With Ukip and backbench Tories nipping at his heels, David Cameron has been forced into a referendum on the UK's future relationship with the EU if the Tories win the next election in 2015 - a vote he could well do without (News, January 24).
What we now have, during the worst economic recession in our history, is a destabilising four years of uncertainty that will make overseas companies look twice at the UK as somewhere to invest.
Mr Cameron is seeking to repatriate powers on issues such as social and employment laws, policing and crime.
But to renegotiate on these issues and hold a referendum by his pledged deadline of the end of 2017 is impossible, as he well knows.
The chance of any meaningful renegotiation being agreed by the other 27 member states is even less.
It is clear the French and Germans and other member states have no desire to reopen treaties which have been years in the making to allow for British demands.
Mr Cameron is taking a dangerous gamble, believing that by holding a gun to the head of Brussels bureaucrats and national governments he can get what he wants under threat of the UK leaving.
But for many in the EU, the loss of Britain would not be a negative, but a benefit; the loss of an obstructive lodger who brings more trouble than she is worth.