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British parliament approves Brexit Bill, set to become law

Jan '20
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
British lawmakers yesterday approved the terms of their country’s departure from the European Union (EU). The EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), which paves the way for the United Kingdom to leave the bloc on January 31, is awaiting royal assent, expected today.

Top EU officials are expected to sign the agreement in the coming days, while members of the European Parliament will vote on it next week.

Members (MPS) in the lower House of Commons had already backed the EU Bill, which ratifies the divorce deal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson struck with Brussels last year. But the upper House of Lords made some changes recently, including on the rights of EU citizens and child refugees after Brexit.

In a series of votes, the lower house—where Johnson's Conservative Party has a large majority—rejected all five amendments and sent the bill back to the upper house, which then backed down, according to global newswires.

The development is being widely perceived as a huge personal achievement for Johnson, who took office last year promising to end years of political stalemate over Brexit.

His predecessor, Theresa May, negotiated a Brexit deal in 2018 but the lower house rejected it thrice, forcing her to resign.

One amendment suggested by the upper house sought to alter the government's scheme to register around 3.6 million EU citizens living in Britain, to give them physical documents proving their right to stay. Another would have required the UK government to negotiate the right of unaccompanied child refugees in the EU to join relatives in Britain.

"The British people have waited for more than three years to get Brexit done. Passing the WAB allows us to do this in an orderly way on January 31," Johnson's spokesman said.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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February 2020

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