Anyhow, it all helps with the background when it comes to contextualising a piece like Polly's this morning: David Cameron’s cabinet saboteurs are pushing him to Brexit.
The other 27 members have life-and-death matters to discuss: an unstoppable flow of migrants, terrorists crossing borders and Schengen crumbling, while the euro still trembles unsteadily. Patience with the frivolity of Britain’s pointless negotiation has worn thin. For the first time observers are reporting that Brussels and Berlin regard a British exit as a serious possibility. They don’t want us to go, but Cameron’s cavalier approach pushes them towards indifference. Some report that he himself seems to care less about leaving than he once did, as UK polls sway closer to exit – and he hits a brick wall through his own ineptitude. Why did he make the emotive but empty issue of abolishing working benefits for EU migrants the centre-piece of his renegotiation? His officials and government lawyers warned this was an impossible demand. Other leaders will not, and cannot, in law agree: free movement of labour without discrimination is a founding EU principle.Not such an empty issue then, eh? (This is before we register schoolman North's view that Cameron has made no such demand.) I could think of several explanations for its appearance on the List, including 'the hand of Osborne' whose student-politics expertise is well up to knowing full well the import of the benefits issue.
Yes, the 27 would much prefer to be discussing something else, but that's a strong card for Cameron who, as North identifies, is the only one in the game with a strategy. Single-minded David can often beat Goliath because the latter is preoccupied. (I once took on, and prevailed against, a former employer - a very large corporation - and was widely thought to be crazy: 'they have infinitely more resources' said well-meaning friends. Yes: but of those resources they were deploying perhaps one man-hour a day in the persons of one bored lawyer and one less-than enthusiastic HR-wallah. I was working my side of the issue 16 hours a day, with unwavering commitment.)
And just look at what Polly highlights in her first sentence above. (She's never been an identikit leftie when it comes to immigration, BTW.) If as a europhile she's panicking a bit, well, she has every reason to, on several fronts. I'd say both other corners of the public-opinion triangle - the 'leavers' and the 'let's see what he comes back with-ers' can take a lot of heart from the story so far. And hey, there's 18 months to go!