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Live Reporting

Edited by Johanna Howitt and Helier Cheung

All times stated are UK

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  1. Thanks for joining us

    Video content

    Video caption: Brexit trade agreement: How the UK and EU announced the new deal

    We're now ending our live coverage of the post-Brexit trade deal agreed by the UK and EU - thanks again for joining us. You can follow all the latest developments on our main story, and the BBC News website.

    Today's live page was edited by Johanna Howitt and Helier Cheung, and written by Francesca Gillett, Becky Morton, Jennifer Scott, Kate Whannel, Paul Kirby, Vicky Baker and Lauren Turner.

  2. Months of disagreement come to an end

    Boris Johnson tweets a photo with his thumbs up

    As we wind down, here's a reminder of the main headlines from a crucial day where the EU and UK reached a post-Brexit trade deal.

    The decision ended months of disagreements over fishing rights and future business rules.

    • Boris Johnson declared at a Downing Street press conference: "We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny"
    • The text of the agreement has yet to be released, but the PM described it as a "good deal for the whole of Europe"
    • The UK will leave EU trading rules next Thursday - a year after officially leaving the 27-nation bloc. The trade deal means that the UK and the EU can continue to trade without extra taxes being put on goods
    • The two sides have one week to get any deal formally approved in London and Brussels
    • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer confirmed his party would support the deal in Parliament - although he stressed it was "not the deal the government promised - far from it"
    • Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford said a deal was better than no deal, while Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster said "a sensible trade deal... was always the most favourable outcome"
    • Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Brexit is happening against Scotland's will - and there is no deal that will ever make up for what Brexit takes away from us."
  3. How Europe's leaders reacted

    Video content

    Video caption: Ursula von der Leyen announces "fair" post-Brexit trade deal

    As our live page comes to a close for the evening, here is a recap of what Europe's leaders have said about the deal.

    Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president: "Parting is such sweet sorrow. To all Europeans, I say: It's time to leave Brexit behind. Our future is made in Europe."

    Michel Barnier, EU's chief negotiator: "Today is a day of relief, but tinged by some sadness as we compare what came before with what lies ahead."

    Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor: "The federal government will now carefully check the text of the agreement... I am very optimistic that we will have a good result."

    Micheál Martin, Irish prime minister: "There is no such thing as a 'good Brexit' for Ireland. [But] I believe the agreement reached today is the least bad version of Brexit possible, given current circumstances."

    Emmanuel Macron, France's president: "The unity and strength of Europe paid off."

    Read more here.

  4. Recap: What do we know about the deal?

    A person wearing an EU beret

    We'll be winding down our live coverage soon - but here's a quick recap of what we know about the EU and UK's post-Brexit trade deal.

    The deal contains new rules for how the UK and EU will live, work and trade together. But we don't know a lot of the detail yet because the full document - expected to be well over 1,000 pages long - has not been released.

    What we do know is that it means:

    • No taxes on each other's goods when they cross borders (known as tariffs)
    • No limits on the amount of things which can be traded (known as quotas)

    European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen says competition rules - designed to prevent one side gaining an unfair advantage - "will be fair and remain so".

    She says the UK and EU will "continue co-operating in all areas of mutual interest, including things like climate change, energy, security and transport".

    We also know the UK will not be taking part in the Erasmus exchange programme for university students anymore - although, as we've explained below, students at universities in Northern Ireland will still be eligible.

    Read more.

  5. Students at NI universities can still take part in Erasmus

    Students holding an Erasmus sign

    Students at universities in Northern Ireland can continue to participate in the Erasmus scheme under an arrangement with the Irish government.

    Erasmus is an EU programme that helps students study in other countries.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the UK will not continue to participate in it and will be replacing it with a new scheme.

    He said leaving Erasmus had been a "tough decision" but that under the new scheme, students would "have the opportunity... not just to go to European universities, but to go to the best universities in the world".

    The EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said he regretted the decision.

    But the Republic of Ireland's higher education minister said his government was fulfilling a commitment to NI.

    Read more here about what could happen to Erasmus after Brexit.

