Brexit: Boris Johnson’s deal clears House of Lords
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At 23:00 on Thursday night Brexit was completed as Britain began trading with the EU on the basis of the deal negotiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The moment was celebrated by the ringing of Big Ben and “Happy Brexit” began trending on Twitter. The new agreement replaced the Brexit transition deal which left the UK an EU member in all but name in many policy areas after Britain formally broke from the bloc at the end of January. Britain will no longer have to pay into the EU budget, come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice or have to implement laws made in Brussels.
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A number of prominent Brexit supporters took to Twitter to express their joy at the news.
Lord Frost, the UK’s lead Brexit negotiator, said: “Britain has just become a fully independent country again – deciding our own affairs for ourselves. Thank you to everyone who worked with me & Boris Johnson to get us here in the last 18 months.
“We have a great future before us. Now we can build a better country for us all.”
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage added: “This is a big moment for our country, a giant leap forward. Time to raise a glass. #BrexitAtLast ”
Brexit Live (Image: PA)
The Prime Minister earlier said: “I want to thank my fellow MPs and peers for passing this historic Bill and would like to express my gratitude to all of the staff here in Parliament and across Government who have made today possible.
“The destiny of this great country now resides firmly in our hands. We take on this duty with a sense of purpose and with the interests of the British public at the heart of everything we do.
“11pm on the 31st December marks a new beginning in our country’s history and a new relationship with the EU as their biggest ally. This moment is finally upon us and now is the time to seize it.”
MPs backed the Bill by 521 to 73 at third reading, while peers gave it an unopposed third reading late on Wednesday night.
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Friday, January 1
5:59am update: Emmanuel Macron says UK will remain “friend and ally” after Brexit
French President Emmanuel Macron has insisted Britain will remain a “friend and ally” of France now Brexit is complete.
During EU trade talks Mr Macron clashed repeatedly with Boris Johnson over access for European fishing boats into British waters.
However the two sides finally agreed a deal on Christmas Eve.
3:35am update: Nicola Sturgeon sparks backlash with ‘Scotland will be back’ Brexit tweet
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon reacted to Britain leaving the Brexit transition period on December 31 by tweeting: ” Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on.”
However a number of other social media users took issue with her message.
One tweeted: ” You are aware just over one million Scottish voters voted for Brexit as well?”
Another added: ” How will Scotland be independent if they're in the EU? They can't have both.”
A third simply posted: ” Scotland will always be in Europe. But we will not be back in the EU. Even if you do achieve Scexit, your own people say it will be approximately 19 years before we would be eligible to join.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been praised for his “tremendous” leadership in securing a Brexit deal by a Conservative MP.
Daniel Kawczynski, Conservative MP for Shrewsbury, said on Twitter: "I had the opportunity today to meet and personally thank the Prime Minister for the deal he has negotiated with the EU. He has shown tremendous leadership and deserves our thanks."
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon used the moment Brexit was finally completed to claim Scotland will end up breaking away from the UK and rejoining the EU.
The nationalist leader Tweeted: “Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on.”
Despite Scotland voting to remain part of Britain in 2014 Ms Sturgeon is demanding a second referendum on the question.
Thursday, December 31
11.30pm update: Big Ben chimes to celebrate Brexit
Big Ben climed at 11pm on Thursday night to mark the moment the UK’s Brexit process was finally completed.
ITV reporter Paul Brand tweeted: “And that’s it. Britain has officially ended all semblance of EU membership.
“As the clock strikes 11pm, Big Ben’s bongs sound the death knell for the defining debate of the past 5 years. The Brexit process is complete.”
11.01pm update: Britain leaves Brexit transition period!
Britain has just left the European Union Brexit transition period and will now trade with the EU in accordance with the new trade deal negotiated by Boris Johnson.
This means the UK will no longer pay into the EU budget, be subject to the European Court of Justice or have to implement regulation made in Brussels.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage tweeted: “This is a big moment for our country, a giant leap forward. Time to raise a glass. #BrexitAtLast ”
Lord Frost, who led the UK’s Brexit negotiating team, added: “Britain has just become a fully independent country again – deciding our own affairs for ourselves. Thank you to everyone who worked with me & Boris Johnson to get us here in the last 18 months.
“We have a great future before us. Now we can build a better country for us all.”
James Bickerton takes over live reporting from Rachel Russell
Big Ben rang to mark the completion of Brexit (Image: ITV NEWS )
9.46pm update: The switchover at Eurotunnel when UK leaves the single market and customs union at 11pm will be “seamless”, spokesman for shuttle service says
John Keefe said: “For the majority of trucks they won’t even notice the difference.
“There was always the risk that if this happened at a busy time then we could run into some difficulties but it’s happening overnight on a bank holiday and a long weekend.
