BBC's Andrew Marr clashes with 'laughing' Priti Patel during interview

‘I can’t see why you’re laughing’: BBC’s Andrew Marr clashes with ‘smirking’ Home Secretary Priti Patel during interview as he highlights business fears about hard Brexit

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel gave interview on BBC’s flagship politics programme
  • She clashed with presenter Andrew Marr as he highlighted firms’ Brexit fears
  • Marr accused her of ‘laughing’ as he read a letter from industry associations  

Priti Patel clashed with the BBC’s Andrew Marr today as he accused her of smirking at fears over Brexit.    

The extraordinary rebuke came as the Home Secretary defended the government’s tough stance towards negotiations with the EU. 

Marr reeled off a list of industry groups who had raised concerns about having a much looser relationship with the bloc.

He said the bodies – including from the chemical, food and aerospace sectors – were at the ‘forefront’ of the economy and had raised ‘serious risks’ about ‘consumer food safety, innovation and investment’.

But Marr interrupted his list to observe that Ms Patel – who was being interviewed by video link rather than in the studio – appeared to be smiling.  

‘I can’t see why you are laughing,’ the presenter said.

Marr interrupted his list to observe that Ms Patel – who was being interviewed by video link rather than in the studio – appeared to be smiling

During the interview with Priti Patel today, Andrew Marr reeled off a list of industry groups who had raised concerns about having a much looser relationship with the EU

Ms Patel did not respond to the swipe, merely insisting many of the fears were out of date and arguing that was why the government had been making preparations.

Sources close to Ms Patel said they had no idea why Marr had made the jibe as she had not been laughing. 

But Remainers seized on the spat on social media as evidence that the government did not care about the fallout from Brexit.

The exchange kicked off when Marr said the government’s own estimates predicted a Canada-style deal would lower economic growth.

The presenter said there were a ‘whole bunch’ of industry groups that had raised concerns, listing the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the Chemical Industries Association, the Food and Drink Federation, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, and the Aerospace Trade Industry body.

He said they represented ‘a lot of people who are actually at the forefront of trying to make this country earn its place in the world’. 

Marr went on to read a joint letter from the business groups which claims Boris Johnson’s plans are ‘a serious risk to manufacturing competitiveness and will result in huge new costs and disruption to UK firms’. 

But glancing up from the text, Marr said to Ms Patel: ‘I can’t see why you’re laughing.’

Boris Johnson (pictured visiting a school in Beaconsfield last week) is trying to strike a deal with the EU that would involve a looser Canada-style trade arrangement

The Home Secretary did not respond to the dig, but said: ‘This is why the government has been working assiduously – with business as well I should say – across a range of sectors when it comes to planning for our exit from the European Union. 

‘That is vital, that’s very important, and many of those organisations, Andrew, that you yourself have listed have been part of those discussions…

‘I do take issue with the way in which you phrased that, because as a government we have a duty to work with those sectors, with those organisations, and we’re doing that.’ 

During the interview, Ms Patel said ministers were looking at ‘alternative arrangements’ for intelligence and data sharing, but denied it feared an upsurge of Irish republican terrorism in the event of no-deal. 

‘That is not the case at all,’ she said. 

‘Our security arrangements will be based upon the type of tools, the type of shared intelligence forums and the data sharing platforms that we currently have, but again looking at alternative arrangements in which we can share that intelligence and information and data. 

‘We have been working on that over the last three months.’

She added: ‘When it comes to security tools and security co-operation there are many measures that are being put in place right now in preparedness for no-deal. Those include a range of security tools that we have been working on. 

‘Specifically to Northern Ireland, we are very conscious and we are working with all organisations, agencies to ensure that we remain safe.’ 

 

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