Sunday shows: McDonnell and Starmer slam “childish” PM as Labour sets out Brexit plans

The Andrew Marr Show

Keir Starmer clarified some of Labour’s plans for the upcoming week in relation to Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and the amendments set to be supported by the opposition party. He also didn’t rule out standing to be the next Labour leader.

  • Described Boris Johnson’s three-letter strategy as “childish”.
  • Suggested that Labour would support amendments: “for a customs union with the EU and for single market alignment”; to close “a trap door to no deal at the end of 2020”; and to ensure that “whatever deal gets through it should be subject to a referendum”.
  • On whether Labour would back Johnson’s deal with a referendum attached: “Well, we’ll see what that looks like. But it makes sense to say that by whatever means we get that referendum.” Later added: “We’ll have to look at the particular amendment. We’ll have to look at the votes at the end of it. But what we’re trying to achieve is that this deal in particular, but any deal, is put up against remain in a referendum.”
  • On the DUP: “I would openly invite the DUP to talk to us, because anybody who wants to improve on the situation, and they do, should be working together.”
  • On an early election: “I think an election is inevitable, because of the numbers in parliament, because we’ve got to break the impasse. The timing will be a matter for Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the opposition.”

On his leadership ambitions…

  • Do you think that the next leader of the Labour Party should be a woman? “I think there’s a very strong case for the next leader to be a woman. What I think is most important is that we build on what we’ve got at the moment and we build on that 2017 manifesto…”
  • So you won’t be putting yourself up for it? You’re clearly not a woman. “I’m clearly not a woman, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.”
  • So it sounds to me like you’re not putting yourself up for the next leadership election. “Andrew, I’m not even discussing that. I’m 100% behind Jeremy Corbyn.”

On Louise Ellman and antisemitism…

  • “I think it’s a really low moment. A really low moment. And what I want to do is to redouble our efforts to make sure that Louise and others feel that the Labour Party is a party that they can return to. We’ve already done a lot of work on this, we need to do more.”
  • On Corbyn being a “danger” to the Jewish community: “I don’t accept that. I don’t accept that. I do accept that as a Labour Party we have to root out antisemitism.” Later: “I personally don’t find that this personalising takes us very far.”

Ridge on Sunday

John McDonnell described the PM as a “spoilt brat”, suggested the Speaker wouldn’t allow a meaningful vote to take place on Monday and said Johnson could meet his October 31st deadline.

  • On the PM’s letter-related shenanigans: “He may well be in contempt of Parliament or the courts themselves because he’s clearly trying to undermine the first letter. And not signing the letter? Well he’s behaving a bit like a spoilt brat.”
  • On deadlines: “He might even meet the deadline of the 31st October if he’d go through a proper parliamentary process.”
  • On whether Labour could back the deal: “What we’ll try and do is try and amend that legislation and see if we can get agreement with parliament.”
  • On whipping arrangements: “The normal way is conversation and discussion and then they’ll take appropriate action… I’ve always said there has to be a respectful whip on a number of things where we take into account people’s views and that’s what we’ve done so far.”
  • On another meaningful vote: “We are saying to the government it is pointless bringing another meaningful vote, that’s just a political stunt… and I’m not even sure if the Speaker would allow it.”
  • On reports of staffing issues and power struggles: “This is farcical, we work together, we’ll never be divided, we always back each other up. We will have disagreements on different matters but we’ll always come to a conclusion that we support each other.”
  • On referendum or election first: “If we’re dealing with the bill, what we are saying to Boris Johnson is that you should put it to the people but what we’re saying is it would be better to have a general election.”
  • If the government brought forward a motion to try and trigger a general election, would Labour back it? “We want to be absolutely sure no deal is off the agenda and we’re not sure of that yet. Let’s see the legislation, let’s see what we can do with this legislation and how far we can move amendments…”
  • When do you want the election to be? “Well, as soon as we possibly can.” Before Christmas? “We’ll see what happens over this next week or so.  I’d like to get rid of this government as soon as possible.”

Lucy Powell criticised the “vilification” of Labour MPs willing to vote for Johnson’s Brexit deal.

  • On Labour MPs willing to vote for Johnson’s Brexit deal: “They are trying to respect the views of their constituents, respect the views of their communities and they are vilified for doing so and I think that’s something that’s gone really wrong in our politics.”
  • On abiding by the 2016 result: “It is many Labour communities that voted Leave and I really, really worry about us turning our backs on those communities and saying to them I’m sorry, your voice doesn’t matter anymore.”
  • On the suggestion, made by Jon Lansman, that pro-deal MPs should be deselected by Labour’s ruling body directly: “It appals me frankly and I think we just all need to take a step back here.”
  • On the deal’s prospects: “This deal is now likely to pass so the coming days, the coming couple of weeks really, are our final chance to shape Brexit.”

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