The Prime Minister is understood to be considering seriously a move to undermine the Conservatives’ demands for a poll on the new European Union constitution by ordering a referendum on Britain’s place in the EU.But what if this referendum were to be about "staying in" rather than being limited to the constitutional question?
Michael Ancram, the shadow foreign secretary, said such a referendum on whether or not Britain should remain in Europe or opt out would be "fraudulent".Why would such a debate be "fraudulent"? On the contrary, it would allow us to decide once-and-for-all whether we wish to remain an independent country.
He said: "We are fed up with gimmicks designed to distract attention away from the real issues.
"If Tony Blair is going to hold a referendum, he should hold it on the EU constitution and not hold a fraudulent debate on being in or out of Europe."
But there isn't going to be any such referendum, is there?
The Prime Minister has ruled out giving voters a say on the new European Union constitution, and that applied to a wider poll on Britain’s place in the EU, a No 10 spokeswoman said.Never believe anything until it's been officially denied. And it has!
If I were Blair I would seriously consider holding an "in or out" referendum. It would probably panic a large section of the business and financial world into supporting the Prime Minister. They'd be making a mistake of course, but what answer would the Tories have to such a strategy?