LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron faces a rebellion from many of his Eurosceptic lawmakers on Monday when parliament votes on the rules for a planned referendum on Britain’s European Union membership.
Cameron has already been forced to make concessions over the referendum, last week agreeing to make the wording of the question more neutral and to accept some limits to government activity in the run up to the vote, which is due by the end of 2017.
But many Eurosceptic Conservatives argue this did not go far enough and that a so-called “purdah” period, which bars the government from publishing anything which could influence the outcome, must be applied in full.
The opposition Labour Party and Scottish nationalists have also tabled amendments to the EU Referendum Bill, which lawmakers in the lower house will have their final chance to vote on late on Monday, also arguing purdah must be applied.
As Cameron has a working majority of just 16 in parliament, the government faces an embarrassing defeat if enough of its own lawmakers join forces with the opposition parties, forcing it to re-think its plans to accommodate the Eurosceptics’ demands.
Some Conservatives have also raised concerns over the timing of the vote, spending limits for political parties, the impartiality of broadcasters and whether EU institutions will be allowed to be directly involved in campaigning.
In a boost to Eurosceptics, an opinion poll published on Saturday showed a majority of Britons now favor leaving the European Union amid concerns over immigration, the first time the series had found a lead for the “out” campaign since November 2014.
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison