Approval of the brexit deal: british house of commons says yes!

MPs voted by a clear majority in favor of the trade deal with the EU on Wednesday. Even Brexit hardliners voted in favor.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke in favor of the trade deal in Parliament Photo: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament/ap

After nine and a half months of negotiations on the future relationship with the EU, Britain’s parliament was left with just five hours on Wednesday.

Five hours for a special session on the new trade agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU, in which tempers once again flared on the subject of Brexit. The agreement was eventually passed by 521 votes to 73. 36 Labour MPs abstained from voting, three of whom resigned from their frontbench posts as a result. The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas voted against the agreement. The House of Lords was also expected to vote during the course of the day – approval was also expected here.

Many MPs tuned in digitally due to the pandemic. At the start of the debate, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recommended the trade agreement to Parliament. With the deal, he said, Britain would once again take "control of our laws, borders, funds and waters." The British* would now become "friendly neighbors, indeed the best friend and ally the EU could have," he continued.

The prime minister described the new relationship as one between sovereign equals bound together in friendship, trade, history, interests and values, while both sides respected their freedom to trade.

Brexit hardliner also agrees

It was already clear the day before that the majority of Conservative MPs would approve the treaty after the group of Conservative Brexit hardliners, the European Research Group (ERG). Among them is one of the main rebels against the Maastricht Treaty at the time in 1992, 80-year-old Conservative MP and lawyer Sir Bill Cash.

The latter not only spoke in favor of the agreement, he compared Johnson in the House of Commons to none other than Alexander the Great and Winston Churchill. The group did say that the competition clauses inserted in the agreement were an attempt to prevent the UK from straying too far from the EU line. But a robust British government could face up to this.

Finally, when former Prime Minister Theresa May took the floor, she stressed that while she supported the agreement – sovereignty does not mean the same as exceptionalism and isolation. "Britain has a role to play in the international order," she urged.

Prime Minister Johnson repeatedly refused to answer questions about the fate of the financial sector. This accounts for 80 percent of the British economy. Many critics say the agreement does not include enough rights and protections for the sector. Questions to this effect have come not only from the opposition Labour Party and the Scottish National Party (SNP), but also from Conservative MPs like May.

"This deal or no deal"

Opposition leader Keir Starmer stated that the choice of parliamentarians was a very simple one, no matter how pro-European someone was: either for this deal or for a no deal. There was no prospect of another agreement within the next 24 hours. He described the fact that it was so close in time as a failure. Despite criticisms of the agreement on trade and security, he said Labour would stand behind it.

SNP parliamentary group spokesman in the House of Commons Ian Blackford stressed that the Brexit was happening against the will of the majority in Scotland and that his party’s goal of Scottish independence and rejoining the EU was now being strengthened. "There is a seat vacant at the EU table. It will not be vacant for long," he ended his speech. The Northern Ireland Protestant DUP also opposed the treaty at Westminster.

SNP parliamentary group spokesman Ian Blackford.

"There is a seat vacant at the EU table. It will not be vacant for long"

A Royal Air Force jet was scheduled to fly the treaty signed by EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday morning to the United Kingdom in the evening. By Thursday evening, the treaty will be signed by Johnson and Parliament’s decision will be fast-tracked by the Queen to ensure the agreement enters into force before the end of the transition period at midnight on Dec. 31.

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