Brexit: MPs vote in favour of triggering Article 50

PUBLISHED: 19:48 01 February 2017 | UPDATED: 19:48 01 February 2017

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MPs have voted in favour of triggering Article 50 paving the way for the formal Brexit process to begin.

After two days of fractious debate in the House of Commons, members voted 498 in favour and 114 against formally beginning the UK’s exit from Europe.

A successful rebellion was never on the cards after both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition put a three-line whip on the vote demanding their MPs backed the triggering of Article 50.

However, Jeremy Corbyn was rocked just hours before the vote when two shadow cabinet members quit his top team in order to defy his orders and vote against the whip.

Shadow environment secretary Rachael Maskell and shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler both resigned so they could oppose the European Union (Notification Of Withdrawal) Bill.

And Labour’s front bench came under further attack from its own side in the Commons when Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle called them “a disgrace”.

In a speech which earned him a rebuke from Speaker John Bercow he said: “Former prime minister John Major referred to the like of the former secretary of state for work and pensions as ‘bastards’.

“He could not have known that his party would become a whole Government full of bastards 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.”

The Bill will now move on to the third reading where amendments can be added before it passes to the Upper Chamber.

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