Senior UK Minister Says UK Will Have New ‘Special Relationship’ with EU as Trade Deal Revealed

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OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The UK and the EU have made public the new trade deal which was agreed in principle on Christmas Eve, with both parties’ parliaments expected to approve the treaty.

The trade agreement will come into effect after the transition period ends, on January 1st, 2021. While the British House of Commons is expected to pass the deal in a vote on December 30th, official ratification by the bloc’s European Parliament — elected members from the regions of 27 member-states — will not come until January or February.

Instead, EU envoys are expected to meet on Monday to discuss the 1,290-page document, with member-states expected to provisionally back the deal some time next week, according to the Associated Press.

European legislators have said that they will be studying the treaty, with France’s Emmanuel Macron saying on Thursday that he will be looking to see that the deal — which gives European fishermen a five-and-a-half-year transition period — does not disadvantage French fishing communities.

Sources told The Times on Saturday that negotiations almost collapsed on Monday after the French demanded more compensation for their fishermen who would no longer have the automatic right to plunder British waters.

Germany’s Angela Merkel also suggested that approval was not a given, saying Berlin would be studying the deal “intensely” and would “soon to be in a position where we can judge whether Germany can support today’s result”, but added: “I am optimistic that we have a good result in front of us here.”

Conservative Brexiteers have also said that they want to study the agreement in detail before lending their support to it, though it is likely to pass as Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also have the support of Sir Keir Starmer and his Labour Party.

Barely 48 hours after the deal was agreed — just a week before the UK’s official and final exit from the European Union — senior minister Michael Gove said he expects the new deal will help the UK forge a new “special relationship” — language usually reserved for the description of the UK’s and U.S.’s relationship — with the bloc.

Writing in The Times, the minister said: “We can develop a new pattern of friendly co-operation with the EU, a special relationship if you will, between sovereign equals.”

Mr Gove’s language appeared to echo that of Prime Minister Johnson, who said during the historic statement on Christmas Eve that, in essence, the UK remains close with the continent.

Johnson had said: “I think this deal means a new stability and a new certainty in what has sometimes been a fractious and difficult relationship. We will be your friend, your ally, your supporter, and indeed, never let it be forgotten, your number one market.

“Because although we have left the EU, this country will remain culturally, emotionally, historically, strategically, geologically attached to Europe.”

Brexit leader Nigel Farage disagreed with the sentiment, saying that it was precisely because Britain is culturally different to the EU, that it voted to leave the bloc in the first place, adding that he believed the UK had more in common with other Anglosphere nations, such as the U.S.

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