UK lawmakers give massive backing to PM's new Brexit bill
LONDON, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Lawmakers in Britain's House of Commons gave overwhelming backing Friday for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's re-shaped Brexit deal.
By 358 votes to 234, a majority of 124, MPs voted in favor of the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, giving Johnson a clear run to end Britain's membership of the bloc on Jan. 31.
Johnson, buoyed by the 60-seat majority he won in last week's general election opened a debate in the House of Commons, told MPs: "We come together as a new parliament to break the deadlock and finally to get Brexit done. Now is the moment, as we leave the European Union, to reunite our country."
Although the bill will have to return to the Commons and the House of Lords in early next year, it now seems unstoppable in completing the legislative procedures ahead of receiving Royal Assent by Queen Elizabeth II in the first half of January.
In his opening statement during Friday's debate, Johnson said the Brexit bill must not be seen as a victory for one party over another, or one faction over another.
"This is the time when we move on and discard the old labels of leave and remain. In fact, the very words seem tired to me as I speak them," he said.
The re-shaped bill, as well as ending Britain's membership of the EU on Jan. 31, also requires a future permanent trading deal to be agreed with Brussels by the end of 2020.
It overturns an earlier bill which would have enabled talks to continue for up to two years beyond the end of 2020.
"This bill learns the emphatic lesson of the last parliament and rejects any further delay. It ensures that we depart from the EU on 31 January, and at that point Brexit will be done -- it will be over," Johnson said.