Brexit news latest – Deal to be announced TODAY as Boris ends 4 years of uncertainty by clinching 11th agreement with EU

BORIS Johnson will today announce he has snatched a last minute Brexit deal from the jaws of defeat.

The deal is expected to be the first-ever zero-tariff trade agreement with the EU and was made after Boris and European Commission Chief Ursula Von Der Leyen broke the crucial fishing deadlock.

The PM is expected to make the announcement in a press conference within the next hours and you can follow all the action here, live on this page, by watching the live stream above and following the live blog content below.

Follow our Brexit live blog for all the latest news and updates…

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    GAINS IN FTSE 100

    Early gains on the FTSE 100, which opened up 0.43% on hopes that a Brexit trade deal would be signed today, fell back as the leading index of shares closed up just 0.1%.

    The FTSE 250, which is made up of more UK-focused businesses, enjoyed a bigger boost, closing up 1.23%. London stock markets close at 12.30pm on Christmas Eve.

    Banks, property developers and food businesses enjoyed the biggest growth, with shares in Lloyds, Tesco, Legal & General, and Barratt Developments among the biggest risers for the day.

    The pound nearly hit highs against the dollar not seen since May 2018 earlier in the day but the growth slowed as the morning went on.

    At 12.30pm it was up 0.61% against the dollar, with a pound worth 1.357. The pound was also up 0.5% against the euro at 1.113.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    UK GIVEN 'LISTED STATUS' BY EU TO CONTINUE EXPORTING ANIMAL PRODUCTS

    Exports of meat, fish and dairy products to the European Union will be able to continue beyond January 1 after the United Kingdom was granted "national listed status".

    The measure means live animals and products of animal origin can be supplied to the EU after Brussels confirmed the UK met health and biosecurity standards.

    The EU has also agreed to the exports of many plants and plant products can continue being exported to the bloc and Northern Ireland.

    But seed potatoes – an important Scottish export – will be banned, leading Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to condemn the "disastrous" outcome.

    UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: "Third country listed status demonstrates our very high standards of biosecurity and animal health which we will continue to maintain after the end of the transition period."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BREXIT TALKS STILL SNAGGED ON FISH, MAY TAKE SOME HOURS

    Talks to conclude a Brexit trade could still have "some hours to run", a UK source said on Thursday amid high hopes that negotiators were about to clinch a long-elusive deal.

    A European Union official, agreeing that a deal could be some hours away, said the two sides were still haggling over the EU's right to fish in British waters.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SKY NEWS SAYS DEAL MAY NOT BE ANNOUNCED FOR HOURS

    An announcement is set to be made later on today.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    WELSH FARMERS AND FOOD PRODUCERS WELCOME NEWS OF POTENTIAL TRADE DEAL

    Welsh farmers and food producers have welcomed news that an agreement on a trade deal with the EU is imminent.

    FUW president Glyn Roberts said: “The consequences of a no deal for farming and other industries would be catastrophic, so it was always hoped that common sense would prevail. However, there was always a risk that refusals to compromise on one or other side could lead to the worst-case scenario.”

    Mr Roberts also welcomed the EU’s formal listing of the UK as a “third country” – a move which is essential in terms of allowing Welsh food exports to the EU.

    “However, our access to the EU market, which is the destination for three-quarters of Welsh food and drink exports, will still face significant barriers after December 31, with non-tariff barrier costs expected to rise by 4% to 8%,” he said.

    Mr Roberts said the full text of an agreement would have to be scrutinised in order to assess the full impacts and benefits, and a number of concerns existed including in terms of seed potato exports.

    “Nevertheless, the Welsh farming industry, like others the length and breadth of Great Britain, will be celebrating Christmas having breathed a huge sigh of relief that a deal seems close to being agreed,” he added.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    MEDIA PRESENCE OUTSIDE NO.10 AWAITING UPDATE ON DEAL

    A large media presence is in place outside Downing Street as journalists await an update on the post-Brexit trade deal.

    More than a dozen television camera crews, along with several photographers and reporters are set up in front of Number 10.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BREXIT TRADE DEAL EXPECTED DESPITE LATE 'HITCH' IN NEGOTIATIONS

    Negotiations on a UK-European Union trade deal are continuing amid widespread expectation an agreement is imminent.

    Talks in Brussels were focused on the details of fishing rights but both sides have indicated a Christmas Eve deal will be announced, bringing an end to months of wrangling just a week before current trading arrangements expire.

    Boris Johnson has been in close contact with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in recent days as top-level efforts intensified to get a deal over the line.

