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Brexit: MPs backed Article 50 bill

Brexit: MPs backed Article 50 billUK MPs have voted by the overwhelming majority to allow Prime Minister Theresa May to get Brexit negotiations under way, BBC said late on Wednesday.

The White Paper, which was promised after pressure from MPs, comes after the Commons voted to allow the PM to begin the Brexit process. The bill now is going under further scrutiny in the Commons and the House of Lords.

MPs backed the European Union Bill by 498 votes to 114 on Wednesday night, with 47 Labour rebels voting against.

MPs held two days of debate on the bill, which follows last June's referendum in which voters opted by 51.9% to 48.1% in favour of Brexit.

The bill will now face more debate before it can become law. MPs will discuss the bill in more detail next week when it reaches the committee stage in the Commons, and Labour has vowed to force through amendments.

Hundreds of amendments have already been tabled for debate between Monday and Wednesday, with objectives set out in the government's strategy expected to attract more.

Shadow cabinet members Rachael Maskell and Dawn Butler quit the party's front bench shortly before Wednesday evening's vote, and in total, 13 Labour frontbenchers voted against their own party position which was to support the bill.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said other parties had also been divided on the issue, with two of the Liberal Democrats' nine MPs abstaining despite orders to back the bill.

The Brexit bill was published last week after the Supreme Court decided MPs and peers must have a say before Article 50 could be triggered.
It rejected the government's argument that May had sufficient powers to trigger Brexit without consulting Parliament.

The former Chancellor Ken Clarke, the only Conservative MP to defy his party by voting against the bill, said the result was "historic", but the "mood could change" when the "real action" of negotiations with the EU starts.

Talks with the EU are expected to last up to two years, with the UK predicted to leave the 28-member organisation in 2019.
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