HIS­TORIC MO­MENT AS BREXIT FI­NALLY BE­GINS

Daily Express - - Front Page - By Mar­tyn Brown Se­nior Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

A TRI­UMPHANT Boris John­son won a spec­tac­u­lar vic­tory yes­ter­day as MPs voted by a huge ma­jor­ity to back his Brexit deal.

The his­toric vote of 358 to 234 in favour of the Prime

Min­is­ter’s With­drawal Agree­ment Bill at last paved the way for Bri­tain’s EU exit.

The win means the UK is now – 1,275 days af­ter the 2016 ref­er­en­dum – firmly on track to leave the Eu­ro­pean Union on Jan­uary 31.

Mr John­son said the re­sult meant “we are one step closer to get­ting Brexit done”.

Eu­ro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Charles Michel hailed it as an “im­por­tant step”.

The out­come rep­re­sents a mon­u­men­tal vic­tory for Mr John­son and is the fi­nal proof that his gen­eral elec­tion gam­ble has paid off.

The pas­sage of the Bill should now be a for­mal­ity be­cause of the Con­ser­va­tive 80-seat ma­jor­ity.

It also marks a mas­sive step for­ward for the long-stand­ing Daily Ex­press cru­sade to get Bri­tain out of the EU.

The out­come was a crush­ing blow for Jeremy Cor­byn as the Labour leader had or­dered his MPs to vote against it.

In a sign of his to­tal loss of au­thor­ity six of his MPs – Sarah Cham­pion, Rosie Cooper, Jon Crud­das, Emma Lewell-Buck, Gra­hame Mor­ris and Toby Perkins – de­fied him to vote in favour of the Brexit deal. A fur­ther 32 Labour MPs did not vote.

As the de­bate opened yes­ter­day the Prime Min­is­ter urged MPs to back the Bill say­ing: “Now is the time to act to­gether as one rein­vig­o­rated na­tion, one United King­dom, filled with re­newed con­fi­dence in our na­tional des­tiny.

“De­ter­mined at last to take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties that now lie be­fore us, we will be able to move for­ward to­gether.

“The Bill en­sures that the im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod must end on Jan­uary 31 with no pos­si­bil­ity of an ex­ten­sion.

“And it paves the path for a new agree­ment on our fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with our Eu­ro­pean neigh­bours based on an am­bi­tious free-trade agree­ment, with con­trol of our own laws and close re­la­tions.

“This vi­sion of the United King­dom’s in­de­pen­dence, a vi­sion that in­spires so many, is only hours from our grasp.” The Bill will now

be given fur­ther scru­tiny in the House of Com­mons and House of Lords when Par­lia­ment re­turns on Jan­uary 7.

Af­ter that it is fully ex­pected to

pass into law be­fore be­ing rub­ber­stamped by the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment.

Fol­low­ing last week’s elec­tion land­slide, the Prime Min­is­ter

al­tered the Bill to in­clude a clause ban­ning an ex­ten­sion to the Brexit tran­si­tion pe­riod where the UK will thrash out the fu­ture trad­ing re­la­tion­ship with the EU.

Yes­ter­day’s vote was wel­comed by Con­ser­va­tive ex-Cab­i­net min­is­ter Damian Green, who had voted Re­main in the 2016 EU ref­er­en­dum.

He said: “A week ago Boris John­son and the Con­ser­va­tive Party won a gen­eral elec­tion say­ing we wanted to get Brexit done.

“Here we are to­day, a week later, get­ting it done.”

Chan­cel­lor Sa­jid Javid said, “it’s

get­ting done” while Nigel Farage, a long-term critic of the PM’s deal, said it was a “his­toric mo­ment” and the UK’s de­par­ture from the EU “is hap­pen­ing”.

Busi­ness lead­ers also wel­comed the out­come.

Mike Cherry, the na­tional chair­man of the Fed­er­a­tion of Small Busi­nesses, also praised the Gov­ern­ment.

He said: “This clar­ity of pur­pose will hope­fully in­stil con­fi­dence in the small busi­ness com­mu­nity that they can get back to the busi­ness of in­vest­ing, cre­at­ing jobs and grow­ing.” Ad­dress­ing MPs be­fore the vote, Mr John­son said his Bill “learns the em­phatic les­son of the last Par­lia­ment” and “re­jects any fur­ther de­lay”.

He told MPs: “It en­sures we depart on 31 Jan­uary.At that point Brexit will be done. It will be over. The sorry story of the last three years will be at an end and we can move for­ward.”

The Labour leader said the Gov­ern­ment’s mis­han­dling of Brexit had paral­ysed the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, di­vided com­mu­ni­ties and was a “na­tional em­bar­rass­ment”.

And in a bizarre mo­ment Mr Cor­byn claimed it would ul­ti­mately re­sult in mag­gots in or­ange juice and rat hairs in pa­prika.

He said the UK would have to “slash food stan­dards” in or­der to se­cure a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

Hos­til­ity

But he was rounded on by Con­ser­va­tive back­benchers who dis­missed the claims and de­lighted in point­ing out that Mr Cor­byn had been “slaugh­tered” by vot­ers at the gen­eral elec­tion last week.

How­ever, Mr John­son faced hos­til­ity from op­po­si­tion MPs amid

claims he had wa­tered down parts of the EU With­drawal Agree­ment Bill from the last time he had tried to pass the leg­is­la­tion in Oc­to­ber.

This in­cludes an ap­par­ent row­ing back on an orig­i­nal com­mit­ment to strike a deal with the EU so child refugees in Europe can con­tinue to be re­united with their fam­i­lies in the UK.

Wi­gan MP Lisa Nandy, a po­ten­tial Labour lead­er­ship con­tender, quizzed the Prime Min­is­ter over what she de­scribed as “a di­rect at­tack on some of the most vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren in the world”.

But Mr John­son told Ms Nandy

she was wrong and his gov­ern­ment “re­main ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that we con­tinue in this coun­try to re­ceive un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren”.

The Prime Min­is­ter also dis­missed con­cerns that pledges on work­ers’ rights had been binned.

He said: “This House should never doubt its abil­ity to pi­o­neer stan­dards for the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, just as we did the first.”

Out­side Par­lia­ment Brexit cam­paign­ers gath­ered to cel­e­brate the suc­cess of yes­ter­day’s vote.

Pic­ture: JESSICA TAY­LOR/UK PAR­LIA­MENT

Boris John­son and Brexit Sec­re­tary Stephen Bar­clay in the House yes­ter­day

Pic­ture: SWNS

Tory MPs Owen Pater­son and An­drea Jenkyns with Brexit sup­port­ers

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