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MPs Back European Union Withdrawal Bill, Passed with Majority of 36

The House of Commons has voted to pass the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill at second reading shortly after midnight on Tuesday, 326 votes for, 290 against.

The bill overturns the 1972 Act which took the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community, and in so doing, incorporates 40 years of EU law into the UK statute book. Parliament will be able to “amend, repeal, and improve” laws once the country leaves the EU in March 2019.

The bill also grants the government powers to make other preparations for Brexit, and ends the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

The Government won the first EU Withdrawal Bill vote with MPs voting against the Labour amendment to the bill (‘ayes’ 296, ‘nos’ 318, majority 22).

This represents the next step in implementing last year’s historic referendum vote to leave the bloc after Prime Minister Theresa May formally notified Brussels of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal by triggering Article 50 on March 29th, 2017.

The vote represented a victory for the minority Conservative Government, with the majority of Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs voting against.

However, a number of Labour Party members defied the three-line whip and voted in favour of the bill including former Labour Europe minister Caroline Flint who said: “Our [Labour MPs] job is to improve this Bill, not to kill it”.

John Mann, whose constituency Bassetlaw voted 68 per cent in favour of leaving the EU in the referendum on June 23rd, 2016, also voted for the bill.

Labour voted against the legislated in objection to what it called “Henry VIII powers”, named after a statutory instrument used by the Tudor king to force through new laws without full parliamentary scrutiny.

The Government strongly rejected suggestions the bill represented a “power grab” asserting that it was necessary to ensure legal continuity when the country leaves the bloc in March 2019.

“Businesses and individuals need reassurance that there will be no unexpected changes to our laws after exit day and that is exactly what the Repeal Bill provides,” Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Monday.

The bill will now go to committee stage. There will be a further 64 hours of debate in the chamber across eight days before a final vote.

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