UPDATE – 14th Jan – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35288163
As expected Cameron announced that when it comes to the EU referendum, his Cabinet Ministers will be allowed to campaign for either side of the referendum whilst remaining part of the government. This is great evidence for a raft of topics.
Firstly, it speaks to the weakness of a party in government with such a small majority and divisions occurring within the party. The EU has long been a divisive issue within the party with 95 Conservatives signing a letter requiring the UK have a veto over EU law. However this shows that rather than have a public show of disunity with his ministers, most notably Chris Grayling, openly defying the government, Cameron can instead endeavor to keep the party together by allowing each minister to follow their conscience. This is useful for both weaknesses of government and party policies and factions within Unit 1.
Secondly, it is a useful to show the flexibility of the UK Constitution. In doing this, Cameron is essentially temporarily abandoning Cabinet Collective Responsibility. Previous blog posts have highlighted some of the topics over which we have seen ministers rebel against this under the Coalition but this is the first big issue in which CCR has become an issue in the current Conservative government. The fact that this convention can be put aside in this manner speaks either to the flexibility and resilience of the UK Constitution, or to it’s weakness as the party in power is essentially manipulating it to suit them – whichever of these arguments better suits your essay!