Acting Prime Minister: Mark Francois on losing his dad, his pre-Brexit epiphany and his controversial cut-throat gesture

The first guest to take power in the new series of the ITV News podcast Acting Prime Minister is Mark Francois.

As European Research Group deputy chairman, the Tory MP's profile has rocketed in recent years amid the ongoing Brexit drama.

So it was inevitable that his conversation with ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand would focus on the latest plot twists, as Mr Francois exclusively revealed the ERG would reject Boris Johnson's revised Brexit deal despite the prime minister's pledge to remove the controversial Northern Irish backstop.

However, the 54-year-old MP for Rayleigh and Wickford in Essex was happy to go 'off topic' and discuss his life before and outside politics, while also outlining his vision for the country if he gained the keys to Number 10.

Watch above or listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How suffering the tragedy of losing his father as a teenager has shaped him

  • The moment he had his "Eurosceptic epiphany" after a marathon session in Parliament

  • His trade-deal inspired plan for getting Brexit through Parliament

  • Why Philip Hammond needs to re-read the Magna Carta

Mark Francois outlined his plans for power to Paul Brand at his Westminster office. Credit: ITV News
  • How his experience at a "bog standard comprehensive" would make education his biggest domestic priority

  • The recent voicemail proposal of marriage which reinforced his mission to "take on the establishment"

  • How entering Parliament as a working class MP is like moving schools

  • The reason he still stands by the controversial cut-throat gesture he made towards Theresa May in the Commons

  • The campaign group he would secretly love to silence

  • And why he's a "proud man from Essex" - not an Essex man

Acting Prime Minister has put guests ranging from Jacob Rees-Mogg and Jess Phillips to Ben Fogle and Bobby Norris in power and asked the question: "What would you do now?"

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Acting Prime Minister offers politicians and public figures the keys to power then asks: 'What would you do now?' Credit: ITV News