The drink will be flowing in the government whips’ office tonight. For the Brexit Bill has passed through the Commons unamended and with an absolutely thumping majority at third reading of 372.
This means that a clean bill will go to the House of Lords. This will strengthen the government’s hand there as peers will be more reluctant to make changes to a clean bill and one that has passed the Commons with such a large majority.
Despite all the talk of knife-edge votes, the government’s majorities tonight were pretty comfortable—30 or above on all the amendments. In part, this was because of the government conceding just enough—the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter from the Home Secretary Amber Rudd made clear that EU nationals wouldn’t have their status in the UK changed without a parliamentary enough—and a general sense on the Tory benches that the Prime Minister’s hand shouldn’t be tied ahead of the negotiations.
But in a reminder that the Labour party is now far more divided over Europe than the Tories, Clive Lewis resigned from the Labour front bench shortly before the vote on third reading saying that he couldn’t support it. Lewis was among 52 Labour rebels on third reading.
After tonight’s vote, Theresa May will feel confident that she’ll be able to invoke Article 50 next month. Indeed, it could be invoked as early as a month today. Brexit is happening.
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