Nick Clegg, says The Guardian is mounting a direct challenge to David Cameron by ruling out any moves to repatriate powers to Britain from the EU while eurozone leaders are struggling to save the single currency.
As William Hague outlined plans for a fundamental review of Britain's relations with the EU, Clegg made clear that Britain should not attempt to exploit forthcoming EU negotiations.
"The idea that at the time when there is a crisis in the eurozone that you go to Brussels and demand a sackload of powers and bring them back on the Eurostar is for the birds", one Liberal Democrat source told The Guardian.
The warning was reinforced in stronger language by Charles Kennedy, who responded to Hague's statement by hitting out at Tories who are bent on "holding the EU to ransom".
It really hurts to say it – except that we have already been saying the same for a long time – but Clegg and Kennedy are right. Any expectation that the "colleagues" are going to respond positively to what amounts to blackmail simply isn't practical politics.
Under the provisions of Article 48, which deals with treaty amendments, the European Council sets the terms of reference – by majority vote if necessary – and the president of the council is then empowered to refuse any time for discussion on extraneous issues.
That would leave Cameron having to veto the final draft of the treaty – the only time a veto could be applied. And are there any circumstances were europhile Dave would actually veto a treaty that he has agreed is necessary, and thus be seen to block the rescue of the euro?