The European Parliament has ratified the post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal – a key move to ensure that tariff-and quota-free trade continues. The Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) has been operating provisionally since January. MEPs voted in favor by 660 votes to 5, while 32 abstained. The UK’s chief negotiator, Lord Frost, said the vote “brings certainty and allows us to focus on the future”.
Boris Johnson is expected to announce later that the UK has reached an agreement with the EU over post-Brexit trade and security. Officials in Brussels are believed to be finalizing the details of a deal that will come into force when the UK leaves EU trading rules next week. It follows months of often fraught negotiations between the two sides.
There is a “path” to a Brexit trade deal being agreed before the end of the month, the president of the European Commission has said. Britain left the EU at the end of January and entered into an 11-month transition period, following EU rules and regulations whilst trying to negotiate a free trade deal by the end of this year.
Ignoring Sunday’s self-imposed deadline, the U.K. and European Union said they would continue negotiations about a post-Brexit trade deal after months of tense talks. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen ordered negotiators to keep the dialogue going despite having set a “deal or no deal” target of Sunday.
The EU has published contingency plans in case of the possible collapse of Brexit trade talks with the UK. The plans aim to ensure smooth UK-EU air and road travel, as well as allowing the possibility of fishing access to each other’s waters. They come after talks between UK PM Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen aimed at ending a deadlock over the deal ended without agreement.
British and European Union negotiators made a last-ditch effort on Monday to bridge stubborn differences standing in the way of a post-Brexit trade deal, but they had at best 48 hours left to avoid a disorderly parting of ways at the end of this month. The British pound tumbled on concerns that there would be no agreement covering annual trade worth nearly $1 trillion.
The EU has begun legal proceedings against the UK after it refused to ditch plans to override sections of its Brexit divorce deal. An EU deadline for the government to remove sections of the Internal Market Bill expired on Wednesday. The “letter of formal notice” could eventually lead to a court case against the UK at the European Court of Justice, the EU’s top court.
Britain’s parliament on Tuesday rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for a national parliamentary election, voting against the government’s request for a national ballot. To call an election, the government needs 434 votes – two-thirds of all lawmakers elected to the 650-seat lower house of parliament. In a vote in the early hours of Tuesday only 293 backed the government’s proposal.
British Prime Minister Theresa May warned on Sunday that failure by lawmakers to back her Brexit plan could lead to its overall cancellation. May is facing opposition and criticism from her own Conservative Party ahead of the Tuesday vote on her plan in the House of Commons. May rejected the call for another ‘People’s Vote.’
The UK has been accused by Spain of “treachery” and acting “under the cover of darkness” in an escalation of a war of words over the future of Gibraltar that risks derailing Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Madrid has insisted from the start of the Brexit negotiations that it would not tolerate the Rock, a disputed territory, benefiting from agreements made in the talks without Spain’s consent.