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Grieve and rebel Remainers may regret their capitulation

MPs voted by 319 to 303 to reject a House of Lords amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill. Photo: AP

So what have we learned about the balance of power in the Tory Party between True Brexiters and unreconstructed Remainers from the government's Commons victory on what kind of meaningful vote there'll eventually be for MPs on Brexit?

Well, the Remainers seem to have been bought off by a nod from the PM that really she's on their side, that if they just show a bit of patience they'll get the softish Brexit they desire, viz a trading arrangement that looks a bit like membership of a customs union and close enough alignment with EU rules to deliver relatively frictionless trade with the EU.

Why do I say that?

Well the compromise they were offered - a written ministerial statement from David Davis - is really just a statement of the parliamentary obvious rather than a serious concession: namely an acknowledgement that in the event there was no Brexit deal by next January, all hell would break loose and MPs would undoubtedly table motions designed to force the government back to the negotiating table and find a deal.

Pro-EU Tory Dominic Grieve was met with jeers of 'shame'. Credit: AP

But Davis describing in that way what would undoubtedly happen is a world away from Parliament mandating today that such a vote would take place - which is what the motion drafted by Dominic Grieve, and rejected by MPs at the behest of the PM, stipulated.

What's more, in capitulating, the Rebel Remainers have in practice made it much less likely that the PM will either negotiate or deliver the Brexit terms they favour - because the True Brexiters in the cabinet will argue that today's vote proves the Remainers have neither the resolve or numbers to defeat them.

So today's parliamentary tussle may turn out to be more significant than a test of sentiment on an arcane motion about the rights and authority of MPs relative to the PM and the executive.

It may be the moment the Brexiters turned the tide that was undoubtedly going against on the shape of the UK's future relationship with the EU.

Grieve may live to regret voting against his own meaningful-vote amendment.