British lawmakers set to vote to hold their first major vote Friday on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
The vote to approve the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in principle will set Britain to leave the European Union as scheduled on Jan. 31. next year
It will be a moment of triumph for Johnson, who won majority in general election on promise to end three years of political rift over Brexit.
Opening debate on the bill, Johnson said optimistically that after Jan, 31, “Brexit will be done, it will be over.”
British lawmakers voted narrowly to leave the EU in a 2016 referendum.
But previous attempts to pass a Brexit deal through the U.K. Parliament foundered as lawmakers objected to sections of the agreement and demanded a bigger say in the process.
Johnson’s election victory finally gives him the power to get his way.
The bill commits Britain to leaving the EU on Jan. 31 and to concluding trade talks with the bloc by the end of 2020.
Trade experts and EU officials say striking a free trade deal within 11 months will be a struggle.
That has set off alarm bells among businesses, who fear that means the country will face a “no-deal” Brexit at the start of 2021.
Economists say that would disrupt trade with the EU — Britain’s biggest trading partner — and plunge the U.K. into recession.
Johnson was confident of striking a “deep, special and democratically accountable partnership with those nations we are proud to call our closest friends.”
Johnson has stripped out parts of the Brexit bill which gave lawmakers a role in negotiating a future trade deal.
However, The clauses added in an attempt to win opposition lawmakers’ support.
A promise that workers’ rights will not be eroded after Brexit has also been removed, though the government says it will enshrine employment rights in separate legislation.
British Politician Jeremy Corbyn view
Jeremy Corbyn said 203 lawmakers would oppose the bill because of “the reckless direction in which the government to take our country.”
“There is a better and fairer way for this country to leave the European Union,” he said.
Even without opposition votes, the bill expected to complete its passage through Parliament in January, in time for Britain to leave the 28-nation bloc on Jan. 31.
The divorce deal also needs to be ratified by the European Parliament. European Parliament vice president Pedro Silva Pereira said officials expect that to happen by Jan. 29.
Very little will change immediately after Brexit. Britain will remain an EU member in all but name during the 11-month transition period that ends in December 2020.