LONDON – British legislators have approved a major free trade agreement with the European Union, a not surprising but important step to consolidate Britain’s exit from the block after more than 40 years as one of its largest member states.

The 1,246-page bill, which was agreed between London and Brussels on Christmas Eve, was endorsed by the House of Commons on Wednesday after a debate lasting only six hours. Queen Elizabeth gave her official approval of the bill around midnight, the final step in the British legislative process.

The tight timetable reflects the need to ratify the agreement before the end of the year, otherwise there is a risk of economic disruption and legal uncertainty at the end of the one-year transitional period for the UK’s exit from the EU. Many anti-Brexit legislators have said that they are reluctant to vote for an agreement between the UK and the EU because the only alternative is a chaotic saga that is getting closer and closer.

During the opening debate in Parliament on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said

Boris Johnson

said the Treaty marks a new beginning for the United Kingdom and the EU.

Transactions after tax

We wanted a solution, not a break – a resolution of the tired and tormented old issue of Britain’s political relationship with Europe that has marred our post-war history, he said.

Keir Starmer,

The leader of the main opposition party, Labour, said he would ask his legislators to support the agreement to avoid disruption on 1 January. January to avoid. He criticised certain aspects of the agreement, including the provisions on trade in services and its enforcement, but said it was the only agreement available to prevent the adverse effects of inaction.

It’s imperfect, it’s subtle…. But we only have one day before the end of the transition period, and that’s the only agreement we have, Starmer said.

The House of Commons cast 521 to 73 votes in favour of legislation implementing the agreement.

Some constitutional experts stated that the short time required to consider a treaty of such scope was not satisfactory. For example, Parliament had six weeks to debate the disengagement agreement which will form the basis for Brexit in 2019 and debated important legislation relating to European integration for months while the United Kingdom was still a member.

This process represents a rejection of Parliament’s constitutional duty to ensure proper oversight of the executive and legislative branches, he said.

Brigid Fowler,

Senior researcher at the Hanseatic Society, an impartial research institute in London that studies parliamentary democracy.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, signed a trade treaty in Brussels on Wednesday.


Johanna Heron/Reuters

The agreement which determines the UK’s future relationship with the EU in fact consists of three separate agreements. In addition to the Free Trade Agreement, the Treaty also contains agreements on safety and cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.

The two agreements were initially signed on Wednesday in Brussels.

Ursula von der Leyen,

President of the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, and then in London, Mr Johnson. An aircraft of the Royal Netherlands Air Force carried two copies of the agreement between each of the two capitals. In every capital one copy remains.

Charles Michelle,

The President of the European Council, which brings together the Heads of State or Government of each Member State, has also signed trade and security agreements on behalf of EU capitals.

The Pact shall enter into force on 1 January 2011. The proposal provisionally entered into force on 1 January, as the European Parliament had not yet had time to examine it carefully. The debate and vote on the agreement are not yet scheduled.

The agreement was also supported by leading conservative Eurosceptics, whose decades-long crusade against EU membership was crucial to the emergence of Brexit.

Ian Duncan Smith,

The former leader of the Conservative Party said that the pact returned the power of officials in Brussels to the elected representatives of Great Britain in London.

About Britain’s European allies, he said: It took us too long to live with them in the same house and not get along. Now we’re next door and we’re good neighbors, good friends and good allies.

The agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union took place at the end of December, a few days before the end date. It gives the United Kingdom a great deal of freedom to deviate from EU rules and to conclude free trade agreements with other countries. Photo: Paul Grover/Poole (originally published on 24 December 2020).

Former Prime Minister

Theresa May

voted in favour of the agreement, but expressed disappointment that the services sector, which is of great importance to the British economy, was not included.

The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democratic Party, two small opposition parties that campaigned to stay in the EU in 2016, opposed the agreement. The Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party, a former ally of Mr Johnson, also opposed the new arrangements for Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom and the EU have agreed a comprehensive set of rules for Northern Ireland to reduce the need for border controls between the region and the Republic of Ireland, an EU Member State. The fear that Brexit might lead to a physical boundary between the two parts of the island, after a history of political unrest, has influenced the negotiations from the beginning.

Lawrence Norman.

in Brussels contributed to this article.

Email Jason Douglas at [email protected].

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