On 12th November 2018 Guto appeared on ITV’s “Sharp End”, discussing Brexit and the rumours around what would be included in the EU Withdrawal Agreement (the interview took place before the agreement was unveiled days later). The interview appears at the beginning of the episode, which you can find online at www.itv.com/walesprogrammes/sharp-end/sharp-end-november-12th. The transcript is below:
Ar 12fed Tachwedd 2018, ymddangosodd Guto ar “Sharp End” ar ITV yn trafod Brexit a’r sïon am gynnwys posibl Cytundeb Gadael yr UE (cynhaliwyd y cyfweliad cyn i’r cytundeb gael ei gyhoeddi rai diwrnodau’n ddiweddarach). Mae’r cyfweliad i’w weld ar ddechrau’r rhaglen. Gallwch ei wylio ar-lein yn www.itv.com/walesprogrammes/sharp-end/sharp-end-november-12th. Dyma’r trawsgrifiad:
Guto Bebb: Well, I think there’s already nine or ten colleagues who are of the view that this deal is not acceptable, it’s actually reducing the power of the United Kingdom in terms of our relationship with the European Union. But ten on their own obviously would not be sufficient, it then does depend on what the other side of the argument decides to do about the Prime Minister’s agreement.
Owain Phillips: Can the Prime Minister get a deal past Parliament?
GB: As things look, I think it’s very, very challenging for the Prime Minister and for the Government.
OP: How long has this Prime Minister got left?
GB: I think the Prime Minister is not the problem here, the Prime Minister, and I think most would acknowledge the Prime Minister has been dogged and determined and steadfast in her efforts to try and secure an agreement that she thinks will a) deliver on what the people of this country decided upon in 2016, but b) will try and protect to the largest extent possible our economic relationship with the European Union. So I don’t think the Prime Minister is the problem, the problem is that she’s being asked to square a circle in order to try and deliver a Brexit deal which protects our economic self interest but also delivers on the decision to leave - you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with a contradictory set of circumstances which I don’t think any Prime Minister would be able to deliver, so the Prime Minister in my view is not the problem, it’s the task that she’s been set, which is an impossible task to deliver, because the promises made in 2016 are simply not deliverable.
OP: So you wouldn’t be pushing to try and force her out of office?
GB: No, I wouldn’t, because I don’t think this is about an individual, this is much more important than any Prime Minister, it’s much more important than any ministerial career. There are six ministers who have resigned on the issue of Brexit, three because they think that this is not going far enough and three because we think this is a decision that is going to harm the economic self interest of our constituencies and the country.
OP: What is the way out for her, because you’ve got people like yourself that say “look, we’re going too far away from the EU”, then there are others, the Bill Cash’s of this world, who say “look, we’ll end up far too close”, this is an impossible undertaking?
GB: It is an incredibly difficult task that the Prime Minister has taken on, indeed I think she was extremely brave in offering herself up for the leadership of the Conservative Party immediately after the referendum. I think the key point I would argue is this, the deal that is being talked about as the Government’s agreement with the European Union is actually so different to what was promised at the time of the referendum, that I think the only people that can actually endorse that, should be the general public, because I think it’s wrong for parliamentarians to say that this, to claim that this is actually what was voted for in 2016, it certainly is not.
OP: I can hear howls from some brexiteers who say this is a liberal elite trying to change the dynamics here simply because you didn’t like what the people voted for.
GB: The people voted for something very different to what is now being delivered, I would argue and the brexiteers themselves are making that point. Every single strong brexiteer from 2016 made very clear that what the Prime Minister is proposing is not what they fought for back in 2016.
OP: We voted to leave, didn’t we?
GB: We did vote to leave so therefore the question is, if this is the agreement, should it be put to the British people, because this is not a clear break with the European Union in any way, shape or form, on that Bill Cash is correct. The reason it is not a clear break is because the promises that were made by those brexiteers, the people who said to you and said to the people of Wales, that the Germans will still want to sell us their cars, the French will still want to sell us their wine, so therefore the trade deal will be very easy - two and a half years down the line and we’re not even talking about the trade deal, this is a withdrawal agreement, this is the divorce agreement, where there’s no trade deal in sight. Yes, as a result of the withdrawal agreement we’ll pay £39bn to the European Union, there’s no trade deal there. Now was that what the people in Wales who voted to leave, was that actually what they voted for? I don’t think so.
OP: You’ve been added to a list, this “dirty dozen list”, by Mr. Aaron Banks, a pretty big donor to this “blue wave” campaign. Are you worried that you could be deselected?
GB: No, I’m actually proud to be on that list, because to be perfectly frank, when somebody, such as Aaron Banks, uses the word “dirty”, then you know you’re very clean. Some of my best friends are brexiteers, I have good friends who are strong brexiteers and we can remain friends because we actually have a degree of respect for each other’s positions. The one thing that’s becoming very clear is that the brexiteers view of this as not delivering the 2016 referendum result is actually acknowledged by most of those, such as myself, who acknowledge that the Prime Minister is doing her very best to deliver a deal that she thinks will protect our economic self interest. Where we differ is that I think, very clearly, that the brexiteers misled the British people in 2016 in saying that they could deliver something which was basically all the advantages of European Union membership, without being in the European Union, and that has been proved to be wrong.
OP: To clarify, is there any circumstance where you would back Theresa May’s deal?
GB: No, I don’t think at this point in time that I can answer that question, because you haven’t seen the agreement, I haven’t seen the agreement. As things stand, I could not support what is being proposed, but if the detail that I’ve seen thus far is the detail that is presented to Parliament, then I think it’s very difficult to say that that is a) in the economic interest of the United Kingdom, and b) it’s impossible to say that that actually delivers on the idea of leaving the European Union.