Two days before the UK’s exit from the single European market, the leaders of the European Union signed the post-Brexit agreement on Wednesday, December 30. After a brief ceremony, held in Brussels in the presence of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and her counterpart of the European Council (representing the Member States), Charles Michel, the documents will be sent to London.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson must also initial the 1,246-page text before it is considered by MPs across the country. Passing it shouldn’t be a problem given the majority Mr Johnson has in the House of Commons. This is the last step (after the green light from the Twenty-Seven earlier this week) before the two parties can ratify the agreement in extremis for entry into force on Thursday, at 11 p.m. London time ( midnight in Brussels).
Signing the 🇪🇺🇬🇧 trade & cooperation agreement on behalf of the #EU with president @vonderleyen It will now be tr… https://t.co/gTPZwhK7Dv
“The agreement we signed today is the result of months of intense negotiations in which the European Union has shown unprecedented unity”, commented Charles Michel in a press release. “It is a fair and balanced agreement which fully protects the fundamental interests of the European Union”, he added.
“The EU’s best friend and possible ally”
For his part, the British Prime Minister considered that the bill presented to MPs “Shows that the UK can be both European and sovereign”. After promising to be “The EU’s best friend and possible ally”, he added : “We will open a new chapter in our national story, making trade deals all over the world (…) and reaffirming the UK as a force for good, liberal and outward looking. “
After forty-seven years of European integration, including four and a half years of heartbreak after the Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom, which formally left the EU on January 31, will then cease to apply European rules. He will leave the single European market, the customs union and the Erasmus student exchange program.
The text should only be debated a few hours by the deputies before a vote in the early afternoon. Then it will be the turn of the Lords in the upper house to decide. The Conservative government has a large majority in it, and Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer has called on his troops to endorse the deal, despite fears of economic and social repercussions.
In the conservative camp, the most fervent Brexit supporters of the European Research Group have fallen into line, arguing that the agreement “Preserve British sovereignty”. Only the small North Irish Unionist party DUP, which is favorable to Brexit but against customs controls between the British province and the rest of the United Kingdom, will be opposed to the text, as well as the Europhiles of the Liberal Democrat Party and the Scottish independence party SNP .
Our selection of articles to understand Brexit