politics

All the main points in Brexit deal which MPs will have just days to digest


MPs will have just days to digest the 1,246-page Brexit trade deal before voting on it during an emergency recall of Parliament on Wednesday.

Westminster went into recess for Christmas last week as negotiations with the EU dragged on in the run-up to the festive period.

But, after the Christmas Eve breakthrough where UK and ­Brussels finally reached agreement, MPs will be summoned to the Commons – virtually in most cases – to have their say on the pact.

Brandishing the historic text, Boris Johnson said in a Twitter video posted late on Thursday: “Tonight, on Christmas Eve, I have a present for anyone who may be looking for something to read in that sleepy post-Christmas lunch moment. And here it is, tidings, glad tidings of great joy because this is a deal.

“A deal to give certainty to business, travellers and investors in our country from January 1 – a deal with our friends and partners in the EU.”

What do you make of the Brexit deal? Have your say in the comments section



The PM thinks it’s all over

The Prime Minister is expected to win next week’s crunch vote thanks to his 80-seat Parliamentary majority, even if some backbench Tory rebels try to derail the deal.

MPs were still waiting today to see the whole agreement after ministers presented them with an initial 34-page summary.

As soon as it is published in full, MPs from the Tory hard-right ­European Research Group will pore over every detail.

EU ambassadors received a Christmas Day briefing on the huge document from the bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Sebastian Fischer, a spokesman for the German presidency of the Council of the EU, joked he had been looking forward to the diplomats’ meeting “because nothing is more fun than to celebrate Christmas among socially distanced colleagues. Thank you, Brexit.”



European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier briefed ambassadors

Later, he added on Twitter: “EU ambassadors praised Michel Barnier and the EU negotiation team for their resilience and steadfastness under intense pressure during ­negotiations with the UK.”

Austria’s envoy Gregor Schusterschitz said it was “a big challenge for all to adapt quickly” to the deal, which comes into force in six days.

And French Europe Minister Clement Beaune said it was a “good agreement” not done “at all costs”.

Mr Beaune told broadcaster Europe 1 “we needed an agreement less than the British” as “for them, it was a vital need”.



Johnson holds up the pages of the Brexit deal

He added British food and ­industrial products entering the single market after January 1 would not face customs duties “but will have to meet all our standards”.

“There is no country in the world that will be subject to as many export rules to us as the UK,” he said.

Unveiling the deal on Christmas Eve, Mr Johnson said it covers trade worth £660billion and means goods and components can be sold with no tariffs and quotas.

Allegations of unfair competition will be judged by an independent panel with the possibility of a “proportionate” response, and the share of fish in British waters the UK can catch rises from half to two-thirds after a five-and-a-half-year transition.

But the mayor of French fishing port Boulogne-sur-Mer insisted some issues were still not resolved.

Frederic Cuvillier said: “Who, for example, will be handling the controls? And over what time?

“The only certainty is that we need to find, during the transition period, more deals within the deal.”

Tariff-free trade



The Nissan plant in Sunderland needs the support

The deal means no tariffs or quotas on most of the UK’s £660billion-a-year trade with the Continent.

Failing to strike an agreement would have meant trade only on World Trade Organisation terms, which would have hiked prices for exporters and in British shops.

But firms will still face significant barriers to the EU market after December 31 as they will have to carry out customs declarations on UK-EU trade.

“Non-tariff barrier costs” are expected to rise by 4% to 8%, according to farmers’ bodies.

It will leave Britain facing a 4% loss of potential gross domestic product over 15 years compared with being in the EU, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.

No10 says some barriers have been removed, including by using streamlined customs arrangements, “trusted trader schemes”, cooperation on public, animal and plant health, measures to overcome technical barriers to trade and key provisions in “rules of origin” to support key companies such as Nissan and Toyota.

Level playing field



President of Commission Ursula von der Leyen said there were ‘strong’ measures in the deal

The level playing field is designed to ensure common rules and standards, and to provide fair competition between businesses.

It prevents companies in one country gaining an advantage over rival firms in other nations.

Under these rules, each side will be able “as sovereign equals” to take action if the other undercuts their industry.

This means the EU will be able to slap tariffs on UK exports if Britain is deemed to have undercut bloc rules, and vice versa.

Boris Johnson insisted it would have to be “proportionate”, infrequent and “subject to arbitration”.

No10 said any trade “distortion” would have to be proven to have lasted six months or more, and be considered by an independent arbitration panel.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, left, said there were “strong measures” in the agreement to punish one side if they violated the terms of the deal.

Brussels had originally demanded the UK follow EU laws.

Fish



A UK fishing trawler in the Channel nets a deal

Despite accounting for just 0.1% of the UK economy, the fishing industry was the biggest hurdle to a deal.

Fishing was worth £437million to the UK economy last year, dwarfed by the £126bilion financial services sector, for example.

But its symbolism outstrips its value and restoring “sovereignty” of British waters was significant to many British politicians and members of the public.

Meanwhile France, Denmark and the Netherlands pushed Brussels to maintain a hard line on the issue.

EU chiefs wanted 14 years of access to British waters, whereas the UK wanted to reclaim immediate control of them.

A five-and-a-half-year transition period was agreed. The UK share of fish caught in British waters will rise to reclaim 25% of fish currently caught by EU trawlers by 2026.

Originally the UK was demanding 80% of the EU’s fish quotas in British waters.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted: “Compromise isn’t a dirty word – and there are unquestionably things we’ve done to help our friends and partners to move things forward.”

Security



Armed police patrol Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

Both the UK and EU were adamant Brexit should not jeopardise security cooperation between them.

However, there are technical and legal constraints on what can be achieved now the UK is out.

This is because the principles of the bloc’s single market apply to internal security and justice just as much as they do to trade, and non-members cannot have as close a relationship as members do.

Once the post-Brexit transition period ends on December 31, the UK will be out of the single market and such close co-operation will no longer be allowed.

But both Brussels and London insist the deal agreed secures solid security and police cooperation – and they have both said it remains a priority in their relationship.

The UK and France are Europe’s two biggest military powers and contribute to NATO.

The allies will not compromise that partnership, despite the divorce from the Continent.

European Court



Luxembourg City is the home to a number of European institutions such as the European Court of Justice

Ending the reach of the European Court of Justice was one of the main drivers behind the 2016 Brexit campaign.

The deal agreed is understood to rule out a role for the ECJ – a major concession by the EU which wanted it to resolve disputes.

The two sides have agreed a system which follows international, rather than EU, law in what the Government will portray as a victory for the UK and another reclamation of sovereignty.

That will help Boris Johnson sell the pact to potentially rebellious backbenchers.

However, the UK remains bound by the European Court of Human Rights, which it helped to establish and which sits outside
the EU.

This could give rise to controversial rulings which may be characterised as edicts from “Euro judges” – even though Britain has left the EU.

Tory rebels could mount a fresh campaign for the country to quit the ECHR and revive plans for a British Bill of Rights.





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