UK, EU Publish Agreement on Post-Brexit Trade Relations

UK, EU Publish Agreement on Post-Brexit Trade Relations
European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and British Prime Minister's Europe adviser David Frost are seen at start of the first round of post-Brexit trade deal talks between the EU and the United Kingdom, in Brussels, Belgium March 2, 2020. (Oliver Hoslet/Pool via Reuters)
Alexander Zhang

The UK and the European Union on Saturday published the agreement they reached on Christmas Eve on their post-Brexit trade relations, which is expected to come into effect on Jan. 1 after the end of the Brexit transition period.

David Frost, Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator, announced the publication of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on Twitter on Saturday morning, with a link to the text of the agreement published on the UK government website.

Roughly at the same time, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, announced on Twitter the publication of the text on the EU’s website, calling it “the result of many months of intensive and dedicated work.”

Michael Gove, Britain’s cabinet office minister, said on Saturday that the deal “fulfils the pledges” pro-Brexit politicians made during the 2016 referendum.

“We can now embark on a new, more hopeful, chapter in our history,” said Gove, who was one of the most high-profile campaigners for Brexit along with Boris Johnson.

“Business has certainty and the ability to plan for growth and investment. We can develop a new pattern of friendly co-operation with the EU, a special relationship if you will, between sovereign equals,” he wrote in The Times of London.

British MPs will vote on the deal in Parliament on Wednesday, just one day before the UK is set to exit the EU’s single market and customs union on Dec. 31.

Parliament is expected to pass the agreement because the main opposition Labour party has said it will support the deal.

Labour party leader Keir Starmer said the deal is not ideal but is better than no deal at all.

“The deal is a thin agreement. It does not provide adequate protections for British manufacturing, our financial services, creative industries, or workplace rights. It is not the deal the government promised. Far from it,” he said in a statement.

But, he said, “when this deal comes before Parliament, Labour will accept it and vote for it.”

“But let me be absolutely clear—and say directly to the government—up against no deal, we accept this deal, but the consequences of it are yours, and yours alone. We will hold you to account for it every second you are in power.”

Another opposition party the Liberal Democrats, said it cannot support the deal, which is “a bad deal for the British people.”

“Boris Johnson’s last-minute, threadbare deal puts up barriers to trade, barriers to business, making it harder and more expensive for British firms to export, with extra delays and bureaucracy at our ports,” said Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The deal will “see more people lose their jobs, more businesses close, more families going without,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.