After PMQs today, David Cameron must be wishing he could just get on and deliver his much-trailed Europe speech. Ed Miliband took advantage of all the speculation to mockingly question Cameron on the subject, asking him to comment on every bit of process.
Cameron wouldn’t rule out this morning’s James Chapman scoop that Tory ministers will be allowed to campaign on different sides of the referendum question. This made it all too easy for Miliband to get away the line: ‘ it’s the same old Tories, a divided party and a weak Prime Minister’. For Miliband, that was mission accomplished.
Those close to Cameron are arguing that Miliband has now shut the door to Labour offering a referendum, putting Labour on the wrong side of public opinion. They believe that once Cameron has actually delivered his speech, the atmosphere will change and Miliband will have to say what he would do.
But there’s no doubt that Cameron has a very difficult balancing act to pull off. He wants to stress he will keep Britain inside the EU, he again declared that ‘Britain is better off in the European Union’. But he has to show his party that this won’t be a token renegotiation.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.