Boris Johnson: Brexit deal is ‘glad tidings of great joy’
Lord Frost called the agreement a “moment of national renewal” with Britain’s future now in its own hands. Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal-maker praised his team for achieving what many thought impossible. His words come ahead of MPs meeting in Parliament and virtually to vote on the deal with the EU.
But, with Sir Keir Starmer ordering Labour MPs to back it, the deal is expected to be passed with a healthy majority on Wednesday.
It comes after dramatic final negotiations and an unveiling of a new treaty on Christmas Eve by the Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Efforts have now been stepped up to get it passed in Parliament.
Speaking yesterday for the first time since the breakthrough, Lord Frost said: “This is one of the biggest and broadest agreements ever, covering not only goods but also services, aviation, road transport, social security, health cooperation, law enforcement. It is a really huge agreement.
“Many said we couldn’t do it in the time available and I always believed we could and we had a great team that got us there.
“We have also done another thing that many said we couldn’t which is establish the UK as a country which sets its own laws again and can choose democratically the direction it wants to follow in the future.”
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He made it clear that his team had also gone much further than the more limited ambitions set by former PM Theresa May’s administration.
Now, Britain will not be bound by EU regulations or have to align itself, it was said.
Lord Frost said: “The way we have achieved that is that there is no more role for the European Court of Justice, there are no direct effects of EU law, there is no dynamic alignment.
“In fact there is no alignment of any kind, and we are out of the Single Market and out of the Customs Union just as the manifesto said we would be.
“So in our view this should be the beginning of a moment of national renewal for us. All the choices are in our hands as a country and it is now up to us to decide how we choose them and how we go forward in the future.”
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Meanwhile, sources close to the negotiating team yesterday briefed journalists on key aspects of the deal.
They told how unreasonable level playing field demands by the EU to tie Britain up were avoided and much better terms reached.
A source close to Lord Frost was particularly dismissive of claims by French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune that Britain would be subject to more export controls than any other country.
The source said: “The trading rules in this are pretty standard for free trade agreements and most of the EU’s third country trade is done on the basis of either similar arrangements or World Trade Organisation terms which obviously mean even more barriers.
“So I am not sure what they even mean by that.”
The EU was forced to drop its demands to be able to impose so-called “lightning tariffs” as a punishment if the UK diverged from its rules.
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The source said: “The original mechanism the EU wanted to impose on us was a mechanism which essentially allowed them to use tariffs more or less at will against us if we moved to equivalence of laws. Obviously, that was never going to be acceptable to us.”
Like all free trade deals any disagreements will be adjudicated over by neutral international arbitrators.
These could be judges, international lawyers or experts in the particular field.
After months of arguing, the UK will be able to have its own state aid rules to subsidise and support its own industries.
Lord Frost’s team was also pleased with the security and law enforcement provisions.
Despite being told the UK would have to exit the Prum Convention law enforcement treaty – with access to fingerprints, data, number plates and more – the UK still has access but is not subject to the European Court of Justice in using it.
There are also agreements on extradition and cooperation with Europol.
The UK is also not bound by the treaty to remain as signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights, as the EU had demanded.
In addition, the health insurance scheme which will replace the EU one will be “near identical”. This means there should be fewer concerns travelling abroad.
Writing for the Sunday Express today, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, who has already signed off 58 deals with other countries, said that the agreement with the EU allows Britain to reach out to the rest of the world.
She said the UK is aiming to join the Trans Pacific Partnership, giving the UK access to one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, equating to nearly £9trillion.
She also believes that “gold standard” trade deals with the US, Australia and New Zealand are achievable next year as well.
Ms Truss said: “Seizing unparalleled opportunities overseas, we will level up the country by bringing home jobs, investment and higher wages to every region and nation of the United Kingdom.”
Yesterday, the Government also announced details of the post-Brexit replacement of the Erasmus exchange programme for UK students, costing more than £100million.
The scheme allowed students to study in countries across Europe for up to a year.
The Department for Education said the new Turing Scheme will provide funding for around 35,000 students to go on placements and exchanges globally from September.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We now have the chance to expand opportunities to study abroad and see more students from all backgrounds benefit from the experience.
“We have designed a truly international scheme which is focused on our priorities, delivers real value for money and forms an important part of our promise to level up the United Kingdom.
The news comes as it emerged that the UK has become the world’s fifth-largest economy once again.
The Centre for Economic and Business Research predicted the UK would push further ahead of seventh-placed France in the decade after Brexit.
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