New Brexit legislation which will see Britain move closer to leaving the European Union to one more step to becoming law on Tuesday.
Lawmakers passed the European (Withdrawal) Bill (also known as Brexit bill) for a second reading – the next phase for a bill in the legislative process.
The vote was 326 in favor and 290 against, with hours being devoted to MPs making statements on the proposals.
It is intended to convert existing EU legislation into British law, as the country prepares to depart the bloc in March 2019.
In a statement, British Prime Minister Theresa May described the vote ‘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.
However, calls for change came alongside a series of amendments from some MPs, including opposition Labour politicians.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said it was a ‘deeply disappointing result’, arguing the bill was weak.
“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.”
“It will make the Brexit process more uncertain, and lead to division and chaos when we need unity and clarity”, he said.
Starmer insisted Labour would amend and remove the worst aspects of the bill.
The pro-European Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake called the passing of the bill ‘a dark day for the mother of parliaments’.
Tuesday’s result gives May an effective ‘Brexit majority’ of 36 after seven Labour lawmakers voted in favor against their own party line. It now moves on to its next parliamentary stage where opposition MPs are expected to take a strong stance against it.