Jeremy Corbyn's first attempt to stamp his authority on Labour MPs came unstuck on Wednesday as rebel MPs ignored his demand that they oppose George Osborne's budget surplus charter.
Mr Osborne's proposals were passed by a clear 320 votes to 258 — despite the Scottish National party, Liberal Democrats and Greens joining forces with Mr Corbyn to resist them.
Mr Corbyn had told his MPs to oppose the chancellor's fiscal charter, which commits future governments to running surpluses in "normal times"; Mr Osborne aims to balance the budget by 2019.
Mr Corbyn's decision to impose a three-line whip on Labour MPs was shrugged off by rebels, who noted that their new leader holds the record for disobeying party orders in Commons votes.
Twenty-one Labour MPs abstained — attending the debate but not voting — while another 16 were authorised absences.
The rebellion added to the sense of "shambles" described by Labour MPs as Mr Corbyn and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell tried and failed to navigate a clearly signposted political trap laid by Mr Osborne.