Leading article: A vote which can't be ignored

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David Cameron has foolishly painted himself into a political corner with his resistance to the ban on wild animals in British circuses. His Government has made one feeble excuse after another, seeking to blame the EU, the Human Rights Act or cross-border selling regulations. They have all been exposed as bogus.

Yesterday the Government sank to a new low with a series of parliamentary shenanigans, attempting first to impose a three-line whip on MPs, before realising this would embarrassingly fail.

In an extraordinary speech, the Tory MP Mark Pritchard laid bare even more unseemly behaviour. He was bribed with the offer of a government job if he dropped the bill. When he refused, Downing Street tried to bully him. The Prime Minister, he was told, would take a dim view of his disobedience.

A dim view is what Mr Cameron has been taking all round here. There are only 39 wild animals in British circuses today. Yet banning them would be a powerful emblem. The Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, approved a ban, only to find it overturned by Mr Cameron. But MPs have not been cowed. They have voted in favour of a ban. The Prime Minister should listen to the voice of the nation and end this cruelty.

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