News & Politics

Parliament Approves Brexit; UK Leaving European Union Before February 2020

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks to supporters during a visit to meet newly elected Conservative party lawmakers at Sedgefield Cricket Club in County Durham, north east England on Saturday Dec. 14, 2019, following his Conservative party's general election victory. Johnson called on Britons to put years of bitter divisions over the country's EU membership behind them as he vowed to use his resounding election victory to finally deliver Brexit. (Lindsey Parnaby / Pool via AP)

Members of Parliament have just voted overwhelmingly to approve Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan by a vote of 358 to 234.

Brexit’s approval was widely expected following the conservative victory in the UK election last week.

Brexit has been in gridlock for over three years. Former Prime Minister Theresa May has made several failed attempts to get Brexit through Parliament since the country voted in favor of Brexit in 2016. May ultimately failed to get a deal through, and she resigned in May over her inability to broker a deal that could win a majority of Parliament.

According to the Associated Press, the departure of the UK from the EU “will open a new phase of Brexit, as Britain and the EU race to strike new relationships for trade, security and host of other areas by the end of 2020.”

Boris Johnson considered the vote a moment of closure. “The sorry story of the last 3 1/2 years will be at an end and we will be able to move forward together,” Johnson said. “This is a time when we move on and discard the old labels of ‘leave’ and ‘remain.’ Now is the time to act together as one reinvigorated nation.”

Johnson said Friday he was confident of striking a “deep, special and democratically accountable partnership with those nations we are proud to call our closest friends” by the Brexit deadline.

He said extending the transition period would just prolong Brexit “acrimony and anguish … a torture that came to resemble Lucy snatching away Charlie Brown’s football.”

For all Johnson’s talk of “getting Brexit done” on Jan. 31, details of Britain’s negotiating stance — and even who will lead the trade talks — remain unknown.

Armed with his 80-seat majority in the 650-seat House of Commons, Johnson has stripped out parts of the Brexit bill that gave lawmakers a role in negotiating a future trade deal with the EU and required ministers to provide regular updates to Parliament. The clauses were added earlier in the year in an attempt to win opposition lawmakers’ support for the Brexit bill — backing that Johnson no longer needs.

The Brexit deal must also be ratified by the European Parliament, which is expected to happen by January 29.