House of Lords reform has been backed by a large majority of MPs, but only after a humiliating Government climbdown and a bitter split between Conservative and LibDem MPs.
With Labour backing the Coalition’s reforms, MPs voted by 462 votes to 124, a massive majority of 338, in favour of a second reading for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s House of Lords Reform Bill.
But amid a mood of bitterness and recrimination on the Coalition benches, 91 Tory MPs defied David Cameron and voted against the reforms in the biggest rebellion of this Parliament.
The rebels included two junior Government members, Angie Bray and Conor Burns, who had been warned they would be sacked if the carried out their threat to rebel.
Ms Bray was sacked immediately after the vote from her job as parliamentary private secretary to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and Mr Burns earlier resigned from his job as aide to Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson before he was sacked.
"I knew this was the consequence,” Ms Bray said after she was sacked. “I am very sorry that I found myself in this position because I have very much enjoyed working for Francis Maude."
The Tory rebels included former ministers Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Peter Lilley, John Redwood, Christopher Chope, Edward Leigh and Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames. Senior Tory MPs rebelling were led by Father of the House Sir Peter Tapsell and included 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady, former Deputy Speaker Sir Alan Haselhurst, David Davis, Bernard Jenkin and John Whittingdale.
But there was also a large number of the 2010 Tory intake among the rebels, including Tracey Crouch, Nick de Bois, Caroline Dineage, George Eustice, Philip Lee, Louise Mensch, Penny Mordaunt, Bob Stewart, Rory Stewart and Robin Walker.
There were 26 Labour rebels voting against second reading, including veteran ex-ministers Margaret Beckett, David Blunkett, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Sir Gerald Kaufman and Geoffrey Robinson.
The second reading vote came hours after Commons Leader Sir George Young announced a dramatic Government climbdown by withdrawing a timetable motion on which the Coalition had been facing near-certain defeat by Labour and Conservative rebels.
He told MPs: "We remain committed to making progress on Lords reform and with second reading behind us we will then consider how best to take this agenda forward and how best to secure progress through the House for reforms that have the backing of this House."
Sir George said he would table a new timetable motion - regarded as vital for the Bill to make progress through the Commons and prevent time wasting and delaying tactics by opponents - in the autumn.
But rebels insist they will threaten to defeat the Government once again and so the Bill may still be blocked opponents. One rebel Tory MP, Jesse Norman, said after Sir George’s announcement: “The Bill is a dead duck.”
Senior Liberal Democrats told Sky News Mr Clegg was keen to introduce a timetable motion again as soon as possible, perhaps when MPs return to Westminster after the summer recess in September. But many Tories regard this as wildly optimistic and premature.
During the second day of the Commons debate on the reforms, there were ugly clashes between Conservative rebels and Liberal Democrat MPs.
And when Mr Burns announced his resignation from the Government in his speech during the debate, he was cheered loudly by fellow rebels.