BBC Presenter Skewers Minister Over 8 Years Of Brexit Uncertainty: 'Wasn't Part of The Sell'

"We were told it was all going to be so simple," Chris Warburton said.
Northern Ireland Secretary, Chris Heaton-Harris
Northern Ireland Secretary, Chris Heaton-Harris
Charles McQuillan via Getty Images

The Northern Ireland secretary was put in the hot seat on Monday when a BBC presenter asked him whether Brexit was “now actually done” after “eight years of uncertainty”.

Chris Heaton-Harris was speaking to the media to celebrate getting the Northern Ireland Assembly up and running again after almost two years of deadlock.

But BBC Radio 5 Live’s Chris Warburton popped the government’s bubble this morning by pointing out this all stems from one thing – Brexit.

He said: “All of what we’ve seen in the last few days, the past week, is rooted in the uncertainty of post-Brexit trade rules.

“Boris Johnson told us all he’d got it done; he hadn’t. Rishi Sunak said he’d sorted things with the Windsor Framework; turns out he hadn’t.

“Now we’ve got these new arrangements, is this it now? Can businesses, can the people of Northern Ireland, finally be certain that politicians have got it sorted?

“That this bit of Brexit is now actually done, as we were told it was going to be years ago?”

The Democratic Unionist Party refused to take its seats in the devolved Northern Ireland government back in 2022, because it believed Brexit trade rules meant Northern Ireland had become too separate from the rest of the UK.

The power-sharing arrangement in Stormont means members from all communities have to sit in the government for it to work – so the entire NI Assembly has been on hold for almost two years.

Heaton-Harris told listeners that the Windsor Framework helped the Stormont deal get across the line and improve the UK-EU relationship.

But, he added: “This is a problem that will never be solved.

“This is a land border with the European single market that we have here in Northern Ireland.”

Still, the minister maintained this new deal was an “opportunity”, because businesses in Northern Ireland now have privileged access to the European single market and unfettered access to the UK’s market.

Warburton replied: “That’s interesting that you say it’s a problem that will never be solved, acknowledging that, because that’s not how it was sold.

“Eight years of uncertainty – that wasn’t part of the sell. We were told it was all going to be so simple.”

“Well, if you want to go back into the days of Brexit...” Heaton-Harris began, but Warburton cut in and said: “That is what is causing all of this!”

Heaton-Harris simply said that the European Economic Community, the name the EU operated under when the UK first joined, “morphed into something we didn’t like” and “things change”.

The minister continued: “I’m just saying that we have got the right solution, for now I can see it lasting for an extremely long time, but I’m not naive enough to think that things won’t change again in the future, in decades or further down the line.

“In Northern Ireland, you absolutely always have to have historical perspective as well as a vision of what goes forward, otherwise you will get caught out.”


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