UK and EU enter new relationship at 11pm as Johnson says deal settles 'vexed question’

British PM hopes post-Brexit trade deal will end ‘rancour’

British prime minister Boris Johnson has signed the post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, saying the moment represents a "new beginning" for the United Kingdom. Video: Reuters

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Britain and the European Union will enter a new economic and political relationship at 11pm on Thursday after MPs voted overwhelmingly for a post-Brexit UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement.

Boris Johnson said the deal, which covers security, energy, transport and fisheries as well as trade, would provide a resolution of the “old, tired, vexed question” of Britain’s relations with Europe.

“I hope and believe that this agreement will also serve to end some of the rancour and recrimination that we have had in recent years and allow us to come together as a country,” he said.

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The treaty was signed in separate ceremonies in London and Brussels by Mr Johnson, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel.  The House of Commons backed the deal by 521 votes to 73, as Labour voted with the government while all other opposition parties voted against.

All but two Conservative MPs voted for the deal as Eurosceptics praised Mr Johnson for defending British sovereignty. The DUP’s Sammy Wilson said that while his party had always favoured Brexit, it was voting against the deal because Northern Ireland would remain under some EU rules.

“Northern Ireland will not enjoy all the benefits of this deal. Indeed, we will still find ourselves tied to some of the restrictions of EU membership that the rest of the United Kingdom has been freed from,” he said.

Peers in the House of Lords gave the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill, ratifying the deal finally agreed on Christmas Eve, an unopposed third reading last night, paving the way for the deal to take effect on Thursday when the current Brexit transition period, during which the UK has continued to follow EU rules, ends

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