Wales politics

Brexit bill: Most Welsh MPs back triggering Article 50

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Media captionBrexit gives the people of Bridgend no assurance of a secure future, Madeleine Moon said

A majority of Welsh MPs have voted in favour of a bill which will allow ministers to trigger Article 50 and leave the European Union.

Ministers won Wednesday's House of Commons vote, with 498 MPs voting for the European Union Bill to go to the next stage, and 114 against.

Of those, 27 MPs from Wales - including 16 Labour and 11 Tory - voted for the bill, with 10 against.

The proposed law would allow ministers to start the Brexit process.

Following a Commons debate, seven Welsh Labour MPs including frontbencher Kevin Brennan were among 47 who defied party orders by voting against the measure.

The bill will now return to the Commons next week for the committee stage, when opposition parties will try to push through a series of amendments.

Clwyd West Conservative MP David Jones tweeted it was a "historic day". Wales backed leaving the EU in the referendum last year.


Which Welsh MPs voted and how?

Image caption 498 MPs voted for the bill to go to the next stage, versus 114 against
  • For: All Welsh Tory MPs and Labour MPs Wayne David, Chris Elmore, Chris Evans, Paul Flynn, Nia Griffith, Carolyn Harris, Gerald Jones, Susan Elan Jones, Stephen Kinnock, Ian Lucas, Jessica Morden, Albert Owen, Christina Rees, Nick Smith, Nick Thomas-Symonds and David Hanson
  • Against: Labour MPs Kevin Brennan, Chris Bryant, Madeline Moon, Ann Clwyd, Owen Smith, Jo Stevens, Stephen Doughty; Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams; Plaid Cymru MPs Liz Saville Roberts and Hywel Williams

Shadow culture minister Mr Brennan was the second Labour front-bencher in Wales to announce he would vote against Jeremy Corbyn's wishes, following Jo Stevens who quit as shadow Welsh secretary on Friday over the order.

Mr Corbyn suggested at the weekend that shadow ministers who choose to vote against triggering Article 50 could be sacked.

On his blog, Mr Brennan said: "I believe it is now quite clear that triggering Article 50 will lead Britain on a road to the kind of economy and society I have never believed in.

"That is also the view of the majority of my constituents."

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Media captionDavid Davies urged MPs planning to vote against the bill "to think about the will of the British people"

Mr Bryant, a former shadow leader of the house, told MPs: "I believe this bill, this way of Brexiting will leave us poorer, weaker and at far far greater danger in Europe, and in the west and in this country."

He added: "Not in my name, never, never, never."

Rhondda Cynon Taf registered a 53.7% vote for leave in the referendum. All of the area's MPs voted against the Article 50 bill.

David Jones, a minister for Brexit, said MPs were not voting on the referendum outcome but "simply" to start the process.

He said the vote was an "opportunity for all of us to demonstrate" respect for the referendum's outcome "by supporting this small and important bill".

David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth and a prominent Leave campaigner in Wales, told MPs: "Stop fighting the campaign and become part of what is going to take place now.

"Our prime minister tonight is going to reflect the will of the British people."

One of the Labour MPs to vote for the bill, Carolyn Harris, tweeted that the number of constituents who had contacted her to vote for Article 50 outweighed those that asked her to vote against.

"I was elected in May 2015 to represent the people of Swansea East and I must continue to carry out their wishes when voting in the Commons," she said.

Image caption Craig Williams said it is time to allow Brexit negotiations to start

Before the debate, Cardiff North MP Craig Williams, who had wanted the UK to stay in the EU, said the poll result must be honoured.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Mr Williams said that, by originally voting to hold a referendum on EU membership, MPs had "empowered the British people" and "now we're going to trust what they told us".

Plaid Cymru's Westminster group leader Hywel Williams said the vote was "not about whether to accept the referendum result - it is about endorsing the Tories' extreme version of Brexit".

In January, the prime minister said the UK must leave the EU single market but promised to push for the "freest possible trade" with European countries.

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