Brexit trade deal finally done as European Parliament votes to back it

Boris Johnson hailed ‘the final step in a long journey’ after his post-Brexit trade deal was backed by the European Parliament.

The deal had already been signed off by ministers in the UK and conditionally came into force pending approval by EU lawmakers, which marks the final legal hurdle.

MEPs in Brussels voted overwhelmingly to support the deal by 660 votes to five, with 32 abstentions.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the vote and said the Trade and Co-operation Agreement ‘marks the foundation of a strong and close partnership with the UK’.

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But in an acknowledgement of EU concerns about the Prime Minister’s approach to deals with Brussels, she warned that ‘faithful implementation is essential’.

The UK and EU are at odds over the way the earlier Brexit divorce deal is being implemented in Northern Ireland.

There are a few remaining formalities which need to be ironed out before the deal struck by Mr Johnson and the EU on Christmas Eve last year is finally ratified.

The PM said: ‘This week is the final step in a long journey, providing stability to our new relationship with the EU as vital trading partners, close allies and sovereign equals.

‘Now is the time to look forward to the future and to building a more global Britain.’

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Brexit Minister Lord Frost said the vote was an ‘important moment’, adding: ‘Today’s vote brings certainty and allows us to focus on the future.

‘There will be much for us and the EU to work on together through the new partnership council and we are committed to working to find solutions that work for both of us.

‘We will always aim to act in that positive spirit but we will also always stand up for our interests when we must – as a sovereign country in full control of our own destiny.’

European Council president Charles Michel said the approval of the deal ‘marks a major step forward’ in UK-EU relations and ‘opens a new era’.

He said Brussels will work constructively with the UK as an ‘important friend and partner’.

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