The UK’s transition period will end at 11pm tonight – ANDREW PARSONS
Spain has reached an agreement with the UK to keep Gibraltar’s border open following the end of the Brexit transition period tonight.
Gibraltar’s status was not covered in the trade agreement reached by Boris Johnson on Christmas Eve, prompting concerns about what would happen when the transition period ends at 11pm.
However Spain’s foreign minister said Gibraltar, whose sovereignty is disputed by Spain and Britain, will remain subject to the rule of the free-travel Schengen area.
Arancha Gonzalez Laya announced that the “agreement in principle” means people in Gibraltar “can breathe a sigh of relief”.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Today, working side by side with the chief minister of Gibraltar, and following intensive discussions with the Spanish government, we reached agreement on a political framework to form the basis of a separate treaty between the UK and the EU regarding Gibraltar.
“We will now send this to the European Commission, in order to initiate negotiations on the formal treaty.
“In the meantime, all sides are committed to mitigating the effects of the end of the transition period on Gibraltar, and in particular ensure border fluidity, which is clearly in the best interests of the people living on both sides.
“We remain steadfast in our support for Gibraltar and its sovereignty.”
Follow live updates below.
Boris Johnson’s New Year’s message
The Prime Minister has described 2020 as the year in which “the Government was forced to tell people how to live their lives, how long to wash their hands, how many households could meet together”.
He says he can “imagine that there will be plenty of people who will be only too happy to say goodbye to the grimness of 2020”, as he adds that “as the sun rises tomorrow on 2021 we have the certainty of those vaccines”.
It’s a strong message. Watch it in full below:
The last 4.5 years of Brexit
A brilliant picture gallery showing the faces of Brexit over the years has been compiled by The Telegraph.
Well worth a flick through … picture 7 is a personal fave:
Britain’s ready for Brexit.
A UK Government source has confirmed that from 11pm tonight it “is confident its systems are in place and they’re ready to go”.
They confirmed that there’s been a surge of visits to the gov.uk/transition page over the last week and that as of 8.30am this morning, 450 Kent Access Permits have been issued with validity for Jan 1 and more are expected to be issued throughout the day.
Kent Access Permits are issued for a specific 24hr period, and these numbers refer only to those permits issued for use on January 1st.
The government expects volumes of traffic to be low tomorrow due to it being New Year’s Day and added that all the inland border facilities will be open in Kent.
A Government spokesman confirmed that “HGV Drivers that travel to ports in Kent without being granted a Kent Access Pass through the “Check an HGV is ready to cross the border service” will be identified via Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras. They will then be subject to enforcement action including an on-the-spot fine of up to £300.
How are people welcoming Brexit?
The Telegraph has compiled a video of how people are reacting in Dover to the fact Brexit is officially around the corner….
Nigel Farage says he ‘doesn’t qualify’ for a knighthood
Mr Farage tells me that he doesn’t believe he would be offered a knighthood in any case.
Asked if he would accept the honour if he was … well, it wasn’t a no.
He says: “I don’t think I qualify. Having watched hours of debate last night in the Lords I realised to get an honour you have to be part of the ‘remain establishment’.”
Mr Farage adds that he will be celebrating tonight by having a quiet one “with a glass of something nice”.
“I would’ve gone to a the pub but can’t.
“I looked at a helicopter to the Scilly Isles where the pubs are open … but it was too expensive.”
Sir Nigel Farage?
Some have called him Mr Brexit so it might seem fitting that Nigel Farage is odds-on to be knighted in the next five years with Ladbrokes.
The bookies make it a 4/5 shot the Brexiteer is given the honour by the end of 2025, and it’s just 6/4 he is knighted in 2021 during the summer or New Year gongs.
Jessica O’Reilly of Ladbrokes said: “Love him or loathe him, Farage has had a huge role to play during Brexit and the odds suggest he’ll be rewarded at the highest level.”
Latest betting figures
Nigel Farage to be knighted in June 2021 3/1
Nigel Farage to be knighted in 2021 (June or December) 6/4
Nigel Farage to be knighted by end of 2025 4/5
So what’s all the fuss about?
Brussels Correspondent, James Crisp, has been following the Brexit journey for years.
He gives his take below:
AT the stroke of 11pm the UK will leave the EU single market and customs union. It will be the final step in a process lasting about four years, that began with a referendum in 2016.
It will mean that trade between the UK and the EU is more difficult – the new trade deal agreement, which was signed on Christmas Eve, not withstanding.
But that friction is the price paid to win back UK sovereignty when it comes to setting rules and regulations.
The challenge for this and future governments is to prove that that economic price is worth paying and that the advantages of being more nimble and free of Brussels’ regulatory orbit is worth it in the end.
Migrants make 5am New Year’s Eve dash
This morning, under the cover of darkness, 33 migrants on four boats crossed the Channel in a desperate attempt to reach the UK before Brexit.
My colleague, Jamie Johnson, who has reported extensively on the migrant crisis, writes that in 2020, some 8,400 people arrived on British shores having left northern France – four times as many as in 2019.
On New Year’s Eve, men were photographed in shorts and flip flops on the dockside in Dover, having been taken ashore by Border Force officials after crossing at 5am.
As Britain leaves the EU, Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to fix the “fundamentally broken” asylum system in the UK to make it “firm and fair”, promising to introduce new legislation in 2021 for the “biggest overhaul” of the system in “decades”.
Read more of the story here.
New Year’s Eve
It may be New Year’s Eve but with no parties to go to and no social mixing allowed, The Telegraph is bringing you a live Brexit Blog to mark the end of the transition period.
From 11pm tonight Britain will have officially left the European Union.
Until then we will bring you all the latest news.
So grab some bubbly, take a seat and see in the New Year with us.