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Brexit trade deal agreed between UK government and the European Union


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A deal on Brexit between the UK and the EU has been agreed.

Negotiations have been ongoing for months to create a trade agreement that works for both sides - with fish proving a particularly slippery issue.

A deal has been agreed
A deal has been agreed

Boris Johnson had previously said the UK would rely on World Trade Organisation terms if a deal could not be agreed.

Addressing the nation in a press conference this afternoon, he said: "We have completed the biggest trade deal yet. It's a comprehensive Canada-style deal that will protect jobs, that will allow UK goods to be sold without tarrifs and quotas in the EU market. If anything, it will allow us to do even more business with our European friends.

"We've taken back control of our laws and our destiny. We've taken control every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered.

"From January 1 we are outside the customs union and single market. British laws will be made solely by British parliament, interpreted by British judges in British courts.

"For the first time since 1973 we will be an independent coastal state with full control of our borders.

"The arguments were sometimes fierce and this is, I believe, a good deal for the whole of Europe.

"It will not be a bad thing for the EU to have a prosperous and dynamic UK on your doorstep. It'll be a good thing and will drive jobs and prosperity across the whole continent.

"Our basic goals are the same.

"The concepts of uniformity and harmonisation are banished for mutual respect, recognition and free trade."

He thanked the negotiators and confirmed there will be a vote on the deal on December 30.

Mr Johnson also spoke directly to the people of the EU and said: "We will be your friend, ally, supporter and - never let it be forgotten - number one market.

"Although we have left we will remain culturally, emotionally, historically, strategically, geologically attached to Europe not least through the four million EU nationals who have requested to settle and make a contribution to our country and our lives."

A statement from Downing Street said: "We have got Brexit done and we can now take full advantage of the fantastic opportunities available to us as an indepemdent trading nation, striking trade deals with other partners around the world.

"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."

It's the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side and covers trade worth £668bn in 2019.

The news of a deal comes just days before the deadline of December 31 when the transition period officially concludes.

One of the major sticking points in talks has been the fishing access to waters and reports yesterday suggested the British demand for a 60% reduction in the catch by value in British waters had been reduced to 35%.

That possible concession could have provided a way to unblock the talks to reach an agreement.

If a deal has been agreed it may lead to the recall of Parliament after Christmas for MPs to discuss and officially ratify it.

Ashford Conservative MP Damian Green, was among the first to welcome the news of a deal.

He tweeted: "It is a huge relief that the deal is signed, and everyone on both sides should be congratulated. Let's use this to move on from the divisions of the past five years and make it a happier 2021."

Speaking on the latest edition of the Paul On Politics show on KMTV, Mr Green said: “Anyone who has been involved in these sort of negotiations knows that they go to the absolute wire. And the absolute wire in this case is the end of the month.

"I would not be surprised if that some time between now and the New Year, myself and my colleagues are hauled back to Parliament to approve the legislation for a deal and I will be very happy to.”

Professor Richard Whitman, an expert in international politics at the University of Kent, said that a deal might not need to set everything in stone.

He said both sides could agree to push some proposals to a later date.

“It is not unusual to have a provisional agreement with provisional agreements in it. It is the norm in trade talks to go for provisional acceptance of implementation.”

Nigel Farage, probably the most hardline leave campaigner during the referendum, has tweeted this morning to say "the war is over" and while the deal "may not be perfect" it is better than nothing.

Analysis by political editor Paul Francis

It is now close to four years since more than 970,000 people in the county took part in the historic Brexit referendum, with 58% voting to leave and 42% to remain.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU President Ursula von der Leyen (Aaron Chown/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU President Ursula von der Leyen (Aaron Chown/PA)

And in those four years, we have crawled rather than sprinted to the political finishing line and even now, with the ultimate deadline just days away, no-one would be surprised if we faltered in the face of fresh hurdles.

Perhaps we should not be surprised at the length of time it has taken. The Referendum result in 2016 sent a seismic shockwave through UK politics, first leading to the resignation of the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who had campaigned to stay in the EU.

His successor, Theresa May, did all she could to broker a deal that would have been acceptable to her party’s hardline Eurosceptics, who forged an awkward squad in the form of the European Research Group.

But successive attempts by Mrs May to get the deal over the finishing line proved impossible. After The Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage, won the EU election from a standing start, the writing was on the wall.

Eventually the parliamentary party made it clear her position had become untenable and she too had to quit.

Next came Boris Johnson, whose slogan that he was the man to 'Get Brexit Done', won over party activists and the support of most of Kent’s MPs in a leadership contest with Jeremy Hunt.

Johnson coined the phrase “oven ready deal” to describe what would be presented to the EU; a soundbite that has rebounded on him since, with quips about how undercooked the deal was and that it was not to everyone's taste.

But his reputation as a political winner was cemented in a snap general election at the end of 2019 which gave him a comfortable majority of more than 80.

His pathway to getting Brexit done seemed relatively straightforward at the time but he was to be confounded - not by rebellious backbenchers - but by the hardline EU officials who have been intractable on some issues.

And this is not the end of the saga. It will require the ratification of Parliament - meaning a recall of MPs - and the approval of the European Union’s member states.

Both sides will go out of their way to examine any proposed deal with a fine tooth comb. With reports that supporting documents will run into as many as 2,000 pages, there is still some way to go.

How is Brexit going to affect Kent? For all the latest news, views and analysis visit our dedicated page here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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