Boris Johnson’s Brexit Bill becomes law as Queen gives Royal Assent

Boris Johnson has formally signed the EU withdrawal agreement, which has now officially become UK law, paving the way for the country to leave the EU this week.

The heads of the European Commission and Council – Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel – have signed the Withdrawal Agreement, ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 January.

The Queen approved it on Thursday 23rd January, and on Wednesday 29th January the European Parliament is expected to vote for it too.

The UK has agreed to abide by EU rules during a transition period until the end of the year. By 2021 the UK aims to have agreed a deal on future ties.

Brexit ends 46 years in the EU club.

EU President good-bye message to UK Students

Speech by President von der Leyen at the London School of Economics on ‘Old friends, new beginnings: building another future for the EU-UK partnership’

Dear students,

Over the next month and years, we will have to loosen some of the threads, which have been carefully stitched together between the EU and the UK over five decades.

And as we do so, we will have to work hard to weave together a new way forward.

I say this because Brexit does not only mark the end of something. It also marks a new phase in an enduring partnership and friendship. It will be a partnership for your generation – and I count on you all to make a success of it.

You can choose collaboration over isolation, you can shape your continent’s destiny, you can hold your governments accountable, you can refuse to be satisfied with the status quo and can turn things into how they should be.

I know the last few years have been difficult and divisive. I hope that by being constructive and ambitious in the upcoming negotiations, we can all move forward together. There will be tough talks ahead and each side will do what is best for them. But I can assure you that the United Kingdom will always have a trusted friend and partner in the European Union.

This is the story of old friends and new beginnings. In this good sense: Long live Europe!


Decree Absolute

Boris Johnson’s Brexit legislation has been backed by Members of Parliament by 330 votes to 231. It marks a historic moment in the Brexit process ahead of the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU on January 31. Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill has passed through its final stage in the House of Commons, clearing the path for Britain to leave the EU at the end of January. It is ultimately expected to pass through all stages and receive Royal Assent before entering the statute books by 31 January, when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.


Brexit: 5 things UK young citizens can still do in the EU after 31 January

With the UK’s departure date from the EU now effectively set in stone, 31 January will be a historic day. The article 50 process will have been completed and the country will no longer be in the EU.

1. Holiday in the EU

You can still travel to any EU member state up to 31 December 2020 with no impediments such as visas. After Brexit it is likely that visa-free trips will continue for stays of up to 90 days. The European health insurance card that gives health cover for tourists in another member state still applies.

2. Take up a summer job in the EU

During the transition period, students and any other workers will still have the right to work in another member state. This is because freedom of movement rules, which includes freedom of movement of labour, still pertain while the UK is in the single market. Freedom of movement is likely to end on 31 December next year.

3. Get a full-time job in the EU

For the same reason, British citizens will still be eligible for full time positions in the EU. After Brexit, some countries will discriminate in favour of EU candidates.

4. Go on an Erasmus study programme

About 17,000 British students studied in another member state according to the most recent data for 2017/2018. Most of the university places for 2020 are already allocated but places are still available for further education college students and apprentices who are eligible for work placements of between two weeks to three months. It is hoped that Erasmus will continue after Brexit but this depends on negotiations on the future relationship with the EU.

5. Know your rights and benefits for 2020

The EU’s guide to rights for UK and EU citizens during the transition period is available online. This is a handy guide published in 2018 but which still applies, outlining various scenarios.

Questions and Answers – the rights of EU and UK citizens, as outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement


The Legal protections for refugee children to be reunited with family members is watered down in the Withdrawal extensions Bill past 20 Dec 2019 

A core part of the Withdrawal Agreement is that there shall be a “transition or implementation period” under Article 126. This period begins when the UK leaves the EU and ends, by default on 31 December 2020. However, the UK and EU can jointly agree, on a one-off basis, to extend that period by a further period of ‘up to two-years,’ under Article 132.

During the transition period, the UK must follow most of EU law in (mostly) the same way as it does now as a Member State. However, it will no longer have representation and voting rights in the EU institutions when the EU makes decisions about how EU law should change. There are some exceptions to this continuation of EU law, which are set out in the Withdrawal Agreement itself.

This Insight refers to the previous European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill (October 2019). It does not relate to the bill presented to Parliament on 19 December 2019.

This is the second version of the withdrawal agreement bill, which was first published in October.

