Boris Johnson informs Cabinet of the breakthrough and is expected to address the nation early on Christmas Eve
On Christmas Eve, four and a half years after the UK left the bloc, Boris Johnson will sign a historic post-Brexit trade and security agreement with Ursula von der Leyen on the phone.
A phone call is expected this morning between the Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission before press conferences will be held on both sides of the English Channel an hour later. The negotiations on the fisheries regulations had continued well into the night, one of the last sticking points in the talks.
Once announced, the deal will include unprecedented provisions for zero tariffs or quotas for all goods, as well as future regulations for a wide range of issues from aviation and transport to civil nuclear cooperation and energy.
Shortly after 11 p.m. on Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister had informed the cabinet, telling them that he would need their help in selling the business. The prime minister claimed that the highly competitive deal respected the sovereignty of both sides.
The UK adopted the EU on March 31. Left January after the June 2016 referendum, but stayed in the bloc’s internal market and customs union for a year allowing free movement to continue temporarily and trade flows to remain smooth.
#brexit will continue all night. At this point, all Brexit observers are advised to get some sleep. Hopefully it will be an early start tomorrow morning. . .
The road to agreement has not been eased by claims by anonymous French officials that the UK has made « important concessions » over the past 48 hours on key issues relating to European fleet access in UK fishing waters – one of the key sticking points in the last two weeks of the talks in Brussels.
British sources rejected the Paris claims, but Downing Street was immediately threatened by the European Research Group (ERG) from Tory Brexiter back benches.
One of the reasons was the Prime Minister’s desire to prepare the ground with key backers before the announcement. Downing Street spoke to high-profile people on the phone all evening.
In a joint statement, the group’s chairman and vice chairman Mark Francois and David Jones said they would hire a self-proclaimed “star chamber” of lawyers to analyze the terms of the contract before deciding whether it is give their support.
The statement reads: « The ERG will convene again tomorrow [Thursday] the panel of legal experts, chaired by Sir Bill Cash, to review the details and legal text. The team of seasoned attorneys, previously known as the Star Chamber, was first assembled in 2019 to investigate the legal aspects of Theresa May’s original take-back agreement.
« Since the new agreement is also very complex, the Sternenkammer will look into it carefully to ensure that its provisions really protect the sovereignty of the UK after we leave the transition period at the end of this year.
« The Star Chamber, which will include some new members to replace those now in government, will conduct its review as soon as possible before presenting its conclusions on the merits of the deal – which we will publish in front of Parliament want gathers. ”
Johnson contacted Von der Leyen at least four times on Wednesday after four months of negotiations. The Commission President was also embroiled in angry phone diplomacy with EU capitals as she tried to get the talks across the line.
« David Frost is in Brussels, working line by line on the detailed legal text. We hope to be able to announce an agreement but we’re not there yet, « said a UK source. “We have to make sure that the devil is not in the details. ”
As discussions continued at the Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters, a pizza delivery arrived shortly after 10 p.m. local time.
Great Britain will leave the EU internal market and the customs union in a week with or without an agreement on the new regulations. EU ambassadors plan to meet to start the ratification process on Thursday morning.
Sources in Brussels and London had confirmed earlier Wednesday that they believed the talks would come to a successful conclusion. A senior EU source told the Guardian: “The stars have aligned. ”
Diplomats from the 27 EU member states have already started to comb through the legal text. The Commons are expected to be called back by Sunday in case the deal is announced after difficult negotiations that have repeatedly been viewed as failed. Just two weeks ago, the Prime Minister said a no-deal outcome was « very, very likely ». .
A vote by the European Parliament on the approval of a trade and security agreement with the United Kingdom is no longer possible as there is little time left before the end of the transition period.
Should an agreement be reached, the EU capitals must instead apply a “provisional application” of the agreement on 1. January, with MEPs voting later in the month.
The process can take up to a week as the treaty has to be translated and checked by the 27 governments. A meeting of ambassadors on Christmas Eve would be the first step towards a preliminary proposal.
Barnier has informed the MPs that Christmas Day is the deadline until 1. January an agreement comes about. Should an agreement be reached after that date, contingency measures would have to be agreed with Downing Street in order to bridge a short “no-deal” period.
The two sides have argued over future EU access and quotas in UK fishing waters. This is a matter of little economic impact but of great political importance for both sides.
Barnier said the EU has offered a transition period of six years to gradually reduce the added value of the European fleet in UK waters by 25%, with guaranteed access to a zone of six to twelve nautical miles from the UK coast.
Downing Street had tabled a counter-proposal for a three-year transition period with a 60% reduction – and no access to the sea zone. Barnier said this problem would have to be resolved by Von der Leyen and Johnson with the involvement of the affected EU capitals.
The compromise is expected to have a transition period of five and a half years to gradually implement the changes, the sources said. The UK accepts a 25% reduction in quotas. However, Downing Street has rejected attempts by the EU to put in place a mechanism whereby changes in quotas could lead to tariffs on UK exports in the future. The problem had been key to Downing Street’s claims of regaining control of British waters.
With regard to the so-called evolution clause, which is intended to prevent both sides from gaining a competitive advantage by failing to improve environmental, social and labor standards over time, Barnier said on Tuesday that there was a consensus.
He stated that if a party felt that the trade was distorted, they could take action after consultation. An arbitrage panel would meet and decide within 30 days. If the measures were later found to be incorrect or excessive, the person concerned could take compensatory measures.
Brexit, European Union, Boris Johnson, United Kingdom
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