Government wins first vote on Brexit Bill as senior Tories warn changes needed

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The 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.

Ken Clarke did not vote at second reading
Ken Clarke did not vote at second reading (PA Wire)

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

They were Ian Austin (Dudley North), Kevin Barron (Rother Valley), David Crausby (Bolton North East), Caroline Flint (Don Valley), Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield), David Hanson (Delyn), Helen Jones (Warrington North), Kevan Jones (Durham North), Ged Killen (Rutherglen and Hamilton West), Madeleine Moon (Bridgend), John Spellar (Warley), Anna Turley (Redcar) and Derek Twigg (Halton).

There were five Conservative MPs who did not vote at second reading. They were: Sir David Amess (Southend West), Nick Boles (Grantham and Stamford), Ken Clarke (Rushcliffe), Johnny Mercer (Plymouth Moor View) and Gary Streeter (South West Devon).

The absence of these MPs from the division lobbies does not automatically mean they defied their party whips.

Ms Turley earlier tweeted she could not vote as she was still in hospital following an operation.