MPs vote to back Boris Johnson's Brexit deal to leave the EU

20 December 2019, 14:36 | Updated: 20 December 2019, 17:22

MPs have backed Boris Johnson's Brexit Bill
MPs have backed Boris Johnson's Brexit Bill. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The House of Commons has voted for Boris Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement Bill by a majority of 124.

MPs voted in favour of the prime minister's plan to leave the EU by 31 January 2020, winning by 358 votes to 234.

Friday's result in Parliament means Britain moves one step closer to exiting the bloc at the start of next year.

The second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill was the first opportunity for MPs to vote on Mr Johnson's plan since last week's general election.

It also prevents an extension of the transition period past 2020, meaning the UK will not have to follow EU rules until that date despite formally leaving.

Charles Michel, the new President of the European Council, tweeted: "The vote in the House of Commons s an important step in the Article 50 ratification process.

"A level playing field remains a must for any future relationship."

MPs also backed the Government's three-day timetable for discussing the remaining stages of the legislation in the Commons when they return next month.

The programme motion was approved by 353 votes to 243, a majority of 110.

Mr Johnson also took to social media to tell the country "we are one step closer to getting Brexit done."

The prime minister was seen signing copies of his Bill whilst waiting for the result of today's vote.

Of the 365 Conservative MPs in the Commons, 353 voted in favour of the legislation alongside six Labour MPs who rebelled to support it.

These included:

- Sarah Champion (Rotherham)
- Rosie Cooper (West Lancashire)
- Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)
- Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields)
- Grahame Morris (Easington)
- Toby Perkins (Chesterfield)

Parliament has voted in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill
Parliament has voted in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Picture: House of Commons

Friday's result comes after Mr Johnson insisted Leave and Remain labels were now defunct and the country should "move on" from the Brexit debate.

The prime minister urged Parliament to come together and allow the "warmth and natural affection that we all share" for the UK's European neighbours to "find renewed expression in one great new national project."

He told MPs the passing of the legislation should not be seen as a victory for one side or the other, saying: "This is the time when we move on and discard the old labels of Leave and Remain.

"In fact, the very words seem tired to me - as defunct as Big-enders and Little-enders, or Montagues and Capulets at the end of the play.

"Now is the time to act together as one reinvigorated nation, one United Kingdom, filled with renewed confidence in our national destiny and determined at last to take advantage of the opportunities that now lie before us."

Jeremy Corbyn called the government's handling of Brexit a "national embarrassment."

He said his party "recognises the clear message" from voters following the election but confirmed Labour would not support the Bill.

Mr Corbyn said the Tory leader was offering a "terrible" Brexit deal, saying: "Labour will not support this Bill as we remain certain there is a better and fairer way for this country to leave the European Union.

"One which would not risk ripping our communities apart, selling out our public services or sacrificing hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.

"This deal is a road map for the reckless direction in which the Government and our Prime Minister are determined to take our country."

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