In Brief

Boris Johnson says UK has ‘crossed Brexit finish line’

Bill to implement the withdrawal deal is passed by Parliament

Boris Johnson said the UK has “crossed the Brexit finish line” after Parliament passed legislation that paves the way for the country to leave the EU on 31 January.

The prime minister said the UK could now “move forwards as one” and put “years of rancour and division behind it” as the EU Bill, which implements the withdrawal deal, awaits royal assent. As Sky News puts it “barring unforeseen circumstances, Britain’s 47-year membership of the bloc will come to an end next Friday”.

Celebrating the development, Johnson said: “At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it.” He added that the government could now “focus on delivering a bright, exciting future - with better hospitals and schools, safer streets and opportunity spread to every corner of our country”.

The government overturned five House of Lords amendments to the bill, including one that would have restored the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families in Britain.

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Brussels officials are expected to sign the Brexit agreement in the coming days and MEPs will vote on it next week, although that vote is set to be a formality.

Belgian politician Charles Michel, who represents the 27 remaining states as president of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, are expected to sign the document.

The UK’s Lord Callanan, a Brexit minister, said: “The final stages of this bill represent something which many of us thought might never happen - parliament passing the legislation necessary to implement a Brexit deal and to finally deliver on the 2016 referendum.”

The BBC says the ratification process will be completed over the next week in time for the 31 January deadline. Both sides will enter into an 11-month transition period.

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