Brexit Bill Passed by Lower House of Parliament, Heads to Lords

  • SNP lawmakers whistle EU anthem ‘Ode to Joy’ before key vote
  • The 137-word bill unaltered in three days of Commons debate

The U.K.’s lower house of Parliament gave the government its approval to begin the formal process of leaving the European Union in a vote that brings Prime Minister Theresa May a step closer to triggering Brexit.

The draft law was approved by 494 votes to 122 in the House of Commons Wednesday evening. The bill now goes up to the unelected House of Lords with the final vote expected March 7. Once the legislation is passed by both houses, May can trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

The vote passed shortly after lawmakers from the Scottish National Party were reprimanded for singing the EU anthem. They began whistling and singing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” after the Commons voted to reject a final amendment to the Brexit bill.

While the government stays on track to meet May’s self-imposed deadline to kick-start Brexit by March 31, the win didn’t come without concessions. Brexit Minister David Jones had to promise lawmakers a vote on the final deal with the EU to stave off a revolt from May’s own Conservative Party.

In the end, the 137-word bill was unaltered in three days of debate.