The Government in Crisis: Hurd increases confusion

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THERE WAS further confusion yesterday over whether John Major wants to make next week's crucial debate on the Maastricht Bill a leadership issue after Douglas Hurd told MPs: 'The House will have to decide whether it wants the Prime Minister to preside over that (Edinburgh) summit, preserving and extending the influence of this country on what happens in Europe, or whether it does not.' However, immediately after the Question Time exchanges, senior ministers denied that Mr Hurd was suggesting the Prime Minister's authority would be on the line.

Jack Cunningham, Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, said Mr Hurd's comment implied the Commons was going to be asked for a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister.

'How does he expect us to support that?' he said.