The House of Commons approved the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – a document of few words backed by a short and inadequate white paper – by 494 votes to 122, and the legislation will now go to the Lords for scrutiny. Fifty-two Labour MPs defied a three-line whip and voted against the bill. One of them, Clive Lewis, resigned from the party’s front bench. The deputy speaker rebuked the SNP contingent for singing the little-known EU anthem.
The Home Office announced that it was ending Britain’s commitment to take unaccompanied minors, of whom it is estimated there are 90,000 across Europe; to date Britain has accepted only 200 children, with a further 150 due by the end of March. Lord Dubs, who was instrumental in introducing the scheme, said that at a time when Trump was banning refugees from America, it would be shameful if the UK government followed suit. Donald Trump told a meeting of senior police officers in Washington DC that American judges were 'so political'. His nominee for the supreme court, Neil Gorsuch, confirmed that, in conversation with a Democratic senator, he had described Trump’s criticism of judges as 'disheartening and demoralising'. The entrepreneur Richard Branson achieved wide circulation of photographs which showed him on a yacht with Trump’s predecessor, Obama; the media decided that they had been 'playfighting'. The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was found guilty of embezzlement and given a five-year suspended prison sentence.
Denise Brewster, who was denied payments from her late partner’s occupational pension but would have been entitled to the payments if they had been married, won her legal case in the UK supreme court. The former children’s entertainer Rolf Harris, who is serving a prison sentence for sexual crimes, was acquitted of further charges and is expected to be released in the summer at the age of 86. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, a socialite and cocaine user known for her 'hard partying', who died at the age of 45, was extensively mourned across front pages, including the Guardian’s.
A little linguistic history may have been made when the Brent oil field in the North Sea, which is to be decommissioned, was described in a BBC report as 'iconic'. The last letter of Mary Queen of Scots, written shortly before the execution of her death, went on display in the National Library of Scotland for six hours, extended to nine by public demand; the BBC helpfully added that she had been 'one of the most fascinating figures in Scottish history'. Glasgow University awarded an honorary degree to an American business executive, Tim Cook, who visited his computer store in Buchanan Street and then conducted 'a fireside chat' in the cosy setting of Bute Hall.