Government ministers are to be free to campaign on either side of the referendum on Britain's continued membership of the EU, Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed.
Mr Cameron told the House of Commons that the Government will make a "clear recommendation" on whether the UK should stay in the 28-nation bloc or leave, following the conclusion of the renegotiation of the terms of its membership.
But he told MPs that it would be open for individual ministers to oppose this recommendation without quitting their Government posts, in a significant departure from the usual principle of collective responsibility.
The move will throw a spotlight on senior Tories such as Home Secretary Theresa May, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, Leader of the Commons Chris Grayling and London Mayor Boris Johnson, who will face increased pressure to declare which way they will vote.
In a statement to the Commons on last month's European Council summit, Mr Cameron said: "My intention is that at the conclusion of the renegotiation, the Government should reach a clear recommendation and then the referendum will be held.
"But it is in the nature of a referendum that it is the people, not the politicians, who decide.
"As I indicated before Christmas, there will be a clear Government position, but it will be open to individual ministers to take a different personal position while remaining part of the Government.
"Ultimately, it will be for the British people to decide this country's future by voting In or Out of a reformed European Union in the referendum that only we promised and that only a Conservative-majority Government was able to deliver."