Johnson’s Brexit Deal Clears Parliament With Just Hours to Spare
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal was approved by the U.K. Parliament less than 24 hours before the country’s final split from the European Union.
The House of Lords gave the green light to the agreement late Wednesday, just a day before the U.K. leaves the EU single market when the transition period expires at 11 p.m. Thursday.
Johnson thanked members of Parliament for backing the “historic” legislation, which turns the accord he signed with the EU into British law.
“The destiny of this great country now resides firmly in our hands,” Johnson said in an emailed statement after the deal was approved. “We take on this duty with a sense of purpose and with the interests of the British public at the heart of everything we do.”
The rush to get the agreement through Parliament in a single day brings to an end a four-year saga that has gripped British politics and divided the country.
Since the referendum vote in June 2016, the turmoil over Brexit has forced two prime ministers toresign, roiled markets, and seen the U.K.’s relationship with its biggest trading partner radically redefined.
For Johnson it is a personal achievement as well as a political milestone. He was the face of the pro-Brexit campaign in 2016 and had the most to lose politically from failure to deliver an orderly divorce.
There are still risks for Johnson — and for Britain — in the months and years ahead, with new rules for trade and checks on goods crossing the border likely to make disruption inevitable. The question of how close or distant the U.K. should be to the EU market is set to become a permanent feature of British political debate.
It’s Not Over: Major Issues the Brexit Deal Leaves Unresolved
In the short term, however, the deal gives Johnson a domestic victory at a difficult time. His government is battling aresurgent coronavirus that has already inflicted the deepest recession for more than 300 years and now threatens to overwhelm the health service.
Under the agreement, there will be zero-tariff, zero-quota trade in goods between Britain and the EU — but very limited provisions for services firms, which account for 80% of the U.K. economy.
The deal — struck on Christmas Eve — was signed Wednesday by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, before being flown to London to be inked by Johnson.
By signing this deal, we fulfill the sovereign wish of the British people to live under their own laws, made by their own elected Parliament.5:18 PM · Dec 30, 2020
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