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  1. MPs approve the EU Referendum Bill at second reading by 544 votes to 53
  2. A separate SNP amendment seeking to block the bill is defeated by 338 votes to 59
  3. Boris Johnson says ministers should be free to campaign on either side in EU referendum
  4. Zac Goldsmith says he will stand to be Conservative candidate for London mayor
  5. Labour leadership contenders face questions from union activists at a hustings event in Dublin
  6. Andy Burnham has 53 nominations from fellow MPs, more than any other contender, according to details published on Labour's website
  7. Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall also pass the 35 threshold needed to get on the ballot paper
  8. The Parliamentary Labour Party holds hustings for the deputy leadership

Live Reporting

By Lauren Turner, Alex Hunt and Pippa Simm

All times stated are UK

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Salmond urges 'sense' on EU votes


Alex Salmond tells the BBC's Newsnight that the House of Lords would be perfectly entitled to try and push for 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in the EU referendum. He suggests that David Cameron might "see sense" and give way on the issue as he would not want to give the impression that 16- and 17-year-olds in England were "less capable" than their counterparts in Scotland - who were able to vote in last year's referendum. The former Scottish first minister says the "age of majority" in Scotland is 16 but Evan Davis reminds Mr Salmond that under-18s are not allowed to buy cigarettes north of the border. 

Join us tomorrow for more live updates.


Tuesday round-up 

- The EU referendum bill  was overwhelmingly approved by MPs at second reading in the House of Commons. During a six-hour debate, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says an "entire generation" has been denied a say on the UK's place in Europe. Labour backs the bill but the SNP says it is a "sop" to Tory MPs. 

- We've had Boris Johnson weighing in on the issue too. During his Ask Boris radio show, he said it would be "safer and more harmonious" if ministers were allowed free rein in the forthcoming referendum. 

- When he was asked about prospective candidates to take over as Mayor of London, the Conservative MP said he didn't want to "blight" anyone's chances by endorsing them. Whether or not that had an effect on Zac Goldsmith, who knows, but shortly afterwards he told the Evening Standard he intended to stand. There's one caveat though - he has to win the support of his constituents first. 

- Candidates for another post, that of Labour leader, have been busy today too, as they addressed GMB union members at their annual conference in Dublin. The five MPs were asked whether they supported the government's plan to lower the annual welfare cap - and if they knew the price of a loaf of bread. It also emerged that three candidates - Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall have the 35 nominations needed to get on the ballot but Mary Creagh and Jeremy Corbyn are still short of the total. 

- We learned today that MPs are to consider allowing some terminally ill people in England and Wales to end their lives in a new effort to pass assisted dying laws. This comes after Labour MP Rob Marris won a private members' bill ballot.

- And, proving that perhaps you can't have smoke without fire, people in Wales will be banned from using e-cigarettes in enclosed places under a new public health law .

 Join us tomorrow for more live updates.

'Not asking for much'

UKIP MP tweets...

Given that the Prime Minister is not asking for much, every MP I've spoken to fully expects Mr Cameron to secure his "new deal"

EU vote 'more important than party politics'

Conservative MP Graham Brady

The senior Conservative MP, Graham Brady, has urged the prime minister to decide now to "treat EU membership as a matter of conscience for front and backbenchers".

Mr Brady, who chairs the influential 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, writes in the Daily Telegraph that it is "right" for members of the government to be bound by collective responsibility during the renegotiation of Britain's relationship with the European Union.

But he says once the reform package is agreed, "the referendum campaign will effectively begin".

"At that point, there are three reasons why I would urge the government to treat EU membership as a matter of conscience for front and backbenchers alike," he wrote.

"First, making it clear now that this freedom will be allowed at the end of the negotiations will act as a pressure release and set the tone for a mature and rational debate.

"Secondly, while this is an issue that is more important than party politics - which will divide any serious party - it is also right that we should have a view to the need for reconciliation after the referendum.

