News / Europe

UK's Cameron Survives Humbling Parliamentary Revolt over EU

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a news conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York, May 15, 2013.
British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a news conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York, May 15, 2013.
Reuters
Prime Minister David Cameron suffered an embarrassing blow in parliament on Wednesday when a third of his Conservative lawmakers voted against him in protest at his stance on Britain's membership in the European Union.
    
Though the revolt was defeated, the rebellion could undermine Cameron's leadership, as scores of his own party's lawmakers took the highly unusual step of voting to criticize his government's legislative plans, a week after they were first put before parliament.
    
The rebels are angry that the government's policy proposals did not include steps to make Cameron's promise of a referendum on Britain's EU membership legally binding.
    
The party turmoil has fuelled talk of Britain sliding towards the EU exit and has stirred memories of Conservative infighting that contributed to the downfall of former prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major.
    
While the vote was non-binding, the scale of the mutiny, less than two years before the next parliamentary election, will embolden eurosceptics pushing him to take a harder line on Europe.
    
Just before the vote, Cameron played down its significance, saying he was “extremely relaxed” about what was a free vote for Conservative lawmakers, except ministers.
    
“It's a free vote, and as I've said I'm relaxed about that, so I don't think people can read in anything to the scale of that free vote,” he told reporters in New York, where he is on an official trip.
    
Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said earlier that Cameron was “becoming a laughing stock”.
    
A total of 130 lawmakers voted against the government. More than 100 of them were expected to be confirmed as Conservatives when the full voting figures are released later. The center-right party has 305 members of parliament.
    
Cameron's dilemma
    
Cameron had hoped to end party squabbling over Europe in January when he promised to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the EU and hold a referendum on its membership before the end of 2017, provided he wins the next general election in 2015.
    
But Conservative eurosceptics soon began pushing for a law before 2015 to guarantee the referendum would take place. Some even called for an earlier referendum.
    
Cameron's offer on Tuesday of draft legislation that would make his pledge legally binding received a lukewarm reception. Rebels say it will be blocked by the Conservatives' coalition partner, the pro-EU Liberal Democrats.
    
Wednesday's parliamentary vote underscored how Cameron is boxed in over Europe.
    
Keen to avoid a rift with the Liberal Democrats, he must also avoid alienating Conservative eurosceptics who see the EU as an over-mighty “superstate” that threatens Britain's sovereignty.
    
The success of the anti-EU UK Independence Party in local elections this month only intensified Conservative pressure for Cameron to go further on Europe. A YouGov poll in April put support for withdrawal at 43 percent, with 35 percent wanting to stay in.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jane Monheit Christmas Speciali
X
December 22, 2014 8:15 PM
Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Trade Talks Could Heat Up in 2015

With boosting trade a top priority for the Obama administration, 2015 may be the year that an agreement is finally reached on the Trans Pacific Partnership. But the trade deal, which is intended to boost trade between 12 Pacific countries, faces opposition as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school

All About America

AppleAndroid