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Reality Check: What are the biggest government defeats?

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Theresa May's Brexit deal has been rejected in the House of Commons by 230 votes. Reality Check has been looking back at some of the biggest government defeats.

Defeats in the order of 100-plus votes are very rare. The three biggest government losses, according to the Institute for Government think tank, all occurred in 1924 when the minority Labour government of Ramsay MacDonald was defeated by margins of 166, 161 and 140.

The defeats of 166 and 161 votes both occurred on 8 October 1924 and related to the response to the government's decision to drop criminal proceedings against John Ross Campbell, editor of the Communist newspaper Workers' Weekly.

A few weeks afterwards, a general election was held - following a motion of no confidence in the government. That election saw the Conservatives gain more than 150 seats with Stanley Baldwin returning to power.

The third biggest defeat also happened in 1924 when the government suffered a 140-vote defeat on its Housing Bill on 3 June.

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Image caption Ramsay MacDonald's minority government was defeated by a margin of 166 in 1924

There may be special circumstances around certain votes, so it's not always easy to compare each one - says Alice Lilly from the Institute for Government.

Governments, she says, have, on occasion, chosen not to take part in certain votes - meaning the scale of defeat was much larger than it otherwise would have been.

For example, in March 1977 Labour lost a vote by 293-0 on public spending cuts to pay for a 1976 loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In that instance, party managers instructed Labour MPs not to take part.

Other votes might be "free", meaning that MPs are not put under pressure to vote a certain way by their party leaders. Usually such votes happen on ethical issues that are seen as a matter of conscience, such as the same-sex marriage vote.

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