Of the nine Liberal Democrat MPs, seven voted last night against granting the Government the power to trigger Article 50. Norman Lamb and Greg Mulholland did not.
Two rebels is more even in absolute terms than the Conservatives managed, and obviously much higher in proportional terms, which highlights how well the Tories are cohering after the referendum.
Lamb, who’s from the party right and stood against Tim Farron for the leadership when Nick Clegg resigned, represents a constituency in Leave-voting Norfolk. He also argues that as a democrat he couldn’t vote against giving effect to the referendum result.
Mulholland sits for a Leeds constituency, and that city narrowly voted Remain but sits in a Leave part of the country. He makes a similar democratic case for allowing negotiations to begin.
What the balance between electoral calculation and principle was when each made their decision is unknowable.
But theirs will be interesting fates to watch as the Lib Dems double down on their championing of Brussels. Lamb and Mulholland are testing to see whether the ‘Lib Dem fightback’ can extend beyond Britain’s most ardently Remain strongholds.