Tania Mathias was one of only two Conservative MPs to defy the Government whip last night as she supported an amendment to the Brexit bill guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens already living in the UK.

MPs voted on two amendments offered by peers in the House of Lords on Monday, March 13.

The other one was aimed at giving Parliament a vote on the final deal struck between the UK and the EU.

The Twickenham MP and Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk were the only Tory members to vote against the Government to guarantee EU citizens’ rights.

Dr Mathias said: “Ever since the referendum, I’ve argued for and voted for a unilateral guarantee on the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.

“There are thousands of people living here and making a contribution to our economy, our society and many families, but they simply do not know what their status here is, and I believe we should offer that reassurance as soon as possible.

“My disagreement with the Government is about procedure rather than principle – I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will secure the reciprocal deal with the EU that she wants on this and I do not believe that there is any prospect of people being required to leave the country, but that message isn’t getting through and we can and should offer certainty and stability now.”

Dr Mathias had previously been consistent in voting with the Government, and last night obeyed the party whip in voting against the amendment regarding Parliament getting a final say on a Brexit deal.

On that vote she said: "It was clear from the debate that Parliament will have its say, and I fully support that, not just at the end of the process but in scrutinising the negotiations as they proceed.

"But this amendment was confusingly worded and may well not have done what it intended.

"Parliament will have to vote on legislation relating to existing EU law and new measures on issues like immigration and agriculture, and probably on whatever deal is reached.

"I believe that requiring now a very specific form of vote at the end of the process would be a mistake – we need to wait and see what the right approach is nearer the time."

The EU citizens’ rights amendment was voted down by MPs by 335 to 287, and the final vote amendment was rejected 331 to 286.

The House of Lords acceded to the supremacy of MPs, accepting their decision to reject the amendments.

From February 2016: Twickenham MP Tania Mathias announces she will vote for Britain to stay in the EU

Having got the Brexit bill through Parliament, it is thought Prime Minister Theresa May will move to trigger Article 50 at the end of the month.

After voting Dr Mathias raced from Parliament to a Fair Funding for All Schools meeting at the Turk’s Head pub in St Margarets, organised by local parents.