William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, was not impressed.Steady now.
"This proposal is a clear sign of desperation from Ming Campbell, whose party is so split on this issue," he said.
Frankly, if, as one might be forgiven for thinking, Gordon Brown's number one priority for the bettering of our country is to finish off the Tories (not a priority I am especially opposed to), he could do a lot worse than to go along with this.
Every party stands to make hay from this apart from the Tories. Labour can play its traditional "we may not be wholly convinced about the EU, but we are the government, and government means taking the tough but correct decisions" line in supporting EU membership. The Lib Dems know exactly where we're at on membership of the EU, despite Hague's rather pathetic politic-ing. But the Tories might very well have a bit of a meltdown. The people who would stand to gain most from that are UKIP, and don't they just know it:
UKIP leader Nigel Farage welcomed Sir Menzies' call for an "honest debate" on British membership of the EU.So I would say: Go for it Gordon. The appearance of bowing to dissenters on this might be uncomfortable, but it's more than worth it.
"I have believed for some time that the only referendum that Gordon Brown will ever consider would be one with the new Constitutional Treaty as continued part of our EU membership.
"Brown believes that this is the only referendum on the EU that he can win.
"The parliamentary arithmetic means that if the Lib Dems support such a move it would give the British people their first chance in over 30 years to determine their own futures.
"I would be interested to hear which side in such a referendum Mr Cameron would support."