Boris Johnson

Post Brexit Address on Historic UK-EU Free Trade Deal

delivered 24 December 2020


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Good afternoon, everybody.

It's four and a half years since the British people voted to take back control of their money, their borders, their laws, and their waters, and to leave the European Union. And earlier this year we fulfilled that promise in that we left on January the 31st with that oven-ready deal.

Since that time we've been getting on with our agenda: enacting the points-based immigration system that you voted for and that will come into force on January the 1st; doing free trade deals with 58 countries around the world; and preparing the new relationship with the EU.

And there have been plenty of people who have told us that the challenges of the COVID pandemic have made this work impossible, and that we should extend the transition period and incur yet more delay.

And I rejected that approach precisely because beating COVID is our number one national priority, and I wanted to end any extra uncertainty and to give this country the best possible chance of bouncing back strongly next year.

And so I am very pleased to tell you this afternoon that we have completed the biggest trade deal yet, worth 660 billion pounds a year, a comprehensive, Canada-style free trade deal between the UK and the EU; a deal that will protect jobs across this country; a deal that will allow goods -- UK goods and components to be sold without tariffs and without quotas in the EU market; a deal which will, if anything, allow our companies and our exporters to do even more business with our European friends1 -- and yet which achieves something that the people of this country instinctively knew was doable, but which they were told was impossible: We've taken back control of laws and our destiny.

We've taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered. From January the 1st, we are outside the customs union and outside the single market. British laws will be made solely by the British Parliament, interpreted by UK judges sitting in UK courts, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will come to an end.

We will be able to set our own standards, to innovate in the way that we want, to originate new frameworks for the sectors in which this country leads the world -- from biosciences to financial services, artificial intelligence. and beyond.

We'll be able to decide how and where we're going to stimulate new jobs and new hope, with freeports, new green industrial zones.

We'll be able to cherish our landscape and our environment in the way we choose, backing our farmers, backing British food and agricultural production.

And for the first time since 1973 we will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters -- with the UKís share of fish in our waters rising substantially from roughly half today to closer to two-thirds in five and a half years' time, after which there is no theoretical limit beyond those placed by science or conservation on the quantity of our own fish that we can fish in our waters. And to get ready for those -- for that moment those fishing communities we will be helped with a big hundred million pound program to modernize their fleets and the fish processing industry.

And I want to stress that although of course the -- the arguments with our European friends and partners were -- were sometimes fierce, this -- this is, I believe, a good deal for the whole of -- of Europe and for...our friends and partners as well.

Because it will not be a bad thing, in my view, for the EU to have a prosperous and dynamic and contented UK on your doorstep.

And it will be a good thing. It will -- It will drive jobs and prosperity across the whole continent. I donít think it will be a bad thing if we in the UK do things differently, or a take a different approach to legislation, because in so many ways our basic goals are the same. And in the context of this giant free trade zone that weíre jointly creating, the stimulus of regulatory competition will, I think, benefit us both.

And if one side believes it's somehow being unfairly undercut by the other, then subject to independent third party arbitration and provided the measures are proportionate, we can -- either of us -- decide, as sovereign equals, to protect our consumers or businesses. But this treaty explicitly envisages that such action should only happen infrequently and the concepts of uniformity and harmonization are banished in favor of mutual respect and mutual recognition and free trade.

Ursula von der Leyen's Remarks on the EU-UK Free Trade Deal

And for -- for squaring that circle, for finding the -- the philosopherís stone thatís enabled us to -- to do this, I want to thank President von der Leyen, Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission; our brilliant negotiators led by Lord Frost and Michel Barnier; on the EU side Stephanie Rousseau as well as Oliver Lewis, Tim Barrow, Lindsay Appleby, many others. Their work will be available for scrutiny, followed by a parliamentary vote I hope on December the 30th.

This agreement, this deal above all means certainty:

It means certainty for the aviation industry and the hauliers who have suffered so much in the COVID pandemic.

It means certainty for the police. the border forces, the security services -- all those that we rely on across Europe to keep us all safe.

It means certainty for our scientists who will be able to work together -- continue to work together on great collective projects, because although we want in the UK to be a science superpower, we also want to be a -- a collaborative science superpower.

And above all it means certainty for business -- from financial services to our world-leading manufacturers, our -- our car industry, certainty for all those who are working in high skilled jobs and in firms and factories across the whole -- the whole country, because there will be no palisade of tariffs on January the 1st. And there will be no non-tariff barriers to -- to trade. Instead there will be a giant free trade zone of which we will at once be a member, and at the same time be able to do our own free trade deals as one UK, whole and entire -- England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales together.

And I should stress this deal was done by a huge negotiating team from every part of the UK, and it will benefit every part of our United Kingdom, helping to unite and level up across the country.

And so I say again directly to our EU friends and partners, 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, not least of course through the four million EU nationals who have requested to settle in the UK over the last four years and who make an enormous contribution to our -- our country and to our lives.

And I say to all of you at home, at the end of this toughest of years, that our focus in the weeks ahead is of course on defeating the -- the pandemic, and on beating coronavirus and rebuilding our economy and delivering jobs across the country. And I'm utterly confident that we can and will do it.

We've -- by today -- we've vaccinated almost 800,000 people. And we've also today resolved a question that has bedeviled our politics for decades and it is up to us all together, as a newly and truly independent nation, to realize the immensity of this moment and to make the most of it.

Happy Christmas to you all.

Thatís the good news from Brussels -- now for the sprouts.

1 Catalogued conduplicatio and one of two notable instances of this rhetorical figure.

Original Text and Image Source: From: Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP at:

Page Updated: 12/21/23

U.S. Copyright Status: Text  and Image = Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. Used in compliance with the Crown Copyright/OGL terms found here. Original text of speech lightly modified to match standard American spelling, punctuation, and the speaker's verbal delivery.
































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