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EU states to back Brexit deal as PM hails era of ‘certainty’

Boris Johnson on Zoom call to Ursula von der Leyen (pic: Downing St)

The UK’s Brexit deal will be approved by the 27 member states of the EU within days following a briefing of ambassadors by Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

Sources in Europe say there is little doubt that the 1,246-page text presents no obstacles to the deal being signed off. MEPs are expected to vote formally on the agreement in January.

The deal agreed on Christmas Eve will also be put to a vote in the House of Commons on 30 December. Despite some dissent from the SNP and hardliners in the Tory party it is expected to sail through after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party would support the government as it was better than no deal.

It will mean the UK will leave the EU’s single market and customs union on 31 December with zero tariffs on goods but with an end to free movement of people, replaced by a points-based immigration system. Britons will no longer have complete freedom to work or start a business in the EU. The European Court of Justice will have no role in UK affairs.

New ‘rules of origin’ regulations will mean UK firms must self-certify the origin of exports to the EU, but both sides have agreed to limit customs red tape, including new ‘trusted trader’ rules to speed things up at the border.

There will extra cooperation at “roll-on roll-off” ports such as Dover and Holyhead to minimise disruption, and specific agreements to make trade in wine, pharmaceuticals, cars and chemicals easier.

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