Labour were in chaos this morning after the party abstained from voting against Government plans to brutally cut welfare.

Had Labour joined the SNP and five other opposition parties, the Tory plans would have have been defeated.

The Commons backed the Welfare Reform and Work Bill by 308 to 124 votes, a majority of 184. 184 Labour MPs abstained.

The SNP have claimed that they are now the real party of the opposition.

Those abstaining included leadership contenders Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham. The party’s only Scottish MP, Ian Murray also failed to vote.

Harriet Harman had ordered her MPs to abstain the vote. 48 defied the temporary leader and voted against the bill.

Rebels included leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn and London mayoral candidates Sadiq Khan and David Lammy.

The controversial bill will see the introduction of a welfare cap and the restriction of child tax credit to a claimant's first two children.

Reacting to the vote this morning, Labour MP Diane Abbott tweeted: "330,000 children will be hit by Tory Welfare bill and single mothers hit hardest. How do the abstainers feel this morning?”

Commenting, the SNP’s Fair Work and Employment spokeswoman Hannah Bardell MP said the decision would “haunt” the Labour party.

"The Tories' cruel welfare cuts damage the working poor and vulnerable people, and had to be opposed. Labour had the perfect opportunity to join the SNP in a progressive coalition to oppose the Tories - but with some honourable exceptions they sat on their hands.

"This disgraceful stance will haunt Labour through next year's Scottish Parliament election and far beyond. Labour have completely abandoned any pretence of being a party of social justice and progress - just as they did when they so shamefully voted to support George Osborne's £30 billion more austerity cuts.

"This cuts Bill is an attack on civil society, it’s an attack on our poorest and hard working families, and it’s a regressive Bill that takes us back in time with cuts that will hit women and children the hardest.

"It is now beyond doubt that the SNP are the real and effective opposition to the Tory government. People in Scotland will be appalled by this Bill, and the 56 SNP MPs will continue to oppose it and set out a progressive alternative, even if Labour will not."

Eighteen of the 53 Labour MPs first elected to Parliament last May, 18 opposed the bill. All the Liberal Democrats opposed the bill, including former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

During a five-hour debate, Labour MP John McDonnell said he would "swim through vomit" to oppose the legislation.

"Poverty in my constituency is not a lifestyle choice, it is imposed upon people.” he said.

"We hear lots about how high the welfare bill is, let's understand why that's the case.

"The housing benefit bill is so high because for generations we've failed to build council houses, we've failed to control rents, we've done nothing about the 300,000 properties that stand empty in this country."

Corbyn, the veteran left-winger who has managed to secure the support of most constituency Labour parties in the leadership race, released a brief statement before the debate saying he would vote against the bill.

Corbyn wrote: “I am voting against the government on the welfare bill tonight because I believe it will increase child poverty.

“We should be proud of the fact the last Labour government took 800,000 children out of poverty – but the approach of this bill goes in the opposite direction. We cannot stay neutral on that.

“We introduced tax credits to fill the gap between wages and the cost of living. Osborne’s proposals do nothing to close that gap, whilst taking away the vital lifeline tax credits provided.”

A Labour amendment setting out why the party disagrees with the government was tabled last minute in a bid to stop a backbench rebellion. It was defeated 308 to 208.

There was some support for Harman position, in a column for the Guardian, Chancellor George Osborne welcomed her position.

“I thought British politics had taken a step forward when Labour’s acting leader, Harriet Harman, indicated that she would support at least some of our reforms” he wrote. “She accepted the need for a lower benefit cap and the limit on the number of children eligible for tax credits, arguing that Labour cannot continue to ignore voters’ views on welfare.”

Responding to the debate last night, Angus Robertson, the SNP Westminster Group’s leader retweeted an old Better Together tweet.

“Remember this” he asked, “‘A vote for Scotland to stay in the UK is a vote to protect Scotland and the welfare of Scottish people.’”