Factbox-How does Britain’s parliament approve the Brexit trade deal?

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FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a face mask walks across Westminster Bridge past the Houses of Parliament, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain, December 22, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

December 24, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union agreed terms of a trade deal on Thursday after months of knife-edge negotiations and seven days before transitional arrangements come to an end.

That gives Britain’s parliament just days to scrutinise and pass the laws needed to implement the deal before a Dec. 31 deadline.

IS THERE ENOUGH TIME?

Yes, just.

Parliament can be recalled at 48 hours’ notice and would be expected to convene some time after Dec. 28.

The process of passing the necessary legislation can be squashed into a day or two providing lawmakers agree to the timetable.

WILL PARLIAMENT APPROVE THE DEAL?

It is widely expected to.

There could be a core of pro-Brexit lawmakers in Johnson’s party who vote against the deal on the grounds that it doesn’t deliver the kind of clean break they wanted.

But the opposition Labour Party is not expected to oppose it – even if they do not agree with the way the government has negotiated, and will likely find fault with parts of the deal.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has argued that given a choice between having a deal or having no deal, a deal is preferable.

Put together, this means there is likely to be a majority in the directly-elected lower house of parliament. The upper house of parliament is not expected to block the legislation.

WHAT ARE THEY BEING ASKED TO APPROVE?

The bill has not yet been published.

Lawmakers are likely to be deeply unhappy about the speed at which they’re being asked to pass the legislation. Typically significant laws take months to pass through parliament and involve line-by-line scrutiny and revision.

Parliament has been asked to approve Brexit legislation in a hurry before, with some of the consequences of the laws only coming to light afterwards.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Elizabeth Piper and Pravin Char)