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European Parliament Approves UK‘s Departure From the EU

January 29, 2020 by Dan McCue

The European Parliament approved the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Wednesday, paving the way for the U.K. to leave the EU on Friday.

The vote in the European Parliament was 621-49.

After the vote, emotional members of parliament sang “Auld Lang Syne.”

Signing the letter confirming the EU’s consent, the Parliament’s president, David Sassoli, said the two sides should always remember “there is more that unites us than divides us.”

“You are leaving the EU but you will always be part of Europe…It is very hard to say goodbye. That is why, like my colleagues, I will say arrivederci.”

Beginning at 11 p.m. London time Friday, the U.K. will formally stop being a member of the EU. However, a transition period will start immediately thereafter and continue until the end of the year.

During this period, the U.K. will remain subject to EU law, but it will also be able to strike trade deals of its own with other parts of the world.

The transition will also give both sides time to continue to discuss their future trade and security arrangements.

The most immediate effect of Wednesday’s vote is that the number of European Parliament members will shrink from 751 seats to 705.

The 73 U.K. seats that are being abolished will be partially offset by 27 other lawmakers coming from European countries.

One of the departing members, Luisa Porritt, took to Twitter prior to Wednesday’s vote to say it has been “the greatest honour of my life so far to represent Londoners in the European Parliament.”

“I want to thank each and every one of you who voted for me last May. My main takeaway is to never give up fighting for a better, kinder world. Nothing is permanent,” she said.

Wednesday’s vote was considered largely a formality, as the British Parliament had approved the 541-page agreement earlier this month.

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