Bad news overnight. It seems Business for Britain’s “[insert group here] for Britain” meme has now ensnared Conservative “eurosceptics”.

We therefore have the bizarre situation of a large part of the potential No campaign staying off the field for most of the match, leaving it wide open to UKIP to set the terms of the campaign.

What is going on here?

Is it possible that Conservative “eurosceptics” have decided this referendum is basically unwinnable and are therefore acting accordingly? After all they will have realised that:

– they don’t actually agree on very much, least of all a common alternative vision
– UKIP & Farage are not now going away and threaten to toxify the No campaign
– all polls are in Cameron’s favour and suggest the public will trust Cameron if he comes back with *something*. Even before he does so, polls also suggest that the Yes vote is way out in front.
– the Conservative party actually won the election

That last one was unexpected for many of these “eurosceptics”. Dave may have originally made his pledge on a 2017 referendum believing he’d never have to deliver it, but many on the Tory “eurosceptic” wing also thought they’d never have to fight such a referendum thus making it easy for them to call for one…. at least it was easy up until 7th May.

If all that is true then it suggests a bargain has been struck at a high level in the Conservative Party – to make the referendum a damp squib devoid of any meaning. And that’ll mean staying in the EU. The motive: To keep the Conservative party together now that it’s rediscovered the art of winning elections. Farage may even play along, inadvertantly, by boycotting the referendum, as suggested by Breitbart yesterday.

Is this theory too conspiratorial or too clever?

Not really. Start from a position of Conservative Party tribal loyalty (as many of them will) and everything else slots into place.

But as with most things in life, it is probably not completely black and white. I imagine some of them have arrived at Conservatives for Britain using precisely the logic above but others will be joining because they’d be otherwise outnumbered. Plus they genuinely think that waiting-and-declaring-No will give No a real boost at the right time. They are the ones lining up to be sucker-punched yet even they might be persuaded, come the time, that the real In/Out referendum is simply being deferred to another day (the day of real treaty change).

But whichever way one looks at this, it is a case of “party before country”. In the long term, that can only destroy the slightest claim the Conservative Party or its individual members might have had of representing the ‘eurosceptic’ movement. It’ll yet again boost UKIP and then the only thing standing in the way of that party’s greater political advancement & maturity will be Farage and his cult of rage.

Interesting times.