13/03/2017 19:00 GMT | Updated 13/03/2017 22:38 GMT

Brexit Article 50 Bill Clears Parliament, Giving Theresa May Legal Power To Begin Leaving The EU

MPs rejected amendments peers had attached.

Dylan Martinez / Reuters
Theresa May now has the legal power to begin Brexit

Theresa May has won the legal power to begin Brexit, after the Article 50 bill cleared parliament without amendments.

MPs rejected amendments to the Brexit bill that called for parliament to have a “meaningful” vote on a final deal and protected EU nationals’ rights after we leave the EU. 

Peers defied the Government to amend the bill - which must pass before Theresa May begins the formal process of leaving the bloc - to allow EU nationals already here to remain after Brexit and give MPs a vote on the final deal.

But on Monday night, MPs voted 335-287 to reject the EU nationals amendment  and 331-286 to reject the one about a vote on the deal.

Press Association
Brexit Secretary David Davis in the House of Commons

This sent the bill back to the House of Lords, which voted against its own amendments to pass the bill unamended later on Monday.

This gives the prime minister the legal authority to begin Brexit but Downing Street insisted today she would wait until the end of March, the deadline she has given herself.

During the debate on Monday, people protested outside parliament calling for EU nationals to be guaranteed their right to remain.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said: “Parliament has today backed the government in its determination to get on with the job of leaving the EU and negotiating a positive new partnership with its remaining member states.

“We are now on the threshold of the most important negotiation for our country in a generation.

Neil Hall / Reuters
Demonstrators outside parliament


“We have a plan to build a Global Britain, and take advantage of its new place in the world by forging new trading links.

“So we will trigger article 50 by the end of this month as planned and deliver an outcome that works in the interests of the whole of the UK.”

Anna Soubry, a Tory MP and leading supporter of Open Britain, said: “This was a disappointing result for anyone who recognises the vital importance of parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit.

“As we embark upon the most complex set of negotiations our country has ever faced, it would have been greatly preferable to have guaranteed a meaningful vote for MPs at the end of the process.

“I hope the Government recognises the importance of parliamentary scrutiny as the Brexit process gets underway in earnest.

“As we go forward, it is now up to MPs and people across the country to continue to campaign against the kind of hard Brexit that will damage our economy.”

As the peers debated, Gina Miller, who took the Government to court to force them to consult parliament before triggering Article 50, said: “What has been done is like an act of war. It will change the course of history.

“They have forgotten about conscience, principle and our country. In 18 months time, when they come back from Europe with a deal or no deal, if there is no vote in parliament and an act of parliament, I will take them back to court.”

The bill still needs royal assent, which could be granted as early as Tuesday and has not been refused since 1707.