Boris Johnson secured Christmas Brexit deal hours after warning Brussels ‘I won’t sign it’ in massive taxes row


BORIS Johnson secured his landmark Christmas Eve Brexit deal hours after telling Brussels: “I won’t sign it — I won’t” in a massive row about taxes.

The livid PM warned the EU its demands to slap trade tariffs on Britain if we did not let them fish our waters forever was a deal breaker.

Boris Johnson joyous after securing the Christmas Eve Brexit deal

A source told HOAR: “The PM was ready to walk at that point. 

“We were writing a script trying to explain to the world we had blown up a £660billion deal over less than a billion quid of fish.”

Mr Johnson’s hardline stance saw Brussels blink on the demand late on Tuesday, with the EU asking for a long transition for their fishing boats “as cover” for their climbdown.

An insider said: “It meant we could take back control of our waters as we promised at the 2016 referendum. The PM stared them down and it worked.”

Mr Johnson says his deal is “glad tidings of great joy” for Britain as we will be unshackled from 40 years of Brussels control. Brandishing a copy of the 1,260-page zero-tariff, zero-quota agreement signed with Brussels at 2.44pm on Thursday, the PM quipped: “I have a small present for anyone who may be looking for something to read in that sleepy post-Christmas lunch moment.” In all, 200 officials — including EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier — spent more than 2,000 hours haggling over details on everything from electric car batteries to mackerel.


But during one of the tensest moments of the talks, Mr Johnson’s phone line with Brussels seemed to have gone dead.

Discussing the initial time EU boats will be allowed to carry on fishing UK waters, the European Commission’s president Ursula von der Leyen said: “Six years.” 

The PM hit back: “Five” — then heard nothing. There was almost three minutes of silence before the No10 switchboard operator told him: “I’m sorry PM, we seem to have lost the European Commission.” 

But a distant German voice said: “No, no, I’m still here. 5½ years?” 

The PM said his deal was ‘glad tidings of great joy’

Sources describe how the PM’s hardline stance made Ursula von der Leyen blink first

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier made concessions to the UK

Insiders say that was the moment that unlocked the talks and let Mr Johnson — wearing his fish tie — declare that Brexit Britain will be back in “control of our destiny” and our waters on January 1.

Brussels diplomats met yesterday morning to rubber-stamp the deal that will go to MPs on Wednesday.

But ministers were suspicious last night they still had not been shown the full text of the accord. 

One told HOAR: “It feels like it’s hiding a very big ‘but’.” The accord is due to be published in full this morning. Mr Johnson hopes the compromise on fishing, which means another half-decade before we get control of our waters, will not halt MP approval. 

He said in a Christmas message: “This is the feast, full of fish by the way.” Fishing industry figures have already accused Mr Johnson of “sacrificing” them.

But the PM said the deal brings “certainty to business, travellers and all the investors in our country — and a happy, successful and stable partnership with our friends in the EU for years to come.” 

And in a major boost for the PM, Priti Patel tells HOAR today that the deal works for Eurosceptics and will keep the country safe. 

Home Secretary Ms Patel was among Tories never to back down in 2019 amid claims then-MP Theresa May was selling Britain short.

Police chiefs have raised concerns about the loss of the European Arrest Warrant and being locked out of crime databases. 

But Ms Patel says the agreement includes streamlined extradition arrangements, fast and effective exchange of national DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data and continued transfers of Passenger Name Record data. 

Labour is likely to back the deal despite leader Sir Keir Starmer being the architect of party efforts to frustrate Brexit. He said: “At a moment of such national significance, it is not credible for Labour to be on the sidelines. That is why I can say today that when this deal comes before Parliament, Labour will accept it and vote for it.”

Remainers warned him that doing so would be a mistake and Labour bosses fear a number of frontbench resignations next week.

Sir Keir also courted controversy after hinting he could rip up the deal if he wins power in 2024.

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