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

Every Tuesday on LBC I do an hour-long interview/phone-in with one person. The format is half an hour of questions from me and then half an hour of questions from listeners. This week’s guest was the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom.

As you can imagine, I pushed her quite hard on Chequers – a word that, like Theresa May in her conference speech, or Penny Mordaunt in her speech on Tuesday, she failed to utter. Apparently, Chequers has mutated into “the Prime Minister’s proposals”. According to Leadsom, everything is rosy and, even with Chequers, we’ll be completely out of the Single Market and out of the Customs Union, and we’ll be completely free to make our own trade deals.

Complete sophistry – as I told her. If we still have to obey the Single Market rules on goods and agri-foods then we’re still in the Single Market. And if we do that, it will be very difficult to construct meaningful trade deals. It’s Brexit in Name Only.

Now, of course I understand that cabinet ministers are bound by the rules of collective responsibility, but if I’m honest I was surprised that Leadsom not only played a straight bat on this plan, but appeared to be positively enthusiastic about it. The Andrea Leadsom of the Vote Leave campaign would never have agreed to this. But she’s not alone in that, is she?

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Travelling back from Birmingham last Wednesday, I noticed Geoffrey Cox sitting up the other end of the carriage. Only 90 minutes earlier, he had wowed the conference hall with a spirited introduction for the Prime Minister.

I was winding away the journey listening to some music on my phone (probably Roxette) when he plonked himself in the seat opposite me. “You probably won’t remember me,” he started, “but we talked a bit when you were on the candidates circuit.” What a very self-effacing man. Of course I knew who he was! We had a chit-chat for 20 minutes, and he then went back to his seat. Then I saw a tweet from Mark Wallace of this parish tweet this –

So up I got, and showed it to the Attorney General, who proceed to roar with laughter. A shame that I hadn’t seen this tweet at the time, in reply to Mark’s. Goodness knows how he might have reacted…

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I have to say that I had great admiration for the Prime Minister at PMQs on Wednesday – not for anything she said, but for what she wore. Yes, I am that shallow.

She had a very smart dark blue suit top on, but what caught my eye were her magnificent shoulderpads. I felt I was back in 1986 and watching Sue Ellen Ewing on Dallas. I was always partial to shoulderpads for reasons which I can’t quite explain. It wasn’t quite a fetish, but not far off.

I remember when I worked for Charles Barker in 1990 I walked up behind Angela Heylin, the then company Chairwoman, and gave her shoulderpads a squeeze. I’d probably be arrested for that nowadays.

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It’s interesting to note that the Evening Standard has named Sajid Javid as the most powerful Londoner in their list of London’s Top 1000 people. Quite a feat, given that Javid doesn’t live in London and is a Midlands MP! Nick Cohen that alleges his high ranking in the list is entirely down to the fact that the editor of the paper insisted on it. Javid is of course a protégé of George Osborne.

I think it’s fascinating to watch how he has become one of the firm favourites to succeed Theresa May. I’m not alone in thinking that if there were a leadership election today he’d more than likely make the top two.

He now has the opportunity to cement that position over the next few months. Any potential leadership candidate has a tricky tightrope to walk, especially if they are members of the government. If the Home Secretary can walk that tightrope and maybe up his profile by doing some more non-political media, he’ll be very well placed for the succession whenever it comes.

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As I finish this column on Thursday afternoon, it’s two hours until May is reportedly going to tell some members of her Cabinet that the deal struck with the EU involves staying in the customs union as a backstop – with no end date. Good luck with that, Prime Minister. You’ll need it.

35 comments for: Iain Dale: Maybe it’s because he’s a Londoner that we love Javid so

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