Brexit takes huge step closer as MPs overturn House of Lords amendments to Article 50 bill
Britain's exit from the European Union took a massive step closer tonight after MPs voted to overturn House of Lords amendments to the Article 50 bill.
Despite a minor Tory rebellion, calls for EU citizens in the UK to be given legal status after Brexit, and for parliament to have a veto on Theresa May's final deal, were comfortably defeated by the Government
It means the 137-word EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which gives the Prime Minister the legal power to begin the two-year Brexit process, is on course to finally be passed by the Lords later tonight.
The amendment on EU citizens was defeated by 335 to 287, while the one on the parliamentary veto lost by 331 votes to 286.
Brexit Secretary David Davis had earlier surprised the Commons by refusing to offer any concessions to Tory rebels demanding a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal.
He said: "Parliament can vote on any issue, but what we cannot have is any suggestion that the votes will overturn the referendum result."
On EU citizens, Mr Davis said: "The EU has been clear that we cannot open these discussions until the Prime Minister has given formal notification that the UK wishes to withdraw from the EU.
"That is why we must pass this straightforward bill without further delay, so the Prime Minister can get to work on the negotiations and we can secure a quick deal that secures the status of both European citizens in the UK and also UK nationals living in the EU. We take very seriously, I take very seriously, our moral responsibility to all four million UK and EU citizens."
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer hit out at Theresa May's "increasing obsession to pass a clean bill unamended".
He said: "The Government is about to embark on the most complex and challenging undertaking of any British government since the Second World War.
"The decision the Government makes and the deal it strikes will have profound consequences upon almost every aspect of British life. It is therefore essential that the Government does not fail or take the country down the wrong path. Starting negotiations by guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals and ending negotiations with a meaningful vote will help guard against that fate."
Earlier, Downing Street confirmed that Mrs May will not trigger Article 50 until the final week in March, despite speculation over the weekend that she was planning to do so as early as tomorrow.
The announcement came just hours after Nicola Sturgeon announced she wanted to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn of 2018 of spring 2019.