Brexit Bill becomes law, letting Britain exit EU

LONDON • A Bill enacting Britain's decision to leave the European Union has become law after months of debate, the House of Commons Speaker announced yesterday, to cheers from eurosceptic lawmakers.

Speaker John Bercow said the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which repeals the 1972 European Communities Act through which Britain became a member of the bloc, had received royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II.

The Bill transfers decades of European law onto British statute books, and also enshrines Brexit day in British law as March 29, 2019 at 11pm (2300 GMT) - midnight Brussels time.

Prime Minister Theresa May said it was a "historic moment for our country, and a significant step towards delivering on the will of the British people".

The Bill has undergone more than 250 hours of acrimonious debate in Parliament since it was introduced in July last year.

Eurosceptics celebrated the passing of the Bill through Parliament last week as proof that, despite continuing uncertainty in the negotiations with Brussels, Brexit was happening.

"Lest anyone is in any doubt, the chances of Britain not leaving the EU are now zero," International Trade Minister Liam Fox said.

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a staunch Brexit supporter, said: "The legal position is now so much stronger for a clean Brexit. Crucially this makes the Prime Minister's negotiating hand much stronger."

Conservative MP Dominic Raab said Mrs May would go to an EU summit tomorrow "with the wind in her sails".

The government had a tough time getting the Bill through Parliament and was forced to concede some power to lawmakers over the final Brexit deal agreed with Brussels.

Further battles are expected in the House of Commons in the coming weeks, when MPs debate two Bills on trade - with pro-Europeans seeking to force the government to keep close ties with the bloc.

Mrs May has yet to set out her plans for customs arrangements after Brexit, which have become a major stumbling block in talks with Brussels.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2018, with the headline 'Brexit Bill becomes law, letting Britain exit EU'. Print Edition | Subscribe