Bust-ups and brinkmanship: inside story of how the Brexit deal was done

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After all the delays, doubts and deadlocks, months of tortuous negotiations have reached a conclusion

Even in its final hours, the settling of Britain’s future trading and security relationship with the European Union was a painful affair, dragging deep into the night and on into Christmas Eve morning and afternoon, with Downing Street insisting right to the end that nothing was certain. The deal was finally struck at 1.44pm UK time.

It could not have come soon enough for two exhausted teams that had been squabbling over, crafting, drafting and redrafting legal text in a final two-week run-in under the headache-inducing strip lights of the Albert Borschette conference centre, a drab building in the EU quarter of Brussels.

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