Minister can name two Brexit things government has made its mind up on since 2017

PUBLISHED: 18:27 17 February 2019 | UPDATED: 18:38 17 February 2019

Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris. Photograph: House of Commons.

Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris. Photograph: House of Commons.

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Brexit under-secretary of state Chris Heaton-Harris talked himself into an embarrassing admission today on Sky's Sophy Ridge politics programme.

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Faced with Ridge’s deceptively gentle interview style, he did it all by himself.

Asked by Ridge if we are entering ‘Brexit purgatory’, the former MEP and anti-EU hardliner insisted that “there is actually a process and there is a definite plan.

“Parliament has made up its mind on a couple of things.”

One of these is voting to trigger Article 50, which took place over two years ago on February 1, 2017.

The MP added, helpfully: “That does mean actually that if we do not have a negotiated deal, then we leave without a negotiated deal on March 29.”

The minister described the second achievement: “An amendment by the chairman of the 1922 committee, Sir Graham Brady, which is actually where a number of people, the whole Conservative party, and indeed lots of Labour MPs came in together, to say that they want changes to the backstop.”

So that’s good.

Ridge had to interupt the thick-and-fast flow of success stories to point out that: “Brussels has been absolutely hard line on this.

“Even your own colleague Steve Baker has said the negotiations are a complete waste of time.”

The minister said: “There is a huge amount of activity on this.”

Pressed on details like FlyBMI going into administration in part because of Brexit uncertainty, the minister said: “The government is not trying to run the clock down.

“The government is trying to get a negotiated deal with our European partners.

“We’ve put that to the vote in the House of Commons in January, it did not pass,” he added, with unintentionally comic timing.

“The House of Commons has decided what it would like to see, which is the Brady amendment that I mentioned not so long ago,” continued the minister.

“The government’s position is to get this over the line and negotiate a deal by the 29th of - well, as soon as possible.”

Aim for the stars, Chris.

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