An MP was left squirming as he insisted the 17.4 million people knew they were voting for ‘short term difficulties’ when Brexit happened.
Shailesh Vara, a former Northern Ireland minister, appeared on Sky News with Adam Boulton to insist that with less than seven weeks to go the UK could still sign a series of trade agreements to ensure a smooth transition out of the European Union.
The Remainer turned Brexiteer believed that it was still possible to agree a number of trade deals with the country’s biggest exports, despite there only being a limited amount of time left.
‘Why don’t we give it a bit more time and see if we can sign any more?’ he pleaded.
‘There may be short term difficulties but the deals we are talking about are for decades and decades ahead. And if we’re going to have a prosperous UK pursuing its own destiny doing better deals than the EU is able to do. Then maybe that short-term, we’re talking about two or three months, it maybe that is something the UK government can help those businesses that are in difficulty.’
The MP’s comments were picked up on by presenter Boulton who pondered whether that was exactly what the 17.4 million people – that Vara referenced during the interview – were voting for.
‘You say that there will be short-term difficulties, you also talked about what the 17.4 million people voted for, did any prominent politician from the Conservative party tell them that there were going to be short-term difficulties from voting for Brexit during the EU referendum campaign?’
Vara, however, could not answer the straight forward question – most likely because he knew the answer would not be in his favour.
‘This was a new experience for the whole of the EU, there was no way anybody could have a crystal ball, with the benefit of hindsight…’
Boulton snapped back: ‘Wait a minute you told me they knew what they were going to vote for!’
But the MP continued: ‘They did… they said they wanted to leave and they were prepared to take on consequences that go with it.’
‘Did anyone tell them that?’ enquiried Boulton.
‘It was implied,’ the MP claimed.
‘Name me someone who said it would be difficult and we would be worse-off in our starting position on trade if you vote for it?’ continued the presenter.
In the absence of an adequate reply, Vara returned to the Brexit playbook for a stock answer.
‘I think there are a lot of people who recognise there would be difficulties ahead’ before talking about Question Time audiences showing enthusiasm for a no-deal Brexit.
‘People knew there would be difficulties but they were prepared to face those difficulties, because they know for decades and decades to come there will be a better and prosperous future.’