(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill faces its first vote Friday in the House of Commons as the prime minister seeks to drive the legislation through Parliament and take the U.K. out of the European Union on Jan. 31.
After Johnson’s Conservatives swept to victory in last week’s general election, the vote at about 2:30 p.m. is largely a formality, because all Tory candidates vowed to back it. The legislation will then be set to progress through the remaining parliamentary steps in January, after a Christmas recess.
The Tories’ new 80-seat majority signals an end to the stalemate that’s hobbled the government since the 2016 Brexit referendum. By making progress on the divorce before Parliament breaks up, Johnson aims to show he’s moving quickly to deliver on pledges that swept his party to electoral wins in seats in northern and central England that haven’t voted Conservative in decades.
“Today we will deliver on the promise we made to the people and get the Brexit vote wrapped up for Christmas,” Johnson said in a statement. “After years of delay and rancor in Parliament, we will deliver certainty, and hard-working businesses and people across this country will have a firm foundation on which to plan for the future.”
Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg late on Thursday said that after Friday’s session, the Brexit Bill will return to the chamber for debate on Jan. 7, 8 and 9.
Bank of England
In another sign that the wheels of government are turning again after months of stasis, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid is set to formally reveal Friday who will lead the Bank of England after Brexit, according to people familiar with the matter. The Financial Times reported late Thursday that Andrew Bailey, the current head of the Financial Conduct Authority, will take the post.
The prime minister on Thursday heralded a “golden age” for the U.K., after unveiling what he described as the “most radical” program of law-making in a generation. The plans, delivered in a speech to Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, included a spending boost for the National Health Service, infrastructure development and a review of the relationship between government and the courts.
Johnson Heralds U.K. ‘Golden Age’ as He Pushes On With Brexit
“This is not a program for one year or one Parliament, it is a blueprint for the future of Britain: Just imagine where this country could be in 10 years’ time,” Johnson told the House of Commons. “I do not think it vainglorious or implausible to say that a new golden age for this United Kingdom is within reach.”
The draft law to be debated Friday is the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which will enable the U.K. to leave the EU on Jan. 31 before formally triggering trade talks with the bloc.
The revamped bill, similar to one introduced to Parliament by Johnson in October, removes provisions for workers’ rights that were intended to win the support of opposition MPs and strips lawmakers of much of their say over leaving the bloc. The new bill also removes a say for MPs over negotiations and stops them from forcing an extension of the implementation period, which is scheduled to end in December 2020.
Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn said Johnson was putting jobs, the environment and food standards at risk and accused him of seeking to “sell out” the National Health Service in a “toxic deal with Donald Trump.”
Johnson “has now deliberately resurrected the threat of no deal at the end of next year, which would decimate industry and destroy people’s jobs,” Corbyn told the House of Commons on Thursday. “We do not want our NHS given over to U.S. corporations and we don’t want expensive medicines with extended patents and we don’t want food like chlorinated chicken on our dinner tables either.”
Johnson vowed action on immigration and tougher sentences for offenders, in a legislative program loaded with the pledges he made to win support in formerly Labour-held districts. Alongside a law to guarantee increased spending on the NHS and commitments to hire more police officers, there are political promises to provide free parking at hospitals and get people home quickly from their holidays if travel companies go bust.
--With assistance from Jessica Shankleman and Greg Ritchie.
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