British Prime Minister Theresa May has won the controversial and much-hyped vote in parliament to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017. Article 50 refers to the article in the EU treaty by which EU member states can leave the European Union.
All in all, 461 members of Parliament voted to trigger the article no later than March 31, 2017. A mere 89 members voted against.
The vote came following a motion from the Labour party, which stated that it is “parliament’s responsibility to properly scrutinise the Government while respecting the decision of the British people to leave the European Union,” adding that there “should be no disclosure of material that could be reasonably judged to damage the UK in any negotiations to depart from the European Union after Article 50 has been triggered.”
Added to the motion was a government amendment stating that parliament “recognises that this House should respect the wishes of the United Kingdom as expressed in the referendum on 23 June; and further calls on the Government to invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017.”
This means that Brexit is truly going to happen. For a short while, May feared she would be confronted with a rebellion of Tory members who support the Grand European Project. That rebellion didn’t materialize, however. In the end, only one MP of her own party voted against her amendment.
Interestingly enough, most “no” votes came from the Scottish National Party (SNP). Fifty-one MPs from that party voted against triggering Article 50 in March. Several Labour MPs voted against it as well, although fewer than some expected (only 23 Labour MPs ended up taking a stand against the will of the people). Five liberal democrats (who?) did the same. Only one lone Tory rebel joined the “no” pack.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said before the vote that approval of May’s amendment could result in a deal being reached by October 2018. In other words: Brexit is truly coming. Europhiles took a last stand against it, but they ended up being a very small if not irrelevant minority.
Conclusion: It’s a great day for Britain and for every eurocritic in the EU. It’s now up to the British to show the other member states how it’s done. With a bit of luck, other prosperous member states will soon follow suit, with my own country the Netherlands being one of the early favorites to follow in Britain’s footsteps.