Boris Johnson says UK has passed Brexit 'finish line' as flagship bill passes final parliamentary hurdle

Posted On: 
22nd January 2020

Britain has crossed the "Brexit finish line", Boris Johnson has claimed, as both Houses of Parliament passed his flagship EU agreement.

The House of Lords allowed the Withdrawal Agreement to pass unamended
PA Images

The Prime Minister said the country could now "move forwards as one United Kingdom" after peers bowed to the will of the Commons and allowed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to go through.

Mr Johnson said: "Parliament has passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, meaning we will leave the EU on 31 January and move forwards as one United Kingdom.

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"At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we've done it. Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future."

The upbeat message from the Prime Minister came as the landmark legislation cleared its final parliamentary hurdle.

It is now expected to get Royal Assent and enter the statute book, enshrining the UK’s departure from the EU on Friday, 31 January.

MPs had voted to remove five amendments to the WAB added by peers, including Labour peer Lord Dubs's attempt to ensure the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families in the UK post-Brexit.

Writing for PoliticsHome ahead of the vote he said: “Children deserve our protection.

“The UK has a long humanitarian tradition which meant that 81 years ago my life, and the life of 10,000 other refugee children like me, was saved when we fled war and the Holocaust.

“There can be no-one more deserving of our compassion and protection than the refugee children of today.”

But the Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay told the Commons: "Primary legislation cannot deliver the best outcomes for these children as it cannot guarantee that we reach an agreement.

“And that is why this is ultimately a matter which must be negotiated with the EU and the Government is committed to seeking the best possible outcome in those negotiations."

The amendment, plus four others, were easily reversed by the Government with majorities ranging from 86 to 103.

After peers decided not to attempt to re-introduce the amendments, Mr Barclay said: “As we promised in the General Election, the legislation has now cleared Parliament, we’re on track to leave on 31 January, and get Brexit done.”