They are in a bit of a flap at Downing street.
Poor old Dave, there he is in the middle of his packing for Australian, and the part of being a prime minister that he, in fairness, probably does not badly, that of meeting leaders from other countries for talks of a very general and probably rather inconsequential nature, and breaking bread with them, and the Queen... and all hell has broken out over the last few days. Foxy, Letty and Djanogly, making asses of themselves, and now this pesky democracy thing.
For, having enshrined in law the right for MPs to discuss any topic upon which more than 100,000 of us mere UK inhabitants have petitioned to have discussed, the government is less than happy that the very one subject that our Dave wanted even less than toothache, has appeared.
The EU: in or out?
It's no secret that a good number of MPs on the right of the Tory party loathe and detest the EU. They wouldn't have taken us in, and they want to take us out. But that is not Tory policy.
For all the vitriol she poured on it and on the leaders of the other big countries (remember how she pronounced Mitterrand?) she kept signing up to more and more of the EU. Major too. (In the interests of fairness I'd have to say that Labour were just as 'guilty' of signing up to deeper European co-operation; even Brown, who became more and more sceptical as time went on, signed the Lisbon treaty.)
The debate has even been brought forward from Thursday, after Downing Street made it clear that the prime minister wished to speak in this backbench debate before heading for a warmer place.
And a further complication is that David Nuttall has tabled an amendment proposing a third possibility be added to the referendum. (Now where did I recently hear of a third question in a referendum?) That of renegotiating the terms of Britain's membership of the union. At the time of writing 76 MPs, including 50 Tories, have signed Nuttall's amendment.
Downing Street has not ruled out the possibility of tabling its own amendment proposing a white paper be published on the subject with the possibility of a vote sometime in the future. Oh, they make you laugh, don't they?
However, this morning it was made clear from Downing Street that Conservative and Liberal Democrat members should vote against a referendum. (Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't the Liberals have this referendum in their manifesto? Oooops!) Threats have been made that a three line whip will be put on the debate, meaning that all members from the two governing parties will be obliged to vote the way that Downing Street instructs or suffer the consequences.
(Ah democracy: don't you wish we had one?)
Government interference in what is a back bench debate is going down like a lead balloon. Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee has questioned minister' participation in the debate. It seems that Dave, rather like Tony, wants everything to go HIS way and it looks like he is going to have to smooth some ruffled feathers over the weekend.
One of Cameron's apparent allies, Nadim Zawahi, has somewhat arrogantly suggested that what we should be doing is helping the EU to get over its current financial difficulties, and in return we should be allowed to take back powers to London. Help them with financial matters?
Would that not be the blind leading the blind?