LABOUR have given up the fight against a hard Brexit, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying the party won’t oppose the triggering of Article 50, while Kezia Dugdale’s MSPs say they now only want access rather than membership of the single market.

It means Theresa May will face no difficulties getting any Brexit bill through Parliament, if, as seems likely, MPs get a vote on when the formal process of Britain leaving the EU starts.

That news came as Downing Street sources told the BBC they would likely put a bill before the Commons in the next two weeks.

In his speech yesterday afternoon McDonnell said Labour would not oppose such a bill, but rather use “moral pressure” to influence the Government’s negotiations.

He was accused of “premature capitulation” and damaging MPs’ ability to have a say in the Government’s negotiations.

The SNP have already said they will vote against, with Scottish Government Brexit minister Michael Russell saying the party had a “triple mandate” to take steps to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.

The LibDems are also likely to oppose moves to initiate Article 50 unless the Government agree to hold a second referendum.

There had been whisperings among Labour MPs that they too should take a similar position. However, yesterday’s speech by McDonnell put an end to that speculation, clearing the way for the Prime Minister to go ahead with hard Brexit, where Britain is out of the single market and retains control over immigration.

McDonnell said voting against Brexit would damage parliament’s relationship with voters, saying it would “leave the field open to divisive Trump-style politics.”

Labour, he said, would not “try to re-fight the referendum or push for a second vote and if Article 50 needs to be triggered in Parliament, Labour will not seek to block or delay it.

“To do so would put us against the majority will of the British people and on the side of certain corporate elites who have always had the British people at the back of the queue.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas accused McDonnell of giving parliament’s negotiating power away: “Labour’s premature capitulation on Article 50 leaves those of us who oppose a hard Brexit in a weaker position.

“As a result we now have less power to persuade the Government to give us proper details on their plans ahead of a vote.”

Though a number of Labour activists were upset at McDonnell’s position, he found support from colleagues in Holyrood.

Scottish Labour didn’t support a vote backing Scotland’s membership of the single market. In their amendment they said they only wanted “access”, an option compatible with hard Brexit and one recently described by the Institute for Fiscal Studies as “economically inferior” which could see the country “face several new and significant costs to trading with the EU”.

Two weeks ago Dugdale tweeted: “@scottishlabour absolutely committed to EU and single market and supportive of SNP efforts to retain both”.

But yesterday Jackie Baillie said access to the single market was much more “realistic” and “practical”, and accused the SNP of being more concerned with independence.

She added: “It is illogical for the SNP to spend so much energy making the exclusive case for the EU single market at the same time as campaigning to leave the UK single market, which is much more valuable to us.”

MSPs backed the motion supporting membership of the single market by 65 votes to 32.

Government has no plans, no staff and no consensus on Brexit, claim Deloitte