Show an ad over header. AMP

U.K. says it's reached historic post-Brexit trade deal with EU

The United Kingdom and the European Union have reached a historic trade deal, staving off a potentially catastrophic "no-deal" Brexit cliff on Dec. 31.

Why it matters: The two sides appear to have defied the odds, striking a complex free trade agreement in record time after nine months of intense negotiations. Both the U.K. and EU had warned in recent weeks that a no-deal scenario was "very likely" as talks appeared on the verge of collapse.

The big picture: Ending the Brexit transition period without a deal would have forced the U.K.-EU trading relationship to revert to World Trade Organization rules, resulting in automatic tariffs, border checks and other massive disruptions between the U.K. and its largest and closest trading partner.

  • An official government forecast warned that a no-deal Brexit would cause widespread job losses and an increase in food prices — wiping an additional 2% of GDP off a British economy that has already been devastated by the pandemic.
  • A deal seemed within reach in recent weeks, but the sides were stuck on three key points: fishing rights, a "level playing field" on subsidies and regulations, and a mechanism to resolve disputes.

What they're saying: "The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the U.K," a Downing Street spokesperson said. "We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved with the EU. The deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth £668 billion in 2019."

How we got here: The June 2016 Brexit referendum set off three years of political instability in the U.K., during which former Prime Minister Theresa May struggled to negotiate a divorce agreement with the EU that would pacify hardline Brexiteers in her Conservative Party while earning the backing of a divided Parliament.

  • May's failures ultimately forced her to step down in 2019 and give way to Boris Johnson, who called an election and campaigned on a promise to deliver Brexit with an "oven ready" deal.
  • Johnson won a sweeping majority and took the U.K. out of the EU on Jan. 31, triggering a transition period in which the two sides would work out the terms of their future relationship by the end of the year.

The bumpy negotiations that ensued coincided with the coronavirus crisis, which wreaked havoc on both the U.K. and the EU — prompting calls for Johnson to extend the Brexit transition period to avoid further economic misery and possible supply shortages.

  • He categorically refused, frequently hailing the prospect of an "Australia-style" deal (Australia doesn't have a free trade agreement with the EU) and the restoration of U.K. "sovereignty."
  • In the end, though, it may have been Johnson's brinkmanship that brought about the compromises necessary for a deal to be reached.

What to watch: Neither the U.K. Parliament nor European leaders will have much time to scrutinize the deal before Dec. 31, but it's unclear whether lawmakers on either side will put up enough of a fight to derail the ratification process.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.

Keep reading... Show less

U.S. declares China's actions against Uighurs "genocide"

With just one day left in President Trump's term, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has officially determined that China's campaign of mass internment, forced labor and forced sterilization of over 1 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang constitutes "genocide" and "crimes against humanity."

Why it matters: The U.S. has become the first country to adopt these terms to describe the Chinese Communist Party's gross human rights abuses in its far northwest.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden set to inherit Trump's TikTok conundrum

Donald Trump has one day left in the White House. TikTok has a lot longer left in the app stores, despite still being owned by China's ByteDance.

Why it matters: Trump's failure to force divestiture or eviction was more than just a blunder, or source of schadenfreude for the TikTok users who bedeviled his reelection campaign's event planners. It was part of a "talk loudly and carry a small stick" economic policy toward China that Joe Biden will inherit.

Keep reading... Show less

Trump leaves behind legacy of targeted vitriol towards the press

The Capitol attack on Jan. 6 resulted in at least nine physical assaults against journalists and at least five arrests, per the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker's top editor.

Why it matters: President Trump's harsh rhetoric towards the press has empowered leaders abroad and locally in the U.S. to continue to attack press that they don't like.

Keep reading... Show less

Despite burst of early policy moves, Biden's climate agenda will take years to fulfill

Joe Biden's inauguration and the days right after will bring a rat-tat-tat burst of climate policy moves, but keep this in mind amid the splashy pledges: pushing through most of his agenda will be a long, uncertain slog.

Why it matters: Biden's climate plan is far more expansive than anything contemplated under President Obama. But for all the immediate pledges, it will take years to see how far Biden gets.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden's inflation danger: Some economists sound alarm over stimulus plans

President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal has economists and bullish market analysts revising their U.S. growth expectations higher, predicting a reflation of the economy in 2021 and possibly more booming returns for risk assets.

Yes, but: Others are warning that what's expected to be reflation could actually show up as inflation, a much less welcome phenomenon.

Keep reading... Show less

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

Keep reading... Show less

The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories