Brexit minister competes with predecessors for most clueless statement about Brexit

PUBLISHED: 16:27 30 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:42 30 August 2019

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Stephen Barclay leaves after a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Stephen Barclay leaves after a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

The minister from the department for exiting the European Union has written a Twitter thread about Brexit readiness that has spectacularly backfired.

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Amidst a £100 million government propaganda campaign about Brexit readiness, Stephen Barclay made his own priceless contribution to the discussion that has resulted in Twitter users pointing out overwhelming ironies.

The thread begins with a picture tweet of Barclay speaking at a business conference in Paris, saying he had urged France to increase protections for British nationals. But then he started digging himself quite a hole.

"The car industry's 'just in time' supply chains rely on fluid cross-Channel trade routes," he tweeted, as though he had only just realised this. "1,100 trucks filled with car parts cross seamlessly from EU into UK each day. We need to start talks now on how we make sure this flow continues if we leave without a deal."

The tweet has so far had over 2,400 replies and has been quote-tweeted dozens of times by sarcastic commentators, including veteran political broadcaster Andrew Neil.

"Er... this has just dawned on you?" asked Neil.

Labour councillor John O'Shea described it as "Dominic Raab levels of revelation", referring to the time Raab, then Brexit minister, said he "hadn't quite understood the full extent" of how important the Dover-Calais crossing is to British interests.

Twitter user Marek Gierlinski said: "Suddenly, the Minister for Brexit realised that UK car industry requires seamless movement of parts across the Channel."

Self-described Twitter "remoaner" Dr Mike Ward said: "One might almost conclude that Steve Barclay hasn't quite grasped what things like 'EU membership' and 'leaving without a deal' actually mean."

MORE: Government to launch 'get ready' for Brexit campaign costing £100m

American commentator for the Nation, Jeet Heer, said drily: "Ideally the governing party that is about to make a wrenching change in the nation's trading relations would think about this stuff before the last possible moment."

Labour MP for Wirral South, Alison McGovern, said: "The utter ridiculous logic of this. If we tear up all the rules and agreements that make our economy function, we need a way to have rules and agreements to keep our economy functioning.

"Here's an idea, Steve. Don't tear up the rules. Just don't do it. It is as simple as that."

The minister responded to Andrew Neil on Twitter saying: "Of course we all know there's an issue with cross-Channel traffic. That's why we're engaging, myself in Paris on Wed, Michael Gove in Calais today. But right now the Commission is refusing to discuss no-deal mitigations. We should have those talks now alongside talks on a deal."

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