Britain's Brexit bill passes final hurdle in Parliament

Marco Green
January 23, 2020

The legislation now just needs Royal Assent to be granted by the Queen to officially be made into law, plus the deal needs to be approved by the European Parliament.

The wrangling didn't stop the Brexit bill from becoming law, because the House of Commons can override the unelected Lords.

The U.K. voted narrowly to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum, but after years of negotiations lawmakers repeatedly defeated attempts by both Johnson and predecessor May to secure backing for their Brexit plans.

"Passing the WAB allows us to do this in an orderly way on January 31", Johnson's spokesman said.

This is a developing story.

MPs in the lower House of Commons had already backed the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which ratifies the divorce deal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson struck with Brussels previous year.

After peers decided not to attempt to re-introduce the amendments, Mr Barclay said: "As we promised in the General Election, the legislation has now cleared Parliament, we're on track to leave on 31 January, and get Brexit done".

He added: "At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we've done it".

All the measures were rejected by the Commons.

Alf Dubs, a Labour Party member of the Lords who came from Nazi-occupied Europe to Britain as a child refugee, said the government was sending a "very negative" signal.

MPs also removed an amendment made by the Lords to force the British government to let unaccompanied migrant children in European Union countries join relatives living in the UK. Once passed, the terms of the withdrawal deal - on the UK's financial obligations, citizens' rights, and arrangements for Northern Ireland - will have the force of an global treaty.

What has changed with Boris Johnson's Brexit bill?

But the shape of that future relationship remains unresolved - and negotiating it could pose an even bigger challenge than agreeing the divorce.

On Wednesday, the prime minister gave an "emphatic" assurance to the DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson about unfettered trade. Downing Street said it expects European Council President Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen to sign the agreement in Brussels on Friday, following which it comes back for Johnson's signature in the UK.

He wants to both preserve free-flowing commerce between Britain and its largest trading partner across the Channel, and strike agreements with other countries - namely the United States.

But while United Kingdom finance minister Sajid Javid admitted on Wednesday that it was a "tight timetable", he said that it could be done.

Johnson's office denied a row with Washington over London's proposed tax on tech giants would affect trade negotiations after Brexit, saying: "It's not part of the discussions".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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