A post-Brexit trade deal has been agreed by negotiators from the UK and the European Union after months of talks and frantic last-minute wrangling.
The deal was secured on Christmas Eve, a week before current trading arrangements expire.
A UK source said the deal delivered “everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum”.
WATCH LIVE: My update on our future partnership with the European Union. https://t.co/cTd8qWRbrn
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 24, 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen were in close contact over recent days to help get the deal over the line.
But negotiations led by the EU’s Michel Barnier and the UK’s Lord Frost continued throughout the day as final details were hammered out.
A Downing Street source insisted that “everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal”.
They added: “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
“The deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth £668bn in 2019.”
The Downing Street source continued: “The deal also guarantees that we are no longer in the lunar pull of the EU, we are not bound by EU rules, there is no role for the European Court of Justice and all of our key red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved. It means that we will have full political and economic independence on January 1 2021.
“A points-based immigration system will put us in full control of who enters the UK and free movement will end.
“We have delivered this great deal for the entire United Kingdom in record time, and under extremely challenging conditions, which protects the integrity of our internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it.
“We have got Brexit done and we can now take full advantage of the fantastic opportunities available to us as an independent trading nation, striking trade deals with other partners around the world.”
Ursula von der Leyen
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 thing to do for both sides.”
It was worth fighting for this deal.
We now have a fair & balanced agreement with the UK. It will protect our EU interests, ensure fair competition & provide predictability for our fishing communities.
Europe is now moving on. https://t.co/77jrNknlu3
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) December 24, 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted a picture of himself smiling with both thumbs lifted in the air.
“The deal is done,” he wrote.
The deal is done. pic.twitter.com/zzhvxOSeWz
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 24, 2020
He also commented that for the first time since 1973 the UK “will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters”, with the UK’s share of fish in its waters rising “substantially from roughly half today to closer to two-thirds in five-and-a-half years’ time”.
Scotland’s first minister tweeted her concerns about the agreement shortly after it was announced, she said: “Before the spin starts, it’s worth remembering that 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.”
Before the spin starts, it’s worth remembering that 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.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 24, 2020
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford tweeted: “Scotland will be poorer from being out of the EU as we leave transition post today’s UK/EU deal.
“The UK is taking us out of the best deal possible that ends free movement, takes us out of the single market and customs union ending economic, social and cultural opportunities.”
Scotland will be poorer from being out of the EU as we leave transition post today’s UK/EU deal. The UK is taking us out of the best deal possible that ends free movement, takes us out of the single market and customs union ending economic, social and cultural opportunities.
— Ian Blackford (@Ianblackford_MP) December 24, 2020
Trade Secretary Liz Truss tweeted: “Great that we have secured a trade deal with the EU. Congrats to @DavidGHFrost and the UK team.
“We will have a strong trading relationship with the EU and deepen our trade with partners across the world through our independent trade policy.”
Great that we have secured a trade deal with the EU 🇬🇧🇪🇺.
Congrats to @DavidGHFrost and the UK team.
— Liz Truss (@trussliz) December 24, 2020
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “After years of campaigning for zero-tariff trade, we welcome the announcement of a free-trade agreement between the UK and EU.
“This protects consumers on both sides of the Channel from billions in import tariffs on everyday goods. Given that four-fifths of UK food imports come from the EU, today’s announcement should afford households around the UK a collective sigh of relief.”
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said his government will “consider the detail of the text very carefully”.
“From what we have heard today, I believe that it represents a good compromise and a balanced outcome,” he said.
Mr Martin added: “I hope that this outcome will now be approved by both sides and that the necessary procedures to allow the agreement to enter force on 1 January will proceed smoothly.”
#Brexit deal is very welcome after four long years of negotiations. Thanks to @vonderleyen & @MichelBarnier & team. While we will miss the UK from the European Union, the fact that a deal is now in place means we can focus on how we manage good relationship in the years ahead.
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) December 24, 2020