A historical moment in British politics passed by yesterday, not that anyone really noticed. While many of us were consumed by the announcement that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are stepping back as 'senior royals', the latest Withdrawal Agreement Deal for Brexit was approved in the House of Commons.
Voting in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) 330 votes to 231, the bill will now be passed on to the House of Lords for their approval. All votes in favour of the bill were from Conservative MPs, with a 99-strong majority - demonstrating the security of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. In fact, one former minister has even said Johnson is now more powerful than Tony Blair was after his landslide victory in 1997.
During the debate on the WAB, opposition parties tried and failed to make changes to legislation. Liberal Democrat MPs expressed concerns about the future of the international study scheme Erasmus, while a number of SNP MPs protested the Brexit in its entirety. According to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Labour MPs ‘looked miserable about what was happening’ and voted against the bill.
The WAB sets out how the UK with withdraw from the EU, but not what our future relationship will look like. That will be negotiated during the 11-month transition period after the 31st of January, the date the UK is due to leave the EU. During the transition period, the UK will not be an EU member but will be under obligation to follow EU rules and contribute to its budget.
Most notably, an EU-UK trade deal will be negotiated during this period, as well as other expectations of a future relationship. However, critics have said the deadline is far too tight, with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen saying it would be ‘impossible’ to reach a comprehensive deal by December 2020. Boris Johnson has disagreed and promised not to extend the transition period.
Now, we just have to wait and see how the House of Lords respond to the WAB, where there are pro-EU peers and the government has no majority.
You can find out how your MP voted here__.