How political leaders reacted to the agreement on Brexit trade talks
The announcement came just before 7am.
As the European Commission said “sufficient progress” had been achieved in the first phase of Brexit talks, political leaders reacted swiftly online.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announces "sufficient progress" has been made in the first phase of Brexit talks pic.twitter.com/NBPDYcsr4O— Press Association (@PA) December 8, 2017
It came after Theresa May and David Davis made an early-hours journey to Brussels to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
Social media started to stir just after 6am, with Mr Juncker’s head of cabinet Martin Selmayr tweeting a photograph of white smoke gushing from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel – the traditional way of signalling that a new Pope has been chosen.
Following the official announcement around 45 minutes later, Mrs May’s colleagues praised her efforts and negotiating skills.
Extraordinary achievement by @theresa_may today. Against all odds a deal delivered that confirms she is probably the only person in Britain able to deliver a good & clean Brexit— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) December 8, 2017
Delighted a deal agreed in Brussels that paves way for further progress on talks about future UK/EU relationship. A positive step. Congratulations @theresa_may— Philip Hammond (@PhilipHammondUK) December 8, 2017
Today is a big step forward in delivering Brexit. Been a lot of work but glad the Commission have now recommended that sufficient progress has been reached. https://t.co/FktDUgtEoJ— David Davis (@DavidDavisMP) December 8, 2017
1/2 Delighted we've reached an agreement which will give both Europeans here in the UK and British citizens in the EU binding guarantees about their residence rights.— Amber Rudd MP (@AmberRuddHR) December 8, 2017
Hugely important that sufficient progress has been made with #Brexit negotiations so that we can move onto detailed trade talks. Significant achievement by @theresa_may acting in the national interest for the benefit of the whole UK.— James Brokenshire (@JBrokenshire) December 8, 2017
But opposition politicians questioned the price of compromise and whether the deal struck between the UK and the European Commission would satisfy hardline Brexiteers.
How long will this deal last before it's torn apart by Theresa May's own MPs? And what will happen next, seeing as Cabinet hasn't even discussed what final Brexit outcome should look like? Vital we keep fighting to give people the final say with chance to #ExitFromBrexit— Vince Cable (@vincecable) December 8, 2017
Today's agreement welcome as reduces risk of catastrophic No Deal Brexit. But still a long way from a final deal, and even further from delivering on what Brexiters promised. British people, not Tory MPs and the DUP, should get final say on whether that deal is good enough— Vince Cable (@vincecable) December 8, 2017
Good that Brexit talks can move on. Need to know political price of compromise. Need to agree transitional arrangements on same terms ASAP.— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) December 8, 2017
As Brexit talks now move on, PM must reflect on her approach. Another year of chaos & confusion not acceptable. Or farcical scenes that put jobs & economy at risk.— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) December 8, 2017
A deal in Brussels is good news for Mrs May as we can now move on to the next stage of humiliation.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) December 8, 2017
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the breakthrough but warned that the “devil is in the detail” of the deal.
Move to phase 2 of talks good - but devil is in the detail and things now get really tough. If #Brexit is happening (wish it wasn’t) staying in single market & customs union is only sensible option. And any special arrangements for NI must be available to other UK nations.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 8, 2017
An aside - a UK government that is able to say that come what may, it will avoid hard borders with Ireland/NI after Brexit can never again tell Scotland that independence would mean a hard border between Scotland and rUK— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 8, 2017
But Ms Sturgeon’s mention of Scottish independence drew a stinging response from Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.
And......here we go. Right on time Nicola Sturgeon uses any Brexit development to bang the indy drum. Could set your watch by it. Give it a rest. https://t.co/gS5Gq8Bt62— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonMSP) December 8, 2017
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it was a “significant day” for Ireland.
EU officials and European leaders welcomed progress but said obstacles remain ahead.
I’ve sent #Brexit guidelines for 2nd phase to EU27 leaders. While being satisfied with today's agreement, let's remember that the most difficult challenge still ahead. Breaking up is hard. But breaking up and building a new relationship is much harder.https://t.co/dH6isGt11H— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) December 8, 2017
"After some tough conversations, we've now agreed a settlement that is fair to the British taxpayer" @theresa_may says, following early morning talks with Jean-Claude Juncker pic.twitter.com/I4b8SxRd4z— Press Association (@PA) December 8, 2017