British parliament finally backs government's Brexit deal
It means the UK is on course to leave the European Union on January 31
British MPs finally approved the government's Brexit withdrawal agreement on Thursday, paving the way for the country's departure from the European Union on January 31 and for trade talks with Brussels to begin.
The Brexit terms will now go to the House of Lords for scrutiny.
It comes 43 months after the country voted in the June 2016 referendum to end their nearly half a century of integration with the bloc.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's thumping Conservative Party win in a December election helped smooth his Brexit bill's passage through parliament, setting the stage for another year of tough talks on the future EU-UK partnership.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said he welcomed the “constructive scrutiny” of the Lords but hoped the upper house would not try to delay the bill.
“I have no doubt that their lordships will have heard the resounding message from the British people on the 12th of December,” he said.
"Leaving the EU doesn't mean that we will have got Brexit done,” said Paul Blomfield, a Brexit spokesman for the main opposition Labour Party. “We'll have completed the first step, departure, but the difficult stage is yet to come."
Top EU officials warn Mr Johnson's expedited plans hammer out a trade deal could be too impatient.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said Thursday that Britain's goal of striking a full free trade agreement by the end-of-year deadline that Mr Johnson insists on was unrealistic.
“We cannot expect to agree on every aspect of this new partnership,” Mr Barnier said, adding “we are ready to do our best in the 11 months.”
Updated: January 9, 2020 10:24 PM