As ambassadors meet to discuss the Brexit trade deal over Christmas, one diplomat warned it will leave the UK with more export rules than any other country in the world.
Sebastian Fischer, a spokesman for the German presidency of the Council of the EU, joked that he was looking forward to the diplomats’ meeting “because nothing is more fun than to celebrate Christmas among socially distanced colleagues”.
“Thank you Brexit,” he said, perhaps underlining the EU’s desire to move on from the issue.
French Europe minister Clement Beaune said it was a “good agreement” and stressed the EU had not accepted a deal “at all costs”.
He told broadcaster Europe 1 “we needed an agreement less than the British” as “for them, it was a vital need”.
Beaune said British food and industrial products entering the European single market after January 1 will not pay customs duties “but will have to meet all our standards”.
“There is no country in the world that will be subject to as many export rules to us as the UK,” he said.
Johnson used his Christmas message to sell the deal to a public weary of Brexit after years of sometimes acrimonious wrangling since the 2016 referendum.
Brandishing a sheaf of papers he said: “I have a small present for anyone who may be looking for something to read in that sleepy post-Christmas lunch moment, and here it is, tidings, glad tidings of great joy, because this is a deal.
“A deal to give certainty to business, travellers and all investors in our country from January 1. A deal with our friends and partners in the EU.”
Johnson said the document “will be the basis of a happy and successful and stable partnership with our friends in the EU for years to come”.