Jeremy Corbyn braced for rebellion by up to 20 Labour MPs over Brexit bill
Labour bosses believe as many as 20 of their MPs could refuse to vote against the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in a major challenge to Jeremy Corbyn's authority.
Around six backbenchers - including former Cabinet minister Caroline Flint - are set to vote in favour of the legislation shortly after midnight.
A further dozen could also defy the Labour leader by abstaining on the crunch vote.
Mr Corbyn has imposed a three line whip ordering his MPs to vote against the bill, which aims to transfer European laws onto the UK statute book on the day Britain quits the EU.
Labour say the legislation hands the Government so-called "Henry VIII powers", allowing them to change major pieces of legislation without parliament's approval.
Ms Flint, who served under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, confirmed this morning that she would be supporting the bill.
She told Radio Four's Today programme: "I believe Labour’s job is to improve this bill, not kill it as it begins its passage through parliament.
"I have to make a decision on this, and these decisions aren’t easy. I have never broken the whip at all but I do believe that in respecting the outcome of the referendum, in respecting what I said to my electors in a general election just a few months ago, it’s important that we get on with the job of making sure we can have as smooth an exit from the European Union as possible."
Other Labour rebels will include Leave supporters Kate Hoey, Graham Stringer, John Mann and Frank Field.
Appearing on Radio Four's 'World At One' programme, Mr Corbyn rejected Ms Flint's argument.
He said: "She and I both voted to implement Article 50 and that means respecting the result of the referendum. It doesn’t mean handing over all our powers of scrutiny in Parliament, all our decision-making on how negotiations proceed to one Secretary of State away from parliamentary scrutiny.
"This is a power grab by the Government at the expense of our democratically elected Parliament."
He added: "Our position is we’ll oppose the bill tonight because we want parliamentary scrutiny, we want democratic accountability of an elected government in how it reacts to the results of the referendum and that’s why we’re voting the way we are tonight and I urge all colleagues to do the same.
"It’s quite specific in our amendment that we set out the issues surrounding trade, surrounding conditions and surrounding protection of workers’ rights and consumer rights. I wouldn’t want to hand all those decisions over to David Davis."
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe