As MPs sign off on historic Brexit bill, what happens next?

Europe REUTERSHenry Nicholls
JAN 9, 2020 LISTEN
REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Britain is on the brink of making history as Boris Johnson's Brexit Bill is voted on by lawmakers in the Commons. With the days of a minority government gone, and with the UK set to quit the EU on 31 January, the Withdrawal Agreement Bill looks certain to pass. Here's what we can expect to happen now:

  • Next week: The bill makes its way through the House of Lords, where the government does not have a majority. Remainers are expected to table a wave of amendments, although ministers are confident the Lords will succumb to the will of the elected House.
  • 22 January: Ministers expect the EU Withdrawal Bill to have cleared the Lords and received Royal Assent.
  • 31 January, midnight CET: The UK formally leaves the EU, however it will remain bound by EU rules and institutions for a transition period of at least 11 months. In 2020, Britain will face a raft of new Brexit “cliff-edges” as it fights to secure a new trade deal with the EU before the transition period ends.
  • February 2020: An EU summit is expected to be held to formally begin trade deal negotiations between the UK and EU.
  • July 2020: Decision must have been made by the end of June as to whether the UK will request an extension (of up to two years) to the transition period – although this is something Johnson has ruled out.
  • 26 November 2020: The UK must have agreed a new trade deal with the EU by the final week of November if it is to have any chance of ratifying the deal before the end of the year.
  • 31 December 2020: The Brexit transition ends. By this point, Johnson must have either ratified a new trade deal, negoatiated an extension, or cut trade ties altogether with his country's largest trading partner.

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