THE House of Commons has backed the government’s European Union Bill to allow Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50 – the start of the formal process of leaving the EU.
Mrs May has set a deadline of 31 March to trigger Article 50 and then the Prime Minister will begin official Brexit negotiations with EU officials after that.
MPs overwhelmingly supported the legislation with 498 votes to 114. The Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrats, 47 Labour rebels and one Tory MP, Ken Clarke, all opposed it.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had ordered his MPs to back the bill but less than an hour before voting, two members of the shadow cabinet resigned so they could defy him.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a leading Leave campaigner, called the Commons vote result “absolutely momentous”. Speaking on Facebook, he added: “We may be leaving the EU treaties. We are not leaving Europe.”
The UK would “forge a new identity” and make “an amazingly positive contribution” to Europe, he said.