DALE Iain Krieg illustration square

Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publications, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

I’m writing this diary in my hotel room in Frankfurt, the very definition of a soulless city. I hate the place. It’s four years since I’ve been to its annual book fair, which is the largest one of its type anywhere in the world. For a week, Frankfurt gets taken over by booky people, and even that doesn’t really add to its charms.

One thing the city authorities have introduced, though, is free train and bus travel for anyone attending the fair. Can you imagine Boris Johnson doing something similar? Me neither. Frankfurt’s taxi drivers are none too impressed, though. They went on strike. Imagine what they will do when Uber comes to Frankfurt.

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The cynics will look at Nicky Morgan’s decision to allow a new grammar school in Kent to be opened through the prism of a future leadership campaign. Technically, is not a new school – merely an annexe of an existing one…although the existing one is ten miles away from the new one. With me so far? The decision is a long time coming, and it will certainly do her reputation no harm in certain quarters.

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The Prime Minister’s chief of staff Ed Llewelyn is a man of many talents. He’s done the job for ten years now, and is undoubtedly one of David Cameron’s most trusted confidantes. Urbane, charming and ultra-clever, he’s just the sort of man you’d want batting for you in a negotiation.

But he’s a confirmed Europhile. So the news that he is in charge of EU renegotiations, is, it has to be said, not likely to inspire confidence on the part of those who want a substantial renegotiation, rather than a cosmetic one.

The fact that no one can actually identify the issues we’re actually renegotiating says a lot. I belong to the school of thought that these negotiations are pretty irrelevant anyway and that the In-Out referendum will be just that – rather than a vote of confidence or otherwise in what has been negotiated.

There is nothing that the Prime Minister can do to satisfy John Redwood or Bill Cash, so there’s little point in trying. The EU will give Cameron one headline success and three or four token concessions that will be enough for him to triumphantly declare them all as a game-changer. But they will amount to little. I hope in two years’ time I will be proven wrong, but I have my doubts.

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It was obviously a cunning plan by the Prime Minister to let Jeremy Corbyn get the better of him at PMQs yesterday. A clear sign of the government’s ‘Keep Corbyn in Place’ plan.

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Credit to Stephen Tall, the Liberal Democrat activist and former columnist for this site, for doing something that Dan Hodges, Danny Alexander and I wimped out of – running down Whitehall naked – after mistakenly forecasting that his party would win more seats than it did last May. Well, almost naked. In doing so he raised …no sniggering at the back …around £8,000 for charity.

Stephen could get away with it since as he has a body which wouldn’t feature on that Channel 4 show Embarrassing Bodies. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for myself. And, let’s be honest, no one wants to see Danny Alexander’s ginger nuts swinging their way down Whitehall, do they? Apart possibly from possibly a rather specialist audience.

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Sajid Javid is often accused of lacking the charisma to be next party leader. Well, not according to an e-mail correspondent of mine who wrote to me this week. This is what he said: “Just want to mention how impressed I was by Sajid Javid who re-opened our local Internet cafe last Friday. Knowing how busy the man must be, he took the time to speak to every age group there including my wife and I who are pensioners.”

“We were there to sell our CDs ‘a taste of skiffle’ and he came over to us and bought one in cash. We’re a four piece skiffle band who play to raise money for the British Lung Foundation, and we also play at the Internet cafe regularly to raise money for their several youth projects. I’m not normally a Tory voter but I was bowled over by Javid who has charisma by the bucket load and deserves all the success and could be the next Prime Minister. Many thanks, JD of the ‘6-5 specials’ skiffle band.”

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It is entirely right for people to call on Tom Watson to issue a fulsome apology to Lady Brittan. His mistake was to make the accusations in public via Exaro News before actually sending the accusations he had received to the Police. And then he went totally OTT in his remarks in the Commons.

However, we should also bear in mind that there have been several convictions by means of other allegations that Watson sent to the police. The trouble is that nowadays this whole issue has become rather binary. We either believe the whole establishment were at it and that if someone’s name is mentioned there must be something in it, or we believe the whole thing is a put up job by mentally ill fantasists.

It is, of course, neither one thing nor the other. The truth lies somewhere in between. So before we all condemn Tom Watson totally or, like Alice Thomson in The Times (£), call for him to stand down as an MP, we ought to pause for thought a little.

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