The House of Commons has given its overwhelming approval to Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, passing the bill at its second reading – by 521 votes to 73.
With Labour voting with the government – and Johnson winning over the self-styled ‘Spartans’ of the European Research Group – the result was never in doubt, with the only question how large the prime minister’s majority would be.
In the end, a long and tortuous saga – that has taken up more newsprint and dominated broadcast packages more than any political happening in modern British history – finished with a whimper, in a socially-distanced chamber with the eyes of the nation elsewhere.
The legislation has been hurried through parliament in record time, with the UK’s transition period with the EU set to expire tomorrow night. It will be instigated within hours.
A number of Labour MPs – including Diane Abbott and Clive Lewis – defied Sir Keir Starmer’s whip, with the majority abstaining.
Two of those MPs – Tonia Antoniazzi and Helen Hayes – have resigned from Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet as a result of their opposition to the bill.
Conservative Brexiteers John Redwood and Owen Paterson also abstained – citing concerns with the impact the agreement will have on Northern Ireland – as did Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader currently sitting as an independent.