POWER is what parliamentary democracy is all about and last night as the Tory rebels delighted in saying: “Parliament took back control.”

The drama of Westminster does not get more exciting when the stakes are high and there is a knife-edge vote. The atmosphere in the chamber was electric.

The tense nature and importance of the set-piece parliamentary event was underscored when as the division was called would-be Conservative rebel Vicky Ford appeared to be wavering this way and that between the aye and no lobbies before being ushered towards the Government side by Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexiteer MP James Cleverly.

Despite the last-minute concessions, MPs had made up their minds.

It all came down to who has the power, the final say, on the Brexit deal.

The Government had made clear there would be a "meaningful vote" on implementing the deal but this was regarded as a take-it-or-leave-it offer; that when it came down to it all MPs would be doing would be rubber-stamping what Theresa May and David Davis had negotiated.

As Chris Leslie, the former Shadow Chancellor, on behalf of Open Britain, which campaigns for closer ties with the EU, put it: “The Government were demanding a blank cheque to take Britain out of the EU with a bad deal or even no deal but…this means MPs will have the power to scrutinise any Brexit deal the Government negotiates, to vote on it, and if necessary to send ministers back to the negotiating table.”

This, of course, is not what the Prime Minister and Brexit Secretary wanted at all as, from their point of view, their hands, to echo John Major, will be bound. How many times will they be told by MPs to go back to the negotiating table on this or that? It will hardly be conducive to a smooth and orderly exit.

Ironically, of course, it was the Brexiteers’ referendum mantra that a Yes vote to leaving the EU would mean Parliament would take back control. Last night, it did.

Of course, it means Mrs May’s triumphant entrance into the heart of the Eurocracy later today to receive her prize from the EU27 will be somewhat diminished - just like her authority - but it will underline just what a rollercoaster ride the last few weeks have been.

The Government defeat just adds to the sense that the Brexit process is evolving and that the balance of power is beginning to shift towards the softies.

And, of course, rebellion becomes a habit.

Once the Tory rebels see they can inflict a defeat, their appetite to do the same again is strengthened. Next week, there is another vote on the Government’s aim to get the precise date of Brexit written into the bill. After last night, its chances do not look good.