Boris Johnson is nervous about any plan to hold an in/out referendum on Europe, he admitted yesterday.
The London mayor's view on the issue is decidedly different to his previous pronouncements and could hurt his reputation in the Conservative party.
"I don't think it's as simple as 'yes, no, in, out'," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"Suppose Britain voted tomorrow to come out. What would actually happen? In real terms, what would happen is that the Foreign Office would immediately build a huge - well, the entire delegation would remain in Brussels.
"We'd still have huge numbers of staff trying to monitor what was going on in the community, only we wouldn't be able to sit in the Council of Ministers. We wouldn't have any vote at all.
"Now I don't think that's actually a prospect that's likely to appeal," he added.
"What you could do, is think of a new arrangement, new areas of the treaty that we didn't want to participate in any more. That is where people are thinking now.
"So I don't think it is - I mean, with great respect to the sort of 'in-outers', I don't think it does boil down to such a simple question."
This March, Johnson signed the 'people's pledge' calling for an in/out referendum and has been considerably less moderate during recent interviews.
The comments could harm his reputation in the Conservative party, which increasingly demands a more robustly eurosceptic approach from its leaders.
Tellingly, Downing Street was keen to highlight Johnson's comments, which came during a trade visit to India.