Brexit ratified by EU as UK MEPs pack up to come home

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On Wednesday this week, Members of the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted to accept the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Boris Johnson meaning in the final step which sees Brexit ratified. This was inevitable after the Bill had cleared the committee stage last week but was still an emotionally charged affair as Brexit is now unstoppable and the UK will leave at the stroke of 11pm this Friday.

As on might expect Britain’s Nigel Farage was as badly behaved as normal, to the extent he looked delighted when his microphone was cut off during his four minute speech. MEPs in favour of Brexit were also waving Union flags in contravention of EU customs and were roundly told off and ordered to leave and take their flags with them which they appeared delighted to do. There were no complaints to a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne by MEPs in favour of remaining after the vote was approved. At some point no doubt, the Union Jack will be lowered outside the EU Parliament leaving an empty flag pole amidst the flags of the remaining 27 countries still in the EU bloc.

MEPs voted with 621 votes and only 49 against accepting the withdrawal bill to see Brexit ratified and whilst you might think that’s good news (and yes it is better than crashing out on the 31st of January without a deal), it now leaves the UK bound by EU regulations, including any new ones that may be passed, for the next 11 months until the end of the year and without any representation from British MEPs. For 11 months we abide by EU rules with no say in how they are administered and it appears those in favour of leaving had ironically missed the fact this would come to pass.

Today is not the last day of the UK’s membership of the EU, that is tomorrow the 31st of January. But yesterday was the final day any UK MEPs will take part in any EU business and all that was left for them was to pack their bags, return to the UK, and for those who have served for any length of time to enjoy their ample severance packages (Those who have served for longer than a year are entitled to one month’s salary (€8,757.70) for every year they served as an MEP up to a maximum of €200,000) or look for a new job in which case their lose their severance pay and have to wait for their equally ample pensions (3.5% of salary for each year served up to maximum of 70%) when they turn 63.

The EU are naturally saddened to see the UK leaving the bloc but there were plenty of pledges of friendship and promises to approach trade deal talks with patience and objectivity whilst at the same time a warning that negotiators would be protecting the interests of the EU. As with the withdrawal agreement, there will doubtless have to be give and take on both sides if a deal is to be struck.

If you would like to learn more about how to prepare for the end of the year regardless what form the final trade deal (or no deal) might look like as of the 1st of January 2021, watch our webinar with GFS from earlier this month which is a great guide to the steps you can take to prepare your business for all eventualities.

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