PMQs: Boris Johnson slams Keir Starmer over Brexit stance
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Completing a 1,492-day journey since Article 50 was triggered, the Brexit trade agreement thrashed out by Boris Johnson and Brussels was approved to enter into force. The European Council rubber-stamped the Trade and Cooperation Agreement after MEPs backed it in a crunch vote earlier this week. With the final formalities now complete the future relationship pact struck on Christmas Eve last year will enter into force on May 1.
Portuguese Europe minister Ana Paula Zacarias said: “Today we open a new chapter in our relations with the UK.
“The conclusion of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement will give legal certainty to the new EU-UK relationship, in the interests of citizens and business on both sides of the Channel.
“We value the UK as a good neighbour, an old ally and an important partner.”
The UK and EU will now exchange letters to allow the zero-tariff, zero-quota trade agreement to enter into force after four months of “provisional application”.
EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, who is responsible for Brexit, said: “The ratification of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement is good news for European citizens and businesses.
“It provides a solid foundation for our longstanding friendship, cooperation and partnership with the United Kingdom on the basis of shared interests and values.
“In practice, the agreement helps avoid significant disruptions, while protecting European interests and upholding the integrity of our Single Market. It also ensures a robust level playing field, by maintaining high levels of protection in areas, such as climate and environmental protection, social and labour rights, or State aid.
“Moreover, the Agreement includes effective enforcement, a binding dispute settlement mechanism and the possibility for both parties to take remedial measures.
“Democratic scrutiny will continue to be key in the implementation phase of the Agreement in order to ensure faithful compliance. Unity among EU institutions and Member States will remain a cornerstone during this new chapter in our EU-UK relations.”
Prime Minister Mr Johnson hailed the moment 660 MEP endorsed his Brexit trade deal as the “final steps” in our EU exit.
He 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.”
Lord Frost, his negotiator, added: “The European Parliament have voted in support of our Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU.
“Last year both sides worked tirelessly to agree a deal based on friendly cooperation and free trade between sovereign equals.
“The 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.”
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