Damian Green said that he thought the UK will be worse off because of Brexit
Theresa May’s right-hand man said that Brexit is the wrong decision for the country.
Mr Green was on the board for the Stronger In campaign during the Brexit referendum in 2016.
Appearing on Newsnight, when asked if he thought the country would have been better off if the UK remained in the European Union, Mr Green said: “It would have been.
“The public took their view, I’m a democrat. I believe if the people have spoken then it is the job of democratic politicians to do their best to put in place what people wanted.”
Newsnight host Emily Maitlis replied: “Could you say, hand on heart, that Brexit was the best decision for the country?”
Mr Green added: “I argued against it, but the country took the decision, I’m a democrat, I respect that decision.
“It’s my public duty now to try and make the best Brexit we can and that’s what we’re trying to do in Government.”
It comes as the Prime Minister refused to say she would vote for Brexit on LBC radio.
LBC host Iain Dale asked which way the PM would vote in a second Brexit referendum.
The Prime Minister replied: “I don’t answer hypothetical questions.
“I voted remain, I voted remain for good reasons at the time. But circumstances move on. The important thing now is that I think we should all be focused on delivering Brexit and delivering the best deal.
“You’re asking me to say, how would I vote in a vote now against a different background, a different international background, a different economic background.”
Dale continued pressing the Prime Minister, demanding to know what way Mrs May would vote in another referendum.
She replied: “I am the Prime Minister ensuring that I am going to deliver Brexit for the British people.”
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Mrs May campaigned for the Remain campaign during the Brexit referendum and in a secret audio of Goldman Sachs talks last year, she said she feared businesses would leave and wanted the UK to take a lead in Europe.
She said: “If we were not in Europe, I think there would be firms and companies who would be looking to say, do they need to develop a mainland Europe presence rather than a UK presence? So I think there are definite benefits for us in economic terms.”
Mr Green appeared on Newsnight to discuss a Government report that looks into discrimination.
The report found that that blacks, Asians and ethnic minorities are twice as likely to be unemployed, white teenagers are four times more likely to be a smoker, black Caribbean schoolchildren are three times more likely to be excluded from school than white British classmates and Roma children have the highest exclusion rates.
Theresa May refused to back Brexit on LBC Radio
The report comes after Theresa May’s first inaugural address when becoming Prime Minister last year in which she spoke about race discrimination in the UK.
She said: “That means fighting against the burning injustice. That if you are born poor then you will die on average nine years earlier than others.
“That if you are black you are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you are white. That if you are a white working class boy you are less likely than anyone else in Britain to go to university.”
Mr Green claimed that the Government audit was the first of its kind in the world and although there was a lot of “negative things” in the report, there were also positives – such as data showing a narrowing of the gap in employment rate for ethnic minorities.
Theresa May pledged to tackle inequality in her first speech as PM
Emily Maitlis read a letter from when Theresa May was the equalities minister in which she wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2010.
She said: “I fully share the objective of spending cuts. Equally, it is important that fairness is at the heart of these decisions.
“There are real risks that women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and older people will be disproportionately affected.”
The Newsnight host then slammed Mr Green for his party going ahead with budget cuts regardless of Mrs May’s concerns.
But Mr Green replied: “The country was going broke, so we had to take those economic decisions.
“If you spend money you haven’t got, all you do is wreck the economy.
“Just saying ‘spend more money, give more benefits’, that’s what we have done traditionally for a society that didn’t help the most disadvantaged.
“The best route out of poverty is to have a job.”