So, has he got away with it? The press reaction to the Tories’ new European policy has been generally positive, or at least understanding that Cameron did the best he could in impossible circumstances. Only the Daily Mail and Melanie Phillips voiced ideological objections. More importantly, Messrs Davis, Redwood, Cash et al have not broken ranks – this reflects the policy’s essential euroscpeticism as much as it does party discipline.
Most important of all, the above Politics Home poll suggests that the public back the long-term policy, adapted to new circumstances, and do not think that Cameron has broken a promise.
But, the overwhelming majority want a referendum on renegotiating Britain’s engagement with the EU. Cameron’s suggestion that he will seek a vote if his demands are not met is his bargaining ploy for his first parliament, but it is also a danger. If he fails to achieve what he laid out on Wednesday, which is probable, the public and his party will be well within their rights to call for a referendum, and he cannot afford to break that promise.