EU referendum bill: 27 Tories rebel as David Cameron beats "purdah" amendment

 
Joe Hall
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25 Tory MPs went against the Prime Minister (Source: Getty)

David Cameron has won his first significant battle with the Eurosceptic arm of his party - and he has Labour to thank after a "purdah" amendment to the EU referendum bill was defeated in the Commons

Although 27 Tories rebelled against their Prime Minister, Labour abstained from the vote meaning Bill Cash's rebel amendment was defeated by 288 votes to 97.

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The joint attempt between the SNP and Tory rebels to apply "purdah" rules during the EU referendum - limiting spending on the campaign in the pre-election period - was defeated yet Cameron will be troubled by the defection of 25 Tory MPs and two tellers including four former cabinet members.

Former secretary of state for the environment Owen Paterson voted against the Tory whip as did Cameron's former secretary of state for defence Liam Fox who said he had "no choice" but to vote against his party for the first time in his career.

The SNP's international affairs spokesman Alex Salmond said Labour needed to "find a backbone" after abstaining while Nigel Farage said the removal of the purdah was a "disgrace".

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