Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.
As sure as night follows day, collective responsibility within the Government is seeping away. It’s this that is likely to lead to a general election rather than anything else.
Ed Vaizey is encouraging ministers to vote against their own government on the Yvette Cooper amendment next week, saying that the Government is so weak that they can do so without fear of being sacked. One Cabinet minister (anonymous, natch) briefd that up to 40 ministers could do so. Ludicrous, of course – but political journalists swallow it up and report it as fact.
Tobias Ellwood says he could well quit. Richard Harrington did an interview with me this week in which he said he would resign as a business minister in the event of No Deal. He described the Prime Minister as “inflexible”, said we should look at remaining in the Customs Union and that he thought Article 50 should be extended. Three days later he’s still in his job – thus proving Vaizey’s point.
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I had the displeasure of interviewing A C Grayling once. He was on my programme with Jacob Rees-Mogg, who I am sure remembers it as well as I do.
A ruder man I have rarely met. He refused to acknowledge Jacob’s existence, and seemed to take great delight in being as obnoxious towards Jacob as he could. He is another one who is suffering from BDS – Brexit Derangement Syndrome: a condition which seems to make people lose their reason and become totally obsessed with it, to the exclusion of everything else.
Since that he is seen by some as one of the country’s leading philosophers, you’d think we might all want to take notice of what the good Professor says, but this week he’s demonstrated again why we should all ignore him.
A now deleted tweet declared it was outrageous that EU citizens had to register their details with the state. He likened the arrangement to Germany in the 1930s, and ended by wondering how long it would be before EU citizens would be forced to wear gold stars on their sleeves. And he tweeted it in the week that we mark International Holocaust Memorial Day
When I criticised his action on Twitter, someone said I clearly didn’t understand ‘nuance’. I suggest that Professor Grayling reflects on his tweet and consider whether a period of silence on his part might be a good idea. Oh, and get a bloody haircut.
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Theresa May is clearly determined to pursue her ‘Nothing. Has. Changed’ strategy. She’s like a train running on tracks – but with no ability for the signalman to pull the lever so that the train can veer off to the left or right. We’ll soon see how that strategy ends.
There are certainly indications that some of those who voted against her last week, and inflicted the biggest defeat on a government in modern times, are peeling off and will support her deal in a second vote. But she needs to persuade 116 Conservative MPs to change their minds. I’ve said for weeks that the DUP is the key. If its MPs can be won over, most of the ERG might then follow. Might.
But even that might not be enough. There are probably enough irreconcilables on both extremes of the debate to ensure that, however many times MPs vote, the Prime Minister can never win. It seems to me inevitable that all this will lead to an application to extend Article 50, just as the hardline Remainers have always wanted, on the basis that the move could well lead to Brexit being cancelled altogether.
I copped a lot of flack at the weekend for a piece I wrote for the Mail on Sunday in which I took ERG MPs to task for putting Brexit in jeopardy. I don’t take back a word of it. I’m as committed to Brexit as the day I voted for it on June 23 2016. I want to see us leave in 63 days time. If we don’t, there will be many Conservative MPs who won’t be able to look themselves in the mirror. They should think about that.
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Michel Barnier’s latest wheeze is to suggest that Britain should cough up £39 billion even in the even of no deal. As someone once said: ‘No. No. No’. I’m sure, though, that Olly Robbins will be advising May to comply on the basis that “we don’t want to upset Brussels at this stage in the negotiations” – which is his usual mantra, I gather, whenever he returns to London from Brussels.