Eurosceptics rebel against British PM in EU vote
David Cameron on Monday faced his largest rebellion in parliament since becoming prime minister as around 80 Conservative lawmakers defied their leader to vote in favour of holding a referendum on Britain's EU membership.
Cameron's government, which is against holding a referendum, in the end won the House of Commons vote 483-111 due to support from the Liberal Democrats -- the Conservatives' euro-friendly junior coalition partners -- and the main opposition Labour Party.
But the eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party delivered Cameron a blow by voting in favour of a referendum in the biggest show of internal party dissent since he took office in May 2010.
George Young, the Conservative leader of the Commons, said he understood that 80 or 81 Tory lawmakers had voted against the government.
It was also the most serious internal rebellion against a British prime minister on the issue of Europe since the war.
Members who defied the whip in Monday's vote are in line to face internal disciplinary action.
Although the vote was never to be legally binding, the rebellion is politically significant, particularly as polls suggest it has public support.
A YouGov survey for the Sunday Times this weekend found 66 percent of Britons back a referendum on European Union membership.
During Monday's pre-vote debate, Cameron told the lower house of parliament he sympathised with those who wanted a new relationship with Brussels, but said the eurozone debt crisis meant now was not the time for a national vote which could see Britain leave the EU altogether.
© 2011 AFP