5 Times Hardline Brexiteers Struggled To Answer A Simple Question

"I don't have to be very clever, I don't have to know that much."

Ever since Michael Gove declared we’d all “had enough of experts” and asked Britain to vote Leave, Brexit has been a mind-bending experience.

And two years down the line, with the spectre of no-deal looming large on the horizon, it seems we are not yet quite through the looking glass.

Here are five times hardline Brexiteers failed to answer simple questions on exactly why a no-deal exit from the EU is a good idea.

Because it’s the weekend.

1. James Delingpole: “I don’t know the answer to that”

No-deal Brexit champion James Delingpole was pulled up by the BBC’s Andrew Neil over how he thought Britain would operate after crashing out of the bloc.

The author was arguing that leaving the bloc without a deal and falling into World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules was “a hit worth taking”.

But during the interview with BBC One’s This Week, Delingpole perhaps failed to communicate the up-side.

He initially claimed it meant the UK could unilaterally cut tariffs on goods imported from the EU and, at the same time, the government would be better placed to negotiate a multitude of free trade deals.

But presenter Andrew Neil pointed out that under WTO rules, the UK would also have to cut tariffs for the US and other countries, and that Donald Trump would have no interest in striking a new deal as a result.

Delingpole said zero tariffs would be “the starting position”, adding: “Then you negotiate from there. President Trump has already said he is ready to give us a fantastic deal.”

Neil replied: “If, because I have given the Europeans no-tariff access to the British market, under your WTO rules, I have to give the Americans tariff-free access as well.

“Why would they need to do a free trade deal? They have got the free trade.”

Delingpole simply replied: “I don’t know the answer to that.”

In case you’re interested, his Twitter bio claims he is “still right about everything”.

2 Esther McVey: No-deal will include transition deal

The Eurosceptic former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey took a similarly contradictory position in an interview with BBC Breakfast.

The ex-minister told the programme she was against Theresa May’s Brexit deal as she slammed “scare stories” about a no-deal outcome.

She went on to say the civil service had been “working incredibly hard” on no-deal planning and that the PM should consider “an implementation period” for crashing out.

The EU and UK have agreed that any transition period would only be agreed as part of a deal.

“What we’ve got to do, is calmly look at […] how do we have a situation that works for both sides and an implementation period for a no-deal?”, she said.

3. David Davis: “I don’t have to know that much”

David Davis raised a few eyebrows with his somewhat controversial description of his former role as Brexit secretary.

The Brexiteer MP, who resigned over the PM’s Chequers plan last year, claimed MPs didn’t “have to know that much” to hold the ministerial post.

It came as May and the DUP were at loggerheads over the Northern Irish customs border backstop proposals, when the UK government was on the cusp of striking a deal.

During an interview with LBC, Davis was told that the situation looked rather chaotic.

He then revealed he thought the bar for qualifying for his former cabinet position was remarkably low.

“What is the requirement of my job?,” he said, when asked about what action he should have taken as minister. “I don’t have to be very clever, I don’t have to know that much, I do just have to be calm.”

4. Dominic Raab: The Dover-Calais crossing is a thing

One of the key things visitors to Britain will note is that it is an island and separated from Europe by sea.

The UK’s second Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, was accused of not knowing “the very basics” when he revealed that he “hadn’t quite understood” how in terms of UK-EU trade “we’re particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing”.

People against a hard Brexit have been voicing fears that no-deal could mean extra customs checks on lorries carrying goods between the UK and France.

Raab, who resigned his short-lived ministerial post to vote against May’s deal, was the subject of widespread ridicule for the comments.

According to the Institute for Government, goods worth £119bn passed through Dover in 2015, “representing around 17% of the UK’s entire trade in goods by value”.

But Raab told a technology conference in November: “We want a bespoke arrangement in goods which recognises the peculiar, frankly, geographic, economic entity that is the United Kingdom.

“We are, and I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and if you look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.”

5. Andrew Bridgen: “That might be more of a problem”

Brexit devotee Andrew Bridgen was branded “clueless” after something of a car crash interview with RTE Radio 1.

Host Audrey Carville was pressing him on how EU workers would cross between Ireland and Northern Ireland after a no-deal.

The Tory MP said a permit would be needed, but that it was not a “huge issue” and “can easily be sorted out” by employers.

Carville went on to ask: “If I’m a taxi driver and I’m asked to drive from Buncrana, County Donegal, across the border into Derry city, can I do that?”

She added: “And what about getting my insurance for my taxi... if I can get cheaper insurance on either side of the border, how do I do it under your plan?”

“Yeah, that might be more of a problem,” Bridgen finally conceded.