  6. Analysis: 'Fitting for final chapter to grind on so long'

    Chris Mason

    Political Correspondent

    Brussels sprouts
    Image caption: Santa is airborne, sprouts are being peeled, and the promised deal landed

    How fitting that this final chapter in the chronicles of Brexit should grind on for so long.

    Santa is airborne; sprouts are being peeled; the deal promised last night landing this afternoon. Make no mistake: this is a big moment.

    Think back. The referendum campaign and the harshest of contentions.

    The result, four and a half years ago, to the day – and David Cameron’s premiership prematurely aborted.

    Theresa May’s tortuous years wrestling with Brexit, where she, like her predecessor, came off second best.

    Boris Johnson arrived in Downing Street 18 months ago without a mandate or a majority.

    But, after a collision with the courts, a snap election, a big majority and a pandemic that nearly cost him his life – a deal.

    Brexit was delivered legally at the end of January. It will be delivered practically at the end of next week – and with an overarching arrangement with the EU that even a matter of days ago looked far from certain.

    Vast amounts of detail wait to be found, no doubt, buried amid the subterranean depths of the huge deal document itself, which is yet to be scrutinised.

    And the consequences of Brexit, from the impact on the small export business to Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom, remain vast and uncertain.

    But plenty will hope this is the final giant moment in what have been a turbulent few years.

  7. UK fishing industry 'disappointed and frustrated'

    A catch is unloaded at the fishing port at Bridlington Harbour in Yorkshire, England

    "I think there will be a lot of disappointed and frustrated fishermen across the country tonight," said Barrie Deas, CEO of the UK National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations.

    "I think there was an expectation that the government would deliver quota shares that reflect the resources that are in UK waters," he told BBC News.

    Deas said he was also concerned that EU fishing boats would continue to operate up to six miles (10km) from the UK coast, when the fishing industry had hoped for a 12-mile limit.

    He said the compromises left the industry feeling let down.

    He added, however, that there were positive elements to the deal, including tariff-free trade.

    "We hadn't wanted anything extraordinary," he said. "Just the same relationship that the EU currently enjoys with Norway."

    Read more about why fishing was so important in the Brexit negotiations.

  8. WATCH: The story of the last four years in three minutes

    Video content

    Video caption: Brexit deal: How did we get here?

    It's been more than four years since the UK voted to leave the European Union.

    And it's been quite a journey - with two changes of prime minister, two general elections, and more votes in parliament than anyone cares to remember.

    Here's a quick recap of how we got here - featuring politicians, Larry the Cat, and everyone's favourite Brenda from Bristol.

  9. Reality Check

    Fact check: Downing Street confirms non-tariff barriers remain

    Boris Johnson on Christmas Eve

    Boris Johnson claimed at his press conference that from 1 January “there will be no non-tariff barriers to trade”.

    But that’s not right. Non-tariff barriers are things like paperwork to be filled in or regulations that must be followed if trade is to go ahead.

    That’s different from tariffs, which is when countries charge taxes on imports of particular items from other countries.

    The deal agreed today means there will be no tariffs. But with the UK outside the EU single market and the custom union, there will be a host of new border checks and bureaucracy for the UK trade in goods, as well as significant limitations on the trade in services.

    The European Commission statement on the deal confirms that – despite the agreement – there will be, from 1 January 2021, “big changes… this will create barriers to trade in goods and services and to cross-border mobility and exchanges that do not exist today”.

    A subsequent statement from Downing Street has sought to clarify Mr Johnson’s remarks.

    “We’ve always been clear that we’ve left the customs union and single market, which means that there will be some friction in trade which we acknowledge,” it said. “What the PM means here, is that there will be no tariffs and no quotas."

    So, no tariffs but plenty of new non-tariff barriers which will make trade more costly for both UK and EU businesses.

  10. Analysis: What Boris Johnson's mistake tells us about our future

    Faisal Islam

    BBC Economics Editor

    File image of Boris Johnson

    This is a political victory for the prime minister with up front control "taken back" in a deal struck in a very short time.

    In economic terms, it prevents the equivalent of a low-level tariff trade war with our biggest trading partner breaking out, in the middle of an historic recession and health crisis.

    The UK has stayed in a free trade zone stretching from Iceland to Russia, as Vote Leave promised ahead of the referendum.

