Sunday shows: McDonnell, Chakrabarti, Flint on Brexit, an election and trigger ballots

Sienna Rodgers

The Andrew Marr Show

John McDonnell suggested that Labour would not negotiate its own deal but would accept an offer from the EU and put that on a ballot paper in a fresh referendum. He also confirmed that no deal would not be an option. Later, the Shadow Chancellor clarified the party’s positions on certain policies.

  • On not voting for an election: “I want an election. I want it as soon as we possibly can but sometimes you do have to put the country before party.”
  • On amending the PM’s motion on Monday: “We can’t amend that legislation and we’ve tried that. We’ve taken legal advice and we’ve said we can put an amendment up but that can be disregarded by the Prime Minister… Look, if his own brother can’t trust him, how can we trust him?”
  • Is it still your policy to negotiate a so-called ‘jobs first’ or a pro-Labour Brexit deal? “I think we’ve got to get to the situation now where we accept that that offer is from the European Union.” So you would negotiate a deal yourself? “I think it’s a matter of just confirming what the offer would be and then we’ve said then it has to go back to the people again.”
  • In that referendum how do you vote? “I would campaign for remain.” So it would be this deal or remain? “I think it’s a matter of saying, look, this is what the offer is, that’s the reality of what the European Union are willing to agree… For me I believe remain is in the bests interest of the country but others will take a different view, even within my own party.”
  • On hard Brexiteers getting an option in the referendum: “We have to be honest with people. I can’t support a no deal and I think it would be so damaging for the country, I don’t believe it’s a realistic offer.”
  • On the ‘1975 approach’ to an EU referendum: “When Harold Wilson was the Prime Minister… he enabled people within the party to take different views. And I think actually that’s most probably a more honest approach than there is at the moment in terms of other political parties. In every political party there will be a difference of view because this issue is so important to the future of the country people have got to exercise their best judgement. And I think that’s most probably the wisest approach.”
  • On whether he’d ask Corbyn to step aside for a different caretaker PM: “No. What we’d do is exactly as he’s doing now. He’s bringing together all the opposition parties and he’s got them working together, working together incredibly effectively.”
  • On a potential deal with the SNP: “There’s no deals at all whatsoever… If we’re in a minority, we’ll be a minority government. We won’t do coalitions… We’ve said no deals whatsoever. If we’re in a minority position we’ll form a government and the other opposition parties can vote for the policies we’re advocating, and if they don’t well we’ll go back to the people.”
  • It’s been reported that you want to identify everybody in the country earning over £150,000. Is that true and if so why do you want to identify them? “No. A report came to us about corporate governance and that was one of the proposals. It’s not one that I favour.”
  • On plans for landlords and private tenants: “We’re exploring the idea of a Right to Buy for private tenants which is they’re available to council tenants and others and then the discussion would be about what would be a fair price… People [who’ve invested in buy to let] would be protected of course.”

Ridge on Sunday

Appearing first, Dominic Raab said the government would “test to the limit” the lawful requirements of the Benn Bill, suggesting that Boris Johnson will not abide by its instruction to request an Article 50 extension should he fail to secure a deal by October 19th. Asked about the overnight resignation of Amber Rudd, the Foreign Secretary said he was “sorry” to see it happen but argued that “the Prime Minister was right to restore some discipline“.

Shami Chakrabarti, Shadow Attorney General, represented the Labour frontbench.

  • On the government saying it will ignore the Benn Bill’s purpose: “Every tin pot dictator on the planet throughout history has used the excuse of having the people on their side to break the law… I think it’s un-British, as was the purge of the 21 MPs who are Conservatives, they’re not secret Corbynistas.”
  • On the next election: “We’re going to have a general election. It’s going to be sooner rather than later; it will be weeks not months. But we will not allow them to use their sort of chaos theory and crash out without parliament being able to have its say.”
  • Do you mean there will be a general election in weeks not months, or do you mean that you will give the green light in weeks not months? “Well, I think quite possibly but, forgive me, things are moving very fast.”
  • On John Mann’s resignation: “Obviously I disagree with John Mann; he is one of two MPs that voted against the legislation to prevent a crash out.  He is obviously very unhappy on the Labour benches at the moment and so he has made his decision and I personally wish him well in his future work.”
  • On Diana Johnson being triggered: “There will be a shortlist, it will be an all women shortlist and no doubt she’ll be on it.  I don’t believe this is targeted and I’ve looked into it and the reasons you suggest, this is not some plot or some factional polarisation issue.”

Caroline Flint, MP for Don Valley, talked about why a group of parliamentarians have formed ‘MPs For a Deal’ group.

  • On the government not seeking a deal: “Can we trust the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do what he said he would do, which is to work to achieve a deal? And, on the other side of it, is can we trust those who often also don’t want a deal, because they want to overturn the referendum result of 2016? That’s why myself and others have formed a group called MPs For A Deal.”
  • On Labour’s Brexit policy: “I will back a Labour government to secure a deal and to put it into action, I – and I know numbers of other Labour MPs – will not support a second referendum.  Others will have to choose their own course.”
  • Will you be voting for an early election this week? No, because I think it is our duty in this valuable time and the weeks ahead of us before the 31st October, to secure a deal. I think it is in the interest of all our parties and the country to focus on that and then, I think once we’ve done that, we can have a general election.”
  • If there was an election before the Brexit deadline, do you think the Conservatives would win? “It’s hard to tell really at the moment.  I think what we found in 2017, that actually Theresa May’s strategy did not play out.  I think around the country there are polarised views not helped by the Prime Minister I have to say.”
  • On trigger ballots: “I am very concerned at a time that we should be facing outwards we are having these internal arguments and whether a general election happens before the 31st October, we know we are on course for a general election and I would have thought our main priority is not to be having administrative selections, is not to be having AGMs, to be not even having normal Labour party meetings that are often very bureaucratic but actually we should all be focused on campaigning.”

Pienaar’s Politics

Barry Gardiner said referenda were a “bad idea” and argued that a fresh EU referendum should have a “much higher threshold” than 50% + 1, such as 60% or two-thirds.

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