Lawmakers have approved the post-Brexit trade deal in British Parliament, paving the way for it to become legislation.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson subsequently signed the deal at 1600 GMT, an hour after it was voted through the House of Commons.
“I know the question you’ll all be asking yourselves is ‘Have I read it?’ The answer is yes, and it’s an excellent deal for this country but also for our friends and partners,” Johnson said.
Members of Parliament for the House of Commons voted 521 to 73 – a majority of 448 – on Wednesday to support the post-Brexit trade deal agreed by negotiators from London and Brussels on Christmas Eve.
The bill is currently being debated in the House of Lords and will be voted on later before it can be officially turned into British law.
The result of the vote in the House of Lords is expected late on Wednesday evening.
The vote in the House of Commons followed several hours of debate, where some lawmakers said they would be abstaining due to concerns over the deal.
Johnson opened it by saying the new deal will allow Britain to become a “friendly neighbour, best friend and ally” to the European Union.
He told lawmakers: “It embodies our vision shared with our European neighbours of a new relationship between Britain and the EU as sovereign equals joined by friendship, commerce, history interests and values while respecting one another’s freedom of action.
“We are going to open a new chapter in our national story, striking free trade deals around the world and reasserting global Britain as a liberal, outward-looking force for good.”
The vote comes after the European Union signed the post-Brexit deal just a week after it had been struck.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council chief Charles Michel put their ink on the agreement on Wednesday morning.
“It has been a long road. It’s time now to put Brexit behind us. Our future is made in Europe,” von der Leyen said on Twitter after the signing ceremony.
In a similar vein, Michel hailed the signing of the agreement as the beginning of different trade relations with London.
“New chapter, new relationship,” Michel said.
The 27 EU ambassadors gave their go-ahead for the provisional application on Tuesday afternoon.
The deal – which provides for zero tariffs and zero quotas between the trading partners – still needs to be ratified by the European Parliament.
The European Commission proposed a period of provisional application until February 28, but this might be extended if the lawmakers are scheduled to give their approval in March.