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With Brexit complete, Britain and the EU begin new era of relations

Four-and-a-half years after a British referendum on membership in the European Union, Brexit is finally a reality after Britain left the single market at the stroke of midnight CET (2300 GMT) on New Year's Eve.

Never before had an EU member state filed for divorce.

The separation took years of messy negotiations before finally, at the last moment, a breakthrough trade deal worth 660 billion pounds (900 billion dollars) was struck on Christmas Eve.

Writing in the Telegraph newspaper on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a "big win for both sides of the Channel."

"For us, it means the end of the rancorous bickering about 'Europe' that has bedevilled our politics for so long," he said.

"It means the end of that uneasy feeling that we were constantly being asked to sign up for the details of a project – a giant federal fusion of states – in which we didn't really believe and hadn't really bargained for."

But he added that the new deal does not mean Britons "will be less European," echoing comments his father, Stanley, gave to a French radio station on New Year's Eve.

"On the contrary, we will remain the second-biggest contributor to NATO ... with our armed services fortified in the recent spending review with the biggest-ever uplift since the Cold War," he added.

The pact averts tariffs and quotas on goods, sparing businesses on both sides seismic upheaval.

As of New Year's Day, the two closely intertwined partners began a new era in their relations of much looser cooperation, governed mainly by the new Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

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