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Move over Piers, Claire Perry’s an even bigger pain in the neck


Whenever a TV show includes Piers Morgan, his is normally the most annoying on-screen presence.

But during the July 12 edition of BBC’s Question Time, not only did Morgan fail to be the most irksome member of the panel, but that accolade was beyond even Gina Miller who, despite petitioning the High Court and agitating for a so-called People’s Vote, somehow kept a straight face when telling the audience (from 10:15): ‘After the vote – I voted to Remain, on balance – I said, “We’re all now Brexiteers now”.’ No, on this occasion it was the Conservative cabinet minister in attendance who proved to be the most pestiferous panellist, which was no great surprise with it being the condescending Claire Perry.

Perry is the irritant who earlier this year, when ordered by Commons Speaker John Bercow to desist from ‘dilation’ at the despatch box, pathetically complained that his choice of word with which to silence her was discriminatory language. On the latest edition of Question Time, Perry again sought refuge in female victimhood when she reprimanded Morgan for failing to listen to her in reverential silence.

Piers Morgan does, of course, enjoy the sound of his own voice and, to make his opinions heard, will compulsively butt in on anyone and everyone. Claire Perry, though, absurdly alleged that Morgan’s interrupting her constituted ‘sexist behaviour’, scolding him with the non-sequitur (from 23:00): ‘This is not Good Morning Britain . . . you’re supposed to listen to women, not just ogle them.’ This unsubstantiated accusation of leering for once left Piers struggling for words; he wisely resisted the temptation to question whether Perry was flattering herself.

One contribution Piers Morgan did make (from 8:00), to loud applause, was to disparage the White Paper ghostwritten for Theresa May by civil servant Olly Robbins: ‘This is basically us not really leaving. Although I voted to stay, this is not Brexit!’

In which case the White Paper must delight the contemptuous Claire Perry, whose January 2017 address to the Commons scornfully compared colleagues seeking a clean withdrawal to ‘jihadis’ – a nonsensical slur which at least amused Anna Soubry. Earlier this year, shortly after Perry’s elevation to cabinet, she reportedly insulted the critics who rightly had questioned Theresa May’s premature commitment to a monumental divorce bill, despite her having received no quid pro quo from Brussels, as ‘representing the swivel-eyed few’.

Being the panellist charged with defending the government’s adulterated withdrawal plan, Perry dutifully repeated the official line that the White Paper endorsed at Chequers enables the UK to ‘stop free movement . . . stop sending vast sums of money to the EU . . . make our own laws . . . that is what this delivers’ – powers and controls that David Davis has dismissed as ‘illusory rather than real’ and a plan which, according to Boris Johnson, leaves us ‘headed for the status of colony’.

Claire Perry, though, went further, asserting (at 4:40) that ‘when we had the referendum, we didn’t vote for a deal that made people much worse off’. This repeats the specious claim regularly made by avowed Brexit-blockers such as Soubry and Umunna and is entirely subjective: the consequence of a clean break from Brussels would be, for good or ill, whatever future governments are able and willing to make of it. Alas, our departure is being implemented by people such as Claire Perry, who fundamentally oppose withdrawal and fear divergence from the EU; unlike committed Leavers, they are unwilling to grant future UK governments the opportunities which would follow from a confident and decisive exit.

In this respect, Perry embodies a cabinet, dominated by ardent Remainers, which pitifully has endorsed ‘mobility framework’, ‘common rule book’ and ‘facilitated customs arrangement’ to re-brand the worst aspects of EU membership, yet claims this is ‘delivering Brexit’. This is sophistry that insults our intelligence – and which is particularly grating when delivered in the nanny-knows-best tone of Claire Perry.

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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