World News

Brexit bill passes final stage in House of Commons

Posted January 17, 2018 6:56 a.m. EST

— The British government's Brexit bill passed to the next stage Wednesday after being voted through the House of Commons.

The bill, which aims to incorporate European Union law into British law to ensure a smooth transition upon the country's departure from the bloc, was approved by lawmakers 324 to 295.

Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, at 2300 GMT, according to the bill.

Attention will now turn to the House of Lords, which is expected to offer fierce scrutiny of the bill, with many of its members in favor of remaining in the EU, and where the government lacks a majority.

The government has faced a battle to get the bill through the House of Commons, with a number of amendments put forward.

It suffered an embarrassing defeat last month after a group of 11 rebel Conservative MPs voted against the government to ensure Parliament secured a meaningful vote on the terms of the final Brexit deal.

Since then, the EU and Britain have agreed to move onto the second phase of Brexit negotiations with the next round of talks focusing on a transitional deal before moving onto future trade and security relations between the parties.

Europe still open

Earlier Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he would be happy to assist Britain in rejoining the EU in the future after Brexit.

Juncker described Brexit as a "lose-lose situation" for both Britain and the EU, labeling it a "catastrophe."

"The British people, the British government, may wish to find a different way out of the Brexit situation and we are very much willing to deal with them," Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

"We are not throwing the British out, we would like the British to stay, and if they so wish, they should be allowed to do so."

Juncker's comments came the day after European Council President Donald Tusk said the UK would be welcome to remain in the bloc if it changed its mind.