ON a very fine point verging on sharp practice David Cameron has found a legal escape from the corner into which he painted himself less than two months ago when he claimed to have used a veto to protect Britain's interests against new European Union fiscal provisions.
Then he said it would be illegal for the EU to use the Brussels Commission or the European Court of Justice to adjudicate on matters which affected only the 17 eurozone members.
Now he is saying he is satisfied that the newly-approved pact of 25 members cannot encroach on the competencies of the EU as a whole but that if it does he will see them in court.
He says he has safeguarded Britain's interests although these are now less clear than they once seemed to be.
It is all very strange. As recently as last Sunday the senior minister Iain Duncan Smith said on the Andrew Marr show that the prime minister would not change his position on this issue but a day later he does so.
Conservative EUsceptic backbenchers are furious, Bill Cash talking about a slippery slope and Bernard Jenkin calling for a referendum.
In the Commons yesterday Ed Miliband borrowed his brother David's phantom veto phrase but found a very good one of his own: With this vote a veto is not for life, it's just for Christmas.