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The UK is abandoning EU rules as the Brexit transition period ends at 11 p.m.


The UK finally exempted itself from EU rules at 11pm on Thursday, just a day after MPs voted on the last-minute deal Boris Johnson struck with the bloc to avoid a no-deal Brexit .

The seismic eruption finally came almost four and a half years after the British voted 52 to 48 percent ahead of the historic June 2016 referendum convened by then Prime Minister David Cameron.

The chimes of Big Ben rang at 11 p.m. – midnight on the continent – and marked the exit of Great Britain from the EU internal market and the customs union.

In his New Years message, Mr Johnson, who played a crucial role in winning the holiday campaign in the referendum, welcomed the UK's departure and called it "an amazing moment".

He added that Britain now has "freedom in our hands" and "it is up to us to make the most of it".

Regarding the end of the Brexit transition period, the Prime Minister said that in 2021 Britain would be "free to do things differently and, if necessary, better than our friends in the EU".

The outlier came when the port of Dover was shown completely free of traffic for fear of queues immediately after Brexit.

Britain finally left the EU at 11 p.m. on Thursday, just a day after MPs voted on the last-minute deal Boris Johnson struck with the bloc to avoid a no-deal Brexit. Pictured: The port of Dover was vacated Thursday evening before new rules were followed that shippers must follow

In his New Years message, Mr Johnson, who played a crucial role in winning the holiday campaign in the referendum, welcomed the UK's departure and called it "an amazing moment".

The outlier came when the port of Dover was made almost completely free of traffic immediately after Brexit for fear of queues

The outlier came when the port of Dover was made almost completely free of traffic immediately after Brexit for fear of queues

Mr Johnson stated in his message: “This is an amazing moment for this country. We have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it. & # 39;

Regarding the end of the Brexit transition period, the Prime Minister said that in 2021 Britain would be "free to do things differently and, if necessary, better than our friends in the EU".

He said the UK will work with partners around the world to not only tackle climate change, but to create the millions of high-quality jobs this country will need not only this year – 2021 – when we recover from Covid but come in & # 39 ;.

What they said: Tory Brexiteers and Nigel Farage are responding to the end of the transition period

Sir Bill Cash: "Victory is a victory for democracy and sovereignty, and it is a momentous moment that, by historical standards, can only be compared in peacetime to what happened in the late 1680s and 90s."

& # 39; That was the removal of the Stuarts, but followed by the new parliamentary constitutional regulations enacted by the inheritance law with the Hanoverians on the throne.

"But followed by the development of modern democracy, which, apart from the war, was only broken with regard to possible threats of conquest, but was actually only disturbed by our accession to the European Community in the wrong prospectus in 1972."

Sir John Redwood: “I never doubted that we would win the referendum. I have argued that we are good Europeans by turning away from their mighty task of creating the United States of Europe.

“We should wish them well and be friends with them, but the fact that Britain had refused to join the euro showed where our hearts were – with the world and with national democracy.

“Today I am very relieved that our country has been open to our friends in Europe and has clearly stated that we want to govern ourselves while being good friends and allies of them.

"I look forward to 2021 as a year of strong economic recovery, where we can begin to capitalize on the new freedoms and opportunities now open to the global UK."

Mark Francois, Chair of the European Research Group on Tory-Brexiter: “Tonight we have the opportunity to wave goodbye to both 2020 and the EU within an hour.

"After a really terrible year and a great struggle for our freedom, it's a wonderful example of a purchase, a free one."

Peter Bone: “It was a very long campaign and we were no longer seen as strange people wanting to leave this wonderful European Union by the establishment that has always held that view, but able to campaign and get people's support defeat the establishment.

Former Ukip Guide Nigel Farage: “It is a great moment in our national history and the end of a very long road for tens of thousands of us who have fought against the establishment.

“We celebrated on January 31st when we left the European Union – tonight we are leaving the internal market and the customs union.

“Yes we will spare Northern Ireland and our fishermen a thought, but this is a moment to celebrate 2021 as an independent UK. It's a shame the pubs aren't open. & # 39;

The Prime Minister added: "I think it will be the overwhelming instinct of the people of this country to come together as a United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland working together to express our values ​​around the world."

He concluded, “I think 2021 is above all the year when we will eventually do the everyday things that now seem lost in the past. Bathed in a rosy glow of nostalgia, go to the pub, to concerts, theaters, restaurants or simply hold hands with loved ones in the normal way.

“We are still a long way from that – tough weeks and months lie ahead. But we can see this lighted sign that marks the end of the journey, and more importantly, we can see how to get there with increasing clarity. And that gives me so much confidence around 2021. & # 39;

Eurosceptic MPs said they were pleased last night that the country was finally loosening its relations with the EU.

Veteran Tory Sir Bill Cash said it was a "victory for democracy and sovereignty" that could only be compared in peacetime to the development of modern democracy after the end of the Stuart dynasty in the late 1680s and 90s. Eurosceptic colleague Sir John Redwood, a Conservative MP for more than 30 years, said he was "very relieved" that Britain had expressed its desire for "self-government".

He said: “I never doubted that we would win the referendum. I have argued that we are good Europeans by turning away from their mighty task of creating the United States of Europe.

“We should wish them well and be friends with them, but the fact that Britain had refused to join the euro showed where our hearts were – with the world and with national democracy.

"I look forward to 2021 as a year of strong economic recovery in which we can begin to take advantage of new freedoms and opportunities."

