Brexit: Host tells Hilary Benn that he’s on ‘losing side’ of argument
Labour MP and chair of the Commons Brexit Committee Hilary Benn was confronted by Sky News host Niall Paterson on his and other Remainers’ relentless attempts to overthrow the Brexit referendum results. The Sky News host said: “I think it is fair to say that ever since the vote was held, there have been people within the UK that have been either seeking to overturn the decision or at the very least ameliorate what they see as the worst effects of it.
“But the fact remains if this deal is done you have found yourself on the losing side of this agreement. Would you concede?”
The staunch Remainer was willing to admit he had lost the argument but could not help himself but adding: “Nothing has really changed because of the transition period.”
Appearing on BBC Breakfast earlier on Thursday morning, he said he believes any imminent Brexit agreement will be a “thin deal” for the UK, and that he does not believe the Prime Minister deserves credit if he manages to secure one before January 31.
He said: “I’m afraid I don’t give Boris Johnson any credit at all, because I campaigned for Remain, I still think Brexit is a bad idea for the country economically and in terms of our influence in the world.
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“This will be a thin deal, there’s no doubt about that whatsoever, and in time people will see the consequences.”
He added the Prime Minister has “finally learned” that the consequences of a no-deal Brexit would be “disastrous”, as negotiators edged closer to securing an agreement.
Commenting on Mr Benn’s statement, The Times columnist Iain Martin wrote: “Hilary Benn on BBC One refighting the referendum.”
Mr Benn said he has “no doubt” Parliament will approve legislation for a deal if one is brokered before January 31.
He told BBC Breakfast: “The alternative is no-deal and that really doesn’t bear contemplation at all because of the damage it would do to the economy.
“What any deal is going to do is to make the consequences of Brexit for business less bad than they would otherwise be.
Brexit: Hilary Benn says he doesn't give Johnson any credit
“Remember this is the first trade deal in history where one party has gone in knowing it will come out with worse arrangements than it went in with.”
He added: “I think not just over the next week but over the next few months, as Brexit actually happens… there are going to be big changes anyway from January 1 whether there is agreement or not and regardless of what’s in the agreement…
“Over time we will become more aware of what we can’t now do because we’ve taken it for granted.”
The Labour MP added: “As January 1 comes and goes, the debate in British politics will be, if there’s an agreement, that’s the starting point, but these are still our biggest, nearest and most important neighbours, trading partners and security allies – what kind of relationship do we want to have in the future?
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“And I hope it’s going to be as close a one as possible… I suspect this will not be the end of negotiations with the EU, there will be plenty of things to talk about over the months and the years ahead.”
“The big worry is, what happens if lorries turn up at Dover that don’t have the right paperwork that will be required from January 1, it doesn’t take many of those to start clogging up the system,” he said.
“Everybody hopes that we won’t see the scenes that we’ve seen over the last few days and we all feel for those lorry drivers, who it looks are going to be spending Christmas on Manston Airfield, but it will depend on the paperwork and the flow.”
He warned that due to a lack of infrastructure and shortage of customs agents who can give expert advice to hauliers there is “potential for disruption”.
Mr Benn added: “In the end there has to be a deal, because how could either side in these negotiations contemplate adding the cost of no deal, which would be really damaging above all to the British economy, on top of the economic effects of the worst recession in 300 years because of Covid?”
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