Brexit bill passes hurdle at European Parliament

BRUSSELS: Britain’s withdrawal from the EU cleared a hurdle at the European Parliament on Thursday as its constitutional committee voted to approve the divorce deal struck with London.

MEPs on the committee voted by 23 to three to recommend that a full sitting of the parliament next week formally sign off on the accord, under which Britain will end its four decades of membership on Jan 31.

This will be the last step to formalise the split on the European side, after Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II gave royal assent to withdrawal legislation earlier on Thursday, capping three years of difficult and complicated negotiations.

Two top EU officials in Brussels are expected to sign the separation treaty on Friday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson – the pro-Brexit figurehead of Britain’s seismic 2016 referendum – will put his name on it in the coming days.