Sunday shows: Corbyn on Brexit, NATO and Trident


The Andrew Marr Show

Jeremy Corbyn appeared on The Andrew Marr Show this morning, answering questions on the party’s policy for Brexit and his position on NATO and Trident. On Brexit and Labour’s second referendum policy, he emphasised that “the important thing is to move forward on this so that we actually get to a position of making a decision”.

On Labour’s plan for Brexit if they win the election…

  • The party leader avoided committing to whether he personally wants the UK to leave the EU when he becomes Prime Minister, instead saying: “We’re going to put that choice to the British people and they will make that decision. We’ll negotiate within three months a credible, sensible option of Leave and put that alongside Remain in a referendum… I want a close relationship with the EU in the future, and we will put that decision to the people and I will abide by that decision.”
  • He added: “We have to have a close trading relationship with Europe, we won’t crash out into the arms of Donald Trump, we won’t be doing sweetheart deals with the USA and we won’t be wrecking our national health service in the process as the Prime Minister is planning to do.”
  • On how Labour would renegotiate a new deal, Corbyn said that Leave and Remain Labour voices would be represented on the team: “There would obviously be a team of people that would be involved in this and that they would be representative of all parts of the UK and of areas that have different views.”
  • When asked whether a Labour deal has a chance of getting through parliament, he said: “Listen, we haven’t had the election yet, we haven’t had the negotiations yet. I want to make sure there’s a credible offer of Leave with these arrangements with the EU, or Remain and the future relationship with Europe. I think it’s only right we fight the election with a manifesto which includes those options – which is a way of bringing people together – which seems to me an adult approach to the whole thing.”
  • On Labour’s proposal for a customs union with the EU: “That is a very important way of protecting the Good Friday Agreement… You can have aspects of an independent trade policy but clearly there would have to be that relationship. And I think we have to be realistic about where British trade is at the moment – broadly speaking, about half of our trade is with the EU.”
  • On how another referendum should be run: “What I would like to see in any future referendum is a very strict limit on spending on both sides and also the ability to – how should I put it – check on the facts being offered by both sides in that referendum campaign. The problem with the last referendum campaign – there wasn’t any real examination of that.”
  • He added: “I do think the important thing is to move forward on this so that we actually get to a position of making a decision.”
  • On whether the manifesto will include a commitment to end freedom of movement if we leave the EU: “You’ll have to wait until Thursday to see the wording of it… We cannot exist in isolation, therefore there has to be immigration into Britain to maintain our economy and our services and that will be reflected in the policy you will see on Thursday.”
  • When asked directly whether free movement will end if we leave the EU: “There will be a great deal of movement. You’ll have to wait until Thursday, I know you’re very impatient… You’ll know on Thursday.”

On a second independence referendum for Scotland…

  • On whether he could give the SNP a commitment to an independence referendum within the first year of a Labour government: “No, I can’t give him that commitment. I can’t give him that commitment because what I want to do is win the election… I do not want us to spend the first year on an independence referendum.”
  • On a possible deal with the SNP: “We’re not doing deals with anybody, we’re not forming coalition governments.”

On NATO and the upcoming summit in London…

  • His message to NATO: “I hope they’re able to bring about peace in Syria and Turkey. I hope they’re able to put pressure on the Turkish government of its treatment of Kurdish people in northern Syria and I hope that they will have a developing and serious relationship with Russia in which they question Russia’s human rights record and behaviour but they also build a relationship in order to reduce the tensions which exist.”
  • When asked whether NATO is ‘the most successful military alliance in history’: “I’m not sure I’d define it as that – I would define it as a product of an attempt to bring people together during after the second world war and that we are obviously members of NATO and our voice will be in NATO there to try to reduce tensions.”
  • On the role for NATO going forward: “I think there has to be some kind of relationship and alliance in order to make sure there aren’t conflicts between member states but the whole point is Turkey is a member state and is now in conflict with the views of many, many others. President Macron takes the view there has to be a stronger European voice rather than a NATO voice – that’s always been his position; I think there has to be a coming together around the world.”
  • He added: “The USA is increasingly moving to an Asian-Pacific position in what it does and the tensions that could arise in the Pacific are actually as dangerous and as great as anything on the borders of western Europe and Russia.”

