In the 2016 referendum, the UK voted 52% to 48% in favour of leaving the EU. But the difficulties that followed in getting Brexit through Parliament led to a deadlock in Westminster. The process of ratifying the withdrawal agreement will continue next year, but Friday`s vote is expected to indicate in part that the UK is now heading towards the departure date of 31 January. MEPs begin debate on the second reading of the REPORT until 2:30 p.m., when they will vote on the agreement for the first time since the election. If passed, the bill goes to the commission phase. Politicians will debate and vote on the third and final reading of the WAB, which is the law that introduces the Prime Minister`s Brexit Deal into law. The European Parliament will launch its internal procedure for adopting the withdrawal agreement tomorrow at 4 p.m. at its meeting of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. After a debate and vote, the committee will recommend to the plenary of the European Parliament to vote on the final approval of the agreement, scheduled for next Wednesday in Brussels. The reception of the agreement in the House of Commons ranged from cold to hostile, and the vote was delayed by more than a month. Prime Minister May has received a motion of no confidence within her own party, but the EU has refused to accept further changes.
MPs are now voting on the request for a programme that sets the timetable for parliament`s submission of the legislation by 31 January. Some Labour MPs have written on Twitter about why they decided to abstain in this afternoon`s vote. Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said she had always said she would not vote for a form of Brexit that would hurt the people she represents, but she understood that her constituents wanted Britain to leave the EU. This bill aims to implement the agreement between the UK and the EU, in accordance with Article 50, paragraph 2, of the Treaty on the European Union, which sets out the terms of the UK`s exit from the EU. Here is a note from Guardian Brexit correspondent Lisa O`Carroll on what is new in this version of the law: the second (Amendment 20) concerns the inclusion of the Sewel Convention, which guarantees that the British Parliament cannot legislate on decentralised issues without the approval of declawed legislation. MEPs voted by 239 votes in favour and 235 against, resulting in the amendment. The first (Amendment 18) would ensure the continuity of refugee children and the provisions of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 relating to family reunification. MePs voted by 300 votes in favour and 220 against, which resulted in the amendment. The agreement was revised as part of the Johnson Department renegotiation in 2019. The amendments fit about 5% of the text.  The proposed programme was approved by 353 votes to 243. Debate on the bill is generally short and is limited to what is actually in the bill, which means that any amendments cannot be made (they are normally discussed at second reading).