Brexit Bulletin: Brexit, Done?


Days to Brexit Deadline: 42

(Bloomberg) --

What’s Happening? It’s happened: 1,275 days after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Parliament has overwhelmingly backed the prime minister’s Brexit plan.

A debate on Brexit in Parliament — and an entirely predictable result. If that feels unusual, it’s because it marks such a contrast with the scenes of chaos in Westminster before the election.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill passed its most important stage in the House of Commons on Friday, by 358 votes to 234. It’s a watershed moment, and marks the end to the debate about whether Brexit should happen. Convention dictates that the House of Lords will not now oppose it. The U.K. is leaving the European Union on Jan. 31.

Brexit Bulletin: Brexit, Done?

What’s remarkable, though, is the scale of the Remainers’ defeat. Under the latest iteration of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, MPs won’t get to vote on any future U.K.-EU trade deal or to extend the transition period. Nor will the rights of workers be protected. Had Remainers voted in favor of the bill as presented during the last Parliament, they could have had all this.

Johnson risked everything on an election — and won. Backing a snap poll didn’t turn out well for opposition parties. The Independent Group has scattered. The People’s Vote is dead. The Liberal Democrats are leaderless. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn is hanging around, grim-faced, waiting for his successor to be named. Parliament has been all but written out of Brexit; Johnson has taken complete ownership.

There are bigger fights ahead in 2020, particularly over trade and what economic direction the country will take. These arguments are critical, but Johnson’s hope is that they won’t attract the same amount of venom as Brexit 1.0, and will allow him to move the debate on.

That may be a welcome Christmas present for those voters fed up with three-and-a-half years of argument about Europe. But it doesn’t mean Brexit is by any means done.

We’ve reached the end of another dramatic year in Brexit. We’re taking a break until the next chapter begins in January. Thanks to all our readers for following this story with us. We’ll see you in 2020.

Today’s Must-Reads

Brexit in Brief

Upwards Revision | The U.K. economy grew more strongly than previously estimated in the third quarter on the back of the dominant services sector, figures published Friday showed. Gross domestic product rose 0.4% instead of 0.3%, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists had expected growth to remain unrevised.

Car Slump | U.K. car production slumped by almost 17% in November as companies shuttered plants to cope with a Brexit deadline that never came. There was a bigger slump in April, after companies ordered a more comprehensive shutdown ahead of the earlier March 29 departure date.

Crossing Continents | With Brexit now coming sharply into focus, asylum seekers are trying ever-harder to reach the U.K., Bloomberg’s Caroline Alexander and John Ainger report. Almost three times as many people attempted to cross the English Channel in the first nine months of 2019 than in the whole of 2018, French officials say.

Border Changes | Remember the Irish border? Well, it’s still there. Dr Katy Hayward of the UK in a Changing Europe think-tank explains Brexit will be very different for Northern Ireland compared with what it means for the rest of the UK.

Election, Charted | Another offering from UK in a Changing Europe today: Five charts that explain how Remain lost and Leave won the general election.

And, Finally | It’s the holiday season, so we have a present for you. Regular readers will remember the ups and downs (or, in fact, downs and ups) of the Brexit saga. We’ve chronicled them all here for you ever since August 2016. So as the year winds down here’s a chance to find some of your old favorites.

Want to keep up with Brexit?

You can follow us @Brexit on Twitter, and listen to Bloomberg Westminster every weekday.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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