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Dublin: 2 °C Saturday 29 February, 2020

'She broke free and came home': UK minister says Lassie holds a Brexit lesson

Jeremy Hunt was responding to questions from a Labour MP who compared Brexit no-deal preparations to The Invisible Chain.

Image: Shutterstock/Nikolai Tsvetkov

BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY Jeremy Hunt said that the story of Lassie holds a “lesson for all of us” during a debate about Brexit.

The Tory minister was responding to questions from Labour shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry during the third day of debates on Brexit, ahead of next Tuesday’s crucial vote on the Withdrawal Agreement.

Thornberry took aim at Hunt’s description of the UK’s international relationships post-Brexit as “the invisible chain”, which he used during a trip to Singapore last week.

“…the invisible chain linking countries across the globe.” A truly inspiring phrase Mr Speaker but colleagues may not realise the inspiration has an unlikely source.
Because the phrase “the invisible chain” first originated as the Spanish-language title of the 1943 film Lassie Come Home.

After an eruption of laughter, Thornberry continued that British ministers weren’t waiting for unicorns to come over the hill, alluding to the impossibility of getting the Brexit deal that everyone is happy with, but were instead waiting for Lassie. 

She added: “The health secretary with his invisible green paper on social care, the Transport Secretary with his invisible ferries and his invisible traffic jams, and of course the Prime Minister running around Europe obtaining invisible concessions on Brexit.”

When Hunt responded, he said that Lassie Come Home was one of his “favourite childhood films”. Drawing on a separate comparison, Hunt responded:

Lassie, of course, in that story was given to a member of the aristocracy, in fact the Duke of Rudling. 
But Lassie wasn’t happy and she broke free without any kind of referendum and she came home, and there is a lesson for all of us.

Earlier, Hunt had pressed the Labour MP on whether her party wanted to limit the free movement of people, to which she replied they did.

He rounded off the debate by telling MPs that Brexit would allow the UK for the first time in over 40 years to respond to public concern by “restoring sovereign control over immigration policy, part of which is of course being generous to EU citizens who live amongst us and contribute so magnificently to our national life”.

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