On Friday 20 December 2019, the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill (“the Bill”) was passed in the UK’s House of Commons by a majority of 124. The Bill was expected to pass following the recent General Election where Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party secured an 80 seat majority.
The Government now intends on getting the Bill into law by 31 January, which appears to be the likely date for Brexit. This is notwithstanding the fact that MPs have also backed a further debate on the Bill which is to take place on 7 to 9 January 2020.
There are some notable changes to the previous iteration of the Bill, which was ultimately withdrawn by the Government after MPs refused to back the three day timetable for passing it through Parliament. The changes include:
- A prohibition on the Government’s ability to extend the transition period beyond 31 December 2020;
- A requirement on ministers to report annually to Parliament on disputes with the EU under the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement; and
- The removal of provisions that sought to align UK workers’ rights with EU workers’ rights, however they may be modified in future.
The European Parliament is due to ratify the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement on 29 January 2020, paving the way for the UK’s departure from the EU two days later.