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Moment of truth: This was when the balance of power in Westminster shifted away from Theresa May’s minority government and towards democracy.

By now, This Writer is sure you know the minority Conservative government has been defeated in a binding Parliamentary vote on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

Amendment 7, demanding that the final Brexit deal between the UK and the EU must be approved in a new law passed by Parliament, was agreed by 309 votes in favour, with 305 votes against.

Here‘s how The Guardian reported the event:

Conservative rebels inflicted a humiliating defeat on Theresa May in the House of Commons as they backed an amendment to her flagship European Union withdrawal bill over parliament’s right to a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal.

As the prime minister prepared to meet her fellow EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, a series of last minute concessions by ministers and intense pressure from Tory whips failed to deter 11 of the government’s MPs from voting against the leadership.

Backers of amendment seven, tabled by former attorney-general Dominic Grieve, included former education secretary Nicky Morgan, former business minister Anna Soubry, and Cambridge MP Heidi Allen.

Good to see Heidi Allen finally putting her money where her mouth is. The result was a victory for the rebels.

The significance was not lost on those who witnessed it:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was quick to capitalise on the vote – and on its timing:

For the benefit of those who can’t read images, he said: “This defeat is a humiliating loss of authority for the government on the eve of the European Council meeting.

“Labour has made the case since the referendum for a meaningful vote in Parliament on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

“Theresa May has resisted democratic accountability. Her refusal to listen means she will now have to accept Parliament taking back control.”

His sentiments were echoed by many others:

And the commentariat had a few things to say, as well:

What of the Tory rebels themselves? It seems the hardcore Brexiters in their party have had more to say than they have, but – wow! – they’ve been slapped down for it, hard.

Here’s Anna Soubry:

Now here’s Nadine Dorries:

Strong words. Shame they’re from a hypocrite:

Ms Dorries had a response for that:

And here’s Clive Lewis’s response to the response:

They don’t call her ‘Mad Nad’ for nothing.

Some tried to reason with the bawling Brextremist:

Others pointed out that she was railing against the restoration of democracy to the Brexit process (I love the dry wit in this one):

And Mr Lewis came back with a logical prediction about what would happen if Ms Dorries’ demand was met:

Actually, let’s consider the issue of rebellion, because it would hardly be appropriate for Brexiter Tories to complain about rebellion if they have done it themselves – right?

Here’s Chuka Umunna with the figures:

What? Peter Bone has rebelled 180 times since 2005? How many times has he rebelled in his entire Parliamentary career, then?

And people talk about Jeremy Corbyn…

The outrage didn’t just extend to MPs, though. Here’s another noted Brextremist – and a few of his critics:

You can probably tell that This Writer – like many Brexit sceptics – is hugely amused at the Tory governments discomfort.

This is partly because there is a very serious side to the passing of Amendment 7:

But it’s worse than that for the Brextremists. The vote could pave the way for the reversal of Brexit altogether:

Here’s Oliver Letwin, of all people, explaining the matter:

The government has tried to reassert its authority by claiming it will try to remove Amendment 7 at a later stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill’s passage through Parliament:

For those who can’t read image files, the statement reads: “We are disappointed that Parliament has voted for this amendment despite the strong assurances that we have set out.

“We are as clear as ever that this Bill, and the powers within it, are essential.

“This amendment does not prevent us from preparing our statute book for exit day. We will now determine whether further changes are needed to the Bill to ensure it fulfils its vital purpose.”

(Note that the statement does not say what the Tory government considers the vital purpose of Brexit actually is. Some of us firmly believe they want to use it to strip UK citizens of their hard-won human and workers’ rights, and to turn the UK into a tax haven in which the very rich get all the pleasure and the very poor are put through purgatory.)

But here’s the key:

Just so.

Tories who oppose Brexit – or even just the hard Brexit that Theresa May and her cronies seem hell-bent on inflicting on us – now know they can defeat their own government at will.

That is the reason the government is unlikely to be able to force Amendment 7 out of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

It is also the reason Mrs May and her gang could be forced out of office if they even try.


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