Labour's Diane Abbott is hiring a new communications officer amid an online backlash over her absence from the historic Article 50 bill vote, it emerged on Friday (3 February).

"The candidate should be at ease in a high pressure environment and have a proven track record in press work and be able to work flexible hours," the advert, posted on the Work4MP website on Wednesday, read.

Social media users got "pray for Diane" trending on Twitter in reaction to the claim that Abbott was "too ill" to back the legislation needed to trigger Brexit talks.

A source close to the shadow home secretary told IBTimes UK that Abbott went home from Parliament around 17:00 GMT on Wednesday, just two hours before MPs voted on the Article 50 bill after its second reading in the House of Commons.

Her absence meant the Remain campaigner officially abstained on the draft law. Labour MP Grahame Morris, who is fighting lymphatic cancer, and his colleague Ronnie Campbell, who is recovering from a stomach cancer operation, did vote, The Sun reported.

Labour leader and close Abbott-ally Jeremy Corbyn had imposed a three-line-whip on MPs to back the bill.

The left-winger is now facing a reshuffle of his frontbench after Shadow Cabinet ministers, such as Dawn Butler and Rachael Maskell, quit the top team to oppose the Article 50 bill alongside 45 other Labour MPs.

"Now the battle of the week ahead is to shape Brexit negotiations to put jobs, living standards and accountability centre stage," a spokesperson for Corbyn said.

"Labour's amendments are the real agenda. The challenge is for MPs of all parties to ensure the best deal for Britain, and that doesn't mean giving Theresa May a free hand to turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven."

MPs overwhelmingly backed the Article 50 bill by 498 votes to 114. The draft legislation will now go through its third reading and committee stage in the Commons before going up to the House of Lords.

The Government hopes to pass the bill through Parliament by 7 March so Theresa May can trigger Brexit talks on 9 March.