Ann Widdecombe and Owen Jones clash over Brexit deal
Ms Widdecombe takes on the most formidable quiz team on television tonight. She and the stars of Strictly Come Dancing Ian Waite and Richard Arnold will be hoping to beat the Eggheads — some of the country’s best quizmasters — in a bid to win the title. Ms Widdecombe, a politician, author and television personality has become a mainstay in British popular culture in recent years, especially since the Brexit referendum
In 2019, she gave a famous and controversial speech at the European Parliament, which she was a member of, exploding at the representatives present.
That year, she had switched allegiances from the Conservatives Party, which she had been a member of since 1976, to the Brexit Party, now known as Reform UK.
She later said that her decision was in response to the Government’s failure to deliver Britain’s departure from the EU on schedule.
Since then, Ms Widdecombe has repeatedly hit out at the Brexit deal that was secured and agreed on by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
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Last year, appearing on the Jeremy Vine Show alongside Owen Jones, the left-wing commentator, she described the deal as “lousy” and dismissed suggestions from Mr Jones that the clause on the status of Northern Ireland had to be included in any deal to protect the Good Friday Agreement.
She said: “The Good Friday Agreement was never in any danger.
“The border was used I think as a completely spurious argument because what we said all along, and what is now being accepted by the EU, is that you could use technology.
“You didn’t need to have an absolutely hard border. That was what we said all along.”
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Conservative Party: She had been a Tory for over 40 years before switching allegiances in 2019
“I do agree with Owen that it’s a lousy deal, but I said so at the time.”
Three years before, during Theresa May’s premiership, when things were already beginning to look shaky for the former Prime Minister, Ms Widdecombe dismissed any notion that Mr Johnson could become the future leader of the UK.
She said he was not the “buffoon he pretends to be” and that he has a “brain like a laser”.
However, speaking to Devon Live, she added: “He’s a very clever man, but he’s also a tiny bit of a liability.”
Ms Widdecombe continued: “Look what happened last time.
“There he was, the prime candidate against Theresa May, and suddenly he wasn’t running anymore.
“I have a theory it’s because he didn’t get his nomination papers in on time because I didn’t really see any other reason for him not to.
“I do have difficulty trying to imagine Boris in a meeting of world leaders with Putin. He may be, but I would have thought the balance was against him.”
Despite this, she conceded: “If the country is in his hands, he is much cleverer than he likes to make out and I would be perfectly happy.”
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Surprisingly, when asked who she saw as the next Prime Minister after Mrs May, she said Philip Hammond.
The former Chancellor was accused by many Brexit-voting Tories of trying to thwart the referendum with a soft exit.
Ms Widdecombe said she “respected” Mr Hammond, after having worked with him during her tenure as Shadow Health Secretary.
She said: “I have a lot of time for Phillip Hammond, and I think he’s very unfairly treated at the moment.
“Yes, he did vote Remain, so did Theresa May in case anybody’s forgotten.
“It doesn’t really matter that he voted Remain, what matters is that he’s trying to get the country through Brexit, in what he considers to be an orderly fashion.”
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Last month, speaking to GB News, 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 utterly chaotic” when they voted him into office in 2019.
When host Eamonn Holmes said Mr Johnson had the reputation of being the “king of chaos”, adding that “he doesn’t look to me to be the same type of person that you are,” Ms Widdecombe replied: “Well, he’s not and he is utterly chaotic and I don’t think there’s any argument about that.
“But, the nation knew he was utterly chaotic when they voted for him in 2019.
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“And voted for him with an enormous majority, because of his promise to get Brexit done.
“Which he has, to a certain extent, [but] I’m not pleased with all of it.”
She continued: “But he’s delivered and so we knew he was chaotic at that time.
“I knew he was chaotic, he’s never been organised, he misses events.
“Well he used to, he’s got a diary secretary these days.
“But totally chaotic, I don’t think there’s any argument about that.
“So what I would say to Boris is this: ‘Look, you’re not going to change, you are chaotic, you are disorganised.’”
Eggheads airs at 6:30pm on Channel 5.