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Time to move on with new EU relationship, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

By Aoife Moore

Britain took a big step closer to leaving the EU as Boris Johnson's Brexit deal was backed by a large majority of MPs.

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The second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill was passed by 358 votes to 234, a majority of 124.

It was the first chance MPs had to vote on the deal since last week's General Election which handed the Conservatives a commanding Commons majority.

The move came after Mr Johnson insisted Leave and Remain labels were now defunct and the country should "move on" ahead of the scheduled EU exit on January 31.

After months of delay, he said now was the time to act and forge a new relationship with the rest of Europe as his deal passed its latest stage in Parliament.

Mr Johnson urged Parliament to come together and allow the "warmth and natural affection that we all share" for the UK's European neighbours to "find renewed expression in one great new national project".

The PM told MPs the Bill must not be seen as a victory for one party or faction, adding: "This is the time when we move on and discard the old labels of Leave and Remain. In fact, the very words seem tired to me, as defunct as Big-enders and Little-enders, or Montagues and Capulets at the end of the play.

"Now is the time to act together as one reinvigorated nation, one United Kingdom, filled with renewed confidence in our national destiny and determined at last to take advantage of the opportunities that now lie before us."

Later speaking at a media briefing in Dublin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said a trade deal between Ireland and the UK has been made more difficult because the Prime Minister is "fixed on a harder Brexit".

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