BREAKING NEWS: Brexit Bill is PASSED by MPs in historic moment for Britain despite desperate bid by more than 100 Remoaners to block Article 50 from being triggered
Britain passed the point of no return in its historic battle to cut ties with Brussels tonight as MPs backed the Brexit Bill.
The Commons endorsed the legislation by 498 votes to 114 after the government saw off a desperate bid by more than 100 Remoaners to block it.
In the first of a crucial set of votes in the Commons, a ‘wrecking’ amendment that would have effectively killed the law was defeated by 336 to 100.
The House then gave the Bill its second reading by another huge margin, despite the opposition from Labour MPs, the SNP and most Liberal Democrats.
One Labour MP yelled ‘suicide’ as the result was read out in the chamber.
The government defeated the wrecking amendment by 336 votes to 100 in the Commons, and won the key second reading vote by 498 votes to 114
One furious Labour MP yelled ‘suicide’ as the result was read out in the chamber tonight
The Speaker oversaw the historic votes in parliament tonight which will see the UK’s membership of the EU pass the point of no return
Minutes before the vote, two Labour MPs dramatically quit the frontbench to defy Jeremy Corbyn and vote against the key legislation.
Some 33 of the party’s MPs backed the wrecking amendment tabled by the SNP. More are thought to have voted against the Bill’s second reading.
A handful, such as Chris Bryant and Mary Creagh, opposed the legislation despite their constituents having decisively backed Brexit in the referendum.
Dozens more voted in favour of holding the EU referendum two years ago – but voted against implementing the result.
Just one Tory MP, arch-Europhile Ken Clarke, appears to have joined the Brexit opponents in the division lobbies.
The votes came after two days of bad-tempered and impassioned debate in parliament.
Mrs May earlier confirmed she will publish a white paper on her Brexit plans tomorrow.
Ex Chancellor George Osborne – who led the charge for Remain – earlier warned opposing Brexit risked a ‘constitutional crisis’.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn’s EU nightmare gathered pace as two more members of his top team quit to vote against Brexit.
Dawn Butler and Rachael Maskell resigned rather than fall into line with the leadership’s stance of supporting legislation that will trigger Article 50.
More could follow them out of the door after the key votes.
Mr Corbyn tried to put a brave face on the chaos, thanking the pair for their work and saying they were still ‘assets to the party’.
The government secured a thumping majority in both the key Commons votes tonight
Dawn Butler (left) and Rachael Maskell (right) resigned fromt the shadow cabinet tonight rather than fall into line with Jeremy Corbyn’s stance of supporting legislation that will trigger Article 50
Neil Coyle (pictured in the Commons today), the Labour MP for Bermondsey was ordered to apologise for describing Tory MPs as ‘b*******’
Mr Corbyn said: ‘MPs have a duty to represent their constituents as well as their party, and I understand the difficulties that MPs for constituencies which voted Remain have in relation to the European Union withdrawal Bill.
‘However, it is right that the Labour Party respects the outcome of the referendum on leaving the European Union.’
In a statement, Ms Butler praised Mr Corbyn for pushing the government to give parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit.
But she said: ‘Unfortunately I still feel strongly that I want to send a message to our Prime Minister that I do not agree with the direction she is [taking the country in] the way for me to do that is to vote against this second reading.’
BREXIT VOTE: WHAT TONIGHT MEANS
MPs have backed Brexit in an historic vote that effectively makes the process irreversible.
For the first time, the Commons has supported the principle of legislation that gives the Prime Minister power to trigger Britain’s exit from the EU.
A wrecking amendment tabled by the SNP was heavily defeated, before the EU Bill was given its second reading.
The government also comfortably won the third vote – setting the timetable for the rest of the bill’s progress.
Ms Maskell said: ‘The UK is no longer being offered a ‘people’s Brexit’ but a ‘Theresa May Brexit’, which goes far beyond just leaving the European Union, as voted on at the referendum last June.’
The resignations came hours after Labour MP Neil Coyle was ordered to apologise for branding Tory MPs ‘b*******’ in the historic Brexit debate in the Commons.
In one of the most inflammatory section’s of today’s marathon debate, Mr Coyle said: ‘Former prime minister John Major referred to the like of the former secretary of state for work and pensions as b*******.
‘He could not have known that his party would become a whole Government full of b******* who are absolutely causing economic damage for my constituents and for the whole country.