“There is a much lower level of traffic going across the Channel than a regular night.”
He added that there was “no residue” left from the huge queues of lorries in Kent caused by France effectively shutting the border with the UK earlier in December amid fears over Covid-19.
8.30pm update: Eurosceptic Tories hail the impending end of Brexit transition period
Eurosceptic Tory MPs have hailed the impending end of the Brexit transition period as a “victory for democracy and sovereignty”.
Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU entered into law overnight after clearing Parliament late on Wednesday, when MPs and peers rushed through approval in a single day.
The Prime Minister said 11pm on December 31 marks a “new beginning in our country’s history and a new relationship with the EU as their biggest ally”.
Eurosceptic MPs, once derided as a band of fringe eccentrics on the margins of the Conservative Party, expressed their delight.
Veteran Tory Sir Bill Cash said it is a “victory for democracy and sovereignty” that can only be compared in peacetime with the evolution of modern democracy after the end of the Stuart dynasty.
He said he is “extremely happy and glad” that the UK is leaving the single market and customs union, and praised Mr Johnson, negotiators and voters for making it happen.
Sir Bill, who has sat on the European Scrutiny Committee for 35 years, said: “The victory is one for democracy and for sovereignty and it is a momentous moment which, by any historic standards, can only be compared in peacetime to what happened in the late 1680s and ’90s.
“Which was the removal of the Stuarts, but followed by the new parliamentary constitutional arrangements which were enacted through the Act of Succession with the Hanoverians going on the throne.
“But followed by evolution of modern democracy which was only ruptured, apart from war, in terms of potential dangers of conquest, but was actually only disrupted by our entry into the European Community on the false prospectus in 1972.”
Fellow Eurosceptic Sir John Redwood, who has been a Conservative MP for more than 30 years, said he feels “much relief” that the UK has stated its wish to be “self-governing”.
He said: “I never doubted we would win the referendum. I argued that we were being good Europeans by stepping aside from their mighty task to create a United States of Europe.
“We should wish them well and be friends with them, but the fact that the UK had refused to join the euro showed where our hearts resided – with the wider world and with national democracy.
“Today I feel much relief that our country has been open with our friends in Europe and stated clearly we wish to be self-governing, whilst good friends and allies of theirs.
“I look forward to 2021 as a year of strong economic recovery, where we can start to use the new freedoms and opportunities now open to global Britain.”
7.59pm update: SNP demands Europe should “leave a light on for Scotland” as Brexit transition period comes to an end
The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Scotland would “be back” to rejoin the EU as an independent country.
However, the Conservatives accused the SNP-run Scottish Government of spreading “propaganda” about the Brexit deal on its official channels.
The Scottish Conservatives objected to a video on social media which they described as “one-sided Nationalist distortion”.
Scotland will leave the European Union despite Holyrood refusing to give legislative consent for the Prime Minister’s Brexit agreement.
MSPs voted by 92 to 30 to say the deal would “cause severe damage to Scotland’s environmental, economic and social interests”, following a debate on Wednesday.
The transition period formally comes to an end at 11pm on Thursday, meaning Scotland’s trading relationship with EU countries will be governed by the new agreement.
On Thursday evening, Mr Blackford said: “I ask our European friends and neighbours to leave a light on for Scotland.
“Scotland will remain a European nation, we will continue to build strong links, and we will be back to take our place as an independent member of the EU.”
Brexit: Leavers ‘own the status quo’ says Nigel Farage
The Reform UK leader told talkRADIO that the Brexit wars within the United Kingdom are over following Boris Johnson agreeing on a post-Brexit free trade agreement with the European Union. Mr Farage added that 11pm on New Year’s Eve marks the end of the great rift the UK has witnessed regarding Brexit.
He said: “I would have much rather gone for no deal, accepted the short-term pain and been freed in every way from everything from these dreadful people in the European Commission.
“But I knew in practical terms that was never going to happen because it would have reopened the split within the Conservative Party.
“The CBI would have gone mad and the Brexit wars would have continued.
“So the good thing about this deal is number one it is not an EU treaty, that is great news.”
4.07pm update: Boris Johnson praises UK and Spain’s agreement on Gibraltar’s future relationship with EU
Spain and Britain reached a preliminary agreement today to keep the Gibraltar land border open, just hours before the UK’s full exit from the European Union
The Prime Minister tweeted: “I wholeheartedly welcome today's political agreement between the UK and Spain on Gibraltar's future relationship with the EU.
“The UK has always been, and will remain, totally committed to the protection of the interests of Gibraltar and its British sovereignty.”
The Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo refused to elaborate on the details of a draft agreement governing its future relationship with Spain.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the agreement, Mr Picardo said: “I’m not going to go into details of what is in this framework because it is an in-principle agreement, it is not a treaty.
