David Cameron has attracted the private anger of the Spanish, German and French leaders for sending a handwritten letter to the Czech leader Vaclav Klaus, in what is seen as an attempt to derail the Lisbon Treaty. The letter is understood to have encouraged Klaus to delay Czech ratification of the treaty, thus allowing Cameron to hold a referendum once in power.
But, if the Czechs do agree to the treaty then Cameron will have to have a re-think. And since they have won an exemption from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which was a major hurdle for them, then this may happen well before the UK general election. This exemption was important as it allows the Czechs to shield themselves from post war property claims made by ethnic Germans expelled after the war.
The Czech constitutional court meets on Nov 3rd and is expected to rule that the treaty is within constitutional law and that ratification will happen very quickly thereafter.
Cameron knows he will be PM soon, he also knows that he will have to work with the leaders concerned and he also knows the dangers of sending private letters. It will badly undermine his future dealing with the EU, but he also knows that.
It was obvious that Klaus was acting in his own national interest and wanted to leverage the best deal he could for their agreement of the treaty. So their ratification was really a foregone conclusion.
So what has Cameron been playing at? This is all just posturing for the popular UK vote. This, plus the anti-Blair talk, is all for home consumption. Once the Czechs ratify the treaty, Cameron will accept it and we will all be asked to move on. The EU grip on the UK tightens.