British Parliament Passes EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill

After Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party officially secured the House of Commons majority in the UK’s general election this past December, the Withdrawal Agreement Bill for the UK to leave the EU on 31st January 2020 has been approved by the new British Parliament. The bill passed its second reading with a total of 358 to 234 votes.

Impact of the Bill

Without the Withdrawal Agreement Bill being passed, a no-deal Brexit scenario would have taken place on 31st January 2020, forcing the UK to immediately exit the EU without the proper framework in place for a future relationship between the separated entities. However, Parliament’s decision to approve the bill means that there will now be an ‘implementation period’ between the UK and the EU until 31st December 2020.

During this time, EU law will continue to apply in the UK. This includes any new EU legislation that takes effect before the end of the implementation period. Further, the benefit of free movement between the UK and the EU will also continue until 31st December 2020.

With this date in mind, any EU nationals that begin a UK residency before the end of 2020 will have until 21st June 2021 to apply to remain in the UK under the EU settlement scheme.

From 1st January 2021, EU nationals arriving in the UK will be subject to the new UK immigration scheme. Similarly, British citizens arriving in EU countries (except for Ireland) from 1st January 2021 will be subject to the standard immigration rules for non-EU foreign workers. Keep in mind that these rules vary between countries. Business travellers will also have to comply with the regulations in place for each country that they visit.

Moving Forward

Although the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill ensures that the British Parliament has approved key principles of the document, the bill will now transition into the ‘committee stage’, in which it will face further scrutiny. From there, both the UK and EU governments will need to ratify the bill before 31st January 2020.

Regardless of these negotiations, you can utilise the following government guidance to prepare yourself and your organisation for the implementation of Brexit.