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

Listening to Today earlier this week, I thought I must be living in a parallel universe.

First up was Ken Clarke, blithely wittering on about the Customs Unions without seemingly understanding how it works. Perhaps, as he admitted with the Maastricht Treaty, he hasn’t actually probed the damned thing. When Nick Robinson explained that if we were outside the EU, but inside the Customs Union, Lithuania would have more influence over UK trade policy than we would, he brushed it away saying that our views “would be taken into account”. Well that’s alright then.

This is what I do not understand. Why is it that politicians of all parties are willing to cede this sort of control to a body which they would have no influence over? Not just that – but, in theory, the EU could do trade deals which were inimical to British interests, and there is nothing we could do about it.

It’s all very well for Geoffrey Cox to go on TV, and witter on about how it wouldn’t be all that bad, and people should really get a sense of perspective. He was then followed by putative leadership contender, Matt Hancock, who made it clear that he, too, doesn’t see membership of the Customs Union as a real problem. He wasn’t exactly categoric in ruling out a second referendum, either. His bid to succeed Theresa May has already got stuck in the EU quicksand.

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On Tuesday, there were two Cabinet meetings, which lasted more than seven hours between them. And the great conclusion these massive brains came up with? To hold cross party talks with Jeremy Corbyn.

From what we now know, less than half the cabinet supported the idea, with Gavin Williamson telling the Prime Minister the idea was “ridiculous”. At least one of them had the bollocks to say it. The rest of them did their usual supine thing and sat on their hands.

It’s as clear as night follows day that if these talks amount to anything, membership of the Customs Union will be the result. The other consequence is that the Prime Minister has pushed some MPs who support her on last week’s third “meaningful vote” back in the other direction. Way to go.

Maybe it doesn’t matter so much to her if she can win by securing Labour votes. For a woman whose primary loyalty was supposed to be to the Conservative Party, it is a shameful road to go down. It is already riven by split after split, but this move opened up a chasm. She will never recover from it, and doesn’t deserve to.

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Why are the likes of Liam Fox, Chris Grayling, Penny Mordaunt and several others still in the Cabinet? You wonder what would have to happen for them to resign? They can argue until they are blue in the face that they have more influence inside than out. Really? Difficult to spot how that has manifested itself, isn’t it?

If they and at least six others don’t resign en bloc if there is a move by the Prime Minister actually to support membership of the Customs Union, they will become little more than clapping seals. Each of the possible leadership contenders in the Cabinet has masochistically damaged their chances by tacitly going along with the May’s talks with Corbyn.

Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and David Davis have clean hands, while Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt, Andrea Leadsom and the rest have dipped their hands in blood. As Williamson argued, how on earth can Tories now stick to their policy of painting Corbyn as some sort of dangerous Marxist who is not fit to govern, when the Prime Minister has now effectively invited him to join the government?

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A day of reckoning will come for the Conservative Party. We can be sure of that. Something has changed in the last week. I can sense it.

People’s patience has run out. The trickle of people who phone my radio show to say they’ve torn up their party membership cards has become a torrent. Tales from the doorstep demonstrate there are large numbers of people who say they’ll never vote Tory again are legion.

Theresa May could be trying to ensure that the same happens to Labour by holding these talks with Corbyn, but as she has never said: “something has changed”. And not for the better.

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I was very sad to see Nick Boles cross the floor of the Commons on Tuesday. He’s been a friend ever since he invited me to join the board of Policy Exchange at its inception. A man of ideas and very good company, he’s clearly reached the end of his tether both with his local party and with the Prime Minister.

On Wednesday night he went full tonto on Twitter, and laid into Robbie Gibb, the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications. Now that’s a job no one would want at the moment, isn’t it?

Boles accused him of being committed first to a hard Brexit rather than to May. That’s quite an accusation to make. In the days when Gibb used to speak to me, I have to say he was never anything other than professional, and very protective of the Prime Minister’s interests.

Perhaps, given my regular criticism of May over the last few months, he regards me as someone beyond redemption. But if Boles’s accusations were true, you’d have thought that Gibb would have been encouraging me in my criticism of the ever-softer Brexit policy that the Government has pursued. But he hasn’t. It’s a funny old world.

206 comments for: Iain Dale: Something has changed this week. Since May announced talks with Corbyn. I can smell it.

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