Brexit back in focus in House of Commons
It is now less than four weeks to the Brexit deadline date of January 31, when the UK is set to leave the EU.
As MPs return to parliament after Christmas, the European Union withdrawal bill – which, if passed, would essentially ratify the revamped withdrawal agreement – is back in focus in the House of Commons.
Debate on the bill is expected to start sometime this afternoon, Tuesday, January 7, and will potentially last for up to eight hours.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson already has one victory under his belt, when the bill was backed by the House of Commons on its second reading in a vote on December 20, with 358 MPs voting in favour and 234 voting against.
These three days of debate will likely be the bill’s final stage in the House of Commons, before it moves to the House of Lords for ratification there.
There are a number of amendments to the bill from various parties to be discussed, but with Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party holding a significant majority after December’s election, these amendments are unlikely to succeed. It is widely expected that MPs will pass the withdrawal bill in time for the January 31 deadline.
Johnson appears to be committed to sticking to this December deadline for the free trade negotiations, and seems to be ruling out a possibility of this time-frame being extended.
This has sparked fears that there will not be enough time to agree a free trade deal before then, meaning EU member states would be trading with the UK on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms after December which would result in significant tariffs on agri-food products being exported and imported.