Monday 8 March 2021

Britain seals historic brexit deal with EU; sterling hits new high

LONDON, December 24, 2020

Britain clinched a historic Brexit trade deal with the European Union on Thursday, just seven days before it exits one of the world’s biggest trading blocs in its most significant global shift since the loss of empire, said media reports.
The deal means it has swerved away from a chaotic finale to a tortuous divorce that has shaken the 70-year project to forge European unity from the ruins of World War Two, reported Reuters.
"Deal is done," read a statement from Downing Street. "Everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal."
As the country leaves the single market and customs union on 31 December, new arrangements allowing for tariff-free trade in goods and close police and judicial cooperation will come into force.
The announcement followed a final call between Boris Johnson in Downing Street and the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in her Berlaymont headquarters in Brussels – at least the fifth such telephone conversation over the last 24 hours.
The deal will define their future trading relationship, reducing the risk of the UK crashing out of the European single market on January 1.
The negotiators worked through the night on Wednesday in an effort to finalise details of agreements reached on the sensitive issue of EU fishing rights in UK waters - the issue that has dominated the final days of talks. 
EU and UK teams were still at work at the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels on Thursday afternoon, reported BBC. 
Disputes over fishing rights and future business competition rules have been the major hurdles to agreement during months of often fraught talks.
Number 10 finally announced the deal, hailing it "fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK" ahead of a press conference.
"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," it stated.
"We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved with the EU. The deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth £668bn in 2019, reported Reuters citing the government statement.
"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 January 1, 2021," it added.
"A points-based immigration system will put us in full control of who enters the UK and free movement will end.
"We have delivered this great deal for the entire United Kingdom in record time, and under extremely challenging conditions, which protects the integrity of our internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it.
"We have got Brexit done and we can now take full advantage of the fantastic opportunities available to us as an independent trading nation, striking trade deals with other partners around the world."
But officials on both sides said the terms of the post-Brexit relationship were essentially settled, with the deal set to preserve tariff-free trade in goods and protect co-operation in other areas, such as security.
Officials on each side blamed the other for the delay in confirming the deal, the terms of which were brokered on Wednesday by UK prime minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. 
An EU diplomat said Britain had sought late changes, while people on the UK side said Brussels had needed to revise numbers in its fishing quota calculations after identifying mistakes.
The Confederation of British Industry met the UK-EU trade deal with relief but urged Boris Johnson’s government to provide quick guidance to businesses with little over a week before the transition period ends, reported FT.
“This will come as a huge relief to British business at a time when resilience is at an all-time low,” said Tony Danker, director-general of the CBI.
However, he cautioned that businesses will need support as the deal has come with so little time before coming into effect to ensure trade and services keep flowing between the island nation and the union. “Immediate guidance from government is required across all sectors,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nigel Farage, Brexit party leader said the imminent deal was not perfect, but added: “On the big stuff, the war is over.”
Sterling traded near its highs of the year against the dollar on Thursday as expectations grew of a deal announcement. The currency rose 0.5 per cent in early London trading to $1.3559.



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