Britain now looks ready to leave the European Union on January 31 after Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal cleared the Commons yesterday.
MPs passed the prime minister’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) at second reading by 358 votes to 234, a majority of 124, following the Tories’ landslide election victory last week.
Mr Johnson, opening the debate on the Bill, insisted the old Leave and Remain labels were now as “defunct” as Montagues and Capulets at the end of Romeo and Juliet.
After months of delay and deadlock, the prime minister said now was the time to act and forge a new relationship with the rest of Europe as his deal passed another stage of its parliamentary process.
Mr Johnson urged Parliament to come together and allow the “warmth and natural affection that we all share” for the UK’s European neighbours to “find renewed expression in one great new national project”.
The prime minister told MPs the Bill must not be seen as a victory for one party or faction before adding: “This is the time when we move on and discard the old labels of Leave and Remain.
“In fact, the very words seem tired to me – as defunct as Big-enders and Little-enders, or Montagues and Capulets at the end of the play.
“Now is the time to act together as one reinvigorated nation, one United Kingdom, filled with renewed confidence in our national destiny and determined at last to take advantage of the opportunities that now lie before us.
“Now is the moment to come together and write a new and exciting chapter in our national story, to forge a new partnership with our European friends, to stand tall in the world, to begin the healing for which the whole people of this country yearn.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn labelled the Government’s handling of Brexit a “national embarrassment” since 2016, as he said his party “recognises the clear message” from voters at the election but confirmed Labour would not support the Bill.
He said Mr Johnson was offering a “terrible” Brexit deal, adding: “Labour will not support this Bill as we remain certain there is a better and fairer way for this country to leave the European Union.
“One which would not risk ripping our communities apart, selling out our public services or sacrificing hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.
“This deal is a road map for the reckless direction in which the Government and our Prime Minister are determined to take our country.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, meanwhile, said Mr Johnson was “blindly hurtling towards the cliff-edge” with his “deeply damaging” Brexit plans, arguing they will leave people poorer.
He said: “This legislation will hit our economy, cost thousands of jobs in Scotland, sell-out our food and drink sector and harm people’s livelihoods.
“The Scottish National Party will not vote for this flawed and deeply damaging legislation.
“We reject this toxic Brexit legislation and make the case clear that this UK Government cannot drag Scotland out of the European Union before gaining the legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament.”
The deal will return to Parliament in the new year where it will undergo further scrutiny in the Commons and House of Lords.