The UK formally left the EU after 48 years

The UK’s Brexit transition period expired at 2300 hours last night, ending a 48-year history with the European project
• Both sides claim the agreement — which is more than 1,200 pages long — protects their goals

Mr. Boris Johnson spoke of wanting a new relationship with the EU as its biggest ally, after MPs approved the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement yesterday with an overwhelming majority in a House of Commons vote.

17.4 million voters, or 52% opted to leave the EU in a referendum on 23 June 2016. 16.1 million, or 48%, voted to remain. 

The Deal

During the 11-month transition period, the UK and the EU tried to work out a deal that would dictate how they will trade, live and work with one another in the future.

Now that a deal is in place, a framework for future relations between the UK and EU has been set up, including on transport, energy, security information sharing and environmental standards.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it gives Britain control over its money, borders, laws and fishing grounds, while the EU says it protects its single market and contains safeguards to ensure the UK does not unfairly undercut the bloc’s standards.

What’s going to change in the new year?

1. From today, the free movement of people between the UK and the EU will end. Instead, UK citizens will need a visa for stays of longer than 90 days in the EU in a 180-day period, and the same will apply for EU citizens in the UK.

2. British firms will have to file forms and customs declarations for the first time in years, which could cause delays. There will be different rules on product labelling as well as checks on agricultural products.

3. There are no extra charges on goods or limits on the amount that can be traded between countries from January 1, but there will be extra checks at borders, such as safety checks and customs declarations.

4. There will also no longer be mutual recognition of professional qualifications, including UK doctors and engineers. So those working in other countries will have to apply for recognition in the country they wish to practise in when their visa expires.

5. The UK will also no longer be bound by judgements made by the European Court of Justice.

6. UK will be able to set its own rules and do things its own way on social, environmental and state aid matters.

What’s next?

Brexit is pretty much done.

On Monday, EU ambassadors unanimously approved its provisional application. But the European Parliament’s consent — expected in the first weeks of January — is still needed to permanently apply it.

Once that’s done, both sides will be bound by their 2020 divorce settlement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement — although some negotiations will continue.

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