It is needed to enshrine the deal Boris Johnson struck with the EU in October in UK law and legitimise the transition period before full departure on 31 December 2020. It includes several key changes that reduce parliamentary scrutiny of the Brexit bill and give the government freedom to conduct negotiations without parliamentary approval.

What stays the same?

  • Powers to make the Brexit deal legal domestically.
  • The legislation enabling the transition period allowing the UK to stay in the customs union and single market between 1 February and 21 December 2020.
  • Powers to ensure key elements of the European Communities Act of 1972 remain applicable domestically. The UK will remain a rule-taker and not a rule maker.
  • Extensive powers to ministers and devolved governments to deal with the separation issues.
  • So-called “Henry VIII powers”, under which ministers can repeal or amend an act of parliament without going back to MPs, allowing them to implement the protocol on special arrangements intended to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
  • Powers and arrangements to ensure EU citizens’ rights laid out in the withdrawal agreement are implemented.

What has been removed?

  • The clauses that give parliamentary say on future Brexit deals, negotiating objectives or the extension period have been removed. Specifically, they are:
  • The clause giving MPs the right to approve an extension to the transition period.
  • The clause 31 requirement for parliamentary approval for negotiations on the future relationship in the October bill has gone.
  • The removal of clauses pledging alignment with the EU on workers’ rights.
  • Legal protections for refugee children reunited with family members in the UK have been watered down.
  • The promise that the government’s position on negotiating the future relationship will be in line with the political declaration that accompanied the withdrawal agreement.

What’s new?

  • A clause outlawing an extension to the Brexit transition period beyond 31 December is included.
  • A clause locking in Brexit at the stroke of midnight, 31 December. The only way that can change is if the EU changes its summer daylight saving.
  • The bill gives the government new powers in several areas, including Northern Ireland, to change Brexit-related laws through secondary legislation rather than primary, which has the potential to reduce parliamentary scrutiny.
  • Time limits on any discussion of the divorce bill payments, removing the option of debate up to March 2021. T
  • It gives the House of Lords’ EU committee the right to scrutinise developments in EU law of “vital national interest” to the UK during the transition or implementation period. The House of Commons already had these powers under the October bill.

UK General Election Results 2019: Youthquake or sinkhole?

Boris wins a huge majority to lead a renewed Conservative Government and push forward his plan to leave the EU by the 31st January 2020. 

Jeremey Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party who remained neutral on the Brexit survived the worst defiant since Michael Foot in the 1983s, and he will stand down has party leader.

Jo Swindon, the leader of the Liberal Democrats who fought on a pledge to end Brexit and remain in the EU lost her seat and has now retired from her party leadership role.   

The DUP share of the Northern Ireland vote has decreased and have now lost their bargaining power with the government over the Brexit plan.

The SNP share of the Scottish vote has increased signalling a second referendum on Scottish independence, where Scotland could find itself outside of two trading relationships – the EU and UK.

The question now begs, what happened to the youth vote? Did young voters switch from Corbyn to Boris? Did young voters turn out? And what next for the renewal in British democracy and the role of young voters?


The UK looks set for a 12 December election after MPs vote to back it following months of deadlock over Brexit

Britain is set to go back to the ballot box on 12th December 2019, following months of deadlock in Parliament to move forward on Brexit. In this messy divorce between the UK and EU, the political parties will be fighting the election on very different grounds. The Conservatives will fight for a quick divorce before the 31st January 2020. Labour are pledging a new referendum, in other words, a separation and perhaps a second chance. Whilst the Liberals are out-rightly wanting a second chance. The SNP and later Labour party argued for amendments to be made to the election bill, giving 16 and 17 years olds the right to vote and also EU citizen’s resident in the UK. These amendments were not taken forward and only the 9th December general election date was voted upon, which was lost. By default the 12th December became Election Day. Labour is also concerned that many of its University student voters would have returned home for their holidays without having the chance to vote.

Brexit extension

The EU has granted the UK an extension to January 31st 2020 to remain a member of the EU. However, the UK can leave the EU before this date if Parliament approves the Government’s Brexit Deal Withdrawal Bill.

