12/02/2018 16:13 GMT

Say What? Nine Times Brexiteers Left Remainers Scratching Their Heads

Including debates over cake and EU-related fables.

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Unless you’ve been asleep for the last 18 months, you’ll know all too well that Brexit is the only show in politics town. 

Debate was raging long before voters went to the polls on June 23, 2016 and has continued full throttle ever since.  

The issues on the table are ones of grave importance for the UK’s future - its trading relationships with the rest of Europe, and the government’s ability to cope with the mammoth changes that lay ahead.

But the pressure of extolling the virtues of exiting the EU seems to have caused slight confusion for some Brexiteers and left those in the Remain camp scratching their heads.

Here’s a few of the more memorable moments (SPOILER: This doesn’t include THAT conversation about impact assessments):

1. Paul Scully On Idioms

Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Scully brightened up a few Sundays when he appeared to struggle with the meaning behind that oft-used British idiom; ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it’.

Bemused Twitter users were quick to point out (some more gently than others) that the reason behind the cake’s existence was not really the crux of the issue.

Then things got even more Bake Off, before Scully said he understood the meaning of the phrase perfectly and that he had meant it as a joke all along.

Glad that’s cleared up.

2.  Andrea Leadsom On Berries

Commons leader and keen Leave campaigner Andrea Leadsom told a room full of unconvinced young Conservatives at last year’s party conference that they should get excited about Brexit because robots would soon pick their raspberries for them.

“For me as one of the key champions of leaving the EU this is about you,” she said.

“Sometimes people say older people voted for leave, everybody young wanted to stay, but that is in my case absolutely not the case - I was a proponent of leave for your sake, for my kids’ sake, for the next generation.

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“For some of you it may feel scary but for me, on your behalf, it’s really exciting.”

Leadsom cited some of the technological advances made by the UK in recent years, before adding: “Not only that, but probably your raspberries will be picked by robots.  There are all manner of things that right now are only a few years away that will become a reality in your lifetime.”

It’s fair to say the 48% were less than impressed.

3. Marcus Fysh On...Erm

Yeovil’s Marcus Fysh got fed up of people talking about the implications of Brexit on Northern Ireland, but his ensuing debate with trade expert Sam Lowe wasn’t the most nuanced.

Fysh, who sits on the Commons’ international trade select committee, added that “cod economics” cited by Remainers were “divorced from factual reality”.

4. Jacob Rees-Mogg On Beef Smuggling

Never fear, the Irish border question - brought up by EU negotiator Michel Barnier again this week - was one that Jacob Rees-Mogg regards as easily solvable.

The Brexit poster-boy told delegates at a conference fringe event back in October that Britain should refuse to set up border posts between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and urged the Irish government to do the same.

“I don’t care if a few hundredweight of beef is smuggled across the Irish border. It will make no odds to the British economy,” he said.

“We have no obligation to put any border up. Full stop. Challenge the EU to do it. I just don’t believe that they will, and I don’t believe that the Irish will agree to them doing it.”

Remainers and EU negotiators have repeatedly warned a hard border between Ireland and the UK could be unavoidable.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg

5. Chris Grayling On Farming

The transport secretary dismissed concerns over rising food prices with the promise British farmers would just “grow more here” in the event of a No-Deal Brexit.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “What we will do is grow more here and buy more from round the world. But that will mean bad news for continental farmers, that is why it won’t happen because it is in their interests to reach a deal.”

Shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman said his claim was ‘ridiculous’ and likened it to the Second World War ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign, which urged people to grow their own food.

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6. Boris Johnson On ‘Punishment Beatings’

The foreign secretary compared French President Francois Hollande to a Second World War Nazi prison guard who wanted to give “punishment beatings” to the UK.

On a trip to India at the start of the year, Johnson said it would be “incredible” if the EU decided to impose trade tariffs on Britain after it has left, after Hollande suggested Britain would have to fork out to secure a good deal.

“If Mr Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anybody who chooses to escape, in the manner of some world war two movie, I don’t think that is the way forward,” he added.

Downing Street later attempted to downplay the comment. “He was making a theatrical comparison to some of those evocative WWII movies,” the PM’s spokesperson said.

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Boris Johnson

7. Michael Howard On War

Just a week after Parliament voted to trigger Article 50, Tory stalwart Michael Howard made a less-than-measured intervention about the possibility of the UK going to war with Spain.

He told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday the government would adopt the same position over Gibraltar as Margaret Thatcher took during the Falklands conflict in 1982, when British troops were sent to protect the overseas territory from Argentina’s military dictatorship.

Lord Howard later told Channel 4 News he was not advocating war, but added he saw “no harm in reminding them what sort of people we are”, sparking outrage from politicians and commentators. 

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Michael Howard

8. David Davis On Geography 

An over-exuberant David Davis promised Britain would be able to secure a free trade area “10 times the size” of the European Union.

The freshly-promoted Brexit secretary told Sky News back in July how Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade would be “going round the world” making “huge trade deals all over the place” ahead of March 2019.

“We’re talking to large numbers of people who all want to help and we’ll get a very, very large trade area, much bigger than the European Union, probably 10 times the size,” he said.

Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder was quick to point out the ambitious target would actually be 1.5 times bigger than the entire world economy.

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Brexit secretary David Davis

9. John Redwood On Red Riding Hood

The arch-Brexiteer may very well take the prize, with his Christmas-themed story about “Little Red white and blue Riding Hood” and warnings to avoid the “big EU wolf”.

It’s one that you’ll probably have to read for yourself.

Francis Grove-White, deputy director of pro-Europe pressure group Open Britain, told HuffPost UK: “There was once a time, not too long ago, when the modern-day Brexiters were confined to the very fringes of British politics.

“Now that their platform is infinitely larger, it’s easy to see why they used to be laughed at even by their own colleagues.  

“From Michael Howard trying to declare war on Spain, to Andrea Leadsom claiming robots will pick all our fruit, to David Davis displaying his ignorance of basic economic reality; their ‘unique’ brand of politics is often hard to distinguish from satire.”

The group say the public should be able to have their say on a final Brexit deal and be given the chance to change their minds.

“It’s time to start putting the national interest ahead of ridiculous ideology,” Grove-White added.

“The British people are entitled to look at the realities of Brexit, compare it to what they were promised during the referendum, and ask whether it’s really the right path for the country.”