David Cameron may not like it but a Euro-sceptic momentum is building deep within his party.
In what looks like the beginning of a well-orchestrated campaign, Conservatives at all levels no longer seem wary of making their feelings known. They have become heartened by the circumstances which are beginning to stack up in their favour.
The financial disarray in Europe has shown the union to be a financially unfeasible and politically unwieldy conglomeration of the strong, the weak and the hangers-on. It’s a ramshackle structure which was never built to last and the UK will be better off getting out before becoming trapped in the rubble.
Also, it’s no longer possible to ignore the correlation between the growing number of unemployed and the unrestricted flow of EU nationals clambering over each other to get here.
Sophisticated sniffers of political blood within Conservative ranks – like William Hague – realise Cameron’s authority over the party is diminishing.
That’s why the Foreign Secretary tested the water with his recent newspaper interview, in which he said Britain would be better off ‘in a more distant relationship with Europe’.
He added: ‘It’s true of the euro, it could be true of other areas in the future.’
Hague can hardly put down a more obvious marker in the political sand when it comes to a future leader.
His resurgence of confidence has cheered the right in the party, 80 of who made their views clear at a meeting to ‘discuss possible reforms.’
One of the convenors, George Eustice, said: ‘The aim of this new group is to promote debate about creating a new relationship with the EU and reversing the process of EU integration.’
This is politico-speak for: ‘We want out!’
To this group may be added the many other Conservative MPs increasingly worried by the left-leaning direction of Cameron’s alliance with Nick Clegg.
They now regard the leadership of the coalition as conjoined twins rather than the Tory-led alliance they believed it would be. Worse still as far as they’re concerned, Cameron doesn’t appear to mind being the dog at the mercy of its own tail.