British Parliament Gives Preliminary Approval to E.U. Withdrawal Plan

Britain will formally exit the European Union on Jan. 31 under a withdrawal plan given preliminary approval by Parliament on Friday.

Lawmakers in the House of Commons voted 358 to 234 to push forward the Brexit plan proposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Although previous withdrawal bills had faltered, its passage this time was made possible by last week’s U.K. general election, which saw Johnson’s Conservative Party win a healthy 80-seat majority in Parliament.

Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, failed on several occasions to get a bill passed. Ahead of the vote, Johnson, who had campaigned during the election on his ability to deliver Brexit, told MPs  that his bill “ensures Brexit will be done” and “it will be over.”

Friday’s approval was on a so-called second reading of the withdrawal bill, meaning an agreement with its general principles. It is now subject to further debate and refinement by both the House of Commons and House of Lords.

If the withdrawal bill passes all stages, the U.K. will formally leave the European Union on Jan. 31. However, virtually nothing will change immediately. A transition period until the end of 2020 means that the U.K. will abide by many E.U. rules and regulations while it works through the details of its exit. Johnson’s bill limits the government from extending that transition beyond 2020. Britain now needs to negotiate trade deals with the E.U. and other major partners such as the U.S.

Popular on Variety

The massed ranks of the film and TV business are mostly opposed to Brexit. Specific concerns include backing for distribution of non-English-language movies in the U.K.; the freedom of movement for professionals in Britain’s film and TV sectors, which boast a healthy contingent of talent from the E.U.; and the registration of British TV channels. Many international networks had operated throughout Europe using a U.K.-issued license, but the likes of Discovery, Turner and Viacom have already preempted Brexit concerns by moving some channel operations to continental Europe.

Commercial broadcasters are also concerned about the wider economic effects of Brexit and an ensuing impact on advertising budgets. ITV chief Carolyn McCall has warned that advertisers have been holding back spending as part of their contingency planning.

More Politics

  • DNC

    Mike Bloomberg to Join Democratic Presidential Contenders at Wednesday's Debate

    Democratic presidential contender Mike Bloomberg will take the stage alongside his rivals at a primary debate for the first time on Wednesday night after a poll released today allowed him to qualify for the event. Bloomberg commanded 19% support in the poll conducted by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist, second only to Sen. Bernie Sanders [...]

  • Mike Bloomberg

    Mike Bloomberg's Odd Meme Blitz Spurs Instagram to Require Influencers to Disclose Paid Political Content

    A new paid meme campaign on Instagram by billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who’s running a guerrilla bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has prompted Facebook to clarify that influencers on the platform must disclose such arrangements. This week, Bloomberg’s presidential campaign launched a broad campaign across at least 19 top Instagram accounts with a collective [...]

  • White House Communications Director Hope Hicks,

    Hope Hicks Leaves Fox to Return to White House

    Hope Hicks is leaving her post as Fox Corp. communications chief to return to the White House, a Fox spokesperson confirmed Thursday. She will serve as senior counselor to the president, while working with adviser Jared Kushner. Hicks was the former White House communications director, serving during the first year of the Trump administration. She [...]

  • Bernie Sanders on stage at the

    L.A. Musicians' Union Local Endorses Bernie Sanders

    Boldly declaring itself “the first musicians union in the country to take a position in the 2020 Democratic primary,” the 7,000-member American Federation of Musicians Local 47 announced Wednesday that it has has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, a little less than three weeks out from the California primary. In making the announcement, the union [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders. Democratic presidential

    Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire Primary

    Sen. Bernie Sanders will win the New Hampshire primary, according to projections from several news organizations, positioning him to claim frontrunner status for the Democratic nomination. With more than 90% of the ballots counted, Sanders held a 1.6-point lead over Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The two candidates topped the Democratic field for the second time in [...]

  • Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang speaks

    Andrew Yang Drops Out of Democratic Presidential Race

    Andrew Yang announced Tuesday that he is dropping out of the Democratic presidential race, after a disappointing result in the New Hampshire primary. “Tonight is not the outcome we fought so hard to achieve,” Yang told supporters. “You know I am the math guy, and it is clear tonight from the numbers that we are [...]

  • Alyssa Milano Election Hacking

    Alyssa Milano Sounds Alarm About Election Hacking

    Alyssa Milano has become one of Hollywood’s leading activists in the Trump era, taking on issues like abortion, gun safety and sexual harassment. In 2020, she is turning her attention to a new fight: ballot security. Along with other entertainment industry figures, Milano is launching a campaign against electronic voting machines and electronic “ballot marking [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content