Britain’s Queen Elizabeth granted royal assent to Prime Minister Theresa May’s flagship Brexit legislation on June 26, ending months of debate over the legislation that will formally end the country’s European Union membership. The House of Commons speaker John Bercow said the EU withdrawal bill, passed by both houses of parliament last week, had been signed into law by the monarch, to cheers from Conservative lawmakers.
The bill transfers decades of European law onto British statute books, and also enshrines Brexit day in British law as for 29 March 2019, at 11 pm (2300 GMT) — midnight Brussels time. Prime Minister Theresa May said the approval was a “historic moment for our country, and a significant step towards delivering on the will of the British people.”
The bill has undergone more than 250 hours of acrimonious debate in the Houses of Parliament since it was introduced in July 2017. Eurosceptics celebrated the passing of the bill through parliament last week as proof that, despite continuing uncertainty in the negotiations with Brussels, Brexit was happening.
The government had a tough time getting the bill through parliament and was forced to concede some power to lawmakers over the final Brexit deal agreed with Brussels. Further battles are expected in the House of Commons in the coming weeks when MPs debate two bills on trade with pro-Europeans seeking to force the government to keep close ties with the bloc.
May has yet to set out her plans for customs arrangements after Brexit, which have become a major stumbling block in talks with Brussels. She will gather her top ministers after the EU summit, which starts on June 28, to thrash out their differences with the aim of publishing a Brexit blueprint shortly after.