Blair wins parliamentary vote but loses party support

27 February 2003
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair won two votes on motions about British policy towards Iraq by handsome majorities but suffered the largest rebellion from ruling Labour Party members of parliament (MPs) since he came to power in May 1997.

A total of 199 MPs voted for an amendment drafted by Labour and Conservative Party MPs dissatisfied with the government's Iraq strategy. Of these, 122 are Labour, equivalent to nearly a third of the party's MPs. Voting against the amendment were 393 MPs, more than 100 of them Conservatives. A second vote, on a government motion backing its strategy, was passed by 434 to 124.

Blair told the House of Commons in a debate before the vote that he was working 'flat out' to get a second UN Security Council resolution secured. Blair and UK Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary Jack Straw told MPs that they were not being asked to vote for war and that no decision to deploy British forces had yet been taken. Minister of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs Mike O'Brien told BBC television following the vote that the government wanted to have another vote before a 'substantial' commitment of British troops was made in Iraq.

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