MPs voted this afternoon to overwhelmingly support Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal with the EU as the UK prepares for an orderly split from Brussels at 11pm tomorrow night.
The Prime Minister is crashing his accord through Parliament in a single day and the agreement cleared its final major hurdle in the House of Commons as MPs voted by 521 to 73, a majority of 448, to approve it.
The deal still has to be debated and voted on by the House of Lords and that will happen this evening before the Queen is then asked to rubber stamp it late tonight.
This afternoon’s vote means Mr Johnson is now standing on the threshold of history as he tries to close the book on four years of bitter political wrangling.
Meanwhile, the official copy of the hard-fought 1,200 page trade deal has arrived in London on an RAF jet after being signed by a smiling EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels this morning.
The PM is set to do the honours in Downing Street this afternoon as he finally brings the curtain down on the Brexit saga which has dominated UK politics since the EU referendum in 2016.
Earlier, a clearly jubilant Mr Johnson delivered an upbeat message to the Commons about the country’s opportunities now the UK has ‘taken back control’.
Opening the Commons debate on his deal, Mr Johnson urged an end to the ‘rancour and recrimination’ that have soured political life in recent years.
He said decades of tensions with the EU had been ‘resolved’ so Britain can be its closest friend, a free-trading power, and a ‘liberal, outward-looking force for good’. He suggested far from trade being hit by leaving the single market and customs union it should mean ‘even more’ business being done.
‘Having taken back control of our money, our borders, our laws and our waters by leaving the European Union on January 31, we now seize this moment to forge a fantastic new relationship with our European neighbours based on free trade and friendly co-operation,’ Mr Johnson said.
‘At the heart of this Bill is one of the biggest free trade agreements in the world.’
The passage of the deal through the Commons was seen as a formality thanks to the PM’s 80-seat majority and the fact Sir Keir Starmer told Labour MPs they had to vote for it.
However, the Labour leader faced a rebellion by a number of his own MPs as they defied the party whip and either abstained or voted against the accord.
Two junior members of the Labour frontbench, Helen Hayes and Tonia Antoniazzi, quit their roles after they chose to abstain.
Meanwhile, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he could not vote for the deal while former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott told the Commons she was voting against it.
In a tough message to would-be mutineers, Sir Keir had said this morning: ‘Those that vote ”no” are voting for No Deal.’
Ex-PM Theresa May had delivered a stinging attack saying her agreement with the EU – repeatedly rejected by the House in 2019 before she was evicted from No10 – had been ‘better’ as she berated Sir Keir for failing to support it