    The pair were expected to use a call on Christmas Eve to agree the deal.

    The EU and Downing Street were poised to announce a deal on Wednesday night but that slipped as last-minute wrangling continued.

    Negotiations continued through the night, fuelled by a late delivery of pizzas.

    On Thursday morning a UK source said "they're still going on fish" – the issue which has been one of the major stumbling blocks in the path to a deal.

    Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney told RTE Radio there had been "some sort of last-minute hitch" over the small print of the fisheries agreement but deal was still expected later.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    "In 1978, I immersed myself for one year in this seething, international, colourful city. For me, coming from the rather monotonous, white Germany, that was fascinating," she told newspaper Die Zeit in 2016.

    Ursula switched her studies to medicine on her return to Germany a year later, where she met her future husband – aristocrat Heiko von der Leyen. The pair graduated as physicians from Hanover Medical School.

    Mrs von der Leyen was a relatively unknown politician outside Germany before taking on the Commission presidency.

    She launched her career in local politics in 2003, following in her father's footsteps in Lower Saxony, before heading to Berlin as a family affairs minister under Angela Merkel.

    Her tenure as defence minister from 2013-2019 was bruising and plagued by reports of underperformance, so it was not surprising that she fancied a return to Brussels when Jean-Claude Juncker's time in charge was up.

    She became the first woman to lead the Commission when she took office on December 1 2019 – taking the helm at the most challenging of times, with Brexit and – although she did not know it then – the coronavirus pandemic looming.

    Mrs von der Leyen – who once described Brexit as "a burst bubble of hollow promises" – oversaw the UK's departure from the bloc in January 2020, and has been the ultimate arbiter in talks over the future relationship.

    When the Prime Minister came to Brussels in December in a bid to salvage the negotiations, Mrs von der Leyen did not hide her steely nature as she told Mr Johnson to "keep distance" as they briefly removed their face coverings for the cameras.

    She then told him to put the mask back on "immediately", prompting Mr Johnson to respond: "You run a tight ship here, Ursula, and quite right too."

    Credit: Rex Features
  • Niamh Cavanagh

    URSULA VON DER LEYEN: EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT WHO RUNS A TIGHT SHIP

    Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen may have been fighting on opposite sides in the Brexit negotiations but the two leaders have more in common than meets the eye.

    The European Commission president, 62, went to the same Brussels school as the Prime Minister, 56 – albeit at different times – and both are the children of politicians.

    Ursula Albrecht, as she was then, left the Belgian capital in her early teens for Germany, where her father served as minister-president of Lower Saxony.

    At the time, families of German politicians were targeted by the Red Army Faction terrorist group, and so when she moved to England to study at the London School of Economics in the late 1970s, she did so under an assumed name.

    "Rose Ladson" lived in Earl's Court in a flat above her landlord, Jadwiga Rostowska, and her son, Jacek Rostowski – who would become deputy prime minister of Poland.

    Despite concerns about her safety, Ursula could be careless about security, Mr Rostowski remembers.

    "One of the problems was that she didn't properly close the front door to the house. Which, given that the Baader-Meinhof Gang were out to kidnap her or possibly kill her, seemed rather – well – not terribly careful," he is reported to have said.

    She was a fan of late nights and punk gigs, and recalls her time in London as one in which she "lived much more than I studied".

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    DIRECTOR OF SEED EXPORTER SAYS DEAL WILL HAVE SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON INDUSTRY

    Archie Gibson is executive director of Agriko UK, a supplier of certified Scottish, English and Dutch seed and exporter of seed potatoes in the UK through parent company Agrico Holland.

    He said: "It appears seed is prohibited from sale into EU markets. That means that markets Scottish growers have developed for export over a number of years will in effect not be available to us from 1 January.

    "We know officials at all levels of government in Scotland and the rest of the UK are well aware of the potential damage to the UK seed industry and have made representations about it."

    Mr Gibson said: "To lose access to those markets established over the last 40 years will have a significant impact on our industry and for European markets as well, it's going to have a negative impact on their business as well."

    He added: "Some businesses could suffer considerable financial hardship. It's too early to say at this moment in time but I think belt tightening will be in order for everyone."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    STURGEON CALLS BREXIT OUTCOME AS 'DISASTROUS FOR SCOTTISH FARMERS'

    After the BBC reported that seed potatoes would not be included in a deal with the EU on the export of UK crops, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "This is a disastrous Brexit outcome for Scottish farmers…and like all other aspects of Brexit, foisted on Scotland against our will."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BREXIT TIMELINE 2020

    – January 8 2020

    New European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen visits No 10 to warn Mr Johnson the timetable for a post-Brexit trade deal is "very, very tight". The Prime Minister is clear however there will be no extension to the transition period, which expires at the end of 2020.

