Government's Brexit Bill wins first Commons vote

The Government has defeated attempts to derail its flagship Brexit legislation, amid warnings from senior Tories that changes will be required.

MPs gave the European Union Withdrawal Bill a second reading by 326 votes to 290, following more than 13 hours of debate.

A Labour attempt to block the draft legislation was also defeated by 318 votes to 296, majority 22.

However there have been 157 amendments covering 59 pages published, including many from senior Conservative europhiles.

The raft of changes proposed by Tories including former ministers Kenneth Clarke, Dominic Grieve, Nicky Morgan and Anna Soubry, suggests the prime minister faces a rough ride in the remaining stages of the Bill's passage through Parliament.

Prime Minister Theresa May hailed the Parliamentary win as "historic" and said it allowed negotiations to move on with "solid foundations".

The Government's controversial bill which aims to transpose EU rules and regulations into the domestic law books ahead of Brexit will now move onto its next Parliamentary stage.

The Bill repeals the 1972 Act that took Britain into the European Economic Community and incorporates relevant EU rules and regulations into the domestic law book.

Concerns have been raised that the Bill would give the Government so-called Henry VIII powers, which would allow secondary legislation to be passed with little parliamentary scrutiny.

Labour said Tuesday's results were "deeply disappointing" and the Liberal Democrats described it as "a dark day for the mother of parliaments".

Labour has put down a raft amendments to the Brexit Bill just hours after losing the Parliamentary bid to block the proposed laws.

MPs have approved a timetable guaranteeing 64 hours of debate in the following stage, when the Bill will be scrutinised line by line and votes taken on proposed amendments.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: "This is such a flawed Bill that the Prime Minister should have dropped it and started again. Instead, she has adopted her normal blinkered approach and forced through a Bill that will need extensive amendment and improvement in a whole range of areas.

"This is likely to cause delays and division in Parliament, and the Prime Minister has nobody to blame but herself.

"Labour amendments would give greater control to Parliament and take power back from the hands of ministers. They would protect key rights and environmental safeguards and ensure that the Government does not have a legislative blank cheque," he said.

Mrs May welcomed the result: "Earlier this morning Parliament took a historic decision to back the will of the British people and vote for a bill which gives certainty and clarity ahead of our withdrawal from the European Union.

"Although there is more to do, this decision means we can move on with negotiations with solid foundations and we continue to encourage MPs from all parts of the UK to work together in support of this vital piece of legislation."

Opposition stems from the so-called 'Henry VIII powers' contained in the bill. Credit: PA

Seven Labour MPs rebelled against the party whip and voted in favour of the Bill's second reading.

They were Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Frank Field (Birkenhead), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North), John Mann (Bassetlaw), Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) and Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton).

Tom Brake, Lib Dem Brexit spokesman, said Labour rebels had "walked hand in hand" with the Tories to give the Government extreme powers.

He said: "This Bill will hand the Government unprecedented new powers.

"MPs, especially those who campaigned to leave the EU on the basis of 'taking back control' for our parliament, should be ashamed.

"They have abdicated their responsibility to scrutinise legislation and relinquished parliamentary sovereignty to Theresa May's unrepresentative cabal.

"This is a dark day for the mother of parliaments. The Liberal Democrats will fight to amend the Bill in Committee to stop this affront to democracy.

"Labour rebels have handed the government sweeping anti-democratic powers. A significant number walked hand in hand with the Tories and have given the Government extreme powers not seen since the Middle Ages."