- Members of Parliament are set to vote for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill on Friday afternoon.
- The Withdrawal Agreement Bill is expected to clear its second reading, putting the UK firmly on track for leaving the European Union next month.
- Opposition MPs are furious with the prime minister after key promises relating to workers’ rights, trade talks, and child refugees were removed from the bill.
- But Johnson is set for a comfortable victory after securing an 80-seat majority at the general election.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The United Kingdom is set to take a significant step closer to Brexit with a vote by members of Parliament on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill.
MPs on Friday were set to vote in the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. This legislation is not a comprehensive plan laying out Britain’s long-term relationship with the European Union but must get parliamentary security for Britain’s exit to be recognized in national law.
MPs are almost certain to vote in favor of the bill, with Johnson now leading a strong 80-seat majority in the House of Commons. The vote is expected to take place at about 2:30 p.m. GMT, or 9:30 a.m. ET, after a few hours of debate.
A vote in favor of the bill would keep the UK firmly on track for leaving the EU next month. The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on January 31 after Johnson reached a revised deal with Brussels in October.
Johnson bins previous commitments on workers’ rights and trade negotiations
Opposition MPs reacted in fury Thursday when the text of the updated bill was published, as it revealed that Johnson had scrapped numerous promises he had made relating to key areas of the UK’s exit.
The government has included in the bill a legal block keeping the transition period from being extended beyond December 2020.
As things stand, the UK will enter an 11-month transition period after leaving the EU, during which it will continue to follow EU rules. The two sides will try to negotiate a new trade deal during this time.
Most trade experts say it is very unlikely that negotiators will be able to secure a deal in less than a year, meaning the UK could drop out onto dealing with the EU on costly World Trade Organization rules in about a year.
Johnson before the election said MPs would have some say over whether the UK would extend the transition period. Under the terms of the updated legislation, however, that’s no longer the case.
The bill also doesn’t include Johnson’s previous assurances over the role Parliament will play in scrutinizing the UK government’s pursuit of a trade deal with the EU.
The prime minister previously said MPs would vote on the UK’s objectives in negotiations with the EU. This is not mentioned in the bill being voted on Friday.
Opposition MPs are also angry with Johnson for not including a previous commitment to protecting workers’ rights and for watering down a pledge to take in unaccompanied refugee children from Europe after Brexit.
“Barely days away from the election and this Withdrawal Agreement reveals exactly what an unbridled Boris Johnson will do with the country,” Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats’ interim leader, told Business Insider.
“Every compromise made before the election, from workers’ rights to protections for unaccompanied refugee children, have been binned just as we warned they would.”
Labour MP Lisa Nandy, who is expected to run to be the party’s next leader, composed a Twitter thread outlining the changes to the bill and why she believed it had been changed “for the worse.”
Nonetheless, Johnson is expected to secure a comfortable parliamentary majority on Friday afternoon. The prime minister enjoys strong command over the House of Commons as a result of last week’s general election.
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