Citizenship GCSE: Why do MPs rebel?

Learn more about why MPs rebel against their own party.

We look at the rebellion over the European Arrest Warrant in November 2014. It led to one of the most contentious nights in the House of Commons in recent years.

The European Arrest Warrant is a piece of EU law that allows the rapid extradition of suspects between EU member states, but some MPs worry that it could be used against British citizens for even minor offences.

The Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, promised a debate on the European Arrest Warrant in the House of Commons, but when the day came, it was not mentioned in the order of business.

Eurosceptic Conservative MPs and the Labour Party were outraged and united against the Government. They tried to force a vote for the whole debate to be abandoned.

We meet those on the inside, including the prominent Conservative Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg. We also see how the opposition whips unite with Government rebels to cause a rebellion.

This short film is from the BBC series, Exploring the House of Commons. This series goes behind the scenes of the House of Commons to explain some of the processes that drive British politics.

NB This series was filmed in 2013 - 2015 and some of the political figures shown no longer hold their positions.

Teacher Notes

GCSE or Scottish National 5:

This short film could be used to stimulate a discussion in your classroom on the merits of EU membership.

Pupils could debate the pros and cons of being in the European Union.

Pupils could also consider the significance of rebellions by MPs against their party, and create a list of reasons why an MP might rebel.

A level or Scottish Higher:

This could be used as an introduction to coalition government or how voting works in the House of Commons.

Pupils could make a list of the reasons why an MP might rebel against their party and consider the implications for the Government and opposition parties.

Pupils could consider whether coalition makes Parliament more important and to what extent this is a good thing.

Curriculum Notes

This short film will be relevant for teaching classes about Citizenship. It will be suitable for GCSE or A Level, and Scottish National 5 or Higher.

More from Exploring the House of Commons

How does an MP change the law?
How do MPs vote in the House of Commons?
What is a Private Members' Bill?
What is Prime Minister's Questions?
Changing Britain's Constitution
Public perceptions of British politicians
What is a Government Whip?