I am delighted that four and half years since the referendum result, today we have struck a new and comprehensive trade deal with the European Union.
Both teams have worked incredibly hard under extremely intense circumstances. I want to put on record my thanks to both negotiating teams, both here in the UK and in the EU, for the dedication, hard work and long hours they have put in over recent weeks and months to ensure we have got to this place.
From initial understanding, this is a good deal for the UK, our EU friends and partners and for businesses and residents of Hastings and Rye. I am particularly pleased that:
- This is the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas with the EU.
- It supports government’s primary objective of prioritising the safety and security of its citizens with streamlined co-operation on law enforcement with the EU.
- It enables co-operation in areas such as science and research between the UK and EU.
- This deal is based in international law, not EU law, with no role for the European Court of Justice, which means the jurisdiction of the ECJ in the UK will end on 1 January 2021.
- It recognises UK sovereignty over our fishing waters, and by the end of the five-year transition period, we will have full control of our waters and the amount of fish available to UK fishermen will have risen from half to two-thirds.
I know that for local people, we have a particular interest in fisheries element of the deal, which has been a potential stumbling block in recent weeks to getting a deal. I am, however, relieved that we have found a way through and that we seem to have struck a good deal on fisheries.
As with all negotiations, there have had to be compromises on both sides and this has evidentially been the case on fisheries. The deal means that, by the end of the five-year transition, we will have full control of our waters and the amount of fish available to UK fishermen will have risen from half to two-thirds. I know, ideally, we would have wanted more than this, but we must look at the bigger picture which sees us regaining our sovereignty over more of our fishing quotas. Moreover, the recent Fisheries Bill that is now passed into UK law, has made sure that the 0-12 nautical miles of fishing waters off our coastline will give no longer permit foreign vessels access. These 12 miles off our coastline are for UK fishing vessels only, which our local under-10 metre fishing boats make particular use of.
On the whole, before reading the text of the deal in detail, I am pleased that we have a deal with the EU, and I am minded to support the Prime Minister next week when voting on this deal.
I will spend the coming days, before the vote, going through this deal in great detail, but this is a momentous day, and we should all be very pleased that we have got to this point.