‘At the risk of offending my own front bench as well as the Government front bench, I say this – my members campaigned vigorously to remain in the European Union and they deserve a front bench position that is not to sign up to the Government’s position, the Government’s timetable and the Government curtailing debate.
‘It is a disgrace.’
Mr Bercow told the Labour MP: ‘You shouldn’t have used the word you used.
‘You tried to wrap it up in a quote but it was very unseemly and rather undignified and quite unnecessary, and you shouldn’t have done it, and you should apologise.’
Mr Coyle said: ‘While I share the former prime minister’s sentiment, I apologise if it is unparliamentary language.’
Mr Bercow replied: ‘It was unparliamentary language and you shouldn’t do it again.’
Mr Coyle vowed to defy the referendum result – despite backing the poll – in the Commons lobbies tonight.
Ex-chancellor George Osborne admitted he had given up his career in support of the Remain campaign and warned the negotiations to come would be difficult
Mrs May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were engaged in bitter clashes over Brexit at Prime Minister’s Questions earlier today
The decision to produce the paper after tonight’s landmark Commons vote on Article 50 will cause irritation among Remain campaigners.
But the publication will be another crucial step toward Britain’s exit from the European Union.
In the debate, ex-chancellor Mr Osborne admitted he had ‘sacrificed’ his career in support of the Remain campaign and warned the negotiations to come would be difficult.
He warned it is ‘unfashionable in schools these days’ to teach what he believes is a ‘true tale’ of Britain’s history, including Magna Carta, the Glorious Revolution, the Founding Fathers of the American constitution, the Great Reform Act and female emancipation.
He went on: ‘We have given the modern world a version of democracy that has spread far beyond our shores.
‘And therefore to vote against the majority verdict of the largest democratic exercise in British history I think would risk putting Parliament against people, I think it would provoke a deep constitutional crisis in our country, I think it would alienate people who already feel they are alienated, and I am not prepared to do that.’
‘So I will be voting for the Bill tonight.’
Theresa May used Prime Minister’s Questions to announce her Brexit white paper will be published tomorrow
MPs gathered today for the second marathon day of debate on the bill’s second reading. By 7pm, the debate will have run for around 17 hours
But in a warning to Mrs May, Mr Osborne he added: ‘The Government has chosen – and I respect this decision – not to make the economy the priority. They’ve prioritised immigration control.
‘The European Union isn’t prioritising the economy either in these negotiations… while they understand that Britain is a very important market for their businesses, their priority is to maintain the integrity of the remaining 27 members of the EU.
BREXIT DAY WILL BE MARCH 9
Theresa May has set a target date of launching the formal Brexit process on March 9.
The Government is aiming to push through its EU Bill through Parliament by March 7, which would allow the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 at a summit of European leaders on March 9 and 10.
Ministers told the House of Lords yesterday that it hopes to have the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill approved by March 7.
The following day – March 8 – is the Budget, before Mrs May travels to Brussels for the long-awaited Brexit showdown with her EU counterparts.
The PM has promised to trigger Article 50, the formal mechanism for quitting the EU, by the end of March.
But she does not want to get off on the wrong foot with EU leaders by clashing with the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which effectively gave birth to the EU.
She could tell her European counterparts of her timetable at a meeting in Malta on Friday.
The timetable could be knocked off course if the Lords initiate what is known as parliamentary ‘ping-pong’ by sending the bill back to the Commons with a series of amendments.
‘They are not interested in a long and complex hybrid agreement with the UK. Therefore both sides are heading for a clean break.’
Labour’s Chris Bryant said he would go against the majority in his Rhondda constituency which backed Leave on June 23 and vote against the Brexit Bill.
He said: ‘I am a democrat but I believe in the form of democracy that never silences minorities and I think the 48% in this country have a right to a voice and for that matter the 46% or the 45% or whatever the actual figure was in my constituency.
‘Today I’m afraid I am voting and speaking on behalf of a minority of my constituents.’
He warned the Government’s Brexit plans would do ‘untold damage’ to his constituents and make the UK ‘poorer’ and ‘weaker’.
But he acknowledged voting against the majority view of his constituents could cost him his job.
He said: ‘In the end there is no point in any single one of us being a member of this House if we don’t have things that we believe in and that we are prepared to fight for and, if necessary, lay down our job for.’
Earlier at PMQs, Mrs May told MPs: ‘That white paper will be published tomorrow’.
