Politicians are used to be asked the same question four, five, six times. They usually manage to escape by changing the subject and because their interviewers just give up. That is... until this morning!
Richard Madeley was interviewing Gavin Williamson on the ITV’s breakfast programme Good Morning Britain and asking him about his strong stance on Russia after the Salisbury attack, in particular what Williamson told Russia they could do, “go away and shut up”, in a press conference.
But the Defence Secretary was not interested and kept on changing the subject, as it is the custom when a politician faces a difficult question.
So, after asking him the question again and again, Madeley simply decided it was time to stop the interview, to the surprise of Williamson.
This is how the interview went:
Richard Madeley: You told Russia to ‘shut up and go away’. Do you regret that now? Do you think it was a bit too informal?
Gavin Williamson: I’d like to pay tribute to the health service personnel who did an amazing job...
Richard Madeley: No sorry, could you answer the question? No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I’m sure you do want to pay tribute to them. No, no, Mr Williamson. I asked you a straight question. We can talk about tributes to the health services in a minute. Do you regret using that kind of casual language? That’s the question. Could you answer that question, please?
Gavin Williamson: Well, what we saw is we saw an atrocious attack on British soil. You saw a British citizen and his daughter were targeted. And actually, how we responded to that is the world united behind Britain and we showed Russia we wouldn’t be divided...
Richard Madeley: Yes. Do you regret telling Russia to shut up and go away’? Mr Williamson, please answer the question. Mr Williamson, you are just not answering the question. I’m asking the question not on my behalf but on behalf of our viewers, so on behalf of the viewers, would you please answer the question. Do you now regret telling a nation state to ‘shut up and go away’? Do you think that was too casual an expression? Could you please answer that question?
Gavin Williamson: Well, I think that what everyone saw is Russia’s actions against our citizens in a city here in the United Kingdom...
Richard Madeley: Yes, you’re telling us what we know. We know what happened in Salisbury, we know how atrocious it was, we know how close these people came to death. The question is - I’ll try it one more time - do you regret using very casual Trump-esque language like ‘shut up and go away’? Please don’t tell me what happened, because we know what happened. Do you regret using that language? That is the question.
Gavin Williamson: What was right was actually that we came together with our allies and made it absolutely clear to Russia that they couldn’t act in that...
Richard Madeley: Right, you’re not going to answer, are you? OK. All right, interview terminated because you won’t answer the question. It would be helpful if you answered a straight question with a straight answer.
Turning to the viewers, Madeley spoke to the camera and her co-host:
Richard Madeley: What are they like? What are these politicians like, when you give them a straight question? It would have been so easy to say, ‘No, I don’t, I think it was an appropriate expression’, or to say, ‘Yes, probably, on reflection, I should have perhaps been a little more formal’.🔷
Watch the interview now: