Serious Tory rowing back on the issue of a referendum about Lisbon. Even Daniel Hannan, whose whole raison d'etre is to be a voluble euro-sceptic, is resisting any criticism of the new Cameron policy on Newsnight. William Hague announced the row back earlier - despite lots of huffing and puffing about the need for a referendum, now that comrade Klaus has ratified the Treaty for the Czechs, being the last to do so, Lisbon becomes law, and there is no going back. So no referendum. Which is of course the pragmatic policy, but is there more to it? Why is the situation over Lisbon not the same as the original decision to join the EEC, subjected to a retrospective referendum in 1975?
Some possible answers -
1. David Cameron is secretly relieved that he can drop the whole referendum idea. Lisbon is not actually a game-changing treaty (the Single European Act - signed by Margaret Thatcher for the UK - and Maastricht were more significant) and squabbling over its demands would have demeaned Cameron as a world leader. Now, he doesn't have to.
2. The Tory Party senses victory in Britain and even the euro-sceptic loons don't want to rock the boat at the moment. Cameron has an unprecedented hold over his party, desperate to return to power, and providing he continues making the right rhetorical noises on Europe, he can expect his nut-case tendency to basically keep quiet. Substantively, he won't deliver much for them, but we await his statement tomorrow with interest.
3. With the Lisbon Treaty written into European law, it is not possible to retrospectively to refuse to agree to its terms without actually pulling out of Europe - and no major party wants to commit to that, not even the Tories.