Beefy Brexit row: Deal with Australia is ‘success’ says envoy Lord Botham, after ex minister’s criticism
Lord Ian Botham, the government’s trade envoy to Australia, is at loggerheads with a former minister over the success of the post-Brexit deal.
The ex cricket star, affectionately known as ‘Beefy’, hit out at George Eustice who branded the agreement signed in 2021, who said he “no longer has to put such a positive gloss on what was agreed” now he’s not in government.
Eustice branded the deal “not actually a very good deal for the UK”, despite him having helped agree it, saying the “UK gave away far too much for far too little in return.”
“it was not in our economic interest to” sign the deal, he said last month.
Speaking as a guest editor of BBC Radio 4 this week, Brexit-backing Lord Ian Botham said he was “surprised” by Eustice’s remarks, asking why “he didn’t say it when he was in the Cabinet”?
“From what I have seen – and I am actually out there doing it”, saying he’s now done “four trips” down Under and “I have to tell you, it’s been a success.”
“So I thought it was a very strange thing to come out with.
“To be quite frank, unnecessary because I don’t think it’s factually right.”
Asked whether he got the Brexit he voted for, Botham said “just ask the fishermen who, I think their quotas have just gone up drastically.”
“There’s no point in harping on about it, the public voted it’s in place now, it will get stronger.”
Botham was also asked Covid vaccines in particular, and the ‘economic hit’ Britain has taken on that front leaving the EU, the former Cricket captain said it was “absolutely” still the right decision for the country to leave.
“100 per cent. I think those people need to just stop and take a deep breath”, Botham added. “We had Covid, which I think England handled themselves pretty well on that. OK there has been some blips and some troubles, but a lot of that will come down to the fact that we furloughed people for two years, and I think the problem is getting people back to work now”.
“They’ll come, it’ll come. There are tough times but I wouldn’t say the recession is just in England. It’s global.”
During his stint on the Today Programme, Botham also discussed the impact of mental health in sport, in conversation with current allrounder and captain Ben Stokes.