“The deal is over,” read a statement from Downing Street. “Everything promised to the British public during the 2016 referendum and last year’s general election is being delivered by this agreement.”
Negotiations have stalled for months as the two sides failed to reach an agreement on areas such as fisheries quotas, how the UK uses state aid to support post-Brexit British businesses, and legal oversight of any agreement.
It is unlikely that this agreement will be formally ratified before the end of the Brexit transition, which still requires a series of legal loopholes.
EU leaders, the European Parliament and the UK government must now automatically ratify the agreement.
The legal text of the agreement will first be translated, reviewed and approved by the 27 EU member states.
Once all member states have signed it, it will go back to the European Parliament, where the European Parliament (MEPs) will vote to ratify the agreement.
But the European Parliament has said it is too late to hold an emergency vote on December 31 before the end of the transition period.
Instead, they plan to use the EU-UK agreement “temporarily”, with MEPs being formally restructured to ratify the agreement in the New Year.
In the meantime, there will be a referendum in the British Parliament to ratify the agreement.
While trade agreements do not require parliamentary approval, UK lawmakers are expected to bring in debate and approval from their Christmas break.
It may take up to 48 hours to bring Parliament back to session, however it is known to move very quickly when needed.
While the agreement marks a significant milestone in the four-and-a-half years since the UK voted to leave the EU, it is unlikely to end years of toxic political debate in the UK.
Euroscopic lawmakers are already arranging for an agreement to prevent the UK from entering EU orbit. Meanwhile, the pro-Europeans believe that at some point in the future, the UK, perhaps under the new leadership, will be able to strengthen its relationship with Brussels.
This is a growing story …