    – January 9 2020

    Mr Johnson gets his Brexit deal through the Commons as the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill is given a third reading with a majority of 99.

    – January 31 2020

    A clock projected on the walls of Downing Street counts down the moments to the UK's departure from the EU at 11pm.

    – March 2 2020

    Mr Barnier and Mr Johnson's chief EU adviser Lord Frost open formal talks in Brussels on Britain's future relationship with the bloc, including a free trade agreement.

    – March 12 2020

    The two sides announce they are suspending face-to-face talks due to the coronavirus pandemic and will explore the options for continuing the negotiations by video conferencing.

    – June 12 2020

    Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove formally tells the EU the UK will not sign up to an extension to the transition period, but he backtracks on plans to immediately introduce full border checks with the bloc on January 1.

    – September 10 2020

    The European Commission threatens the UK with legal action after ministers announce plans for legislation enabling them to override provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland in breach of international law.

    – October 16 2020

    Mr Johnson says he is halting talks on a trade deal, accusing EU leaders meeting for a summit in Brussels of seeking to impose "unacceptable" demands.

    – November 7 2020

    Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen agree to "redouble" their efforts to get a deal while acknowledging that significant differences remain over fisheries and the so-called "level playing field" for state aid rules.

    -December 4 2020

    Lord Frost and Mr Barnier announce in a joint statement the conditions for an agreement had still not been met and negotiations will be put on "pause" to allow political leaders to take stock, with Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen to engage in emergency talks.

    – December 9 2020

    Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen dine at the European Commission, with talks between the two leaders lasting around three hours and ending in an agreement to have further discussions, but that a "firm decision" should be taken about the future of the talks by Sunday.

    – December 13 2020

    Following a phone call, Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen agree to another extension of talks to "go the extra mile" to find a breakthrough. Mr Johnson says there is a "deal to be done" with the EU but adds the two sides are "very far apart" on key issues and Britain is still ready to trade on WTO terms in the new year.

    – December 17 2020

    The Prime Minister and European Commission president talk on the phone again to take stock of the discussions, just hours after Mr Gove tells MPs the chances of a deal were "less than 50%".

    The two sides both say progress has been made but there are still "fundamental" differences, with fisheries again a sticking point. Mr Johnson describes the continuing negotiations as being in a "serious situation", adding an agreement was not likely, with time "very short".

    – December 20 2020

    France joins several other European countries in banning travel from the UK, including freight, due to a new coronavirus strain found in Britain, causing the Port of Dover to close. Huge queues of lorries build up on the M20, prompting fears the same could happen in the event of no trade deal being secured.

    – December 21 2020

    Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says there is no chance of extending the transition arrangements beyond December 31 because it would "add fuel to the fire" by adding extra uncertainty.

    Meanwhile, Mr Johnson updates the country on the travel ban and reveals he has spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron to try to find a resolution, but that they "decided not to speak about Brexit".

    – December 22 2020

    An agreement is reached with France to reopen the border, allowing lorry drivers through if they have had a negative Covid test. Mr Barnier briefs EU ambassadors and MEPs and tells them talks are at a "crucial moment", while Mr Johnson remains in "close contact" with Mrs von der Leyen.

    – December 23 2020

    Optimism grows throughout the day a deal is about to reached and a Downing Street source says it is "possible, but far from certain".

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    TV CREW SENT TO DOWNING STREET AHEAD OF EXPECTED STATEMENT

    A TV crew has been seen entering Number 11 Downing Street ahead of an expected statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SHADOW CHANCELLOR WARNS DEAL WILL HAVE 'MAJOR NEGATIVE IMPACT' ON GDP

    Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds warned that the deal expected to be secured would still result in a "major negative impact" on gross domestic product, a measure of the size of the economy.

    She said: "Indications a deal is imminent mean many businesses are breathing a sigh of relief.

    "Yet early indications suggest this thin deal will have a major negative impact on GDP.

    "With key industries subject to substantial barriers, these are not the promised 'exact same benefits'."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BREXIT 2019 TIMELINE

    – January 15 2019

    MPs reject Mrs May's Brexit plans by an emphatic 432 to 202 in an historic vote which throws the future of her administration and the nature of the UK's EU withdrawal into doubt.

