Both the House of Commons and House of Lords have now agreed on the text of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019-20 (“WAB”), the legislation required for the UK to implement into domestic law the Withdrawal Agreement. The House of Lords introduced five amendments to the WAB (which also included restrictions on: (a) the ability of UK courts to diverge from EU law after Brexit; and (b) the powers of ministers to decide when to use or set aside judgments by the European Court of Justice), but these were all overturned by the House of Commons when the WAB returned to the Commons. The House of Lords consequently decided not to insist on the inclusion of these five amendments. The WAB is expected to receive Royal Assent during the course of today and thereafter become law.

The next stage in the Brexit process is for the European Parliament to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement when it next meets on 29 January 2020. Following this, the UK will formally leave the EU at 11pm GMT on 31 January 2020 under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Following its departure from the EU, the UK will enter into a transition period (which is due to expire at 11pm GMT on 31 December 2020) during which EU law and the rulings of the European Court of Justice will continue to apply within and to the UK although the UK will no longer be a EU Member State.

It is anticipated that negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and EU will commence shortly after 31 January 2020. The EU has begun its preparations for these negotiations, as evidenced through its recent seminar series on the future UK-EU relationship.

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