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Analysis

If Johnson isn’t chicken, this is how Neil can grill him

by Hugo Dixon | 01.12.2019

The Prime Minister steamrollered Andrew Marr in his interview today. Here are 16 Brexit questions that could skewer him if the tougher Andrew Neil ever gets his chance – although the BBC’s craven decision to let Boris Johnson onto Marr without committing to an interview with Neil has made that less likely.

1. You say it’s “absolutely vital” for politicians to tell the truth. So why do you tell so many lies?
Here is our guide to Johnson’s lies, deceits, broken promises, attempts to silence Parliament and more.

2. It’s a lie that you’ll get Brexit done, isn’t it? 
Here’s our analysis of why voting for the Tories won’t put an end to Brexit. The arguments will just go on and on. The fastest way to stop talking about Brexit is to have a new referendum and stay in the EU.

3. You haven’t got a great divorce deal, have you? You’ve just rolled over and given the EU everything it wants.
To get his Withdrawal Agreement, the Prime Minister abandoned Theresa May’s Northern Ireland “backstop” and turned it into a “frontstop” – which is what the EU wanted in the first place. Here’s our analysis.

4. You’ve turned Northern Ireland into an EU colony, haven’t you?
Johnson has two lies when asked this question. First, he says the Northern Ireland deal is “temporary”. It’s not, as we show here. Second, he says there won’t be border checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. But there will be checks in both directions, as we show here.

5. Won’t the EU screw you in the trade talks just as they have in the divorce ones?
Johnson has boxed himself into a ridiculously tight timetable by refusing to extend the “transition” period beyond the end of next year. The EU will have him over a barrel – and we’ll end up with either no deal or a crap one. See our analysis.

6. You’re going to have to suck up to Donald Trump to get a trade deal with him, aren’t you?
America wants the NHS to pay more for its drugs, and to open up our market to its chlorine-washed chicken and other food. Trump will have Johnson over a barrel – and we’ll again either get no deal or a crap one – as we argue here.

7. How will you pay for public services if you f*ck business by ripping it out of its biggest market?
The Prime Minister famously said “f*ck business”. Now says he’ll create a dynamic economy to pay for the NHS, police, teachers and so forth. But his Brexit will make our economy £70 billion a year smaller in the medium run than it would be if we stay in the EU, according to an analysis by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. The way to fund lavish spending promises is to stay in the EU. 

8. Do you really think we won’t be able to scrap the tampon tax if we stay in the EU?
The EU wants to change the VAT regime to allow zero-rating of sanitary products. If we had kept pushing for it, the changes would probably already be in place, as we show here.

9. Are you actually planning to ban the shipment of live animals?
Johnson uses weasel words like how he would stop “excessively long” journeys and we can ban live transportation if “we choose”. We can tighten up the current rules without quitting the EU anyway, as they only set minimum conditions. Read our analysis.

10. Do you really think freeports are a good reason to quit the EU?
We can create freeports without quitting the EU, as we show here. Whether that’s wise is another matter. Margaret Thatcher tried and they weren’t a great success.

11. Do you agree with Michael Gove that the EU stops us planting trees?
The EU actually provides cash to encourage tree-planting. Our government just doesn’t use it. Here’s our rebuttal.

12. Are you going to agree new fishing quotas with the EU?
Johnson says he’s going to take back control of our “spectacular marine wealth”. But he has also agreed with the EU that he’ll try to reach a new fishing deal by July including “access to waters and quota shares”, as we explain here. So which is it?

13. Do you agree with Gove that EU citizens are scrounging on the NHS?
European citizens make a net contribution to the public purse of £2,300 a year more than the average UK resident. That’s because they use the NHS and other public services less and pay more taxes. Here’s our analysis.

14. Do you really think that EU migration is as big as non-EU migration?
When the Prime Minister said they were the same, non-EU migration was four times as big. The latest data shows it’s five times as big. Given how the Tories are weaponising migration as the main reason for quitting the EU, one would have thought he would know the basic numbers. Here they are. 

15. Do you mind if Brexit leads to the break-up of the UK?
The Tories used to claim to be unionists. Brexit isn’t just putting checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. It is fuelling demands for Scottish independence. We argue here that the best way to keep the UK together is to stay in the EU.

16. Do you agree with your father that the British public can’t spell Pinocchio?
And what do you say to the public when they say you can’t tell the truth?

One Response to “If Johnson isn’t chicken, this is how Neil can grill him”

  • A) Everybody send a letter or an email to the BBC that you weren’t charmed by their craven backtracking on Barmy Johnson and his bout with Andrew Neill. Are they by any chance leaning toward Brexit rather than being even-handed as they should? B) Everybody send an email to Boris Johnson with the above questions and tell him you expect an answer that makes great sense one way or the other. No limp in between political statements please. Locally here John Penrose got rather brassed off with people here that did precisely that sort of thing. Life is still far too easy for a vain twit like Johnson.