Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal with Brussels has passed the House of Commons as the government tries to rush through complex legislation in just 14 hours.
The prime minister described the landmark agreement as “not a break but a resolution”, before deputies voted through the European Union (future relationship) bill by 521 votes to 73, a majority of 448.
It meant the bill continued in the House of Lords and is expected to receive royal approval shortly before midnight.
That would pave the way for the deal to go into effect at 11 p.m. Thursday, when the Brexit transition period ends.
Parliament was summoned for a one-day emergency session to approve the EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement, signed by Johnson and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Christmas Eve.
Conservative, Labor and Scottish National Party MPs criticized the government for allowing so little time for parliamentary scrutiny of the bill.
Johnson opened the debate on the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU shortly after 10am on Wednesday.
Johnson’s deal was easily passed with Labor support, though the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) voted against it.
The prime minister told MPs that the deal would redefine the UK’s relationship with the EU. “We are taking this moment to forge a fantastic new relationship with our European neighbors, based on free trade and friendly cooperation,” he said.
“We have done this in less than a year, in the midst of a pandemic, and we have continued with this task, resisting all calls of delay, precisely because creating certainty about our future provides the best opportunity to beat Covid and recover even more. strong next year. “
Most of the Conservative Eurosceptic MPs were jubilant. Sir Bill Cash, who founded the Maastricht Referendum Campaign in the early 1990s, said: “Like Alexander the Great, Boris has cut the Gordian knot.”
Mark Francois, one of the self-described Spartans who opposed Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement, told fellow Eurosceptics that they could now “lower their spears.”
The Labor Party backed the deal, despite the misgivings of 37 MPs who defied the party’s whip to abstain or vote against.
Keir Starmer, the party leader, described the deal as “thin” but told the Commons that Labor would back it because the alternative would be devastating for Britain.
“It is often said that there is nothing simple about Brexit, but the choice that the house has today is perfectly simple,” he said. “Do we implement the treaty that has been agreed with the EU or not?
“That is the choice. If we choose not to, the result is clear. We left the transition period without an agreement, without an agreement on safety, trade, fisheries, without protection for our manufacturing sector, for agriculture, for countless British companies and without a foothold to build a future relationship with the EU.
“Anyone who chooses that option today knows that there is no time to renegotiate.”
Three minor shadow ministers, Helen Hayes, Tonia Antoniazzi and Florence Eshalomi, resigned after abstaining from the bill. Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a Labor MP from Streatham, voted against the deal.
The trade and cooperation agreement with the EU has more than 1,200 pages. The invoice is 80 pages.
The Hansard Society, the leading group of procedural experts, posted a blog by its lead researcher, Brigid Fowler, describing the process as “a sham.”
Former Conservative Brexit secretary David Davis said the deal left “issues to be addressed,” such as Northern Ireland, fisheries and Gibraltar. He told the Commons: “It is not over. Everything will lead to awkward decisions in the near future. “
Davis said that one day was not enough to deal with a 1,200-page treaty and that it should be given more time for the UK to develop its strategy.
“The EU will use the treaty for its own benefit … We have to go back to this treaty and analyze it in detail in the 1,200 pages so as not to conflict, not fall into traps, not understand in bitter disputes with them [the EU],” he said.
Nearly all Conservative MPs approved the deal, although former cabinet ministers Owen Paterson and John Redwood abstained. Paterson, a former secretary for Northern Ireland, said he was “very divided” over the deal because the region was divided from the rest of the UK.
“I would love to vote for this today, but I can’t really vote for a measure that actually divides the UK as a different tax regime as part of the customs union that will be under the ECJ, single market, etc.” he said.
Opposition to the SNP and DUP bill appeared to be a sign that Brexit has increased tensions on the union.
Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP in Westminster, said many Scots would rather live in the EU than in a “broken Britain”.
Hours earlier, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, formally signed the agreement.
After a brief ceremony in Brussels, the leather-bound documents were transferred to London by the RAF to be signed by Johnson.
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