The Government's majority was reduced to 20 votes last night when 19 Labour rebels joined the Tories and Liberal Democrats in voting against post office closures.
Ministers faced fury over the planned closure of 2,500 offices, despite opening the way for local authorities to help rescue some of those facing the axe.
Alan Duncan, the Tories' business spokesman, accused postal managers of "ramming" through the cuts. He urged the Government to suspend closures "to give hope to hard-working postmasters whose enterprise, hard work and service to their community deserves better than they are getting from the Government".
But Tory leader David Cameron failed to vote on his own motion attacking the closures, which could be used by ministers to embarrass the Opposition.
The Business Secretary, John Hutton, said technology and consumer behaviour had changed the role of local post offices.Reuse content