The majority MP vote of 384 will allow May to commence Brexit negotiations.

February 1, 2017 – BBC

MPs have backed the government’s European Union Bill, supported by the Labour leadership, by 498 votes to 114.

But the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats opposed the bill, while 47 Labour MPs and Tory ex-chancellor Ken Clarke rebelled.

The bill now faces further scrutiny in the Commons and the House of Lords before it can become law.

The prime minister has set a deadline of 31 March for invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, getting official talks with the EU started. The bill returns to the Commons next week.

MPs held two days of debate on the bill, which follows last June’s referendum in which voters opted by 51.9% to 48.1% in favour of Brexit.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a leading Leave campaigner, called the Commons result “absolutely momentous”. Speaking on Facebook, he added: “We may be leaving the EU treaties. We are not leaving Europe.”

The UK would “forge a new identity” and make “an amazingly positive contribution” to Europe, he said.

This time last year few in Westminster really thought that this would happen. The then prime minister’s concern was persuading the rest of the EU to give him a better deal for the UK.

His close colleagues believed the chances of them losing, let alone the government dissolving over the referendum, were slim, if not quite zero.

This isn’t even the last vote on this bill. There are several more stages, the Lords are likely to kick up rough at the start.

But after tonight, for better or worse, few will believe that our journey to the exit door can be halted.