By Michael O'Sullivan
This evening the House Commons has given the green light to the Prime Minister to begin Brexit negations with the EU at her leisure. The Prime Minister has indicated that she will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty by the end of March and this will kick start the formal two year negotiations with the European Union.
The draft legislation was approved by 494 votes to 122, and now moves to the House of Lords.
The electorate voted for the UK to leave the EU by 52 to 48 percent and this evening most MPs were expected to therefore vote in favour of the bill at the third reading.
The Prime Minister Theresa May was able to see off a rebellion of her own MPs and tonight it was Labour who ended up trying to hide the ever widening divide within the party.
The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn so ordered his MPs to vote in favour of the Bill in a bid to appease Labour Leave voters. It looks tonight as though 52 of these MPs have rebelled against the three line whip. This is an increase from last week's rebellion of 50.
It remains to be seen how lenient Mr Corbyn will be with respect to these Labour rebels, however moments before the vote, news broke that Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis, seen as a potential successor to Mr Corbyn, had resigned, citing “I cannot, in all good conscience, vote for something I believe will ultimately harm the city I have the honour to represent, love and call home".
Several amendments were tabled before the vote, with each of these having been defeated by the government majority. Therefore the Bill is sent to the House of Lords unimpeded and free of intervention. This could seriously damage any moves by the Lords to slow down or even try to reverse Brexit.
The Bill now passes to the House of Lords for further debate, where amendments could be tabled as the Conservatives do not enjoy a majority.
Regardless of your Brexit position, tonight is certainly a defining moment in British political history.
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