ERG Leader Tells LBC PM's Deal Is So "Wonderful" He "Did Cartwheels"
19 October 2019, 12:40
ERG leader Steve Baker has called Boris Johnson's Brexit deal an "astonishing triumph" and so wonderful he "did cartwheels" when he read it.
He told LBC presenter Matt Frei that he is "imploring all sides of his party" to vote for Boris Johnson's deal.
Baker told Matt he voted down Theresa May's deal three times because it was "Brexit in name only" whereas he says what the Prime Minister has done is "describe a destination which is consistent with being an independent country".
"We would be a proper independent country in a normal free trade agreement relationship with the EU with a wide range of cooperation on other areas," he said, giving the example of security and defence.
"I did cartwheels when I read that political declaration," Baker said, "it is wonderful. If we deliver that competently I believe our country will unite around a relationship which is broad and deep."
Matt pointed out that the DUP's Nigel Dodds said this was a terrible deal for Northern Ireland, so asked Baker where else he'll get these votes to approve the deal, and would he count on the Labour party to approve?
Baker said that this was not his role and his job has been to "deliver the Eurosceptic vote" but said he is "very sorry" that they parted ways with the DUP and hopes the two will "come back together."
"I believe this deal is in Northern Ireland's interest and I believe in due course we will deliver an FTA for the whole United Kingdom which supercedes these arrangements which the Prime Minister set out in the House," said Baker.
Matt asked about the Letwin amendment which Letwin said would get the deal across the line - "do you believe him?"
Baker said he was "completely wrong" and that instead Boris Johnson has "pulled off this astonishing triumph of very very substantially rewriting the political declaration."
Baker said it was "crazy" that if the amendment gets passed it's "over for the deal today."
He said: "Oliver Letwin is in danger of ruining [UK leaving on time] and making us Parliament look even more like a collection of circus clowns. It's time to be sensible."
Matt asked why it would ruin it and Baker replied the people who want the right scrutiny now "are the same people who broke the rules of the House of Commons" to pass the Benn Act.
"This legislation is complicated and like the EU Withdrawal Act which took a year to get through, if it were opposed with hundreds and hundreds of amendments it could easily take a year to get through."
Baker said: "It's time for Parliament to serve the national interest and honour the promises that we made. My side is making a huge huge compromise to do that and I wish the other side would too."