Politics

Boris Johnson says Brexit deal allows UK to be 'both sovereign and European'


Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal will allow the UK to be “both sovereign and European”, the PM will say as he asks MPs to vote it through in just one day.

The RAF will airlift the historic Brexit trade treaty to London on Wednesday on board one of the Queen’s VIP planes.

The air force will play a vital role in the pageantry to mark the UK’s break from the EU after nearly 48 years, No10 announced.

The formal treaty will be signed in Brussels by EU Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen before being flown across the Channel aboard a BAe146 from No32 (The Royal) Squadron, – known as The Queen’s Flight.

The aircraft is expected to land at RAF Northolt in North West London where the treaty will be transferred to a government car.

It will be driven to Downing Street where it will be signed by Boris Johnson this afternoon.

Before putting pen to paper, the Prime Minister will kick off a five-hour Commons debate on the Christmas Eve agreement struck with the bloc.



A BAE 146 of the Queen's flight
A BAE 146 of the Queen’s flight

He will tell MPs the 85-page EU (Future Relationship) Bill offers a “historic resolution” and “demonstrates how Britain can be at once European and sovereign”.

He is due to say: “The central purpose of this Bill is to accomplish something which the British people always knew in their hearts could be done, but which we were told was impossible – namely that we could trade and cooperate with our European neighbours on the closest terms of friendship and goodwill, whilst retaining sovereign control of our laws and our national destiny, and that unifying thread runs through every clause.

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“This Bill embodies our vision – shared with our European neighbours – of a new relationship between Britain and the EU as sovereign equals, joined by friendship, commerce, history, interests and values, while respecting one another’s freedom of action and recognising that we have nothing to fear if we sometimes choose to do things differently and much to gain from the healthy stimulus of competition.”

MPs recalled from the festive break are expected to overwhelmingly back the deal in an emergency sitting of Parliament.

A self-styled “star chamber” of lawyers assembled the Tories’ hard-right European Research Group on Tuesday night supported the pact.

They said in a statement: “Our overall conclusion is that the agreement preserves the UK’s sovereignty as a matter of law and fully respects the norms of international sovereign-to-sovereign treaties.

“The ‘level playing field’ clauses go further than in comparable trade agreements, but their impact on the practical exercise of sovereignty is likely to be limited if addressed by a robust government.

“In any event they do not prevent the UK from changing its laws as it sees fit at a risk of tariff countermeasures, and if those were unacceptable the agreement could be terminated on 12 months’ notice.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer is braced for a handful of frontbench resignations after ordering his MPs to support the Government.



Keir Starmer is braced for a handful of resignations over the vote
Keir Starmer is braced for a handful of resignations over the vote

No10 believes the Bill will go through all its stages in the Commons and Lords on Wednesday – just over four-and-a-half years after the UK voted by 52% to 48% to leave the EU.

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It is expected to be given Royal Assent by the Queen, who is spending Christmas at Windsor Castle, just 23 miles west from London on Wednesday night.

Britain formally left the EU on January 31 but departure triggered the start of an 11-month transition, allowing negotiators time to agree a free trade deal.

The transition ends at 11pm on Thursday.

Talks were mired in deadlock for months until a breakthrough just after lunchtime on Christmas Eve.

Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Tuesday the deal brought “a little stability”.

He added: “We’ve delivered an orderly Brexit.”

Markets welcomed the agreement as trading resumed on Tuesday after the holiday, with the FTSE 100 gaining 2% in early trading – adding £40billion to the value of companies.





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