U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Union leaders formally signed on Wednesday the trade treaty they concluded last week after 10 months of tough negotiations, which the House of Commons is due to ratify later in the day.
- The European Parliament demanded to have the time necessary to examine the 2,000 page document and so will have until the end of February to vote on it, with the deal being temporarily implemented in the meantime.
- The U.K. legally left the EU on Jan. 31 but will only exit Europe’s single market and customs union on Dec. 31.
- The House of Commons started deliberating on Wednesday in a session that should conclude later this evening with a vote, with most speakers supporting the deal although some, like former Conservative Party minister Damian Green, regretted the “pretty laughable” way the debate was rushed through the U.K. Parliament.
- The European Research Group, a gathering of hard-line Brexit advocates in Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party, said earlier this week it would support the deal, as it met its criteria on the “sovereignty” it says the country needed to reclaim from the EU.
- Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party leader, has instructed his group of lawmakers to vote for the deal, arguing that the alternative — no deal — would lead to worse economic consequences. That guarantees that the U.K. Parliament will ratify the treaty today.
The outlook: The U.K.-EU relationship will be in legal limbo from Jan. 1 as long as the European Parliament hasn’t ratified it, but however spirited the debates among the many parties represented in the EU’s top legislative body, there is little chance that it will turn down a deal that took so long to conclude.