UK government wins first vote on Brexit bill as Tories warn changes needed

The British government has comfortably defeated attempts to derail its flagship Brexit legislation, amid warnings from senior Tories that changes will be required.

MPs gave the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill a second reading by 326 votes to 290, majority 36, following more than 13 hours of debate.

A Labour attempt to block the draft legislation was also defeated by 318 votes to 296, majority 22.

Prime Minister Theresa May was sat on the government frontbench as the second reading result was announced.

There were cheers in the Commons chamber from Tory MPs.

But the Bill's future success seems dependent on various amendments being made at the next stage in Parliament, with several Tory MPs indicating their support at second reading was conditional on the expectation of future changes at committee.

The Bill repeals the 1972 Act that took Britain into the European Economic Community and incorporates relevant EU rules and regulations into the domestic law book.

Concerns have been raised that the Bill would give the government so-called Henry VIII powers, which would allow secondary legislation to be passed with little parliamentary scrutiny.

Closing the debate, Justice Secretary David Lidington hinted at changes as he told MPs: "We accept that we need to get the balance right, for example, between negative and affirmative procedure and between debates in committee and debates on the floor."

Seven Labour MPs rebelled against the party whip and voted in favour of the Bill's second reading.

They were Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Frank Field (Birkenhead), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North), John Mann (Bassetlaw), Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) and Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton).

No Conservatives rebelled by voting against the Bill at second reading.

A division list analysis showed there were 13 Labour MPs who did not vote on the Bill's second reading.


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