by RAY FLEMING
TODAY, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations. David Cameron writing in the Sun about the Lisbon Treaty, 26 September 2007.
What a difference two years and six weeks make. Although it has been perfectly obvious for a long time that a Conservative government could not hold a referendum on a Treaty that had become law, neither Mr Cameron nor Mr Hague has been prepared to recognise this - until the Czech Republic's ratification on Tuesday made their position ridiculous. As for the cast-iron guarantee, I hope we will hear no more from Mr Cameron or his colleagues about how Labour reneged on its manifesto statement. I cannot help wondering, however, whether the guarantee offered by Mr Cameron was directed less at the Sun's readers than at its owner, Rupert Murdoch, in a bid to persuade him to change the paper's allegiance from Labour to Conservative.
In an effort yesterday to recover his position - especially among the angry europhobes in his party - Mr Cameron put forward a number of proposals about Britain's future relations with the EU. They need careful study but at first sight they have one thing in common - that a Conservative government would be a reluctant member of the EU and would do everything in its power to keep Britain the odd man out in Europe.