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Royal assent given to Brexit deal as Johnson hails 'crossing the finish line' despite ongoing negotiations

The British Prime Minister called for the “rancour and division” to be left behind.

Image: Stefan Rousseau via PA Images

Updated Jan 23rd 2020, 4:23 PM

QUEEN ELIZABETH II has given royal assent to the legislation for Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, paving the way for the UK to leave the EU with an agreement at the end of January.

The British Prime Minister hailed the crossing of the “Brexit finish line”, despite the months of further negotiations which will be needed with Brussels to agree a trade deal.

He called for the “rancour and division” to be left behind over the UK’s departure from the European Union on 31 January.

But there was little sign of reconciliation in the House of Commons as the announcement that the legislation had been given royal assent was made by deputy speaker Nigel Evans.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford was immediately on his feet, denouncing the “constitutional crisis” caused because the devolved administrations – including the Scottish parliament – had not given consent to the deal.

“Our parliament has been ignored, our government has been ignored,” he said.

The legislation cleared the British parliament yesterday after peers, who had tried to secure additional rights including for unaccompanied child refugees, bowed to the will of MPs after the elected chamber overturned their demands.

European approval 

The Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and EU will now by signed by Johnson, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

It still needs to be approved by the European Parliament before ‘Brexit day’, with a vote expected on 29 January.

Johnson said the nation would “move forwards as one United Kingdom”, adding: “At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it.

“Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future – with better hospitals and schools, safer streets and opportunity spread to every corner of our country.”

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