How North-East politicians reacted to Brexit deal

MPs from across the political divide have welcomed the UK’s last minute deal with the European Union.

The deal, agreed this afternoon, means businesses have days to get to grip with new trade rules which will kick in on January 1, when the Brexit transition period ends.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the deal will help protect jobs and provide certainty to businesses when the UK is no longer part of the single market.

The deal – which is worth £668 billion a year – was welcomed by people across the political divide.

Details of the 500 page deal, the text of which has not been released, are still emerging.

On Thursday, Mr Johnson said the UK had managed to “take back control” as promised in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

He said: “We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny. We have taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered.

“From January 1 we are outside the customs union and outside the single market.”

“British laws will be made solely by the British Parliament interpreted by British judges sitting in UK courts and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will come to an end.”

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “We have finally found an agreement.

“It was a long and winding road, but we have got a good deal to show for it.

“It is fair, it is a balanced deal, and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides.”

The deal means trade can continue tariff-free, though will mean more paper work and checks for businesses.

Describing the deal as “historic”, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “While we await the detail of the deal agreed between the UK and the EU, it looks like the Prime Minister has secured unprecedented access to European markets that will allow the UK to continue to trade freely with the EU, while delivering on the referendum pledge to regain control of our money, our laws and our borders.

“The UK can now look outwards once again as a truly global trading nation, freed from the shackles of the EU’s inward looking, anti-free trade policies.

He added that freeports – something he has been pushing for in Teesside in 2021 – would “supercharge” the economy.

The UK got rid of its freeports in 2012 but they have been championed more recently as a way of boosting the post-Brexit economy.

Mr Houchen said: “There is no better example of a confident UK trading with the rest of the world than the introduction of freeports, something I have been working on for the last three-years alongside the Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

“Securing the UK’s biggest and first freeport is a key part of my plan for jobs, the UK freeport policy was made on Teesside for Teesside and we are at the front-of-the-line to secure freeport status early next year.

“A freeport in Teesside will super-charge our economy and create thousands of good-quality well paid jobs. This will be truly transformational for our local economy and workers from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, putting more money in their pockets for them and their families.”

Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, said having no tariffs was “critical” to hundreds and thousands of jobs in the region.He added: “There is an enormous sense of relief that the negotiations have concluded but many will feel a sense of sadness and loss. This has been an extremely difficult journey for the UK and for the EU.

“Public opinion, families and communities have been bitterly divided over Brexit, but that is behind us now and there is now an opportunity for us to unite and move forward together to forge a better and fairer country. ”

“The North-East exports more to the EU than any other region, so continuing to have no tariffs on goods and materials coming in and no tariffs on our manufactured goods and materials going out after 31st December, was absolutely critical for hundreds of thousands of jobs in our part of the world.

“That has always been my very great worry so, like all our vital industries and businesses, I am mightily relieved that we will continue to trade tariff free.

“There will of course be other massive challenges in adapting to the new environment and the new relationship with our European friends and largest trading partner, but we now have to get on and make the best possible job of our post EU future.”

Alex Cunningham, the Labour MP for Stockton North, described the deal as “poor”but said he would vote in favour of when it goes before MPs on December 30.

He said: “I have always said that a no deal outcome would be disastrous for many businesses and thousands of jobs in our region. That’s why I am relieved a deal, albeit a poor one, has been reached – and will vote for it when it comes to Parliament on 30th December.

“The Prime Minister has struck a deal but it is not just a poor one – it is thin on detail and will have long term negative ramifications for our country.

“Amongst other things, I have concerns about the government’s approach to food standards, workers’ rights and the environment – and the fact protections for them in this agreement appear wafer thin.

“There are some positives however – the fact that we will have substantial tariff free trading whilst some of the arrangements relating to security are also welcome.

“That said, this is the Prime Minister’s deal – with huge barriers for our industry and businesses which won’t just have to deal with two different regulatory processes, but will suffer a blizzard of paperwork and other barriers as the UK and EU will have different systems, standards and protocols for all manner of goods and activities.

“I will personally accept this deal – because even a bad deal is better than no deal at all. I look forward to the opportunities in the future to strengthen it in the hope that it can be considerably improved upon in the longer term.”

Darlington MP Peter Gibson said: “I’m utterly delighted. Boris has once again confounded the critics who said it couldn’t be done.

“It’s fantastic that in the same year we got Brexit done, we have got a deal done and what a fantastic Christmas present for the people of Darlington to be out of Europe with a free trade deal.”

In a statement posted on Facebook, Redcar MP Jacob Young said: “Five years ago, I was stood on Redcar High Street, campaigning to Leave the EU.

“One year ago, we passed the Withdrawal Agreement – one of my first votes in Parliament.

“And today the Prime Minister has announced a comprehensive Canada-style free trade deal between the UK and the EU.

“Looking forward to seeing the detail, but on the face of it – we’re good to go!”

The Northern Echo | Teesside