Boris Johnson moves one step closer to Brexit as bill sails through Commons

Boris Johnson is one step closer to “getting Brexit done” after his Withdrawal Agreement Bill sailed through the Commons at its second reading.

The bill was passed by 358 votes to 234 on Friday afternoon: a majority of 124.

The result was greeted with huge cheers from the Conservative benches.

One MP could be heard grunting: “Back of the net.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the Brexit debate in the House of Commons, London.
Boris Johnson in the Commons on Friday (PA)

It’s the first manifestation of the prime minister’s huge Commons majority since his general election victory last week, having spent the first few months of his premiership hamstrung by a lack of Tory numbers.

Friday’s vote has paved the way for the remaining legal stages in both Houses of Parliament before it is given Royal Assent in the new year, allowing the UK to leave the EU by the January 31 deadline.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had whipped his MPs to vote against the government after sections of the bill, including those relating to workers’ rights and offering sanctuary to orphans and unaccompanied children, were removed since its first reading in the Commons in October.

Six of his Leave-backing MPs, however, ignored him.

Chancellor Sajid Javid reacted to the vote by tweeting: “It’s getting done.”

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, meanwhile, posted: “Brexit is happening. An historic moment.”

When Parliament returns on January 7, the bill will go through a committee stage, report stage and third reading. Again, this is all but certain to pass without hitch due to the Tories’ 80-seat majority.

The bill then has to pass through the Lords, although it is effectively powerless to reject it.

Finally, there will be consideration of amendments to the bill back in the Commons.

Once the Commons and Lords agree on a final version, it will receive Royal Assent and become law.

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