Boris Johnson hails ‘new chapter’ in EU relations as Brexit deal permitted

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Boris Johnson proclaimed “a brand new chapter in our nationwide story” as MPs overwhelming permitted a post-Brexit commerce deal, drawing a line below Britain’s tumultuous 47-year membership of the EU.

The laws to approve the treaty was attributable to be given royal assent by the Queen late on Wednesday night time, simply hours earlier than Britain’s post-Brexit transition interval ends at 11pm UK time on Thursday.

Mr Johnson claimed the deal, permitted by 521 votes to 73, confounded critics who mentioned it was unimaginable to have “free commerce with the EU until you conformed with the EU’s legal guidelines”.

He informed the BBC that this had been in comparison with “having your cake and consuming it”, including: “That has turned out to not be true. I would like you to see that this can be a cakeist treaty.”

However Mr Johnson’s rhetoric can be examined within the coming hours when Britain leaves the EU’s customs union and single market, spawning what Labour chief Keir Starmer referred to as “an avalanche of crimson tape”.

Mr Johnson’s definition of “free commerce” would require merchants to finish hundreds of thousands of customs declarations, costing companies an estimated £7bn a year in new paperwork, in response to HM Income & Customs. 

However whereas merchants ready for brand new friction on the border as the brand new 12 months dawns, there was cross-party settlement that Mr Johnson’s commerce take care of the EU — signed on Christmas Eve — was higher than no deal in any respect.

The commerce and co-operation deal, which can guarantee no tariffs or quotas on most items, was portrayed by each Mr Johnson and Sir Keir as a platform to rebuild strained relations with the EU after the trauma of Brexit.

The UK prime minister described the deal as “not a rupture however a decision”, insisting that Britain would turn into a dependable pal and associate to the remainder of Europe from exterior the EU.

Most Labour MPs voted for the 1,259 web page settlement, which was signed by Ursula von der Leyen, European Fee president, and Charles Michel, European Council president, at a low-key ceremony in Brussels.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel show off the new Brexit trade treaty after signing it in Brussels on Wednesday
European Fee president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel with the brand new Brexit commerce treaty after signing it in Brussels on Wednesday © POOL/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

The treaty was then flown by RAF jet to London the place it was signed by Mr Johnson in Downing Avenue, in opposition to a backdrop of Union flags, in a symbolic coda to greater than 4 years of nationwide psychodrama over Brexit.

Mr Michel mentioned the deal was “a good and balanced settlement that absolutely protects the basic pursuits of the European Union and creates stability and predictability for residents and corporations”.

Nearly all Conservative MPs permitted the settlement after the Eurosceptic European Analysis Group gave the treaty its backing on Tuesday; former cupboard ministers John Redwood and Owen Paterson abstained.

Sir Keir informed his MPs to again the treaty on the idea that any commerce deal was higher than no commerce deal, despite the “skinny” nature of an settlement, which is concentrated on exports of products, not companies.

A complete of 37 Labour MPs didn’t vote for the deal, a lot of them from the left of the occasion. Nonetheless, a complete of 162 Labour MPs trooped by means of division lobbies with Tory MPs to help it.

Sir Keir mentioned the deal, for all its shortcomings, represented a foundation on which the UK would rebuild its relations with the EU, however he mentioned Mr Johnson had mis-sold the treaty to the British public.

The Labour chief additionally rejected Mr Johnson’s declare that the deal supplied “certainty” for the UK companies sector. He mentioned there was a “gaping gap” within the treaty when it got here to companies, notably monetary companies.

However Sir Keir, in a message which partly addressed divisions in his personal occasion over Brexit, mentioned the time had come to maneuver on. “The divisions are over,” he mentioned. “We now have a possibility to forge a brand new future.”

Opposition from the SNP and the Northern Eire Democratic Unionists was an indication that Brexit has exacerbated tensions inside the 4 elements of the UK.

Ian Blackford, parliamentary chief of the SNP, mentioned Brexit had confronted Scots with the query: “Which union?” He mentioned many Scots would favor to dwell within the EU than in a “damaged Brexit Britain”.

With elections to the Scottish parliament looming in Might 2021, Mr Blackford mentioned Brexit was “an act of financial vandalism, pure and easy”, which might bind enterprise in “crimson, white and blue” tape.

Mr Johnson struck a conciliatory be aware, telling MPs: “What we sought was not a rupture however a decision, a decision of the outdated and vexed query of Britain’s political relations with Europe, which bedevilled our postwar historical past.

“Now, with this invoice, we will be a pleasant neighbour — the perfect pal and ally the EU might have.” He mentioned Britain would assert itself on the world stage in 2021 as “a liberal, outward-looking power for good”.

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