LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron will refuse to back down in a showdown next week with rebel lawmakers who want a public vote on whether Britain should leave the European Union, ministers said on Sunday.
The Conservative leader, who opposes a referendum on Britain's EU membership, faces the biggest rebellion of his premiership on Monday when parliament votes on an issue that has caused deep divisions in his center-right party for decades.
Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said Cameron would stick to his decision to impose the toughest voting orders on Conservative members of parliament. Known as a "three-line whip," lawmakers who defy the instruction to back the government will be effectively expelled from the party.
"It is not government policy to have an in/out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union," Hammond told BBC television. "The three-line whip remains because the motion is contrary to government policy."