First, the Prime Minister plugged the draft EU deal for the TV cameras before he’d made a statement to the Commons, evoking fury from Iain Duncan Smith, according to reports.
Which is: David Cameron has not agreed a deal with other EU leaders (only a draft). It follows that since there is no deal to recommend to voters, the Government has not formally decided to recommend that Britain should remain in the EU. On paper, the Prime Minister’s position still is that he “rules nothing out”.
You will doubtless reply that this is a nonsense, because he has already made up his mind. And you will be right. In which case he is in breach of his own and the Government’s position by campaigning for Remain as he is.
So on the one hand, he is making the case for Remain. On the other, pro-Brexit Cabinet Ministers are barred for making the case for Leave. This is a flagrant double standard – given that Cameron has conceded the principle of Ministers with both views being free to state them.
In short, he is breaking a truce that he himself has imposed. So since he is entering the fray himself, he can’t reasonably object if others with different views do so too.
Whether their means are an article (Chris Grayling’s), an interview (John Whittingdale’s) or briefing (clearly, Duncan Smith’s), they should find means of making their views known.
Above all, they should not allow the screens and airwaves to be filled, during the gap between the Prime Minister striking a deal and the Cabinet meeting that will follow, by the usual claims of “an eyeball to eyeball row” followed by “the near-collapse of talks” followed by “concessions” followed by “game, set and match to Cameron” followed by “a win for Britain”. He will want to roll the pitch of the referendum campaign for Remain. To follow through their Leave view they will have to try to stop him. So they will have to move – and fast.