Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suffered the embarrassment of having one in five of his own MPs rebel against him in a parliamentary vote over the terms of Brexit.
The amendment of the EU withdrawal bill proposed staying in the single market and customs union. On Wednesday (17 January) it was easily defeated by 322 votes to 99, but 48 Labour MPs ignored pleas by their whips to abstain and joined forces with MPs from the Liberal Democrats and SNP.
These included former shadow transport minister Daniel Zeichner, and other former front benchers like Chris Bryant, Ben Bradshaw and Chuka Umunna. Ken Clarke was the sole Tory MP who sided with the rebels.
The Telegraph reported how a leaked copy of Labour's own advice to its MPs before the vote said the amendment "pretends you can 'guarantee' the outcome of the negotiations and to remain a 'member' of the customs union and single market", adding "It is not a serious amendment and it is not one the Labour frontbench will be supporting."
But Tory James Cleverly MP, the Tory party deputy chairman, told the paper that the size of the Labour rebellion showed how the party had put politics above the national interest.
"By voting against this Bill, Labour have confirmed they only offer the most chaotic Brexit possible and it's ordinary working people who would pay the price." The bill has cleared its final hurdle in the Commons and will now head to the Lords.
Earlier, it was reported that the shadow cabinet is concerned Corbyn would be the oldest ever prime minister should he win in 2022, which could mean that he would almost 78 if he were to serve a five-year term.
A senior frontbencher told the Independent: "Jeremy has a lot of energy now. But 2022 is a long time away, let alone 2027.Leading the country takes an incredible toll that is inescapable."