Brexit trade deal can be ‘unifying moment’ for country, chancellor says | Politics News

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The Brexit trade deal agreed on Christmas Eve can be an “enormously unifying moment for our country”, the chancellor has said.

Rishi Sunak said he hoped it would “bring people together after the divisions of the past few years”.

Anyone worried about the economic implications of the breach with Brussels should be “enormously reassured about the comprehensive nature” of the agreement, he added.

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Johnson’s Christmas message on Brexit deal

The deal gives that reassurance, he said, because it provides a “stable regulatory co-operative framework”.

The chancellor added that the UK would “maintain tariff-free access to European markets” while being able to “capitalise on new opportunities”.

Mr Sunak said the UK’s financial services industry would remain open for new relationships and trading.

But he said there would be changes in the financial world, because leaving the EU means we can “do things a bit differently”.

He added: “We will remain in close dialogue with our European partners when it comes to things like equivalence decisions.”

There is light at the end of the tunnel, Mr Sunak said, and we can look forward to a brighter future.

Boris Johnson and EU leaders celebrate making a deal over Zoom. Pic: Number 10
Image: Boris Johnson and EU leaders celebrate making a deal over Zoom. Pic: Number 10

His comments echo those of the prime minister, who has described the trade deal as the beginning of a “better relationship and a healthier relationship” with the EU.

“It’s the end of a long and fractious period, in which we kept trying to pretend to ourselves that we could go along with all sorts of things we didn’t really want to do for the sake of keeping up with the great project of European union,” Boris Johnson told The Sunday Telegraph.

“Freedom is what you make of it,” he added. “It’s up to us now to seize the opportunities, but we have a very big challenge with COVID-19.”

He added that he hoped voters would be “deeply reassured” that a resolution had been found to “an issue that has bedevilled our politics for decades”.

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PM urges Tory MPs to back Brexit deal

The prime minister also maintained that a no-deal outcome had been a possibility.

He said that he and his chief Brexit negotiator, Lord Frost, had reached the “conclusion several times that things were going in the wrong direction and that our best bet was to go for no deal”.

Mr Johnson added: “We made that clear to the EU. I really would have done it, believe me.”

The PM said his government would not diverge from the EU “for the sake of diverging”.

But he said the UK would begin to go its own way “where that’s useful for the British people”.

“This Government has a very clear agenda to unite and level up and to spread opportunity across the country,” he said.

In the area of business taxes and regulation, Mr Johnson said the chancellor is “doing a big exercise on all of this”.

Regarding the pandemic, Mr Sunak said the government had “made good” on its promise to provide the NHS with everything it needs.

The UK is making “really good progress” on rolling out the coronavirus vaccine, he added.

His comments came as the pharmaceutical boss behind the Oxford vaccine said researchers had found a “winning formula” to improve the jab’s efficacy.