Iain Duncan Smith spoke up for David Cameron and also managed to signal his own Euro-scepticism in a strategic appearance on this week's Andrew Marr show.
He said that the Tory rebels who defied the whips last week over the EU budget vote should give Mr Cameron credit for talking tougher to Brussels than any former British Prime Minister.
He also confimed that a referendum on EU membership was a certainty. “It is just a matter of when and on what.”
Most significantly he also said that he believed Britain could survive within or without the EU because “in the world we are a global trader. We are more of a global trader than any other country in Europe”.
Though Mr Duncan Smith would not state whether he wanted Britain to leave the EU, it would until recently have been remarkable for a senior politician to talk so critically, or raise the possibility of Britain’s leaving.
Only a couple of years ago continued membership was taken for granted. It shows how much the political landscape
has changed when a leading Tory can talk so positively about the nation’s economic prospects outside the EU.
Rather cleverly IDS has bridged the gap between the Conservative rebels and the Prime Minister’s maddening lack of follow-through vis-à-vis Brussels.