The House of Commons chamber is crowded by lawmakers during the Brexit debate inside parliament in London Saturday Oct. 19, 2019. At the rare weekend sitting of Parliament, Prime Minister Boris Johnson implored legislators to ratify the Brexit deal he struck this week with the other 27 EU leaders. Lawmakers voted Saturday in favour of the 'Letwin Amendment', which seeks to avoid a no-deal Brexit on October 31. (Jessica Taylor/House of Commons via AP)

Parliament’s ‘unmeaningful vote’ on Brexit

On October 21st 2019 MPs voted and approved in principle Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, but voted against his proposed three-day timetable. The Government won its unmeaningful vote on its Brexit deal however its timetable was rejected. Parliament demanded more time to scrutinize the deal before sending it to the House of Lords. This disrupts the planned departure of the UK leaving the EU on October 31st. Resulting from the rejection of the timetable, the PM called for a pause to Parliament’s debate on the Brexit deal whilst they await the decision by the EU on a possible extension. The UK Government is not actively seeking an extension, instead they are preparing for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October and/or a pre-Christmas national election to get over the Parliamentary gridlock.


It should have been a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on Brexit?

The UK Parliament sat on a Saturday 19th October for the first time in 37 years to try and get Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal agreed. It should have been a simple Yes or No vote on Brexit. However the deal was pre-empted when MPs adopted an amendment – called the Letwin amendment. This amendment aims to make sure that Britain can’t leave the EU on 31 October without legislation in place. We have 650 MPs in Parliament and the amendment passed by 322 votes to 306, making another delay to Brexit the most likely outcome. Under another piece of legislation called the Benn Act, under that act, Mr Johnson had until 23:00 BST on Saturday to send a letter requesting a delay to the UK’s departure – something he did, albeit without his signature. Also with a second letter, signed and requesting that any request for an extension should not be granted to the UK by the EU. The government says it will push ahead with efforts to pass its Brexit deal, despite a major setback to its plans.


Unsigned letter

Dear Mr President,

The UK Parliament has passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. Its provisions now require Her Majesty’s Government to seek an extension of the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty, currently due to expire at 11 p.m. GMT on 31 October 2019, until 11 p.m. GMT on 31 January 2020.

I am writing therefore to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty. The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end at 11 p.m. GMT on 31 January 2020. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.

Yours sincerely,

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


PM’s signed letter

Dear Donald,

It was good to see you again at the European Council this week where we agreed the historic new deal to permit the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on October 31.

I am deeply grateful to you, President Juncker and to all my fellow European leaders for the statesmanship and statecraft which enabled us to achieve this historic milestone. I should also register my appreciation for Michel Barnier and his team for their imagination and diplomacy as we concluded the negotiations.

When I spoke in Parliament this morning, I noted the corrosive impact of the long delay in delivering the mandate of the British people from the 2016 referendum. I made clear that, while I believe passionately that both the UK and the EU will benefit from our decision to withdraw and develop a new relationship, that relationship will be founded on our deep respect and affection for our shared culture, civilisation, values and interests.

We will remain the EU’s closest partner and friend. The deal we approved at last week’s European Council is a good deal for the whole of the UK and the whole of the EU.

Regrettably, Parliament missed the opportunity to inject momentum into the ratification process for the new Withdrawal Agreement. The UK Parliament Representative will therefore submit the request mandated by the EU (Withdrawal) (No.2) Act 2019 later today.

It is, of course, for the European Council to decide when to consider the request and whether to grant it. In view of the unique circumstances, while I regret causing my fellow leaders to devote more of their time and energy to a question I had hoped we had resolved last week, I recognise that you may need to convene a European Council.

If it would be helpful to you, I would of course be happy to attend the start of any A50 Council so that I could answer properly any question on the position of HM Government and progress in the ratification process at that time.

Meanwhile, although I would have preferred a different result today, the Government will press ahead with ratification and introduce the necessary legislation early next week. I remain confident that we will complete that process by 31 October.

Indeed, many of those who voted against the Government today have indicated their support for the new deal and for ratifying it without delay. I know that I can count on your support and that of our fellow leaders to move the deal forward, and I very much hope therefore that on the EU side also, the process can be completed to allow the agreement to enter into force, as the European Council Conclusions mandated.

While it is open to the European Council to accede to the request mandated by Parliament or to offer an alternative extension period, I have made clear since becoming Prime Minister, and made clear to Parliament again today, my view, and the Government’s position, that a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us.

We must bring this process to a conclusion so that we can move to the next phase and build our new relationship on the foundations of our long history as neighbours and friends in this continent our peoples share. I am passionately committed to that endeavour.

I am copying this letter to Presidents Juncker and Sassoli, and to members of the European Council.

Yours sincerely,

Boris Johnson



New Brexit deal

The revised Brexit agreement between the UK and the EU was announced at a summit of European Leaders on Thursday 17th October

Ninety-five per cent of this revised deal is the same as Theresa May’s, which was crafted during two years of painstaking negotiations. But that one didn’t gain consent from the UK Parliament.

