Johnson’s Brexit deal one step closer as it clears Commons hurdle

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Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal has cleared the Commons, taking the prime minister one step closer to his commitment to “get Brexit done”.

After three days of debate and several defeated amendments, MPs voted to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through committee stage and third reading by 330 votes to 231.

It will now go to the House of Lords where members have been warned by the prime minister not to make any changes to his bill, which would slow the process down.

If the bill goes through the Lords without any changes, it can progress to Royal Assent.

But if the Lords makes amendments, these would have to be considered in the Commons.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “The country did deliver a very clear message that they want Brexit to be resolved.”

While the prime minister has secured a strong majority in the Commons, he does not enjoy the same advantage in the upper chamber, and while Theresa May was leader, the Lords repeatedly dealt blows to her administration.

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But the PM’s spokesman said today’s result was a “significant positive step” to the target.

Downing St has said it is ready to begin negotiations for a trade deal to be in place by December 2020, which is when the transition period will end.

But Brussels has been less sure that a deal will be finalised on the ambitious timeline, with new European Commission chief saying the bloc and the UK would have to prioritise elements of the deal.

The chief negotiator Michel Barnier has also said the UK’s market access could be limited unless it agreed to conditions on subsidies.

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He said: “If the UK wants an open link with us for the products – zero tariffs, zero quotas – we need to be careful about zero dumping at the same time.

“I hope that this point is and will be correctly understood by everybody. We will ask necessarily certain conditions on state aid policy in the UK.”

He added: “We cannot expect to agree on every aspect of this new partnership. We are ready to do our best in the 11 months.”

Before the bill was passed, another amendment was defeated in the Commons. The SNP’s amendment for the bill to fall because the Scottish Parliament refused its consent was rejected.

Labour abstained from the vote.

Announcing the bill for its final reading, Steve Barclay, the Brexit secretary, said the bill going through the reading would “once and for all deliver on the mandate given to us not once, but twice, in June 2016 and December 2019”.

Mr Barclay faced one interjection during his speech, as Mark Francois, a Brexiteer MP, raised the question of whether Big Ben will strike at 11pm on 31 January to mark the moment Britain leaves the EU.

He was told it would be for the House authorities to decide.

Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal one step closer as it clears House of Commons hurdle

Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal has cleared the Commons, taking the prime minister one step closer to his commitment to “get Brexit done”. After three days of debate and several defeated amendments, MPs voted to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through committee stage and third reading by 330 votes to 231.

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