Mark Francois, chair of the Tory Brexiteers European Research Group, said Britain could bid farewell to 2020 as well as the EU. "After a really terrible year and a great struggle for our freedom, it's a wonderful example of a purchase, a free one."

Tory Eurosceptic Peter Bone said he would celebrate with French champagne to show that we are for Europe but against the EU.

UK chief negotiator for Brexit, Lord (David) Frost, said: "We have a great future ahead of us."

He tweeted: “Britain has just become a fully independent country again – it decides our own affairs.

“Thank you to everyone who worked with me (and) @BorisJohnson to bring us here over the past 18 months.

& # 39; We have a great future ahead of us. Now we can build a better country for all of us. & # 39;

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland will "be back soon, Europe" when the Brexit transition period ends.

She tweeted: & # 39; Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on & # 39;

Celebrity Brexiteer Nigel Farage tweeted: & # 39; This is a big moment for our country, a giant leap forward.

& # 39; Time to raise a glass. £ BrexitAtLast. & # 39;

The new rules will end free movement rights and while UK citizens can still travel for work or pleasure, there will be different rules.

Passports must be valid for more than six months, long stays may require visas or permits, pets require a health certificate, and drivers require additional documents.

The automatic right to live and work in the EU will also expire and the UK will no longer participate in the Erasmus student exchange program.

Photos taken shortly before departure, just hours before Britain officially left the internal market and customs union, showed the last of the transition period trucks waiting to board a ferry to France.

The Eurotunnel departure area in Folkestone was also largely empty, while photos taken along the access roads told a similar story.

And although the light traffic in Dover slipped uninterruptedly, there was a sharp warning that the actual test is due on January 4th, when companies return after the Christmas break and truckers are at the mercy of the pesky French.

Rod McKenzie, head of the Road Hauliers Association (RHA), told Mail Online: “In France there are many votes to be won by hitting les rosbifs with a large stick.

“We just have no idea what the French are going to do, even though we expect them to be very French.

"Domestic politics play a big part, and it's a shame because the freight forwarders are stuck in the middle."

Photos taken shortly before departure, just hours before Britain officially left the internal market and customs union, showed the last of the transition period trucks waiting to board a ferry to France

Photos taken shortly before departure, just hours before Britain officially left the internal market and customs union, showed the last of the transition period trucks waiting to board a ferry to France

Dover was later depicted as deserted when a P&O ferry departed from the port

Dover was later depicted as deserted when a P&O ferry departed from the port

Although there were no hiccups in the port on Thursday, there was a sharp warning that the actual test is due on January 4th, when companies return after the Christmas break and truckers are at the mercy of the pesky French

Although there were no hiccups in the port on Thursday, there was a sharp warning that the actual test is due on January 4th, when companies return after the Christmas break and truckers are at the mercy of the pesky French

As of Thursday, trucks over 7.5 tonnes will require a special pass, a Kent Access Permit (Cape), to exit the country via the ports of the main channel

As of Thursday, trucks over 7.5 tonnes will require a special pass, a Kent Access Permit (Cape), to exit the country via the ports of the main channel

How will the “smart border” between France and the EU work?

As part of the Smart Border system, drivers who come to France and have submitted export applications online with the French authorities have a barcode scanned in Dover and their license plates are automatically read by cameras before a risk assessment is carried out as they cross the channel.

During the journey, the drivers receive a message as to whether they can drive freely via a "green lane" on arrival on French soil or whether they will be directed to an "orange lane" for further checking.

Haulage companies fear that if too many trucks are not armed by their customers with the correct customs documents, the trucks that require further controls will growl the borders.

As of Thursday, trucks over 7.5 tonnes will require a special pass, a Kent Access Permit (Cape), to exit the country via the ports of the main channel.

Kaps give trucks a 24-hour pass to enter Kent before using either the Channel Tunnel or the ferry services to get into France.

It is believed that 800 trucks will head to France on Thursday. By Wednesday morning 450 caps had been issued

Mr. McKenzie added, “There are two types of chaos that can occur in the coming weeks.

“We could have the visible chaos we had before Christmas with miles of queues of trucks, or we could have invisible chaos with trucks that just wouldn't leave their distribution centers because their records weren't processed online.

“With products like shellfish, you don't want to get stuck on a highway because your products may stop working.

“But it will be a few more days before we can estimate what will happen.

“Nobody really acts on New Year's Day, which is why we don't immediately expect queues that are kilometers long.

“The supply chain works around Christmas and most factories close after that, so there isn't much going on at the moment.

“But things will get better on Monday, and I expect we may then experience some kind of disorder – which can take three months to smooth out all of the wrinkles.

“Most companies will have to hire customs brokers because the paperwork will be so complicated.

“Each shipment requires separate forms. Multiple shipments mean multiple forms.

"The driver will have electronic checks, but will also need Covid tests."

But officials tried to downplay fear of queues in ports immediately after Brexit.

In the worst case, the government plans to have only 30 percent of international freight vehicles ready for the new regulations.

However, sources emphasized that they expected a far higher percentage.

A government spokesman said: "Truck drivers who drive to ports in Kent without obtaining a Kent Access Pass by checking that a truck is ready to cross the border service will be identified by cameras with automatic license plate recognition."

“They will then be subjected to an enforcement action including a fine of up to £ 300 on the spot.

