Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 01 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Coverage of Gaza in the Israeli media

Read more

REPORTERS

1914-1918: The Depths of Hell

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 01 August 2014

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

Read more

#THE 51%

World War One: The war that changed women’s lives

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Ségolène Royal goes for green

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

A look back at some of the Observers' best stories

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

  • Hamas denies capturing Israeli soldier as Gaza truce lies in tatters

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

    Read more

  • Police 'chokehold' caused NYC death, coroner rules

    Read more

  • French most keen to erase their online footprint, says Google

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Rogue general denies Islamist seizure of Benghazi

    Read more

  • Ugandan court strikes down anti-gay legislation

    Read more

  • 1914-1918: The Depths of Hell

    Read more

  • Regional summit to tackle deadly Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • French hospital to open wine bar for terminally ill patients

    Read more

  • Video: Tipping is dying out in French café culture

    Read more

  • €2.5 million in cocaine ‘disappears’ from Paris police HQ

    Read more

  • Appeal court keeps French rogue trader Kerviel in jail

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • Ukrainian army suffers losses in separatist attack

    Read more

  • Argentinian markets plummet following default

    Read more

Europe

Cameron hit by worst Tory rebellion over Europe

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-10-25

British Prime Minister David Cameron faced the biggest ever Conservative revolt over Europe last night as more than 80 Conservative MPs defied his orders and backed a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

REUTERS  - Britain’s parliament rejected a call for a referendum on leaving the European Union on Monday, but a large-scale revolt against Prime Minister David Cameron hurt his authority and cast doubt on the country’s long-term commitment to Europe.

Around 80 members of Cameron’s centre-right Conservative Party—more than a quarter of the total—defied their leader by voting for the motion, the biggest revolt against a Conservative prime minister on a European issue.

“We understand that many people who voted for it felt very strongly—and we respect that. However, the government has to do what is in the national interest .... Britain’s best interests are served by being in the EU,” a statement from Cameron’s office said after the vote.

The motion carried no legal weight, but the rebellion, the biggest of Cameron’s 17-month old government, raised the prospect of a return of Conservative divisions over Europe that dogged former Prime Minister John Major in the 1990s.

Cameron had ordered his predominantly eurosceptic Conservative Party to reject the motion, arguing that Britain needs a strong voice in Europe to safeguard its interests as the euro zone tackles a debt crisis.

The disunity embarrasses the prime minister and weakens his hand as he fights to keep Britain at the forefront of talks to reform the euro zone. Cameron wants Britain to remain in the EU while clawing back powers from Brussels.

He is due to attend an emergency European Council meeting on the euro zone crisis on Wednesday.

“It’s obviously a major embarrassment .... the key thing is whether they’re going to start rebelling on other issues as well, then that really turn the drama into a crisis,” said Tim Bale, politics professor at Sussex University, adding that there was no sign of further rebellions so far.

“I would have thought there will be some partners in Europe who will be concerned about Britain’s long-term commitment to the EU as a whole because of this,” he said.

After more than five hours of fractious debate, the referendum call was easily defeated by 483-111 thanks to votes against from the Conservatives’ pro-European Liberal Democrat coalition partners and opposition Labour politicians.

Conservatives torn apart

Supporters of EU membership say Britain does 40 percent of its trade with the euro zone and that leaving the EU could damage the economy.

Eurosceptics dismiss such fears, and say Britain has handed too many powers to the European Union, which they see as undemocratic, over-regulated and a brake on economic growth.

Cameron thought he had done enough to pacify hardline eurosceptics by passing a law promising that no further powers would be transferred from London to Brussels without a referendum, but Monday’s vote shows it does not go far enough.

The euro zone crisis has created a dilemma for Cameron’s government, which does not want to stump up much money for a euro zone bailout. However, it fears the euro zone could exclude it from decisions on things that matter to Britain, particularly the financial services industry, where London dominates.

Opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband labelled the Conservative fissures as a “re-run of the old movie of the out-of-touch Tory (Conservative) Party tearing itself apart over Europe”.

Conservative ministerial aide Adam Holloway indicated he was prepared to quit to back the motion, which was triggered by a public petition of more than 100,000 people. At least one other ministerial aide said they were also prepared to risk their job.

“This was such a critical thing really in terms of my reputation, and my relationship with my constituents that I didn’t really have a choice,” Holloway told the BBC.

Date created : 2011-10-25

  • UK

    Cameron braced for rebellion from eurosceptics in Commons vote

    Read more

  • UK

    Sarkozy 'sick' of Cameron interference in euro crisis

    Read more

  • UNITED KINGDOM

    Cameron heckled during 'Broken Britain' speech

    Read more

COMMENT(S)