David Cameron 'desperately wants deal' on Brexit

17 September 2020, 20:01

By Megan White

David Cameron has said he “wants desperately” for there to be a Brexit deal as controversy continues over the Internal Market Bill.

Speaking to LBC’s Iain Dale, the former Prime Minister said he believes breaking international law “should be absolutely the last thing that you do” as Boris Johnson battles to override key elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

But Mr Cameron said there is a “very hard core negotiation going on” and you “have to see it in that context.”

Read more: David Cameron tells LBC the UK needs a mass testing regime

Mr Johnson was forced to agree to table an amendment to the Internal Market Bill earlier this week, giving MPs a vote before the Government can use powers which would breach the deal brokered with the EU last year.

His controversial plan to break international law angered scores of his backbenchers, and prompted the European Commission to demand the provisions in the Bill relating to the Withdrawal Agreement be dropped by the end of the month.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to LBC's Iain Dale
Former Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to LBC's Iain Dale. Picture: LBC

Earlier this week, former PMs John Major and Tony Blair wrote in a newspaper article warning that “tearing up” the Withdrawal Agreement could jeopardise peace in Northern Ireland and “destroy trust in Britain.”

Asked about the article by Iain Dale, Mr Cameron said: “Look the John Major, Tony Blair article was very powerful, I agree with a lot of it but that’s not my view.

“My view is that you shouldn’t reach for the weapon of breaking international law on a treaty as your first resort, it should be absolutely the last thing that you do.

“But I see the context which is this very hard core negotiation going on and I want desperately for there to be a deal and a good outcome. I think it’s possible but I think you have to see it in that context.

“Put it this way, if there is a deal and we settle the issues of fishing and state aid and a deal is done, this bill will be forgotten about, and we’ll be able to argue was it a good tactic to get the deal, or was it a bad tactic to get the deal.

“I’m sure we’ve all got our views on that, but that’s what I hope will happen so I took a slightly different view. I accept what I was saying was quite nuanced so people were quite likely to get the wrong end of the stick.”

Asked whether he thought the message Britain put out was about “brinkmanship” and telling the EU “you’re not going to ride roughshod over us,” Mr Cameron said: “I wasn’t in the room so I didn’t hear what Barnier said to the negotiation team about the difficulties of exporting, of transferring food and other goods from England, Scotland and Wales to Northern Ireland.

“So I didn’t hear that but you know, it is, it’s a very tough negotiation.

“Also it is a different negotiation to the one I did, I was trying to keep us in an organisation on a different basis. This is a negotiation about leaving an organisation that no major state has ever left from and trying to make sure that at the end of it your sovereignty and nationhood is respected, just as we respect their right to make their own decisions.

“So it’s a very tough negotiation. Why I think it could be completed successfully, is what your left with, is fish and state aid, it seems to be those are eminently solvable with some good will.”

Listen to the full interview on Iain Dale’s Whole Show podcast.