MPs yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favour of a ban on prisoners having the right to vote.
The cross-party motion, tabled by Jack Straw and David Davis, was passed by 234 votes to 22.
But parliament is likely to have to agree on a watered-down version of the ban, as it puts the government on a collision course with the European Court of Human Rights.
In 2005 the European court ruled the voting ban was contrary to the European convention on human rights. The British government was given until this summer to pass more relaxed legislation.
Initially, the government proposed giving the vote to prisoners serving sentences of less than four years.
But MPs from across the political divide backed yesterday’s motion, which rejects the European court’s ruling.
The government has been warned it faces hundreds of compensation claims from disgruntled inmates.