Euroscepticism ought to be at its moment of total victory. Conservative Eurosceptics argued for many years that the current constitutional balance between UK and EU institutions was unacceptable, and that there needed to be renegotiation of our position in the EU, including the repatriation of powers. Indeed, that was a Conservative Party General Election manifesto commitment in 2001, 2005 and 2010. Three General Elections in a row. Indeed, many Conservatives have been Eurosceptics for as long as they have been politically aware.
Now the moment is here. The EU needs a new Treaty, to address the need for fiscal transfers and fiscal oversight to make the Eurozone viable that Eurosceptics always rightly said was inevitable. So those that condemned Cameron's line that, once the Lisbon Treaty had passed there would be no purpose in a Lisbon referendum but that we should instead simply renegotiate, were wrong. When they said that to renegotiate he would need a new Treaty and the other members of the EU would never, post-Lisbon, agree to a new Treaty, they were wrong. Renegotiation was possible. The moment is here.
The problem is, though, that we are completely blowing it. The moment we have sought for all these years is here, and we are doing... well... nothing. Now is when our government needs to be setting before our European partners the repatriation of powers we shall require for us to consent to the new Treaty that they need. It will be no good waiting until the draft Treaty is there, until the Conference comes to finalise the Treaty, for the Conservative MPs to say: "Hey! Oughtn't there to be some of those Treaty changes we wanted in there?"
At that point matters will become much simpler: in or out. Either we enter whole-heartedly into the Single European State, joining the Euro, the common fiscal space, the common legal space, the common policing space, the common migration space, the whole nine yards, or we leave. There won't be any room left to pretend there is a middle path.
I expect I shall be in favour of whole-hearted entry - the Europhile path. I suspect most of you reading this believe, today, that you would favour leaving. But would you, really? What would be the point? I wanted Britain to stay out of the Single European State because Britain had a different and better constitution than that of our European partners. But the ambition of our Establishment is that we should have positive human rights (it's forbidden unless it's allowed) instead of negative liberties (it's allowed unless it's forbidden), a supreme court, a coalitions-based lower chamber, an elected upper chamber, fixed term parliaments, retrospective legislation being commonplace, a ritual (instead of a constitutional) monarchy, participation in international law as if it were true law rather than international custom (as opposed to England being an Empire unto herself), the right to silence being merely the right not to be tortured, the presumption of innocence being circumscribed rather than absolute, justice being inquisitorial instead of adversarial and most of the other paraphernalia of a "modern" European state. Our Establishment hasn't the slightest appetite for preserving even what remains of the classical British constitution, let alone restoring what has been lost.
So my old argument against entering into the Single European State - that Britain was different from our European partners in ways in which she was better, and would lose out on her strengths in a pooled sovereign space - has lost almost all its force. Now, it seems to me, we have the enormous upside of the Single European State - participation in the greatest and most exciting constitutional project of our era, creating what might well be the most powerful country on Earth - and no longer any of the downside.
I am lost, to be honest, as to what a true get-outer could really think is the advantage of not being in the Single European State. What do you think is going to happen? Do you really believe that we shall re-establish the constitutional monarchy, the right to silence, an unelected upper chamber, the adversarial legal system? Do you really think we would make Britain a global free-trader, pulling down protectionist tariffs and quotas? Of course we wouldn't, if we really left the EU altogether - what we would do is to put up enormous protectionist tariffs, become an autarky, have our global industries flee, have unemployment rocket, and the BNP would surge in popularity in no time.
And of course most of you that call yourselves "get-outers" are actually just Eurosceptics. You aren't get-outers at all. You say that Britain should be like Norway, a member of the EEA but just not a member of the EU. But that's just another form of Euroscepticism - you just want to renegotiate yourselves a slightly different arrangement within the broad umbrella of European law. You would still be subject to the laws of the EU - you just wouldn't get to affect them. Well, that's just Euroscepticism of a daft form. It's not "out" at all.
Perhaps that almost-Eurosceptic "get-out" renegotiation option would still be available even if we blow renegotiation now - I suspect it would get heavy majority support amongst the British public quite quickly (perhaps even before the end of this Parliament) - but it must be just as likely that the Single European State members will offer us only the sorts of limited treaties it has with Israel and other Mediterranean states - if we are choosing to leave, the Single European State members will probably want to establish some clear distance between us, so that we do not hold back their state-building progress.
And, as I say, for what? If we want to do things our own, different way, then fine - I'm in. But we clearly don't. We clearly want to do things just the way that our European partners do them - so why don't we all do them together?
UPDATE: In case of any doubt, I remain convinced that we will leave the EU if we don't renegotiate on this occasion. We might even get a "Norway"-type deal. When I say "Europhilia follows" I mean only that it follows logically - that is to say, given that we intend to re-mould the British constitution on Lib Dem lines, we will have a Continental European-type constitution, anyway, so the main reason not to be in the Single European State would have disappeared. But I'm not expecting to win that argument. The argument I do still hope to win is the one for renegotiation now. I am by no means in despair on that one. That is an argument concerning which I fully intend to be on the winning side.