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

Everyone gets rather overexcited whenever Boris Johnson makes a speech. The Westminster lobby acts as normal, and judges it through the prism of whether any split with Theresa May can be spotted, even though they are fully aware that the whole speech has been pre-approved  by Number Ten.

The Foreign Secretary’s speech on Wednesday didn’t really contain anything new in terms of our negotiations with the EU, or how Britain might look post Brexit. But it was the first time that anyone has articulated a really positive vision for the country and the opportunities which will prevent themselves.

We need a lot more of this, and not just from Johnson. I think it was also important that he made a plea to Remainers to recognise that there are opportunities for this country after Brexit and that, while he recognises their strongly-held views, he wants the country to come together.

No-one thinks that long-held convictions are going to be abandoned overnight but, over time, he’s surely right to sound rather more statesmanlike and less divisive. Given the reaction of some of the leading Remainers to his speech, though, I’m not sure they got the message.

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Strewth! Malcolm Turnbull has announced that sexual relationships between Australian MPs and their staff will be banned. It has not gone down well.

But no doubt there will be voices in this country that Theresa May should follow suit. It’s a total overreaction. Consensual sexual relationships in the workplace have always happened and no amount of rules can stop them.

I don’t know how many MPs have ended up marrying their secretaries, but it must be in the hundreds. Are we really saying that perfectly happy and consensual relationships are wrong?

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On Valentine’s Day morning, the National Rifle Assocation sent out a tweet saying: “Give your significant other something they’ll appreciate this Valentine’s Day. Underneath was a picture of two handguns.

An hour later the Florida school shooting happened and 17 students and teachers were brutally murdered. They subsequently deleted the tweet. It was the 18th school shooting this year. Think about that.

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This week I’ve taken part in a campaign called ‘Europe is Part of Me’ for Ancestry.co.uk. They offer a service whereby you send in your DNA, and it tells you about your own heritage and where your ancestors came from.

On average, 60 per cent of our DNA comes from the continent of Europe. Some people think that this new campaign is a subliminal ‘Remain’ one, but it really isn’t – I wouldn’t have taken part had it been so. But the facts are quite revealing.

That 60 per cent includes 23 per cent Irish and 37 per cent continental European, covering north, east, west and southern Europe, the Iberian Peninsula and European Jewish ancestry. Apparently, 86 per cent of us ‘feel’ European, even if we don’t like the EU.

I know from my radio show that there are some people who consider themselves European rather than British. And they’re not all called Anna or Alastair! (Just my little joke.)

I do think this is one reason why there’s evidence that Britain is the least racist country in Europe. In effect we are, and always have been, a nation of immigrants. There are very few of us who can trace our family trees back hundreds of years (and mine goes back to the 1500) without finding some foreign blood.

I haven’t had my DNA results back yet, but I suspect I will have some French blood in me. I have a bit of a dark complexion and my grandmother’s maiden name was ‘French’. I’d say that was a bit of a clue…

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The winds of change are certainly blowing through southern Africa at the moment. First Mugabe, now Zuma.

Hopefully, one or two other countries might be next. South Africa could be one of the most successful, thriving countries in the world but its progress has been threatened by massive corruption. If the new president can eliminate it, there’s no telling how the living standards for ordinary South Africans might improve.

The crime levels are also astronomical in some areas. Together, these two things are putting off a lot of foreign companies from investing in South Africa. Cyril Ramaphosa will be judged on these two issues – eradicating corruption and attracting money to the country to create jobs.

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I hope you’ve ordered popcorn for UKIP’s conference tomorrow, when 2,000 of their members will be congregating in Birmingham to decide whether to oust the hapless Henry Bolton as leader of their beleaguered party.

If they don’t, they’re totally finished as a political force. But then again, if they do, they’re also probably finished. There’s no ready-made successor that isn’t called Nigel Farage, and he ain’t playing.  At least, I don’t think he is…

261 comments for: Iain Dale: Yes, we’re British. We’re also European.

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