    – March 20 2019

    Mrs May tells the House of Commons that she has written to Mr Tusk to request an extension to Article 50 Brexit negotiations to June 30.

    – March 29 2019

    MPs reject Mrs May's Withdrawal Agreement for a third time – by 286 votes to 344 – on the day the UK was due to leave the EU.

    – April 10 2019

    The EU agrees a "flexible extension" to Brexit until October 31. Mrs May says the "choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear".

    – May 23 2019

    Nigel Farage's Brexit Party comes out on top in the European elections, while the pro-EU Liberal Democrats also make gains.

    – May 24 2019

    Mrs May announces she is standing down as Tory Party leader on June 7. She says: "It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit."

    – July 23 2019

    Mr Johnson is elected as leader of the Conservative Party and becomes the UK's new Prime Minister after defeating Jeremy Hunt.

    – August 20 2019

    The new Prime Minister is rebuffed by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker after demanding major changes to Irish border arrangements in a new Brexit deal.

    – August 28 2019

    The Queen is dragged into the Brexit row as Mr Johnson requests the prorogation of Parliament from early September to mid-October.

    – September 4 2019

    MPs vote to approve legislation aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit. Mr Johnson orders a purge of rebel Tories who opposed the Government including former chancellors Philip Hammond and Sir Kenneth Clarke.

    The Prime Minister attempts to trigger an early general election but fails to get the required support of two-thirds of MPs.

    – September 24 2019

    The Supreme Court rules that the PM's advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament until October 14 was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating Parliament.

    – October 2 2019

    Mr Johnson puts forward his formal Brexit plan to the EU, revealing his blueprint to solve the Irish border issue.

    – October 10 2019

    Mr Johnson and taoiseach Leo Varadkar say they can see a "pathway to a deal", in a joint statement after key talks at a luxury hotel in Cheshire.

    – October 17 2019

    After intense negotiations, the Prime Minister announces the UK has reached a "great deal" with the EU which "takes back control" and means that "the UK can come out of the EU as one United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, together".

    – October 19 2019

    In the first Saturday sitting of the Commons in 37 years, Mr Johnson seeks the support of MPs in a "meaningful vote" on his new deal but instead they back an amendment forcing him to seek a delay.

    – October 22 2019

    The Prime Minister mounts an attempt to fast-track his Brexit deal through Parliament but puts the plans on ice after MPs vote against his foreshortened timetable.

    – October 28 2019

    EU leaders agree to a second Brexit "flextension" until January 31 unless Parliament ratifies the deal sooner.

    – October 29 2019

    Mr Johnson finally succeeds at the fourth attempt in winning Commons support for a general election on December 12.

    – December 12 2019

    Having campaigned on a promise to "get Brexit done", Mr Johnson secures a landslide win at the election with an 80-seat majority.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    'TIME HAS COME' – DEAL LIKELY TO COME IN HOURS

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    THOUSANDS OF LORRY DRIVERS EXPECTED TO SPEND CHRISTMAS ON THE A2

    Thousands of lorry drivers are likely to spend Christmas stranded in Kent as the Government has indicated queues will not start to move for at least another 24 hours.

    Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the 6,000 lorries, some of which have been parked on the A2 since Sunday, will begin moving on Christmas Day, as French firemen and the British military work with NHS Test and Trace to continue testing drivers.

    Hauliers must return a negative coronavirus result carried out within the past 72 hours before crossing the Channel.

    The head of the Road Haulage Association has accused France of treating drivers like "pawns in a larger game" as the UK stands on the cusp of brokering a deal with the EU – an allegation the French have repeatedly denied.

    Richard Burnett sympathised with the hauliers, a small number of whom clashed with police this week after being stopped from heading to the continent, adding: "It just feels like it's a lever the French have pulled specifically around the Brexit negotiations."

    He told the BBC: "We understand that we don't want the virus to spread but I think we have to think practically about some of the reasons why this has happened."

    Credit: Reuters
  • Niamh Cavanagh

    LARRY THE CAT'S TUSSLE WITH PIGEON ON DOWNING STREET ADDS TO BREXIT DRAMA

    As the nation awaited an update on the post-Brexit trade deal, it was Downing Street's Larry the cat who grabbed the attention of politics watchers as he pounced on a pigeon.

    The tabby stalked the bird outside the Prime Minister's official residence on Thursday as members of the Press – who were waiting to hear from Boris Johnson – watched on with their cameras poised.

