The Prime Minister made the announcement on his Twitter page, posting a picture of him signing the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement after the European Union had signed it earlier in the day. Boris Johnson wrote: “Today I have signed the Withdrawal Agreement for the UK to leave the EU on January 31st, honouring the democratic mandate of the British people. This signature heralds a new chapter in our nation’s history.”
Mr Johnson heralded end of “far too many years of argument and division” after he signed the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU next Thursday.
He said the UK can now “move forward as one country” after he put his signature to the document in Downing Street.
Earlier on Friday, the presidents of the European Council, Charles Michel, and European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, formally signed the agreement in Brussels.
The Queen gave royal assent to the legislation on Thursday after the legislation cleared both the House of Commons and and House of Lords.
Boris Johnson has hailed the signing of the Brexit deal as ‘a new chapter in our nation’s history’
The signing of the Withdrawal Agreement is a fantastic moment, which finally delivers the result of the 2016 referendum and brings to an end far too many years of argument and division
Mr Johnson said: “The signing of the Withdrawal Agreement is a fantastic moment, which finally delivers the result of the 2016 referendum and brings to an end far too many years of argument and division.
“We can now move forward as one country – with a Government focused upon delivering better public services, greater opportunity and unleashing the potential of every corner of our brilliant United Kingdom, while building a strong new relationship with the EU as friends and sovereign equals.”
The Prime Minister signed the document Cabinet Room in Number 10, witnessed by EU and Foreign Office officials who brought him the treaty from Brussels.
The European Parliament will likely vote to approve the Brexit deal on Wednesday, clearing the path for the UK to finally leave the EU next Friday.
The Prime Minister said the signing of the Withdrawal Agreement is a ‘fantastic moment’
This will make the start of an 11-month transition period, during which the UK will continue to abide by Brussels’ rules.
Mr Johnson has insisted he wants to agree a full free trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020, and will not extend the transition period beyond that point.
But several leading EU figureheads, including Ms von der Leyen and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier have warned it will be impossible to strike such a comprehensive agreement within that timeframe.
But it appears Brussels had now finally admitted defeat after a senior EU official revealed the EU is now bound by law to finalise a Brexit deal with Britain in 12 months despite relentless attempts to wriggle their way out of an agreement.
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Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel signed the Withdrawal Agreement just hours earlier
Ursula von der Leyen’s signature on the Withdrawal Agreement
A senior official said Boris Johnson’s repeated efforts to rule out an extension to the transition period and Brexit itself has forced the EU into surrender.
The bureaucrat, who did not want to be named, said: “We can assume at this point that the transition period will end on December 31, 2020.”
The source did however reiterate that if there were ever to be an extension the UK would have to keep paying the membership fee to the EU, which is around £1.2billion monthly.
They said an agreement to extend the transition period “presupposes an agreement on continued financial participation and contribution from the UK to the EU”.
The UK is set to leave the EU on January 31
Ireland’s Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney warned it is “probably going to take longer than a year”, while Ms von der Leyen said it may not be feasible” to do a deal by the end of 2020.
Mrs von der Leyen and the Council’s Charles Michel put their signature to Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal at a sombre ceremony today in Brussels.
Shortly afterwards, Ms von der Leyen wrote on Twitter: “Charles Michel and I have just signed the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU, opening the way for its ratification by the European Parliament.”
EU Council chief Mr Michel said Britain will remain a partner and ally.
Michel Barnier has fears over the transitional period timeframe
He added: “Things will inevitably change but our friendship will remain. We start a new chapter as partners and allies.”
Mr Barnier – who has been key in Berxit talks between the UK and EU over the past three years – was also present at the event at the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels.
Just hours before the document was signed this morning, Brexit was enshrined in UK law when the Queen granted Royal Assent to Mr Johnson’s deal.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “It has been a long three years but we have got Brexit over the line and the PM wants to move the whole country forward as one to a brighter future.”
This is a breaking story. More to follow.