Freight wagons are stacked and waiting for their ferry in the port of Dover today before the cross-channel journey

Freight wagons are stacked and waiting for their ferry in the port of Dover today before the cross-channel journey

The new rules from the UK agreement with the EU officially began on New Year's Eve at 11 p.m. after a historic trade deal was signed on Christmas Eve and approved by Parliament on Wednesday evening. Pictured: The border at Folkestone, Kent

The new rules from the UK agreement with the EU officially began on New Year's Eve at 11 p.m. after a historic trade deal was signed on Christmas Eve and approved by Parliament on Wednesday evening. Pictured: The border at Folkestone, Kent

Around 450 Kent Access Permits (Kaps) had been issued by Thursday morning, and more were expected

Around 450 Kent Access Permits (Kaps) had been issued by Thursday morning, and more were expected

"For the small minority who might try to play the service, they'll be stopped at the border anyway and fined – which only increases the disruption for other drivers."

A truck holding facility was completed this morning at Sevington, near Ashford, to be used to stack trucks in the event of a robbery at the canal ports.

The Eurotunnel operator today insisted that the canal crossings "work well" on New Year's Day after the new Brexit trade rules came into force.

John Keefe, director of public affairs for shuttle operator Getlink, told the BBC that good preparation, below par traffic this year, as well as a temporary suspension of most customs controls, would help keep traffic flowing.

He spoke when a UK haulage company announced plans to temporarily suspend its European services in the New Year to assess whether they would become "mission impossible" after the Brexit transition period.

Youngs Transportation and Logistics, based in Essex, will cease operations in the EU from January 4th to 11th due to uncertainty about the impact of new customs regulations.

Work continued on Thursday to complete the Sevington Inland Border Facility in Ashford, Kent, before the Brexit transition period was completed

Work continued on Thursday to complete the Sevington Inland Border Facility in Ashford, Kent, before the Brexit transition period was completed

Youngs Transportation and Logistics, based in Essex, will cease operations in the EU from January 4th to 11th due to uncertainty about the impact of new customs regulations

Youngs Transportation and Logistics, based in Essex, will cease operations in the EU from January 4th to 11th due to uncertainty about the impact of new customs regulations

Freight forwarders in the UK bringing goods to the EU and Northern Ireland required new documentation from 11pm on Thursday. The government warned those who did not have the correct records would be stopped

Freight forwarders in the UK bringing goods to the EU and Northern Ireland required new documentation from 11pm on Thursday. The government warned those who did not have the correct records would be stopped

Mr. Keefe said, “Things are going to start slowly. January 1st is a quiet holiday after New Year's Eve.

"I don't think the traffic will build up until late into the first or second week of January."

"This initial rest period will allow everyone to prepare."

Boris Johnson's New Year's Message in full:

Well folks, we'll get there by the end of 2020

The year the government was forced to tell people how to live their lives, how long to wash their hands, how many households could meet.

And a year in which we lost too many loved ones before their time.

So I can imagine that there will be many people who are only too happy to say goodbye to the grimness of 2020.

But just before we do, I would like to remind you that this was also the year when we rediscovered a spirit of togetherness, of community.

It was a year we popped pots to celebrate the courage and self-sacrifice of our NHS and nursing home workers

A year in which the working people pulled out the stops to keep the country moving in the greatest crisis we have faced in generations – salespeople, transport staff, pharmacists, emergency services, everyone, as you put it.

We saw a renewed spirit of volunteering as people provided food to the elderly and vulnerable.

And time and again, as it became necessary to fight new waves of the virus, we saw people unite in our determination, our determination to protect the NHS and save lives.

Put your life, your life, on hold.

Buy precious medicine time to provide the answers, and it has.

In 2020, British scientists not only produced the world's first effective treatment for the disease, but it was only in the past few days that a beacon of hope was lit in the Oxford laboratories.

A new vaccine at room temperature that can be manufactured cheaply and on a large scale.

and that literally offers new life to the people of this country and around the world.

And with every push that goes into the arm of any elderly or vulnerable person, we change the chances in favor of humanity and against Covid.

And we know we have weeks and months ahead of us because we are facing a new variant of the disease that requires renewed vigilance.

But when the sun comes up tomorrow in 2021, we will have the certainty of these vaccines.

Pioneering work in Great Britain, which is also free to do things differently and possibly better than our friends in the EU.

Free to do trade business all over the world.

And free to fuel our ambition to be a scientific superpower.

From life sciences to artificial intelligence,

and with our world-leading battery and wind technology, we will work with partners around the world.

Not only to fight climate change, but to create the millions of highly skilled jobs, this country will not only be needed this year – 2021 – when we recover from Covid, but also in the years to come.

This is an amazing moment for this country.

We have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it.

And I think it will be the overwhelming instinct of the people of this country to come together as a United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland working together to express our values ​​around the world.

Head of the G7 and COP 26 climate summits in Glasgow,

And an open, generous, outward-looking, internationalist and free-acting global UK committed to 12 years of quality education for every girl in the world.

2021 is the year we can make it

and I believe 2021 is mostly the year when at some point we'll do the everyday things that now seem lost in the past.

Bathed in a rosy glow of nostalgia, go to the pub, to concerts, theaters, restaurants or simply hold hands with loved ones in the normal way.

We are still a long way from that, tough weeks and months lie ahead.

But we can see this lighted sign that marks the end of the journey, and more importantly, we can see how to get there with increasing clarity.

And that gives me so much confidence around 2021.

Happy New Year!

Preparations for Brexit in Kent were led by a multi-agency task force called the Kent Resilience Forum, made up of police, fire services and the council.

