Johnson Promises ‘New Golden Age’ for Britain: Brexit Update

Boris Johnson said Brexit hands the U.K. the opportunity to “renew itself” and herald a “golden age” as he began what his government described as a fast track process to ratify the divorce deal with Brussels and take Britain out of the European Union on Jan. 31.

Along with Brexit, Johnson announced a “radical” program to cement promises made in the Conservative Party’s victorious election campaign, including a funding boost for the state-run National Health Service, tougher sentences for criminals and a crackdown on foreign spies.
Key Developments:

House of Commons votes to sit on Friday to vote on Brexit bill
Government plans to close Brexit department on Jan. 31
U.K. to Crack Down on Russian, North Korean Spies and Saboteurs
Must read: Johnson Announces His ‘Radical’ Agenda for U.K. After Brexit

Short-Lived Independent Group Shuts Down (5 p.m.)

The Independent Group for Change began the process of closing down, less than a year after the breakaway political party was formed. The party — initially made up of an informal coalition of seven MPs who left the Labour Party in February before being joined by several former Conservative MPs — won no seats in last week’s election. Several of their founding members, including Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger, left the party after the European elections in May.

“From the outset we hoped more Labour and Conservative MPs would share our courage and leave their respective political parties,” said Anna Soubry, the Independent Group’s leader and former Tory MP. “We have no regrets about standing up and speaking truth to power when the country needed it. It was always better to have fought and lost than never to have fought at all.”
Government to Act Early on Election Law (5 p.m.)

The government will seek to repeal the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act fairly early in its legislative program, according to a U.K. official.

The legislation was passed in 2011 to shore up the then-coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. But it makes it harder for the government to trigger an election — a source of frustration for Boris Johnson, who wanted an early poll but couldn’t secure Parliament’s support to hold one.

Repealing the act will make it easier to call a snap election. Returning to the old system, each Parliament won’t last for longer than five years and an election is called if the government loses a confidence vote, according to the official.