politics

Boris Johnson's Brexit deal – what the UK wanted and what we got at a glance


Boris Johnson has touted post-Brexit changes to business taxes and regulation next year as Conservative Eurosceptics pored over the details of his trade agreement with the EU.

But how did the UK really fare in the deal?

Scrutiny of the treaty began in earnest when the 1,246-page document was officially published on the morning of Boxing Day – less than a week before its implementation.

It was quickly met with severe criticism from those working in the fishing industry who said they had been “sacrificed” in order to secure the deal with Brussels.

The Prime Minister said that, although he accepts that “the devil is in the detail” of the deal, he believes that it will stand up to inspection from the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteers.

So as the PM prepares for a Tory charm offensive – how well did what we get match up to the Tory promises.



Trade – especially of fish was a major sticking point in the deal

Trade

What we wanted: The key watchword of the deal for Boris Johnson and his Brexit hardliners. They claim the point of Brexit was taking control of our laws and borders.

What we got: No10 says the deal “fully delivers” on the referendum result.

What it means: PM can fairly claim a win, but the symbolism matters most. The text of the deal (in documents released so far) does not mention it. And EU chief Ursula von der Leyen pointedly questioned “what sovereignty means in the 21st century”.



European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the deal was fair

Health

What we wanted: Continued free treatment for Brit travellers entering EU countries and Europeans travelling here.

The EU was keen to make this work but insisted guarantees under the European Health Insurance Card would expire.

What we got: The EU agreed that healthcare provisions similar to the EHIC will continue for British citizens in EU states for the period of their visit.

What it means: Further detail on the practicalities is expected from Whitehall.

Laws

What we wanted: Exit from the rule of the European Court of Justice, which had the final say on cases such as human rights,company disputes, and product standards.

What we got: No role for the ECG, except in Northern Ireland, where questions remain over details of custom controls.

What it means: Courts can no longer refer cases to the ECJ for a ruling. Brexiteers claimed it had been used to flout domestic laws on disputes over asylum, employment and sometimes criminal cases



The future of work
Security could prove to be a major headache

Security

What we wanted: To maintain access to intelligence, and the European Arrest Warrant. The EU said this was not option.

What we got: Continued sharing of data and forensic material, but with limitations which will become clear in practice. The EU tied co-operation to adherence to the Convention on Human Rights, which the Government wants to abandon in the UK.

What it means: Doubts over effectiveness of co-operation to trace crooks and sharing of intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks.

State Aid

What we wanted: Ability to set industrial rules and levels of state aid. The EU wanted rules “dynamically aligned” to stop the UK

being able to gain an edge by slashing workers’ rights and green standards.

What we got: UK will not have to match any EU changes. An independent panel will settle any disputes over trade “distortions”.

What it means: Unions fear worse conditions for workers. Downing Street says it will usher in a “modern subsidy system” to give better support to business



Students are set to lose out

Students

What we wanted: Exit from Erasmus which helps uni students study in EU countries. Last year 54,600 participated, with monthly grants of up to £320. Mr Johnson said the scheme was “too expensive”. EU negotiator Michel Barnier said Britain leaving it was one of his biggest regrets.

What we got: The UK is out of the student exchange scheme from January 2021.

What it means: PM promised a new global replacement, named after Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing. It could cost £100m.

Fishing

What we wanted: The final stumbling block accounts for just 0.1 per cent of the economy – or £1.4bn – employing 24,000 people. But it was politically charged.

The UK wanted to take back 80 per cent of the stocks where EU currently have access. The EU wanted to give back 18 per cent over first 14, then 10 years.

It’s not all over

How the deal works in practice will be overseen by a new Partnership Council which will “supervise the operation of the agreement at a political level”.

This means UK ministers and officials will be in ongoing talks with Brussels.

If things don’t go well – eg if Brussels accuses Britain of undercutting EU countries – the deal can be reviewed after four years.

 In a worst-case scenario either side could then withdraw, No10 says, sending us back to square one.





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