David Buik: Well done Liz Truss for standing her ground in good humour against a cantankerous Andrew Marr! My word this seasoned inquisitor wears his heart on his sleeve!
And the leader of the Conservative group in the London Assembly wasn't too impressed with Mr Marr either:
Susan Hall AM: Andrew Marr, you are a disgrace. You apologise gently when interrupting your other guests but barge in all through your interview with Liz Truss. Bring on GB News - Andrew Neil treats all his guests the same regardless, as I am sure the station will.
One of the problems was that Andrew Marr had a lot of questions to get through and Liz Truss was his final interviewee, with time running out. She - unusually for politicians on TV - was actually answering his questions, but whenever she continued saying something interesting Andrew Marr interrupted her to tick off yet another 'gotcha' question off his list. He seems to be forever chomping at the bit to get in, even when she'd barely begun answering. It made for frustrating viewing.
Also very noticeable was the remarkably negative take Andrew Marr was pushing throughout the bit on the UK's plan to join the CPTPP, and his heavily pro-EU angle too. Despite the need for political interviewers to ask 'devil's advocate' questions, wasn't this OTT?
Here's a transcript of that section of the interview:
Andrew Marr: Right, let’s turn to trade. You’re announcing today this Trans-Pacific partnership you want to join. Of the eleven countries who are members of it, we have already got trade agreements with most of them. So far as I can tell, you haven’t got the faintest idea what this would do to our GDP if we manage to get into it, which is still some way away.Liz Truss: This is a group of countries which represents nine trillion pounds of GDP, and the point is they’re fast-growing countries....Andrew Marr: Sure...Liz Truss: So, countries like Mexico and Malaysia are shooting up the global league tables. There is more demand for fantastic British goods like Scotch whisky or cars...Andrew Marr: So...Liz Truss: What this deal will do is it will reduce tariffs on those key industries, it’ll mean that they are able to sell more goods into those countries and ultimately deliver jobs and growth here in the UK. But the key....Andrew Marr: (interrupting) And what the exports to those countries total for the British economy, in total, is about 8.4 per cent, which is the same as Germany by itself. In other words, this is very, very small beer compared to leaving the EU.Liz Truss: That’s what it is at the moment, before we’ve got those tariffs reduced, And it’s 110 billion pounds of exports, Andrew. And the point is it’s growing. What we need to do is be putting in place the policies that are going to deliver for Britain in 2030-2040...Andrew Marr: OK, so...Liz Truss: ...when the global economy will look very, very different. And you talk about the existing deals we have already...Andrew Marr: (interrupting) So leaving the...Let me just jump in...Liz Truss: I wanted to answer the question.Andrew Marr: Leaving the EU takes about four per cent off our GDP, according to your own figures, your government’s own figures. Four per cent. What is the figure for what this would give us back?Liz Truss: Well, I wanted to answer the question you asked me last, which is we’ve already got deals with a lot of these countries. That is true, but we don’t have some of the advanced data and digital chapters, we don’t have the advanced services chapters. We’re the second biggest services exporter in the world, so this deal will go further and faster...Andrew Marr: OK...Liz Truss: ...in areas where the UK has huge strengths, whether it’s robotics,...Andrew Marr: (interrupting) So we don't know what...Liz Truss: ...whether it’s computer games...Andrew Marr: ...this would do on GDP? The reason I might be a little suspicious is that you’ve done trade deals with New Zealand and Australia, or you’re about to do so, and if you look at the government’s own figures the effect on GDP is really, really small. Indeed, on New Zealand your own figure says that we might actually be poorer as a result of doing this free trade deal. Why would we do a free trade deal that would make us poorer?Liz Truss: Well, that isn’t true...Andrew Marr: But...Liz Truss: What all of these deals do is they give new opportunities to British business that they don’t have before, by lowering barriers, by making it easier to export their goods. And you can make...Andrew Marr: (interrupting) Liz Truss, I’m sorry, you say it isn’t true, but your own government says, and I quote, ‘the impact of a UK-New Zealand trade agreement would be limited, with a central estimate of minus nought point one per cent in scenario two, equivalent to a decrease of 200 million pounds.' I ask you again, why would you do a free trade agreement that actually made us poorer?Liz Truss: Andrew, that is a – one of many different scenarios [Andrew Marr sniggers loudly] that analyses the geographical impact. What it doesn’t look at is the future growth of these economies. And New Zealand is a relatively small country, but it’s a very influential country. And the important point is here we’re working with those leading democratic nations to help set global standards in areas like digital and data, challenge unfair trade practices from the likes of China, and build a better world trading system. And what we know is trade leads to growth...Andrew Marr: Yes, absolutely...Liz Truss: We know that the more open our economy is...Andrew Marr: So...Liz Truss: ...the faster it grows. And we know in the future it’s going to be the Asia-Pacific counties in particular...Andrew Marr: So, OK...Liz Truss: ...where the big markets, the growing middle class markets are for British products. So no one’s got a crystal ball. Of course British businesses will need to reach out and take these opportunities. But what I am doing is I am creating the opportunity for low tariffs,...Andrew Marr: So...Liz Truss:... removing those barriers so they can go out and do that.
After all those questions from the 'EU membership is better than CPTPP membership' angle, Andrew then moved straight on...to a bit more Brexit negativity, and more 'gotcha' attempts:
Andrew Marr: So what about all those small businesses that are reaching out and trying to trade with the EU at the moment and are finding they are being throttled day by day by new red tape? Whether it’s musicians, cheese makers – you’re a cheese queen yourself – cheese makers are very, very upset. The Cheshire Cheese Company, for instance, says that they are going to be destroyed by non-tariff barriers. We’re talking about fishermen, we’re talking about farmers, right across the British economy we’re seeing lots and lots of small businesses dealing with the reality of Brexit trade regulations and finding themselves on the edge of going under. What do you say to those people?
It would probably have served the viewing public better if - especially given the time constraints - the bulk of the interview had been devoted to the CPTPP question instead of cramming it in, and spending most of that going for (would-be) headline-grabbing 'gotcha' attempts.