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Home Breaking News New Year brings final UK-EU Brexit split

New Year brings final UK-EU Brexit split


LONDON (AP) — #Like a separated couple still living together, #Britain and the #European #Union spent 2020 wrangling and wondering whether they can remain friends.

#On #Thursday, the U.K. is finally moving out. #At 11 p.m. #London time — midnight at EU headquarters in #Brussels — #Britain will economically and practically leave the the 27-nation bloc, 11 months after its formal political departure.

#After more than four years of #Brexit political drama, the day itself is something of an anticlimax. U.K. lockdown measures to curb the coronavirus have curtailed mass gatherings to celebrate or mourn the moment, though #Parliament’s huge #Big #Ben bell will sound the hour as it prepares to ring in the #New #Year.

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#British #Prime #Minister #Boris #Johnson — for whom #Thursday represents the fulfilment of his promise to “Get #Brexit #Done” — said the day “marks a new beginning in our country’s history and a new relationship with the EU as their biggest ally.”

“This moment is finally upon us and now is the time to seize it,” he said after #Britain’s #Parliament approved a U.K.-EU trade deal overnight, the final formal hurdle on the U.K. side before departure.

#It has been 4 1/2 years since #Britain voted in a referendum to leave the bloc it had joined in 1973. The U.K. left the EU’s political structures on #Jan. 31 2020, but the repercussions of that decision have yet to be felt, since the U.K.’s economic relationship with the bloc remained unchanged during an 11-month transition period that ends #Thursday.

#After that, #Britain will leave the EU’s vast single market and customs union — the biggest single economic change the country has experienced since #World #War II.

A free trade agreement sealed on #Christmas #Eve after months of tense negotiations will ensure #Britain and the 27-nation EU can continue to trade in goods without tariffs or quotas. #That should help protect the 660 billion pounds ($894 billion) in annual trade between the two sides, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that rely on it.

#But firms face sheaves of new paperwork and expenses. #Traders are struggling to digest the new rules imposed by a 1,200-page deal that was agreed just a week before the changes take place.

The #English #Channel port of #Dover and the #Eurotunnel passenger and freight route are bracing for delays, though the pandemic and the holiday weekend mean there will be less cross-Channel traffic than usual. The vital supply route was snarled for days after #France closed its border to U.K. truckers for 48 hours last week in response to a fast-spreading variant of the virus identified in #England.

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The #British government insisted that “the border systems and infrastructure we need are in place, and we are ready for the U.K.’s new start.”

#But freight companies are holding their breath. U.K. haulage firm #Youngs #Transportation is suspending services to the EU from #Monday until #Jan. 11 “to let things settle.”

“We figure it gives the country a week or so to get used to all of these new systems in and out and we can have a look and hopefully resolve any issues in advance of actually sending our trucks,” said #Youngs director #Rob #Hollyman.

The services sector, which makes up 80% of #Britain’s economy, doesn’t even know what the rules will be for business with the EU in 2021 — many of the details have yet to be hammered out. #Months and years of further discussion and argument over everything from fair competition to fish quotas lie ahead as #Britain a nd the EU settle in to their new relationship as friends, neighbors and rivals.

#Hundreds of millions of individuals in #Britain and the bloc also face changes to their daily lives. #After #Thursday, #Britons and EU citizens lose the automatic right to live and work in the other’s territory. #From now on they will have to follow immigration rules and obtain work visas. #Tourists won’t need visas for short trips, but new headaches — from travel insurance to pet paperwork — still loom for #Britons visiting the continent.

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#For some in #Britain, including the prime minister, it’s a moment of pride, a reclaiming of national independence from a vast #Brussels bureaucracy.

#Conservative lawmaker #Bill #Cash, who has campaigned for #Brexit for decades, said it was a “victory for democracy and sovereignty.”

#For others, it’s a time of loss.

#Roger #Liddle, an opposition #Labour #Party member of the #House of #Lords, said #Brexit severed #Britain from “the most successful peace project in history.”

“Today is a victory for a poisonous nationalistic populism over liberal rules-based internationalism and it’s a very bad, and for me very painful, day,” he said.

#That sentiment was echoed by #France’s #Europe minister, #Clément #Beaune.

“It’s a day that will be historic, that will be sad,” he told broadcaster LCI.

“But we also have to look toward the future. A number of lessons must be drawn from #Brexit, starting with lies, I think, that were told to the #British. #And we will see that what was promised — a sort of total freedom, a lack of restrictions, of influence — I think will not happen.”

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#John #Leicester in #Le #Pecq, #France, contributed to this story.

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#Follow all AP stories on #Brexit at https://apnews.com/Brexit



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https://apnews.com/article/brexit-relationships-europe-global-trade-coronavirus-pandemic-a5cc4350206b5c0273b41aef4d7b7381

##Year #brings #final #UKEU ##Brexit #split

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