THERESA May will undoubtedly be breathing a sigh of relief after avoiding a deeply damaging defeat in the House of Commons over the key Brexit legislation, but the last-minute collapse of a rebellion only underlines that the Government’s difficulties are far from over.
Conservative MPs remain deeply – and bitterly – divided over the issue, and despite all the persuasion and cajoling that Mrs May and the Brexit Secretary David Davis brought to bear ahead of yesterday’s votes there is no sign of the rifts healing.
A rebellion was bought off by making concessions over a cut-off date for the Government to do a Brexit deal with the EU.
This was a major climbdown, but Tory divisions remain raw, as demonstrated by the resignation of Justice Minister Phillip Lee hours ahead of the votes.
That a full-scale rebellion was avoided was due, in part, to fear among the Conservatives that doing so could trigger a series of events which risks bringing down the Government.
Mrs May continues to walk a tightrope with her Cabinet and MPs.
There is no consensus among senior Ministers on the type of Brexit that the Government should be aiming to achieve, and the Prime Minister is tying herself in knots trying to achieve some form of unity.
This uncertainty on the ultimate aims for a deal can only serve to embolden would-be rebels on the backbenches, and holds out the prospect of yet more knife-edge votes.
Meanwhile, the country, and the businesses which desperately need clear indications of where Britain is heading if they are to plan for the future, are left little wiser about the eventual outcome.
Mrs May got her way yesterday, but serious difficulties still lie ahead within her own party.
Unless the Government can heal Tory divisions, the outcome of any future votes is far from certain.