MPs vote in favour of UK-EU trade deal to usher in new relationship with world's largest trade bloc

Wed 30 Dec 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

brexit bill

After ten months of tense negotiations between the UK and EU, MPs have today voted in favour of the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill by 521 votes to 73. 

Parliament is expected to fast-track the passing of the bill, provided there are no major last-minute controversies.

Both the Labour leadership and hardline Conservative ‘Brexiteers’ have voted for it.

What happens next?

While it is not unusual for bills to pass through both houses in a single day, this has not happened since 2007.

The draft legislation – submitted to parliament on Tuesday – is being debated and voted on in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and should receive Royal Assent just before midnight. 

Assent by midnight

With most MPs participating remotely, Hansard said the amendment stages could prove to be “a damp squib”.

Not many MPs are pursuing amendments due to the lack of time given for scrutinising the bill, drafting amendments and building support.

The final vote in the Lords could take place as late as 11pm, with royal assent scheduled to be granted close to midnight.

MEPs still to vote

Ratification in Westminster is not the end of the process since the European Parliament's approval is also required.

MEPs are not expected to ratify the deal before March 2021. EU ambassadors on Monday unanimously approved a provisional application of the deal until February 28. 

European Commission and European Council presidents Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel signed the future relationship treaty in Brussels this morning.

It was flown to London in a RAF plane, accompanied by EU and UK officials, before being signed by Boris Johnson in Downing Street in the afternoon.

New relationship

Boris Johnson described the passing of the bill as starting a "new relationship" between the UK with the EU.

He said the country can now strike free trade deals around the world and reassert “global Britain as a liberal, outward-looking force for good”.

Johnson added that Brexit is “not a rupture but a resolution, a resolution of the old and vexed question of Britain’s political relations with Europe".