The UK’s former ambassador to the US has told ITV News the government’s admission of plans for illegal Brexit deal changes is “unthinkable” and threatens all future trade deals and Britain’s standing on the world stage.
Speaking to Will Trump Win?, the ITV News US election podcast, Sir Kim Darroch said the move jeopardises both a UK-EU trade deal and a UK-US post-Brexit deal as Democrats in the United States will thwart any policy which impacts negatively on the Republic of Ireland’s interests.
And in a devastating critique, he said if the world sees Downing Street renege on an international agreement: “Why would anyone ever do a deal with (Britain) again?”
Sir Kim was speaking to Will Trump Win? in his first full podcast interview since his explosive resignation in 2019 following leaks of secret cables in the Mail on Sunday which exposed his damaging characterisations of the Donald Trump administration as “inept”.
In trademark frank language, he relived the fallout from global newspaper headlines and Trump’s condemnation on Twitter which culminated in his resignation – “well I’ve had better weekends” – and confirmed a police investigation is ongoing to discover who leaked the memo to the papers.
Sir Kim also offered his first reaction to the news that President Trump had been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, saying he was “not completely stunned”.
“I guess this Arab-UAE deal is pretty important. Nomination and award are two different things … (but) the president deserves some credit for it.”
And addressing the 2020 election, he predicted Joe Biden will win on November 3 – “if you’re holding a gun to my head” – but added: “I would never bet my own money on it.”
He said too many factors – the debates, a potential vaccine, economic recovery or any number of “known unknowns” – could tip the race in Trump’s favour.
But he was most candid in addressing the remarkable admission by Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis in the House of Commons that Britain could seek to break international law and rewrite part of the Brexit agreement.At one point the 40-year diplomat was so withering he got to the point of “laughing at my astonishment”.
“To have the government minister saying, ‘yes we are going to break the law’, albeit in a very limited and specific, specialist way is extraordinary,” he said.
“I question, by the way, whether you can be a little bit illegal. Either you’re on one side of the law or you’re not. Saying it’s sort of ok because it’s very limited, I mean – really?”
He went on to explain why it would prove so damaging for Britain on the international stage.
“If you do this, which is effectively: you do a deal, you sign up to it, it’s a formal international agreement and then you say six months later, ‘well there’s a couple of bits about it I don’t like so I’m going to unilaterally rewrite that. Why would anyone ever do a deal with you again?” he said.
“You just can’t do it. And in a world where we need to do a free trade deal with the EU, one hopes, a free trade deal with the US, free trade deal with others…
“I just don’t see how you can say that and retain your credibility as a known negotiating partner with those you’re going to negotiate with in future…
“It is very serious. I don’t mean to imply this is just a bit quirky. It’s unthinkable in a way.”
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