politics

EU envoys briefed on Brexit trade deal as British MPs gear up for historic vote


MPs will vote on the Brexit trade deal on Wednesday in an emergency recall of Parliament.

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

But, following the Christmas Eve breakthrough in which the UK and Brussels finally reached an agreement, MPs will be summoned back to the Commons – albeit virtually for most – to rubber-stamp the pact.

Brandishing the historic text, Boris Johnson said in a Twitter video posted late on Thursday: “Tonight, on Christmas Eve, I have a small 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.



Boris Johnson delivered a Twitter video explaining the deal


The UK voted to Leave in June 2016

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

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 to see the full landmark pact after ministers published only a 34-page summary.

As soon as it is published, MPs from the Conservatives’ hard-right European Research Group will spend the weekend poring over the details.

However, EU ambassadors received a Christmas Day briefing on the 1,246-page deal 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”.



MPs vote on Wednesday

“Thank you Brexit,” he said.

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

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

French Europe Minister Clement Beaune said it was a “good agreement” and stressed the EU had not accepted a deal “at all costs”.



French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune

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

Mr Beaune said British food and industrial products entering the European single market after January 1 will not pay 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 late on Christmas Eve, Mr Johnson said the pact covers trade worth around £660billion and means goods and components can be sold without tariffs and quotas in the EU market, allegations of unfair competition will be judged by an independent third-party arbitration panel with the possibility of a “proportionate” response, and the share of fish in British waters that the UK can catch rises from around half to two-thirds by the end of the five-and-a-half-year transition.

However, the mayor of a major French fishing port said the deal left much obscured.

Boulogne-sur-Mer mayor Frederic Cuvillier told Europe 1 radio: “Relief for our fishermen, but what will be the impact on stocks?



French junior minister for Transport, Maritime Economy and Fishery Frederic Cuvillier tries on "Google Glass" while visiting the "Transports Publics 2014" European Mobility Exhibition in Paris.
Frederic Cuvillier demanded more details of fishing rights

“Who, for example, will be handling the controls? And over what time?

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





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