The Guardian (HERE) reports that as many as 100 Labour MPs may be planning to vote in favour of a referendum. If so Brown’s majority would be well down the pan and a vote on the EU would become inevitable.

One should not, I feel, put too much store by the figures for the moment. But what it does suggest is that the clear and unambiguous evidence of the opinion polls (82% in favour of a referendum at the last count) is perhaps beginning to translate into discontent on the doorsteps so to speak and Labour MPs are doing no more than reflecting what is being said to them, back in their constituencies. In addition Union-sponsored MPs may have had their ears bent in recent days by their Paymasters, the Unions.

The motives of the Socialists will probably be, in some cases at least, similar to those of the Unions, who will be calling for an opt-in to all the worker ‘friendly’ stuff (actually it is not worker friendly at all but mostly liable to put them out of a job in sue course, but that is by the by) that The Town Rat Catcher has tried (probably unsuccessfully) to opt out of. Others are troubled (as well they might be) by the damage that the Rat Catcher’s dishonourable and deceitful position may be doing to them. They have also worked out that the Chindamo case, based as it is on a piece of EU law that Jack Straw as Home Secretary allowed on to our statute books without our say-so, is causing collateral damage to the party.

The mathmatics are of interest. The Labour party can muster on paper 353 votes and the combined opposition (in practical rather than theoretical terms) 284. It needs just 35 to vote with the opposition for that majority to disappear. Brown might just risk a vote but defeat would be more humiliating than an earlier ‘managed’ retreat (“we’ve just had some further legal advice and we have realised that….”) would prove to be. Brown’s position may, therefore, be on the cusp of becoming very tricky indeed.

Meanwhile Labour Whips are doubtless oiling their sjamboks and knouts as I write.