Boris Johnson says ‘historic resolution’ will be delivered by Brexit Bill

PA

A “historic resolution” will be delivered when MPs approve the UK’s Brexit deal with the EU, according to Boris Johnson.

On Wednesday, Parliament will return in order to vote on the agreement reached more than four years after the referendum in 2016.

The EU (Future Relationship) Bill is expected to clear the Commons despite the SNP, the DUP, Plaid Cymru, the SDLP, Alliance and the Liberal Democrats all indicating that they will not vote for it.

But Mr Johnson has insisted that UK will be “the best friend and ally the EU could have”, whilst fulfilling the “sovereign wish” of the British people to live under their own laws.

In a Commons speech, he will tell MPs: “The central purpose of the Bill is to accomplish something which the British people always knew in their hearts could be done, but which we were told was impossible.

“Namely that we could trade and cooperate with our European neighbours on the closest terms of friendship and goodwill, whilst retaining sovereign control of our laws and our national destiny.”

Across the UK, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Senedd and the Stormont Executive Northern Ireland will also all sit on Wednesday to consider the legislation.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already urged MSPs not to consent to the Bill, with Scottish Labour also confirming they will vote against the deal – contrary to the UK party at Westminster.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

It comes after the Prime Minister won the backing of Brexiteer backbenchers who said the agreement “preserves the UK’s sovereignty”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged his MPs to support the deal, despite concerns that it will fail to protect key economic sectors.

He could face a high-profile revolt over his decision to back the agreement, with former shadow chancellor John McDonnell among those to have signed a letter urging opposition parties not to support the “rotten” agreement.

The Labour leader has argued however that the alternative of ending the Brexit transition period on December 31 without a deal in place would be even worse for the economy.

A Commons debate will start at around 9.30am on Wednesday, with a vote expected in the early afternoon.

Following proceedings in the Commons, the legislation will be debated by peers in the House of Lords, with a vote expected after 10pm, with Royal Assent to follow afterwards.

Approval is also expected to be given to enable virtual participation for debates and proceedings on the Bill.

Opening the debate in the Commons, Mr Johnson is expected to pledge the UK will be the “best friend and ally the EU could have”.

He will tell MPs: “What we sought was not a rupture but a resolution, a resolution of the old and vexed question of Britain’s political relations with Europe, which bedevilled our post-War history.

“First we stood aloof, then we became a half-hearted, sometimes obstructive member of the EU.

“Now, with this Bill, we shall be a friendly neighbour, the best friend and ally the EU could have, working hand in glove whenever our values and interests coincide while fulfilling the sovereign wish of the British people to live under their own laws, made by their own elected Parliament.

“That is the historic resolution delivered by this Bill.”

On Monday, EU ambassadors gave provisional approval for Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal to be implemented from January 1.

A spokesman for the German EU presidency said the ambassadors had unanimously agreed to “green light” the settlement hammered out on Christmas Eve.

The move paves the way for the agreement which allows for the continued tariff-free trade with the EU single market to take effect when the current Brexit transition period expires on Thursday.

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