A Downing Street statement read: “Deal is done.” “Everything that was promised to the British public during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered through this deal.”
The talks had reached a dead end for several months after the two sides had been unable to reach an agreement in areas such as fishing quotas, how the UK would use state aid to support British companies after Brexit, and legal oversight of any deal reached.
The deal is unlikely to be officially ratified before the Brexit transition period ends, given that it still needs to go through a series of legal hoops.
The leaders of the European Union, the European Parliament and the UK government will now need to approve the agreement themselves.
The legal text of the agreement will first be translated, revised and approved by all 27 EU member states.
Once all member states give their consent, it will then return to the European Parliament, where members of the European Parliament will vote to ratify the agreement.
But the European Parliament said it was too late to hold an emergency vote before the transition period ends on Dec. 31.
Instead, they plan to implement the EU-UK deal “temporarily”, with members of the European Parliament formally reconvening to ratify the deal in the new year.
Meanwhile, there will likely be a vote in the British Parliament to legalize the deal.
Although the trade deals do not require Parliament’s approval, it is expected that UK lawmakers will likely be brought back from the Christmas holidays for discussion and approval.
It could take up to 48 hours to bring Parliament back into session, yet it has been known to move very quickly when it needs to.
While the agreement marks a milestone in the four and a half years since the UK voted to leave the European Union, it is unlikely to end years of toxic political debate in the UK.
Skeptical lawmakers in Europe are already organizing efforts to ensure the deal leaves no room for the UK to return to the EU orbit. Meanwhile, pro-Europeans are hoping that at some point in the future the UK, perhaps under new leadership, will be able to strengthen ties with Brussels.
This is a developing story …