MPs gave the Tory government a 36-vote majority to progress the EU withdrawal bill through a second reading in front of MPs.
Prime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit Minister David Davies were confident of taking the vote and seeing the bill to the committee stage even before the doors opened for debate at the House of Commons.
As it was, seven labour rebels defied the party whip and instructions from leader Jeremey Corbyn to vote against the bill.
The real challenge for May is repelling amendments later in the year.
Reportedly, some of her MPs only voted with her in return for promised changes.
The argument against the bill accepted by the government is that the measure gives ministers executive powers to amend laws without Parliamentary approval – much in the way President Donald Trump passes executive orders without the support of Congress in the US.
The bill allows the government to rewrite the UK law books by transferring EU rules to statute on Brexit in March 2019.
Meanwhile, chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier has accused Britain over ‘back pedalling’ on agreeing a Brexit financial settlement as the next round of talks is delayed for a week.
“It seems to be backtracking on the original commitment of the UK to honour its international commitments. There is a problem of confidence here. You cannot have 27 countries paying for what was decided by 28,” he said.
But in a split, the divorce is settled separately from the financial settlement, which is agreed under clearly laid out rules. A court would never make the terms of the divorce conditional on the financial outcome.
In Britain, fringe players are trying to forward their own agendas on the back of Brexit.
The TUC, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and even Nigel Farage (Who?) are in on the act.
The TUC are spitting feathers over fears about workers’ rights on leaving the EU – it’s their conference this week.
Corbyn wants Britain to stay in the single market at whatever cost
Farage is up in arms over EU flag waving at the Last Night of The Proms, that typically British occasion
Meanwhile Brexit supremo Davies wants to remain or leave the EU, not a transitional arrangement that he says would be the worst result of all.