Sunday shows: Long-Bailey and Starmer disagree on 2019 Brexit policy

The Andrew Marr Show

Angela Rayner rejected Richard Burgon’s idea of balloting members on military action, and declined to agree with extending free movement.

  • On why she didn’t run for leader: “I thought how best can I help Labour get into power? I thought my organising skills were there for me to be bombastic, be that John Prescott type figure… and that’s why I went for deputy.”
  • On John McDonnell backing Richard Burgon over her and party unity: “I think what we’ve got to do is broaden our base, so we can’t just fragment… I think there has been a factionalism. There’s been a culture in the Labour Party where people have felt that they’ve not been welcomed.”
  • On her history of backing Tony Blair on some issues: “We know from the figures I published today that the government cut Sure Start by one third, and that’s really devastating because our country is about a country of aspiration. The working class of this country want to see their children do well.”
  • On whether Labour should be more positive about the Blair and Brown years: “Any Labour government is better than the Conservative one… We’ve got to be there working, not trashing our past, but actually working together.”
  • On Burgon’s idea of balloting members on military action: “I think it’s practically impossible, but I do understand the ethos of what Richard was trying to say… But I don’t think it’s practical.”
  • On immigration: “I think we’ve got to have a fair system. I think freedom of movement as it currently stands as we leave the EU will end and we’ve got to have a fair system.”
  • On whether FoM should be extended: “I think that we should be celebrating people coming to this country and working hard. I think there’s a misconception that our country is awash with people coming here, getting free benefits, getting social housing. It’s just not true.”
  • Pressed on whether FoM should be extended, she said she would fight for a fair immigration system.
  • To want some kind of immigration controls doesn’t make you racist? “No, it doesn’t.”
  • On education policy: “The system now is rigged. You can see that by Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister.”
  • On backing Rebecca Long-Bailey: “Rebecca Long-Bailey, I think, is the best candidate for leader. It’s about time we had a woman leader of the Labour Party. She’s no ‘continuation Corbyn’.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey criticised Labour’s 2019 election Brexit position, suggested the four-day week policy should not have been included in the manifesto, and said it would be “absolutely disastrous” for Labour to campaign to rejoin the EU. She also said there was “no conflict” between trans rights and women’s rights, but declined to describe Woman’s Place UK as a hate group.

  • On being labelled ‘continuity Corbyn’: “I’m very much my own person. To suggest I’m a continuation of any other individual is quite disrespectful. Not least because I’m a woman.”
  • On the election: “We got things wrong. Our message on Brexit… We lost trust on a whole range of other issues. Antisemitism. Divisions in the party. And in terms of the manifesto itself, despite having some great policies, we didn’t have a message that drew them altogether around aspiration… And often the campaign was quite chaotic.”
  • On the manifesto: “For example, the four-day working week. That was never going to be delivered in five years. That was a long-term aspiration… Differentiating between what is in a manifesto in the short term, and what’s part of our longer-term programme, I think is very important.”
  • On whether she takes responsibility for the defeat: “I do, and certainly I feel upset that we didn’t sell many of the policies in the way that I would have hoped.”
  • On spending more than £98bn extra a year: “It was £82.9bn that we were planning to spend – public spend, and it’s important to differentiate that from capital investment.”
  • Do you stick by that? “I do, because we weren’t being radical in terms of our public spending plans. In fact, we were way behind other leading industrial nations on this.”
  • On campaigning to rejoin the EU: “It would be absolutely disastrous to go into the next general election advocating a position of rejoining the EU. We’ve seen the damage that our compromise position did in this election campaign… Our role now is to, over the next four years, set out a positive vision for the country of what GB looks like outside of the EU. We can’t retreat to a position where we’re waiting for four years to tell our voters they got it wrong.”
  • On extending FoM: “My own personal is I am in favour of free movement, but we’ve got to be pragmatic and realise the position we’re in.”
  • On trans rights pledges: “We can all have legitimate and comradely debate in the party, and I’d encourage that… We’ve got to recognise the amount of transphobic hate there is out there.”
  • On whether Woman’s Place UK is a hate group: “I’m not regarding any particular group as a hate group, but what I would say is that there’s no place in the Labour Party for transphobic behaviour.”
  • On the wider debate: “There’s no conflict between the rights of women and safety in particular places and trans rights.”
  • On the IHRA definition and a statement made by Corbyn at an NEC meeting: “I don’t recall that statement being made. [But] I do not think it’s right to call Israel or the creation of Israel as a racist endeavour. I think that’s antisemitic.”

Ridge on Sunday

Keir Starmer defended Labour’s Brexit policy going into the 2019 general election, saying it was “of course” the “right” stance. He also talked about uniting Labour, immigration and Scottish independence.

