A Tory Brexiteer has been accused of lying to voters about his support for Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement.
Bernard Jenkin, who chairs the European Research Group’s steering committee, said he never believed in upholding the Withdrawal Agreement if the UK failed to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels.
In a heated exchange on Newsnight, Jenkin was accused of lying to voters by presenter Emma Barnett.
Probing the Tory MP, she said: ‘Your manifesto called this a great deal.
‘It said that Boris Johnson’s new deal takes the whole UK out of the EU, out of the customs union, and enables us to pass our own laws.
‘You boasted about this deal! Were you lying to yourself or your voters?’
Jenkin responded: ‘Well, the EU is talking about implementing the protocol in such a way that it divides Northern Ireland much more comprehensively from the rest of the UK – it’s about how the Withdrawal Agreement is applied.’
In an ill-tempered exchange Jenkin then tried to hush Barnett when she repeatedly pointed out that the he and fellow Brexiteers had ‘signed up’ for the deal.
‘Stop interrupting me for a moment,’ he exclaimed, sarcastically adding, ‘do you want to finish talking and then I’ll have a go?’
Barnett then went on to say: ‘The US are now looking into this as well.
‘Do you not understand that we look like we are breaking our word and breaking international law, and potentially you lied to voters about this being a brilliant deal.’
Jenkin accused the presenter of making ‘some very extreme statements,’ prompting Barnett to say the statements were ‘based on facts.’
The Brexiteer then moved the debate on saying the EU was ‘in denial’ about the UK leaving, provoking Barnett to chime in with: ‘You seem in denial of what you voted for.’
‘I know what I voted for and it was a pretty bad deal,’ he responded.
Also appearing on the programme, Tory MP Bob Neill blasted his colleague for threatening to break international law to advance trade talks.
‘There is a fundamental principal at stake here and that’s this: the United Kingdom has always stood for upholding the rule of law. It’s one of the things that actually give us a lot of clout in the world.’
He added: ‘The rule of law is something we helped invent and spread across the world… It’s not negotiable, basically.’
The MP continued: ‘I hope that we get a proper deal. Like Bernard, I voted for the Withdrawal Agreement. I didn’t get everything that I wanted but it was a workable compromise. What my concern is this: you don’t solve any deficiencies in the Withdrawal Agreement by potentially damaging our reputation for upholding the rule of law.’
‘I don’t think we should ever do that to advance talks… I think that’s the wrong way to set about it.’
Downing Street has introduced draft legislation that would give ministers the unilateral right to interpret the Withdrawal Agreement. A minister has previously admitted that the clauses, added to the internal market bill on Wednesday, are potentially a breach of international law.