Britain and the EU have sealed a Christmas trade agreement, a new economic and security accord that both sides hope will allow them to rebuild their relationship after years of Brexit acrimony.UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, clinched the deal after nine months of negotiations, culminating in haggling on Christmas Eve over fishing rights.
An upbeat Mr Johnson said Britain had secured its negotiating objectives: “We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny,” he said. He added that it was “a good deal for all of Europe”. The mood in Brussels was soberer, with Ms von der Leyen saying one of her main feelings was “relief’ that “we can finally put Brexit behind us”. “To our friends in the UK, I want to say, parting is such sweet sorrow,” she added.
The EU side claimed to have defended its interests in a negotiation in which it sought to prevent aggressive undercutting of its businesses and to defend its fishermen. Ms von der Leyen said: “The negotiations were very difficult. A lot was at stake for so many people.” The agreement would set “solid foundations for a new start”, she added.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said: ‘The negotiations were very difficult. A lot was at stake for so many people’ The deal will come into force on January 1, guaranteeing tariff-free trade on most goods and creating a platform for future co-operation on issues such as crime-fighting, energy and data sharing.
In a sign the agreement might calm the bitter debate on Europe that has dominated British politics for decades, Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit party, declared: “On the big stuff, the war is over.” Mr Johnson said the agreement would end the rancour of the past few years and allow Britain to act as “a flying buttress” to the EU. A relieved Michel Barnier, who led tense Brexit negotiations for the EU for more than four years, wrote simply on Twitter: “The clock is no longer ticking.”