“It is important to understand there are differences between teams over many aspects of these arrangements of course.”
He added: “But we have given ourselves the space to be able to find the areas of agreement and the in-principle agreement that we have is that there should be an initial period where there is a Frontex presence.
“I am going to reserve my views at this stage over what should happen later, but people will not have to guess very much what the Government of Gibraltar will insist should be the position at the end of that four-year period.”
Lord Adonis has vowed to fight to overturn Brexit (Image: PA)
The eurosceptic MP however admitted to feeling concerned about at least two aspects of the agreement Boris Johnson struck with Brussels on Christmas Eve.
Speaking to colleagues in the Commons on Wednesday, he said: “We stand on the threshold of independence day so bring on the measures.
“I do have a couple of worries about this agreement. The first is over fishing.
‘One of the great crises of Brexit is to recapture control of our fishing stocks to rebuild our coastal communities and our fishing industry.
“Will the Government today promise to legislate immediately to prevent pulse fishing and large trawlers from doing enormous damage to our marine environment and to our fish stocks?
“We could at least do that as proof that we intend to rebuild our marine environment and our own domestic fishing industry.
The European Union’s insistence on the exclusion of the Falkland Islands from the post-Brexit trade deal ratified by Parliament yesterday is likely motivated by a “bloody-minded” determination to “punish” Britain for quitting the bloc, an insider has suggested.
And the source – who has an in-depth understanding of the Falklands situation – also suggested recent comments by Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez are indicative of his country’s increasingly aggressive mindset in relation to the remote archipelago.
The Falklands, along with other British overseas territories including Gibraltar is not covered by the deal unveiled on Christmas Eve.
Given the importance to the Falklands economy of exports of fish to the European market, the decision has serious implications, with estimates suggesting Falklanders will begin paying tariffs of between six percent and 18 percent from Friday.
1.33pm update: Three-months customs grace period for parcels to Northern Ireland
The Government has announced a three-month grace period on new customs processes for parcels shipped into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
The long-anticipated guidance comes after several major retailers, including John Lewis, suspended deliveries into the region amid uncertainty over new Irish Sea trading arrangements.
Under the terms of the Brexit withdrawal deal, Northern Ireland will apply EU customs rules at its ports from 11pm on New Year’s Eve.
While the wider free trade deal has ruled out the prospect of tariffs on goods from Britain entering Northern Ireland, customs declarations will still be required.
Traders have been seeking clarity on whether declarations would be needed on all parcels being sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, including those being shipped directly to consumers.
The Government has announced that declarations will not be required on the majority of parcels sent to Northern Ireland until April 1.
12.51pm update: AC Grayling predicts swift return the Brussels fold
Author and philosopher AC Grayling has predicted Britain will rejoin the European Union and take a leading role within the bloc.
He tweeted: “2020 concludes the temporary success of what the National Front, Enoch Powell, then UKIP and ERG worked for over 40 years.
“We will take far, far less time than that to rejoin the EU and take a leading role in the greatest project for peace and cooperation in the history of the world.”
Spanish fishermen are facing huge financial losses after the European Union stopped recognising the Falklands as a UK commercial territory as part of the Brexit deal, industry chiefs have warned.
The trade agreement sealed by Boris Johnson does not apply to a raft of overseas territories – including the Falklands and South Georgia – which have special relationships with Britain.
And as a result, Spanish trawlermen who fish for squid off the Falklands fear they could be blocked from the lucrative waters of the South Atlantic.
Industry chiefs said around 79,000 tons of squid worth £180 million was caught in the 2019 season.
Argentina’s Foreign Minister Felipe Sola has welcomed the exclusion of the Falklands from the Brexit deal and implied he was instrumental in persuading the bloc to do so.
Guy Verhofstadt has fired a parting shot as the UK finally leaves the European Union and declared: “Britain is a European country, with a European destiny!”
The European Parliament’s Brexit Coordinator and Chair of the Brexit Steering Group tweeted: “Dear Britain, in your absence, we will look after the single market you did so much to build!
“We may not share your definition of sovereignty but we part as friends and allies.
“Brexit doesn’t change the reality that Britain is a European country, with a European destiny!”
Guy Verhofstadt insists Britain still has a European destiny (Image: PA)
Former Brexit minister David Davis has claimed EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier was “rattled” when Boris Johnson called his bluff in last-ditch trade talks.
Mr Davis said the treaty agreed by the Prime Minister was “much better than would have been achieved under the previous strategy”.
But he warned there were still “issues to deal with” on Northern Ireland, fishing and Gibraltar.
Mr Davis told the Commons: “It’s not over. All will lead to uncomfortable decisions in the near future.”
