BBC presenter John Humphrys has been criticised after suggesting Ireland could quit the EU and ‘throw in their lot’ with Britain.
Speaking to Ireland’s European Minister Helen McEntee on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said there was an argument to be made for his suggestion.
McEntee responded to the idea by saying that 92 per cent of Irish people prefer to remain part of the EU.
Among those critical of Humphrys’ comments was Labour MP David Lammy, who labeled them ‘imperialist claptrap’.
The pair had initially debated the importance of the backstop, which aims to prevent a hard border in Ireland but will temporarily keep the UK in the customs union.
Humphrys said ‘the people of Britain voted to leave the European Union’ and the backstop’s conditions undermined that.
However McEntee explained that the backstop was not just an Irish issue, and it offered a way for Britain to fulfil its obligations to the Good Friday Agreement.
Humphrys then closed the segment with his suggestion that Ireland ditch the EU.
‘Throw in their lot’
Citing Britain’s economic importance to Ireland, he said: “There has to be an argument, doesn’t there, that says instead of Dublin telling this country that we have to stay within the single market, within the customs union, why doesn’t Dublin, why doesn’t the Republic of Ireland, leave the European Union and throw in their lot with this country?”
McEntee responded by saying: “We want a deal, we want a withdrawal agreement, we want to be able to work with the UK moving forward, but to suggest that we should leave?
“Ninety-two per cent of Irish people last year said that they wanted Ireland to remain as part of the European Union and in fact since Brexit that figure has gotten only bigger.”
Humphrys’ suggestion drew criticism and disbelief from both sides of the Irish Sea, with Labour MP Ben Bradshaw accusing him of ‘woeful ignorance’.
Gobsmacked to hear @BBCr4today’s John Humphrys suggest to an amazingly calm Irish politician that the solution to #Brexitshambles is for Ireland to leave the EU & rejoin the U.K! Such woeful ignorance of history & of modern day Ireland. #PeoplesVote
— Ben Bradshaw (@BenPBradshaw) 26 January 2019
Excellent interview from @HMcEntee on @BBCr4today on #Brexit and the importance of peace in a Northern Ireland no matter what. I must say though I utterly despair that John Humphrys still doesn’t understand that #Brexit is a UK, not an Irish policy.
— Chris Donoghue (@chrisrdonoghue) 26 January 2019
To hear Humphrys suggest to the Irish Europe Minister that Ireland should leave the EU to help us solve our Brexit shitshow was a shameful demonstration of arrogance and showed disrespectful disregard for our mutual history#LoveEU https://t.co/qRyKRZF96M
— Molly Scott Cato MEP (@MollyMEP) 26 January 2019
Utterly disgraceful comment #bbcr4today and disrespectful of IRE sovereignty and clearly shows Humphrys antiEU proBrexit bias which we've known about for a long time.
— Dr Charles Tannock (@CharlesTannock) 26 January 2019
Today John Humphrys of BBC said: “Why doesn’t Dublin, why doesn’t Ireland, leave the EU and throw in their lot with this country?”
Well John, we begin with the Anglo - Normans. It was 1169, the wind was blowing east and fast. It was an average Tuesday, but something seemed off..
— Dr. Jennifer Cassidy (@OxfordDiplomat) 26 January 2019
So John Humphrys really did ask Irish minister why Ireland ‘doesn’t leave EU and throw in its lot with this country’. The voice of the BBC, asking why Ireland would prefer a modern union of 27 to an old empire with Britain. Hard to imagine a more offensive or damaging interview.
— Jonathan Lis (@jonlis1) 26 January 2019
Why should the great country of Ireland leave the EU and join the U.K. What Imperialist claptrap. They should act in their national interests. The fact that the U.K. is engaged in an act of self mutilation isn’t their problem it’s ours and ours alone. #r4today #Ireland https://t.co/FnMJQg2fUf
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) 26 January 2019
I simply don’t understand why Ireland wouldn’t want to quit the EU and join us. If we’re lucky we may have adequate food and some medicines, at least for a couple of weeks. Plus blue passports and a Brexit 50p. Who wouldn’t want that? pic.twitter.com/NnFwWA8UwL
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) 26 January 2019
The punchline: He suggests that if Ireland wants to respect its peace treaty obligations, *Ireland* should exit the EU; that it should subjugate to a foreign, dodgy, narrow, advisory referendum. And quotes figures in support, wrong by a factor of four. Shame on you @BBCNews. 2/2 pic.twitter.com/WmWwr0cB8d
— Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) 26 January 2019
“Would you like to join us jumping off the cliff? No? Whyever not?” 🙄https://t.co/iIthi20YnV
— Kirsty Blackman (@KirstySNP) 26 January 2019