Conservatives in disarray as 70 MPs threaten revolt over EU - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

Conservatives in disarray as 70 MPs threaten revolt over EU

 

David Cameron is today facing the prospect of the largest Commons rebellion of his premiership, with dozens of Conservative MPs likely to defy the Government and vote for a referendum on Britain's EU membership.

With little sign yesterday that the rebellion was fading or that Downing Street was prepared to make concessions, rebels predicted that more than 70 MPs would ignore a three-line whip and vote against the Government. While the amendment will certainly fail because of Labour's support for the Government, a significant rebellion would be embarrassing for Mr Cameron, especially if it is backed by more than 75 MPs – the Coalition's notional parliamentary majority.

Political analysts believe the result could be the largest rebellion in history by Conservative MPs when in government over the issue of Europe, as well as the biggest vote against the Government by Conservative MPs since the election.

In a sign of the growing acrimony on the Tory benches, one senior party member accused William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, of "insulting MPs' intelligence" by claiming that such a vote would be damaging in a time of economic uncertainty.

There were further claims that government whips were using "bully-boy" tactics to try to see off the rebellion. Some MPs have allegedly been told they could be blacklisted from being a minister for four years if they defy the Government, while others have been warned that Conservative HQ will not support them in attempts to get reselected after planned electoral-boundary changes.

Mr Cameron suggested in Brussels yesterday that the "possibility" of an EU treaty change referred to in yesterday's summit conclusions could give Britain a chance to reclaim powers. "Any treaty change – as the last treaty change did – is an opportunity for Britain to advance our national interest," he said.

But there was little sign yesterday that the rebels could be bought off or that Mr Cameron would back down and give MPs a free vote on the amendment, which in any case would not be binding on the Government. "My sense is that, having made their decision, they're planning to try and shoot their way through," one MP said. "But I have no reason to think that the 68 MPs who put their name to the amendment are going to back down now – and many more will abstain. This is a fiasco of the Government's own making."

Rebel MPs pointed out that it was the Government's decision to launch the e-petition website – promising the prospect of parliamentary votes on petitions which gathered more than 100,000 signatures – which led to the situation arising in the first place. They added that the rebellion was popular among grass-roots Tories.

"The origins of this motion came from Downing Street's own e-petitions and thousands of people signed that," said Mark Pritchard, secretary of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee. "Thishasn't been concocted by small groups of Conservative MPs. It has been brought about by the public from a clear, open and transparent process. The Government should step aside from the three-line whip and just allow members to represent the views of their constituents – that is all I am trying to do."

George Eustice, the MP whose compromise amendment on the issue was rejected by the Government, said: "The reason the Government has got a bit of a problem with its backbenchers is there is a feeling, rightly or wrongly, that the Government wants to put this in the deep freeze and forget about the issue. But at a time when we have got a recession looming again, we have got to think outside the box and really be radical."

Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, said he would vote with the Government: "It is the right motion at the wrong time," he told The Independent.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week