Historic moment as Brexit Bill is FINALLY set to be signed off by MPs

Historic moment as Brexit Bill is FINALLY set to be signed off by MPs – with only the Lords stages to go before the UK leaves the EU on January 31

  • The EU Withdrawal Bill is due to be given its third reading in the Commons later
  • It will mean the legislation has passed all its stages with only the Lords to go
  • Result of crunch vote is not in doubt following the crushing Tory election victory 

Brexit will come a step closer today as legislation enshrining Boris Johnson’s divorce deal is finally approved by MPs.

Key dates in the run-up to Brexit  

Today: EU Withdrawal Bill is due to clear its final Commons stages.

Next week: The legislation moves to the House of Lords, where Remainer peers are expected to table a wave of amendments.

January 22: Ministers expect the EU Withdrawal Bill to complete its progress by around this point, and receive Royal Assent.

11pm, January 31: The UK formally leaves the EU – although it will stay bound to the bloc’s rules for at least another 11 months during the transition period. 

After more than three years of bitter wrangling, the historic EU Withdrawal Bill is set to get its third reading this afternoon.

The vote will be a crucial moment in the long-running process, with just the House of Lords left to navigate before the UK leaves the EU on January 31.

Unlike previous knife-edge Commons votes on Brexit, the result is not in doubt following the Tories’ crushing election victory before Christmas.

The action will shift to the Upper chamber next week, where Remainer peers are expected to table a wave of amendments.

However, ministers are confident that the Lords will bow to the will of the elected House by around January 22.

Although the UK’s legal departure from the bloc now looks certain on January 31, the struggle over future trade terms is only just getting started. 

The new EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen came to London yesterday for her first face-to-face talks with Mr Johnson.

Brexit will come a step closer today as legislation enshrining the divorce deal struck by Boris Johnson (pictured in Downing Street yesterday) is finally approved by MPs

Unlike previous knife-edge Commons votes on Brexit, the result is not in doubt following the Tories’ crushing election victory before Christmas

After more than three years of bitter wrangling, the historic EU Withdrawal Bill is set to get its third reading this afternoon

She was accompanied by chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who will now head trade discussions after managing the divorce stage.  

But the two sides struck distinctly different positions, with Mr Johnson insisting the transition period – an effective standstill when the UK is still bound by EU rules – will not be extended beyond 2020.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: ‘The PM reiterated that we wanted a broad free trade agreement covering goods and services, and co-operation in other areas.

‘The PM was clear that the UK would not extend the Implementation Period beyond 31 December 2020; and that any future partnership must not involve any kind of alignment or ECJ (European Court of Justice) jurisdiction.’

But Mrs von der Leyen said the end-of-year deadline would limit what could be agreed on trade. 

During a speech at the London School of Economics, where she spent a year in hiding as a student in the late 1970s after becoming a target of the left-wing terrorist Baader-Meinhof gang, that a full deal would not be achievable. 

She said: ‘Without an extension of the transition period beyond 2020 you cannot expect to agree on every single aspect of our new partnership. We will have to prioritise.’ 

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has risked irritating hardline Eurosceptic Tory MPs after it emerged a request for Big Ben to chime to mark Brexit on January 31 has yet to be made.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who chairs the Commons Commission, has previously suggested he would not personally block such a request if the House wishes it to happen.

Boris Johnson welcomed the new EU boss Ursula von der Leyen to Downing Street for talks yesterday afternoon

Mr Johnson told new EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen yesterday in No10 (pictured) that the end of 2020 must be treated as a hard deadline for striking a post-Brexit trade deal between the EU and UK

Conservative former minister Mark Francois has also led efforts within parliament for Big Ben to bong at 11pm on January 31 to mark the UK’s departure from the EU.

He has tabled an early day motion (EDM), which has attracted 55 signatures, and proposed an amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill although it was not selected for debate.

Sir Paul Beresford, answering a written parliamentary question on behalf of the Commission, said: ‘The House of Commons Commission has not received a request from the Government to arrange for Big Ben to chime to mark the UK’s departure from the EU.’

He added the commission is ‘aware’ of the EDM and ‘further aware’ of the amendment which was tabled.

Sir Paul added: ‘In May 2018, the commission agreed that, during the Elizabeth Tower refurbishment project, Big Ben should sound only for Remembrance Sunday, Armistice Day and over the New Year.’ 

Big Ben’s bongs were temporarily silenced in 2017 for the safety of workers involved in a four-year restoration scheme of the Elizabeth Tower.

 

 

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