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Iain Dale is an LBC presenter, a commentator with CNN and the author/editor of over 30 books.

I wonder whether Theresa May is considering doing a John Major. OK, it wouldn’t be the first time, I hear you snigger at the back. Could she be considering calling a ‘put up or shut up’ vote of confidence in her leadership?

It would be done on the basis that the boil needs to be lanced at some point, and that it would be better done at a time of the Prime Minister’s choosing rather than that of the European Research Group. Downing Street will have been shocked to learn that, according to reports, much of the time at an ERG meeting on Tuesday evening was spent discussing the leadership issue. About 50 MPs were present and apparently not one stood up for May.

I am as opposed to Chequers as anyone who was there, but I cannot understand the logic of any MP who thinks that a change of leader, as we enter the most important six weeks of the Brexit negotiations, would be a good idea. I interviewed Andrew Bridgen on Wednesday – an MP who openly admits he has sent a letter of no confidence to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady.

At least he’s honest about it, I suppose. I’m not sure, he’s thought it through, though. Suppose there were to be a confidence ballot next week and the Prime Minister then lost it (which I doubt she would).

What would happen then? Another “coronation”? Because if it isn’t one, then there would surely be only one option – to extend Article 50 beyond March next year.  And there isn’t a potential leadership candidate who would survive agreeing to that. May’s critics need to explain how they would get around that obstacle, because I for one can’t see a way.

As I understand the leadership election rules, if the Prime Minister called a confidence vote and won it then, even if 48 MPs put in letters demanding another another vote early next year, such a vote could not be called for twelve months after the last one.

Will May call her opponents’ bluff? Well, the last time round she took a big risk was when she called an election – and it didn’t quite work out how she had intended. She would need a lot of convincing by her advisers, I suspect. But I wouldn’t rule it out. And the time to do it, assuming that the Conservative Party conference goes OK for her, would be straight afterwards. Stand by your beds.

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John Lewis have suffered a 99 per cent fall in profits. The company blames this on the Brexit negotiations. I can just imagine Mrs Miggins from 32 Acacia Avenue, Scunthorpe, standing in the bedding department thinking to herself: “I’d better not buy that nice eiderdown in case that nice Mr Barnier turns nasty.”

John Lewis. Never Knowingly Underspun. It’s a bit like the Sky News exclusive about mobile phone data roaming charges to be reintroduced in the event of a no deal Brexit. That one took less than 24 hours to unravel. Never wrong for long, is the phrase, I think!

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A touching moment during Jean Claude Juncker’s State of the Union speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday. MEPs interrupted his speech to applaud something he had said. He restarted his speech by saying: “Thank you for your applause, as it gives me an opportunity to drink.” He looked most perplexed when the place broke out into laughter. Can’t think why.

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Still no word on who will take over from David Dimbleby on Question Time, or Eddie Mair on PM. Or Chris Evans on Radio 2 for that matter. For what it’s worth (and it’s not a lot) my two tips for the first are Kirsty Wark or Victoria Derbyshire. For PM, Chris Mason or Jane Garvey. And for Chris Evans, Sarah Cox or Zoe Ball. But if you’re of the betting persuasion, I’d probably ignore all those names if I were you, given my track record of late.

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Donald Trump just can’t please anyone. He’s damned for his reaction to Hurricane Florence even before it has hit the shore. There almost seems to be a will for FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to fail in its task of protecting the good people of South Caroline and Georgia.

Trump has done his best to warn people of the coming nightmare, and to provide FEMA with all the resources it needs. If FEMA fails in any shape or form, it will be Trump who cops the blame, something he really doesn’t need with the Congressional mid-terms in the offing.

Trump is a bit like Theresa May in one sense. He doesn’t emote well in public. If he hugs someone, it looks awkward. Barak Obama and David Cameron, by contrast, were past masters at this sort of thing. And in the modern media world, it matters.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair could teach Trump a lot in this area. Displays of public emotion may be slightly embarrassing for a 70 year old man, but the ability to talk to and relate to people is all part of the modern-day political armoury.

220 comments for: Iain Dale: Will May challenge her critics to put up or shut up – and herself get a confidence ballot staged?

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