Two Nottingham Labour MPs have rebelled from their party line and voted against the government beginning the UK’s departure from the EU.

Graham Allen and Lilian Greenwood both voted against the bill.

Mr Allen and Ms Greenwood were two of 52 Labour MPs to defy party orders to back the bill.

Shadow business secretary Clive Lewis also rebelled against backing the bill and has resigned from the front bench.

Mr Allen, Labour MP for Nottingham North, said: “Every Prime Minister in my political lifetime has fostered the elitism that bit back in the referendum.

“Those leaders held that the European project was too precious to share with our people, they failed to build a British vision for a reformed EU and they failed to build a credible immigration policy with the public.

“They fed the beast that roared last June and we all have some responsibility for that.”

The bill was introduced after the Supreme Court’s ruling that an Act of Parliament is required before the government can send its formal Article 50 notification to the Council of the European Union.

Mr Allen and Ms Greenwood’s constituents voted to leave the EU in June’s referendum, despite their MPs campaigning to remain.

“I knew that making difficult and sometimes lonely decisions was a requirement.”

Ms Greenwood, said: “It was inevitable that my decision would not please all my constituents, but when I became a Member of Parliament I knew that making difficult and sometimes lonely decisions was a requirement.

“Some people have claimed that my actions make me an “enemy of democracy”. A charge I reject completely. I know that Brexit means Brexit but it doesn’t have to be this Brexit.

“I know that we are going to leave the EU but I believe that this Bill, this Tory plan for Brexit, is not in the best interests of my constituents. I believe it will leave them poorer and less secure. I didn’t just vote on behalf of the 53.5% in Nottingham South who voted remain. I voted for everyone in my constituency, including those who had no vote – the young people whose future is at stake.”

Conservative heavyweight Kenneth Clarke, who represents Rushcliffe, was the only Tory to rebel, as the draft legislation was approved by 494 votes to 122. It now moves to the House of Lords.

Mr Clarke’s constituents voted to remain in the EU.

Mr Clarke previously spoke to parliament about the Conservative party has become anti-immigrant, saying: “The party has become Eurosceptic and rather mildly anti-immigrant in a very strange way in 2016. I’m afraid on that I haven’t followed them –and I don’t intend to do so.”

The bill will be debated in the House of Lords after it returns from recess on 20 February.