By Jolly, The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) – A steady trickle of trucks rolled down the ferry and trains on either side of the English Channel on Friday, a serene New Year’s day following a seismic overnight shift in EU and UK relations.
The busy freight route between south-east England and north-west France is now on the frontline of change that Britain has completely abandoned economically in the final phase of Brexit, a 27-nation block.
“For the majority of trucks they will not even notice the difference,” said John Keefe, a spokesperson for Eurotunnel, the railway tunnel that carries vehicles under the channel. “There was always the risk that if this happens in busy times, we might run into some difficulties, but this is happening overnight on a bank holiday and a long weekend.”
Britain left the European Block’s huge single market for people, goods and services at 11am London time, midnight in Brussels, on Thursday, the country has experienced the largest single economic change since World War II. A new UK-EU trade deal will bring new sanctions and red tape, but for British Brexit supporters, it means reclaiming the web of national independence and its rules from the European Union.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose support for Brexit helped drive the country out of the European Union, called it “a wonderful moment for this country”.
In the New Year video message, he said, “We have our freedom in our hands, and it is up to us to make the most of it.”
The break comes 11 months after a political Brexit that left both parties in the confines of a “transition period”, in which EU rights and rules continued to apply in Britain.
The trade agreement sealed on Christmas Eve after months of tense negotiations ensures that Britain and the European Union can continue to buy and sell goods without tariffs or quotas. But companies face new costs and paperwork, including customs declarations and border checks.
Eurotunline braided for delays at the English channel port of Dover and new measures introduced.
The critical supply route was scrapped for days after France closed its border for 48 hours to UK truck drivers last week in response to a rapidly spreading version of the virus identified in England.
The epidemic and a holiday weekend meant cross-channel traffic was mild on Friday. The UK has also delayed full customs checks for several months to allow companies to adjust.
The British Government insisted that “we need a border system and infrastructure and we are ready for a new start for Britain”.
New checks were also placed across the Irish Sea. A dozen trucks rolled out the first ferry from Wales to reach Dublin Port before dawn, approving new customs inspections without delay.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said, “We have prevented Brexit from dramatic disruption of Brexit without a trade deal, but that does not mean that things are not changing very fundamentally, because they are.”
“We are now going to see 80 billion euros ($ 97 billion) of trade in the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland, which is hampered by too many checks and announcements and bureaucracy and paperwork and costs and delays.”
Brexit may have major constitutional consequences for the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland, which shares a border with EU member Ireland, is more closely linked to the bloc’s economy under the terms of divorce. So while goods will flow freely across the Irish land border, there will be new processes for trade between Northern Ireland and Britain. In the long run that could pull Northern Ireland away from the rest of Britain and neighboring its southern side.
In Scotland, which voted vigorously to remain in 2016, Brexit has gained support for a split from the UK, with the country’s pro-independence First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeting: “Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on” . “
European leaders also regretted Britain’s departure.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in his New Year’s address to the nation, “The United Kingdom remains our neighbor but our friend and ally.” “This choice to leave Europe, it was the child of Brexit, European malaise and lots of lies and false promises.”
Joe Fernay in Folkestone, England contributed to this story.
Follow all AP stories on Brexit at https://apnews.com/Brexit
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This content may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.