MPs Have Voted To Trigger Article 50 By April 2017

But what happens next?


by Vicky Spratt |

Oh Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. How do we love thee, let us count the ways…

On June 24th 2016 we went boldly where nobody had ever gone before into an era where we would be forced to listen to people banging on about Brexit for the foreseeable future. And now, here we are. We haven’t actually left the EU yet; we still don’t really know how it’s going to happen or what it’s going to mean but it seems to be all politicians talk about.

This week alone there have been two major Brexit developments. It all kicked off on Monday when Gina Miller’s legal challenge against the Government, which she won at the start of November, made headlines again as a Supreme Court appeal got under way. And then, last night, MPs voted by a landslide to trigger Article 50 before April next year. Only 89 MPs opposed Theresa May’s timetable.

23 Labour MPs voted against did, as did 5 Liberal Democrats including party leader Tim Farron and former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Of course, the Daily Mail couldn’t resist naming those who voted against the triggering of article 50 under the suitably hyperbolic headline: ‘Was YOUR MP one of the 89 who voted against the will of the British people?’ Can someone please tell the Daily Mail to give it a rest?

Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of the House of Commons last night, though, is that the Labour Party’s motion which calls for ‘the Prime Minister to commit to publishing the Government’s plan for leaving the EU before article 50 is invoked.’ MPs voted in favour of this by 448 to 75 votes.

As ever with Brexit news there’s a catch. Last night’s vote wasn’t binding, it doesn’t mean that the Government has to do this. The vote wasn’t an Act of Parliament, nothing has been made law. However, it’s still a pretty significant moment as we prepare to leave the EU because it means that MPs are backing the government’s Brexit schedule while refusing to be left in the dark about their plans.

The outcome of Gina Miller's Supreme Court case, which is completely separate from last night's vote, will determine whether or not Theresa May is legally required to put her Brexit plans to a vote in Parliament before triggering article 50. So there you have it, as ever Brexit is as clear as mud. We don’t know how it’s going to happen but we know when.

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Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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