Norwich MP Clive Lewis will vote for first stage of Brexit bill - but leaves door open to later rebellion

Labour Norwich South candidate Clive Lewis making sure that supporters in Unthank Road have cast the

Labour Norwich South candidate Clive Lewis making sure that supporters in Unthank Road have cast their vote. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Clive Lewis will vote to set the Article 50 trigger bill in motion - but has hinted he will be willing to defy his party's whip if the government's Brexit bill is not changed.

The Norwich MP signalled he will vote for a second reading giving MPs a chance to make amendments, but will withdraw his support if concessions are not made.

In an interview with the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News he insisted he respected the result of the referendum and would follow Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the government through the division lobby next week.

But said he would 'vote accordingly' if red lines, a veto and report back mechanisms were not sufficient.

He said that the Supreme Court decision had 'quite rightly' given parliament the chance to have a say on Article 50 and what Brexit looks like.


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'The second reading will allow parliament to have a say through the committee stage and put down amendments on the red lines and reporting back mechanisms.

'I am a democrat. I have said you have to respect the will of the referendum. It follows that you have to give parliament a chance to do the best thing. This is what the second reading is about. We will put down those red lines and markers and reporting back mechanisms. I will, along with the rest of the Labour Party, make sure we hold this government to account.

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But he added that he was 'mindful most of the people in Norwich voted remain'.

He said they had been doing a survey in which many people who had voted to remain had acknowledged that Britain had to leave the EU.

'They want to make sure they get the best possible outcome.

'The supreme court has ensured their MP gets a say on this debate and gets to try to shape how we leave and what it looks like. At the end, gives the British people a say through parliament on this.

'If I am not happy with what comes out at the end, that is another matter. Let's see what comes out of the third reading.

'If I do not believe at the final reading that the Article 50 on the table in terms of report back mechanisms, red lines on negotiations and a final parliamentary veto on the deal concluded is sufficient and in the interests of the people of Norwich and the country I will vote accordingly.'

What is the passage of the bill?

The Government has tabled its European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Commons.

But what happens before such proposals become law?

:: The first step was to present the Bill before MPs which happened on Thursday. This is known as first reading and involves the title of the Bill being read out.

:: The second reading follows on Tuesday and Wednesday (January 31 and February 1) and this is the first time MPs can debate the general principles and themes of the Bill, including what might have been included within it.

:: MPs decide at the end of the debate if the Bill can proceed further.

:: The Speaker chairing the debate will ask MPs to call out whether they agree or not. If it is not possible to determine whether the vote is in favour of the ayes (yes) or noes (no) then a vote - called a division - will take place.

:: The Committee stage - which is scheduled to start on Monday February 6 and finish on Wednesday February 8 - allows each part of the Bill to be debated in detail as well as any changes proposed to it. This can result in changes to the original text.

:: Committee stage usually takes place outside the Commons chamber, with only those MPs selected to serve on the committee allowed to vote on amendments.

:: But the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill will be considered in the Commons chamber - meaning every MP can vote on amendments chosen for debate.

:: The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill will then progress to third reading, which is a short debate on what is in it. This is also expected to take place on Wednesday February 8.

:: No amendments can be made at this stage. A vote is held at the end. If MPs vote in favour then it will have completed the necessary stages in the Commons.

:: The Bill then proceeds to the House of Lords, where the stages are repeated.

:: If peers in the Lords make amendments to the text of the Bill, it will return to the Commons. At this stage, MPs will debate whether to keep the changes or get rid of them.

:: A procedure known as 'ping-pong' occurs when the Bill repeatedly moves between the Commons and the Lords until an agreement is reached on the final text.

:: Once both Houses agree on the final text, a Bill will then receive the Queen's approval - known as royal assent - and becomes an Act of Parliament.

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