The surprise election result of April 1992 resulted in a parliamentary majority of 21 seats for the Conservative Party. However, the fi gure was gradually eroded over the following fi ve years as a result of by-election defeats and some defections to other parties. This meant that for much of its term the Government had a slim majority in Parliament. To make matters worse for the Prime Minister, the Conservative backbenches and the Cabinet were split on Britain’s future in Europe. John Major faced frequent and bruising revolts in Parliament as he tried to pass through legislation that so-called “Eurosceptic” MPs considered prejudicial to national sovereignty. Around 50 Conservative MPs at one time or another rebelled against Government policy on Europe. The deep divisions in the Conservative Party on Europe were aggravated by Britain’s withdrawal from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). The run-up to the French referendum on Maastricht saw acute pressure on sterling in the foreign exchange markets and on 16 September 1992, after two emergency interest rate hikes and large-scale Bank of England intervention in the markets, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Norman Lamont, announced the “suspension” of the country’s membership of the ERM. The offi cial position was that membership would resume as soon as conditions allowed, but in reality there was no prospect of resumption. Immediately following the events of the 16 September, what became known as “Black Wednesday”, both Lamont and Major contemplated resignation but chose to see out the storm. When, in a Cabinet reshuffl e in May of the following year, Lamont was offered a move to the Department of the Environment, he chose instead to resign, correctly seeing the offer as a demotion. On 9 June he responded with a resignation speech in the House of Commons, in which he accused the Government of giving “the impression of being in offi ce but not in power”.1 Lamont moved to the backbenches and became a very vocal “Eurosceptic”.