After the Supreme Court ruling, Parliament voted overwhelmingly for Brexit as the Article 50 bill was passed by the House of Commons without a single amendment.
Article 50 Bill Passes
The threat of a Conservative Brexit rebellion evaporated on Wednesday, as Parliament voted to pass the government’s Article 50 bill by a majority of 494 votes to 122. There was not a single amendment made to the bill, which will now be discussed in the House of Lords, where Labour and Liberal Democrat peers will hope to push for concessions and clarity on the status of European Union citizens resident in the UK before Article 50 is enforced.
Prime Minister Theresa May did give some concessions to placate otherwise reluctant Conservative MPs, allowing that Members Parliament will be able to vote on the Brexit deal before MEPs can, and published a white paper outlining the negotiating priorities of the UK government. This quashed any rebellion over Article 50 that may have been simmering in Conservative ranks, and means that May is still on target to meet her self-imposed deadline of the end of March for triggering Article 50.
Article 50 Bill Amendments Fail – and Cause Labour Casualty
In total, nine amendments were proposed to the Article 50 bill, including a wide-ranging amendment to protect the rights of EU workers currently living in the UK, which would have legally enforced Theresa May to prioritise the rights of EU citizens. However, the amendment was defeated 336-291, leaving the future of EU citizens in the UK no clearer than before.
There was one major political casualty caused by the Article 50 bill, however, as Clive Davis, MP for Norwich South, resigned as shadow business secretary. Despite leader Jeremy Corbyn enforcing a 3-line whip, Davis was one of 52 Labour MPs who voted against the Article 50 bill. Davis cited his responsibility towards his constituents, who voted heavily in favour of remaining in the EU, as reasons for stepping down. Having voted for the Article 50 bill at its first reading, Davis made it clear that he would resign if Labour failed to make any amendments at the second reading.
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