ANY QUOTES USED MUST BE ATTRIBUTED TO SKY NEWS, SOPHY RIDGE ON SUNDAY
SOPHY RIDGE: Now if you are a regular viewer you probably know by now that Sky News has been campaigning for an independent commission to oversee leaders’ debates at general elections and we are joined now by a Conservative MP, Peter Bone, who thinks that they are a good idea. Before we get to the leaders’ debates, I just want to ask you about a few things that Matt Hancock just said in that interview. He said MPs will have gone back to their constituencies and talked to normal people, then they should be ready to back the Prime Minister’s deal, so are you?
PETER BONE: That’s not quite what he said, I heard what he said, he said he went back to constituents and what they said to him was get on with it and that’s absolutely true and the only way you are going to get on and deliver Brexit is what’s called a no-deal Brexit and then at the end of March next year we’ll be out of the EU and we will have left. There was no question that I remember on the referendum about a deal or no, it was leave or remain and the way you leave is to come out on the 29th March. So he wasn’t – and I’m not accusing him of not telling the truth but what he actually said was he went back and people told him to get on with it. That’s exactly what they tell all MPs and that’s that they want to come out on March 29th, they want to actually leave.
SR: Do you think that MPs have changed their minds over the Christmas break? Because that was clearly what Number 10 was hoping.
PETER BONE: Well if there’s been any change, it’s hardened the attitude of MPs towards what’s called a no deal because the more and more information about the no deal, it’s clear that it’s absolutely okay to do it. We had the Secretary of State there just saying there is no problem on the health front, we had a senior civil servant come out and say we’re well prepared for the no deal and of course the government isn’t saying that because they are trying to get through their so-called Brexit deal.
SR: I don’t think he was quite saying there was no problem on the health front, he was saying that the plans are in place to try and mitigate any of the consequences.
PETER BONE: I think he actually said – and I was listening very carefully – he said there was going to be no problems with drugs and that all the plans are in place. You asked him to give a guarantee, I don't think he could have given much more of a guarantee than he did.
SR: You want to call Theresa May the Brexit Queen, you said that she’d be carried shoulder high through the streets to echoing of cheering crowds if she visited your constituency after Brexit. Do you think that’s still the case?
PETER BONE: I think you left a little bit out of that, I said if she delivered the Brexit the people voted for and when I said that it looked like we were going to do that, no of course it looks like we are going to do anything but that and I’m afraid the statue I was going to build in Wellingborough to Mrs May is probably not going to happen now.
SR: What do you think the reaction of your constituents would be to Mrs May’s deal then?
PETER BONE: Well at the moment they are very frustrated. They want to have the Brexit they voted for, they wanted to end the free movement of people, not pay billions and billions of pounds each and every year to the EU, to make our own laws in our own country, judged by our own judges and clearly Mrs May’s deal falls on all those fronts so I don't think she would get a particularly … she’d get a polite reception but not a good reception.
SR: The Prime Minister is holding drinks parties with some Conservative MPs this week, have you got an invitation?
PETER BONE: They were chasing me up yesterday whether I could go. Well unfortunately I am speaking in the, well I am speaking effectively in the Sky News debate when one of those receptions is going on and the other one I don't think I can make either but they were chasing me up.
SR: Okay, well let’s talk about the debate shall we because tomorrow there is going to be this debate in Parliament about the Sky News campaign to try and get an independent commission to look at leaders’ debates in general elections. What’s your view?
PETER BONE: Well I think first of all, well done Sky News in getting what, close to 150,000 people to sign the petition is fantastic and we are going to have this debate, a three hour debate in the second chamber of the House of Commons tomorrow and that’s wonderful and I have a Private Members Bill which I have introduced, the second reading of that Bill is in March and the debate will be very useful in anything that comes up in that debate that I haven’t already thought of can go into my Bill. But the advantage of the debate and of what Sky News has done is it’s got the public involved and put the pressure on the government. It would be very easy for the government just to say about my Bill, well it’s quite a good idea but we’re not going to do it, Peter but the pressure from the public I think helps us achieve what we want.
SR: Why do you think there seems to be this reluctance from the government to press ahead with it?
PETER BONE: Well I think all governments are the same. If they think that they can win, they are not going to have a debate. They say they will have a debate and then of course it never happens.
SR: Because there’s too much risk?
PETER BONE: Yes, too much risk. If we can have an independent commission it will be compulsory for the leaders’ debates so in my Bill there will be two leaders’ debates in the regulatory period between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and there will be one debate where all the leaders of the parties representing the House of Commons would take part and they would be proper debates, it wouldn’t be just like you ask a question and you ask the other one, no. This will be a debate between the leaders so each of the leaders could come back and debate with the other what the other person has said. That’s what we need, we need to test our future Prime Minister in that way I think.
SR: And there could be an election sooner than we think potentially so this is something we’ll probably have to get on with.
PETER BONE: Yes, well my Private Members Bill is in March and if both the government and the opposition support it, we can get it through and on the statutory books, make it an Act of Parliament if you like, with an few months.
SR: Okay, Peter Bone, thank you very much.