THIS has been an immensely challenging and difficult year for our country.
The coronavirus pandemic has tested the nation’s resolve to its limit.
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Priti Patel explains why the Brexit trade deal will keep Britain safeCredit: Rex Features
But through everyone’s sacrifices and commitment, we have stood strong together. Now, as 2020 comes to an end, it is time to look to the future.
And there can be no more symbolic and significant a landmark than the beginning of our journey as an independent sovereign nation.
That is what Sun readers and people across the UK wanted.
And everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum is delivered by the deal we have secured with the EU. We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters.
As Home Secretary, the safety of the British public is my number one priority and we have been working hard to get a deal that continues to protect the public, both in the UK and EU, and brings criminals to justice
The deal we have struck is the first time the EU has agreed such a comprehensive agreement with a third country in this area.
It means the police and other agencies on both sides will have important tools and capabilities to bear down on criminals and bring them to justice.
We will have streamlined extradition arrangements so that paedophiles can’t use borders to escape justice.
We will be able to exchange DNA and fingerprint information quickly and effectively to help solve murders and find rapists. We will continue to receive passenger name record data to hunt down terrorists. We will continue to work with Europol to smash drug smuggling gangs. But this is only the beginning.
As an independent coastal state, it has never been more important to take back full control of our borders.
By leaving the customs union and ending free movement, we can set our own rules to help us both stop illicit commodities coming through our borders and prevent people who seek to harm us reaching the UK.
Ending free movement allows us to ban certain EU criminals from coming into the UK.
From next summer, we will start receiving advance data on all goods coming from the EU into Great Britain.
This has not been possible under EU rules and will help us crack down on serious organised crime and the import of guns or drugs into the UK.
The UK has always been a global leader on security and we will continue strengthening our cooperation on security, investing in new technical capabilities and bringing our formidable expertise to bear on the world stage.
Boris Johnson holds up the Brexit deal document during his Christmas messageCredit: PA:Press Association
Through these measures, we will send a clear message to those who seek to do us harm or abuse our hospitality: do not see Britain as a soft touch.
In just a few days, we will start a new era in our great country’s history.
This is a momentous moment and a huge opportunity — one we will seize with both hands.
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