I missed this one.
Rather a nice article by Stephen Pollard on Brown (El Gordo) and the EU
There is no constitutional requirement in Britain for a referendum. Mr. Blair's promise of one on the earlier treaty was unprecedented, and Mr. Brown could argue that this year's version is not as extensive and thus doesn't require a popular vote.
He could do that. If he did, however, he would confirm at the very outset of his premiership all the electorate's worst images of him as a Stalinist control freak, as a man contemptuous of opposing views, and as a politician unworthy of the country's highest office.
A referendum defeat -- the certain outcome -- is, after all, a defeat. Even if his support for the treaty is lukewarm, Mr. Brown will not want to begin his time in office with a humiliating loss at the polls. He could not, after all, call a referendum seeking support for a treaty and then distance himself from it. If his support were anything other than wholehearted he would look vacillating and weak. And the opposition would run rings around him, accusing him of foisting on the country a treaty which he did not back.