    But his manifest error in declaring there are "no non-tariff barriers" for trade with the EU had business leaders falling off their chairs.

    This is patently not the case. The government has entire websites informing the public and businesses of tens of millions of new customs declarations, export health checks, regulatory checks, rules of origin checks, conformity assessments.

    Read more here.

  11. Alastair Campbell: Labour should not back this deal

    Alastair Campbell
    Image caption: Alastair Campbell (file photo)

    Alastair Campbell, the ex-adviser of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, has told BBC News he thinks it was a mistake for Labour to back the deal.

    "It would go through with Conservative votes, even if the real extremist Brexit voters decide they can't support it," Campbell said. "Boris Johnson should be made to own it."

    Borrowing a phrase from former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, he said the party should instead be abstaining and explaining.

    "Explain why it is bad deal for Britain, explain how it can be used as the basis of a different policy."

    Otherwise, he said, when things start to go wrong, Boris Johnson will be able to say: "Well, you voted for it."

    "Abstaining is never great option," Campbell added. "I don't think they should vote against it... I do accept it's a difficult argument. But I really don't think they should do this."

  12. Watch: 'Labour will vote for deal'

    Video content

    Video caption: Starmer: 'Labour will accept deal and vote for it'

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has confirmed his party's position on the new post-Brexit trade deal - they will support it when it comes to the Commons.

    Watch a clip from his press conference above.

  13. Deal for Gibraltar not yet done

    Gibraltar scene, 21 Dec 20
    Image caption: The Rock relies on close economic ties with Spain

    Away from all the drama of the Brexit trade deal the UK has also been negotiating future arrangements for Gibraltar, a UK territory, with Spain.

    About 15,000 workers come and go daily across the Spain-Gibraltar border. The Rock’s population is about 34,000 and 96% of Gibraltarians voted Remain in the EU referendum.

    Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has told the BBC he’s aiming to get Schengen terms for Gibraltar, to safeguard free movement of people to and from Spain.

    Most EU states are in the passport-free Schengen zone, but the UK has never been in it.

    If Gibraltar also joined it, EU citizens arriving from Spain or another Schengen country would avoid passport checks, while arrivals from the UK would have to go through passport control, as is already the case.

    “The terms for mobility between us and UK would remain exactly the same as they are now,” said Mr Picardo. Anyone arriving from outside Schengen would have to show their passports, he added. “The arrangement is NOT about the nationality of the person arriving, but their point of departure.”

    “If we can, we want to finalise this before the end of the year,” he said, but added: “It’s not easy”.

  14. Remember 2016?


    The vote to leave the EU – back in June 2016 – took place on one day.

    The process to actually leave the EU has taken a little bit longer.

    To give you a sense of just how long, here is a quick reminder of what was happening when we first decided to leave the European Union.

    • Drake’s One Dance was top of the charts.
    • The supernatural horror film, the Conjuring 2, was the highest grossing film in the UK.
    • Game of Thrones will still being made and was not even a third of the way through the shows’ eventual body count.
    • Adele played the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury (the highlights are still available to watch here)
    • The BBC announced judge Len Goodman would leave Strictly Come Dancing
    • Kim Kardashian appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine having earned $45m from the Hollywood app
    • England was knocked out of the football world cup by Iceland
    • The social media app TikTok had yet to be invented (but it would turn up just a few months later)

    2016 was also the year when it felt like an unusually high number of celebrities died - David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, Prince, George Michael and many more.

    Referendum election map
  15. Northern Ireland reaction to trade deal

    Arlene Foster

    The Northern Ireland Executive is to meet on Monday to discuss the UK-EU trade deal.

    Politicians have been reacting to the news in the meantime.

    Arlene Foster, DUP leader, said: "Given the government's Northern Ireland Protocol, a sensible trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union was always the most favourable outcome for Northern Ireland.

    "Moving forward, we will continue to work to seize the opportunities and address the challenges which arise from the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union."

    Deputy First Minister and Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O'Neill said: "While we have distinctly different political positions on leaving the EU, we are all agreed that it's in no-one's interests to leave without a deal, therefore this announcement is good news which will be welcomed across the whole island."

