Exclusive Interview with Lord Grantham: “The failure of this government, honestly, is Brexit and it’s not the fault of the Brexit Secretary.”

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Lord Grantham discusses Brexit and the Referendum Bill.

Lord Grantham, the former Justice Secretary and Brexit Minister who left the government over a week ago, claiming the Government was at fault over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. Today, as we enter 2019, he spoke with the Guardian about it.

In the interview, he revealed that the government placed “too much faith” in getting an extension of Article 50 and took a misguided gamble in the negotiations, while countries like Spain took advantage of the UK’s situation to force issues such as Gibraltar.

In my view, it was a horrendous gamble to take without having contingencies in place.

The Classical Liberal Baron placed the fault in the Prime Minister, and was clear he thought “[this failure] is not the fault of the Brexit Secretary.” He said the Prime Minister failed to show leadership “on every occasion” and was “disinterested”. He called the European Union “uncooperative” and praised the European Relations Secretary in “[doing] his best in the situation”. However, he did not call for Twistednuke to resign from the government, advising the Secretary to “follow his counsel alone”.

Concerning B745, the controversial Referendum Bill he authored, Vitiating said that although “the Bill was fine”, it depended on the extension of negotiation period (which the EU declined in a statement the day before the former Brexit Minister resigned) and the options available, calling those who called for Remain to be removed from the ballot paper “simply silly”. The reasons he cited for what he considers is the lack of options are the conditions in Annex I of the Agreement, in that Britain would be required to join the Euro, the Schengen Area and the Charter of Fundamental rights (which would come into conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights).

Lord Grantham said he did not see that there was “sufficient [time] to pass the referendum bill” and said the only passage left for those that support the UK remaining on its current terms is the unilateral revocation of Article 50, but that that was also not possible in the given timeframe because, “by the time that we would have had the referendum, we’d already be in the grips of the negotiated backstop and the terms of Annex I of the Withdrawal Agreement.” Lord Grantham declined to comment on the future of the Bill.

I support the idea of a people’s vote on the premise of remain under our current arrangements. However, I do not see this as a possibility anymore under the current circumstances.

Lord Grantham said he would still “support the idea of a people’s vote” if we could remain under current arrangements, but did not see that as possible and instead said he would vote for the Government’s EU deal.

At the end of the interview, the Baron urged the Prime Minister to put “the withdrawal agreement to a vote” in Parliament but to recognise that a no-deal scenario is still possible and that he needs to make contingency plans for such an event.

The full text of the interview can be found here.

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