UK Politics: Brexit bill takes priority as new MPs arrive in Westminster

The Tories now have a big majority in parliament
New MPs in Westminster are set to vote on the Brexit agreement bill this week

Voting on the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill will be one of the first orders of business for new MPs arriving in Westminster this week. Tradefair brings you the latest from UK politics...

The PM has been very clear that we have a responsibility to deliver a better future for our country and that we must repay the public's trust by getting Brexit done."

- Downing Street source

Following the Conservatives' emphatic victory in the general election last week, prime minister Boris Johnson will today (December 16) welcome the party's 109 new MPs to Westminster.

Many of the Tories taking their seats in the House of Commons won in areas that, in the past, have been staunchly loyal to Labour. The opposition party, meanwhile, must begin the process of finding a new leader, with Jeremy Corbyn set to step down after leading Labour to their worst election result since the 1930s.

The markets have taken great confidence from the UK election result, as well as fresh signs of progress in trade negotiations between the US and China.

Johnson's first order of business

Now his party has an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons, Johnson's first priority will be to hold a vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill so he can fulfil his oft-repeated campaign pledge to 'get Brexit done' by the end of January 2020.

The Queen will formally open parliament on Thursday and it's possible MPs could be asked to vote on the bill as early as Friday.

A source from 10 Downing Street said: "The PM has been very clear that we have a responsibility to deliver a better future for our country and that we must repay the public's trust by getting Brexit done. That's why the first piece of legislation new MPs will vote on will be the Withdrawal Agreement Bill."

The UK's planned exit from the EU before January 31 will be followed by a transition period until December 31, 2020, during which Johnson's team will have to negotiate and ratify a new trade agreement with Brussels.

Labour's rebuilding begins

While the Tories focus on their immediate priorities in Westminster, Labour must begin a rebuilding process after losing dozens of seats that it had previously held for decades. Some of the most surprising losses came in traditional Labour strongholds in the north of England.

Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, both of whom will be stepping down in the new year, have apologised to their supporters and accepted responsibility for the party's "catastrophic" election defeat.

McDonnell told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "It's on me, let's take it on the chin. I own this disaster, so I apologise."

Corbyn wrote articles in the Sunday Mirror and the Observer taking responsibility for the election result and calling it a "body blow for everyone who so desperately needs real change in our country".

The party will now begin the process of finding a new leader. Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey is seen as one of the favourites and reportedly has the support of McDonnell, but is yet to confirm her candidacy.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy told the BBC she was "seriously thinking" about running, while Jess Phillips, Emily Thornberry and Sir Keir Starmer are among the other possible candidates.

FTSE 100 surges

One of the most immediate repercussions of the clear election result was an instant rally on the stock market, with the FTSE 100 rising by 1.1% over the course of the day's trading on Friday December 13.

The positive trend for London's benchmark index continued on Monday morning, with stocks gaining more than 2.2% by 10:00 GMT.

It wasn't just the clarity provided by the UK general election that buoyed the markets, with investors also taking confidence from positive reports on the negotiations between the US and China, which are trying to find a resolution to their long-running trade dispute.

The two sides announced on Friday night they had agreed the text of a 'phase one' trade deal, which prevented the introduction of US tariffs on Chinese imports that had been scheduled to take effect on Sunday night.

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