Following the general election of December 2019, and the victory of the Conservative party, many efforts have been underway to negotiate a finalised Brexit deal. The extended deadline of 31 January 2020 still stands, and the UK are due to officially leave the European Union on this date.
The Withdrawal Agreement Bill, also referred to as the Brexit Bill, has finally been passed through the House of Commons successfully and has been assessed by the House of Lords. The passing of the bill would cement the EU withdrawal agreement into legislation, but holds several clauses that have caused dispute. A key change from the previous edition of the bill is that the transition period, in which the UK would no longer be a member of the EU but would still be subject to EU laws and be part of the single market, cannot be extended. The transition period is essential to the UK as it provides them with time to negotiate trade deals and future relationships, however the passing of the bill would prohibit the UK from requesting any form of extension to this period.
Although the bill had successfully passed the House of Commons with no amendments with a 358 to 234 majority, the House of Lords had reviewed it and set forward five amendments to the Brexit Bill. These amendments were further passed back to the House of Commons for MPs to vote on. On 22 January the Conservative MPs voted against all five amendments presented to them. This has caused widespread debate in the House of Lords as one of the amendments, named the Dubs amendment, was regarding the safeguarding of unaccompanied child refugees in Europe by allowing them to unite with their relatives in the UK.Regardless of the defeat of the amendments passed down by the House of Lords, both houses have come to agreement on the terms of the bill and the Brexit Bill has successfully passed in parliament. The Queen’s Royal Assent is now all that needs to be awarded in order for the Brexit deal to be ratified ahead of the official departure of the UK from the EU on 31 January. It is predicted that the bill will be ratified by 29 January, and UK prepares to officially depart from the EU at 11pm on 31 January 2020.