European Union flag

With his shift to leave the door open to an in/out referendum on Europe — but only if a transfer of new powers to Brussels were proposed — it was inevitable that Ed Miliband would be accused of a fudge by both Eurosceptics and Europhiles.

Ed follows in the footsteps of David Cameron, who also promised a referendum on the EU — but only in 2017 when he probably won’t be prime minister.

If only for amusement purposes, it’s worth revisiting the European travails of Tory MP James Wharton, who warned his party over EU headbanging, only to be forced by whips to adopt a pre-drafted referendum bill when he won the Private Member’s Bill ballot the day later:

After attempts by Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers to bring a poll forward to this year, Wharton’s bill was finally killed off by peers at the end of January.

With George Osborne posturing over the revival of a 2017 poll last week, however, Westminster’s EU can-kicking competition looks set to run and run.

Video: BBC interview with Norman Smith

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