access to our fishing waters.
But their bragging angered some other capitals which feared premature spinning could put a last-minute spanner in the works.
British sources dismissed the briefings out of Paris as posturing.
Emmanuel Macron has been demanding ongoing rights in the UK's six to 12 mile coastal zone, where French boats land many of their catches.
His Europe minister Clement Beaune said France would've pulled the plug on talks but for the devastating impact No Deal would've had on its fishermen.
However the only row left burning last night was protection for electric vehicles was a last minute hurdle.
Britain is a world leader in green vehicles and is worried about protecting thousands of high tech jobs and car production plants.
The UK wants terms that would allow British manufacturers to use imported Chinese batteries in electric cars shipped to the continent.
However Brussels had insisted that was unacceptable, as they're planning a ban on the use of all power units from abroad starting in 2027.
The UK is a world leader in vehicle production. We churned out 1.6 million in 2018, four-fifths of which were sent to Europe.
But last night EU diplomats said the Commission has "space to move" on the issue and it's very unlikely to prove a dealbreaker.
Conditions known as Rules of Origin will govern how much of a product has to be locally sourced to qualify for preferential trade terms.
What does a Brexit deal mean for me?
- Getting a deal means goods can continue to move tariff free between the EU and UK after we break free of Brussels' rules
- Britain will finally control its own fishing waters and be able to set its own laws
- But Britain will choose not to reduce some of its rules and laws in certain areas – or may risk being slapped with charges
- Brits will have to make sure they have six months left on their passport once we leave
- And they will be able to travel visa free for 90 days – but after that will need to apply for one
- It's unclear what will happen to the European Health Insurance card – but Brits who need ongoing medical treatment will be able to get it for at least a year
- People must apply for a pet passport in advance
- And anyone driving in Europe needs to get a new license, too
- Unlimited EU migration will end – and a new points based system will come in from January, meaning freedom of movement will end
- The UK will leave the single market and customs union – but have some access for some goods
- But there will be an increase in bureaucracy as a result of leaving the EU's trading regime.
The deal will shortly be provisionally approved by member states.
EU27 ministers and diplomats on the Council can decides whether to provisionally apply a deal or not – and it can be adopted by written procedure rather than an in-person vote.
MEPs can then vote on final ratification early next month.
And MPs will be dragged back to the Commons to sign it off – expected to be on December 30.
Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen have been in regular contact to thrash out an agreement over the last hurdles – with regular phonecalls at the highest level.
The pair have set up a direct hotline between Downing St and the EU HQ "part and parcel" of the final stretch of negotiations, done by their top negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier.
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