Last night (Tuesday, 11 December), 16 Conservative MPs (including tellers) voted against their party line after a debate on European Affairs. The debate, which usually occurs prior to a European Council meeting, does not normally result in a division, but Bill Cash, a leading Euro-sceptic, moved that ‘The Question be now put’ in order to force a division on the issue. Labour supported the motion, while the Conservative frontbench abstained. The 14 Conservatives were joined by Dai Davies, the Independent MP for Blaenau Gwent, and two Liberal Democrat MPs – Tim Farron and Bob Russell – both also dissenting (the official Lib Dem line was to abstain). The Government won the motion by 276 votes to 17.
The 16 Conservatives were: Brian Binley, Peter Bone, Graham Brady, Douglas Carswell, William Cash, Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Nigel Evans, Philip Hollobone, Edward Leigh, Peter Lilley, Richard Shepherd, Bob Spink, David Wilshire, Ann Winterton and Sir Nicholas Winterton.
All except Graham Brady have rebelled against the party whip under David Cameron’s leadership — and Brady resigned from the Tory frontbench over the party’s stance on grammar schools.