‘Why should we believe you?’ - Brexiteer suggests he knows better than Guinness manufacturer

Owen Paterson is interviewed by Adam Boulton on Sky News. Photograph: Sky.

Owen Paterson is interviewed by Adam Boulton on Sky News. Photograph: Sky.

Archant

A former government minister has been criticised for suggesting he knows better than Guinness on the effects of a no deal Brexit.

Rachel Reeves, chair of the business select committee, joined Brexiteer Owen Paterson on Sky News’ All Out Politics to disagree with his assertions that a no deal Brexit would work out.

She said all of the evidence she had seen as the committee chair suggested business believed the complete opposite.

She explained: “I’ve heard from a number of business and business organisations, including big manufacturers in this country like Honda and Toyota and Nestlé, who say that a no deal outcome would be absolutely catastrophic.”

She is campaigning for an extension to Article 50 and has tabled an amendment for more time, which she said could leave the door open for a People’s Vote.

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But Owen Paterson said it needs to be brought “to a head” by honouring the March 29th departure date to “bring the EU to the table.”

“No deal would be a very brief period because it is perfectly obvious we want to move on rapidly to the free trade agreement which Tusk offered back in March, which floundered on the issue of the Irish border.

“We are very clear, and we’ve been to Michel Barnier and presented our ideas, which we repeated last week we have a solution to the Irish border - which don’t forget is 0.2% of the GDP. Repeat shipments of milk and Guinness - all of that can be sorted.”

But Reeves pointed out that Diageo, the owner of Guinness and Baileys, had made representation to the select committee that contradict the Brexiteers’ claims.

“We’ve had Diageo, who come to our select committee and say that no deal would be disastrous for their scenario. So you’re saying one thing Owen, but the people who create jobs and investment in our country and employ so many people, are saying what you’re saying would be a disaster.

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“With all respect to you I think I would rather listen to them - the people who are creating those jobs and having to do that trade across the border whether that’s with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland or the UK and the continent - rather than your assertions about what will happen.

“They are the ones that have to deal with this day-to-day and they say it will be a disaster and that’s why I say we should Article 50 to get the right deal.”

Paterson - like most Brexiteers - believed he knows better than the Guinness manufacturer.

He said: “Guinness is a really good example - Diageo - 16,000 border crossings and about 18,000 for Baileys Irish cream.

“There is a difference in currency, a difference in VAT, a difference in excise duty. And it’s all done electronically.”

Strongly disagreeing, the Labour MP asked: “So why does Diageo say that no deal would be a disaster? You think you know all the answers, Owen, the people that create jobs and investment say something that entirely contradicts you.

“Why should we believe you rather than the people creating those jobs and investment and actually doing that trade on a day-to-day basis? With all respect I would listen to them every day of the week.”

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Paterson continued with her assertions that Diaego had nothing to worry about as a result of a no deal.

“Perhaps they have not talked to organisations like the European freight borders organisation - 19,000 organisations handle nearly 80% of European transactions... those businesses depend on swift movement of goods and using the latest electronic techniques.

And they are absolutely clear with repeat shipments like milk and Guinness and products like that these systems exist.”

Reeves remained convinced and said she was not prepared to put jobs and investments at risk.

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