Brexit deal becomes law with just hours to spare after Queen grants royal assent

The Prime Minister said the UK’s destiny ‘now resides firmly in our hands’ after his Brexit deal made it through Parliament in one day and officially became law.

MPs in the Commons overwhelmingly backed the bill yesterday afternoon with 521 votes to 73, making way for a marathon eight hour debate in the House of Lords in which more than 120 peers spoke, ending with an unopposed reading.

In a statement after Parliament passed the deal, Boris Johnson said: ‘I want to thank my fellow MPs and peers for passing this historic Bill and would like to express my gratitude to all of the staff here in Parliament and across government who have made today possible.

‘The destiny of this great country now resides firmly in our hands. We take on this duty with a sense of purpose and with the interests of the British public at the heart of everything we do.

’11pm on the 31 December marks a new beginning in our country’s history and a new relationship with the EU as their biggest ally. This moment is finally upon us and now is the time to seize it.’

At 12.25am, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told members that the EU (Future Relationship) Act 2020, had been given royal assent by the Queen.

the Act paves the way for the deal to take effect at 11pm on Thursday when the current Brexit transition period comes to a close.

Less than an hour after the Commons vote, the Prime Minister signed the 1,246 page document, which was flown to London in an RAF plane after being signed by European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels yesterday.

Speaking during the Lords debate, Tory former chancellor Lord Lamont hailed the securing of an agreement with Brussels as ‘an amazing achievement’.

He added: ‘We were told by five former prime ministers no less that there couldn’t be an agreement in time available.

‘But now we have an agreement that goes further than Canada. We now have the common market that many of us originally voted for in the 1970s.

‘Historians may conclude that British membership of the EU was always doomed from the very start because the British view of the political destination of Europe was always different, although our establishment always tried to conceal this from the British public, particularly in the 1975 referendum.

‘Nevertheless, the story of our membership has been one of endless arguments about further integration. From now on there will be no more British vetoes, no more British opt-outs, no more British triple locks.

‘Now we can have a more harmonious relationship between two sovereign peoples.’

Arguing the outcome of the referendum should be left to historians, Lord Lamont said: ‘Far better to put the effort into addressing the international challenges that face us and also the domestic issues that cause so many of our fellow citizens to feel alienated and disillusioned, which is why they voted for Brexit.

‘It’s time to let the grass grow over the Brexit battlefield. Let us all work to make this new partnership the success it ought to be.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the deal ‘thin’ but ordered MPs to back it, as the only alternative would be no deal at all.

But he faced a rebellion within his own ranks, with John McDonnell urging him not to support the ‘rotten’ agreement.

The former shadow chancellor was among Labour MPs who signed a statement, saying: ‘The deal is a substantial downgrade of the UK’s relationship with the EU, and is designed to open the door to rampant economic deregulation – a loss of rights and protections for workers, the environment, food standards and many other areas of life.

‘Future trade deals could now entrench the privatisation of the NHS and other public services. We are witnessing an act of vandalism against our livelihoods, our rights and our horizons.

‘This deal will not “get Brexit done”: negotiations over trade and regulatory frameworks will go on and on for years to come.’

In the end one Labour MP, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, voted against the deal while 36 other others recorded no vote – suggesting they had abstained.

Two of the party’s junior frontbenchers, Helen Hayes and Tonia Antoniazzi, quit their roles after they abstained.

Johnson’s Brexit deal was resoundingly rejected by the devolved parliaments of Scotland and Northern Ireland, who passed motions condemning it by large majorities.

At Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament voted by 92 to 30 to deny the deal legislative consent, although First Minister Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged it would not affect the passage of the Bill at Westminster.

She said: ‘The fact is, Scotland’s voice has been ignored on Brexit all along, every single step of the way.

‘It is only through independence that we will ever get to choose the future we want.’

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