Majority back deal
Brexit Bill wins MPs vote as Boris hails new era
Boris Johnson signing the deal in Downing Street
The UK was set for a new era laced with a potent mixture of optimism and uncertainty after MPs voted overwhelmingly to support Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal and finally terminate the country’s membership of the EU.
The Bill setting out the terms of the divorce cleared its major hurdle in the House of Commons as MPs voted by 521 to 73, a majority of 448, to approve it. The new trading arrangements come into effect at 11pm on Thursday night.
A debate and vote will took place in House of Lords before the Queen gave it the royal seal of approval.
The 1,246-page document arrived in London on an RAF jet after being signed by EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and EU council president Charles Michel in Brussels this morning. Mr Johnson later added his signature in Downing Street.
Earlier, during a five-hour Commons debate he said decades of tensions with the EU had been ‘resolved’, allowing Britain to become free trading power, and ‘force for good’.
Deputy speaker Eleanor Laing and the historic vote
He shrugged off claims that leaving the single market and customs union would leave Britain worse off, declaring that it should mean “even more” business being done.
Stating that the Bill would ratify one of the biggest trade agreements in the world, he said: “Having taken back control of our money, our borders, our laws and our waters by leaving the European Union on January 31, we now seize this moment to forge a fantastic new relationship with our European neighbours based on free trade and friendly co-operation.”
Mr Johnson was keen to stress that Britain and the EU nations remain firm friends. “What we sought was not a rupture but a resolution, a resolution of the old and vexed question of Britain’s political relations with Europe, which bedevilled our post-War history,” he said.
Paraphrasing Churchill, he said: “Brexit is not an end but a beginning.
“The responsibility now rests with all of us to make the best use of the powers that we regain, the tools that we’ve taken back into our hands.”
As a repudiation of those who accused him of letting down the fishing communities, he said that for the first time since 1973 the UK would be an independent coastal nation, stressing that in five and a half years time Britain will have full control of its waters.
The deal will be in place until the end of February, pending final approval by the European Parliament to make it permanent.
Ian Blackford, Westminster leader of the SNP MPs who voted against the Bill, once again claimed Brexit has already cost Scotland billions of pounds.
But business leaders lined up to welcome the Commons vote.
The UK offshore oil and gas industry said it is important that any friction and red tape is kept to a minimum whist ensuring it also reinforces the opportunity to pursue an exciting energy future.
OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “OGUK has consistently stated that a deal would be the best outcome for our industry. We therefore welcome the agreement and thank both the UK and EU for their efforts in securing this trade deal.
“We look forward to progressing the North Sea Transition Deal in the new year, which was supported in the government’s Energy White Paper and will unlock the full potential of our changing sector as a partner to deliver net zero.”
After rising strongly yesterday the FTSE 100 closed down 46.83 points (0.71%) at 6,555.82.