The House of Commons has backed a motion proposed by Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn (LAB – Islington North) to back Prime Minister Theresa May’s (CON – Maidenhead) timetable on Brexit. This means that Parliament has approved the triggering of Article 50, the formal process to withdraw from the European Union, by March 2017.
MPs voted 461 to 89 in favour of the motion, with 23 Labour MPs rebelling, along with Tory Ken Clarke (Rushcliffe), 5 Liberal Democrats including their new MP Sarah Olney (Richmond Park), Green MP Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion), and Plaid Cymru.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer (Holborn & St Pancras), a co-sponsor of the Labour motion said:
“Today is not a vote to trigger Article 50 or to give authority to the PM to do so; it is most certainly not a vote for Article 50.
“Unless the Supreme Court overrules the High Court, only legislation can do that. Nor does today preclude the Labour party or any other party putting down amendments to the legislation and having them voted upon.
“In a significant development, Brexit Secretary David David said it was “inconceivable” that the Commons would not get a vote on the final deal Mrs May reaches with EU leaders – but he insisted MPs would not be able to overturn the outcome of the referendum.
“Any vote in this House at the end of the process would merely be on the deal; it could not reverse the fact that we had left the European Union.”
Former Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham (LAB – Leigh) used the motion to attack his party’s pro-immigration stance, saying,
“It is time for many of us on this side of the House to confront a hard truth. Our reluctance in confronting this debate is undermining the cohesion of our communities and the safety of our streets.
“I am no longer prepared to be complicit in that. We need answers to the public concerns – but answers that are based on hope, not on hate.”