Conservative leadership hopeful Rory Stewart in November claimed 80 percent of the British public backed the Brexit withdrawal agreement the British Government had secured in negotiations with the European Union. BBC Radio 5 presenter Emma Barnett challenged him to provide the sources for his claims, forcing Mr Stewart to quickly apologise after admitting he had made up the figure. Meeting again seven months later to discuss his campaign to succeed Theresa May at Number 10, Ms Barnett questioned Mr Stewart on why he felt the need to "lie". She said: "You are now standing to be Prime Minister having done that. Why did you lie? Why did you make something up?"
Ms Barnett conceded Mr Stewart had issued the "quickest apology I have ever had from a minister".
In response, Mr Stewart blamed the pressure he had been under at the time and claimed the "very painful experience" had helped him change his "entire approach in politics."
The International Development Secretary said: "I learnt a lot of things for that.
"That was straight after the deal was announced and I believed strongly that the majority of the British people supported that deal and I turned out to be completely wrong.
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Brexit news: Stewart claimed he had learned from the "very painful experience" (Image: BBC)
"It’s been a very painful experience for me. The reason I believed it is I believed people who supported no deal or a second referendum were a fringe – maybe 10 percent on either side.