Just days before the end of the transition period, the UK and the EU have struck a post-Brexit trade deal.
The achievement of a deal comes after months of missed deadlines and multiple points where talks looked likely to collapse.
The UK left the European on January 31, 2020, under the Withdrawal Agreement – the new trade treaty will take over from the arrangements that have been in place since then under the transition period where the UK has had to continue to follow many EU rules.
The treaty will apply from January 1, 2021, though it still needs to be ratified by both sides.
MPs are expected to be recalled to Parliament after Christmas but ahead of the new year in order to debate the deal and pass it into law – if desired – potentially on December 30, 2020. It is expected to take longer for EU member states to ratify the deal.
Reaction has been rolling in, following news of the deal being agreed.
After months of concerns about a potential ‘no-deal’ scenario, there will be much relief on the UK side. Downing Street is likely in a triumphant mood following the deal – especially Prime Minister Boris Johnson who had many promises to deliver on from the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 EU Referendum and the Conservative Party Manifesto for the 2019 General Election.
Following the announcement of a deal, Mr Johnson posted on his Twiter account, “The deal is done”.
In a press conference about the deal, Mr Johnson said: “we’ve taken back control of our laws and our destiny”. He said that the agreement between the UK and EU is worth £660bn a year and will “protect jobs”.
Mr Johnson thanked the “brilliant” negotiators on both sides for their work. He added, “This country will remain culturally, emotionally, historically, strategically, geologically attached to Europe”.
The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator Lord Forst tweeted “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.”
Former UK Prime Ministers have welcomed the news – David Cameron tweeted, “Trade deal is very welcome – and a vital step in building a new relationship with the EU as friends, neighbours and partners. Many congratulations to the UK negotiating team.”
In a tweet, Theresa May said, “Very welcome news that the UK & EU have reached agreement on the terms of a deal – one that provides confidence to business and helps keep trade flowing. Looking forward to seeing the detail in the coming days.”
Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage tweeted, “The deal is not perfect but it is a big moment. This victory is a tribute to the ordinary men and women who stood up against the Westminster establishment — and won. There is no going back.”
A similar feeling of relief was present immediately after the announcement on the EU side.
Smiling at a press conference announcing the deal, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said;
‘We have finally found an agreement
“It was a long and winding road but we have got a good deal to show for it. It is fair, it is a balanced deal and it is the right and responsible to do for both sides.”
On three key points about the agreement, President Von der Leyen said;
“First of all, competition in our single market will be fair and remain so. The EU rules and standards will be respected. We have effective tools to react if fair competition is distorted and impacts our trade.
“Secondly, we will continue co-operating with the UK in all areas of mutual interest, for example, in the field of climate change, energy, security and transport. Together, we still achieve more than we do apart.
“And thirdly, we have secured five and a half years of full predictability for our fishing communities and strong tools to incentivise to remain so.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said that today is a “day of relief” but one tinged by “some sadness”, expressing his feelings about the UK leaving the EU.
Is it all good news?
No. While there is a feeling of relief on both sides, it’s not all good news.
Lots of work will be needed to review, pass and then implement the new trade agreement, so it is not all over yet.
For many of those who wanted to stay in the European Union, it is unlikely that the new deal will bring too much happiness.
In particular, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has tweeted that ‘Brexit is happening against Scotland’s will’…
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has said “any deal is better than no deal” but “this is not the deal we would have negotiated”.
Deal or no deal, there are still legitimate fears of disruption, especially at the borders in the early stages of new rules being implemented under the agreement. The economic impacts, feared by Remainer and touted as positive by Brexiteers, are unlikely to fully be known for some time.
The new treaty is a long text, which has not yet been released – once seen, the contents of the treaty will no doubt reveal more about the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.