MPs have just voted against the EU referendum motion by 483 to 111 – a majority of 372.
79 Tory MPs (not including the two tellers) defied a three-line whip and voted in favour of the motion, while two abstained, making this the largest ever Conservative rebellion on Europe (the previous record was 41) and the largest Tory rebellion so far this parliament (the previous record was also 41). Indeed, this nearly the largest ever rebellion by any political party on Europe. The previous record, as Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart of Revolts note, is held by Labour, 80 of whose MPs voted against a programme motion for the European Assembly Elections Bill in January 1978.
Tomorrow’s headlines will be dreadful for David Cameron but, in my view, he was right to whip MPs against the motion. Britain might be the most eurosceptic country in the EU but the public care less about the subject than some imagine. Polling by Ipsos-MORI shows that just 3 per cent of voters regard Europe as one of the most “important issues” facing the UK. As the economy continues to struggle, Tory MPs obsessed with Europe risk appearing eccentric to the electorate.
I’ll post a full list of the rebel MPs as soon as one is available.
12am Update: Unusually, the list still hasn’t appeared. We’ll post it on The Staggers tomorrow morning.