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Brexit vote: MPs back Theresa May’s Article 50 trigger Bill as Clive Lewis resigns

MPs have backed the government's Brexit Bill with a majority of 372 allowing Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger the formal process of leaving the European Union.

MPs backed European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill by 494 votes to 122. It now moves to the Lords.

Mrs May wants to trigger formal Brexit talks by the end of March. The bill survived several earlier attempts to amend it.

Jeremy Corbyn ordered his MPs to back it but the Labour leader was unable to prevent the resignation of senior shadow cabinet minister Clive Lewis, who quit the frontbench to vote against the Bill in defiance of a three-line whip.

Mr Lewis said last week he would vote against the Bill at third reading if Labour amendments to safeguard against a "hard Brexit" were not passed.

A total of 52 MPs rebelled against Mr Corbyn's orders and voted against triggering Article 50, up from the 47 who opposed the legislation at second reading last week.

Former chancellor Ken Clarke was again the only Conservative to vote against the Bill.

One MP was heard to shout "shame" after the result was announced, while there was some applause from the Tory benches.

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond bemoaned the amount of time made available for MPs to debate the Bill.

Raising a point of order after committee stage, the SNP MP said: "The Government's refusal to accept a single amendment means there will be no report stage.

"The programme motion means there is no debate on third reading.

"I'm informed by the library that the last time that combination happened was the Defence of the Realm Act of 1914 which was about the First World War.

"For this to happen in any Bill would be an abuse, to happen on this Bill is an outrage.

"What is it about the procedures of this place that allow a Bill of this constitutional significance to be railroaded through in this disgraceful fashion?"

SNP MPs were later told off by Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle for whistling and singing Ode To Joy in the chamber as the third reading vote took place.

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