‘Are you a spokesman for Boris?’ - Irish Deputy PM criticises John Humphrys

PUBLISHED: 10:32 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:39 17 October 2018

John Humphrys, in the radio studio, during a broadcast of Today, the flagship programme on BBC Radio Four. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)

John Humphrys, in the radio studio, during a broadcast of Today, the flagship programme on BBC Radio Four. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)

BBC

In a heated exchange on the Today programme John Humphrys said that Boris spoke “for a very strong powerful force of public opinion”.

The Radio 4 presenter was debating with the Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney whether or not the proposed backstop would push Northern Ireland into deeper and closer links with the EU.

Coveney said that “nobody was suggesting that” but Humphrys said he was emphasising the point as it is something that both Boris Johnson and David Davis have raised.

He said: “Certainly a lot of people in this country are suggesting, including Boris Johnson and David Davis, you know who they are, that Parliament is deeply divided on this issue.”

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However, Coveney reminded Humphrys that Johnson “doesn’t lead the cabinet” and that he is “not even in the cabinet”.

Humphrys snapped back that Johnson “speaks for a very strong powerful force of public opinion.”

He continued: “On the contrary I’m putting to you that there are a lot of views in this country and surely Ireland has to respect those views as well. They have to take them into account.”

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The Irish deputy prime minister said that he was starting to sound a lot like his spokesperson.

“Well, John, you sound like you are speaking for him.”

Fellow radio broadcaster James O’Brien tweeted: “When the deputy prime minister of Ireland accuses - fairly and accurately - John Humphrys of being a spokesperson for Boris Johnson you have to wonder how long Radio 4 Today has to go before action is taken.”

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James Melville tweeted: “John Humphrys displaying astonishingly slanted questioning regarding Ireland and Brexit on Radio 4 Today. Basically, his line of questioning was that Ireland needs to compromise for Britain and that Boris Johnson is a man of the people. It’s time to replace him...”

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