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World

AFP
December 16, 2019

UK's Johnson to present Brexit bill on Friday

World

AFP
Mon, Dec 16, 2019
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. AFP/Pool/Andrew Milligan/Files

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government intends to present a bill to parliament on Friday to enable Britain to leave the European Union next month, his spokesperson said on Monday.

"We plan to start the process before Christmas and will do so in the proper constitutional way in discussion with the speaker (of the House of Commons)," Johnson's spokesperson told reporters.

The announcement came as Johnson begins a new week with a fresh mandate to fulfil his promise to push through his election promise to "Get Brexit Done" on January 31.

His gamble to call an early election to give him a majority in parliament to get approval of his divorce deal paid off spectacularly last week.

His governing Conservative party won 365 seats — a majority of 80 — at the expense of the main opposition Labour party, which was offering a second referendum on continued membership.

The smaller Liberal Democrats, which wanted to scrap Brexit altogether, also saw its number of MPs fall.

Johnson's spokesperson indicated the presentation of the bill could involve a vote by MPs but that would ultimately depend on the speaker.

"We will present a bill which will ensure we get Brexit done before the end of January. It will reflect the agreements made with the EU on our withdrawal," he added.

Britain will enter talks with the bloc from February to thrash out a new trade deal before a formal end to the transition period at the end of December next year.

Brussels has indicated that a comprehensive agreement may not be possible in such a short time-frame.

Johnson's spokesperson reiterated that the prime minister wanted to pursue a "Canada-style free trade agreement".