Oh dear. Although Theresa May’s divided government is currently in a state of deadlock over Brexit, the Prime Minister can at least take heart that the Tories aren’t the only party experiencing difficulties here. This morning Barry Gardiner was the victim of a car crash interview on the Andrew Marr show. With Marr on sick leave, Emma Barnett was Gardiner’s interviewer – and she did not hold back.
The BBC presenter took the shadow International Trade secretary to task over comments he made about the Irish border in March while at an event held by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. At the event, Gardiner described the Good Friday Agreement as ‘a shibboleth’ in the Brexit negotiations and said the issue was being ‘played up’ for ‘real economic reasons’. Asked today what he had meant by those comments, Gardiner came unstuck:
EB: Do you stand by your remarks?
BG: There are reasons why people would wish to – if you look at the balance of trade and the importance of cross-border trade between the south and the north in Ireland it is extremely difficult to see how the Irish economy would withstand the imposition of cross-border controls…
EB: Do you stand by those remarks?
BG: …We have to secure a border deal in Ireland…
EB: …Which Barry Gardiner is [telling] the truth? The one that speaks in private or the one that’s on television now?
BG: Sometimes you have conversations in private, and the reason they are held in private is because you can advance thinking and you can actually then try and, if all you ever do is stick by the given line, you’d never actually advance it because you’d never discuss anything with people – that’s the reason for holding things in private.
Mr S suspects Gardiner will be hoping it’s Marr – not Barnett – on the sofa the next time he appears…