• 24 OCT 2011
More than 100 Tory backbenchers are set to defy whip in Commons showdown, but the PM is keen to shut down the controversy that has dogged his predecessors
By Matt Chorley and Jane Merrick
David Cameron is preparing to face down more than half of his own backbenchers in a long-anticipated stand-off over Britain's relations with Brussels. As Eurosceptic backbenchers try to turn the crisis in the eurozone to their advantage, at least 100 Tory MPs are expected to back a motion demanding a referendum on membership of the European Union or defy a three-line whip by abstaining in a tense vote in the Commons tomorrow.
The Prime Minister hopes the vote will finally lance the boil on the decades-long issue of Europe in the Conservative Party, and is said to be relishing the showdown in the division lobbies.
Using hardline language, Downing Street made clear yesterday that he would rather have a battle with Conservative backbenchers now than threaten the stability of the coalition by offering compromises to his rebellious MPs.
Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, said that Monday's vote could prove to be a "very, very big tipping point for his party". "The three party leaders are doing their best to make sure the people cannot have their say. For many people, Ukip is now the only option."
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