Following a report in the FT this morning that the government is split over the terms of a free trade agreement with Australia, George Eustice appeared on Sky News to discuss the details of the agreement – and seemingly confirm the veracity of the reports by ducking Stephen Dixon’s questions and smirking when asked about the rumoured split. Asked whether it’s true that he and Michael Gove oppose the free trade agreement proposed by Liz Truss (on the grounds that it would threaten domestic agriculture), Eustice smiled uneasily and said:
“In any discussion on any part of government policy, trade agreements are no exception, there’s a discussion and there’s a consensus. At the moment there is a clear consensus in government that we want to do a trade deal with Australia but obviously on the right terms. I have very good discussions with all of my cabinet colleagues on all issues where we’ve got to share the job.”
When asked the same question later on the Today Programme, however, Eustice emphatically claimed that he didn’t oppose free trade access for Australian farmers and ‘never had‘, adding that the Department for the Environment and the Department for International Trade were ‘working together‘ to create the agreement:
Did someone whisper in Eustice’s ear after the Sky News interview?