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

Would any Conservative MPs join Chuka Umunna and his less-than-magnificent-seven? That’s the question that was on many people’s lips earlier this week.

On Tuesday night, I thought about writing an article naming Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston as the most likely candidates to do so. Unfortunately, the lure of a 13 tog duvet got the better of me, and I couldn’t be bothered.

Why only three? We shouldn’t underestimate the pull of the tribe. Politics is a very tribal business, and it takes a lot for someone to leave theirs, especially if they’ve been in it for decades. But, of course, there are one or two Conservative MPs who haven’t been in the Tory tribe for very long and haven’t come up through the party ranks. It means less to them than certain others

I suspect Messers Allen and Wollaston, both of whom had only been party members for about a year before they were selected as candidates, found departure less of a wrench than Anna Soubry.

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In a delicious sense of timing, on the very same day that seven Labour MPs resigned the Labour whip because of the party’s hard left extremism, Labour let Derek Hatton back into the party after 34 years of exile, only for him then to be suspended 48 hours later. Jacqui Smith tweeted that she felt her own party was trolling her. You can understand why. All we need now is for George Galloway to be allowed back, and it really will seem as if the old band has got back together again.

Labour friends of mine insist that polls that show a five point Tory lead are wrong and that Labour is doing very well in the polls. They are deluding themselves. At this stage in the electoral cycle, Labour should be 10 or 20 points ahead and, given the shambolic state of  disunity that the Conservatives are in, you have to question why the best that Labour seems to be able to do is to get level-pegging.

I think the reason is very simple and it is this. There is a certain group of the electorate which may well like a lot of Labour policies, but cannot stomach the thought of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell taking up residence in Downing Street. They regard them as extreme and unpatriotic. The challenge for those two gentlemen is to prove that they are neither of those things. Good luck with that.

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Given the fact that the economy is apparently going to hell in a handcart, if you believe Remainers, it is quite remarkable that figures released this week show record levels of employment, with 167,000 extra jobs being created during the period from October to December. It shows how resilient we are, and why however we leave the EU we can be confident about our future.

Digging in to the figures, youth unemployment is down again by 31,000, meaning that since 2010 it has halved. Given the amount of youth unemployment throughout the EU, this is a real achievement. Wages are now rising at 3.4 per cent, with inflation at 1.8 per cent.

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The Honda announcement on Tuesday was predictably seized upon by those who want to blame Brexit for every negative business development in this country.

Senior politicians on all sides tried to say that this wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t leaving the EU. This – despite the head of Honda in the UK and the head of Honda in Japan both saying in terms that the Brexit did not play a role in the decision.

I don’t deny that in some sectors Brexit uncertainty is having a negative effect, but to pretend that it is to blame for everything is ridiculous, and people can see through it. On Tuesday, a luxury women’s health spa in Belgravia – with annual membership fees of £5,500 – blamed Brexit for its closure. Presumably with a straight face.

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My partner, who’s not really very much of a political animal, has found the whole defection saga quite fascinating. He rang me up on Wednesday, and asked if I thought he should join the Monster Raving Soubry Party. Well, it’s a better party name than the rather insipid The Independents Group.

117 comments for: Iain Dale: Welcome to the Monster Raving Soubry Party

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