EU referendum: David Cameron ‘loses control of backbench’ in biggest Conservative rebellion

David Cameron lost control of almost half his backbenchers in the biggest ever Conservative revolt over Europe, forcing key allies to deny the rebel vote was a “humilation” for the Prime Minister.

James Kirkup
Telegraph [UK]
25 Oct 2011

More than 80 Conservative MPs defied his orders and backed a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

The morning after the vote, Michael Gove hit the airwaves to deny the rebellion would lead to a “convulsion” in the Tory party or that it was a “humiliation” for the Prime Minister.

He insisted the government and MPs were “united” behind a goal to get back powers from Europe.

In Monday’s vote a total of 81 of Mr Cameron’s MPs voted for a Commons motion calling for a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU, even the PM had ordered his party to oppose it. It included two tellers indicated they supported the motion.

Another two Tories voted yes and no, the traditional way of registering an abstention. A further 12 did not vote.

In all, about half of all Conservatives outside the “payroll vote” of ministers and their aides scorned Mr Cameron’s authority, with most of them coming from the 2010 intake of MPs. Rebel leaders warned that the Prime Minister faced a protracted “war” with his own party over the European issue.

The call for a referendum was defeated only because Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs also opposed it. The motion was rejected by 483 votes to 111 in the late-night Commons vote…

…On Tuesday Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, tried to smooth over the divisions, claiming the party was “united as never before” on the need to repatriate powers.

Despite admitting there were a “significant numbers of people who wanted to take a differing view”, he denied there were “convulsions” in the party, adding that disagreements had been conducted with “cordiality”.

The Prime Minister, he added, brought about the vote because he “speaks from the heart”. But he added that the government and MPs were “united” behind a goal to get back powers from Europe.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while there were a “significant number” of rebels, differring opinion between Cabinet and backbenchers were not significant and could be “exaggerated”.

He said the Prime Minister “wants to refashion our relationship with the European Union” and was “committed” to taking back powers to boost economic growth…

Read the complete article, with video, at the Telegraph.

Also at the Telegraph, EU referendum: record revolt is political ‘game-changer’

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Read the article here.

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