• 25 OCT 2011
David Cameron was shocked last night by the biggest ever Conservative revolt over Europe as more than 80 Conservative MPs defied his orders and backed a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
By James Kirkup | The Telegraph
A total of 79 of his MPs voted for a Commons motion calling for a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU, even though Mr Cameron had ordered his party to oppose it. Two tellers indicated they supported the motion.
Another two Tories voted yes and no, the traditional way of registering an abstention. A further 12 did not vote.
In all, about half of all Conservatives outside the “payroll vote” of ministers and their aides scorned Mr Cameron’s authority. Rebel leaders warned that the Prime Minister faced a protracted “war” with his own party over the European issue.
The call for a referendum was defeated only because Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs also opposed it. The motion was rejected by 483 votes to 111 in the late-night Commons vote.
At least two junior members of the Government backed the referendum motion and resigned. They included Adam Holloway, an aide to David Lidington, the Europe Minister, who accused ministers of mistreating loyal Conservatives.
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Further coverage (The Telegraph):
EU referendum: live
EU referendum: how the MPs voted
EU referendum: anger and laughter as MPs discuss Europe
EU referendum: Prime Minister hits a firewall, but Miliband goes down in flames
'They are not rebels; they are patriots'