"It must be in the interests of the Conservative Party to treat the referendum campaign as a discrete issue, one that needn't divide us on the vast majority of the government's programme for government on which we are entirely united.

"Thirdly, on such a totemic issue, it is only if it is clear that ministers are free to speak their minds that the public will know that they are genuinely urging a course of action that they believe in - not advancing an argument because it is a condition of their continued ministerial office."

MacNeil: I didn't vote

Despite ending up in the wrong lobby, Angus MacNeil has insisted that he did not vote against his own party and for the EU Referendum Bill. The Western Isles MP has admitted his mistake but said he then refused to vote - by exiting the lobby where MPs are counted. The BBC's Tim Reid says the MP is not listed on Hansard - the official record - as voting in either lobby although he did vote for the SNP's wrecking amendment beforehand. Mr MacNeil said: "I was in wrong lobby but refused to vote. Amazing the amount of MPs who have told me they have done the same."

Start of a long debate

Political correspondent Chris Mason writes...

Political correspondent Chris Mason

You don't need a doctorate in mathematics to work out this was a Commons majority of rather a lot.

With 650 MPs in the House of Commons, persuading 84% of them to vote the same way is quite something.

In fact, such an achievement that the result was held up because of the length of the queue of those wanting to endorse the idea of an EU referendum.How did it happen?

Labour campaigned before the general election against the idea of a referendum, saying it would be destabilising.

But after what amounted, to them, to be a rather destabilising appointment with the electorate, they have changed their mind in defeat.

For some, this vote is something they have campaigned on for as long as they have been at Westminster: a say for the people on our place inside or outside the European Union.

For all of us, it is the start of a debate about how we see ourselves, our place in the world and a decision for us each to take, within the next two and a half years.

The wrong Angus

MPs in the chamber of the House of Commons

There seems to have been a case of mistaken identity when it comes to which SNP MP ended up in the wrong lobby this evening. It wasn't Angus Robertson but rather his colleague Angus MacNeil. The MP has apparently confessed his error to the Guido Fawkes website. He is quoted as saying:

Felt I needed a little attention from Daily Mail as they were ignoring the SNP and wanted to make new MPs feel good when experience makes a mistake but mostly was distracted by Labour and Tories pleading for SNP votes for select committees”

Robertson: I voted right way

Angus Robertson

This just in from the BBC's Tim Reid. He says Angus Robertson has denied voting the wrong way on the European Union Referendum Bill. Journalists quoting Labour whips had suggested Mr Robertson was "hiding in the toilets" after going into the wrong voting lobby. However, Mr Robertson said: "I voted for SNP amendment and against the 2nd reading of the Bill... as Hansard will show". Hansard is the official record of all debates in the Commons and the Lords. It includes lists showing which way MPs voted.

'Wrong lobby'

The BBC's Chris Mason sums up the vote by saying there was "one heck" of a parliamentary majority for the referendum. Interestingly, only 53 MPs voted against the bill at second reading compared with 59 who backed the SNP amendment a little earlier. One explanation for the small discrepancy comes from the Sunday Times journalist James Lyons. He suggests Angus Robertson, who leads the SNP at Westminster, entered the Yes lobby by mistake for the second reading vote and had to hide in the toilets while it was taking place. 

Clarke abstains

Financial Times political correspondent tweets...

Ken Clarke abstained over second reading of bill. Clearly still not a fan of the referendum....

'Wonderful' moment

UKIP MP tweets...

Wonderful! wonderful! After years of pushing, all Eurosceptics sld take heart from the success of 2nd reading of EU ref Bill. #TeamWork

Political reaction

Cabinet Office minister tweets...

