Johnson Launches Charm Offensive to Sell Brexit Deal to Business

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a call with U.K. business leaders to spell out details of the last-minute trade deal he struck with the European Union.

The call, planned for Wednesday, will also include Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Trade Secretary Liz Truss, according to four people familiar with the matter.

It’s the latest step in a charm offensive by Johnson’s government to sell the trade agreement to British firms who spent the bulk of 2020 clamoring for clarity on the nature of economic ties with the bloc. The post-Brexit transition period ended on Dec. 31 and businesses were kept waiting until Dec. 24 for a deal to be struck.

The deal brought to an end more than four years of tortured negotiations that followed the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU in 2016. It allows for tariff- and quota-free trade in goods but doesn’t apply to the services industry, which makes up about 80% of the U.K. economy.

One person familiar with the planned call said businesses had been invited to submit questions to Johnson and his ministers in advance. Sharma spent the days after the deal was struck calling business chiefs to offer to explain details of the agreement.

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