‘We’ve taken back control of o


‘We’ve taken back control of our destiny’: UK PM Johnson announces post-Brexit deal with EU

The UK and the European Union have reached a post-Brexit trade deal, after months of disagreements over fishing rights and future business rules.

‘We’ve taken back control of o


After months of negotiations, anxieties, and missed deadlines, the UK and EU have at last hammered out a much-anticipated post-Brexit agreement to outline their future relationship after London officially exits the bloc on December 31.

The deal will “protect European interests,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, calling it “historic.”

We can finally leave Brexit behind us. Europe will continue to move forward,” she added.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that they had completed “the biggest trade deal yet … a comprehensive “Canada-style free trade deal between the UK and the EU” with no quotas or tariffs.

“We’ve taken back control of our laws and our destiny.”

“We will be your friend, your ally, your supporter, and, indeed, never let it be forgotten, your number one market,” Johnson added.

The British PM said he hoped for a vote in Parliament on December 30.

A new relationship

“The UK has chosen to leave the EU and the single market, to give up the rights and advantages of a member state,” said Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, at an earlier press conference.

“There will therefore be, despite this deal, real changes in the coming days … that is the consequence of Brexit.”

Von der Leyen said the EU had secured five and a half years of full predictability for the fishing community. Fishing rights was one of the most contentious points between the EU and UK, with Johnson saying that the EU had wanted a longer transition period for fishing.

The Commission president emphasised that the UK was now a “third country” but remained a “trusted partner.”

The agreement will allow for tariff and quota-free trade in goods after December 31, but that won’t apply to the services industry – about 80% of the UK economy – or the financial services sector.

Outside the EU’s single market, UK financial services firms will be deprived of the passport that allows them to offer their services across the bloc and face a wait to see if the EU will grant them access – something that is still far from certain and, even if granted, could be withdrawn at any time.

That has allowed Dublin, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Paris to start chipping away at London’s dominance as Europe’s financial center.

Firms from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are among the companies that have already shifted about 7,500 employees and $1.6 trillion of assets out of the U.K. because of Brexit.

One of the consequences is that the UK will pull out of Erasmus (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) is an EU student exchange programme established in 1987. Johnson said this was a “tough decision.”

“Foreign policy, external security and defence cooperation is not covered by the Agreement as the UK did not want to negotiate this matter,” the Commission said in a statement.

“It’s one thing to get freedom, winning freedom is a fantastic thing, but it’s how we use it, how we make the most of it. That’s going to matter in the months and years to come,” Johnson said.

He added that the EU’s “ideology of endless integration” had been hard to get on board with and that the UK had a complicated relationship with the EU.

Overnight negotiations

European Union and British negotiators worked through the night to put the finishing touches on a post-Brexit trade deal after nine months of marathon talks.

European Commission chief spokesperson Eric Mamer tweeted around midnight that negotiations were continuing through the night, with reports of negotiators working to deliver the text to their leaders at dawn on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the German EU Council presidency asked that “EU Ambassadors to be available during Christmas period.”

Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheal Martin told the Irish broadcaster RTE earlier that “the signs are good” but that fishing rights “continues to be” a sticking point.

“But given all of the work that has been put into this and given the enormous time that has been put into the negotiations, there does seem to be a sense today that this is nearing a conclusion and hopefully that is the case.”

Significant differences

The two sides began the week with significant differences over the issues of fishing rights, fair competition rules and the question of enforcing a new deal.

Negotiations were primarily led by the EU’s Michel Barnier and Britain’s David Frost.

But UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, are understood to have taken direct charge of certain policy areas as the prospect of a deal drew closer.

There had been calls for the UK to seek more negotiating time by prolonging its membership of the EU Single Market.

Earlier this month, a deal looked to be unlikely with both Johnson and von der Leyen stating that large differences remained.

But midway through the month, negotiators said some progress had been made on the “level playing field” and that they would “go the extra mile” in negotiations.

Reaction to news of a post-Brexit deal

“These have been very challenging negotiations but the process is not over. Now is the time for the Council and the European Parliament to analyse the agreement reached at negotiators’ level, before they give their green lights,” said European Council President Charles Michel.

European Parliament President David Sassoli said that while he welcomed the deal, “the last-minute nature of the agreement does not allow for proper parliamentary scrutiny by the European Parliament before the end of the year.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement that the German government would examine the text but had been kept up to date by the Commission.

“We will therefore be able to judge quickly whether Germany can support today’s negotiation result. I am very confident that we have a good result here.”

British trade secretary Liz Truss tweeted: “We will have a strong trading relationship with the EU and deepen our trade with partners across the world through our independent trade policy.”

Next steps

Now that a deal is agreed upon, it will need to be ratified by Britain’s parliament, the European Parliament and by all 27 EU member states.

That process will run well into the New Year, although the UK is understood to be preparing to recall MPs from their Christmas break to rubber stamp the deal.