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MPs have overwhelmingly rejected the legalisation of assisted dying in England and Wales after an impassioned four-and-a-half hour debate in which party lines were set aside.

Members voted by three to one against giving second reading to a bill tabled by the Labour backbencher Rob Marris, to allow terminally ill patients to be supplied with a lethal dose of drugs

It was the first ever serious attempt to change Britain’s assisted suicide laws through the House of Commons and saw calls for the issue to be put to a referendum amid polling suggesting public support running at around 80 per cent.

MPs on both sides lined up to give moving personal accounts of the loss of loved ones arguing both in favour and against.

But they were swayed by a series of warnings, including from fellow MPs qualified as doctors, that a change in the law would fundamentally alter the relationship between doctor and patient.

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