The Irish border issue is solved… for a bit. Northern Ireland will follow pages and pages of EU rules on agriculture and goods. Items entering Northern Ireland will be checked for compliance with those regulations. That reduces the risk of dodgy goods ending up in France, Belgium, Finland or the rest of the member states. The single market will also be physically protected. Then ever four ears it’ll be up to the Northern Irish people to decide to continue under these rules or not. Now the British Parliament must vote to accept or decline the deal on Saturday 19th October and if successful it then moves onto the European Parliament for its final vote leading to UK exist from the EU with a deal on the October 31st.

Is a Brexit deal possible?

Negotiations between the UK and the EU are taking part at the EU Commission in Brussels, following a not so good telephone exchange between Boris and Merkel where reaching a deal before the October deadline looked impossible to achieve. Then came the face-to-face meeting between Boris Johnson and the Irish PM Leo Varadkar. A joint statement said the two men could still “see a pathway to a possible deal”. But they highlighted two major challenges: customs and consent. First and foremost, the UK now insists the backstop – the legal guarantee to avoid the return of a hard border in Ireland – has to go. The UK plan to replace it would leave Northern Ireland inside the EU single market for all agricultural and industrial goods but outside the EU customs union.

EU negotiators also appreciate the fact the UK has moved on the issue of regulations and has now proposed setting up a single zone, following EU rules, on the island of Ireland. That means checks on goods – especially food and agricultural produce – would have to take place within the UK (between Britain and Northern Ireland) instead.

The rest of the withdrawal agreement negotiated by the EU and Theresa May’s government – including the financial settlement and the transition period, things heavily criticised in the past by Boris Johnson – would remain in place.

On Monday 14th October the Queen Speech will centre on Brexit, followed by a summit of European leaders due to take place next 17th and 18th October, which is seen as the last chance to agree a deal before 31 October – the date the UK is due to leave the EU.


Supreme Court ruled suspending Parliament was unlawful

The unambiguous verdict from the U.K.’s highest court was a severe political blow to Johnson. He is accused of effectively lying to the queen and trampling on parliamentary sovereignty. In the short term, Johnson was accused of suspending, or “proroguing” the legislature to limit the time lawmakers have to debate and intervene in his Brexit policy.

Read the full statement of ruling


The week that was…

In seven weeks of the new Government the PM has yet to win a vote in Parliament to either hold a General Election or have the right to impose a no deal Brexit.

  • Senior Conservatives – including Ken Clarke, the longest serving member of Parliament – lost the Tory wimp for voting against the Government by imposing taking off the table a no-deal option when PM meets with Brussels negotiators.
  • PM’s brother resigned from cabinet position as Secretary of State for Higher Education citing unrecognisable differences with the Government’s Brexit position and family conflict.
  • Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, also resigns from Cabinet in support of Tory MPs who have had the wimp removed, citing 80% of government activity is focused on planning a no deal Brexit.
  • Bill voted down for the second time by Parliament for a General Election asked for by PM.
  • John Bercow, Speaker of the House announced his retirement starting 1st November 2019
  • The suspension of Parliament came into 10th September and the House returns on the 9th October 2019.
  • Scottish courts rules PM suspension of Parliament to be illegal.
  • Yellowhammer report released detailing the impact of a no deal Brexit on the economy and country come a no deal Brexit [See attachment].

Sir John Major joins court case to stop Parliament suspension

Ms Miller had already launched her own challenge, and Sir John said by joining her he would avoid “taking up the court’s time”. The Tory former PM believes the move by Boris Johnson is aimed at preventing MPs from opposing a no-deal Brexit. The High Court will hold a preliminary hearing, at the start of September, and if it agrees to it, a full hearing will take place the day following the decision to precede.



Parliament suspension

Parliament suspension sparks furious backlash and protesters demonstrate throughout the UK.

Scottish judge considering parliament shutdown challenge. The group of 75 parliamentarians are seeking the Scottish legal equivalent of an injunction to stop parliament being suspended, pending a full hearing on 6 September.



A very British Coup

The ‘prorogues of parliament’ has now been approved, allowing the government to suspend Parliament no earlier than Monday 9 September and no later than Thursday 12 September, until Monday 14 October.

The prime minister’s decision to suspend Parliament has prompted an angry backlash from MPs and opponents of a no-deal Brexit. MPs now have less time to debate and/or to bring forward legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit.