A bid for a second referendum on Brexit went down to a heavy defeat tonight after Labour and People’s Vote campaigners failed to back it.
The proposal tabled by the Independent Group (TIG) of MPs to demand a new public vote was seen off by 334 votes to 85.
But despite Jeremy Corbyn issuing a three-line whip ordering his MPs to abstain, 24 broke it to support the move tabled by former Tory Sarah Wollaston.
They included senior backbencher Stella Creasy, former leadership challenger Owen Smith and former shadow minister Meg Hillier.
Lib Dem education spokeswoman frontbencher Layla Moran posted a picture from inside the mostly empty voting lobby for those supporting the amendment, saying: ‘Where is the rest of the Labour Party? A few notable exceptions but…’
A further 17 Labour MPs defied the whip to oppose the referendum bid, including Ruth Smeeth.
The Stoke MP said afterwards she had resigned as a parliamentary private secretary to deputy leader Tom Watson to oppose it.
Many Labour MPs in Leave areas have previously warned the party not to support a new referendum.
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran shared a picture of the sparsely populated voting lobby in favour of the referendum, after Labour MPs were ordered to abstain
Stoke MP Ruth Smeeth was one of 17 Labour MPs who defied the whip to vote against moves to allow a second referendum. She promptly resigned from a minor shadow ministerial position
The results of the vote were announced in the House of Commons earlier, with the referendum vote losing as expected by a wide margin
Others who opposed the move included Rosie Cooper and Caroline Flint, plus hardcore Labour Brexiteers like Vauxhall’s Kate Hoey.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer had insisted earlier today – when MPs are wrestling with a delay to Britain leaving the EU – was not the time for a vote on a new public ballot.
He insisted Labour’s support for a public ballot was undimmed despite mounting criticism of the Opposition’s continued reluctance to deliver on the promise.
Independent Group MP Dr Wollaston tabled a second referendum amendment to tonight’s Government motion on delaying Brexit.
Sir Keir Starmer revealed today that Labour would not back calls for a second referendum tonight as even the People’s Vote campaign backed away from the first Commons division on the plan
The People’s Vote admitted before the vote that Ms Wollaston’s amendment would not be backed by all of its supporters and said today was not the moment to push for a referendum.
Sir Keir told MPs before the vote: ‘Those pressing this amendment seem to be out of step with the vast majority of co-campaigners, campaigning for exactly the same push.
‘They may genuinely have a difference of opinion but we will not be supporting H tonight.’
Former Conservative minister Anna Soubry, a leading backer of a second referendum, shouted ‘shame on you’ at Sir Keir.
A People’s Vote spokesman said: ‘The People’s Vote campaign does not instruct its supporters in Parliament on how to vote.
‘We recognise there is a range of opinions on when to press the case for the public being given the final say, which means some of these MPs will vote for the Wollaston amendment, some may vote against, and some will abstain.
People’s Vote campaigners have been a constant presence outside Parliament amid growing demands for a re-run of the 2016 referendum
“But we do not think today is the right time to test the will of the House on the case for a new public vote.
‘Instead, this is the time for Parliament to declare it wants an extension of Article 50 so that, after two-and-a-half years of vexed negotiations, our political leaders can finally decide on what Brexit means.’
The spokesman insisted a new referendum was not ‘just another option’ on Brexit but instead a way to end the ‘crisis’.