"Big changes" are coming for the UK and it's up to the country now "to seize the opportunity of Brexit", Prime Minister Boris Johnson told The Telegraph on Sunday.
In his first interview after the signing of the EU-UK trade deal, Johnson pledged to break free from EU rules and regulations in 2021, and use Britain's new "legislative and regulatory freedoms to deliver for people who felt left behind".
"We can't sort of suddenly decide that we're free and then not decide how to exercise it. This government has a very clear agenda to use this moment to unite and level up and to spread opportunity across the country. That's what we want to do", the prime minister pointed out.
When asked whether he thinks Britain could defy predictions that Brexit will hamper the nation's economic growth, Johnson said that "freedom is what you make of it".
He touted the EU-UK trade deal as an agreement that "does present considerable advantages", which will come as his country faces a "very big challenge now" due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson added that "great government effort has gone into compiling" post-Brexit policies, with animal welfare regulations, data, and chemicals being areas where the UK could diverge from EU standards, in addition to plans for low tax "freeports".
The prime minister also hinted at a potential overhaul of the tax and regulatory environment for businesses in light of the trade deal, saying Chancellor Rishi Sunak is now conducting a "big exercise on all of this", and that reforms may already happen in March.
Johnson Calls on UK Lawmakers to Okay Trade Deal
The remarks follow Johnson on Saturday urging members of the House of Commons to vote in favour of the EU-UK trade agreement on 30 December, a day before the 11-month Brexit transition period ends.
The call came as both UK and EU authorities published the full text of the over 1,250-page deal, sending the document to their respective lawmakers to be looked at.
Johnson, for his part, insisted the trade agreement fulfills "every one of our [Britain's] commitments" in line with Brexit, adding the document can withstand "ruthless" scrutiny by hardline Conservative Brexiteers who seek maximum freedom for the UK from the EU's laws and regulations.
The statement was preceded by Johnson hailing London and Brussels finally reaching "a comprehensive Canada-style free trade deal" on Thursday, after months of difficult talks and missed deadlines.
He touted the accord as "the biggest" between the sides, stressing the deal would allow British goods "to be sold without tariffs in the EU market".