At the first sign of French bureaucracy, they are preparing for the start of Operation Fennel – a transport plan to clear any blockades.

Parking for up to 7,000 trucks has been provided in Manston, Ebbsfleet and Sevington.

Two more truck parks in Dover can accommodate a further 1,000 vehicles, while Operation Brock, a special countercurrent system of the M20, can also be triggered to avoid possible traffic jams.

Highways England insisted it was ready to play its part.

A spokesperson said: "At Highways England we are working with partners in the Kent Resilience Forum to address the effects of cross-channel disruption and we have tested plans to control traffic on our road network."

On the other side of the canal, trucks face other obstacles.

French Customs have hired 700 new agents, half of whom are based in the port of Calais and the Eurotunnel terminal.

Some freight forwarders fear ruinous delays and wait and see until the end of the month to take stock of the developing situation.

Most freight forwarders are paid miles rather than by the hour, which means it doesn't make sense for them to leave their depots and run the risk of running into traffic jams.

UK drivers coming to the UK will have less to worry about as the UK government is gradually rolling out the new rules over a six month period to avoid any chaos.

Around 30 percent of all food consumed in the UK comes from the EU, and the gentle approach ensures that supplies of fruits and vegetables from southern Europe are not disrupted in January and February, when the UK itself is growing very little.

Roger Gough, Kent County Council Chairman, said: “It has been a very long year of uncertainty, upheaval and change. Towards the end of 2020, we welcome 2021 and a number of new challenges.

“Although the government now has an agreement with the EU, it is important that our businesses and residents understand the changes that will happen tomorrow.

“We have been supporting the government for months by helping companies prepare for the new trade deal – deal or no deal, there would always be things companies would have to change.

& # 39; We have also worked extensively with government and local partners to prepare traffic management in Kent for disruptions in the Channel ports.

& # 39; Through the Kent Resilience Forum, we have jointly agreed with the Department for Transport, Highways England and the Kent Police on a single plan, Operation Fennel, to minimize the impact and we are confident these plans can minimize disruption.

"However, we continue to urge people to make sure they are 'border-ready' and both tourist and truck traffic should be prepared for queues. Please check your route before you travel and bring food and water sowie alle Medikamente mit, die Sie im Falle einer Verkehrsstörung benötigen.

"Wir haben jetzt Coronavirus in die Mischung aufgenommen, was bedeutet, dass jeder, der Großbritannien nach Europa verlässt, sicherstellen muss, dass innerhalb von 72 Stunden nach Verlassen des Landes ein negativer Test durchgeführt wird." Wenn Sie dies nicht tun, können Sie nicht reisen. & # 39;

Die Kommentare kommen, nachdem ein Ausbruch eines mutierten Covid-19-Stammes im Südosten Englands zu Weihnachten eine Grenzkrise ausgelöst hatte.

Tausende Lastwagen waren während der Weihnachtszeit in Kent gestrandet, als Frankreich seine Grenze zu Großbritannien aufgrund der Besorgnis über die neue Variante, die Experten für eine um 70 Prozent effektivere Verbreitung halten könnten, dramatisch zuschlug.

Herr Keefe sagte: „Die Dinge werden langsam beginnen. Der 1. Januar ist nach Silvester ein ruhiger Feiertag.

Herr Keefe sagte: „Die Dinge werden langsam beginnen. Der 1. Januar ist nach Silvester ein ruhiger Feiertag.

Frankreich verlangte, dass die Fahrer vor der Überfahrt getestet werden, was zu einem riesigen Rückstau an Lastwagen auf der M20 führte – als die Chefs der Autobahnen den Notfallreiseplan Operation Stack aktivierten.

Die Operation Brock – der britische Notfallreiseplan für den Fall von Verspätungen aufgrund eines No Deal Brexit – wurde ebenfalls umgesetzt. Der Plan sah vor, dass Tausende von Lastwagen zum Manston Airfield in Kent umgeleitet wurden.

Das Gelände wurde über Weihnachten zu einem riesigen LKW-Park, da Tausende von Fahrern auf einen Test warteten, bevor sie die Grenze überqueren durften.

Die Spediteure haben jedoch davor gewarnt, dass es erneut zu Störungen kommen könnte, wenn die neuen Handelsregeln zwischen Großbritannien und der EU in Kraft treten.

Die Road Haulage Association (RHA) hat gewarnt, dass es aufgrund der neuen behördlichen Kontrollen an der Grenze zu Kinderkrankheiten kommen könnte.

Es warnte vor einer neuen Bürokratie nach dem Brexit, die den Unternehmen einen Berg von Papierkram bringen wird, da die Spediteure darauf angewiesen sind, dass die Kunden die Formulare korrekt ausfüllen.

In der Zwischenzeit sagte Rob Holliman, der Direktor von Youngs Transport and Logistics mit Sitz in Purfleet in Essex, dass er in der ersten Januarwoche keinen seiner Lastwagen fahren werde, um Störungen zu vermeiden und „die Dinge regeln zu lassen“.

Youngs hat seinen Hauptsitz in Purfleet und verfügt über eine Flotte von 160 Lastwagen. Neben seinen Aktivitäten in Großbritannien unternimmt das Unternehmen in der Regel 25 Fahrten innerhalb und außerhalb Europas pro Woche.

"Wir gehen davon aus, dass das Land ungefähr eine Woche Zeit hat, um sich an all diese neuen Systeme zu gewöhnen, und wir können einen Blick darauf werfen und hoffentlich alle Probleme lösen, bevor wir unsere Lastwagen tatsächlich versenden", sagte Holliman.

