Boris Johnson will today take Britain a big step closer to Brexit

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Boris Johnson will today take Britain a big step closer to Brexit

Boris Johnson

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  • MPs are set to vote for Boris Johnson's Brexit bill on Friday afternoon.
  • The Withdrawal Agreement Bill is expected to clear its second reading today, putting the UK firmly on track for leaving the EU next month.
  • Opposition MPs are furious with the prime minister after key promises relating to workers rights, trade talks, and child refugees were removed from the bill.
  • But Johnson is set for a comfortable victory after securing an 80-seat majority at the general election.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The United Kingdom is set to take a significant step closer to Brexit today when members of Parliament vote on Boris Johnson's Brexit bill.

MPs will on Friday vote in the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB.) This legislation is separate to the Brexit deal itself but must be get parliamentary security in order for Britain's exit to be recognised in national law.

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MPs are almost certain to vote in favour of the bill, with Johnson now leading a strong 80-seat majority in the House of Commons. The vote is expected to take place at around 2.30 p.m. GMT, after a few hours of debate.

A vote in favour of the bill will keep the UK firmly on track for leaving the European Union next month. The UK is currently set to leave the EU on January 31 after Johnson reached a revised deal with Brussels in October.

Johnson bins previous commitments on workers rights and trade negotiations

Opposition MPs reacted in fury on Thursday when the text of the updated WAB was published, as it revealed that Johnson had scrapped numerous promises he had made relating to key areas of the UK's exit.

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The government has included in the bill a legal block on the transition period being extended beyond December 2020.

As things stand, the UK will enter a 11-month transition period after leaving the EU, during which it will continue to follow EU rules. The two sides will try to negotiate a new free agreement deal during this time.

Most trade experts say it is very unlikely that negotiators will be able to secure a trade deal in less than a year, meaning the UK could drop out onto dealing with the EU on costly World Trade Organisation rules in around a year's time.

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Johnson before the election said that MPs would have some say over whether the UK would extend the transition period. However, under the terms of the updated WAB, that's no longer the case.

The WAB also doesn't include Johnson's previous assurances over the role Parliament will play in scrutinising the UK government's pursuit of a trade deal with the EU.

The prime minister previously said said that MPs would vote on the UK's objectives in negotiations with the EU. This is not reference in the bill being voted on today.

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Opposition MPs are also angry with Johnson for not including a previous commitment to protecting workers' rights, and watering down a pledge to take in unaccompanied refugee children from Europe after Brexit.

Boris Johnson

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Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats' interim leader, told Business Insider: "Barely days away from the election and this Withdrawal Agreement reveals exactly what an unbridled Boris Johnson will do with the country.

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"Every compromise made before the election, from workers rights to protections for unaccompanied refugee children, have been binned just as we warned they would."

Labour MP Lisa Nandy, who is expected to run to be the party's next leader, composed a Twitter thread outlining the changes to WAB and why she believed it had been changed "for the worse."

Nonetheless, Johnson is expected to secure a comfortable parliamentary majority on Friday afternoon. The prime minister enjoys strong command over the House of Commons as a result of last week's general election.

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