A new era for Europe and the UK has begun with the Parliamentary ratification of the post-Brexit trade deal that was passed overwhelmingly in the UK’s House of Commons and became law last night at 11pm.
With it ends the transitory period which was put into place on the 31st January this year when the UK officially left the European Union.
The UK leaves the EU’s single market and customs union, but the deal ends the possibility of tariffs on goods. A deal on services is expected to follow.
The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said: “The destiny of this great country now resides firmly in our hands.”
EU leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel signed the trade deal in a brief ceremony on Wednesday saying in a press statement the deal ‘is of the utmost importance for the European Union and the United Kingdom to look forward, in view of opening a new chapter in their relations.’
The agreement has been broadly welcomed in Spain though the issue of the frontier with Gibraltar remains in the balance with negotiations described as “intense”’ and “ever closer” as the deadline is just hours away at midnight tonight 31st December.
The frontier issue has dogged agreement for decades with more than 15,000 cross border crossings a day – many of whom are Gibraltarians who live on the Spanish side and Spaniards from La Linea who work in the colony.
The mayor of La Línea de la Concepción, Juan Franco, underlined the importance of reaching an agreement today, saying that between “ 30% and 40%” of La Linea´s income is generated from business in Gibraltar.
The UK´s departure from the EU has impacted the estimated 280,000 British residents in Spain with the embassy in Madrid holding regular Q & A sessions to address concerns.