    Despite Larry catching his unsuspecting victim, the pigeon managed to fly off seemingly unharmed after a brief scuffle.

    The drama came as the Government continued to negotiate on a UK-European Union trade deal amid widespread expectation that an agreement is imminent.

    Officially known as the chief mouser, Larry was rehomed from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in 2011, and was said to have a "strong predatory drive".

    Credit: PA:Press Association
  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BREXIT 2018 TIMELINE

    – March 19 2018

    The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier says he and Brexit secretary David Davis have taken a "decisive step" towards agreeing a joint legal text on the UK's EU withdrawal but warns there are still outstanding issues relating to the Irish border.

    – July 6 2018

    A crunch Cabinet meeting at Chequers agrees Mrs May's new Brexit plans, including the creation of a new UK-EU free trade area for goods. But not all who attend are happy with the compromises.

    – July 8 and July 9 2018

    Mr Davis resigns from the Government in protest while the following day Boris Johnson quits as foreign secretary, claiming the plans mean "we are truly headed for the status of colony" of the EU.

    – November 14 2018

    In a statement outside 10 Downing Street after a five-hour Cabinet meeting, Mrs May says the Cabinet has agreed the draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

    – November 15 2018

    Dominic Raab resigns as Brexit secretary, saying he "cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU". Other resignations follow.

    – November 25 2018

    The 27 EU leaders endorse the Brexit deal.

    – December 12 2018

    Mrs May survives an attempt to oust her with a vote of no confidence as Tory MPs vote by 200 to 117 in the secret ballot in Westminster.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    THE QUEEN AND BREXIT: SECRET EVACUATION PLANS AND PROROGATION ROW

    Although the Queen remains politically neutral on all matters, she has featured in the story of Brexit.

    Secret plans to evacuate the monarch and other senior royals from London were reportedly previously drawn up in case a no-deal Brexit triggered rioting on the streets.

    In February 2019, the Sunday Times said Whitehall was formulating emergency proposals repurposed from those originally drawn up during the Cold War in the event of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.

    That was before the pandemic of 2020 took hold and the Queen decamped from Buckingham Palace to the safety of Windsor in lockdown.

    The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are still in the historic royal fortress in Berkshire, being cared for by a reduced household of staff in what has been dubbed HMS Bubble.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    But recover he did, and Mr Johnson said he was determined to tackle the virus in the coming months.

    In 2020, he has brushed off a number of U-turns and the resignation of his controversial chief adviser Dominic Cummings.

    But Mr Johnson entered Number 10 despite a string of gaffes and scandals that would have ended the careers of other politicians.

    Instead, Mr Johnson has been able to survive and prosper despite – or possibly because of – his capacity for attracting attention.

    A row with Ms Symonds that saw police called to their home in the early stages of the Conservative leadership race was a glimpse into the complicated private life about which Mr Johnson tries desperately to avoid answering questions.

    But it was his public actions, whether writing provocative columns or his record in the Foreign Office, that led to most scrutiny as Tory party members decided on the next prime minister.

    He has been repeatedly criticised for using racially charged or offensive language, including describing the Queen being greeted in Commonwealth countries by "flag-waving piccaninnies" and then-prime minister Tony Blair being met by "tribal warriors" with "watermelon smiles" on a trip to the Congo.

    In a 2018 Daily Telegraph column, he described veiled Muslim women as "looking like letter boxes".

    Mr Johnson has also faced repeated questions about his blunder as foreign secretary in the case of jailed British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who he mistakenly said had been training journalists – comments which were seized on by the authorities in Tehran.

    He has insisted his comments made no difference, something disputed by Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband Richard Ratcliffe, and said the blame for her continued incarceration should be on the Iranian regime rather than him.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONCLUSION TO BREXIT CAPS OFF TURBULENT YEAR FOR BORIS JOHNSON

    Boris Johnson has had a year like no other, personally and politically, and to finish it off he appears to have agreed a deal that at times appeared impossible.

    Securing a UK-EU trade deal at the 11th hour will help set the course for the rest of his days in Downing Street, reducing ties with Brussels without being totally adrift, to chart a new course in choppy waters.

    A year ago, his Conservative Party made strides into Labour heartlands on his pledge to "get Brexit done".

    This set the tone for talks with Brussels this year. A renewed mandate meant Number 10 said it was not going to back down on its tough negotiating stance.

    The 11-month negotiating window was always tight but seemed almost insurmountable when Covid-19 came along and grew into a crisis unmatched during peacetime.

