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

Photogallery Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid