Jeremy Corbyn vowed to fight against the UK government's plans for a "bargain basement" Brexit after the Article 50 bill passed through parliament on Monday evening (13 March). The legislation gives Prime Minister Theresa May the authority to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and start two-year-long divorce talks with the EU.
The House of Commons rejected two amendments to the bill tabled by the House of Lords – to give parliament a "meaningful vote" on the final Brexit deal and to unilaterally guarantee the residency rights of the more than three million EU nationals in the UK.
"It is deeply disappointing that the government has denied the British people, through Parliament, greater oversight over the Brexit negotiations and refused to guarantee the rights of EU citizens, who have made their lives in the UK," Corbyn said.
"We will continue to demand that the stress they, and British citizens living in the EU, are being put under is ended, and they are given the right to remain.
"Article 50 is being triggered because of the result of the EU referendum. But it is only the start of the process. Labour, at every stage, will challenge the government's plans for a bargain basement Brexit with Labour's alternative of a Brexit that puts jobs, living standards and rights first."
But despite talk of challenging the government, Corbyn missed his own "emergency" pro-EU national rally outside of parliament on Monday evening.
"Jeremy was not able to attend as the vote began later than expected and he had other commitments after," a Labour source told IBTimes UK.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott were able to attend the demonstration organised by pro-Corbyn pressure group Momentum. Pro-EU Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron argued that the Labour leader has written a "blank cheque" for the Conservative government.
"Labour had the chance to block Theresa May's hard Brexit but chose to sit on their hands. Tonight there will be families fearful that they will be torn apart," he said. "Shame on the government for using people as chips in a casino, and shame on Labour for letting them.
"Labour could also have ensured ministers were held to account in Brexit negotiations but instead Jeremy Corbyn went on a Momentum march and gave his parliamentarians the night off."
May has promised to invoke Article 50 by the end of March. The Conservative premier is now expected to make the move on the final week of March, according to The Sun.