After almost four years of negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU, the bill on future relationship between the world’s fifth largest economy and the third largest trading block was passed by parliament this afternoon.
Labour MP for Oxford East and Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds had expressed misgivings about the ‘thin’ deal but she voted for it so as to not ‘create more problems for businesses right now by preventing the implementation of what the government has achieved’.
In doing so, Dodds was accompanied by 520 other MPs from both sides of the House of Commons, including Oxfordshire’s four Conservative MPs: Victoria Prentis, John Howell, David Johnson and Robert Courts.
Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, was one of 73 MPs who voted against the deal.
The deal has been heralded by Boris Johnson as allowing Britain to ‘open a new chapter in our history’ and meets key Conservative Party pledges such as ceasing freedom of movement, ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over the UK and leaving the customs union, enabling Britain to forge its own trading relationships with the rest of the world. The deal also secures provisions for free trade with the EU, facilitating the continued tariff-free trade of most goods.
For students, the end of freedom of movement means those from the EU who are currently living in the UK must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme by the 30th June 2021, although the British government has issued assurances that students already studying in the UK will retain their current home status, so will continue to pay the associated lower fees.
For EU students who start a new course from 2021, the home fee arrangement between Britain and the EU will end meaning they will be subject to the same fees as international students studying in the UK. The change of migration arrangements also means that new students from the EU studying in the UK will have to apply for student visas.
The deal also still needs to be ratified in the European Parliament, with a vote on this set to take place in the Spring, but it is broadly expected to pass that stage.
Whether the claims of Eurosceptics like Nigel Farage that the passing of the deal, and Britain’s exit from the EU more generally, marks the ‘beginning of the end for the EU’ are accurate, and that further departures will follow, remains to be seen.
The six Oxfordshire MPs have been contacted for comment.
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