Brexit: Leavers ‘own the status quo’ says Nigel Farage
Brussels had indicated it would no longer recognise a UK drivers licence as a valid document after Britain finally left the bloc but officials have now thrashed out an agreement with member states allowing motorists to use their existing paperwork.
UK drivers can continue to drive in the EU without an International Drivers Permit
Mr Shapps tweeted: “Welcome news for UK drivers. We’ve now secured agreement with all 27 EU Member States to recognise UK licences WITHOUT the need for an International Drivers Permit.
“UK drivers can continue to drive in the EU without an IDP (once covid restrictions lifted).”
The announcement came as Britain began life outside the EU with Boris Johnson saying it offers the chance to “transform our country”.
British drivers licences are still valid for motoring in the EU
Under the new arrangements, freedom of movement rights end and, while UK citizens can still travel for work or pleasure, there are different rules.
Passports must be valid for more than six months, visas or permits may be needed for long stays, pets need a health certificate and drivers need extra documents.
The automatic right to live and work in the EU also ceases and the UK will no longer take part in the Erasmus student exchange programme.
Hauliers face new rules and lorry drivers heading for the Continent must have a Kent Access Permit before entering the county in an effort to curb tailbacks on cross-Channel routes.
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British holidaymakers will not need a special permit to use EU roads
Grant Shapps said the deal was welcome news for UK drivers
Travel to Ireland does not change, but the Northern Ireland Protocol means Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market for goods and will apply EU customs rules at its ports, even though the region is still part of the UK customs territory.
Ministers acknowledged there might be some disruption as a result of the increased bureaucracy between the UK and its largest trading partner but so far there has was little sign of the chaos some had predicted.
And the Prime Minister said the UK has “taken back control of our money, our laws and our waters” after the Brexit transition period with the European Union came to an end at 11pm last night.
Lower trade volumes on the New Year’s Day bank holiday could mean the full impact of the new regime is yet be felt, but freight appeared to be moving freely at the borders with Ireland and France under the new arrangements.
Mr Johnson said the decision to leave the single market and customs union ended a “47-year experiment” of EU membership.
He said the EU had provided the UK with a “safe European home” during the 1970s, but the country has now “changed out of all recognition” with global perspectives.
The UK is “free to do things differently, and if necessary better, than our friends in the EU” in 2021, he said in a video message to mark New Year.
As well as the Christmas Eve deal with Brussels, the UK has reached several agreements with non-EU countries – such as Japan – to ensure continuity of trading arrangements for British companies.
Mr Johnson said the “great new deal” with the EU honours the “most basic promises” of the 2016 referendum, and added that the UK has “taken back control of our money, our laws and our waters”.
“And yet it is also the essence of this treaty that it provides certainty for UK business and industry, because it means that we can continue to trade freely – with zero tariffs and zero quotas – with the EU.”
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In a sign that the UK will break away from the EU rules it inherited, Mr Johnson said: “We need the Brexit-given chance to turbocharge those sectors in which we excel, to do things differently and to do them better.”
Eurosceptic MPs, once derided as fringe eccentrics on the margins of the Conservative Party, have expressed their delight.
Sir Bill Cash said it was a “victory for democracy and sovereignty” while Sir John Redwood said he looked forward to using the “new freedoms and opportunities now open to global Britain”.