Theresa May loyalist Rory Stewart has said that hard Brexiteers are ‘not being honest’ before inventing a made up statistic.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live that ‘the game that the Brexiteers are extremely dangerous and they are not being honest about the risks they are taking.’
He then continued to explain: ‘One of the advantages of this deal, to be honest, and the reason why 80% of the British public support this deal, is because what it does…’
It caused presenter Emma Barnett to jump in and ask: ‘80% of the British public support this deal? The draft deal? How on earth do we know that yet?’
The minister stuttered as he was put on the spot.
'80% of the British public support this deal….— Radio 5 Live on BBC Sounds (@bbc5live) November 15, 2018
'I'm producing a number to try to illustrate what I believe…
'I totally apologise for that and I take that back'
Bizarre moment as Govt minister @RoryStewartUK invents #Brexit stat in interview with @EmmaBarnett. pic.twitter.com/QtZvts7mdM
‘Ok, ok, let me… let me back on that…’ responded Stewart.
He continued: ‘My sense is, sorry, let me, let me get the language right on that – my sense is that if we have an opportunity to explain this, the vast majority of the British public would support this deal.’
Barnett would not let the issue drop. She asked: ‘Where did 80% come from? I’m a bit confused.’
‘I’m producing a number to try to illustrate what I believe, which is that the people who are rejecting this are 10 per cent on either fringe,’ responded Stewart.
‘Obviously this is not coming from an opinion poll, I’m just trying to express the basic fact that… the vast majority of the people are going to be happy with a deal that protects our economy, gives us access, on goods, right into that market while at the same time, giving us control over immigration, stopping us paying out the money…’
Wrapping up the interview the presenter said Stewart was playing a ‘dangerous game’ and he once again apologised.
She said: ‘We went from 80% of people supporting it to us not knowing yet. I think it’s a dangerous game when politicians pretend they know exactly how the people are feeling.’
The Labour whips office tweeted: ‘This is extraordinary. This is a clear breach of the ministerial code including his responsibility to uphold the Nolan principle of honesty. Specifically he’s broken the code on the use of statistics.’