Nearly five years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU will come into effect at 11PM on New Year’s Eve.
The EU (Future Relationship Deal), which ends the possibility of tariffs on goods, was cleared by Parliament by 521 votes to 73 yesterday. The House of Lords gave the bill an unopposed third reading, followed by the Queen who gave the Royal Assent.
The Queen’s signature puts the agreement into British law, preventing a no-deal Brexit at 11PM on Thursday (31st of December), when the transition period ends. While Britain left the EU on the 31st of January 2020, Britain had continued to follow Brussels’ trade rules until now.
Covering 1,246 pages and £660 billion worth of trade, the agreement was signed by European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen and European council president Charles Michel yesterday in Brussels.
Johnson celebrated the deal, saying in a statement: “The destiny of this great country now resides firmly in our hands. We take on this duty with a sense of purpose and with the interests of the British public at the heart of everything we do.
He continued: “11PM on the 31st of December marks a new beginning in our country’s history and a new relationship with the EU as their biggest ally. This moment is finally upon us and now is the time to seize it.”
However many have raised concerns about the deal, which some MPs say leaves unanswered questions over fishing rights and the border in Northern Ireland.
Labour leader Keir Starmer supported the deal, saying that a “thin deal was better than no deal”, but three junior Labour frontbenchers resigned from their posts after defying the whip and abstaining from the vote.
Helen Hayes, who was shadow Cabinet Officer, said: “This is a bad deal which will make our country poorer. It will cost jobs, undermine our security, weaken our standing in the world, risk workers’ rights and environmental protections, and limit opportunities for our children and grandchildren.”