On Trident… 

  • On his position on the nuclear deterrent: “My view is that we have nuclear weapons, that there is a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, that there have been many expressions around the world with the aspiration of a nuclear free world by President Obama, by former President Gorbachev and also by many others. But also I think we have to look at what are the real threats to security around the world and what are they: terrorism, cyber security, climate change, environmental disaster and massive imbalance between the richest and the poorest.”
  • He added: “The priority has to be giving realism to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, giving realism to the six party talks in Korea, giving realism to the whole question of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the middle east or anywhere else.”

On the sale of arms to other countries…

  • Corbyn confirmed: “A Labour government would not sells arms to Saudi Arabia whilst they continue the bombardment of Yemen and we want to see a ceasefire and a peace process in Yemen. We also want to see an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran and across the middle east to try to bring about general security.”
  • When asked about selling arms to Israel: “At the moment, arms are not sold to Israel that could be used for internal actions. There’s quite a limited supply on those and sales have actually gone down. And indeed, I would bring back into play the House of Commons committee which is able to oversee arms sales in relation to human rights and the use of them.”

Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP in Westminster, also appeared on Marr. When asked whether he would be demanding a second independence referendum in exchange for making a deal with a future Labour government, he said that whoever is Prime Minister will have to “respect democracy” and the right of the Scottish people to choose what they want.

Dominic Raab also appeared on the show defending the Tories’ immigration policy and was challenged by Marr when he suggested that Labour were offering an “open-door” policy on immigration.

Ridge on Sunday

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Health Secretary, appeared on Ridge today defending Labour’s proposals for free dental check-ups announced by the party. He also clarified that Labour plans to reverse privatisation in the NHS were confined to “the more recent Tory privatisation we’ve seen” since the Health and Social Care Act.

  • On the need for free dental checks: “There are people in low paid work, in zero-hours contracts, temporary work, work of that nature who cannot afford a check-up and as a result of not going to the dentist – 50% of people have been to the dentist in the last year for a check-up – their teeth are really deteriorating. Which is why we have this absolutely outrageous phenomena of so called DIY dentistry on the increase and ultimately what it means is more and more people going to hospital – over 100,000 people presenting at A&E every year over problems with their teeth – or going to see a GP.”
  • On the extent of Labour’s plans to end privatisation in the NHS: “What we’re talking about is reversing privatisation we’ve seen in recent years – we’re not talking about ripping up the fundamentals of the NHS. Because in 1948 when the NHS was created GPs were essentially private contractors and, as you say, dentists are private contractors… We’re talking about the more recent Tory privatisation we’ve seen.”
  • When asked about Tory policy to reduce immigration, Ashworth said: “Every general election I’ve fought, the Tories have made these promises… Have they ever delivered it. Have they heck! Do you believe him? I don’t.”
  • He went further to say: “Well they never deliver it, and the reason they haven’t delivered on it is because that is not a sensible way to run an immigration system. You run an immigration system based on the needs of your economy and then needs of sectors in your economy.”
  • On whether Labour want immigration to go up or down: “We want a balanced approach to immigration, and what that means for the NHS is that if a hospital trust thinks that a surgeon or a nurse or a midwife is qualified enough to come to our country to care for our sick and our elderly and offers them that opportunity then they should be allowed to come to our country… What actually the Tories are doing is introducing a nurses tax on nurses across the EU who want to come here, even though we’ve always relied on European nurses.”
  • He added: “A Labour government is not going to set an arbitrary target like the government are because they’re not credible. They’re never delivered. They’ve never been delivered for ten years under this Tory government.”

Brandon Lewis also appeared on Ridge today talking about the Conservatives’ plan to reduce immigration by implementing a point system and restricting benefits so that people cannot claim benefits until they’ve been in the country for five years. He also refuted claims that any jobs had been offered or deals done with Brexit party candidates.

Co-leader of the Green Party, Sian Berry, also appeared defending her party’s £100bn a year plan to combat the climate emergency, saying that they’re “the only party putting forward the right figures” and the sum is necessary because the country is playing “catch-up”.

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