The pattern is clear. Once the right of the Tory party get a little too vociferous, when yet another round-robin letter emerges from the back benches, when the commentariat throw out warnings about the UK's continued passage through the icebergs on RMS Eu, Dave responds with a hint. Not a promise, not a commitment, just a vague, conciliatory hint to re-examine the terms of the UK's membership, to look at the options around maybe having a referendum. This is usually accompanied by an outright denial of something that hasn't even been proposed such as "... and I confirm that this government will NEVER permit the setting of UK interest rates by the ECB". For some reason I can't fathom, this quietens everything down. The Eurosceptic back benches go quiet, silly correspondents hail it as a breakthrough, or an important change in policy.
Of course there is no change at all. Cameron is still committed to a relationship with the EU that is more than just a Free Trade Area; he remains one of the victims of the delusion that the nations of Europe must share their sovereignty to form a super-nation that challenges the US in economic power to prosper. But beset by the anti-EU mood in the country, he's striving to both occupy the popular ground and maintain the UK's membership of the club, if only as a 'lady member' not entitled to use the library or dining rooms and restricted to 6pm to 8pm in the bar.
In contrast, Liam Fox could almost be writing for UKIP today in the Telegraph. We must re-negotiate our relationship now, writes Liam, away from the political objectives and based solely on economic grounds. If the EU - whether the 26, the 17, the 10 or whatever - won't budge, won't be flexible, then we have an In-Out referendum. The clarity that eludes his leader comes easily to Fox.