10.14am update: Trump hits France and Germany with tariffs after ‘unfair retaliation’
Donald Trump has hit back with tariffs against France and Germany amid the battle over aircraft subsidies.
Due to the EU imposing "unfair" tariffs on US products, the Trump administration has announced it will strike back with similar measures on French and German imports.
The US government stated Brussels had imposed tariffs on "substantially" more American products following the result of WTO litigation.
Although the WTO authorised the tariffs, the US has stated Brussels had unfairly raised levies on aviation parts.
In a document released by the US Trade Representative, the tariffs affected £2.9bn in US trade products.
In a further warning to Brussels, Washington has demanded the bloc must take additional measures to compensate the unfair tariff restrictions.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (Image: PA)
9.32am update: Barnier comments fuel speculation of challenge to Emmanuel Macron
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier could be considering a run for French president in 2022 after now Britain has left the bloc after declaring himself “available and mobilised”.
Mr Barnier has spent more than four years thrashing out the UK’s departure from EU after taking up the role in July 2016.
The 69-year-old, who previously served as a European Commissioner and French foreign minister, has sparked speculation he could be planning to challenge Emmanuel Macron as leader of France’s centre-right Republican party now Brexit has been completed.
And while he has not unveiled any specific plans for his future, recent comments suggest he is keen to play a role in serving his home country.
He told Franceinfo radio, he said: “I will use my energy to serve my country.
“I am a patriot and a European.”
8.45am update: Frexit movement turns to Britain for inspiration
France’s growing campaign to leave the European Union has urged followers to take inspiration from Britain’s imminent departure from the bloc.
The Generation Frexit group tweeted: “The sovereign wish of a people to live according to its own laws: the United Kingdom is renewing this fundamental right that the European Union confiscated from them for too long.
“Let France be next and #TakeBackControl as well, leaving this harmful, paralysing and ruinous EU.”
Generation Frexit founder Charles-Henri Gallois said: “If France is a democratic country we must also give voice to the people about our EU membership.”
Brexit timeline (Image: EXPRESS.CO.UK)
8.24am update: Starmer strikes upbeat note as Britain prepares for post-Brexit future
Sir Keir Starmer says Labour will focus on ensuring “greater prosperity, fairness and opportunity” as the UK forges a “new path” in the world after Brexit.
In his new year’s message, the Labour leader struck an upbeat note, declaring the country’s “best years are still to come”.
He said: “The United Kingdom is forging a new path in the world.
“And the Labour Party that I lead will focus on ensuring that path leads to greater prosperity, fairness and opportunity for every nation and region, every village, every town and city that makes up our great United Kingdom.
“I believe this can once again be the best country to grow up in and the best country to grow old in.
“And with that hope and that vision, I believe that our best years are still to come.”
His comments came after the party voted to back Boris Johnson’s EU trade deal, arguing that it was better than leaving with no deal, despite the misgivings of some of his pro-Europe MPs.
Sir Keir Starmer has delivered an upbeat New Year message (Image: PA)
7.49am update: French minister insists Britain ‘punished itself’
French European Affairs junior minister Clement Beaune has insisted Britain has “punished itself” by leaving the EU.
Mr Beaune said Brussels did not punish the UK with the Brexit trade deal but had still managed to defend the bloc’s interests.
He said: “With Brexit, Britain is punishing itself. We weren’t trying to punish it.”
“Britain realised that having no access to the European market would be an economic disaster.
“This is why, in the deal that was reached, there is access to the European market, but while respecting our conditions and rules.
“This day will be historic but it will be a sad day because, when a country leaves the EU for the first time after 45 years of living together, it is sad.
“Brexit must be a lesson that we must push forward better, faster and stronger as Europeans.”
7.30am update: Lord Lamont calls for ‘more harmonious relationship’ with EU
Former chancellor Lord Lamont has declared it “time to let the grass grow over the Brexit battlefield”.
The prominent Tory Brexiteer made the plea as Parliament backed Boris Johnson’s historic post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.
He said: “Historians may conclude that British membership of the EU was always doomed from the very start because the British view of the political destination of Europe was always different, although our establishment always tried to conceal this from the British public, particularly in the 1975 referendum.
“Nevertheless, the story of our membership has been one of endless arguments about further integration. From now on there will be no more British vetoes, no more British opt-outs, no more British triple locks.
“Now we can have a more harmonious relationship between two sovereign peoples.
“Far better to put the effort into addressing the international challenges that face us and also the domestic issues that cause so many of our fellow citizens to feel alienated and disillusioned, which is why they voted for Brexit.
“It’s time to let the grass grow over the Brexit battlefield. Let us all work to make this new partnership the success it ought to be.”
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