LONDON, December 20. /TASS/. The UK House of Commons has voted for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bill to allow the country to exit the European Union on January 31, 2020. The EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill was supported by 358 MPs, while 234 opposed the divorce bill.
The UK parliament was recently stuck in a gridlock, failing to approve the EU exit deal four times. The previous prime minister, Theresa May, lost all the three attempts to get her deal through parliament, while Boris Johnson also could not secure support for his version of the divorce agreement at the first attempt even though MPs approved it in the first reading in October but then refused to fast track it to meet the previous deadline for departing from the EU on October 31.
Faced with such a divided parliament, Johnson called a snap election and won a landslide victory last week securing a majority of 80 in the House of Commons. Therefore, when parliament was asked to vote for the deal to be approved in its second reading, there was little doubt that it would be supported. This actually happened when MPs backed the agreement on just the second day of sitting after parliament’s ceremonial reopening.
Confident in the success of the vote, Johnson introduced tougher provisions to his deal, particularly outlawing any extension to the transitional period that comes immediately after the UK legally leaves the EU and expires on December 31, 2020. The sides are supposed to reach a trade agreement during that time.
According to the Brexit deal agreed by Johnson and the EU in October, the transitional period could be extended once by up to two years. Many British experts believe that 11 months is not enough to reach a free-trade agreement between Great Britain and the European Union — a pledge made by Boris Johnson during his election campaign.
The vote concludes the 2019 parliamentary business, as MPs leave for Christmas and New Year holidays. The British government expects that the bill will be agreed by both chambers of parliament in the coming weeks and Queen Elizabeth II will give to it her royal assent allowing the UK to depart from the European Union.