Boris Johnson today declared that a Brexit deal has been done after four years of desperate wrangling – with a furious propaganda war already underway.
The PM has made history by sealing future trade terms to avert a chaotic split when the transition period ends on January 1, after Lord Frost and Michel Barnier thrashed out a 2,000-page text.
Downing Street said the agreement was ‘fantastic news’ – with Mr Johnson now set to hold a press conference at 3pm.
A senior source said: ‘Everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal.
‘We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters.
‘The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK. We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved with the EU.’
No10 said the terms meant the UK will not be in the ‘lunar pull of the EU’. ‘We are not bound by EU rules, there is no role for the European Court of Justice and all of our key red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved,’ the source said.
‘It means that we will have full political and economic independence on 1st January 2021.’
The confirmation had been repeatedly put back as the sides argue ‘fish by fish’ over the rules, with Ireland warning of a ‘hitch’, even though UK sources insisted there are ‘no major issues’.
But the battle to sell the package to voters and Tory MPs is in full swing, as Mr Johnson rings round restive backbenchers.
An internal government assessment insisted that the UK ‘won’ on 43 per cent of the major issues in the £660billion package, compared to 17 per cent where the EU came out on top.
There will be zero-tariff, zero-quota access to the EU single market – and Mr Johnson has maintained the ability to diverge from Brussels standards, with no role for the European Court of Justice.
The document boasts that concessions were secured on rules of origin for goods, customs streamlining and ‘trusted trader’ schemes, while the financial services sector has been ‘insulated’.
A deal will also avoid huge disruption on top of the coronavirus crisis.
However, the UK looks to have given ground on fishing rights, and secured little succour for the services sector.
For its part, France has started boasting that Mr Johnson made ‘huge concessions’ on fishing in the last stages as the mutant coronavirus variant underlined the vulnerability of UK borders.
The challenge the PM faces was underlined today as Tory Brexiteers vowed to put together a ‘Star Chamber’ of experts to scrutinise the documents over Christmas.
Nigel Farage accused him of ‘dropping the ball’, although he also stressed that it was ‘progress’ and the Brexit ‘war is over’. There are fears that political ‘landmines’ in the text will inevitably be uncovered.