WORLD / EUROPE
European Parliament ratifies post-Brexit trade deal, warns London over terms
Published: Apr 28, 2021 07:48 PM
A supporter of a pro-Brexit group walks down Whitehall in London, Britain, on Jan. 31, 2020. (Photo by Stephen Chung/Xinhua)

A supporter of a pro-Brexit group walks down Whitehall in London, Britain, on Jan. 31, 2020. (Photo by Stephen Chung/Xinhua)


The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to ratify the EU's post-Brexit trade deal with Britain, but warned London to stick to its commitments, officials said on Wednesday.

The vote ratifies the bare bones trade deal that was sealed on Christmas Eve after nine months of bad-tempered negotiations and has been in force provisionally since January 1.

The deal provides the framework for Britain's new relationship with the 27-member union, five years after British voters shocked the world by voting to end its 47-year membership.

In the final tally, 660 MEPs voted in favor of the trade deal, five against with 32 abstentions, results showed.

"Today the European Parliament voted on the most far-reaching agreement the EU has ever reached with a third country," the president of the assembly, David Sassoli, said. 

"This can form the foundation on which we build a new forward-looking EU-UK relationship," he said, warning that MEPs would monitor the implementation of the deal and "not accept any backsliding from the UK government." 

"You cannot have the advantages of EU membership while being on the outside. However, this agreement goes a long way to mitigate its worst consequences."

The vote comes amid multiple feuds over the UK's implementation of Brexit agreements and angry finger-pointing about the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca.

In a final debate in parliament, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen assured MEPs that the agreement had "real teeth" and that any deviation by London from the pact would have consequences.

"And let me be very clear: We do not want to have to use these tools, but we will not hesitate to use them if necessary."

Britain's Brexit minister David Frost said he "hugely" welcomed the vote to approve the deal he helped negotiate during months of fraught talks with EU counterpart Michel Barnier.  

"Hope we can now begin a new chapter together as Europeans, characterized by friendly cooperation between sovereign equals," Frost wrote on Twitter. 
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