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British PM's crucial Brexit bill passes first parliament hurdle
Last Updated: 2017-09-13 09:45 | Xinhua
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British Prime Minister Theresa May's crucial bill to pave the way for Britain's exit from the European Union cleared its major hurdle in the House of Commons in the early hours of Tuesday.

It was a nail-biting finale at the end of three days of intensive debate with the government winning one of three votes by a thin margin of just 17.

The main vote, to back the European Withdrawal Bill, was won by 326 votes to 290, a government majority of 36.

The margin would have been even narrower if seven lawmakers from the main opposition Labour Party had not defied their leader Jeremy Corbyn and voted alongside the Conservatives. Although a number of Conservative lawmakers had threatened to rebel, no members of the governing party voted against the measure.

In the first round of voting Labour attempted to win their amendment that would have wrecked the Brexit Bill. Their claim was that the EU withdrawal bill handed sweeping powers to government ministers that would allow them to by-pass the elected parliament. They gained 296 votes, but not enough to challenge the government who notched up 318 votes.

The final vote, to set the program for the bill's journey through the parliamentary committee stages. was won by 318 votes to 301, a margin of just 17.

The bill is aimed at transferring more than 40 years of EU laws into British law, seen as critical in the withdrawal process to ensure legal processes continue to work when Britain and the EU part company in March 2019.

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