“Although it isn’t a fast burning fuse, it is a bomb the fuse of which is already burning.
“If we don’t put the fuse out now, we won’t be able to dissemble the bomb in September or October, and that’s why it is wrong to say this is premature.”
Eight Labour MPs defied Jeremy Cobyn to oppose the motion.
The Labour MPs who voted against were: Kevin Barron (Rother Valley), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse), Caroline Flint (Don Valley), Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), John Mann (Bassetlaw), Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton).
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer had earlier urged MPs to support the measures in order to introduce a “safety valve” into the Brexit process given some of the promises being made by Tory leadership candidates.
“Because we’ve run out of all the possibilities any of us at the moment can think of for Parliament insisting on being able to have a view.”
The Tories who supported the motion were: Guto Bebb (Aberconwy), Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe), Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon), Justine Greening (Putney), Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield), Sam Gyimah (East Surrey), Phillip Lee (Bracknell), Oliver Letwin (West Dorset), Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury), Caroline Spelman (Meriden).
The rebels were led by Mr Letwin who urged colleagues to back the motion, warning it was the only opportunity they would have to stop a no deal Brexit as there was potentially only four weeks in September and October in which Parliament will be sitting.
He said of those hoping to succeed Mrs May: “They know they only have to occupy four weeks of doing nothing and we’re out.
Another said: “Jeremy Corbyn sounding like a kid in the playground ‘you won’t be cheering in September’.
“What a bunch of clowns, they look like the cast from a pantomime.”
A third added: “The people will be cheering Jeremy the people will. And your ears will be ringing with the sound of joy.