Historic trade deal worth £660 billion struck between the UK and EU would prevent no-deal Brexit if ratified
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The UK and the European Union have reached a “fair and balanced” trade deal worth as much as £660 billion.
It was confirmed by both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyden.
Announcing the deal in Brussels first, President von der Leyden said: "We have finally found an agreement. It was a long and winding road, but we have got a good deal to show for it.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it achieves what the British people "instinctively" knew was possible: "We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny."
The development will offer a major boost amid an ongoing international economic crisis that was triggered by the Covid pandemic.
It means that both sides will be able to avoid highly damaging tariffs on trade goods after the end of the transition period on December 31.
It is believed that a series of talks between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President von der Leyen helped get the deal over the line.
Prime Minister Johnson claimed the “Canada-style deal” worth £660 billion a year would boost business while bringing UK waters back under UK control in time.
“There have been plenty of people who have told us that the challenges of the Covid pandemic have made this work impossible, that we should extend that transition period and incur yet more delay,” he said.
“I rejected that approach because beating Covid is our number one national priority and I wanted to end any extra uncertainty and I wanted to give this country the best possible chance of bouncing back strongly next year.
“So I am very pleased to tell you that we have completed the biggest trade deal yet – worth some £660 billion a year, a comprehensive Canada-style deal between the UK and the EU.
“A deal that will protect jobs across this country, a deal that will allow UK goods and components to be sold without tariffs and without quotas in the EU, a deal that will allow our companies to do even more business with our EU friends.
“And yet, it achieves something that the people of this country instinctively knew was doable but which they were told was possible – we have taken back control of our laws and our destiny.
“We have taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered, from January 1 we are outside the customs union, we are outside the single market.
“British laws will be made solely by the British parliament, interpreted solely by British judges in UK courts and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will come to an end.
“And for the first time since 1973, we will be an independent coastal state in full control of our borders with the UK share of fish in our waters rising substantially from around half today to closer to two thirds in five and half years time.
“After that there is no theoretical limit beyond that placed by science or conservation of the quantity that we can fish in our waters.
“To get ready for that moment those fishing communities will be helped with a £100 million programme to modernise their fleet and processing industry.”
Mr Johnson had come in for criticism in recent days, including from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, for not extending the transition period and risking a no-deal.
President von der Leyden said: "We should ask ourselves what sovereignty means in the 21st century. It is about pooling our strength and speaking together in a world full of great powers.
"It is about pulling each other up in times of crisis instead of trying to get back to your feet alone. And the EU shows how this can work in practice."
She added that the UK and EU will "continue cooperating in all areas of mutual interest" such as climate change, energy, security and transport.