Downing Street insists Boris Johnson has read Brexit trade deal, after doubt raised by spokesman’s comments

Andrew Woodcock
·2-min read
<p>Boris Johnson signs the Trade and Cooperation Agreement</p> (AP)

Boris Johnson signs the Trade and Cooperation Agreement


Downing Street was today forced to issue a statement insisting that Boris Johnson has read the full text of his EU trade deal, after comments by his official spokesman raised doubts on the issue.

Fisheries minister Victoria Prentis has come under fire for saying that she did not read the Trade and Cooperation Agreement when it came out on Christmas Eve because she was busy organising a nativity event.

But when Mr Johnson’s official spokesman was asked repeatedly whether the PM had read every word of the 1,246-page document, he was unable to confirm that he had.

Instead, he told a Westminster media briefing: “The prime minister is fully aware of the deal that we agreed.”

Pressed on whether Mr Johnson expected his cabinet colleagues to read the TCA text, the spokesman said: “The prime minister and the cabinet and other ministerial colleagues are fully aware of the deal we agreed with the EU.”

After the publication of reports suggesting his comments indicated that the PM had not read the entire document, No 10 issued a statement: “The PM has read the deal.”

Mr Johnson has offered Ms Prentis his backing after she faced calls to quit over her admission.

Asked if her jaw had dropped when she saw the deal with the EU on Christmas Eve, Ms Prentis told the Lords EU Environment Sub-Committee: "No, the agreement came when we were all very busy on Christmas Eve, in my case organising the local Nativity trail.

"We had been waiting and waiting, it looked like it was coming for probably four days before it actually arrived.

"I, for one, had gone through, as I'm sure members of this committee had, a gamut of emotions over those four days."

A Number 10 spokesperson said that the Prime Minister had confidence in Ms Prentis.

But the SNP took a dim view of her behaviour and insisted she should stand down and that her position was “untenable.”

The comments came following delays to seafood exports after the Brexit transition period ended on New Year's Eve.

The SNP's Brexit spokesperson Philippa Whitford, said: "Due to Brexit-induced bureaucracy, Scotland's fishing communities are already experiencing severe disruption and cannot get their produce to their customers in the EU market on time.

"For the Tory Government's fisheries minister to then admit that she did not even bother to read the details of the damaging deal because she was too busy is unbelievable and makes her position untenable."

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