The UK and the EU have finally agreed a post-Brexit future relationship after months of deadlock in negotiations.
The official statement from the Government reads: “Everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the General Election last year is delivered by this deal.
“We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters. 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 deal also guarantees that we are no longer in the lunar pull of the EU, we are not bound by EU rules, there is no role for the European Court of Justice and all of our key red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved.
“It means that we will have full political and economic independence on 1st January 2021. A points-based immigration system will put us in full control of who enters the UK and free movement will end. We have delivered this great deal for the entire United Kingdom in record time, and under extremely challenging conditions, which protects the integrity of our internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it. We have got Brexit done and we can now take full advantage of the fantastic opportunities available to us as an independent trading nation, striking trade deals with other partners around the world.”
Members of Parliament have been recalled to Westminster on the 30th of December to debate and vote on the deal. The Speaker of the House, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has been sending round messages discouraging MPs from travelling into the Tier 4 zone. However, it leaves the question of how all MPs will represent their constituencies, given that all 650 MPs could not join a Zoom meeting as it had reached its participant limit earlier today.
The UK’s Chief Negotiator, Lord Frost, said that he was “very pleased” to have led the UK team in securing an “excellent deal” with our European counterparts.
I'm very pleased and proud to have led a great UK team to secure today's excellent deal with the EU.
Both sides worked tirelessly day after day in challenging conditions to get the biggest & broadest trade deal in the world, in record time.
Thank you all who made it happen.
— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) December 24, 2020
The deal appears to cover zero-tariff and zero-quota trade, areas such as services, aviation, road transport, social security, health, fisheries, and, crucially, law enforcement. It also still allows the UK to remain a participant in the Horizon scientific research programme. The Erasmus university exchange programme will end, but the Prime Minister announced during his press conference that it will be replaced by a new “Turing Scheme”, which will apply a similar principle to universities around the world.
The deal also restores Britain’s sovereignty in full. EU law will no longer apply within the UK and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will also end. The UK’s elected Parliament will now set all the laws in the country.
Lifetime Brexiteer Nigel Farage tweeted very simply “The war is over.” Former PM David Cameron tweeted in support of the “positive news”.
Mr Cameron, who called for the initial EU membership referendum, congratulated the UK negotiating team and welcomed a new relationship with the EU as “friends, neighbours and partners”. Current Prime Minister Boris Johnson also described the deal as a “stabiliser of a friendship and a relationship”, saying the UK must remain a “great European power” as it has been for hundreds of years.