Boris Johnson's Christmas gift: January 31 Brexit
More than three years since Britain voted to exit the EU in a 2016 referendum.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson won approval for his Brexit deal in parliament on Friday, the first step towards fulfilling his election pledge to deliver Britain's departure from the European Union by January 31 after his landslide victory.
Lawmakers voted by 358 to 234 passed the second reading of the legislation, underlining Johnson's large majority in parliament that should ensure a smooth ratification of the divorce deal to implement Britain's biggest policy shift in more than 40 years.
More than three years since Britain voted to exit the EU in a 2016 referendum, the deep uncertainty over Brexit has now been replaced by the firm deadline of the end of January. Only after that will the prime minister face talks to secure a trade deal with the bloc and another target date of the end of next year.
Getting "the Brexit vote wrapped up for Christmas" was the main aim for Johnson showing that, unlike his predecessor Theresa May, he now had free reign to drive Brexit forward despite continued criticism from opposition lawmakers. "This is the time when we move on and discard the old labels of 'leave' and 'remain' ... now is the time to act together as one reinvigorated nation, one United Kingdom," Johnson told parliament before the vote.
What happens after the Brexit bill is passed?
>After 11pm on January 31, the UK will enter the point of no return, where revoking article 50, the formal exit process, is no longer possible
>If all goes to plan, the European parliament will ratify the withdrawal agreement on January 29, 2020, paving the way for Brexit two days later
>The UK will enter an 11-month transition period, to allow both Britain and EU to work out future relationship
>The UK will remain in the customs union and single market, but it will be outside political institutions
>During this period, EU citizens will be able to work in the UK and British citizens can do the same in any EU state
>The withdrawal agreement bill gives Boris Johnson 30 days to publish his negotiating objectives
>Talks on setting up a border in the Irish Sea can begin from February 1
>The government has the option before July 1 to ask for an extension of the transition period
>The UK must pass new legislation in key areas like agriculture, environment, trade, fisheries and finance
>A trading arrangement for goods and some services will be reached by the end of 2020
>Once the transition ends on December 31, 2020, there are likely to be numerous questions to resolve. It means Brexit may not be achieved for years
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