David Cameron's authority suffered a huge blow when more than 100 Conservative MPs defied him by voting for a referendum on the European Union.
Britain moved closer to an in/out referendum as Nick Clegg told MPs: "It is a question of when, not if, because the rules [of the EU] are bound to change." He believes one is inevitable because a new EU treaty will be needed to entrench eurozone reforms in the next few years, and the Coalition has already passed a law guaranteeing a referendum if there is a significant transfer of powers to Brussels.
Some 114 Tories rejected pressure from their whips by opposing the Coalition's legislative programme because it does not offer the public a vote on EU membership. They backed an amendment to the Queen's Speech regretting the absence of a Referendum Bill. Although the amendment was defeated by 277 votes to 130, it was the biggest backbench revolt on Europe since the 2010 election.