John Major is now expected next week to confirm Sir Leon Brittan and Labour's Bruce Millan as Britain's two members of the commission. The decision will mean the Prime Minister going back on private assurances he gave John Smith and Mr Kinnock that he would not stand in the former Labour leader's way.
Mr Major's difficulties over Maastricht, however, are now such that it is judged that having backed the reappointment of Jacques Delors as commission president, he cannot afford further to antagonise those of his own backbenchers who would see Mr Kinnock's appointment as re- inforcement of the commission's 'socialist' tendencies.
There is also thought to be some opposition in Cabinet and the issue arouses sufficient emotion for one representative at the Tory party conference to have called for Mr Kinnock to be denied the job - to loud applause.
The decision will be a further blow to the former Labour leader, who withdrew as a candidate for the presidency of the federation of European socialist parties shortly after the Danish referendum because he could not then guarantee Labour's vote on Maastricht.
Last week, when Mr Kinnock topped the poll in constituency elections to Labour's national executive, he still appeared to harbour hopes of the Brussels job, refusing reporters' invitations to rule out a move to the EC.Reuse content