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And we're off

So, that's it. Everything is signed off and our membership of the EU ends in a week. Off. How was it for you? 

Yes, there will be a big party in Westminster next week. Fireworks and everything. All organised by a certain Mr Farage. He quite likes some sweet, sweet Brexit action.

It's a day that many people never thought would actually come. Certainly, there were times under Theresa May that a second referendum looked like the only possible way forward. Either we'd stay in after that (which would mightly irritate some) or we'd spend more time talking about it in the Commons.

Here we are though. As the Big Cheese would have it, getting it done.

Of course, we're not really, really leaving next week. Officially we are. Out. Gone. Off. We will no longer be members of the EU. However, nothing much will change. We're entering the Implementation Period, more commonly known as Transition. 

When you wake up on 1st February, the Transition Period means that nothing will be different. Sure, we'll be separated from those pesky foreigners my name, but that's about it.  Citizens' rights, our trading relationship and the weather will be the same as before. This will carry on until the 31st December this year.

In those 11 months, we're hoping to negotiate a trade deal with the EU.  That's pretty important for us because we do loads and loads of trade with the 27 other countries. EU negotiators say that's a very, very tight timetable, but they should be able to agree the most important elements by then, colouring in the middle bits in the early part of 2021.

We're beginning to get signs of what it's going to look like, too. Sajid Javid (the government's top money man) said we're not going to have any regulatory alignment (meaning that products would have to match the same standards as each other). That's so that we can make our own standards, as well as making trade deals across the world a bit easier.

Javid also said that some companies would be better off, while some would be worse off because of this. When challenged to justify making British companies worse off, he said that they should have known Brexit was coming - the referendum was three and a half years ago.

So, what can we look forward to in terms of Brexit in the next few weeks?  Those fireworks in London might be fun. We can follow the exciting trade negotiations for eleven months. We can enjoy the unique feeling of being definitely out the EU, but also a bit still in. Exciting times. 
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Next week in Parliament

As you'd expect (because - January 2020) it's quite quiet.

House of Commons:

Monday: NHS Funding Bill (which puts into law the commitment to spend £33.9 billion a year on the NHS by 2024.  Not sure why they don't make it a much more satisfying £40 bn, but I suppose that's irrelevant).

Tuesday: Some more action from the Direct Payments to Farmers Bill (which aims to replace the EU's Common Agricultural Policy - that gives direct payments -  with more targetted ways of supporting farmers). 

Wednesday:PMQs and then an Opposition Day. That's when Labour get the chance to pick a topic for debate. The topic hasn't been announced yet.

Thursday: Nothing much.

Friday: MPs will be in their constituencies

House of Lords:

Monday: A bill about air traffic management. The Lords gets all the exciting stuff first.

Tuesday: If you enjoyed the air traffic one yesterday, you're going to love today's bill that slightly tinkers at the sides with pension schemes. 

Wednesday: Technical bits about the Direct Payments to Farmers Bill that was in the Commons the day before.

Thursday: Nothing much
Sounds good, I'll help out
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