Boris Johnson vows to end Brexit ‘delay and rancour’ as MPs vote on Withdrawal Agreement Bill

Posted On: 
20th December 2019

Boris Johnson has urged MPs to end “years of delay and rancour” as he called on them to back his plan to leave the European Union in a crucial Commons vote.

MPs will cast their verdict on the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill on Friday.

The EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill will undergo its first and second reading on Friday, the first time MPs have been asked to vote on the deal with Brussels since the Prime Minister secured a Conservative majority at the election.

The Bill, which must be passed in order to give legal effect to the UK's departure from the EU, was introduced in Thursday’s Queen’s Speech, and MPs will get the chance to debate it before voting on its general principles.

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MPs approved a similar version of the legislation in October, but the Government pulled it after the Commons voted down Mr Johnson's attempts to force it through Parliament in three days.

Speaking ahead of Friday’s debate, Mr Johnson said: "We will deliver on the promise we made to the people and get the Brexit vote wrapped up for Christmas."

And he added: "After years of delay and rancour in Parliament, we will deliver certainty and hard-working businesses and people across this country will have a firm foundation on which to plan for the future.

"Next year will be a great year for our country - the year we get Brexit done, boost NHS funding, invest in infrastructure and level up access to opportunity and prosperity across our great nation."

The Government’s majority means the bill will pass the Commons easily, with three further days of debate set aside in the New Year for its remaining stages before Brexit on 31 January.

The new-look Withdrawal Agreement Bill includes a number of changes compared to the version drawn up before the election, including a new clause which will prevent ministers from extending the Brexit transition period beyond the end of 2020.

That move comes after a Conservative manifesto pledge not to prolong the arrangement, in which the UK will broadly adhere to EU rules and trade on existing terms, beyond 31 December next year.

That timetable to strike a replacement trade deal with Brussels has already been described as “extremely challenging” by the newly-appointed president of the European Commission. 

Speaking on Thursday, Ursula von der Leyen said: "It will end by December 2020, which leaves us very little time.

"In case we cannot conclude an agreement by the end of 2020, we will face again a cliff-edge situation.

"And this would clearly harm our interest - but it will impact more the UK than us."

The revised bill also ditchess a clause on strengthening workers' rights, designed to win over Labour MPs before the Tories gained a majority. The Government says employment protections will be bolstered in separate legislation.

The new-look legislation has meanwhile ditched a requirement to report on the progress of talks every three months, and adds a role for the House of Lords in scrutinising new EU laws.