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EU and UK reach Post-Brexit trade deal

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A long-awaited trade deal between the UK and the EU has been struck just days before the deadline.

The treaty will apply from 1 January 2021 and take over from the arrangements under the transition period, which has seen the UK continue to follow most EU rules since Brexit day.

Announcing the news, Boris Johnson said beating coronavirus was his “number one national priority” so he wanted to “end any extra uncertainty” by giving the country “the best possible chance of bouncing back strongly” next year.
The prime minister promised the deal will allow companies “to do even more business with our European friends” while “taking back control of our laws and our destiny”- echoing a key message of the Vote Leave campaign.

Bidding to sell it to his party and the country, Mr Johnson announced at a Downing Street news conference that “although of course the arguments with our European friends and partners were sometimes fierce, this is, I believe, a good deal for the whole of Europe”.

In a press conference in Brussels, the European Commission president said: “This 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 thing to do for both sides.”

She added that now was “time to turn the page and look to the future” and that the UK “remains a trusted partner”.

There will be a five-and-a-half year transition period for the fishing industry, she indicated.

And co-operation will continue on issues including climate change, energy, security and transport.

In a statement, Downing Street said: “We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters.”

Echoing Mr Johnson’s general election slogan, it added “we have got Brexit done”.

Mr Johnson tweeted a picture of himself smiling with both thumbs lifted in the air.

At his press conference, he said: “We have completed the biggest deal yet worth £668bn a year.

“A comprehensive Canada-style deal between the UK and the EU. A deal that will protect jobs across this country, that will enable UK goods to be sold without tariffs, without quotas in the EU market.

“A deal which will allow our companies to do even more business with our European friends.”

Relief to businesses

He said he hoped the UK Parliament would be recalled on 30 December to vote on deal – it will also need to be ratified by the European Parliament.

The opposition Labour Party – which is widely expected to back the deal – said it would be setting out its formal response “in due course”.

The full text of the free trade agreement is expected to be published in the coming days.

Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford said a deal was better than no deal but criticised the timing just a week before the UK exits the EU single market and customs union.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Brexit is happening against Scotland’s will – and there is no deal that will ever make up for what Brexit takes away from us.

“It’s time to chart our own future as an independent, European nation.”

The government’s economic watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, had warned that leaving without a deal would have shrunk the national income by 2% next year and led to major job losses.

Down to the wire

There were also concerns it would lead to higher prices in the shops for many imported goods.

Negotiations in Brussels went down to the wire over what EU fishing boats are allowed to catch in UK waters. Fishing makes up just 0.12% of the UK’s economy.

There are still big question marks about what the deal will mean for the rest of British business.

Firms that trade with the 27 member states have carried on as normal for the past year during the so-called transition period that kicked in when Britain left the EU.

They will still face extra paperwork when the country leaves the EU single market and customs union next week.

But the threat of tariffs – import taxes – between the UK and its biggest trading partner will be removed.

 

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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