In a Christmas Eve address, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an “immense moment” in British history, with the securing of a Brexit deal many thought was impossible more than four years after Britons voted to leave the European Union.
Beginning New Year’s Day, he said, the United Kingdom will be able to set its own rules after 40 years of being tied to Brussels.
The deal, which must be approved by Parliament in a Dec. 30 vote, achieves “something that the people of this country instinctively knew was doable but which they were told was impossible.”
“We have taken back control of laws and our destiny,” Johnson said. “We have taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation.”
Worth nearly $900 billion a year, he said it will protect British jobs by allowing U.K. goods “to be sold without tariffs and without quotas in the EU market, which will if anything allow our companies to do even more business with our European friends.”
“British laws will be made solely by the British parliament, interpreted by U.K. judges sitting in U.K. courts, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will come to an end,” the prime minister said.
Johnson assured the EU that Britain “will be your friend, your ally, your supporter and indeed, never let it be forgotten, your number one market.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government will closely examine the agreement and decide whether or not to support it.
“But we are not starting at zero. The Commission has kept the member states in the loop during the entire negotiation process,” she said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the “unity and strength of Europe paid off.”
“The agreement with the United Kingdom is essential to protect our citizens, our fishermen, our producers. We will make sure that this is the case,” he said.
A U.S. State Department official said Washington supports the U.K. “in its sovereign decision to depart the EU, and we look forward to continued strong relationships with both the U.K. and EU.”
European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the “clock is no longer ticking.”
“Today is a day of relief. But tainted by some sadness, as we compare what came before with what lies ahead,” he said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it a fair and balanced deal.
See Boris Johnson’s address:
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