David Cameron's political leadership was plunged into crisis after rebels from his own Conservative party forced him to abandon plans for Britain to participate in military strikes against Syria after suffering an unprecedented Parliamentary defeat.

The Prime Minister was likened to the Grand Old Duke of York by political pundits from opposite sides of the political spectrum, for leading his MPs up the hill of conflict and then down the other side after the government lost by 285 votes to 272.

Writing in the Daily Mail - which opposed intervening in Syria following a gas attack in Damascus - historian Max Hastings, said: "He [Cameron] now discovers that he has charged up his own hill while the majority of the British people and indeed a majority of their MPs remain stubbornly at the bottom.

"David Cameron's attempt to play statesman on the world stage has created a political shambles which culminated in a humiliating defeat in the House of Commons late last night.

"It will not mean the end of his tenure as Prime Minister, but it is a savage and damaging setback - and it is one he has brought upon himself.

Employing a similar metaphor, Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror wrote a damning character assassination: "Humbling and catastrophic for David Cameron.Talk about a PM misjudging the political and public mood, arrogance destroying the PM's judgement. What started as a retreat became a rout. Hoping last week to attack Syria with no vote, he had to offer two. The Grand Old Duke of Downing Street may have blown up his Premiership by being a hawk when people want a dove."

Cameron's predecessor in Downing Street Tony Blair was silent after parliament spoke out against the latest bid for military intervention in the Middle East. His last public pronouncement on the issue was a link to his Times article calling for Syria to be bombed on 27 August.

But Blair's old New Labour accomplice Alastair Campbell did add his voice to reaction at last night's Commons defeat for Cameron, saying on Twitter: "With military action not an option, UK still has responsibilities to help bring humanitarian catastrophe in Syria to an end."

Polly Toynbee in The Guardian said Cameron was now exposed as out of touch with not only his own party - but all of Britain.

"Poor David Cameron has been the one left stranded when the music stopped, still singing as everyone else falls silent. From Number 10 came effing and blinding at Ed Miliband, calling him, as reported in the Times, a f****** c*** and a copper bottomed s***.

"But it wasn't Labour, it was Cameron's whole country who had changed while he wasn't looking. Cue last-minute key change in Downing Street's unconditional promise to the US, but he's still out of tune with a country that doesn't want to go to war."

Even grassroots Tories went in for the kill. Mark Wallace, writing on Conservativehome.com called the vote defeat for Cameron the "worst foreign policy defeat in modern times."

Fraser Nelson, the editor of right-leaning magazine The Spectator and a columnist for The Daily Telegraph, wrote: "David Cameron failed the test of trust, and paid the price. Parliament has rejected the PM's vision of this country's place in the world."

Labour blogger Sunny Hundal tweeted: "A sitting Prime Minister loses the support of his own party on a motion to go to war. There isn't a bigger humiliation, frankly.