Brexit bill: MPs vote to give Theresa May the power to trigger Article 50 and begin formal EU negotiations

114 MPs voted against the bill to delay the process of leaving the European Union

Tom Peck
Wednesday 01 February 2017 20:33
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MPs vote in favour of the Government's Brexit bill

MPs have voted in favour of giving the Prime Minister the power to trigger Article 50 and begin the negotiations for the UK to leave the European Union.

The historic vote was passed after seventeen hours of debate by a margin of 498 to 114.

The decision is a major step towards leaving the European Union and keeps in tact Theresa May’s provisional timetable of triggering Article 50 by the end of March, setting motion two years of negotiations with the EU over the terms of the UK’s exit.

There were loud cheers in the chamber as the vote was announced. The bill returns to the Prime Minister the powers that the High Court and Supreme Court decided she did not have - to unilaterally begin the process of leaving the European Union, effectively removing thousands of laws passed by European Courts from the statute book.

Four Labour front benchers, Rachel Maskell, Dawn Foster, Jo Stevens and Tulip Siddiq, resigned their positions and voted against the Labour whip.

In total, 47 Labour MPs voted against the bill, almost a quarter in total. Among them were a total of ten Junior Ministers and three party whips.

The party's Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, who voted for the bill, said the process had been 'extremely difficult.'

84 Conservative MPs represent constituencies that voted Remain, but Kenneth Clarke was the only Tory to vote against the government.

MPs will spend Thursday poring over a Government White Paper setting out its Brexit strategy as the next battlegrounds in the debate over quitting the EU begin to emerge.

They will also be studying a vast list of amendments from MPs of all sides to legislation which paves the way for Theresa May to trigger Article 50 of the EU treaties to begin Brexit.

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