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The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 26 January 2017 and received its second reading on 31 January and 1 February 2017. The Bill would give the Prime Minister power to notify the European Council of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the European Union, under the process set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. 

This briefing summarises the second reading proceedings in the House of Commons. The House divided on a reasoned amendment tabled by the Scottish National Party (SNP) to deny the Bill its second reading. The amendment was defeated by 336 votes to 100, a majority of 236.

The Bill was given its second reading by 498 votes to 114, a majority of 384. Of the MPs who voted, the Conservatives (with the exception of Kenneth Clarke), the Democratic Unionist Party, the Ulster Unionist Party and UKIP voted in favour of the Bill. The SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party voted against it. Despite the Party’s three-line whip to support the Bill, Labour’s vote was split, with 167 Labour MPs voting in favour of the Bill and 47 voting against it.

There was also a division on the programme motion, which allocated three days (6, 7 and 8 February 2017) for the Bill’s committee stage and third reading. The programme motion was agreed to by 329 votes to 112, a majority of 217.

During the first day of the second reading debate, MPs from all sides of the House questioned the Government about when it would publish the white paper that had been promised by Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions on 25 January 2017. Mrs May announced on 1 February, before the second day’s debate on the Bill began, that the white paper would be published the following day. On 2 February 2017, the Government published its white paper, The United Kingdom’s Exit From, and New Partnership With, the European Union. 

The Bill’s remaining Commons stages are scheduled to take place on 6–8 February 2017. The Bill’s second reading in the House of Lords is scheduled for 20 February 2017. For background information about the Bill, see House of Lords Library, European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (30 January 2017) (a concise five-page briefing) and House of Commons Library European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (30 January 2017) (a more detailed 50-page briefing).


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