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Keywords:

  • Europe;
  • Cameron;
  • Commons;
  • rebellions;
  • dissent

The backbench rebellion that hit the Coalition government in October 2011 was one of the largest Commons revolts of the postwar era, on any issue. But it was not just its size that was noteworthy. This article outlines ten points about the origins of the vote, its timing, its composition, and the nature of the divisions it revealed. Facilitated by recent procedural innovations in the Commons, the rebellion was both evidence of a longer-term rise in dissent amongst MPs of all parties, as well as other medium-and short-term factors within the Conservative party. It leaves the Prime Minister caught in an impossible triangle, attempting to satisfy his pro-European Liberal Democrat partners in the Coalition, while keeping his Euro-sceptic rebels happy, and yet retaining enough credibility in European capitals to negotiate successfully.