London: The Withdrawal Agreement (WA) passed through its final reading in the House of Commons, all the new clauses and amendments proposed were voted down by a majority of +or just-90, the government’s majority is 80, the Bill passed its third reading by 330 votes to 231, this shows the strength of the governments hand.
The Bill now moves to the House of Lords for scrutiny, and perhaps by Friday will have received Royal Assent from HM The Queen to become law by the third week in January, ready to exit the EU as promised by Boris Johnson on 31 January; the Brexit countdown clock is ticking away the days in Conservative Campaign HQ.
In February the real negotiations on UK’s future relationship with the EU begin and the Prime Minister will show his true grit. President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen was in Downing Street this week professing UK and EU share common values and cooperation on climate change, human rights and security. Johnson stressed that his immediate priority was to implement the WA by January 31, reiterating that UK wants a broad free trade agreement covering goods and services, with cooperation in other areas; and that any future partnership must not involve any kind of alignment or ECJ jurisdiction. He said the UK would also maintain control of UK fishing waters and its own immigration system.
The UK is ready to start negotiations on the future partnership and a Canada-style FTA as soon as possible after 31 January. Johnson was clear that the UK would not extend the Implementation Period beyond 31 December 2020, Von der Leyen was not so confident everything could be ratified in time.
James Forsyth Political Editor of the Spectator revealed “The plan is to complete a rough Brexit agreement by June and then to spend the next few months turning that into legal text — and agree other aspects as the talks progress, reducing the size of any December cliff edge.”
That cliff edge has crept back into the lexicon as some remain types are still optimistic for a softer Brexit, but as we have seen previously the European Research Group will defend free markets and capitalism until their last breath. If the tenets of the political declaration introduction and initial provisions are sincerely adhered to there is no cause for the future relationship not to be agreed and close, different but neighbourly.
Four former Brexit Party Members of the European Parliament, who deserted Nigel Farage to become Independents in favour of Brexit have now joined the Tory Party and have been accepted as Conservative MEPs.
The Labour leadership contest is under way with each of six candidates hoping to get 22 nominations to reach the next stage. Keir Starmer leads with 63 nominations, Rebecca Long Bailey and Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips all have over the required 22 nominations, so far Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis are nowhere near the mark. Not a single Labour MP and that includes the above candidates voted for the WA on Thursday.
Following a joint statement from President Macron, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Johnson on the situation in Iraq urging Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with the JCPoA, Johnson and Von der Leyen discussed the situation in Iraq, agreeing on the importance of Coalition forces being able to continue countering the shared threat from Daesh. UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Prince Khalid bin Salman the Saudi Vice Minister for Defence are working with the E3 to reboot the JCPoA.
Boris Johnson has spoken to President Rouhani of Iran and His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, he underlined UK’s continued commitment to the JCPoA and to ongoing dialogue to avoid nuclear proliferation and reduce tensions.