Britain’s parliament on Thursday finally approved Brexit withdrawal deal, allowing it to become the first country to leave the European Union later this month, ending years of arguments that toppled two governments and splintered society.
The House of Commons erupted in cheers after MPs ratified Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s divorce deal with Brussels by 330 votes to 231, turning the page on an extraordinary era of political drama and chaos.
For much of the time since the 2016 Brexit referendum, lawmakers have been at each other’s’ throats over how, when or even if Britain should leave its closest trading partners after nearly 50 years.
Some view Brexit with horror, fearing it will strip them of their European identities and turn Britain into an insular, less important nation.
Others embraced it with fervour, viewing it as a chance to “take back control” from officials in Brussels and see Britain regain some of its past might.
“We will be leaving the EU on January 31. We will have delivered on the PM’s commitment to get Brexit done,” a government spokesman said, echoing Johnson’s election mantra.
Britain’s main opposition Labour party, bruised by its worst beating at the polls since 1935, voted against Brexit on Thursday knowing the battle had been lost.
We “may not win many votes in parliament just now, but we can win the moral argument”, said Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer, a potential successor to Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.
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