- Members of Parliament have voted in favour of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill.
- Johnson’s empowered government won the vote by a majority of 124, one week after winning a general election.
- Parliamentary committees will next scrutinise the bill before it can be passed into law.
- This means the UK is on course to leave the EU by the end of January 2020.
- Johnson angered opposition MPs by removing from the bill previous commitments on workers’ rights, future trade talks, and child refugees.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The UK Parliament has voted in favour of Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill, putting the country firmly on track to formally leave the European Union in January 2020.
Members of Parliament on Friday voted by 358 to 234 in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) at its second reading, giving the Conservative government a House of Commons majority of 124.
Speaking before the vote this afternoon, Prime Minister Johnson said that passing the bill will allow the United Kingdom to come together “as one reinvigorated nation” and “discard the old labels of leave and remain.”
He told MPs: “Now is the moment to come together and write a new and exciting chapter in our national story.
“To forge a new partnership with our European friends, to stand tall in the world, and to begin the healing for which the whole people of this country yearn.”
Johnson was able to secure parliamentary support for the WAB at its first reading before the general election.
However, MPs voted against the government’s plan to ram through all Brexit legislation in the space of just a few days.
The vote today means that the UK is on course to leave the EU by the end of next month.
House of Commons committees will scrutinise the bill early in the New Year before it completes its passage into law.
Brexit is set to take place on January 31 after Johnson reached a revised deal with Brussels in October.
Johnson sees off angry opposition to take Britain one step closer to Brexit
Opposition MPs were furious with the government prior to Friday’s vote, because the published text of the WAB showed that Johnson had removed previous commitments relating to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
Since being returned to power, Johnson’s government has included legal provisions to prevent any transition period being extended beyond December 2020.
As things stand, the UK will enter a 11-month transition after leaving the EU, during which it will continue to follow EU rules. The two sides will try to negotiate a new free agreement deal during this time.
Most trade experts say it is very unlikely that negotiators will be able to secure a comprehensive trade deal in less than a year. This could leave the UK dealing with the EU on costly World Trade Organisation rules in around a year’s time.
Before the election, Johnson said that MPs would vote on whether the UK would extend the transition period to avoid this outcome. However, under the terms of the updated WAB, that is no longer the case.
It also doesn’t include previous assurances over the role Parliament would play in scrutinising the UK’s trade talks with the EU.
The prime minister previously said that MPs would vote to approve both the UK’s negotiating objectives and any final deal.
Opposition MPs were 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.
Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, said that removing the pledge on child refugees was a “moral disgrace.” Johnson insisted that his government remains committed to taking in unaccompanied child refugees.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe