MPS today voted overwhelmingly to pass Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal by 521 to 73 in a historic Commons vote.
The PM opened the Brexit debate in the Commons today ahead of a historic vote this afternoon when MPs rubber stamped his agreement – which will come into force tomorrow night.
The second reading passed overwhelmingly, and now the Commons are pressing through with the other stages before it goes to the Lords, and finally to be rubber stamped by the Queen later.
It came just hours after the EU signed off the deal their end – and sent a copy on an RAF plane back to Britain for Mr Johnson to sign too.
Only SNP, DUP, Plaid Cymru and a handful of Labour MPs opposed the bill today.
Mr Johnson attempted to join the nation and MPs together by promising today that Britain would 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.
He told MPs ahead of the momentous vote this afternoon: “Having taken back control of our money, our laws, our borders and our waters from the European Union on January 1.
“We now seize this moment to forge a new relationship with our European neighbours based on free trade and friendly cooperations”.
He hailed the deal as one of the “biggest free trade agreements in the world” – at more than £600billion.
And it was now up to us what we do with the new-found freedoms the country has finally taken back.
“I have always said Brexit is not the end but a beginning,” he added.
He told the Commons his deal “should allow companies to do even more business” with the EU in future too and protect “millions of jobs and livelihoods in UK and across the continent.”
“In less than 48 hours, we will leave the EU single market and the customs union, as we promised.”
He said it accomplished something which “the British people always knew in their hearts could be done” – access to the market but the ability to set our own laws.
The PM added: “We were told we could not have our cake and eat it – how many times were we told that?”
Britain will now be able to “trade and cooperate – while retaining sovereign control of our laws and our national destiny.”
“EU law will no longer have any special status in the UK,” he added.
“And there is no jurisdiction for the European Court of Justice.”
And he stressed “we have nothing to fear if we sometimes choose to do things differently” and it was possibly to change our laws in future if we wished.
A boyant and vibrant PM added: “We will be free Mr Speaker of EU state aid rules,
“We’ll be able to decide where and how we level up across our country with new jobs and new hope.”
It came as:
- A Downing Street press conference is expected this afternoon
- The Oxford University/AstraZenca vaccine was approved by regulators today – with a million doses a week to be rolled out from next week
- And a change in strategy is expected to take place so people can get the vaccine sooner – with ministers to prioritise the first jab and give the second within 12 weeks
- More than 53,000 cases of the virus were reported yesterday
- A major incident was declared in Essex over Covid as hospitals struggle to cope with demand
- School pupils in some years are likely to be delayed to returning to the classroom thanks to the spike in cases
The PM lashed out at Labour boss Sir Keir Starmer today for suggesting he could change the Brexit agreement in future, saying: “We got Brexit done, let’s keep Brexit done.”
But Sir Keir said today “a thin deal is better than no deal” and vowed his party would back it in the Commons later.
He added to Plaid Cymru critics who will oppose it: “Those who vote no, are voting for deal.
“Does he want No to succeed in the vote?”
He urged Britain to “come together and look to a better future”, adding:
“The Leave/Remain argument is over – no matter which side you were on.”
Former PM Theresa May spoke up first in the debate, vowing to back the deal today.
And she started with a blast at Sir Keir Starmer for voting against her Brexit deal in the past, saying: “I will take no lectures from the leader of the opposition on this deal.”
But she expressed her disappointment in not reaching an agreement on service – which forms a big part of Britain’s economy.
She said: “Sadly, it has not been achieved.
“We have a deal on trade that benefits the EU, but not on services that would benefit the UK.”
The crucial vote will take place at 2.30pm, before the bill moves to the House of Lords for approval.
The Queen could be forced to stay up into the early hours of Thursday morning to give the Royal Assent.