• STV
  • MySTV

Brexit minister sorry for spreading EU conspiracy theory

Steve Baker was accused of undermining the integrity of the civil service.

Steve Baker was accused of undermining the integrity of the civil service.
Steve Baker was accused of undermining the integrity of the civil service. CC

Brexit minister Steve Baker apologised on Thursday after telling MPs he heard claims that Treasury civil servants had deliberately drawn up negative economic assessments to try and steer Government policy.

After the comments, the Tory MP was accused of undermining the integrity of the civil service.

The storm erupted after Jacob Rees-Mogg asked the minister to confirm if he had heard from Charles Grant, of the Centre for European Reform think tank, that "officials in the Treasury have deliberately developed a model to show that all options other than staying in the customs union were bad and that officials intended to use this to influence policy."

Baker said that account was "essentially correct."

"At the time I considered it implausible because my direct experience is that civil servants are extraordinarily careful to uphold the impartiality of the civil service," he added.

Grant strongly denied the claims, and Baker was forced into an apology when an audio recording emerged which contradicted the minister's recollection of the comments.

Downing Street, which had initially said there was no reason to question Baker's version of events, insisted the minister had made a "genuine mistake" after the tape was released by Prospect magazine.

"This was a genuine mistake, he has apologised to Charles Grant, and will clarify his remarks in the House. We consider the matter closed," said a Number 10 source.

Rees-Mogg said of Grant: "If he says he didn't make it, he says he didn't make it, but he made a very similar claim on Twitter."
Rees-Mogg said of Grant: "If he says he didn't make it, he says he didn't make it, but he made a very similar claim on Twitter." PA

After audio emerged, Baker tweeted: "This morning in Parliament, I answered a question based on my honest recollection of a conversation.

"As I said, I considered what I had understood to be implausible, because of the impartiality of the civil service.

"The audio of that conversation is now available and I am glad the record stands corrected. In the context of that audio, I accept that I should have corrected the premise of the question.

"I will apologise to Charles Grant, who is an honest and trustworthy man. As I have put on record many times, I have the highest regard for our hard working civil servants. I will clarify my remarks to the House."

Rees-Mogg said of Grant: "If he says he didn't make it, he says he didn't make it, but he made a very similar claim on Twitter."

Asked if civil servants were deliberately skewering evidence, Rees-Mogg delivered a swipe at Chancellor Philip Hammond, telling a Mile End Institute event: "I think the blame should always lie with ministers actually.

"We knew very clearly before the Brexit vote that the Treasury was being guided very strongly by the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has to take responsibility for his department."

The minister's Commons claims had provoked a furious backlash from the union representing senior civil servants, which accused Baker of being irresponsible and "cowardly" for failing to challenge the "conspiracy theory".

Earlier this week, Baker came under similar fire for dismissing Whitehall forecasts as "always wrong."

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on it's website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.