MPs in the House of Commons passed the European Union Future Relationship bill, with the document now going to the House of Lords.
With the UK leaving the EU’s institutions at the end of the transition period at 11 pm on December 31st, 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is aiming to have the whole bill — passing into law the UK-EU trade deal agreed in principle with Brussels on Christmas Eve — move through the House of Commons, House of Lords, and receive Royal Assent on Wednesday.
The third reading at 3 pm in the lower house saw the Ayes having it, at 521, the Noes with 73 — a majority of 448 — identical to the result of the second reading less than a quarter of an hour before.
The bill will now go to the House of Lords where, despite being heavily pro-Remain, it is still expected to pass. Debate and voting are still likely to take several hours, with Royal Assent from Queen Elizabeth II expected to take place very late tonight. With Royal Assent, the bill becomes law.
Conservative Brexiteer MPs had earlier this week expressed concern that they did not have enough time to scrutinise the 1,246-page document, but the legal team from the European Research Group, dubbed the Star Chamber, gave the deal its approval on Tuesday.
On the other side of the English Channel, the trade agreement is also going through its legal processes. While arrangements will come into force on January 1st, the deal will not be official until ratified by the European Parliament and then the European Council, which is expected to take place some time in January.
The process is on its way, with ambassadors from the EU-27 rubber-stamping it on Monday. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council President Charles Michel signed the deal on Wednesday.