EU, UK seal the Brexit trade deal

Britain vows to be “best friend and ally”, PM Boris Johnson said

Photo: twitter.com

European Union’s top officials on Wednesday formally signed the long and tough fought-over post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom. The formal sealing of the document paves the way for normal trade relations between Britain and the European Union, AP reported. British House of Commons also approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union on Wednesday, as both sides looked to begin a new chapter of relations just days before their divorce becomes a reality.

UK and the European Union signed the deal, ending over four years of negotiation and safeguarding nearly a 1 trillion euro of annual trade. “Brexit is not an end but a beginning,” Johnson said. “The responsibility now rests with all of us to make the best use of the powers that we regain, the tools that we’ve taken back into our hands.” Parliament’s lower house voted 521 to 73 in favour of the deal. The upper house of parliament now debates the bill and it should become law around midnight.

Just after the EU’s top officials formally signed the hard-won agreement in Brussels, Boris Johnson urged legislators in the House of Commons to back a deal that he said heralded “a new relationship between Britain and the EU as sovereign equals.”

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel signed the paper during a brief ceremony in Brussels. “The agreement that we signed today is the result of months of intense negotiations in which the European Union has displayed an unprecedented level of unity,” Michel said. “It is a fair and balanced agreement that fully protects the fundamental interests of the European Union and creates stability and predictability for citizens and companies”.

In a speech to MPs, the Prime Minister said the deal - agreed on Christmas Eve - allowed the UK to take “control of our laws and our national destiny”.

The leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups said they would not seek full approval until March because of the specific and far-reaching implications of the agreement. The overwhelming expectation is that EU lawmakers will approve the deal. The 1,240-page post-Brexit deal was sealed by the EU and the U.K. on Christmas Eve, just a week before the year-end deadline. “On major issues, the European Union stands ready to work shoulder to shoulder with the United Kingdom,” Michel said. “This will be the case on climate change, ahead of the COP 26 in Glasgow, and on the global response to pandemics, in particular with a possible treaty on pandemics. On foreign affairs, we will seek cooperation on specific issues based on shared values and interests.”

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