BORIS Johnson today hailed the “final step” in the long Brexit journey as Brussels finally signed off the UK-EU trade deal.
The PM said confirmation the pact has been agreed will provide “stability” and help Britain “look forward to the future”.
His remarks came after euro MPs backed down from their sabre-rattling threat to veto the agreement and overwhelmingly backed it.
The vote by the EU Parliament brings to an end a four-month saga which created uncertainty for people and businesses on both sides of the Channel.
Boris said: “This week is the final step in a long journey, providing stability to our new relationship with the EU as vital trading partners, close allies and sovereign equals.
“Now is the time to look forward to the future and to building a more Global Britain.”
Stubborn MEPs had initially refused to vote for the pact as leverage in an internal power struggle with eurocrats.
They repeatedly refused to set a date for giving it their consent, even though it breezed through the UK Parliament back in December.
That meant the agreement had to be provisionally brought into force, with a deadline of the end of this month to make it permanent.
And with No Deal fast approaching euro MPs quickly folded and agreed to wave through the historic pact.
In a vote last night they supported it by a massive majority with 660 for and only five against, with 32 abstentions.
The results were published this morning.
Lord Frost, who led the negotiations and is now Cabinet Office minister for Brexit, said the end to uncertainty was “hugely welcome”.
He added: “Today’s vote brings certainty and allows us to focus on the future.
“There will be much for us and the EU to work on together and we are committed to working to find solutions that work for both of us.
“We will always aim to act in that positive spirit but we will also always stand up for our interests when we must – as a sovereign country in full control of our own destiny.”
Brussels boss Ursula von der Leyen also welcomed the vote but warned the UK the bloc will have “teeth” to bite back if it breaches the deal.
She said: “While today’s vote is obviously an end – it is also the beginning of a new chapter.
“The choice is now whether today’s vote will be the high watermark for EU-UK relations for the next decades.
“Or whether we see this as the foundation of a strong and close partnership based on our shared interests and values.
“Only history will tell what road is taken – although I hope it is the latter.”
Christophe Hansen, the EU Parliament’s point man on Brexit, insisted signing off the deal wasn’t a “vote of blind confidence” in the UK.
He said: “Rather, it is an EU insurance policy against further unilateral deviations from what was jointly agreed. Parliament will remain vigilant.”
The delay occurred because MEPs wanted a great say within Brussels over the policing of disputes that may arise with the UK.
And they also insisted more progress was made on talks to solve the Northern Ireland row before they would agree to sign the pact.
Source: The Sun