UK & World News
Cameron Defeated In Key EU Budget Vote
David Cameron has suffered a humiliating defeat in the Commons on Europe, with more than 50 Tory MPs rebelling against the Prime Minister.
MPs voted by 307 votes to 294, a majority of 13, in favour of a rebel Tory call - backed by Labour MPs - for a real terms cut in the European Union's budget.
The vote came at the end of an acrimonious three-hour debate in which Tory MPs openly and angrily clashed with each other on Europe and support for the Prime Minister.
At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Cameron said he would veto any real terms rise in the 2014-20 financial framework.
"At best we would like it cut, at worst frozen, and I'm quite prepared to use the veto if we don't get a deal which is good for Britain," he said.
But his hardened stance failed to persuade rebel Tory MPs not to join Labour in voting for a reduction in the budget in real terms, a defeat that leaves the PM's authority badly undermined.
A total of 53 Conservative MPs rebelled, 51 voting against the Government, plus two tellers - the members who count the votes.
Thirteen Conservative MPs†- including former defence secretary Liam Fox and 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady - were absent.
The Tories voting against the Government included serial eurosceptic rebels as well as Mr Cameron's one-time leadership rival David Davis, the Father of the House Sir Peter Tapsell and many of the 2010 intake.
The votes of the minor parties were also crucial and swung the result against the Government. Five Democratic Unionists, six Scottish Nationalists and the Green Party's Caroline Lucas voted for the rebel amendment.
Opening the debate earlier, Treasury minister Greg Clark pleaded with MPs to support the Prime Minister as he went to Europe to "bat for Britain" over the seven-year spending plan.
But the mover of the rebel amendment, Mark Reckless, said many of his constituents could not understand why, when there were cuts to budgets in the UK's public services, the EU was getting a larger budget.
Mr Reckless said: "If there are inflationary increases as the Government proposes, we are looking at a net contribution going from £9.2bn last year to £13.6bn at the end of the process. We simply cannot, cannot afford that."
Bill Cash, who chairs the European Scrutiny Committee, condemned the EU for demanding more cash.
"The money comes from the taxpayer, it doesn't grow on trees - that's what they don't understand," the veteran Tory eurosceptic told MPs.
"They are living on another planet, that's the real problem."
But in a passionate speech in support of the Prime Minister, former Tory minister Sir Tony Baldry said: "Colleagues on this side of the House have a choice.
"We are either going to support the Prime Minister or not support the Prime Minister, and if colleagues are not prepared to support the Prime Minister, every time they go into a division lobby different to that of the Prime Minister, they are weakening the Prime Minister's negotiating hand in Europe."
The Major government, he said, was weakened by colleagues "persistently" voting against the Government in the 1990s.
He said: "We simply cannot carry on with this sort of self-indulgence that we are seeing on the order paper today.
"If this party hopes to be in government after the next general election, it has just got to get a grip and start supporting the Prime Minister."
Tory Bernard Jenkin said Mr Reckless's amendment was "a cry of despair from the British people who want their elected representatives to say something to the front benches of both parties that have so betrayed the British people" over Europe.
And towards the end of the debate, the architect of the rebellion, Mark Pritchard, said: "Are we going to continue to ask families up and down this country to stop putting new shoes on their children's feet while we fill the very large Mercedes fleet of Brussels?
"That is the choice. This is a moment of truth."
After the Government defeat, another rebel, Peter Bone, hailed the "remarkable victory" and said: "Parliament spoke for the people. There was enormous pressure on colleagues to vote with the Government.
"It was a very significant victory for the people. It was because MPs have to face their constituents."