London, Dec 25 (AFP/APP): Britain is set for a new chapter Friday after securing a hard-fought post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union as EU envoys awaited a briefing on an accord reached only after months of tortuous negotiations.
The country will now not tumble off a trade “cliff-edge” come January 1, avoiding a mountain of tariffs and quotas. But major changes are inevitable as Britain definitively quits the EU’s single market and free movement with the bloc comes to an end after nearly half a century of integration. Britain had been in a standstill transition period still subject to the bloc’s rules since formally leaving the EU on January 31.
Standing in front of a Downing Street Christmas tree in a video message late Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson vaunted the hundreds of pages of text as “a “good deal for the whole of Europe” and a “present” for Britain.
The address was “a victory speech,” Anand Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe think-tank, told AFP. “Boris Johnson was elected Prime minister to get Brexit done, he has now definitively got Brexit done,” Menon said. Johnson has come under fierce criticism for his management of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, which has so far left almost 70,000 dead, the heaviest toll in Europe.
In recent days, thousands of trucks have been backed up at Channel ports after France and other European partners blocked crossings over rising cases of a new virus variant believed to spread faster. Some pointed out that the transport chaos, which raised fears of shortages of fresh produce, could be a glimpse of what awaited the country if it crashed out of the EU single market without a deal.
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