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Defence Secretary ‘misspoke’ in suggesting prorogation sparked by Brexit

Downing Street responded after Ben Wallace was filmed in conversation with his French counterpart.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace “misspoke” when speaking to a French minister (Aaron Chown/PA)
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace “misspoke” when speaking to a French minister (Aaron Chown/PA)

By George Ryan, PA Political Reporter

Downing Street has distanced itself from a suggestion by the Defence Secretary that Boris Johnson’s move to prorogue Parliament was motivated by Brexit.

Ben Wallace was filmed speaking to French armed forces minister Florence Parly at a meeting of defence ministers in Helsinki, Finland.

He appeared unaware that microphones were picking up his conversation with his French counterpart as he explained the Government’s predicament surrounding Brexit.

We’ve suddenly found ourselves with no majority and a coalition, and that’s not easy for our system Ben Wallace

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister wrote to MPs to say his decision to suspend Parliament was made so his Government could lay a new legislative agenda through a Queen’s speech.

However, Mr Wallace appeared to suggest Mr Johnson’s motivation was the difficulty of having “no majority” in the Commons.

Opposition leaders believe Mr Johnson’s decision was an attempt to limit their opportunities to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

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Ben Wallace with the Prime Minister on a visit to Scotland (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

Mr Wallace was heard saying: “We’ve suddenly found ourselves with no majority and a coalition, and that’s not easy for our system.

“Parliament has been very good at saying what it doesn’t want, but it has been awful at saying what it wants. That’s the reality.

“So, you know, eventually any leader has to, you know, try. I don’t know what the outcome of it… You know, politics.”

A Number 10 source said: “The Defence Secretary misspoke and was not involved in discussions about the Queen’s speech.

“The Queen’s speech will allow us to set out an ambitious legislative programme to deliver on our domestic priorities such as tackling violent crime, investing in our health service and tackling the cost of living.”

PA

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