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Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.

Remember those briefings from Remainer ministers that 40 of them might quit if Theresa May didn’t allow her front bench free votes on Tuesday?

Call me old-fashioned, but I must have missed the consequent resignations when this didn’t happen. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting slightly fed up with self-indulgent ministers who go on the media and whine about resigning if they don’t get their own way. (I discussed this in last week’s column.)

They should all be called in to see Julian Smith for interviews without coffee, and told that any repetition will lead to their instant dismissal. If a Chief Whip can’t control Ministers, then none of us can be blamed for writing about chaos at the heart of government.

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“There once was an MP called Cooper

Who for the cause of Remain was a trooper

Yet for their whinge and her wail

She just couldn’t derail –

So we leave on the 29th, which is just super”

(h/t @BenStoneham)

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On Monday night, I wrote an open letter on my blog to the European Research Group, and emailed it to most Conservative MPs.

The main thrust of it was to urge them to vote for Graham Brady’s amendment, and to say that their antics were threatening to derail Brexit by leaving the Prime Minister with little alternative but to apply to extend Article 50 beyond 29 March. My fear is that once it is extended, it could lead to Brexit never happening. I won’t rehearse the arguments here, but suffice it to say I didn’t pull any punches. I was expecting quite a volcanic response.

Instead, I was assailed by text after text, email after email from Conservative MPs – including members of the ERG – saying that I was bang on, and that they agreed with me. It demonstrated to me that even though Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker like to present the ERG to the media as a cohesive group, which votes as a slate, this is far from the case.

It’s all very well for them to say we should leave with No Deal, but I’m afraid this implies that they can’t count. As the passing of the Spelman/Dromey amendment proved, Parliament will do anything to prevent us leaving on 29 March without a deal.

Clearly, the rest of the votes on Tuesday weakened the hands of the second referendum campaigners and those who think they can thwart Brexit.  But make no mistake, this week isn’t the end of the parliamentary battle. Only at 11pm on 29 March, assuming we leave, will it be over.

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I’ve been given an exclusive insight into Theresa May’s meeting with Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday. Here’s the transcript of their conversation…

TM: Thank you Jeremy. Glad you could make it at last. By the way, what’s that tape measure for?

JC: Oh, Laura asked me to measure the curtains. Anyway, Prime Minister, to the subject at hand: how are you intending to support my good friend Nicolas Maduro?

TM: No, Jeremy, we’re to discuss the Withdrawal Agreement…

JC: I totally agree. You must persuade Donald Trump to withdraw his sanctions against Senor Maduro’s regime. It’s what Hugo would want.

TM: I don’t know what Mr Swire has got to do with anything, but we really must find a way through…

JC: I totally agree. I think it would be great if you could divert £1 billion from the aid budget. In fact, Nicolas has given me this bank account number…

TM: Thank you Jeremy, but I really must insist we talk about what you need from me to support our deal. More workers’ rights? Guarantees on the environment? What’s your price.

JC: I just told you.

TM: You’re caracas.

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Imagine the outcry if a Conservative or UKIP MEP had been found to have charged constituents 150 Euros to visit them in Brussels. They’d have been metaphorically torn limb from limb by the UK media, including the BBC.

Last week, Politico revealed that’s exactly what the CDU MEP Elmar Brok, so beloved by Newsnight and the BBC, had been doing. On Wednesday, the BBC reported his words reacting to Theresa May’s intention to reopen the backstop.

Katya Adler, their Europe Editor, tweeted: “Elmar Brok, MEP, bursts into English to appeal to UK MPs “Please talk to each other in London before you come to us. We’re united (in EU), you’re not (in UK)!”

She then followed up with this tweet: “Elmar Brok, German MEP appeals to UK for rational dialogue and warns a no deal Brexit will be toughest of all on the UK. To which UK MEP shouts “Auf Wiedersehen!”

Does anyone really think if this had been a scandal-hit British Conservative MP, he or she would have been quoted about anything? I’ve interviewed Brok on my show a few times. It won’t be happening again. Schade.

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If you’re into podcasts, do download Matt Forde’s Political Party podcast with Alastair Campbell and Adam Boulton. They talk about their famous incident just after the 2010 election, as well as tell some wonderful anecdotes from their respective careers. A brilliant listen for a car journey or commute!

157 comments for: Iain Dale: Self-indulgent Remain Ministers, self-deluded ERG MPs

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