The former director general of the World Trade Organisation Pascal Lamy has criticised Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith for his “confused” and “pie in the sky” view on Brexit.
Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative Party and a member of the hard-line pro-Brexit European Research Group, claimed that the Irish border issue could be solved by removing the contentious backstop arrangement.
Speaking on BBC’s politics live today, he said:
The truth is you could get this deal through if the EU and the UK were prepared to agree to the alternative arrangements on the Irish border which allowed you to have no fixed border.
Now these have been worked through, they have been proposed but the Government has never put them to them (the EU). I spent two hours talking with Mr (Michel) Barnier the other day, they all know this is where it is going to have to be, because the existing backstop does not work in practice.
While Duncan Smith was speaking, Lamy made it very clear that he did not agree, laughing and waving his hands in the air in disbelief.
In response, he said:
With respect I was director general of the WTO for eight years of my life, which has something to do with customs procedures.
This notion that exiting the internal market implies no border on Ireland is pie in the sky.
There is no way that you can exit the internal market without a border.
People on Twitter thought the exchange was hilarious.
And one person even suggested that the 'Lamy’ should make an appearance in all future current affairs programmes.
Earlier today, Lamy blamed the Brexit impasse on Theresa May "rushing in" to discussions on the terms of the UK's divorce from the EU.
Instead, he said May should have insisted that they take place in parallel with trade talks which will take "years and years".
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:
My view is that we may have made the wrong choice in deciding that we would negotiate first the Withdrawal Agreement - which is a sort of divorce agreement - and then the rest.
May initially argued that the issues of withdrawal and future relations should be negotiated together, but swiftly folded in 2016 as Brussels insisted the divorce must be settled first.
During his Radio 4 interview, Lamy added:
She was in a hurry, she was under huge pressure from Boris Johnson, Brexiteers and the rest and she said 'Brexit is Brexit, we will Brexit' and they rushed into this first stage without understanding that this huge unclarity on the next stage would have a big bearing on the discussion.