As predicted, Theresa May’s government has had no difficulty winning support in the House of Commons for the Brexit bill that the decisions of the High Court and the Supreme Court forced on her.
The Brexit bill – which authorises Theresa May to invoke Article 50 – has just passed its first vote in the House of Commons with a vote of 498 votes in favour, and 114 against.
It is believed that nearly all Conservative MPs voted for the bill, with possibly the only exception being the uber Europhile former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke.
By contrast the Labour Party appears to have split, with most Labour MPs apparently following Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s lead in voting for the bill, but with a significant minority voting either against or abstaining.
Today’s vote is not the end of the Brexit process. Many months of parliamentary battles lie ahead. However as today’s vote shows, the ultimate result is not in doubt. I explained it all back in November, following the High Court Judgment
I doubt that this Judgment will derail the Brexit process as some people think.
Though the British government will have to present legislation to the British Parliament in order to get the Article 50 process underway, I have no doubt it will be able to do this and to get this legislation passed when it does.
Though it is true that most of the members of the British Parliament in the referendum supported Remain, the government has a majority in the House of Commons, and it would surely treat any refusal by Parliament to pass this legislation as a resigning matter.
What that would mean is that it would threaten to call an election if the legislation were not passed, in which it would campaign as the government that was trying to carry out the will of the people as expressed in the referendum against a recalcitrant Labour opposition and any dissenting Conservatives intent on thwarting it.
With the government already far ahead in the opinion polls, that would create the conditions for a government victory by a landslide, resulting in a government and a Parliament even more committed to the ‘hard’ Brexit outcome than the one we have now.
I cannot imagine that even the most doctrinaire Remain supporters, whether in Parliament or outside it, would be unable to see this, and for that reason I expect the government to get its way. Probably on especially contentious issues the Labour opposition will abstain after some sort of compromise is forged.
As the vote today shows, events are turning out much along the lines that I said