It is with a sense of profound ennui that one reads today the enthralling news that, "Gordon Brown hinted … that he could yet call a referendum on the new EU reform treaty if fellow European leaders 'backslide' on deals struck by Tony Blair to protect British sovereignty."
The prime minister, we are told, said he believed British interests had been fully defended in the agreement struck by his predecessor - and that if the deal was not unpicked there would be no need for a national vote.
This was in an interview with BBC Radio Four's Today programme, when Brown declared that, "if these remained intact until EU leaders had signed off on the treaty text at a summit in Lisbon next month, "there will, in my view and in the Government's view, be no need for a referendum".
In other words, this is still the same, sterile little game – pretending that the "red lines" and "opt-outs" actually mean anything. Thus it paves the way for some grandstanding on October. We will witness yet more staged drama, only for Brown to come out beaming from the Council chamber, happily announcing that, "British interests had been fully defended" and a referendum won't be needed after all.
The game is so transparent and so tedious that one wonders why Brown actually bothers. If he just told us all to piss off, that he was going to sign the treaty whether we liked it or not, and that there was nothing we could do about it, one might at least respect him for his honesty.
But these silly little games just insult our intelligence and add to that ever-deepening well of contempt which we reserve for our political classes.