Labour & Lib Dems spent the whole election campaign telling us why people shouldn't have a referendum on the EU. Today they voted in favour

'Defeat or retreat'

Channel 4

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond says the bill has only passed its first hurdle and, using a golfing analogy, says there is "many a slip between cup and lip". He suggests the government faces either "defeat or retreat" on two issues. Firstly the timing of the referendum, due to what he says is growing opposition to any attempt to stage it on 5 May 2016, the same day as the Scottish parliamentary elections. He also says ministers are under pressure over any attempt to suspend "purdah rules" which traditionally restrict government announcements and activity in the run-up to elections and other polls. Owen Paterson is also concerned about this, saying long-established rules should not be "ripped up" and the referendum must be a level-playing field. 

A 'great day'

Channel 4

Reacting to the vote, former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson says this is a "great day" and a "real result" for the country. He tells Channel 4 News it is premature to speculate on who may lead the No campaign, saying the prime minister deserves time to conduct his renegotiations and praising him for the "canny hand" he is playing. 

Further votes

MPs have also approved the programme motion for the bill, an instrument which facilitates the scheduling of legislation, without a formal vote. They have also nodded through what is known as a money resolution. This allows MPs to consider any increase in public spending which might result from measures included in the bill. 

Bill backed at Second Reading

Eventually we have a result. MPs back the EU Referendum Bill at second reading by 544 to 53 votes. That is an overwhelming result. The outcome is greeted by loud cheers from the Conservative benches. 

'Road to Damascus'

As we are waiting for the result, Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin jokes that there is a delay because there are so many MPs seeking to vote in favour of the bill. "The road to Damascus has never been so congested", he suggests in an echo of comments once made by Lady Thatcher. Of course, you could construe his remarks as a gentle dig at Labour.  

Second vote

Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing ticks off MPs for making too much noise. She then proceeds to call a second vote on a government motion on the bill. Again, we expect this to be approved comfortably. 

SNP amendment defeated

MPs announce the outcome of the vote on the SNP amendment

The SNP's attempt to wreck the EU referendum bill at an early stage has failed. Its amendment has been defeated by 338 votes to 59. 

Vote on SNP amendment

Mr Lidington concludes his remarks and the deputy speaker Eleanor Laing calls the first vote. This vote will be on the SNP amendment - which calls for the bill to be denied a second reading. If it was passed, which will not happen, it would the mean the bill effectively being kiboshed. 

'Strong opinions'

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond challenges David Lidington to rule out holding the referendum on 5 May 2016 - the same day as elections to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. The minister does not do that but he insists that the government will consult on the timing of the referendum when the moment comes. On the issue of whether 16- and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote, he accepts that there are "strongly held opinions" on either side and the matter will be considered in detail at committee stage. However, he says there should not be "a one-off" exception for the EU referendum and there needs to be consistency across all UK-wide elections and votes. 

'Open and engaged'

Pat McFadden says Labour will argue for the UK to remain an "open, engaged and confident" member of the European Union. His Conservative counterpart, Europe minister David Lidington, is now summing up for the government. He starts by praising the 12 new MPs who have made their maiden speeches during the debate and contrasts their contributions with the interventions from older and more experienced members, many of which he jokes had a "ring of familiarity" about them. 

Summing up

In the Commons, backbenchers have finished having their say for the time being on the EU Referendum Bill and we are onto the closing arguments from the opposition and the government. Shadow Europe minister Pat McFadden is currently summing up for Labour. We are expecting the Second Reading vote at about 1900 BST. 

Three horse race?

BBC Newsnight chief correspondent tweets...

Three definitely in the race, Kendall, Burnham and Cooper - 86 MPs yet to declare by my count

More on nominations

You can see the list of nominations the Labour leadership candidates - and deputy leadership candidates - have received so far on the Labour party website  here.

Labour leadership nominations

BBC Newsnight chief correspondent tweets...

Official MP nominations declared today - 53 Burnham, 41 Cooper, 36 Kendall, 11 for Corbyn, only 5 for Creagh so far...

'Killing two unions'

House of Commons


Glasgow South MP Stewart McDonald, of the SNP, says he is a European citizen and Scotland is "an outward-looking European nation", as he makes the case for the UK's continued membership. He also advocates voting rights for 16 and 17-year-olds in the referendum.

