Finally, a bit of coherence:
Sir Menzies says he agrees with the prime minister – but as an ardent pro-European he is “not prepared to allow [Conservative leader] David Cameron to lead the Europhobes and their allies in sections of the media, to distort the debate on Europe without challenge”.
The Lib Dem leader, who was expected to face calls to back a treaty vote from some of his own MPs at his party’s conference, said voters should be given a “real choice”.
“If there is to be a referendum it shouldn’t be restricted to a comparatively minor treaty. It must be a decision about the EU as a whole.
“Let’s have an honest debate on the European Union followed by a real choice for the British people. That means a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.
“We would ask the British people the big question – whether to remain in the European Union or not.
“I will lead the Liberal Democrats at the forefront of that debate.
“We will make the overwhelming case for Europe and trust the people to make the right choice.”
If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because its what Stephen Tall told him to say on Wednesday.
As I said back then, I’m happy with this position, although I question whether it will fly. If the Lib Dem position fails to get sufficient support in Parliament though, and it boils down to a choice between the Tory option of a referendum or simple Parliamentary ratification, it will be simply untenable to argue that we should opt for the latter. After all, didn’t Paul Walter say it would end up being a proxy for a debate about EU membership anyway?