UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared victory in the four-year battle for Brexit on Thursday, saying the UK had “taken back control” after negotiators secured a post-Brexit free trade agreement with the EU – a few days before the deadline to finish leaving the bloc.
“It achieves something that the people of this country instinctively knew was possible, but they said it was impossible – we regain control of our laws and our destiny, we regain control of every jot and tittle of our regulation on a path that is complete and unrestricted “he said at a news conference in London.
UNITED KINGDOM, EU ANNOUNCE POST-BREXIT AGREEMENT, DAYS BEFORE THE DEADLINE
Johnson announced the free trade agreement after days of frantic negotiations ahead of the January 1 deadline. The details will be examined in the coming days by the leaders of EU nations, as well as by the European and British parliaments – with British chambers scheduled to vote on the deal on December 30.
Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016 at what was the first populist seismic event in 2016 – to be followed months later by the election of President Trump in the U.S. – but the country has struggled to enact the mandate amid legal challenges and political upheavals, political resistance and diplomatic brick walls.
Since 2016, the UK has seen two prime ministers resign and two general elections. Johnson took over 10 Downing Street in the summer of 2019 and called for an election in the winter, promising exhausted voters that he would end the Brexit saga and the parliamentary standoff caused by the lean majority of the Conservative Party if voters expanded that majority.
As a result, his party won the election, and the majority, and the UK formally left in January this year – moving the UK into a transition period by the end of the year, to allow negotiators to work out a free trade agreement. trade.
But that deal has grappled with longstanding issues of EU sovereignty, competition and rights to fish in British waters, as well as the global pandemic. The prime minister, in a typically Johnsonian flourish, agreed to the controversy over fishing rights wearing a fishy tie at a news conference.
The new agreement prevents quotas and tariffs from being lifted on January 1 and avoids the potential chaos at ports and the scarcity of vital goods, which many feared if the UK left without an agreement.
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While the details could potentially cause controversy on both sides of the English Channel, they were likely to win approval – with both sides eager to avoid the damage that a deal without an agreement could cause.
Johnson hailed this as a victory for his Brexit approach – taking a tougher stance than predecessor Theresa May and dismissing concerns that Britain was asking too much for Brussels, demanding independence and free trade.
“People said you couldn’t be part of a free trade zone with the EU without being obliged to follow EU laws, if you remember, I think we were told that we couldn’t have our cake and eat it and that kind of thing, “he said. “I will not say that this is an easy treaty … but I believe that the country needs it right now and the right path for the UK”
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, at her press conference in Brussels, also said it was a victory for the bloc, saying the EU had guaranteed “predictability” for fishing and measures to protect Europe. But she was more silent in her delight than her British counterpart.
“Today I just feel a quiet satisfaction and, frankly, a relief,” she said. “I know this is a difficult day for some and for our friends in the UK, I mean that the farewell is a sweet sadness.”
The UK is now likely to focus its attention not only on the coronavirus pandemic, but also on securing a US-UK. trade agreement, which could face obstacles under a more skeptical and pro-EU Biden administration.
Ken Martin of Fox News contributed to this report.