One faction is only really interested in what helps the world of business to operate efficiently. They don't particularly like ideology and prefer to follow what seems to them to be common sense. They want to make as much money as possible, with as few restrictions as possible and, most of all, they want to keep as much of that money as they possibly can.
This type of Conservative looks at Europe and all it sees is an enormous market that it wants to be part of. If that involves putting up with some rules and regulations then they aren't really too bothered about that. They can live with those rules provided that other businesses are also operating within them.
This business orientated arm of the Conservatives views a referendum on Europe as a dangerous gamble. For them an exit means they could lose business and be forced to try and sell their products or services to the EU with all the rules being set by our major competitors. Those in the financial services industry are terrified of a British exit resulting in rules being set which favour Frankfurt at the expense of London. They can see their position as the leading financial centre of Europe going overnight if we are no longer part of Europe. And those in manufacturing are terrified of finding that large numbers of subsidiaries of European multinationals are closed down in Britain and moved within the new EU borders. They can see car factories in Sunderland closing, Rolls Royce engine sales falling and investors from abroad bypassing a country that isn't securely inside the biggest free trade market on the planet.
This type of Conservative will move heaven and earth to stay inside the EU. They went into politics to support business and they see the EU as vital to this. They think that all this uncertainty over an exit is a dangerous distraction that simply gets in the way of making money. It has to be stopped and stopped quickly before all that uncertainty does too much harm.
The other half of the party sees it from a completely different point of view. For them the EU goes against everything that they believe in. For them the EU would be fine if all it did was to operate as a free trade area. But all this stuff about health and safety legislation, workers rights, freedom of movement and, heaven forbid, human rights is completely unacceptable. For them the real problem is that the EU is a state and even worse it is an international state. They want a world of completely unfettered free market capitalism and nothing else will do. The EU leaders want something utterly different. They want a controlled, managed and guided capitalism. For the Euro-sceptics this smacks of state socialism and it is what they went into politics to destroy.
The two sides have fundamentally incompatible beliefs. And this means that at the heart of our government there is a split right down the middle that cannot be patched up and repaired. On the central issue that is to be decided over the next two years the Conservative party can't possibly agree on the best way forward. Usually the Conservative Party is very good at avoiding pulling itself apart and at striking an effective compromise. This time it simply can't be done. The two sides are passionately committed to utterly different visions of the future.
Cameron seems to want to belong to the faction of practical business people. Whatever he is offered in Europe he gives every impression that he would like to claim it is a victory and to argue for a vote to stay in. The EU that he will ask us to stay in will contain a European parliament and mechanisms for passing laws that will apply across the whole of the EU. Without that there is no EU.
Nothing could be more contrary to the deepest beliefs of a large part of his party. Anything that goes beyond a simple free trade deal will lead them to call for an exit.
We are therefore heading for two years of vicious infighting between different factions of the Conservative Party. This is not like the conflicts within the coalition. Cameron and Clegg shared an agreement that the most important problem of the day was the deficit even though they disagreed periodically about how far and how fast to go on their agreed approach to tackling it. The disagreements about Europe within the current government are more visceral. You can't strike a compromise with a faction of the government that has a completely different set of ideas about what it is trying to achieve. There is no possible compromise between people who are determined to get out of something and those who want to stay in it and make some reforms. One or the other has to win and that means the other faction has to lose.
So I think that the infighting is only just beginning. We can expect the briefest honeymoon period of any government in history. These two factions hate each other much more than they hate people in the other parties. It is going to be interesting watching them fall upon each other with increasing fury as every week brings us closer to the referendum.
People are taking it for granted that we have the current government in power for the next five years. I wonder. How exactly does a Prime Minister hold together a party that is split on the central issue of the day? David Cameron is in for an extremely rough ride and it will be interesting to see how the public reacts to being led by a party that cannot agree on the best way forward and tears lumps out of itself.
John Major had to resign and stand for re-election to try and control a much less pressing row over Europe. I doubt whether anything similar could work for Cameron. A referendum concentrates the mind and sharpens the disagreements. It will take a very clever politician indeed to get out of this one. The man is caught in an impossible situation. No wonder he didn't want to stay on as leader after the next election. He will do well to survive that long once the faction fighting really gets going.
We are therefore in for a really interesting time. And David Cameron may live to regret ever hearing that old Chinese curse. "May you live in interesting times!"