Brexit deal becomes UK law
Britain’s exit deal with the European Union has officially become a law on 23 January 2020 a few days ahead of the country’s departure from the bloc. On 22 January 2020, the legislation passed its final parliamentary stage, after over three years of bitter wrangling over how, when and even if Brexit should take place. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is likely to formally sign the Withdrawal Agreement in the coming days.
- In a series of votes on 22 January 2020, the Commons - where Johnson's Conservatives have a large majority - rejected all five amendments and sent the bill back to the Lords, who then reluctantly agreed to back down.
- The European Parliament still has to back the deal in a vote next week but its approval in London is a historic moment, as Britain edges closer to becoming the first country to leave the 28-member EU.
- It is a huge personal achievement for Johnson, who took office last year promising to end several years of political wrangling that had divided the country and paralysed successive governments.
- His predecessor, Theresa May, negotiated a Brexit deal with Brussels in 2018 but the Commons rejected it three times, forcing her to resign.
- Johnson agreed changes to the text with Brussels, only to be defeated again by MPs unable to agree on the timetable for turning the deal into law.
- Johnson accused lawmakers of trying to frustrate the result of the landmark 2016 referendum vote for Brexit and forced a snap election last month.
- The result, with Johnson returned to office on a thumping majority, fundamentally upended the dynamic and MPs swiftly backed the deal.
What is Brexit?
- Brexit - British exit - refers to the UK leaving the EU.
- The EU is an economic and political union involving 28 European countries. It allows free trade and free movement of people, to live and work in whichever country they choose.
- The UK joined in 1973 (when it was known as the European Economic Community). If the UK leaves, it would be the first member state to withdraw from the EU.