Sunday shows: Spain quarantine is “shambolic”, says Labour’s Ashworth

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Jonathan Ashworth described the government’s handling of a new quarantine for those travelling from Spain as “shambolic”. He also discussed Labour’s settlement of the Panorama case, saying: “I entirely support the decision”.

  • On Spain: “I can understand why the government has made this decision… One of the big blunders from Boris Johnson back in March was not quarantining those coming from France and Spain and Italy.”
  • On holidaymakers currently in Spain: “The way in which the decision has been made in the last 24 hours is frankly shambolic… They don’t know whether their employers will allow them to take two weeks to quarantine.”
  • He added: “The government just says ‘oh we hope that employers cooperate’ – well, you know, to be frank I hope that I win the lottery on Saturday, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen.”
  • Put to him that the decision had to be taken quickly: “I understand… but the way in which this was communicated – I mean it broke on Twitter, because a very good Sunday journalist got hold of the story and then the government had to scramble to confirm it – that is no way to treat people.”
  • On financial support: “When the government makes decisions, whether it’s putting a city like Leicester into lockdown or telling holidaymakers that they’ve got to quarantine for 14 days, they’ve got to back it up with financial support.”
  • He added: “This virus will spread when people have no choice but to go to work… It’s why we’re not really getting on top of this virus.”
  • On obesity: “Tackling obesity has to be a much wider approach, you’ve got to tackle the circumstances in which people live.”
  • On the government’s strategy due to be published tomorrow: “Dieting advice is great. More exercise, more cycling – yeah, that’s a good thing.”
  • But he added: “We need action around accessing nutritional food, we need to ban junk food advertising, we need to give families support, we need to give people healthy start vouchers not cut them, and also these high energy drinks kids can buy in shops – why aren’t we banning that?”
  • On Labour and Scottish independence: “We’ve always believed since our founding days that we are stronger together.”
  • Asked if Labour would support an independence referendum: “We are not a pro-independence party… Our policy is not to support an independence referendum.”
  • On antisemitism and settling the Panorama case: “Keir Starmer has shown exceptional leadership in dealing with this poison of antisemitism, which was allowed to go unchallenged for too long in the Labour Party. I entirely support the decision.”
  • He talked about changing the culture in the party: “Where antisemitism complaints were too readily dismissed as smears or not taken seriously, or opinions were allowed to go unchallenged.”
  • On Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on the settlement: “I have great fondness for Jeremy Corbyn… but on this particular question, I think Keir Starmer has done the correct thing this week.”
  • On antisemitic comments from Wiley: “Twitter has been absolutely appalling in the last 24 hours in refusing to take on the antisemitic vile poison that we’ve seen coming out of that particular grime artist.”

Sophy Ridge also interviewed former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. He discussed coronavirus, Russian interference in the UK, China, Labour in Scotland and Keir Starmer’s performance as leader.

  • On the government’s Covid strategy: “The reality is we’re going to be living with Covid-19… for enough of the future that it means it’s worth putting in place the containment infrastructure that allows you to control it.”
  • Asked whether government messaging on masks has been clear: “No, and I think even the most ardent supporter of the government wouldn’t say that. I mean, they began by saying they weren’t necessary.”
  • He added: “Where they’ve used masks extensively, there’s no doubt they’ve been able better to control the disease.”
  • On the Russia report published this week and Brexit: “I don’t believe that the referendum result was because of Russian interference but you should know, and the government should investigate for the future.”
  • On the UK’s relationship with China: “We need to have a strategy for dealing with China… You have to confront them where it’s necessary to confront them but you have to do it from a strategic position.”
  • On Scotland: “When Labour went off to the left and played around with nationalist sentiment instead of being clearly in the centre-left position and clearly in favour of the union, it lost its purchase as the opposition.”
  • Asked about Keir Starmer’s leadership: “I think he’s done a great job… He’s made the Labour Party competitive again – there’s still a long way to go on policy – but, you know, he’s made a really impressive start.”
  • He added: “For a lot of people who had really given up on the Labour Party… I think they’re now looking at it much more sympathetically and I think they regard him as a serious figure.”

Dominic Raab also appeared on the show this morning. Commenting on people travelling abroad, he said that “as we’ve found with Spain, we can’t give a guarantee”, and concluded that “there is an element of uncertainty this summer”.

On people facing difficulties with their employers as they’re told to quarantine, the Foreign Secretary claimed that “you cannot be penalised in this country lawfully for following the rules and the law that’s in place”.

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