As expected, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which empowers the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50, has passed its first hurdle in the House of Commons by an overwhelming majority. 498 MPs voted in favour and 114 voted against.
Also as expected, there was only one Conservative rebel: a certain Kenneth Clarke, Member for Rushcliffe.
While the Conservative Party is now united on implementing Brexit, Labour remains riven – 47 MPs rebelled against Corbyn’s three-line whip, including the frontbenchers who resigned to do so. It appears we’re now in for yet another Labour reshuffle (or perhaps just a postponed continuation of the previous one). Quite how this will play into the ongoing internal warfare in the Opposition remains to be seen, given the already anti-Corbyn flavour of the list of rebels. (Diane Abbott, notably, didn’t vote at all – apparently because she was taken ill late in the afternoon.)
Importantly, the programme motion on the Government’s timetable for the Bill was also approved, by 329 to 112 (again with only Ken Clarke rebelling on the Conservative side). There will no doubt be battles ahead, but now it’s official – Brexit has begun.