UK AND EU REACH BREXIT 'DEAL'
With time running out, the United Kingdom and the European Union announced on Thursday that they had finally reached on a compromise on Brexit.
The historic Christmas Eve ‘deal’ will lead to a free trade treaty which will come into effect from January 1st.
In a bleak Christmas season made even more so by COVID-19 sweeping through the UK, the announcement brought a welcome air of certainty replacing the cloud of doubt which has been hanging over the long-running negotiations.
The full details are yet to be revealed but speaking on Thursday, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was clearly relieved, projecting what might even be regarded as an initial air of triumphalism into his announcement.
“We've taken back control of our laws and our destiny. We've taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete, and from January 1 we are outside the customs union and outside the single market.
"British laws will be made solely by the British parliament, interpreted by UK judges sitting in UK courts, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will come to an end," the Prime Minister stated.
When the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen pronounced at 3pm UK time (4pm EU/10 am Cayman Islands) that an agreement had been reached, she phrased it as “a long and winding road”, invoking the pop classic of the same name by the British rock legends, the Beatles.
Expressing “relief” that it was “finally over”, she went on to say: "I know this is a difficult day for some, and to our friends in the UK, I want to say: parting is such sweet sorrow.
"To all Europeans, I say it is time to leave Brexit behind. Our future is made in Europe."
The 2,000-page agreement will see the UK and EU continuing to collaborate on a vast range of areas.
In the end the issue of fisheries, less than 1 per cent of UK GDP, which turned out to be a make-or-break point of the talks.
It overshadowed critical issues of cross-border trade, standards, retaining existing zero-tariff zero-quota arrangements on imports and exports, financial services, and posed the no-deal risk of the UK crashing out of the EU and trading on World Trade Organisation(WTO) terms.
The trade agreement, the largest ever signed by both the EU and the UK is valued at £668 billion a year.
Thursday’s announcement still has to be ratified by both the UK and EU parliament.
There was no immediate indication of any significant objections by the EU’s now remaining 27 members nor by UK the UK Parliament (House of Commons and House of Lords), although the deal reached is is expected to be subjected to intense scrutiny.
However, it has been pointed out that the agreement will also result in a massive adjustment for UK businesses trading with Europe through the huge volume of new paperwork and administration along with border checks, especially from January 1st.
The new agreement also ends free movement between the UK and the EU.