PM pumped that Brexit is over the line, but Davos indicates it could be a lonely place for the UK

Thursday 23rd January 2020

After three and a half years of rancour, The Brexit Bill is now only a step away from becoming law.

Having returned from the House of Lords, with a series of revisions, on the rights of EU citizens, the independence of the judiciary and the power of UK courts to diverge from European law, none were accepted and with a sweeping majority in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson witnessed the agreement he negotiated in October sail through to its rubber-stamping by the Queen.

An amendment to allow the children of UK residents who had claimed asylum elsewhere to be re-united with their families was also rejected by the Commons.

As we reported here yesterday, there will be an attempt by the devolved assemblies in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, led by SNP leader Blackford, to stall this process, but it is no more than a way of registering dissent than to overturn the legislation.

While this moment in time is extremely significant for the PM, it is not the end of the story as the 11 month transition period will now start to unfold.

So now we can expect intense media focus and photo opportunities  on the signing of the agreement by Johnson, Charles Michel, the European Council President and Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission President.

The PM clearly delighted by the outcome extoled yesterday that, "At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we've done it.”

The sense of triumph may well be short-lived however as the battle begins for a trade agreement with the EU, that is not only favourable for the UK, but allows for an equally favourable agreement with the US. In a tradition of having your cake and eating it, it seems highly unlikely that Johnson will not encounter some hurdles that will be very difficult for him to climb.

The first hint of this was seen at the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday. As Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid announced the introduction of a 2 percent tax on global technology firms, like Google and Amazon, despite other countries clamouring for a multi-lateral rather than unilateral approach.

The response from the American representative at Davos was that should the UK act in this way it would put a tariff on UK car exports to the States.

Johnson may well have finally disentangled the UK from the EU, but he may be about to discover that there is no longer safety in numbers and the US may not be the ally that he had hoped it would be.

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