  • On his local party nominations: “The theme running through this for me is unity. If we can’t unite our party and stop taking lumps out of each other, then we’re not going to win the next general election.”
  • Asked whether he is on left or right of Labour: “What I want is what matters, and what I want is fundamental change in this country. I see ingrained inequality, and only radical changes will do anything about it, so I do want a fundamental shift of power, of wealth and opportunity.”
  • Asked whether Corbyn would be in his shadow cabinet: “These questions about who will be in the Shadow Cabinet – I’m focused on winning this race and I am not going to be presumptuous about what might happen afterwards… I just want to stay disciplined and professional about what needs to happen next.”
  • On who should pay top rate of income tax: “I think it should be the top 5%… I’ve also said that corporation tax needs to go back to where it was under the last Labour government.”
  • On whether immigration should be reduced: “I don’t believe in numbers and I don’t believe in salary gaps. We’ve been playing the numbers game for the best part of ten years and it doesn’t work. I want people to be able to work in Europe, people in Europe to be able to work here.”
  • Asked whether he takes responsibility for Labour’s 2019 Brexit position: “I think we all take responsibility for that devastating election loss, of course we do, because for millions of people who desperately needed change, we put them in a position where they won’t have that change.” Added: “Whatever else you can challenge me on, Brexit wasn’t the cause of four election losses for the Labour Party so an honest assessment of the nature of the task ahead is needed.”
  • On the second referendum policy: “I thought it was the right policy, I thought we should have gone on by the way and said which side we would be campaigning on if there was a referendum and I warned our party that if we looked indecisive, we wouldn’t look like we were leading on this issue.”
  • Do you still think it was the right policy? “Yes, of course.”
  • On antisemitism… Apart form respond to interview questions, what did you do? “The first thing was I was making those arguments publicly, the second thing was I was making those points in the shadow cabinet.”
  • Do you think that Jeremy Corbyn had a blind spot on it? “I think Jeremy should have been stronger, we should have been quicker on it, but I don’t want to point the finger at one individual.  We failed on this.”
  • Could you ever support a second independence referendum in Scotland? “I don’t support Scotland leaving the UK.” Added: “I’ve made a different case which is for federalism, a radical federalism, and that’s what I believe in, so any manifesto under my leadership would be putting that forward. But I’ll say this, just to finish that answer, that whatever position in the end the Labour party takes, it has to be done in agreement with Scottish Labour.”
  • Have you ever considered passing the mic so Labour can have a female leader? “I have talked to the other candidates about this because it comes up, as you can imagine, and I’ve said that nobody in this is standing because they’re a man or because they are women, and the other candidates agree with me.”

Richard Burgon attributed Labour’s defeat to Brexit, and said every 2019 manifesto policy should be kept unless Labour members disagree.

  • On the reasons for Labour’s defeat: “I think the main reason was that it ended up becoming the Brexit election that Boris Johnson wanted, and in many parts of the country the issue of Brexit ended up overshadowing traditional party loyalties.”
  • On Labour’s Brexit position: “I respectfully disagree with [Keir] on his analysis in relation to Brexit… I think it was right that we tried to bring the country together but it failed and we’ve got to be honest about that. That policy failed and any idea that by being clearly Remain, which I think Keir suggested in his interview, I think he’s mistaken as well and it would have been even worse if we had tried that.”
  • On the view that the manifesto wasn’t credible: “No, I don’t accept that.  I’m proud of the manifesto that we stood on.”
  • Every single policy in the last manifesto should be kept? “Unless the members want to ditch those policies, yes.”
  • On his ‘peace pledge’ to ballot members on military action: “The policy has been misrepresented. Firstly, the policy of the peace pledge is that members would have their say if the United Nations aren’t backing the action and if it is not the case that it’s a genuine national emergency. So if it is UN backed, if it a genuine national emergency, it wouldn’t apply and we’re not seeking to change the British constitution. The Prime Minister’s prerogative powers will still apply. And if MPs still really want to vote for war, because they think it’s the best thing to do or if that’s what they do, then we can’t stop them.”
  • Most of the time when military action is considered, it is a national emergency isn’t it? “Iraq wasn’t a national emergency, our intervention in Libya wasn’t a national emergency, our intervention in Afghanistan wasn’t a national emergency.”
  • On whether leadership candidates should consider giving Corbyn a shadow cabinet role: “I think if they become leader, they should consider all the options… The point I was making in the interview is that it’s not the end for Jeremy Corbyn, he’s got a long political career ahead of him should he wish.”
  • On what he disagrees with in the Board of Deputies pledges: “In relation to the eighth pledge, that does concern me because it talks about fringe Jewish groups and I want to work with groups right across the Jewish community, not just the Board of Deputies… Also, the outsourcing of the disciplinary process – we need more detail on that, I’m yet to be aware of any organisation that successfully outsource their disciplinary process.”
  • Best Labour leader? “Keir Hardie”
  • Who did more for working class people, Jeremy Corbyn or Tony Blair? “I think it’s not about individuals, the whole Labour movement delivered.”
  • Dream shadow cabinet job? “Shadow Foreign Secretary.”
  • Favourite band? “Iron Maiden.”
  • Have you ever kissed a Tory? “Not that I’m aware of.”

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