Britain's European Crisis: Major's authority in question: If Britain accepts the compromise plan
The prospect of protest resignations from unhappy Cabinet right-wingers was being played down yesterday.
But the evident switch in tone has left a number of Tory backbenchers with less to lose, feeling they have been marched up the hill and back down again.
According to one MP, some colleagues had made 'no-surrender' constituency speeches last weekend, with the implication that they were prepared to vote against the autumn Bill to ratify the enlargement of the European Union. That could be a fruitless protest, as Labour plans to support it.
But that is far from saying that disenchanted backbenchers will henceforth keep their concerns to themselves, especially perhaps those who loyally trooped into the lobbies during the Maastricht Bill only to see, as one MP put it, 'power given away at the first opportunity'.
Twice yesterday, Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, emphasised that qualified majority voting had a role - for example when it came to reforming the Common Agricultural Policy - while there were suggestions from some ministerial sources that backbenchers had not given him too hard a time.
But David Evans, a Major loyalist and a member of the backbench 1922 Committee executive, said: 'By giving in instead of standing firm, John Major will be more, not less, damaged in the eyes of the public and the party.'
Hard-line Tory anti-Europeans were equally adamant that the so-called 'root-and-branch' reform in 1996 will not be effective in unravelling a decision to stay with a qualified majority of 27, because that would require unanimity.
If Mr Major believes that will not be frequently thrown back in his face, from tomorrow onwards, he is probably travelling very hopefully indeed.
In the midst of the latest posturings over 'social' legislation, moreover, is yet another Maastricht opt-out ticking time bomb.
Labour resolved at its last conference to attempt to force the adoption of the Social Chapter at the next opportunity.
The likely occasion will be the Bill to enact the 'own resources' agreement, increasing Britain's EU contributions.
It is at that point, if not before, that the Tories' sub-clinical disease could again break out into raging fever.
There is one consolation for Mr Major, however, if the deal is done. Mr Hurd will not resign. On the contrary, he is keen to stay on this year and believes there is much to be achieved.
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 5 Cancel Sky at your peril: man spends 96 minutes in chat but fails to get rid of service
Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor are reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
'Jihadi John': Isis executioner Mohammed Emwazi wanted to wage jihad in Somalia until his friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...
£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...