After months of diplomatic wrangling – notably over fishing and state aid – the UK and EU finally struck a deal on their post-Brexit trade relationship on Thursday, averting a costly no-deal departure on December 31.
After months of talks and as a December 31 deadline loomed, Britain and the European Union struck a provisional agreement on post-Brexit trade on Thursday after resolving a few remaining issues, including EU fishing rights in UK waters.
"It was a long and winding road. But we have got a good deal to show for it,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, describing the accord as “fair” as well as “balanced”.
Von der Leyen thanked the British negotiators and said that the UK would remain a trusted partner after December 31. This deal “means that we can finally put Brexit behind us” as Europe continues “to move forward", she said.
A statement from the 10 Downing Street office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also hailed the deal, saying it was “the first free-trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved with the EU”. Johnson said the British parliament would vote on the deal December 30.
In his first public remarks after the deal, Johnson urged his compatriots to capitalise on what he called Britain’s new status as a “newly and truly independent nation”. Addressing the EU, he vowed that the UK would remain a key partner in all things, notably trade. “We will be your friend, your ally, your supporter and indeed – never let it be forgotten – your No. 1 market.”
The European Parliament must analyse the deal before deciding whether to approve it sometime in the New Year, European Parliament President David Sassoli said on Twitter. “The European Parliament will now analyse the agreement in detail before deciding whether to give consent in the new year,” Sassoli wrote.” We will act responsibly in order to minimise disruption to citizens and prevent the chaos of a no-deal scenario.”
Follow how the events unfolded on our liveblog below.