    Then on March 27, Mr Johnson tested positive for Covid-19. Two days later, it was announced his fiancee Carrie Symonds had given birth to a baby boy.

    A week later on April 6, Mr Johnson was admitted to St Thomas' Hospital in London and a day later he was taken to intensive care.

    Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was called in to deputise for the Prime Minister when he was incapacitated, later remarked that it was "touch and go" whether Mr Johnson would pull through.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED TIMELINE (2017-2018)

    – March 29 2017

    Mrs May triggers Article 50. European Council president Donald Tusk says it is not a happy occasion, telling a Brussels press conference his message to the UK is: "We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye."

    – April 18 2017

    Mrs May announces a snap general election to be held on June 8.

    – June 8 2017

    There is humiliation for Mrs May as she loses her Commons majority after her election gamble backfires. She becomes head of a minority Conservative administration propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party.

    – September 22 2017

    In a crucial Brexit speech in Florence, Mrs May sends a message to EU leaders by saying: "We want to be your strongest friend and partner as the EU and UK thrive side by side." She says she is proposing an "implementation period" of "around two years" after Brexit when existing market access arrangements will apply.

    – March 19 2018

    The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier says he and Brexit secretary David Davis have taken a "decisive step" towards agreeing a joint legal text on the UK's EU withdrawal but warns there are still outstanding issues relating to the Irish border.

    – July 6 2018

    A crunch Cabinet meeting at Chequers agrees Mrs May's new Brexit plans, including the creation of a new UK-EU free trade area for goods. But not all who attend are happy with the compromises.

    – July 8 and July 9 2018

    Mr Davis resigns from the Government in protest while the following day Boris Johnson quits as foreign secretary, claiming the plans mean "we are truly headed for the status of colony" of the EU.

    – November 14 2018

    In a statement outside 10 Downing Street after a five-hour Cabinet meeting, Mrs May says the Cabinet has agreed the draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

    – November 15 2018

    Dominic Raab resigns as Brexit secretary, saying he "cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU". Other resignations follow.

    – November 25 2018

    The 27 EU leaders endorse the Brexit deal.

    – December 12 2018

    Mrs May survives an attempt to oust her with a vote of no confidence as Tory MPs vote by 200 to 117 in the secret ballot in Westminster.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    WELSH FARMERS AND FOOD PRODUCERS WELCOME NEWS OF POTENTIAL TRADE DEAL

    Welsh farmers and food producers have welcomed news that an agreement on a trade deal with the EU is imminent.

    FUW president Glyn Roberts said: "The consequences of a no deal for farming and other industries would be catastrophic, so it was always hoped that common sense would prevail. However, there was always a risk that refusals to compromise on one or other side could lead to the worst-case scenario."

    Mr Roberts also welcomed the EU's formal listing of the UK as a "third country" – a move which is essential in terms of allowing Welsh food exports to the EU.

    "However, our access to the EU market, which is the destination for three-quarters of Welsh food and drink exports, will still face significant barriers after December 31, with non-tariff barrier costs expected to rise by 4% to 8%," he said.

    Mr Roberts said the full text of an agreement would have to be scrutinised in order to assess the full impacts and benefits, and a number of concerns existed including in terms of seed potato exports.

    "Nevertheless, the Welsh farming industry, like others the length and breadth of Great Britain, will be celebrating Christmas having breathed a huge sigh of relief that a deal seems close to being agreed," he added.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    HOW THE BREXIT SAGA UNFOLDED

    Arguments about the UK's place in Europe have been raging for decades, but it was not until 2013 that the public were promised the chance to have their say.

    Here are the key moments in the Brexit saga since:

    – January 23 2013

    Under intense pressure from many of his own MPs and with the rise of Ukip, prime minister David Cameron promises an in-out referendum on EU membership if the Conservatives win the 2015 general election.

    – May 7 2015

    The Tories unexpectedly make sweeping gains over Ed Miliband's Labour Party and secure a majority in the Commons. Mr Cameron vows to deliver his manifesto pledge of an EU referendum.

    – June 23 2016

    The UK votes to leave the EU in a shock result that sees 52% of the public support Brexit and Mr Cameron quickly resigns as prime minister.

    – July 13 2016

    Theresa May takes over as prime minister. Despite having backed Remain, she promises to "rise to the challenge" of negotiating the UK's exit.

    – November 10 2016

    The High Court rules against the Government and says Parliament must hold a vote to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, the mechanism that begins the exit from the EU. Mrs May says the ruling will not stop her from invoking the legislation by April 2017.

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