A war of words has broken out after a BBC presenter was criticised after issuing two clarifications over Boris Johnson’s ‘oven-ready deal’ Brexit deal comments, claiming he had only promised to deliver the Withdrawal Agreement.
On Tuesday’s programme, Politics Live presenter Jo Coburn dismissed suggestions from Labour MP Angela Eagle that the prime minister has misled the electorate with his remarks about a deal “ready to go”.
The politician told the programme: “This is a prime minister who told at the election this time last year he had an oven-ready deal.”
It prompted Coburn to interrupt: “Ah! You mentioned he had an oven-ready deal, just to clarify for viewers, Boris Johnson was referring to the Withdrawal Agreement, not the trade deal.”
Eagle dismissed the claims: “No he wasn’t! He mentioned the trade deal and called that ‘oven-ready’ as well.”
Turning her attention to Tory MP Lee Rowley, he assured the presenter that was his “understanding” too.
“That’s Tory spin!” said Eagle, before being asked to claim it was not on the presenter’s behalf.
It follows Monday’s programme, in which she also slapped down Wes Streeting’s reference to the pledge.
“Just to explain to viewers, when Boris Johnson was talking about that he was talking about the Withdrawal Agreement – the divorce settlement – not the trading relationship that is being negotiated with the EU,” she said, as fellow panellist Richard Tice nodded.
Streeting responded: “I’m not sure that most people in the country would draw a distinction”.
The Conservative manifesto had been clear that the deal “is the only one on the table” and “puts the whole country on a path to a new free trade agreement with the EU” – appearing to suggest a commitment an agreement with the EU would be delivered.
Video footage of Boris Johnson visiting a Nissan plant in the North East of England during the campaign, speaking of protecting supply chains “as we come out”, giving an impression that there would be a long-term trade deal.
The “clarification” from Coburn on both shows left a number of viewers critical that the presenter was defending the Conservatives against the criticism whilst representatives were on the panel.
Joe Soap wrote: “That’s Tory spin, it isn’t true and it’s easy to refute… but presented by the BBC as fact”.
“Absolutely dystopian levels of misinformation from our national broadcaster,” said @capitaineuro84.
But the BBC defended itself on-air against the criticism pointing to the television debates where the prime minister said the deal was “oven-ready”, but there would be “ample time to negotiate a separate free trade deal agreement”.