May's Brexit law passes in late night vote, rewrites demanded immediately
(ShareCast News) - Conservative MPs warned Prime Minister Theresa May that support for her latest Brexit legislation was by no means unconditional, demanding extensive changes to the bill on withdrawal from the EU just minutes after backing it in Parliament.
The late night vote saw the PM secure a victory of 326 to 290 after seven Labour MPs defied party directive to back the bill Ms May referred to as, a "historic decision to back the will of the British people."
"Although there is more to do, this decision means we can move on with negotiations with solid foundations and we continue to encourage MPs from all parts of the UK to work together in support of this vital piece of legislation," she said.
While the Tories had no dissenters amongst their ranks at the time of the final vote, several senior backbenchers were among the first to voice their criticism of the bill, demanding critical amendments to the bill and its so-called "Henry VIII powers."
Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer voted against the bill saying it was too weak and that Labour would ensure removal of the flaws "so fundamental" that it was hard to see it as ever "fit for purpose".
"This bill is an affront to parliamentary democracy and a naked power grab by government ministers. It leaves rights unprotected, it silences parliament on key decisions and undermines the devolution settlement," said Starmer.
Labour's proposed amendments included protection of workers' rights, environmental safeguards, equity laws and a return of responsibilities to the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party also saying they'd seek changes.
"The challenge now is for MPs across the chamber to unite behind a common purpose in ensuring that this UK government is prevented from railroading further Brexit legislation through that risks the very foundations of devolution," said Stephen Gethins, the SNP's international affairs spokesman.