Brexit: UK quits European Union on 31 January


Brexit is finished. It was more than three-and-a-half years ago that the majority of the UK population voted to leave the European Union (EU) bloc of countries.

Now both houses of the UK Parliament led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who secured an overwhelming majority campaigning for Brexit at the December general election, has voted that it will end its association with the European Union on 31 January.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) will become law when it receives royal assent today or tomorrow. Then the new law has to be ratified by the European Parliament in a vote on 29 January, which will be a formality.

“At times, it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it,” Johnson told Parliament.

“Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future – with better hospitals and schools, safer streets and opportunity spread to every corner of our country.”

The ease and silence with which the Brexit bill was passed was breathtaking when you take into account the political rancour, double-dealing and dirty crossing that cost Theresa May her position as Prime Minister and caused the biggest upheaval of the UK political landscape. Johnson, who was crushed repeatedly even by his own colleagues, is now the supremely confident Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson The look of a Prime Minister who has lost the first three votes he put forward in the House of Commons, London. Photo: Twitter

The House of Lords amended five parts of the WAB and each one was voted down by the House of Commons. Then the House of Lords passed the bill, The Telegraph reported.

  • The amendment to provide EU citizens with physical documents to prove their rights related to residence was voted down 338 votes to 252;
  • The rights of UK courts to diverge from EU law after Brexit was voted down by 348 to 246 votes;
  • The amendment over powers of ministers to decide when to use or set aside judgements by the European Court of Justice was defeated by 350 votes to 247;
  • The amendment to ensure the rights of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families in the UK after Brexit was defeated by 342 votes to 254;
  • The amendment that recognise the principle that Parliament should act in accordance with the Sewel Convention was also voted down by 349 to 246.

The UK will be the first member state to leave the EU. The UK will then go into a transition period that is scheduled to end on 31 December 2020.

During this period the UK will effectively remain in the EU’s customs union and single market but will be outside the political institutions and there will be no British members of the European Parliament.

Johnson’s first priority will be to negotiate a trade deal with the EU. The UK wants as much access as possible for its goods and services to the EU.

Things have changed remarkably in UK politics to the extent that Johnson now looks like a normal human being. For the first time this year he asked his 1.48 million Twitter followers to ask him a question. There were more than 1,500 questions and Johnson spent 15 minutes answering them. If you watch the video, there are some important and rather unimportant questions.

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