Norman Lamb and Greg Mulholland defied party leader Tim Farron
Despite the party’s fiercely anti-Brexit position, both Norman Lamb and Greg Mulholland abstained from the vote on the Government’s proposed Article 50 Bill.
The other seven Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the passage of the Bill, which is designed to give the Prime Minister the authority to trigger Article 50 and begin EU divorce talks.
Both Mr Lamb and Mr Mulholland pointed to their belief in democracy in not voting against the result of the EU referendum.
Explaining his decision to abstain last night on Twitter, former health minister Mr Lamb posted: “We are democrats.
“For better or worse we all voted to hold the referendum. You can't now say we reject the result.”
He added: “I am a democrat. We gave people a vote. We can't ignore what they decided.”
Mr Lamb also retweeted posts in support of his decision.
The Liberal Democrats joined an overwhelming majority of MPs in supporting the holding of the EU referendum when the House of Commons voted in 2015.
I am a democrat. We gave people a vote. We can't ignore what they decided
Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb
Explaining his own reasons for abstaining last night, Mr Mulholland said: “As I have made clear, including to constituents, I do think that these negotiations should be allowed to commence and that I would not block them doing so, so I will not be voting against Article 50.
“I don't feel it would be right to vote against Article 50 and block the negotiations as they have to (and will) begin soon.
“I don't think leaving the EU is in our national interest but I accept the result of the referendum.
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“That does not mean actively supporting withdrawal and that is why I can't vote for Article 50 either, so I will abstain from the vote on the Bill as a whole.”
In total, 498 MPs voted in favour of the second reading of the Article 50 Bill last night, with 114 voting against.
Including the seven other Liberal Democrat MPs, those who attempted to block Brexit included 50 SNP MPs and 47 Labour MPs who defied Jeremy Corbyn’s order not to vote against Article 50.
Mr Farron is demanding a second EU referendum once Theresa May has negotiated an exit deal with the remaining 27 EU member states.
Theresa May's 12 point Brexit plan
Mon, January 16, 2017
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Continued cooperation with the EU to tackle terrorism and international crime.
Commenting on the majority vote in favour of Article 50 last night, Mr Farron said: “The Tories and Labour have failed future generations today by supporting a hard Brexit.
"Labour's leadership tonight have waved the white flag. They are not an opposition, they are cheerleaders.
"The Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to give the British people the final say on the deal."
The Article 50 Bill will return to the House of Commons for a final vote next week before then passing to the House of Lords.
The Prime Minister has vowed to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.