Members of Parliament have overwhelmingly agreed to let the government begin the UK's departure from the EU as they voted for the Brexit bill. The draft legislation was approved by 494 votes to 122, and now moves to the House of Lords.
PM Theresa May wants to trigger formal Brexit talks by the end of March. She will do this by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, but requires Parliament's permission before doing so.
Shadow business secretary Clive Lewis was one of 52 Labour MPs to defy party orders to back the bill and he resigned from the front bench. Mr. Lewis, who earlier said he was undecided on whether to support the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, announced his resignation as MPs began voting for the final time.
He said he cannot, in all good conscience, vote for something I believe will ultimately harm the city I have the honour to represent, love and call home.
Leader Jeremy Corbyn said he understood the difficulties the vote presented some of his MPs but said they had been ordered to back the Article 50 because the party would not block Brexit.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who missed last week's initial vote on the bill, backed it this time.
She told the BBC she had a lot of misgivings about the idea of a Tory Brexit and predicted the UK would come to regret it, but added: I'm a loyal member of the shadow cabinet and I'm loyal to Jeremy Corbyn.
The Labour rebellion was five MPs up on last week's vote, while former Chancellor Ken Clarke was again the only Conservative to vote against the two-clause bill.
During the voting, SNP MPs were reprimanded by deputy speaker Lindsay Hoyle after they started singing Ode to Joy, the European Union anthem.
Afterwards, Brexit Secretary David Davis hailed the historic vote, adding: It is now time for everyone, whichever way they voted in the referendum, to unite to make a success of the important task at hand for our country.
Peers will now consider the draft legislation and a government source revealed that If the Lords don't want to face an overwhelming public call to be abolished they must get on and protect democracy and pass this bill.
Earlier the bill survived several attempts to change its wording and add extra conditions.
These included Labour MP Harriet Harman's bid to protect the residence rights of EU citizens in the UK, which was outvoted by 332 votes to 290, with three Conservative MPs rebelling.
A Liberal Democrat bid for a referendum on the terms of the UK leaving the EU was defeated by 340 votes to 33.
Afterwards, Mr. Corbyn tweeted: Real fight starts now. Over next two years Labour will use every opportunity to ensure Brexit protects jobs, living standards and the economy.
But Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accused him of giving the Conservatives a blank cheque. She tweeted: You didn't win a single concession but still voted for the bill. Pathetic.
The bill will be debated in the House of Lords after it returns from recess on 20 February.
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Many of these Scottish Nationalists won't be singing anything after they lose their seats at the next General Election...for failing to actually do anything that is actually to their constituents benefits.Feb 09th, 2017 - 05:13 pm +4
But on the other hand by doing this stupid 'stunt' in Parliament they've shown those Scottish people who want independence that the Scottish Nationalists are the last political party they should be voting for. Why? Because a vote for the SNP is a vote for slavery and servitude to unelected and unaccountable EU masters and not independence.
stupid 'stunt' in ParliamentFeb 09th, 2017 - 08:29 pm +4
not only stupid, but insulting to millions of brits,
VoiceFeb 09th, 2017 - 11:18 pm +3
thanks for that - here's me lived all my life in the EU and didn't know there were words to it. LvB must be doing somersaults!!
However, the EU website europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/symbols/anthem.en says:-
In 1972, the Council of Europe adopted Beethoven's Ode to Joy theme as its anthem. In 1985, it was adopted by EU leaders as the official anthem of the European Union. There are no words to the anthem; it consists of music only.
Presumably they should know.