Theresa May to reveal Brexit plan as MPs back Article 50 bill
By Daryl Jackson, News Editor
02 Feb 2017
Theresa May is to publish her detailed Brexit plan in a White Paper after winning a huge majority for the Government's Article 50 bill in the Commons.
The document will flesh out the Prime Minister's big Brexit speech at Lancaster House last month and contain ministers' negotiating strategy for leaving the EU.
Its publication comes after the European Union (Notification Of Withdrawal) Bill was backed by 498 MPs to 114, a majority of 384, at its second reading in the Commons.
But while most Tories are jubilant after last night's vote, Jeremy Corbyn is facing a bitter Labour split after a fifth of his MPs, 47 in total, defied his three-line whip and voted against triggering Article 50.
Less than an hour before MPs began voting, two more members of Mr Corbyn's shadow cabinet, Rachel Maskell and Dawn Butler, quit so they could join the Labour backbench revolt.
A further 10 junior shadow ministers and three whips, who are supposed to enforce party discipline, also voted against triggering Article 50.
There was surprise among MPs when the Labour leader's close ally, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, did not vote, but it turned out she had been taken ill and left Parliament before the vote.
In her Lancaster House speech, which forms the basis for the official Brexit document, the PM said: "This Government has a plan for Britain - one that gets us the right deal abroad but also ensures we get a better deal for ordinary working people at home."
She also unveiled a 12-point Brexit plan, including:
:: Laws made in Westminster, not Brussels
:: Controlling migration
:: Quitting the single market
:: Protecting workers rights
After the Article 50 vote in the Commons, Mr Corbyn attempted to brush aside the Labour rebellion and said: "Labour MPs voted more than three to one in favour of triggering Article 50.
"Now the battle of the week ahead is to shape Brexit negotiations to put jobs, living standards and accountability centre stage. Labour's amendments are the real agenda.
"The challenge is for MPs of all parties to ensure the best deal for Britain, and that doesn't mean giving Theresa May a free hand to turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven."
But explaining her decision to resign from the shadow cabinet, Rachel Maskell told Sky News she consulted with constituents and local businesses as well as holding emergency meetings this week before deciding how to vote.
"The UK is no longer being offered a 'people's Brexit' but a 'Theresa May Brexit', which goes far beyond just leaving the European Union, as voted on at the referendum last June," she said.
"In voting against the legislation, I am representing the will of my constituents, ensuring their voice is heard in Parliament.
"When I took the oath of allegiance upon swearing in to Parliament in May 2015, I broke with convention and swore my oath to my constituents first; I will not forget this."
And a spokeswoman for Dawn Butler said: "She could not in good conscience vote for a bill which is just a few lines.
"Since the referendum Dawn has made it clear to her constituents that she would respect the democratic vote of Brent, which voted 60% to remain.
"Dawn cannot vote for a bill which she is sure will make her constituents poorer.
"Following the referendum Dawn was clear that if Parliament was presented with a vote on triggering Article 50, she would vote against."
For the Prime Minister, after bowing to pressure to publish her Brexit plan, she now heads for talks with European leaders in Malta on Friday, but she will not be there when they discuss their plan for Brexit.