„Die größte Sorge ist, wie lange die Ausfuhrzollabfertigung dauern wird, wenn wir die EU mit Fracht an Bord verlassen, und wie lange die britische Zollabfertigung bei unserer Ankunft in Großbritannien dauern wird und ob es in beiden Fällen Abweichungen gibt zwei Prozesse. & # 39;

Verzögerungen bei Grenzübergängen riskierten zusätzliche Kosten, die an Speditionskunden und letztendlich an Verbraucher weitergegeben werden könnten.

Auf die Frage, ob die vorübergehende Einstellung der EU-Dienste durch Youngs länger dauern könnte, antwortete Hollyman: "Wenn es eine katastrophale erste Woche ist und es so aussieht, als würde es bis in die zweite Woche katastrophal weitergehen, möglicherweise ja."

Rod McKenzie, Geschäftsführer für Politik und öffentliche Angelegenheiten bei der RHA, sagte, dass Lastwagen in der Lage sein werden, zwischen Großbritannien und der EU zu wechseln, indem sie "eine Änderung der bestehenden Gemeinschaftslizenz" vornehmen.

Spediteure in Großbritannien, die Waren in die EU und nach Nordirland bringen, benötigen am Donnerstag ab 23 Uhr neue Unterlagen. Die Regierung warnte diejenigen ohne korrekte Dokumentation würde gestoppt werden. Im Bild: Lastwagen im Hafen von Dover am 29. Dezember

Spediteure in Großbritannien, die Waren in die EU und nach Nordirland bringen, benötigen am Donnerstag ab 23 Uhr neue Unterlagen. Die Regierung warnte diejenigen ohne korrekte Dokumentation würde gestoppt werden. Im Bild: Lastwagen im Hafen von Dover am 29. Dezember

Er sagte, neue Handelsregeln würden "einen Berg Papierkram" und "eine Menge Faff" erfordern.

"Immer wenn Sie ein neues System haben, insbesondere eines, das sich nicht bewährt hat, müssen Menschen Fehler machen oder Dinge nicht wissen, und das ist das große Unbekannte", warnte er.

Lord Adonis ist wütend, nachdem er das Brexit-Handelsabkommen mit dem Pakt von Neville Chamberlain mit HITLER verglichen hat

Ein Remain-Backing-Labour-Peer wurde heute als "verächtlich" eingestuft, nachdem er den Brexit-Deal mit Neville Chamberlains Beschwichtigung Hitlers verglichen hatte.

Lord Adonis sah sich einer Gegenreaktion gegenüber, nachdem er gestern Abend während einer Debatte über die neuen Handelsvereinbarungen den außerordentlichen Hinweis auf das Münchner Abkommen gegeben hatte, wonach der damalige Premierminister den deutschen Diktator das Sudetenland vergeblich annektieren ließ, um den Frieden aufrechtzuerhalten.

Der frühere Kabinettsminister zitierte Winston Churchills verdammte Einschätzung des Abkommens von 1938 als "totale und uneingeschränkte Niederlage".

He said the verdict applied 'word for word' to the trade deal – which was finalised between Mr Johnson and EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who is German.

Lord Adonis said: 'I am sure it is much better to say exactly what we think about public affairs and this is certainly not a time when it is worth anyone's while to court political popularity.

Mr McKenzie said IT systems will be tested 'in battle for the first time' from January 1, revealing whether they are 'fit for purpose'.

He said British businesses will be completing around 220 million customs forms next year, but there were not enough customs agents to support this.

He said the RHA estimated the UK had about 5,000 agents but required 50,000.

Across the border, French hauliers are also concerned about disruption.

Sebastien Rivera, head of the National Federation of Road Hauliers in the northern Hauts-de-France region, home to the port of Calais and Eurotunnel terminal through which millions of trucks pass each year, said disruption will is inevitable.

He said: 'If you listen to the French and British authorities, the talk is of smart borders and full readiness, but that doesn't stop us having doubts.

'It will be a real headache. Some companies will be ready, others won't. It's a major change of habits that lies ahead.'

He said it was inevitable that not all businesses would be ready to navigate the raft of paperwork, including customs and safety declarations, and the IT systems necessary to trade between Britain and the EU from January 1.

Mr Rivera, like his English counterpart, also predicted lower-than-average traffic at the start of the month, but raised concerns about what will happen after.

He added: 'Our worry is what happens when we return to 'normal business' in mid-January.'

While Britain will phase in full customs formalities over six months, EU states are imposing them immediately.

French customs have employed an additional 700 agents nationwide to deal with the post-Brexit trade rules – almost half of them will be based at Calais' port and Eurotunnel terminal.

Under the smart-border system, drivers coming into France who have pre-lodged export requests with the French authorities online will have a barcode scanned in say, Dover, and their number plates automatically read by cameras before a risk assessment is made while they cross the Channel.

During the journey, drivers will receive a message telling them whether they can drive off freely through a 'green lane' on arrival on French soil, or if they'll be directed to an 'orange lane' for further checks.

Haulage firms fear that if too many trucks are not armed with the correct customs documents by their clients, then the trucks requiring further checks will snarl up the borders.

Calais port and the Eurotunnel terminal has enough parking space that such additional checks could be halted for up to two hours without disrupting the flow of other traffic, officials say.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove warned this week of 'bumpy moments' resulting from 'practical and procedural changes' imposed in the new year.

