Our Man In A Muddle
On his first Monday in his new job as Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab was all over the media. He was even trending on Twitter by the evening. Although he’s usually quick to retweet his best bits, his own feed was strangely silent after all this activity. Why such uncharacteristic modesty?
Well, it wasn’t a great day at the office. Here’s what you may have missed:
On Radio 4’s Today programme, when challenged whether anyone during the 2016 Referendum ever said we could leave without a Deal, he claimed: “We made clear – those on the campaign – that we should strive for a good deal, but if that wasn’t available, that we should go on and make a success of Brexit … I was questioned on it by the BBC almost every time I appeared and so was Michael Gove… There’s all sorts of interviews which said that of course we’d prefer a deal, but that there would be a risk.” Read what the Channel 4 Fact Check service made of that claim (Spoiler alert: it’s a lie.)
He then performed this rather wonderful feat of logic by claiming that “the prospect of reverting and getting a good deal will be easier after we have left”. Eh? Or, as a senior EU diplomat responded: “It would mean the complete breakdown of political relations and I don’t think there would be much trust on the EU side with the Tories, or with the prime minister.” When you consider that Raab is now Foreign Secretary, that’s a spectacular diplomatic outcome.
For the Irish, there are even more pressing concerns. On Radio 4 he refused to rule out the return of Direct Rule in Northern Ireland; and in nearly all his interviews, he called the Irish backstop “undemocratic”, which is rich given that the day before he still wouldn’t rule out suspending Parliament to force a No Deal Brexit through.
Interviewed by ITV, he failed to come up with a single example to back up his claim that the UK Government had shown flexibility in EU negotiations. (Watch it here: you don’t even need the sound on to know he’s in trouble.)
Over on LBC, he said the CBI were “pessimistic” and “unbalanced”. That’ll be the CBI who represent 190,000 businesses employing 5 million people and who had just published a detailed No Deal contingency planning report with 200 recommendations for Government. It’s not clear whether Raab had read their report before he delivered this verdict. But given his track record on the Good Friday Agreement, it’s unlikely.
Finally, when challenged on 5 Live Breakfast for a straight answer on whether chlorinated chicken would be on sale in UK shops under a US-UK trade deal, he tried to reassure listeners with this evidence-based argument: “Well, I’ve eaten it many times…”
Our MP has been promoted not just to Foreign Secretary, but also “First Secretary of State” - the de facto deputy PM. And in less than a week, he’s been found out. This is just the start. We need to keep him under scrutiny, call out his false claims and flip-flopping positions, and hold him to account. I’ll be doing my bit: follow me on Twitter @monicabeharding and or sign up to my newsletter for regular updates. Let’s put our interests first. Join me and together we can turn Esher and Walton yellow.