    Clarity is needed, she added, on "what the agreement means for businesses and citizens".

    SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "While the deal may seek to mitigate the damage that leaving the European Union will have on people, businesses and communities in Northern Ireland, it will not undo the damage of Brexit."

    He said the "best deal will always remain being at the heart of the European Union".

    Read more here.

  16. 'The devil will be in the detail' - business leaders

    Companies can now start to plan for the future but there are still short term pressures as a result of the timing of the deal, according to the Institute of Directors, which represents business leaders.

    Its director general Jonathan Geldart said: “A deal can draw a line under what has been a tumultuous few years for companies.

    "It provides a stable basis for the future relationship with our biggest market, and directors are eager to sift through the detail to understand what may change"

    He said "the devil will be in the detail" of the deal, but the end of "political prevarication" was welcome.

  17. 'Some seafood businesses will not survive'


    The bureaucracy caused by Brexit will mean some seafood businesses will collapse, according to Seafood Scotland.

    The deal, while welcome, comes after the border problems of recent days, its chief executive Donna Fordyce says.

    "With Brexit will come new, untested, and extremely complex processes that the seafood sector will have to comply with in just a week’s time, at huge cost which they can ill afford just now," she says.

    Lorries will be delayed for too long by a "bureaucratic blockade", she adds.

    “We expect it to be a good few months until everything beds in and in the meantime, seafood businesses will try their best to navigate the changes, but some will not survive.”

  18. Farage: A 'massive step forward'

    Nigel Farage (file picture)

    Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage told BBC News it was a "rotten deal" for British fishermen, and that he was "very concerned about the level playing field".

    But he nevertheless described it as a "massive step forward", the "end of Brexit wars" and a "big, historic, important moment".

    "The truth of it is, there’ll be a lot of people in the EU happy tonight with where things are," he said.

    "I’m not over the moon with this, but, we’ve reached a point after years of trench warfare, division and bitterness, even I have to say - let’s just mark this moment, it’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better off than we were five years ago."

  19. ‘It’s only my problem because of my postcode’

    Felicity lives on the Irish border in South Armagh

    Felicity McKee

    Felicity McKee lives in South Armagh which is on the border between northern and southern Ireland. As a PhD student at Swansea University she regularly drives to Bristol to fly home via Dublin. As a woman who lives with multiple disabilities she is concerned about how health insurance will work in the future.

    “I get ill when I travel and there is no way I could afford a hospital stay. The cost of health insurance is higher anyway for disabled people and I’ve got ill abroad before. It is very concerning

    “As far as I can see the European Health Insurance card (EHIC) is dead in the water in the future and the issue of health insurance is messy. When it comes to the NHS and health care I don’t know how that will work if I got ill on the wrong side of the border.

    “There’s data roaming; am I going to need two phones like I needed when I was in secondary school? Paying for two contracts on a phone will add up. It's little things but they make a big difference.

    “My European friends are concerned whether they’ll be able to stay. One of my friends had their tyres slashed after the referendum result and I’ve noticed a lot of anti-Irish sentiment too; I think it’s affected a lot of people. People don’t realise the consequences of Brexit. It’s not the 70s or 80s anymore and international links are beneficial to have."

  20. 'The UK was dominated by German thinking'

    Antony Payne is a retired software designer who voted for Brexit

    Antony Payne

    Antony Payne voted for Brexit.

    He said he had been "complaining bitterly" all day as there had been so much commentary before any announcement was actually made.

    He had some concerns about the Erasmus exchange programme and said he and his son, who is a university lecturer, had had discussions about it and also any loss of research investment from the EU.

    "But with foreign policy and defence, yes there is a huge disparity in regards to how mainland Europe works compared to what the UK is doing" he says.

    He adds: "The UK was dominated by German thinking and that was about not getting into wars. But British activity has always involved helping out America."

    When he was younger Mr Payne, who lives in Kirkcaldy in Scotland and frequently travels to Northern Ireland, voted to join the European Union.

    But now, in his retirement, his decision to vote for Brexit was not about commercial concerns, but foreign policy. He believes Europe needs to be more like a federation, and the UK part of it.