Brexit: Boris Johnson hails free trade deal with EU
London: The EU and UK have reached a post-Brexit trade deal, ending months of disagreements over fishing rights and future business rules.
At a Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson said: “We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny.”
The text of the agreement has yet to be released, but the PM claimed it was a “good deal for the whole of Europe”.
The UK is set to exit EU trading rules next Thursday – a year after officially leaving the 27 nation bloc.
It will mean big changes for business, with the UK and EU forming two separate markets, and the end of free movement.
But the trade deal will come as a major relief to many British businesses, already reeling from the impact of coronavirus, who feared disruption at the borders and the imposition of tariffs, or taxes on imports.
As the deal was announced, Mr Johnson – who had repeatedly said the UK would “prosper mightily” without a deal – tweeted a picture of himself smiling with both thumbs lifted in the air.
In a press conference in Brussels, European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen said: “This was a long and winding road but we have got a good deal to show for it.”
She said the deal was “fair” and “balanced” and it was now “time to turn the page and look to the future”. The UK “remains a trusted partner,” she added.
At his press conference, Boris Johnson said the £668bn a year agreement would “protect jobs across this country” and “enable UK goods to be sold without tariffs, without quotas in the EU market”.
He acknowledged he had been forced to give ground on his demands on fishing. “The EU began with I think wanting a transition period of 14 years, we wanted three years, we’ve ended up at five years,” he said.
And he said the UK had not got all it wanted on financial services, a vital part of the UK economy, but he insisted the deal was “nonetheless going to enable our dynamic City of London to get on and prosper as never before”.
Most of the UK – except from Northern Ireland – will no longer participate in the Erasmus student exchange scheme, which Mr Johnson said was because it is “extremely expensive” – but a British option called the Turing Scheme will provide an alternative, he added.
Students in NI will still be able to take part thanks to an arrangement with the Irish government.
The UK’s chief trade negotiator Lord Frost said the full text of the free trade agreement would be published soon.
The UK Parliament will be recalled on 30 December to vote on the deal – it will also need to be ratified by the European Parliament.