About half of the 303 Conservative MPs are now part of the payroll vote (though only 80 of them are actually salaried Government Ministers).  I have made the point on this site and in the Daily Telegraph, setting out some details in the latter case – including those relating to special appointments.

But let us for the sake of argument deploy a more narrow definition of the payroll – the traditional one of Ministers and PPS’s.  This comes to 125 Tory MPs.  That leaves 178 others.  This morning’s Sunday Telegraph report said that 95 backbenchers have signed a letter to David Cameron urging that the law be changed “to give the Commons authority to block new EU legislation and repeal existing measures that threaten Britain’s ‘national interests’ “.  The letter refers specifically to “current and future laws” (my italics) – therefore proposing that Parliament can pick and choose when it comes to which EU laws it wants to observe.

To follow such a course would be in effect to leave the EU – a point that the MPs who signed the letter presumably grasped.  This surely means that a majority of Tory backbenchers have come out for exit, since 178 minus 96 leaves 82.  And we read that there are members of the payroll who agree…