Entry 30

UK Cabinet unity to be suspended for EU referendum campaign.

Big decisions about the EU are never easy for British governments. Prime Minister David Cameron announced in early January that he will relax the rules of collective responsibility binding ministers to follow official Cabinet policy, and so allow those against his EU reform package to speak out publicly.

The last time this happened was in 1975 and again over Europe. It was when Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson gave critics in his Cabinet the same freedom to publicly dissent over his decision to hold a referendum on staying in the EEC, predecessor of the EU.

The three Ministers most likely to vote for staying in the EU are all on the right wing of the governing Conservative Party but not as prominent as Boris Johnson, another right winger but one outside the Cabinet and a potential challenger to David Cameron for his job

It is guesswork about how many Conservative MPs will vote against a reform package to stay in the EU. Estimates vary between 30 and 200, and are another reminder of the complicated nature of European issues for British politics.

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