BBC presenter catches government minister making up Brexit numbers live on air
The Conservative-led government is currently imploding over Theresa May’s highly unpopular plan for Brexit. And May’s own ministers aren’t helping matters. Because justice minister Rory Stewart, for example, just tried to make up figures on BBC Radio 5 Live to suggest that:
80% of the British public support this deal
Fortunately, BBC presenter Emma Barnett was totally on the ball. She quickly challenged him, asking:
How on Earth do we know that yet? … Where did 80% come from? I’m a bit confused.
And Stewart did his very best to backtrack, insisting:
I’m producing a number to try to illustrate what I believe… But obviously, this is not coming from an opinion poll.
But it was too late. As Barnett said:
With all due respect, Rory Stewart, you don’t know that yet. Because the deal has only been in the public domain for a matter of hours…
And she stressed:
I think it’s a dangerous game when politicians pretend that they know exactly how the people are feeling.
Battered and bruised, Stewart then wholeheartedly apologised:
I totally apologise for that and I take that back.
“80% of the British public support this deal….
“I’m producing a number to try to illustrate what I believe…
“I totally apologise for that and I take that back”
Bizarre moment as Govt minister @RoryStewartUK invents #Brexit stat in interview with @EmmaBarnett. pic.twitter.com/QtZvts7mdM
— Radio 5 Live on BBC Sounds (@bbc5live) November 15, 2018
“A clear breach of the ministerial code”
Stewart wasn’t going to get away with his gaffe that easily, though. The Labour Whips Twitter account quickly jumped on Stewart’s imaginary figure, insisting:
This is extraordinary. This is a clear breach of the ministerial code including his responsibility to uphold the Nolan principle of Honesty. Specifically he’s broken the code on the use of statistics. https://t.co/53sx9lTgDE
— Labour Whips (@labourwhips) November 15, 2018
So between May crashing and burning in parliament and her ministers picking figures out of thin air, it’s fair to say it’s been a pretty terrible day for the government.
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