He warns that attempts by Conservatives to "kill one union" might result in them "killing two".

If Scotland is to be dragged out of the EU against its wishes and on the back of votes from voters in England, then that may be the result they do not see coming."

'Not harmless fun'

House of Lords


Laws to crack down on the sale of so-called legal highs will protect the public from the potentially fatal consequences of the drugs and help end a "reckless trade", Home Office minister Lord Bates has said.

Opening the debate on the Psychoactive Substances Bill, which is being debated in Parliament for the first time, he said: "New psychoactive substances are not merely a bit of harmless fun providing an instant buzz. 

"These substances are untested and unknown with clear evidence of short-term harms and potential long-term adverse consequences."

Debate recap

House of Commons

The House of Commons is some hours in to its debate on the EU Referendum Bill, with a vote to be taken on second reading at about 19.30 BST.

Opening the discussion, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said "for too long" powers had been ceded to the EU and it was time to give people a say on the UK's future relationship with the 28-member bloc.    

So-far the majority of speakers have welcomed the planned referendum on Britain's membership of the EU, with the exception of the SNP which wants to block the bill from progressing further.

However, several of the opposition parties - including Labour, the Lib Dems, and the Greens - have indicated that they will seek to amend the bill, to give 16 and 17-year-olds and EU nationals a vote in the referendum – something the government has rejected.

There has also been cross-party criticism of plans to scrap the purdah period in the run-up to the poll, with disquiet also emanating from David Cameron’s own backbenchers, including ex-ministers Damian Green and Crispin Blunt; perhaps signifying the rocky road that may lie ahead for the PM on the Europe question.

Green view

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England, says staying in the EU "would guarantee a better future for the UK". 

Speaking before this afternoon's second reading of the EU referendum bill, he said: "The EU is far from perfect - however, vitally important workplace protections and environmental legislation would be under threat if we decided to exit."

The Green party also wants to see 16 and 17-year-olds given the chance to vote in the referendum.

'Go for maximum reform'

House of Commons


Conservative MP Tim Loughton offers the prime minister some words of advice in his EU reform negotiations.

We've made a great start; go for maximum reform, take it to the wire all the way to 2017. It'll be a long hard slog, you will find many detractors on the way, you'll also find many allies. But fundamentally the major players in Europe who will shape the future of Europe, like Germany, desperately need the UK to be part of it, shaping it along with them. We will achieve some things we want and other things we had not expected, that's how negotiations work. We will inevitably have to compromise."

EU poll 'shows MPs matter'

House of Commons


Conservative MP Peter Bone, a well-known Eurosceptic, says its remarkable that the EU referendum is to come to fruition and says it shows how can MPs can affect change.

"People say this House doesn't matter, that MPs don't matter because it's all done by government... but that's just not true."

The Wellingborough MP expresses concern about the timetabling of the bill's committee stage, which will receive two days of scrutiny. He wants more time to be set aside.

Labour's 'change of heart' welcomed

House of Commons


Kelvin Hopkins

Kelvin Hopkins, the Labour MP for Luton North, joins many previous speakers in welcoming the planned referendum on the UK's EU membership. He says he welcomes his party leadership has had "a change of heart" and now supports holding a vote.

Mr Hopkins notes that former Labour PM Harold Wilson allowed ministers free rein during the 1975 EU referendum and hoped all parties would follow that "wise example" to allow a "free"debate. "We should be free to vote with our consciences," he adds.

Blast from the past for Goldsmith

Zac Goldsmith

And here is the Huffington Post article from 2013, in which Zac Goldsmith - who has now said he would like to stand as Conservative candidate for Mayor of London - says that to do so would be a "suicide mission". 

At the time, he added: "The odds of my succeeding in the mayoral contest, I think people have had enough of white male Etonians, 

"I'm not sure my chances would be very high." He added when pressed: "It's simply not going to happen. I'm not going to stand as a candidate for mayor of London."