Europe splits both parties

In Monday’s briefing paper, we noted two potential forthcoming rebellions, one from each of the coalition’s two wobbly wings.

The first, a vote on housing benefit, ended in a damp squib with only Lib Dem MP Bob Russell casting a deliberate abstention by voting in both lobbies.

The second turned out to be more substantial. While David Cameron was in South Korea at the G20 preaching the merits of greater economic policy co-ordination, 25 of his Eurosceptic MPs were voting against a set of European Commission documents on the same subject. That the two largest Conservative rebellions so far this Parliament have occurred on the issue of Europe (the other one involving 37 Tory MPs) will be of particular concern to the whips.

This revolt has been noted on the excellent ConservativeHome site. It also included a dozen Eurosceptic Labour MPs voting against the motion last night, as their frontbench chose to abstain. But that’s the thing about being in Opposition; no-one cares if you do as you please.