Johnson calls final completion of Brexit a “great moment”
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British Prime Minister Johnson praised the final break with the EU as a milestone for his country. A few hours before the execution, the last stumbling blocks were cleared out of the way. French President Macron finds words skeptical.
GGreat Britain and the EU will finally divorce on Friday night: Eleven months after leaving the EU, the UK will leave the EU internal market and the customs union at midnight. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of a “great moment” for his country. French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized that Great Britain would remain “our friend and ally” in the future.
A few hours before the final completion of Brexit, the last stumbling blocks were cleared out of the way on Thursday. The governments in London and Madrid reached an agreement in principle on the future rules for Gibraltar. The provisions of the Schengen Agreement will apply to the British exclave in the future.
The rules for border traffic for the British exclave Gibraltar in southern Spain were controversial to the end. Since the rules of the Schengen area are now to apply, border crossings are still possible without passport control. Without the agreement, the border between Gibraltar and Spain would have become a “hard border” between Great Britain and the EU from Friday.
Meanwhile, the EU published the trade agreement it had signed with Great Britain a week ago in its Official Journal. The agreement, which regulates numerous trade and customs issues, can provisionally come into force as planned at the turn of the year. Without the deal, delivery problems and long traffic jams at the borders would have threatened from Friday after the end of the post-Brexit transition period.
Brexit hardliners look forward to anticipation
The time until the end of the year was no longer sufficient for a regular ratification process. Therefore, the agreed rules are to be applied temporarily until at least February 28th.
The anticipation rose among the Brexit hardliners in the UK immediately before leaving the EU internal market. “This is a great moment for this country,” said Johnson in his New Years address. “We hold our freedom in our hands, and it is up to us to make the best of it.” In the future, Great Britain will be an “open, generous” and internationally oriented country committed to free trade.
The UK could do things “differently – and if necessary better – than our friends in the EU,” said Johnson. The country could conclude “trade agreements around the world” and develop into a “scientific superpower”.
Also in the media, considered to be Brexit supporters, cheered on Thursday: The “Daily Mail” predicted a “new beginning” for the kingdom, the “Daily Express” expected the “greatest hour” in the country’s history.
The chiming of Big Ben’s bell in London at 11 p.m. (midnight CET) will open a new chapter, both newspapers summarized the hopes of Brexit supporters. However, many Britons are now extremely critical of Brexit and its final implementation, including in retail.
Macron and EU chief negotiator skeptical
Johnson’s euphoria did not resonate in the EU either. French President Macron called Brexit in his New Year’s address the result of “many lies and false promises”. Nevertheless, Britain will remain “our friend and ally”.
The EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier was also skeptical. “Nobody was able to show me the added value of Brexit, not even Mr Farage,” said Barnier to the RTL radio station, referring to the Brexit pioneer Nigel Farage. “It’s a divorce, you can’t celebrate a divorce.”
Great Britain was the first country in the history of the European community to leave the EU on February 1st. Back then, the “Brexiteers” celebrated their exit from the EU on the streets, while the opponents of Brexit held vigils and lit candles. No public events are planned this year due to the corona pandemic.