Brexit deal done, as the United Kingdom and the European Union reached an agreement covering trade worth £668 billion, which is about $909billion.
“Deal is done,” a Downing Street source said. “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,” the source said.
However, the initial statement makes no mention of the economic blow to the UK which most experts believe the severing of the close ties with the EU will have in coming years, or the expected at least short-term disruption in trade.
It also made no mention of concessions made in order to reach the agreement with Brussels, which are likely to anger some Brexiteers, or of new checks down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Britain.
Instead, the sources insisted that the deal “means that we will have full political and economic independence on 1st January 2021.
They added: “We have got Brexit deal 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.
“A points-based immigration system will put us in full control of who enters the UK and free movement will end.
The breakthrough came after negotiations dragged on through the night.
It means that when the Brexit transition period ends on 1 January goods can still pass between Britain and its largest trading partner, the EU, without the imposition of widespread tarrifs.
There had been fears that “no deal” would have resulted in further chaos at Channel ports and higher prices in shops in the New Year as retailers passed on new import taxes to consumers.
The talks, between teams led by David Frost for the UK and Michel Barnier for the EU, began in March but have repeatedly hit obstacles that made it look likely ‘no deal’ was the most likely outcome.
The two biggest sticking points have been fishing quotas for European fleets, and the so called “level playing field” on regulations such as workers rights and environmental protection.
EU leaders have said they could not allow tariff free access to the Single Market unless the UK signed up to the same standard of regulations, while Britain insisted this would deny sovereignty.
The deal is likely to mean a recall of Parliament immediately after Christmas so that it can be ratified in law.