Brexit: Boris Johnson hails ‘final step in long journey’ as European Parliament backs UK-EU trade deal

Boris Johnson has hailed the "final step in a long journey" after the European Parliament gave its approval to the post-Brexit trade deal.

With MEPs having overwhelmingly supported the Trade and Cooperation Agreement – which was struck on Christmas Eve – the prime minister said now "is the time to look forward to the future".

The European Parliament consented to the deal by 660 votes to five, with 32 abstentions.

The result was announced on Wednesday morning after MEPs cast their votes on Tuesday night.

The deal had provisionally been in force since the end of the transition period on 1 January.

Earlier this year, MEPs declined to set a date for a vote following a row over the UK’s action in relation to post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.

But with an end of April deadline looming by which to ratify the agreement, MEPs have now made their decision.

There remain a few formalities to be completed over the next few days to complete the EU’s ratification process.

Responding to the European Parliament vote, Mr Johnson tweeted: "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."

Cabinet minister Lord Frost, who oversees the EU-UK relationship, said the vote brought "certainty" and would allow the UK and EU to "focus on the future".

"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," he added.

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European Parliament President David Sassoli said MEPs would "monitor closely" to ensure commitments made within the agreement "are kept".

"The agreement voted today lays the foundation for a new EU-UK relationship," he posted on Twitter.

"It will not be as frictionless as what came before, but it is in all our interests to make it work."

On Tuesday, speaking as MEPs began their final debate on the post-Brexit trade deal, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed the EU "will not hesitate" to take action against the UK under the terms of the agreement, if there is a dispute.

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