Barry Gardiner says he was trying to ‘advance thinking’ when claiming Good Friday Agreement ‘played up’ in Brexit talks

Shadow international trade secretary also confronted with with previous description of Labour's Brexit tests as 'bollocks'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 20 May 2018 11:44
Barry Gardiner shown recording of him contradicting Labour's stance on Brexit deal

Barry Gardiner has said he was attempting to “advance thinking” when he claimed that Brexit risks to the Good Friday Agreement were being “played up” for economic reasons.

The remarks from the shadow international trade secretary came as he also denied he was rubbishing party policy when confronted with his previous description of one of Labour’s Brexit tests as “bollocks”.

In a heated interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Gardiner faced questions over whether he tells the truth in private or on television.

The host of the programme quoted him as saying: “There are real economic reasons why people have played up the issue of the Irish border, and of course there are very good political reasons.”

Asked whether he still stood by the comment, Mr Gardiner replied: “There are reasons why people would wish to - if you look at the balance of trade and the importance of cross-border trade between the south and the north in Ireland it is extremely difficult to see how the Irish economy would withstand the imposition of cross-border controls.”

The host, Emma Barnett, pressed him again, asking: “Do you stand by the remarks that people are playing up the Irish border for political reasons. You've said it?

”Which Barry Gardiner is the truth? The one that speaks in private or the one that is on television now?“

Mr Gardiner added: “Sometimes you have conversations in private, and the reason they are held in private is because you can advance thinking and you can actually then try and, if all you ever do is stick by the given line, you'd never actually advance it because you'd never discuss anything with people - that's the reason for holding things in private.”

Last month the Labour frontbencher had apologised when a recording emerged of him suggesting the importance of the Good Friday Agreement had been exaggerated in the Brexit talks.

At the same event, a recording also emerged of Mr Gardnier – referring to his party’s Brexit tests – claiming: Well let’s just take one test – the exact same benefits. Bollocks.

“Always has been bollocks and it remains it.”

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