Brexit Secretary gets EU withdrawal date wrong

Stephen Barclay, Brexit, European Union, Politics
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay appeared not to know when the UK is leaving the EU as he was being grilled on the withdrawal process by MPs.

Mr Barclay, who took over the role last month after the resignation of Dominic Raab, said Britain was quitting the bloc on March 31, rather than the actual date of March 29.

The Brexit Secretary made the mistake as he answered questions from the Commons Exiting the European Union Committee on the UK’s future trading relations with Brussels.

Mr Barclay said: “It is the legal process in Europe that a permanent relationship, a permanent trade arrangement, cannot be reached until we have left.

“And, I am committed to ensuring, and the Prime Minister is committed to ensuring, that we do deliver on that, we do leave the EU on March 31.

“And, by that point we are then in a position to be able to agree a trade agreement.

“But we can’t do that before we have left.”

Mr Barclay urged MPs to back the Government’s Brexit deal in a crunch Commons vote next week.

Asked if the vote would be cancelled in the face of widespread opposition, Mr Barclay said: “No, I think the vote will happen on Tuesday.”