Rebel Labour MPs will defy the Prime Minister by forcing a Commons vote on Iraq next week in the hope that their public revolt will persuade him to soften his hawkish stance.
Downing Street said last week that there would be no vote when Parliament returns from its summer break for an emergency debate on the Iraq crisis a week tomorrow. Instead of discussing a motion about the Government's policy on Iraq, the Commons will debate a technical motion for the House to adjourn.
MPs do not normally vote at the end of such a debate. But the Labour rebels, angry at being denied a full vote on plans for military action against Saddam Hussein, will call a division and vote against the technical motion.
Alice Mahon, the MP for Halifax, said yesterday that she believed that up to 100 Labour backbenchers could join the rebellion. "There is no doubt that there will be a vote," she said. "It would send a powerful message." She criticised Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, for making "warlike" comments, such as when he said the UN had to give President Saddam "a very clear choice either he deals with those weapons of mass destruction or his regime will have to end".