Purdahtory

The pressure piles on for Cameron, with controversy around the killing of British nationals fighting for Isis in a drone strike and a rebellion over the EU Referendum

In a first for a British Prime Minister technically out of wartime, David Cameron revealed yesterday he had authorised the killing of two British nationals fighting for Isis by drone strike. He told the House of Commons he did not need to seek parliamentary approval for the strike as the duo were deemed to pose a direct threat to national security, with defence secretary Michael Fallon later emphasising that Britain would not hesitate to carry out similar acts in this future.

The move is controversial on two fronts, giving Cameron’s opponents the opportunity to pile pressure on him (something he has faced surprisingly little of so far). Questions will be raised about whether the killings are legal, or if they could be seen as extrajudicial executions. There are already calls for the Attorney General to explain the legal basis for the decision. The killings also stir strong feelings about Britain taking military action in the Middle East, with Lib Dem leader Tim Farron arguing it was military action in Iraq that led to the rise of Isis in the first place.

Meanwhile, the fight over the rules for the EU referendum rages on, with Cameron being defeated in the Commons over purdah (the rules concerning government activity during the referendum campaign) yesterday. Worryingly for the Prime Minister, 37 Tories rebelled in the vote on the rules – leading to the Government’s first defeat since the election. The result emphasises the precarious position Cameron is in with a slim majority, particularly over Europe where mutinous backbenchers can easily tip the balance.  

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