Circus animals

Kiran Stacey

When the FT broke the news that a rebellion was brewing on Conservative benches over a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, we never expected the rebellion would get this interesting.

Number 10′s resistance to the idea is based on worries the government could face a legal challenge under the EU services directive if it goes ahead with a ban. But it could have essentially ignored the debate, which was a backbench motion which carries no legislative power.

So it came as a shock when the Tories ordered a three-line whip on the vote: effectively instructing all their MPs to turn up and vote against it.