British Parliament Passes Brexit Bill Allowing Jan. 31 Date for Withdrawal from E.U.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a lawmakers meeting to elect a speaker, in London, Britain December 17, 2019. (Jessica Taylor/Handout via Reuters)

The U.K. House of Commons on Thursday passed a law allowing the country to separate from the European Union by January 31.

In a vote of 330-231, elected lawmakers approved the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which determines the parameters of Britain’s separation.  The bill will make its way to the unelected House of Lords, which cannot overturn the legislation but can delay its passage into law.

“I have no doubt that their lordships will have heard the resounding message from the British people on the 12th of December,” commented Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay. On that day Brits voted an overwhelming conservative majority into Parliament, handing the opposition Labour Party its worst defeat in decades.

The election and the bill’s passage were resounding victories for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has repeatedly pledged to “get Brexit done.” The U.K. voted in 2016 to leave the E.U., however Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May was unable to pass legislation authorizing the separation.

If the U.K. withdraws on January 31 as expected, the country will then have to renegotiate its trading relationship with the 28-member E.U. bloc.

“We cannot expect to agree on every aspect of this new partnership,” E.U. Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told the AP. However, “we are ready to do our best in the 11 months.”

In December several days after his victory, Johnson once again pledged to move the country toward separation.

“Now is the time to act together as one reinvigorated nation, one United Kingdom, filled with renewed confidence in our national destiny and determined at last to take advantage of the opportunities that now lie before us,” Johnson said at the time.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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