Thursday

11th Aug 2022

Cameron defeated on EU referendum bill

British Prime Minister David Cameron's government on Monday (7 September) suffered its first defeat in parliament since its re-election in May, after Eurosceptic Tories joined opposition lawmakers to reject proposed rules for a European Union membership referendum.

The referendum bill was passed in the early hours of Tuesday by the House of Commons, with the Eurosceptic and Labour lawmakers defeated by 312 to 285 votes preventing the government from relaxing so-called “purdah” laws.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • (Photo: Downing Street)

The purdah tradition means that governments should refrain from publishing or announcing anything in the run-up to the vote that could influence election outcomes.

Cameron’s government has argued that relaxing “purdah” rules was needed to allow British officials to react to events concerning Europe without breaching regulations.

Eurosceptic Conservative MPs argued that relaxing the rules would help Cameron put the “Whitehall machinery” to work to campaign for remaining within the EU.

Earlier, the government conceded a rebel Tory amendment preventing a snap poll from being held.

Labour said the defeat was "humiliating" for the Conservative government.

Cameron's first parliamentary defeat since his re-election with a slim majority of 12 seats in May was a stark reminder of how deeply his Conservative Party is divided over Europe.

The defeat at the hands of 37 rebels within his own party will ring alarm bells for Cameron.

A poll over the weekend showed those in support of leaving the EU were slightly ahead of those wanting the UK to remain part of the block.

The main issue is connected to immigration, as voters tend to vote for leaving the 28-nation club the less secure they feel about it.

Cameron announced on Monday that Britain will take 20,000 Syrian asylum-seekers from refugee camps outside of Europe over 5 years.

No date has yet been set for the referendum but Cameron has promised to hold the vote by the end of 2017.

Cameron planning June 2016 EU vote

David Cameron is poised to set out plans for the UK’s referendum on European Union membership to be held in June next year.

British unions warn Cameron over EU referendum

British trade unions are worried Cameron's government might use the EU renegotiation to weaken workers' rights. They warned that if he does so, they will vote in favour of a Brexit.

Cameron belittles EU institutions

The British PM bashed the EU for being “too bossy” in a speech Wednesday, but gave few details on plans for European reform.

Cameron to set out EU reforms in November

David Cameron is to outline his proposals for a reformed UK membership of the EU in early November and promises to quicken the pace of negotiations.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  2. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive
  3. Another migrant tragedy claims 50 lives in Greek waters
  4. Russia hits area near town with 120 rockets, says Ukraine
  5. UN expects more ships to get Ukrainian grain out
  6. Greece to end bailout-era oversight
  7. Denmark to train Ukrainian soldiers in urban warfare
  8. Russian helicopter flies into Estonia's airspace

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  2. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  3. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia
  4. EU Commission shrugs off Polish threats on rule-of-law
  5. EU urged to stop issuing tourist visas to Russians
  6. Russia puts EU in nuclear-energy paradox
  7. Almost two-thirds of Europe in danger of drought
  8. West needs to counter Russia in Africa, but how?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us