European Parliament formally ratifies Brexit deal

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The post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU has been formally ratified by lawmakers in Brussels.

The European Parliament has voted to officially ratify the Brexit deal between the EU and UK to permanently enshrine the agreement into law and maintain trading relations between the two parties.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) had been operating on a provisional basis since the end of the transition period at the start of January, but the formal approval will now allow the EU and UK to move forward to further their trading relationship.

MEPs in Brussels voted by 660 to five in favor of the TCA, with 32 abstentions. However, an accompanying resolution described the decision of the UK to leave the bloc following its 2016 referendum as a "historic mistake". This passed by 578 votes to 51, with 68 abstentions.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson welcomed the vote, stating: "This week is the final step in a long journey, providing stability to our new relationship with the EU as vital trading partners, close allies and sovereign equals. Now is the time to look forward to the future and to building a more global Britain."

Meanwhile, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warmly welcomed the ratification, though she emphasized the importance of effective cooperation and enforcement of the deal moving forward, as several Brexit-related pensions remain.

In a tweet, she said: "The TCA marks the foundation of a strong and close partnership with the UK. Faithful implementation is essential."

Among the issues that are still causing tension between the UK and Brussels are fishing rights for European vessels in British waters, as well as question marks over the Northern Ireland protocol, which aims to ensure there are no hard borders on the island of Ireland.

Prior to the vote, Ms Von der Leyen had emphasized to lawmakers that the agreement contained "real teeth" that would allow for strong remedial action to be taken should the UK fail to live up the commitments spelled out in the 1,447-page document.