The white paper – conceded by Mrs May last month – will be based on the 12-point plan contained in her historic Brexit speech at Lancaster House.
Mrs May’s spokeswoman refused to comment on the length of the white paper or elaborate on its contents.
MPs are expected to vote by a landslide at 7pm tonight for legislation on starting Brexit talks – despite as many as 100 rebel MPs vowing to vote against the referendum.
Urging MPs to back the Article 50 bill tonight, Mrs May told the Commons: ‘This House has a very simple decision to take.
‘We gave the right of judgment on this issue to the British people. They made their choice. They want to leave the EU.
‘The question every member must ask themselves as they go through the lobbies tonight is: ‘Do they trust the people?”
Tonight’s Commons vote on Article 50 and tomorrow’s white paper pave the way for Mrs May to launch her talks with the EU next month, in time for her deadline of the end of March
LABOUR REVOLT GROWS AS LEWIS THREATENS TO QUIT
Corbyn ally Clive Lewis could quit the shadow cabinet next week if the Government refuses to amend the Brexit bill.
The shadow business secretary will back the legislation tonight – unlike scores of his colleagues.
But he has confirmed he will not agree to the bill at its final stage if it is not amended.
Losing Mr Lewis would be a heavy blow to Mr Corbyn, who has already seen two shadow ministers quit so they can vote against Article 50.
A spokesman for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today refused to spell out the consequences for front benchers who defy his orders to back the legislation.
A string of Labour shadow ministers and whips have said they cannot support the legislation – a position that would normally see them sacked if they refuse to resign.
But the spokesman refused to confirm this would happen, telling reporters only that a decision would be taken ‘later’.
At least 30 Labour MPs are expected to vote against the Bill when it is called after 7pm tonight.
Asked if he would vote in favour of the EU Bill if he was still a Labour MP, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he ‘accepted the verdict of the British people’.
He told MailOnline: ‘I am quite clear that as far as the EU exit is concerned the British people did vote to leave the EU, did vote to leave the EU structures.’
‘I accept the verdict of the British people.’
Mr Khan insisted his focus was on pressuring the government to maintain ‘privileged access to the single market’.
Labour MP Chris Bryant (left) today admitted he would vote against the wishes of his Rhondda constituents – who heavily backed Brexit
Following tonight’s second reading vote, the legislation will come back to the Commons next week for more scrutiny – and it is expected to be law by the end of the month.
Debate resumed this afternoon and first on his feet was former Labour leader Ed Miliband who urged his party to back the Article 50 Bill.
CHOOSE BREXIT: SNP MP SLAMS ARTICLE 50 WITH TRAINSPOTTING
SNP MP Hannah Bardell borrowed from Trainspotting in today’s Brexit debate
SNP MP Hannah Bardell channelled the movie Trainspotting today to slam Brexit.
A famous speech, delivered by actor Ewan McGregor in the 1996 film, called on viewers to ‘Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family’.
Ms Bardell told MPs: ‘Choose Brexit. Choose making up numbers from thin air about the NHS and plastering them on the side of buses. Choose racist and xenophobic sentiments seeping out from some corners of the Leave campaign.
‘Choose hate crime rising by over 40 per cent and LGBT hate crime by 150 per cent in England and Wales following the Brexit vote.
‘Choose taking the people of our nations to the polls on one of the most important issues of a generation with nothing written down and no plan.’
He said: ‘I didn’t want this referendum… The reason was that I felt the country had many, many other problems it faced and that the referendum would become as much about the state of the country as about Britain’s place in Europe.
‘That is water under the bridge… I said I would accept the result and I do and that is why I will be voting for the Second Reading tonight.
‘We do not want to give the sense that people who voted for Brexit because they felt they had been ignored are being ignored once again.’
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: ‘Democracy means accepting the will of the people – at the beginning of the process and at the end.
‘Democracy means respecting the majority and democracy means not giving up your beliefs when the going gets tough.’
Ex Scottish first minister Alex Salmond said: ‘The choice the House will get is a bad deal or no deal.
‘Therefore, it is crucial that when the House debates that and comes to a decision there is a meaningful vote, a vote that can made a difference as opposed to a Hobson’s choice with a metaphorical gun at the House’s head.’
Brexit supporters queued up to back the Bill.
Conservative MP Chris Green said: ‘The British people had 40 years to make up their mind when looking at the European Union.
‘It wasn’t about the last few weeks of a referendum campaign, it was about the lived experience in the European Union.
