LONDON — After more than a year of drama, recrimination, and tense, late-night votes, British lawmakers signed off Thursday, with minimal fuss and no fanfare, on legislation to take their country out of the European Union at the end of the month.

The vote in the House of Commons is not quite the final parliamentary moment of Britain’s extraordinary Brexit story — the bill will be considered next by the unelected second chamber, the House of Lords — but the suspense that surrounded many previous votes was entirely absent.

Even if the Lords amend the bill, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party now have a large majority in the Commons and could overturn any changes — swiftly, if necessary. The legislation is almost certain to be completed and written into law next week.


Only a few dozen members of Parliament attended the opening statements of the debate Thursday — in contrast to the packed chamber for previous discussions on Brexit — but by the time the debate drew to a close hours later, most of the lawmakers had trickled into the room.

They approved the bill on a vote of 330-231, drawing a long-awaited line under the heated debate over a Brexit plan that convulsed British politics and divided the nation.

Once the exit plan has also been approved by the European Parliament, the stage will be set for Britain to reverse more than four decades of integration with its continental neighbors, which took place in January 1973.

What comes next remains far from clear — the deal set to go into effect Jan. 31 establishes a transition period, and the two sides are preparing for negotiations on a long-term trade deal and on other future ties. Those talks are expected to revive many of the cross-Channel tensions in evidence since the 2016 referendum in which Britain voted to leave the European Union, convulsing the country’s politics.


Since then two prime ministers have lost their jobs, as have many of the lawmakers whose impassioned dispute over Britain’s future brought the country to a state of political paralysis.

That deadlock was broken by last month’s general election, won by Johnson with his pledge to “get Brexit done.”

His critics point out that the painful job of untangling decades of European ties now merely moves to a second, more complicated, phase.

But it is hard to overstate the change in the political mood from last year, when Parliament was in ferment and analysts were unable to predict when — or even whether — Brexit would take place.

With the news dominated by Iran and the future of Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, debates and votes on Brexit in Parliament this week have largely been ignored by a British media that once focused obsessively on parliamentary maneuvers.

Thanks to his large majority in Parliament, Johnson can easily pass all his legislation, and opposition lawmakers are powerless even to influence the coming negotiation on trade and other ties with the European Union.

Before the general election, lawmakers rejected Johnson’s timetable for scrutinizing the legislation as grossly insufficient. But Tuesday the Brexit debate finished more than three hours ahead of its allotted time.

On Thursday some of the old divisions resurfaced. “This is a great moment in our democracy,” said William Cash, a Conservative lawmaker and veteran critic of the European Union. “Now we will be able to govern ourselves.”


The Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, said it was “time to get Brexit done,” using his Conservative party’s election slogan, and added, “this bill does so.”

By contrast Alistair Carmichael, a lawmaker with the pro-European Liberal Democrats, argued that the government’s Brexit plan “is going to leave us poorer and more isolated on the world stage.”

But the tempo of the debate resembled a slowly deflating balloon, with the outcome of the vote a foregone conclusion.

Big constitutional questions remain, and Wednesday the Scottish Parliament refused to approve the government’s plan — a largely symbolic act that nonetheless illustrated the opposition to Brexit in Scotland, where there is growing pressure for another referendum on independence.

But Britain is now on course to leave the European Union 10 months after the first date — March 29, 2019 — on which it was scheduled to do so. The real effects will not be felt before January 2021.