Brexit: Johnson says UK has ‘opportunity to expand horizons’
Clement Beaune was responding to claims the UK had achieved a “total victory” against the EU in the last-ditch talks which led to the historic Christmas Eve agreement. The French minister for European Affairs dismissed suggestions Boris Johnson had walked away from the negotiating table with a clean sweep of wins and claimed British fishermen were furious with the agreement he signed.
No British access to the EU market without respecting our rules
Mr Beaune also insisted Brexiteers had not been handed back the “total sovereignty” they had been promised.
He tweeted: “No British access to the EU market without respecting our rules, massive criticism of British fishermen against this agreement.
“That is far from the promised total sovereignty. That should make you think.”
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The minister, a close ally of Emmanuel Macron, spoke out after respected political journalist Eric Zemmour said the Brexit deal represented a total victory for the Mr Johnson.
Mr Zemmour said: “There are nuances, but in principle, it is a total victory for the English.
“What happened? The British have obtained access to the European single market without tariffs. First victory.
“Second victory: they don’t have to apply the European law or listen to the European Court of Justice.
“And third victory: they have the right to control the movement of people. I would say this is a total victory for the English.
“Of course there are nuances, and they have to respect this and that, but in principle, it is a total victory for the English.”
Mr Beaune had previously accused the UK of “punishing itself” by leaving the EU.
He said: “With Brexit, Britain is punishing itself. We weren’t trying to punish it.”
“Britain realised that having no access to the European market would be an economic disaster.
“This is why, in the deal that was reached, there is access to the European market, but while respecting our conditions and rules.
“Brexit must be a lesson that we must push forward better, faster and stronger as Europeans.”
The EU (Future Relationship) Act received the backing of the Commons and Lords as the Government rushed approval through both Houses in a single day just before Christmas.
It was announced that the legislation had been granted royal assent in the early hours of New Year’s Eve, signing the agreement into UK law and paving the way for Britain’s final departure from the EU after 48 years.
Mr Johnson said the deal meant the UK’s destiny “now resides firmly in our hands”.
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The conclusion of the transition period marked a raft of immediate changes including the end of freedom of movement rights between the UK and EU.
Among the first things the Government did on leaving the EU was scrap VAT on sanitary products, which it had been unable to do under EU laws, and announce the long-awaited return of Duty Free shopping for British holidaymakers.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
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