Watch: Labour shadow minister dodges Brexit question 11 times

Watch: Labour shadow minister dodges Brexit question 11 times
Text settings

Would a Labour government take Britain out of the customs union after Brexit? It’s a simple enough question - but not it seems if you’re the shadow international trade minister, Bill Esterson. The Labour MP has been busy touring the airwaves this morning, criticising the government for its Brexit transition period plans. While Esterson is quick to find fault with the Tory approach, he is less keen to answer questions on what the plan would be if Jeremy Corbyn made it to Downing Street. On the Today programme, he refused repeatedly to say where Labour stood on the issue:

Justin Webb: ...does that mean being in the customs union or out?

Bill Esterson: Well I think lurid headlines in tabloids don’t really deal with substance.

JW: It’s a really simple question: should we stay in it long term or not?

BE: That’s why you negotiate, isn’t it? At the moment we’ve got a conservative government. I mean if they can’t deal with it perhaps they will step aside and let us get on with it.

Fresh from that unenlightening interview, Esterson was at it again - this time on Radio Five Live. In an interview with Emma Barnett, he was quizzed repeatedly on the same question. Five times, Esterson refused to answer:

.@EmmaBarnett asks Shadow International Trade Minister @Bill_Esterson five times if Labour would leave the customs union #5liveDaily

— BBC Radio 5 live (@bbc5live) August 15, 2017

EB: As the shadow international trade minister, if Labour are in charge - I’ll ask you again - in 2019, are we leaving the customs union or not?

BE: Our intention is to have the same relationship with the customs union and the single market….

EB: How on earth can you have the same relationship if we’r not leaving it or not?

BE: We’re not party to the negation because we’re not in government.

EB: Could you just answer the question..

BE: We will be working with our partners in the European Union…

To make matters worse, Esterson then popped up on Sky News - and guess what? He refused to answer the question:

#Brexit and Government plans for a temporary customs union with the EU. Labour MP @Bill_Esterson asked for his party's position on the issue

— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 15, 2017

Mr S wonders whether Esterson might be wise to brush up on Labour's Brexit plan before he agrees to another interview...

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from London and beyond. Email tips to

Topics in this articlePoliticsbrexitjeremy corbyn