Brexit: Instant reactions from UK and around the world to trade deal breakthrough

Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal has divided opinion – with some heralding it as a big achievement and others arguing it breaks promises.

While the agreement runs to hundreds of pages and is being combed through, here are the instant reactions from senior figures in the UK and abroad.

Sir Keir Starmer: Thin agreement isn’t what was promised

Labour will back the Brexit deal because the alternative is to support no deal, Sir Keir Starmer announced on Thursday.

But he called it a “thin agreement” that “does not provide adequate protections” for British manufacturing, financial services, creative industries or workers’ rights.

“It is not the deal the government promised – far from it,” he explained, adding there are “serious questions about the government’s preparedness” for the new arrangements to come into force from 1 January 2021.

“A better deal could have been negotiated,” Sir Keir said, and he warned “the British people would never forgive us if we enabled a no-deal outcome”.

And he ruled out abstaining, saying: “Leadership is about taking the tough decisions in the national interest. It is about being a serious, responsible opposition and a government-in-waiting.”

Nicola Sturgeon: Promises broken should give Scotland fresh independence chance

The Scottish first minister said: “It beggars belief that in the midst of a pandemic and economic recession Scotland has been forced out of the EU Single Market and Customs Union with all the damage to jobs that will bring.”

She added that “a deal is better than no deal” but “just because, at the eleventh hour, the UK government has decided to abandon the idea of a no-deal outcome, it should not distract from the fact that they have chosen a hard Brexit, stripping away so many of the benefits of EU membership”.

It appears major promises made by Boris Johnson “have been broken” – particularly on fisheries, Ms Sturgeon also claimed.

In a statement, she added: “Scotland did not vote for any of this and our position is clearer than ever.

“Scotland now has the right to choose its own future as an independent country and once more regain the benefits of EU membership.”

Emmanuel Macron: This protects EU citizens and businesses

A crucial buy-in of the deal was given by the Fresh president, who wrote in a tweet that “European unity and firmness have paid off”.

He added: “The agreement with the UK is essential to protect our citizens, our fishermen, our producers. We will make sure it does.

“Europe is moving forward and can look to the future, united, sovereign and strong.”

Arlene Foster: Sensible deal is most favourable outcome for Northern Ireland

Across in Northern Ireland, First Minister Arlene Foster said she had consistently pushed for a deal.

In a short statement, the DUP leader whose party propped up the Conservative government led by Theresa May for two years, said she would “examine the details both of the trade deal itself as well as other issues such as security where agreement will be particularly important”.

“Given the government’s Northern Ireland protocol, a sensible trade deal between the UK and the EU was always the most favourable outcome for Northern Ireland,” Ms Foster added.

“Moving forward, we will continue to work to seize the opportunities and address the challenges which arise from the UK’s exit from the EU.”

Micheal Martin: Deal minimises negative consequences of Brexit but will disappoint fishing communities

In the Republic of Ireland, the country’s prime minister said the agreement represents “a good compromise and a balanced outcome”.

But he claimed “there is no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’ for Ireland” so he had “worked hard to minimise the negative consequences”, resulting in a deal that “is the least bad version of Brexit possible, given current circumstances”.

“Our fishing communities will be disappointed with the outcome,” he admitted.

“But compared with the prospect of no deal, which would have seen them completely excluded from British waters, the negotiators have worked hard to minimise the damage.”

Thursday has been “a better day than many that we have been through in 2020,” Mr Martin added, saying the treaty will “significantly lessen the negative economic impacts of Brexit” and “come as a great relief to many”.

David Cameron: Deal is vital to building a new relationship with the EU

Breaking the long periods of silence he has tried to keep since leaving Downing Street, the former Tory prime minister who called the 2016 referendum said it was “good to end a difficult year with some positive news”.

In a brief statement, he said the trade deal “is very welcome – and a vital step in building a new relationship with the EU as friends, neighbours and partners”.

He added: “Many congratulations to the UK negotiating team.”

Theresa May: Welcome news provides confidence – let’s see the detail

Boris Johnson’s predecessor who was ousted over her EU divorce deal also only had brief words on Thursday

She tweeted: “Very welcome news that the UK & EU have reached agreement on the terms of a deal – one that provides confidence to business and helps keep trade flowing.

“Looking forward to seeing the detail in the coming days.”

US ambassador: New opportunities now available with America

It’s no secret that outgoing US President Donald Trump was a fan of Brexit, so his ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson has welcomed today’s news.

“Congratulations to the UK and EU on striking a Brexit deal,” he tweeted. “So many new US-UK opportunities to pursue!”

Nigel Farage: It’s not perfect, but Brexit makes UK better off

The Brexit Party leader said the deal is “not perfect” and he’s “worried we’re going to be too closely aligned to EU rules” because the UK “will not be able to step out of lines without them having the threat of imposing immediate tariffs”.

“That detail, we’ll discover in the next couple of days,” he told Sky News, but added: “Are we far better off than we were five years ago? Absolutely.”

British Chamber of Commerce: Significant new barriers going up to trade from 1 January

Adam Marshall is glad there is a deal, but less optimistic about how good it will be for business.

“Let us be absolutely clear,” the head of the BCC said. “Businesses trading between the UK and EU are facing significant, new non-tariff barriers to trade from 1st January.

“While the agreement of a zero-tariff UK-EU deal is welcome, it does not remove many non-tariff barriers & frictions.”

National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations: Frustration and anger about concessions

Barrie Deas, chief executive of the group, said: “In the end it was clear that Boris Johnson wanted an overall trade deal and was willing to sacrifice fishing.

“The broad feeling is that the UK has made significant concessions on fish in order to secure a trade deal.

“I think the industry will be extremely disappointed.

“We have secured increases in quota from the EU but they don’t come anywhere close to what our entitlement is in international law.

“So I think there will be frustration and anger across the industry about that.”

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