Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
James O'Brien Presses Cabinet Minister On Theresa May's Latest Brexit Delay
25 February 2019, 12:24
James O'Brien grilled the Education Secretary on why the government is delaying the Brexit vote until just two weeks before the UK leaves the EU.
Theresa May has pushed the so-called Meaningful Vote back to 12th March as she tries to win enough concessions from the EU to win over the Euro-sceptic wing of his party.
Speaking to Damian Hinds, James asked him to explain how almost three years of negotiations can still come down to the very last moment.
Mr Hinds responded: "It's in the nature of European negotiations that they run long," to which James replied: "Oh come on!"
The Secretary of State continued: "Of course it's in our interest as a country to make sure we leave with a deal, but actually it's also in the interest of the European Union.
"If you're France, Belgium, the Netherlands with their ports, or the Germans with their car industries, or the Republic of Ireland, you want to make sure the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union with a deal because a no-deal Brexit is bad for those countries."
James then hit back: "Nobody disputes that. It's the immovable nature of the backstop.
"It must frustrate you - I appreciate you can't be completely honest - but you know that all the countries you've just listed are adamant that the backstop has to be both 'back' and 'stop'. It cannot be temporary or in any way permeable.
"And yet still your government insists on postponing reality, in this case to the middle of next month, two weeks before reality actually bites.
"It's rather hard for the rest of us to get our heads around."