The UK has taken a major step on the road towards Brexit after MPs voted in favour of the third reading of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) bill by 494 to 122.

The bill will face further scrutiny in the House of Lords after it returns from recess on 20 February.

If passed, it hands Theresa May the authority to launch Brexit talks with the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and keeps the prime minister's pledge to trigger discussions before the end of March on track.

The vote followed three days of debate in Parliament during which lawmakers voted on proposed changes to the bill. A total of 52 Labour MPs voted against triggering Article 50 while Ken Clarke was the sole Tory to vote against the bill.

Following the outcome, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis said: "We've seen a historic vote tonight – a big majority for getting on with negotiating our exit from the EU and a strong, new partnership with its member states.

"It has been a serious debate, a healthy debate, with contributions from MPs representing all parts of the UK, and I respect the strong views on all sides.

"The decision on EU membership has been made by the people we serve. It is now time for everyone, whichever way they voted in the Referendum, to unite to make a success of the important task at hand for our country."

No amendments to the bill passed

The fate of EU nationals in Britain continues to hang in the balance after MPs voted down Harriet Harman's New Clause 57 protecting "residence rights enjoyed by EU citizens lawfully resident in the United Kingdom on 23 June 2016". The amendment was rejected by 332 votes to 290 – a majority of 42.

Key Leave campaigners, including Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove, Gisela Stuart, Andrea Leadsom and Priti Patel voted against Labour MP Chuka Umunna's amendment to the bill.

Umunna called on the government to uphold promises made by Brexiteers during the referendum campaign, who claimed that quitting the EU would free up an additional £350m ($437.7m) in funding for the NHS per week.

According to PoliticsHome, Umunna sent an email that read: "All those Tory Vote Leave MPs who campaigned to Leave the European Union had the chance to keep their promise to spend £350m more a week on the NHS – and they failed to take it.

"Instead, they voted down an amendment to the Article 50 Bill, which I introduced, which would have required the government to publish an analysis of the impact of Brexit on health spending. Then we could have seen for ourselves if they are serious on delivering on their promise to people who rely on and work tirelessly in our National Health Service."

The government did not accept a single amendment, which former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond described as an "outrage".

Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis resigned from the shadow cabinet over the bill just after 8pm GMT. The Opposition has now lost a total of four shadow cabinet members.

In a statement, Lewis said: "When I became the MP for Norwich South, I promised my constituents I would be 'Norwich's voice in Westminster, not Westminster's voice in Norwich'.

"I therefore cannot, in all good conscience, vote for something I believe will ultimately harm the city I have the honour to represent, love and call home."

Speaking shortly before the result, Diane Abbott confirmed she voted for triggering Article 50. She told Sky News: "I think that a Tory Brexit is going to be quite disastrous. I don't believe we've given a blank cheque no, we're going to be holding them to account... on the floor of the House."