HEXHAM’S MP has said it is clear the country will now leave the EU after government took a step towards agreeing a Brexit deal.

MPs voted to take Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Bill to a second reading by 329 votes to 299 on Tuesday.

However, Mr Johnson’s programme motion – a non-amendable motion presented by ministers after a bill’s second reading setting out the timetable for its progress through the Commons – was then defeated by 308 votes in favour to 322 against.

Had the motion been passed, MPs would have been left with just a few days to scrutinise Mr Johnson’s deal. Now, however, the deal’s future is on hold while the government waits for a response from the EU on an extension to article 50.

Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman, who backed the government on both occasions, praised opposition MPs for supporting the deal.

Mr Opperman said: “It is now clear that we will leave the EU. I am pleased that a cross party alliance of Conservative, Labour and Independent MPs has supported the Brexit Bill.

“This is a very significant step forward. This would not have been passed without the support of 19 Labour MPs who put party politics aside and agreed to abide by the democratic decision of the British people.

“We have already debated Brexit for over 500 hours in the House of Commons and I would have liked to proceed at speed.”