Brexit trade deal ‘copied and pasted’ from EU’s playbook on cross-border cooperation | UK | News


After almost a year of negotiations and multiple missed deadlines, Britain and the EU finally secured a post-Brexit trade deal at the end of December. Announced on Christmas Eve, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a “jumbo Canada-style” deal and declared: “All our red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved. “Everything that the British public were promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal.

“The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK. We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved with the EU.”

Speaking from Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU had achieved “five-and-a-half years of predictability for our fishing communities”.

She added that on issues such as climate change the EU and the UK will stand “shoulder to shoulder to deliver on our common global goals”.

As usual, though, the devil is in the detail and the full text of the trade deal reveals an ugly truth.

Sections of the agreement appear to have simply been “copied and pasted” from old documents.

In particular, the text on page 921, under “Protocols and Standards to be used for encryption mechanism: s/MIME and related packages” seems to have been taken straight from the EU’s playbook on cross-border cooperation.

The wording comes from the EU Council decision of June 23 2008, on “the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime”.

Referencing encryption technology, it mentions Mozilla Mail and Netscape Communicator as “modern e-mail software package” – last updated in 2002.

It recommends SHA-1 as a hash algorithm, despite being deprecated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 2011 as insecure.

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Despite the UK securing a deal with the EU, it might take a long time before the “future relationship” is finalised.

In an exclusive interview with, Alan Winters, director of the Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, predicted that a series of mini-deals that fall outside the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will have to be negotiated.

He said: “We will start negotiating again with the EU on all sorts of things that lie outside the FTA or at least that are in that grey area.

“Things for instance like airline landing, managing air traffic…

“There will be much more flexibility and we will try to negotiate around the edges.”

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