ROBERT HARDMAN: Au revoir to all that… From bendy bananas to pompous panjandrums, a brilliant front-row seat on the 47-year-long love/hate story of Britain and Europe that now recedes into history

And so, come 11pm (midnight in Brussels), the divorce is final – four and a half years after calling time on this turbulent marriage. It's well and truly over.

For cork-popping Leavers and apocalyptic Remainers alike, this is a seismic parting of the ways. For most people, however, I suspect it's a case of 52:48-ish mixed feelings, a moment to curl up and look back wistfully through the family album.

Despite all the squabbles over British bangers, wine lakes and rebates, we had some great moments together, too – like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the opening of the Channel Tunnel.

Veto: In 1950 Labour’s Herbert Morrison was the first to block UK membership

Veto: In 1950 Labour's Herbert Morrison was the first to block UK membership

Much as we despaired of the bureaucracy, we still enjoyed watching the swing of the Thatcher handbag or the odd claret-fuelled outburst from Jean-Claude Juncker. We had always wanted to be part of a 'Common Market' and we were.

Whatever one's views, it has certainly been a hell of a journey. Who now recalls the first person to block Britain's entry into the grand projet? We always blame France's General de Gaulle, but it wasn't him.. It was, ironically, a British Labour Party grandee whose grandson would become a fanatical Remainer.

The love/hate story of Brexit begins a full 70 years ago on a summer afternoon in 1950. Led by the French, the governments of Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy and Luxembourg were about to create a new 'common market', to be known as the European Coal and Steel Community. They wanted Britain at the table, too.

Celebration: The Queen with Ted Heath at his Fanfare for Europe gala evening in 1973 at Covent Garden

Celebration: The Queen with Ted Heath at his Fanfare for Europe gala evening in 1973 at Covent Garden

Fury: Police and protesters with effigy of Ted Heath being lynched outside an event at the Royal Opera House in 1973

Fury: Police and protesters with effigy of Ted Heath being lynched outside an event at the Royal Opera House in 1973

After weeks of haggling, the French handed the UK an ultimatum. If Britain was not on board by 8pm on June 2, 1950, then the six nations would go ahead without us. The Prime Minister was on holiday (in France, no less), as was the Chancellor – and the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, was ill.

So the Cabinet meeting that day was chaired by the Deputy PM, Herbert Morrison. His verdict: the French plan was too imprecise and 'appeared to involve some surrender of sovereignty'.

It was 'Non, merci' from Mr Morrison and colleagues. Thus did the UK forgo the opportunity to shape Europe from the very start. How Morrison's grandson, ex-EU Commissioner Peter (now Lord) Mandelson, must rue Grandpa's nonchalance.

Seven years later, the same six countries were doing so well they created the European Economic Community (EEC). With the UK economy in decline, Britain decided it wanted to join after all and applied in 1963.

Flying the flags: Margaret Thatcher join a pro-Europe demonstration in the run-up to the 1975 referendum on staying in the Common Market. A decisive two thirds decided to remain

Flying the flags: Margaret Thatcher join a pro-Europe demonstration in the run-up to the 1975 referendum on staying in the Common Market. A decisive two thirds decided to remain

'Non!' declared France's General Charles de Gaulle, dismissing the UK as 'insular' and 'maritime'.

To many around the old Empire, it served Britain right for sucking up to the old enemy. Just 20 years before, the Commonwealth had sent its finest to die in Britain's defence.

To a country like New Zealand, then exporting two-thirds of its produce to the UK, it felt like a betrayal. Undeterred, the UK went on bended knee again in 1967. Again, de Gaulle used his veto, accusing Britain of 'deep-seated hostility'. The project would have to wait for a friendlier French president, Georges Pompidou, together with the most Europhile PM in British history, Edward Heath.

Two fingers up: The Sun's response in November 1990 to Brussels chief Jacques Delors’ single currency plan

Two fingers up: The Sun's response in November 1990 to Brussels chief Jacques Delors' single currency plan

Before negotiations were concluded in 1972, the two premiers agreed on a grand gesture to seal the deal. The Queen would pay a sensational state visit to Paris. The highlight was a spectacular state banquet, broadcast live from a newly-restored Palace of Versailles.

After a dinner of foie gras, lobster pie and lamb, the Queen delivered a speech – drafted by her ministers – welcoming 'the beginning of a new Europe, a Europe of partners in a great enterprise'. Then, as now, the great moment would come with the New Year.

Thus, on January 1, 1973, Britain was finally in – along with Ireland and Denmark. Two days later, the Queen attended Heath's 'Fanfare for Europe' gala evening at Covent Garden. She was greeted by demonstrators and an effigy of Heath on a gallows. Opinion polls continued to show a nation still broadly divided – with the noisiest Eurosceptic voices on the Labour benches.

Having defeated Heath in 1974, Labour's Harold Wilson pledged a referendum on the issue. On June 5, 1975, two-thirds of Britain voted to remain. At which point, the UK's European future surely looked assured for eternity.

Closer ties: In 1992 Delors was an architect of the EU, created with the Maastricht Treaty

Closer ties: In 1992 Delors was an architect of the EU, created with the Maastricht Treaty

Metric martyr: Rebel market trader Steve Thoburn who was prosecuted for selling bananas by the pound

Metric martyr: Rebel market trader Steve Thoburn who was prosecuted for selling bananas by the pound

Sturgeon urges the EU to 'keep the light on'

Nicola Sturgeon urged the European Union to 'keep the light on' and said Scotland would be 'back soon' as the Brexit transition period came to an end on Thursday.

