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The UK finally completed its full departure from the European Union on New Year’s Eve – four-and-a-half years after the historic referendum vote. Britain had entered an 11-month Brexit transition period, in which time the country remained tied to the EU’s rules around the Customs Union and Single Market. But the UK has now broken free from the EU shackles, affording Boris Johnson and the whole of the country several new powers.
One of these would centre around fishing, which often proved to be a huge stumbling block in trade deal negotiations with Brussels.
Ahead of the transition period deadline on New Year’s Eve, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced: “With effect from 23:00 tonight, pulse trawling by EU and English vessels in UK waters will no longer be licensed.”
Last weekend, Mr Johnson told The Andrew Marr Show having left the EU, the UK “will be able to ban these huge hoover trawlers that come in and hoover up everything off the bottom of the sea”.
The Prime Minister has been urged to follow through on his pledge to ban massive EU supertrawlers regularly plundering UK waters, with a petition launched that has already more than 42,000 signatures.
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The Government will be required to respond and debate the issue in the House of Commons should the petition pass 100,000 signatures.
Supertrawlers from the EU are regular visitors to UK waters, and while there is no suggestion they are operating illegally, environmentalists have claimed they are to blame them for the deaths of dolphins and other marine wildlife.
In 2019, supertrawlers fished in 39 of the UK’s marine protected areas, while in the first half of last year, 23 supertrawlers (mostly Dutch and Russian) fished in 19 marine protected areas.
Another power available to the Prime Minister could be the ability to introduce VAT cuts on household energy bills.
Shocking new analysis has revealed UK taxpayers have paid the EU an eye-watering £41billion since voting to quit the bloc in 2016.
The figure comprises £5.1billion in the second half of 2016, £9.3billion in 2017, £9.1billion in 2018, £9.4billion in 2019 and £8.2billion last year.
Millions of UK households are struggling under the strain of personal finances due to the huge impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a Government report published last year, the average annual household energy bills rose by £55 to £1,289 in 2019, while according to Water.org.uk, the average UK water and sewerage bill for 2019-20 was £413.33.
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Mr Johnson could also choose to inject UK science with a huge cash boost through state aid.
Researchers breathed a huge sigh of relief with the news the UK and EU has agreed a trade deal as it has wide-ranging impacts for scientists.
Most importantly, UK researchers will be able to take part in Europe’s £77billion flagship research programme, Horizon Europe.
The trade deal will also shape a number of other areas, such as data regulations, student exchange, nuclear science, space research and clinical trials.
In his speech outlining the agreement with the EU, Mr Johnson it means “certainty for our scientists who will be able to continue to work together on great collective projects”.
Following the departure from the EU, the UK also now has the freedom to sign lucrative trade deals with countries around the world.
Dozens of deals are currently in place, including with the likes of Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa and Switzerland.
Talks are ongoing with a number of other countries, such as Canada and Australia, but US President-elect Joe Biden has warned a trade deal with the UK is not one of his top priorities when he takes office later this month.
The Prime Minister could also look to tighten and strengthen the UK’s borders following Brexit.
Last weekend, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she is prepared to give policing and security agencies “even tougher powers to keep this country safe”, insisting the UK is now in a better position to protect its borders.
Writing for the Sunday Telegraph, Ms Patel said: “Forging a new relationship with the EU also means taking back control of our borders; allowing Britain to finally control who comes into this country.
“Free movement has ended and people who want to live in the UK will now have to meet the requirements of our new points-based system.”
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