Boris Johnson claims to have reached the ‘Brexit finish line’

PUBLISHED: 08:13 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:18 23 January 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

Despite it being a long way from being completed, Boris Johnson has claimed we have reached the ‘Brexit finish line’.

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The prime minister called for the "rancour and division" to be left behind over the UK's departure from the EU after peers ended a legislative battle.

The Lords had tried to secure additional rights including for unaccompanied child refugees but bowed to the will of MPs after the elected chamber overturned the peers' demands.

Now the legislation just needs Royal Assent to be formally granted by the Queen and the agreement to be approved by the European Parliament by Brexit day on January 31.

The PM, who reportedly wants to ban the word Brexit from government, said the nation would "move forwards as one United Kingdom", despite the fact parliaments and assemblies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales voted against his bill.

He added: "At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we've done it.

"Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future - with better hospitals and schools, safer streets and opportunity spread to every corner of our country."

The Queen's formal approval of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is expected in the coming days while the European Parliament will hold its consent vote on January 29.

MPs had reversed five changes made to the legislation by the Lords during a "ping-pong" phase where the Bill moved between the two Houses until agreement is achieved.

Peers had defeated the government on EU workers having the right to physical proof of their right to remain and on the power of courts to depart from European Court of Justice rulings.

They also worked to ensure the rights of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families in the UK post-Brexit.

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But all five amendments were comfortably reversed by MPs, with majorities ranging from 86 to 103, before the upper House gave way.

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