Membership of the single market and customs union expired at 11pm – four and a half years after the in-out referendum which sought to settle the issue but sparked political turmoil.

The bells of Big Ben were rung as the UK left both the EU's single market and the customs union.

The chimes of Big Ben rang out at 11pm – midnight on the Continent – marking the UK's departure from the EU's single market and customs union.

Scottish first minister Miss Sturgeon, who is strongly opposed to Brexit, wrote on Twitter: 'Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on.'

Her latest hint at her urge to press ahead with making Scotland and independent country came after she savaged Boris Johnson's Brexit deal on Christmas Day.

Hitting out at the agreement reached on Christmas Eve, Miss Sturgeon said the deal showed it was time for Scotland to 'chart our own future as an independent, European nation'.

She said Britain's departure was happening against her will and accused the PM of 'cultural vandalism' for ending the Erasmus programme, which allows students to study in Europe.

'Scotland did not vote for any of this and our position is clearer than ever,' she said.

'Scotland now has the right to choose its own future as an independent country and once more regain the benefits of EU membership.

'It beggars belief that in the midst of a pandemic and economic recession, Scotland has been forced out of the EU single market and customs union with all the damage to jobs that will bring.

'A deal is better than No Deal. But, just because, at the 11th hour, the UK Government has decided to abandon the idea of a No Deal outcome, it should not distract from the fact that they have chosen a hard Brexit, stripping away so many of the benefits of EU membership.

'And while we do not yet have full details on the nature of the deal, it appears major promises made by the UK Government on fisheries have been broken and the extent of these broken promises will become apparent to all very soon.'

She said people in Scotland had voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, 'but their views have been ignored'.

The historic post-Brexit deal with the EU on Christmas Eve came four years after 62 per cent of Scots backed remain in the 2016 referendum.

In 1977, the European Commission even appointed its first (and only) British president, the former Labour Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, founder of the European Monetary System. In 1980, Jenkins welcomed the Queen to the Commission on a visit hailed by the British ambassador as 'crowning the new picture of the UK's role in the Community'.

That picture was already changing, though, thanks to the new occupant of No10. Margaret Thatcher had supported British membership in 1975, but was appalled by the EEC's finances. Though Britain was among the poorer states at the time, it was one of the highest contributors to the EEC pot.

France, on the other hand, was snaffling vast subsidies for its millions of small, inefficient farms. When EEC leaders gathered at Fontainebleu in 1984, Mrs Thatcher threatened to stop paying altogether, arguing: 'We are simply asking to have our own money back.' Her perseverance paid off with a rebate of 66 per cent, since known as the 'UK correction' (or, as angry French diplomats call it, 'le cheque britannique').

Relations were never the same again. Though it was Mrs Thatcher who drove through the Single European Act of 1986 – and the longed-for free movement of goods – it ushered in a new system of qualified majority voting.

The new president of the Commission, French socialist Jacques Delors, could see this as a route to his own utopia – a 'united states of Europe'. In 1988, he came to Britain's TUC conference to urge union leaders to back his vision of a 'social Europe', not a 'capitalists' club'. The Thatcherite counter-attack was swift.

Less than a fortnight later, the PM delivered a totemic riposte with a speech in the Belgian city of Bruges: 'We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at European level.'

W ith the collapse of the Soviet empire and the Berlin Wall the following year, the European dream seemed unstoppable – unless you were British. Fleet Street revelled in reports of 'unelected Brussels bureaucrats' meddling in every aspect of our lives, from bananas to condoms or the colour of our passports.

On November 1, 1990, Commission proposals for a new currency prompted a famous rebuke. 'Up Yours, Delors,' yelled The Sun. It appeared on the very same day that Deputy Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Howe delivered the resignation speech which led to Mrs Thatcher's downfall. Within a month, she was out – though not before delivering one last shot at M Delors's plans: 'No! No! No!'. Her successor, John Major, was soon fighting new battles as the EEC formally became the new, ever-closer 'European Union' via the 1992 Maastricht Treaty.

In Denmark, the electorate was given a say on the treaty and rejected it. What tipped the balance was the disclosure, in Britain's Sunday Telegraph, of a Delors plan for an all-powerful 'President of Europe'. The journalist was one Boris Johnson.

The Danes were duly ticked off and told to vote again the right way. But the obvious fractures in the system led international speculators to start preying on Europe's Exchange Rate Mechanism.

In September 1992, they came for the Pound on what has gone down as Black Wednesday – the day Britain crashed out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism and interest rates briefly spiked at 15 per cent. John Major never recovered.

Brexit bad boy: Nigel Farage as a young MEP in Brussels in 1999

Brexit bad boy: Nigel Farage as a young MEP in Brussels in 1999

Open Bordeaux: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker enjoys wine with dinner at an EU event in 2017

Open Bordeaux: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker enjoys wine with dinner at an EU event in 2017

T he Danes might have had a plebiscite, but not the British people. So, come the 1997 election, the buccaneering financier Sir Jimmy Goldsmith created a new Referendum Party demanding a popular vote. As social as it was political, his party merely unseated even more Tories as Tony Blair led Labour to a landslide.

