Peers vote against Brexit Bill amendment over single market membership
The British Government has shot down the first challenge in the Lords to its plan to trigger negotiations on leaving the EU at the end of next month.
Peers voted by 299 to 136, majority 163, against an amendment to the Brexit Bill demanding the UK retains membership of the European single market.
The move exposed deep divisions within Labour with former Cabinet ministers Lord Hain and Lord Mandelson speaking in support of the change - contrary to the frontbench stance.
Former business secretary Lord Mandelson warned in committee stage debate on the Bill it would be an "economic disaster" for Britain to leave the single market.
But Opposition frontbencher Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town accused supporters of the amendment of offering "unrealistic hope" of staying in the single market while leaving the EU.
Warning against re-running the arguments of the referendum campaign, she said Britain would be recipients of rules set elsewhere.
Lord Mandelson hit back saying the UK would be a "senior influential" member of the European Economic Area with influence over rule-making and adding: "I can't understand why my own frontbench can't see it."
The clash came after earlier amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill calling for a further referendum on the final agreement and backing the maintenance of an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were withdrawn.
The Government is expected to face sterner challenges in the days ahead on key issues such as having a "meaningful" parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal and allowing EU nationals resident in the UK to remain.