UK MPs approve Brexit bill overwhelmingly

Key vote: MPs in the House of Commons to hear the result of the vote on the Brexit bill AFP/Getty Images

BBC – MPs have overwhelmingly agreed to let the government begin the UK’s departure from the EU as they voted for the Brexit bill.

The draft legislation was approved by 494 votes to 122, and now moves to the House of Lords.

Shadow business secretary Clive Lewis was one of 52 Labour MPs to defy party orders to back the bill and he resigned from the front bench.

PM Theresa May wants to trigger formal Brexit talks by the end of March.

She will do this by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, but requires Parliament’s permission before doing so.

Mr Lewis, who earlier said he was undecided on whether to support the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, announced his resignation as MPs began voting for the final time.

He said he “cannot, in all good conscience, vote for something I believe will ultimately harm the city I have the honour to represent, love and call home”.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn said he understood the difficulties the vote presented some of his MPs but said they had been ordered to back the Article 50 because the party would not “block Brexit”.

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