Maastricht had lit many fires. In 1993, a new political movement staged its first party conference in a London University lecture hall. Announcing 'the birth of a great new permanent party', the first leader of UKIP, Alan Sked, lamented the fact that only one newspaper had sent a reporter to cover this event. 'Give him a round of applause!' yelled Sked. Whereupon the first standing ovation in UKIP history went to a mortally-embarrassed reporter marooned on the press benches (me). Just six years later, that party would have its first foothold, returning three MEPs in the 1999 European elections. They included a former City broker called Nigel Farage.

The party gathered further momentum in 2001 when a Sunderland market trader, Steve Thoburn, was prosecuted for selling fruit and veg in imperial – but not metric – measures. Further 'metric martyrs' would follow.

Smiles in defeat: David Cameron, his wife Samantha and their children leaving Downing Street after he lost 2016 referendum

Smiles in defeat: David Cameron, his wife Samantha and their children leaving Downing Street after he lost 2016 referendum

On marched the EU, regardless. Come 2002, the euro took flight as a currency. No one bothered to ask how a basket case like Greece had qualified for the eurozone. The more, the merrier.

It was the same in 2004 as a large chunk of Eastern Europe joined the club. An army of migrant workers rushed to the UK. Unlike many EU nations, British ministers saw no need to set limits. By 2007, Europe accrued yet more powers via the Lisbon Treaty.

Some plans had to be watered down after French, Dutch and even Irish voters rejected certain aspects, but the Eurocentric direction of travel was the same. Crucially, it also created a mechanism for the unthinkable – a country that actually wanted to leave…

Tears: Theresa May resigns, her premiership destroyed by battles over her Brexit deal

Tears: Theresa May resigns, her premiership destroyed by battles over her Brexit deal

A year later, came two pivotal events. The financial crash of 2008 would trigger mayhem across in eurozone countries like Greece, Italy and Spain. Meanwhile, London – traditionally a Labour stronghold – decided to elect a Tory mayor.

Boris Johnson was now a bona fide political force. His Eton and Oxford contemporary, David Cameron, would become PM at the 2010 election but, like all Tory leaders, found his party incurably divided over Europe.

With Farage breathing beery fag fumes down his neck, he pledged that, if re-elected in 2015, he would seek a fresh deal for Britain and then give the people a referendum. His re-election would be swiftly followed by a chaotic migration crisis which paralysed much of Europe that summer.

D espite Cameron's frantic quest for something meaningful to avert a split in his party, the EU offered mere tweaks and chicken feed. Battle was set for June 23, 2016. The Establishment – be it political, commercial, financial or cultural – was well behind Cameron for Remain.

The nation decides: The Daily Mail on the morning after Britain’s historic vote

The nation decides: The Daily Mail on the morning after Britain's historic vote

Joy: Crowds in London on Brexit Day in January

Joy: Crowds in London on Brexit Day in January

However, once his erstwhile close friend Michael Gove had been joined by Boris Johnson, the Vote Leave operation was thereafter a serious threat while Farage's Leave EU operation waged its own guerrilla war.

The flashpoints of those torrid weeks are etched in the national memory: the rallies, the 'Boris Bus' and its £350million for the NHS – Farage v Geldof on the Thames, the truce following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox….

Most of us can probably remember where we were when we heard David Dimbleby's historic verdict: 'We're out.' Not yet we weren't. Next came febrile summer days of Tory plottings, the Camerons' farewell and the advent of Theresa May and her blundering acolytes. Months gave way to years of endless bawling and brawling both within and without Westminster before the tearful May gave up.

How strange it seems now to look back on that strange cast of characters – Speaker Bercow, Baroness Hale, the outer fringes of the DUP, Oliver Letwin and his ceaseless amendments. Who can still explain that prorogation?

As of 11pm tonight, it's all irrelevant. Still, I can't help wondering what would have happened if Grandpa Mandelson had been more on the ball 70 years ago.

David Attenborough says 2021 could be year for `positive change´

Sir David Attenborough has said 2021 'could be a year for positive change' as he offers a new year message of hope.

The veteran broadcaster will add that 'the need to take action' against climate change 'has never been more urgent'.

In a speech to be broadcast on BBC One on New Year's Day, he will say: 'I am speaking to you from my home, because like many of you I have spent much of the last year indoors, away from friends, family and access to the natural world.

(embed)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxibm1ODEpI(/embed)

'It has been a challenging few months for many of us, but the reaction to these extraordinary times has proved that when we work together, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

'Today we are experiencing environmental change as never before, and the need to take action has never been more urgent.

'This year, the world will gather in Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. It's a crucial moment in our history.

Sir David Attenborough has a message of hope for 2021 (Fabio De Paola/PA)

Sir David Attenborough has a message of hope for 2021 (Fabio De Paola/PA)

'This could be a year for positive change, for ourselves, for our planet and for the wonderful creatures with which we share it.

'A year the world could remember proudly and say, 'we made a difference'.

'As we make our new year's resolutions, let's think about what each of us can do. What positive changes can we make in our own lives?

'Here's to a brighter year ahead. Let's make 2021 a happy new year for all the inhabitants of our perfect planet.'

The message comes ahead of the launch of Sir David's latest natural history series A Perfect Planet, which begins at 8pm on January 3 on BBC One.

The show was four years in the making and filmed in 31 countries on six continents.

The first four episodes explore the power of volcanoes, sunlight, weather and oceans. The final episode in the series looks at the impact of humans on the planet, and what can be done to restore its balance.

The message will be shown on BBC One at 7.57pm on January 1, between Doctor Who and EastEnders.

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