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The short answer to the hon. Gentleman’s question is no. The timing of the statement is not quite what Members had expected, which was evident during earlier exchanges in the presence of the Leader of the House. The circumstances that led to the timing of this statement were explained: there is a balance of considerations, and it was felt important to protect the Democratic Unionist party’s half-day debate. When I became aware of the situation, it seemed to me that such protection must be guaranteed. I confess, however, that I had rather expected—and had indeed been led to expect—that although announcements to the stock exchange would be made, no media interviews would be undertaken before a statement was made to the House. I was led to expect that and the Secretary of State knows very well that I was led to expect that, so the fact that interviews have taken place is a notable disappointment and it might be regarded by some as a discourtesy to the House. In those circumstances, I feel sure that the Secretary of State will want to be aware of that discourtesy and will take the opportunity to express his regrets to the House.
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