Boris Johnson secures Brexit! EU set to rubber-stamp deal as Queen signs it into UK law

EXPRESS.CO.UK

After years of Westminster wrangling, the Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill is expected to be enshrined in law by gaining the Royal Assent on Thursday.

MPs on Wednesday rejected five last-ditch amendments to the legislation made by the House of Lords.

And peers shied away from a constitutional clash by accepting the verdict of the Commons and dropping the amendments.

Their climbdown meant the Prime Minister’s deal with Brussels was formally ratified and the UK’s departure from the EU a week today is set to become law.

Hailing the end of the long Westminster war over Brexit, the Prime Minister said: “Parliament has passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, meaning we will leave the EU on 31 January and move forward as one United Kingdom.

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

“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.”

 

Mr Johnson is expected to finalise the ratification process with EU chiefs before personally signing the historic Withdrawal Agreement.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel are expected to sign the deal in Brussels on Friday while the Prime Minister will add his signature in the coming days.

The European Parliament is set to rubber stamp the deal next Wednesday.

Once the legal process has been completed, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and EU chiefs will sign an “instrument of ratification” that will be deposited in Brussels to turn the Brexit deal into international law in time for the country’s departure from the bloc at 11pm on 31 January.

A Number 10 source said: “The British people have waited more than three years to get Brexit done.

“Passing the Withdrawal Agreement allows us to do this in an orderly way on January 31 and the whole UK to move forward to a partnership with the EU based on an ambitious free trade agreement with no alignment.”

Peace was declared in the long parliamentary war over Brexit at 6.20pm when the Lords backed a series of motions accepting the Commons decision earlier on Wednesday to reject their amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Silence greeted a call for those who were “not content” with the motions to make their opposition heard. The decision spared Parliament a bout of “ping pong” with the legislation being scuttled back and forth between the two chambers in a stand-off over the amendments.

Speaking in the upper chamber, Brexit minister Lord Callanan said: “We are at the end of what seems like a very long road. The final stages of this Bill represent something which many of us thought might never happen – Parliament passing the legislation necessary to implement a Brexit deal and to finally deliver on the 2016 referendum.”

Brexit deal and to finally deliver on the 2016 referendum.”

 

He added: “I know many on the benches opposite are disappointed that the Commons has chosen to disagree with all of the amendments that peers passed this week.

“I would, however, like to reassure peers that their expertise, their contributions will continue to play a valuable role after Brexit.

“Following our exit, this House will see more legislation on a range of topics connected to the departure from the European Union. In some cases, it will be the first time in decades that the UK has legislated on some of these matters.”

Earlier, MPs had rejected five changes made by the Lords to the legislation including a clause proposed by the Labour peer Lord Dubs providing extra guarantees for the protection of child refugees.

Peers had also defeated the Government on the rights of EU workers legally residing in the UK to have physical proof of their right to remain and the power of courts to depart from European Court of Justice rulings.

They also backed a proposal underlining a commitment that the UK Parliament “will not normally” legislate for devolved matters without the consent of the devolved legislature affected.

All five amendments were comfortably reversed by MPs, with majorities ranging from 86 to 103 on Wednesday.

During the Commons debate on the amendments on Wednesday, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said the Government could not accept the Lords amendment on citizens’ rights as it would make the EU Settlement Scheme “null and void”.

Mr Barclay said: “This amendment would mean the successful EU Settlement Scheme in its current form would need to be abandoned. This is because there would be no need to register if people could later rely on a declaration that they were already in the UK.

 

“This would make null and void the 2.8 million applications and the 2.5 million grants of status which have already been completed.”

Mr Barclay said the amendment would also mean the Government would be unable to issue “more secure” digital documentation without physical documentation, adding: “This would increase the risk of fraud and raises the issue of cost to the Government and citizens.”

On child refugees, Mr Barclay defended the Government’s record before claiming: “Primary legislation cannot deliver the best outcomes for these children as it cannot guarantee that we reach an agreement and that is why this is ultimately a matter which must be negotiated with the EU and the Government is committed to seeking the best possible outcome in those negotiations.”

Labour MP Yvette Cooper said: “That is what makes us all suspicious, that he wants to remove it because there’s some reason why he thinks it will restrict what he wants to do and therefore that he’s going to, in the end, betray the commitments that have been made to the most vulnerable children of all.”

Shadow Brexit minister Thangam Debbonaire also said: “The Government’s predecessor government has got form on this, promising to take 3,000 children on the Dubs scheme, as originally committed to, and taking fewer than 500 in the end.”

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