Populism met realism this week after Boris Johnson endured the most testing interview of his leadership campaign.
Challenged by Andrew Neil to give more details on his oft-quoted WTO Article 24 he wriggled and squirmed before delivering a lecture on the BBC’s ‘negativity’.
Johnson wants to use a rule known as ‘GATT 24’ to maintain trade with the EU if we leave without agreement on October 31.
In an unashamed boast, he claimed he’d secure a “standstill” trade arrangement using Paragraph 5(b) of Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
But Paragraph 5(c) – which comes straight afterwards – makes it clear the policy can’t be used for a No Deal Brexit .
That’s because it says a “plan and schedule” must already be in place to form a customs union or free trade area, “within a reasonable length of time.”
Here is how their exchange unfolded:
AN: So how would you handle – you talk about Article 5B in GATT 24 –
BJ: Paragraph 5B. Article 24. Get the detail right. Get the detail right, Andrew. It’s Article 24 paragraph 5B.
AN: And how would you handle paragraph 5C?
BJ: I would confide entirely in paragraph 5B, because that is –
AN: How would you get round what’s in 5C?
BJ: I would confide entirely in paragraph 5B which is enough for our purposes.
AN: Do you know what’s in 5C?
"Do you know what's in paragraph 5c?"— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) July 12, 2019
"No" @AfNeil challenges Boris Johnson on the detail of how the UK would trade with the EU after #Brexit
The Andrew Neil Interviews: Watch in full at 7pm on @BBCOne #BBCOurNextPM
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