The UK And EU Have Finally Agreed A Post-Brexit Trade Deal
A Brexit trade deal has been struck
The UK and EU have struck a free trade deal after days of delays in the final stages of the negotiations.
UK and EU negotiators have agreed a landmark free trade agreement, just days before Britain is set to leave the single market when the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.
The new deal will apply from 1 January 2021 with Mr Johnson saying the eleventh hour agreement was a "good deal for the whole of Europe" and would provide "certainty for business".
While the full 500 page text of the deal is yet to be released, a summary of the agreement from the EU said it "provides for zero tarrifs and zero quotas on all good that comply with the appropriate rules of origin".
It added: "Both parties have committed to ensuring a robust level playing field by maintaining high levels of protections, the fight against climate change and carbon pricing, social and labour rights, tax transparency and State aid, with effective domestic enforcement, a binding dispute settlement mechanism and the possibility for both parties to take remedial mesures."
However, the EU claimed the UK side had chosen not to continue its involvement with the Erasmus programme which allows students to travel and study in universities across the EU.
Instead, Mr Johnson said a new "Turing scheme" would be established to fund British students who wished to study abroad to replace the scheme, claiming the involvement in the Erasmus scheme was costing the UK treasury too much.
The agreement avoids a no-deal outcome and comes after numerous missed deadlines and suggestions that the two sides were unlikely to find an agreement.
It is believed the issue of fishing rights resulted in a final delay to the talks in the final hours, with the EU reportedly using out-of-date data when setting new fishing quotas.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said: "We have finally found an agreement. It was a long and winding road but we have got a good deal to show for it. It is fair, it is a balanced deal, it is the right thing to do for both sides."
Ms von der Leyen added the deal left "fair competition, EU rules and standards respected" and added there would be "effective rules to react if fair competition is distorted and impacts our trade".
And on the issue of fishing, which is believed to have been a major sticking point in final days, she added: "We have secured 5.5 years of full predictability for our fishing communities and strong tools to incentivise to remain so”
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said the deal would give the country the "best possible chance of bouncing back strongly" from the coronavirus pandemic, claiming it was the biggest trade deal ever agreed, worth around £600bn each year.
He added: "This deal above all means certainty, for the aviation industry, the hauliers... the police, the border forces, and all those that keep us safe.
"It means certainty for our scientists who will be able to work together on great collective projects.
"But above all it means certainty for business."
Mr Johnson said the UK would continue to be a "your friend, your ally, your supporter and indeed never let it be forgotten, your number one market.
"Although we have left the EU, this country will remain culturally, emotionally, historically, strategically, geologically attached to Europe - not least through the 4 million EU nationals who have requested to settle in the UK over the last four years and who make an enormous contribution to our country and our lives."
But Mr Johnson admitted the arrangement provided the ability to apply tarrifs on goods if either side believed trade rules were being undermined but insisted they would be "proportionate" and "subject to arbitration".
Meanwhile, a Number 10 source added: "Everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal.
"We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters.
"The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK. We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved with the EU."
They added: "The deal also guarantees that we are no longer in the lunar pull of the EU, we are not bound by EU rules, there is no role for the European Court of Justice and all of our key red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved.
"It means that we will have full political and economic independence on 1st January 2021."
The statement went on: "A points-based immigration system will put us in full control of who enters the UK and free movement will end..
MPs will now be recalled to Parliament on 30 December to approve the deal, with the vote almost certain to pass after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would "accept it".
"As leader of the Labour Party I have urged the Government to get on with the negotiating and get the deal that it promised. I wanted the talks to succeed. I did so because a deal is in the national interest," he said.
"Businesses need a deal. Working people need a deal. Families need a deal. The fact that the Government was even considering no-deal during a global pandemic was grossly irresponsible.
"And after months of negotiation, a deal has now been agreed. The choice facing Parliament, the choice facing Labour is now whether to accept that deal, or to reject it."
He added: "When this deal comes before parliament, Labour will accept it and vote for it."
But Mr Johnson could come under some pressure from members of the pro-Brexit European Research Group of Conservative MPs, with Tory MP Andrew Bridgen saying they would look to "ensure the PM hasn't crossed any red lines - that we are taking back full control of our laws, borders and money.
"If Boris has managed to pull of this deal in record time, that will be a great Christmas present for all the UK."
He warned the "devil will be in the detail" insisting that parliament should be given sufficient time to scrutinise the deal, so they were "not rushed into agreeing terms on a 2000+ page document".
Bridgen added: "People need to realise a treaty of this sort is not just for Christmas."
Meanwhile, responding to the announcement, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Before the spin starts, it’s worth remembering that Brexit is happening against Scotland’s will.
"And there is no deal that will ever make up for what Brexit takes away from us. It’s time to chart our own future as an independent, European nation."