Members of Parliament have voted on principle to allow Theresa May to trigger Article 50 and begin the UK’s process of leaving the European Union.
The House of Commons defeated a negating amendment, tabled by the Scottish Nationalist Party, by a majority of 236 votes. MPs then carried the Second Reading of the Bill by an even more substantial majority of 384 votes.
Click here for our complete list of MPs and their votes on the Amendment and Second Reading. The list will open in a new tab, so you will not lose this page and you do not have to click ‘open in new tab’.
Debates and Article 50 ruling
Click here for the House of Commons Hansard Record of the first day of debate on 31st January, and click here for Hansard of the second day on 1st February (yesterday). (Same tab rule always applies on this site).
Rt Hon David Davis tabled the Bill as a result of the Supreme Court ruling last week. The Court ruled an Act of Parliament was necessary before Article 50 could be triggered. Our report on that decision is linked here.
The Second Reading is a vote on the principle of the Bill. It will be followed by discussion of the Bill in the Committee Stage next week. Next is a debate at the Report Stage and finally the Third Reading. The Bill has then to go through the same procedure in the House of Lords. Amendments can be tabled at each stage. Once both Houses agree, the Bill will go for Royal Assent. Only then will it become an Act of Parliament.
This is what the Bill says:
A BILL TO Confer power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.
Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
1 Power to notify withdrawal from the EU
(1) The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.
(2) This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.
2 Short title. This Act may be cited as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017.
Rambling SNP Amendment on Article 50
The SNP’s Stephen Gethins proposed a rambling amendment (which was defeated) declining to give the Bill a Second Reading. It called for ‘effective consultation with the devolved administrations’. It wanted a White Paper, which Mrs May is to publish today. The amendment asked for ‘a guarantee on the position of EU nationals in the UK’. It also wanted answered ‘a range’ of unspecified ‘detailed questions’. Finally, it went on about ‘implications of withdrawal from the single market’.
But the SNP amendment did make one valid and encouraging point. Two years after invoking Article 50 the UK as a whole is out of the EU’s revived Roman Empire. We leave whether there is agreement between the UK and the EU or not. Only if the parties agree unanimously can the process be extended.
Some snippets from the debate’s second day which took the eye:
Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) ‘I took part in the referendum campaign and I said that I would accept the result, which I do. That is why I will be voting for the Bill’s Second Reading tonight, not least because I feel that the referendum stemmed in part from the sense of disaffection and deep frustration about politics that exists in the country.’
On the matter of today’s publication of the White Paper: Chris Bryant MP (Lab): ‘I can’t have been listening.’ Mr Speaker: ‘If there is one thing I know about the hon. Gentleman, it is that he is invariably listening to his own wisdom. We are grateful to him for that.’
Dr Andrew Murrison (South West Wiltshire) (Con): ‘We have seen the bizarre spectacle of Germany making more money from exporting coffee than the developing countries that grow coffee’.
Charlie Elphicke (Dover) (Con) ‘My constituents have made very clear that, number one, there must be an end to unchecked EU migration, and, number two, there must be no more billions for bloated Brussels bureaucrats. That plainly indicates that we must leave the single market, and that if we want to do unfettered trade deals with the rest of the world, we must leave the customs union.’
View our EU videos – relevant to the Article 50 debate
View our videos on YouTube here: they are all around three and a half minutes in length and very watchable:
The European Union’s Tower of Babel – filmed in Strasbourg,
European Union’s Woman on the Beast – filmed in Brussels,
The European Union’s Pagan Foundation – filmed in Rome,
The European Union’s Roman Empire – filmed in Rome and Bath,
European Union – Does the Lord keep the City? filmed in Brussels and London (on Psalm 127).
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