British lawmakers on Friday finally voted to back a plan to withdraw from the European Union.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bill, backed by a huge parliamentary majority, will take the country out of the 28-member bloc on Jan. 31, and lays the groundwork for sweeping foreign and trade policy shifts.
The 358-234 vote marks a significant breakthrough for Johnson, who stormed to electoral victory last week on a pledge to “get Brexit done.” The former mayor of London won the largest Conservative majority since Margaret Thatcher in 1987, confirming his position as prime minister after he took over from Theresa May in July.
Johnson’s majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons meant he was able to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill — legislation that will implement the divorce deal hammered out with the European Union (EU).
The announcement of the result was met with cheers, as well as some jeers, in the packed chamber where many lawmakers were forced to stand due to limited space.
Britain joined the European Economic Community, a precursor to the European Union, in 1973. After the U.K. voted to leave the bloc in June 2016, May failed on three occasions to win support for a deal she had agreed to with the EU, leading her to step down in June.
In October, Johnson was forced to break his own “do-or-die” deadline to lead Britain out of the EU after lawmakers rejected his proposed timetable to get the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through parliament, meaning he had to request a Brexit extension from European leaders.
The bill — dubbed WAB by Brexit-watchers — commits Britain to leave the EU on Jan. 31 and to conclude trade talks with the bloc by the end of 2020. The final stages of ratification will take place after Christmas.
Ahead of the vote, Johnson told Members of Parliament that his bill “ensures Brexit will be done” and “it will be over.”
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Source: NBC News