Ann Widdecombe and Owen Jones clash over Brexit deal
Ms. Widdecombe takes on TV’s most formidable quiz team tonight. She and Strictly Come Dancing stars Ian Waite and Richard Arnold are hoping to beat the Eggheads – some of the top quiz masters in the country – in a bid to win the title. Ms Widdecombe, a politician, author and TV personality, has become a mainstay of British popular culture in recent years, particularly since the Brexit referendum.
In 2019, she gave a famous and controversial speech in the European Parliament, of which she was a member, exploding with the representatives present.
That year she had switched allegiance from the Conservative Party, of which she had been a member since 1976, to the Brexit Party, now known as Reform UK.
She later said her decision was in response to the government’s failure to organize Britain’s departure from the EU on schedule.
Since then, Ms Widdecombe has repeatedly denounced the Brexit deal that was struck and agreed to by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
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Last year, appearing on the Jeremy Vine Show alongside leftist commentator Owen Jones, she called the deal ‘ugly’ and dismissed Mr Jones’ suggestions that the status clause Northern Ireland had to be included in any deal to protect the Good Friday Agreement.
She said: “The Good Friday Agreement has never been in jeopardy.
“The border was used, I think, as a completely fallacious argument because what we’ve always said, and what’s now accepted by the EU, is that you could use the technology.
“You didn’t need to have an absolutely rigid boundary. That’s what we’ve been saying all along.
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“I agree with Owen that it’s a bad deal, but I said so at the time.”
Three years before, during Theresa May’s tenure as prime minister, when things were already starting to look bad for the former prime minister, Ms Widdecombe had dismissed any idea that Mr Johnson could become the UK’s future leader.
She said he was not the “jester he claims to be” and that he has a “brain like a laser”.
However, speaking to Devon Live, she added: “He’s a very smart man, but he’s also a tiny bit of a liability.”
Ms Widdecombe continued: “Look what happened last time.
“There he was, the lead contender against Theresa May, and suddenly he wasn’t showing up.
“I have a theory it’s because he didn’t hand in his nomination papers on time because I couldn’t really see any other reason for him not to.
“I find it hard to imagine Boris in a meeting of world leaders with Putin. He may be, but I would have thought the scales were against him.”
Despite this, she conceded: “If the country is in his hands, he’s a lot smarter than he likes to make out and I would be perfectly happy.”
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Surprisingly, when asked who she sees as the next prime minister after Mrs May, she replied Philip Hammond.
The former chancellor has been accused by many Brexit-voting Tories of trying to thwart the referendum with a soft exit.
Ms Widdecombe said she ‘respects’ Mr Hammond, having worked with him during his time as shadow health secretary.
She said: “I have a lot of time for Phillip Hammond, and I think he’s being treated very unfairly at the moment.
“Yes, he voted Remain, as did Theresa May in case anyone forgot.
“It doesn’t matter that he voted to Remain, what matters is that he is trying to get the country through Brexit, in a way he sees as orderly.”
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Speaking to GB News last month, Ms Widdecombe trashed talks of Mr Johnson’s potential resignation amid the so-called ‘Partygate’ scandal.
Defending him, she said “the nation knew he was in complete chaos” when she elected him to power in 2019.
When host Eamonn Holmes said Mr Johnson had a reputation as the ‘King of Chaos’, adding that ‘he doesn’t strike me as the same type of person as you,’ Ms Widdecombe replied: ” Well it’s not and it’s completely chaotic and I don’t think there’s any argument about it.
“But the nation knew he was in complete shambles when they voted for him in 2019.
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“And voted for him with a huge majority, because of his promise to get Brexit done.
“What he has, to some extent, [but] I’m not happy with all of this.”
She continued: “But it’s delivered and so we knew it was chaotic at the time.
“I knew he was chaotic, he was never organized, he misses the events.
“Well he used to, he has a diary secretary these days.
“But totally chaotic, I don’t think there’s any argument about it.
“So what I would say to Boris is this: ‘Listen, you’re not going to change, you’re chaotic, you’re disorganized.'”
Eggheads airs at 6.30pm on Channel 5.