‘That’s why the people rejected it, not because of a few debatable arguments from one side or another.’
As debate on the Article 50 bill resumed today, first to his feet was former Labour leader Ed Miliband who urged his party to back the legislation
Charlie Elphicke, Tory MP for Dover, said: ‘I for one will be voting to respect the result.
‘The leader of the Liberal Democrats seems to think this is like Hotel California – you can check out and you can never leave.
‘I don’t think that is the right approach to take. The SNP think you should just have multiple referendums until you get the right result.
‘My constituents have been very clear. Number one – there must be an end to unchecked EU migration. Number two – no more billions for bloated Brussels bureaucrats.’
The text will be at the heart of the impending ‘hand to hand combat’ in parliament – sparked by the Supreme Court’s ruling that Theresa May cannot use executive powers to invoke Brexit
Tonight’s vote and tomorrow’s white paper pave the way for Mrs May to launch her talks with the EU next month, in time for her deadline of the end of March.
Talks will last for up to two years, after which Mrs May hopes to have secured an amicable Brexit and a free trade deal with the EU.
Speaking at Lancaster House a fortnight ago, Mrs May said her 12-point plan will see Britain regain full control over borders and quit both the single market and European Court of Justice.
She insisted the UK can become a great, outward-looking trading nation.
‘We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU,’ she said.
‘Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out.
‘We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.
‘The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. My job is to get the right deal for Britain as we do.’
In the face of potential rebellion, the PM agreed last week to put her plans in writing in a formal white paper.
THE BREXIT REBELS IN FULL: THE 114 MPS WHO VOTED AGAINST THE ARTICLE 50 BILL
114 MPs voted against giving the European Union (Notification of Withdrawl) Bill a second reading. The Bill gives Theresa May the power to invoke Article 50 and start the two year, irreversible process of Brexit.
The group included 50 SNP MPs, 47 Labour, seven Liberal Democrats alongside Tory Ken Clarke and nine others.
Lady Hermon (Independent – North Down)
Meg Hillier (Labour (Co-op) – Hackney South and Shoreditch)
Stewart Hosie (Scottish National Party – Dundee East)
Dr Rupa Huq (Labour – Ealing Central and Acton)
George Kerevan (Scottish National Party – East Lothian)
Calum Kerr (Scottish National Party – Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)
Peter Kyle (Labour – Hove)
Mr David Lammy (Labour – Tottenham)
Chris Law (Scottish National Party – Dundee West)
Caroline Lucas (Green Party – Brighton, Pavilion)
Angus Brendan MacNeil (Scottish National Party – Na h-Eileanan an Iar)
Rachael Maskell (Labour (Co-op) – York Central)
John Mc Nally (Scottish National Party – Falkirk)
Kerry McCarthy (Labour – Bristol East)
Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Scottish National Party – Glasgow South)
Stuart C. McDonald (Scottish National Party – Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East)
Dr Alasdair McDonnell (Social Democratic & Labour Party – Belfast South)
Natalie McGarry (Independent – Glasgow East)
Catherine McKinnell (Labour – Newcastle upon Tyne North)
Anne McLaughlin (Scottish National Party – Glasgow North East)
Carol Monaghan (Scottish National Party – Glasgow North West)
Dr Paul Monaghan (Scottish National Party – Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)
Mrs Madeleine Moon (Labour – Bridgend)
Roger Mullin (Scottish National Party – Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)
Ian Murray (Labour – Edinburgh South)
Gavin Newlands (Scottish National Party – Paisley and Renfrewshire North)
John Nicolson (Scottish National Party – East Dunbartonshire)
Brendan O’Hara (Scottish National Party – Argyll and Bute)
Sarah Olney (Liberal Democrat – Richmond Park)
Kirsten Oswald (Scottish National Party – East Renfrewshire)
Steven Paterson (Scottish National Party – Stirling)
Stephen Pound (Labour – Ealing North)
John Pugh (Liberal Democrat – Southport)
Ms Margaret Ritchie (Social Democratic & Labour Party – South Down)
Angus Robertson (Scottish National Party – Moray)
Alex Salmond (Scottish National Party – Gordon)
Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid Cymru – Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
Mr Virendra Sharma (Labour – Ealing, Southall)
Tommy Sheppard (Scottish National Party – Edinburgh East)
Tulip Siddiq (Labour – Hampstead and Kilburn)
Andy Slaughter (Labour – Hammersmith)
Jeff Smith (Labour – Manchester, Withington)
Owen Smith (Labour – Pontypridd)
Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party – Glasgow South West)
Jo Stevens (Labour – Cardiff Central)
Alison Thewliss (Scottish National Party – Glasgow Central)
Michelle Thomson (Independent – Edinburgh West)
Stephen Timms (Labour – East Ham)
Mike Weir (Scottish National Party – Angus)
Catherine West (Labour – Hornsey and Wood Green)
Dr Eilidh Whiteford (Scottish National Party – Banff and Buchan)
Dr Alan Whitehead (Labour – Southampton, Test)
Dr Philippa Whitford (Scottish National Party – Central Ayrshire)
Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru – Arfon)
Mr Mark Williams (Liberal Democrat – Ceredigion)
Pete Wishart (Scottish National Party – Perth and North Perthshire)
Daniel Zeichner (Labour – Cambridge)
Ms Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (Scottish National Party – Ochil and South Perthshire)
Heidi Alexander (Labour – Lewisham East)
Rushanara Ali (Labour – Bethnal Green and Bow)
Mr Graham Allen (Labour – Nottingham North)
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Labour – Tooting)
Richard Arkless (Scottish National Party – Dumfries and Galloway)
Hannah Bardell (Scottish National Party – Livingston)
Luciana Berger (Labour (Co-op) – Liverpool, Wavertree)
Mhairi Black (Scottish National Party – Paisley and Renfrewshire South)
Ian Blackford (Scottish National Party – Ross, Skye and Lochaber)
Kirsty Blackman (Scottish National Party – Aberdeen North)
Philip Boswell (Scottish National Party – Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill)
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Labour – Exeter)
Tom Brake (Liberal Democrat – Carshalton and Wallington)
Kevin Brennan (Labour – Cardiff West)
Deidre Brock (Scottish National Party – Edinburgh North and Leith)
Alan Brown (Scottish National Party – Kilmarnock and Loudoun)
Lyn Brown (Labour – West Ham)
Chris Bryant (Labour – Rhondda)
Ms Karen Buck (Labour – Westminster North)
Dawn Butler (Labour – Brent Central)
Ruth Cadbury (Labour – Brentford and Isleworth)
Dr Lisa Cameron (Scottish National Party – East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow)
Mr Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrat – Orkney and Shetland)
Douglas Chapman (Scottish National Party – Dunfermline and West Fife)
Joanna Cherry (Scottish National Party – Edinburgh South West)
Mr Kenneth Clarke (Conservative – Rushcliffe)
Mr Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat – Sheffield, Hallam)
Ann Clwyd (Labour – Cynon Valley)
Ann Coffey (Labour – Stockport)
Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party – Inverclyde)
Neil Coyle (Labour – Bermondsey and Old Southwark)
Angela Crawley (Scottish National Party – Lanark and Hamilton East)
Mary Creagh (Labour – Wakefield)
Stella Creasy (Labour (Co-op) – Walthamstow)
Martyn Day (Scottish National Party – Linlithgow and East Falkirk)
Thangam Debbonaire (Labour – Bristol West)
Martin Docherty-Hughes (Scottish National Party – West Dunbartonshire)
Stuart Blair Donaldson (Scottish National Party – West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)
Stephen Doughty (Labour (Co-op) – Cardiff South and Penarth)
Jim Dowd (Labour – Lewisham West and Penge)
Mark Durkan (Social Democratic & Labour Party – Foyle)
Maria Eagle (Labour – Garston and Halewood)
Mrs Louise Ellman (Labour (Co-op) – Liverpool, Riverside)
Paul Farrelly (Labour – Newcastle-under-Lyme)
Tim Farron (Liberal Democrat – Westmorland and Lonsdale)
Margaret Ferrier (Scottish National Party – Rutherglen and Hamilton West)
Vicky Foxcroft (Labour – Lewisham, Deptford)
Mike Gapes (Labour (Co-op) – Ilford South)
Stephen Gethins (Scottish National Party – North East Fife)
Patricia Gibson (Scottish National Party – North Ayrshire and Arran)
Patrick Grady (Scottish National Party – Glasgow North)
Peter Grant (Scottish National Party – Glenrothes)
Neil Gray (Scottish National Party – Airdrie and Shotts)
Lilian Greenwood (Labour – Nottingham South)
Helen Hayes (Labour – Dulwich and West Norwood)
Drew Hendry (Scottish National Party – Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)