Health secretary admits ‘the facts have changed’ on Brexit as he explains sharp u-turn

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that no-deal Brexit was not viable during the Tory leadership con

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that no-deal Brexit was not viable during the Tory leadership contest. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Health secretary Matt Hancock has admitted the 'facts have changed' on Brexit in the last two months since he claimed that a no-deal Brexit was 'not viable'.

Just two months ago Hancock was in the Conservative leadership race saying saying that the choice was between leaving on a deal or not leaving at all.

Back then he told the Times: "There is only one route through this and that is to leave with a deal by October 31. This leadership debate needs to be based in the reality of the situation we face."

He added: "No deal is not a policy option available to the next prime minister, whether they like it or not."

But now Hancock has taken a sharp u-turn and now claims that the facts on Brexit - but despite this he still opposes giving the people a final say.

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He told Radio 4 Today: "My view on that has changed and has changed because there were votes in parliament just before we rose in the summer that I thought would stop a no deal Brexit and actually were defeated.

"There was a vote in particular in the middle of the leadership contest where parliament was asked if it wanted to stop no-deal Brexit.

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"I thought that would go through and in fact, the government won by 11.

"And that has actually changed my mind because the parliamentary arithmetic did not play out as I anticipated."

He continued: "My view has always been that we've got to deliver on the result of the referendum and I think that the best way to do that is with a deal.

"And the government as a whole thinks that of course that is best done with a deal.

"But we need to deliver on it on the 31st of October. I now don't think no-deal can be blocked by parliament.

"I thought that it could and the votes went differently to what I anticipated."

"And when the facts change, sometimes even as a politician you have to change your mind."

Asked about the prospect of a general election this year, Hancock said that he agrees "with Brenda" in reference to the lady from Bristol who had enough of public polls back in 2017.

He said: "I don't want one. I don't think we need one."

In April the health secretary said he was "very, very strongly against" a second referendum.

He said: "I have argued many, many times that it would be divisive. It wouldn't be decisive. It doesn't help us leave the European Union before the European elections.

"So I am very, very strongly against it."

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