Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.
In my role as a Brexit doctor, I have diagnosed various politicians and commentators with Brexit Derangement Syndrome. It predominantly affects ultra-Remainers. The symptoms are to lose all sense of perspective and say and tweet rather mad things.
Andrew Adonis has it worse, closely followed by Alastair Campbell, Sarah Wollaston and Anna Soubry.
On the Brexit side Andrew Bridgen also suffers from it, and Jacob Rees-Mogg showed signs of symptoms after the vote of confidence in Theresa May, although he seems to have recovered since.
Unfortunately, my good friend Nick Boles has seemingly now contracted it. See above for what he tweeted on Tuesday.
Consider me astonished. Nick isn’t given to rushes of blood to the head, but this was an extraordinary tweet. It’s the sort of view that in normal circumstances an MP would make known to his whip, before the Chief Whip then invites him in for a meeting without coffee.
Either the whipping system is breaking down or Nick’s agenda is to encourage other Conservative MPs to follow his lead as part of a concerted public campaign to ensure No Deal. No one was surprised when Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston indicated that they would do the same thing.
On the same day, another sufferer of Brexit Derangement Syndrome, Chris Patten, described ERG Brexiteers as “Maoists” and “rodents”. Philip Hammond described them as “extremists”. Pot, kettle and black and three words which apply here.
Just image the outcry from hardline Remainers if members of the ERG used that kind of language about them, or threatened to resign the Conservative whip in the event of Article 50 being extended. They would quite rightly question the Conservative credentials of anyone who did this.
This is a time for cool heads. All 317 Conservative MPs are going to have to work together once this is all over (if it ever is) and they should all remember that careless talk costs votes and seats.
Having said that, I might as well save my breath because no one is in the mood to listen or compromise. Both sides are utterly convinced that they are right and that the other is motivated by warped beliefs. How very sad.
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In 25 days’ time. the meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal is finally due to be held.
That’s 25 days for the Prime Minister to come up with something to persuade both the DUP and the minimum of 71 Conservative MPs who’ve publicly opposed it.
On the face of it, it looks like a thankless task. But I just wonder… I believe that she thinks it’s still possible to win. I also sense that things are starting to move in her direction. I’ve lost count of the number of Conservative MPs who’ve told me that their Party members and constituents just want them to get on with it and support the Prime Minister.
The key is for her to drag a concession out of the EU, even at the last minute, which she can sell to Arlene Foster. If Foster can bring herself to support the deal, you’d have to expect most Conservative rebels to fall into line, surely? The trouble is that the Prime Minister needs practically every single one to, and whether that’s achievable is a very moot point indeed.
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The peril of the iPhone autocorrect are a delight to behold. I was texting Matt Hancock the other day trying to arrange an interview for the New Year. I asked him “Which of your multifarious Spads should I liaise with?”
Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed that what I actually sent him was this: “Which of your multifarious Slags should I liaise with?” His reply? “Jamie – he ain’t no slag!”.
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I don’t feel at all Christmassy. I hope that changes in the next few days, but I’m not sure it will. The older one gets, and the further away from your childhood you get, it just doesn’t feel the same anymore.
Given that I don’t have kids, I suppose that’s not surprising. However, I will get to spend this Christmas Day with a friend of ours and his two year old. Wish me luck. I’m not known as Uncle Herod for nothing…
I hope you all have a very happy Christmas and that 2019 brings you all that you wish for. 2018 has been a pretty ugly year one way or another. My fear is that 2019 will make 2018 look like a halcyon era…
On that happy note, I bid you farewell until January 11th.