Sunday shows: “We got it wrong on Russia,” says Nandy

Elliot Chappell

The Andrew Marr Show

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy discussed China’s treatment of the Uighar Muslims, and said that Labour had “got it wrong” in relation to Russia and the Salisbury attack.

  • Asked if the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province amounts to genocide: “Well it certainly looks that way.”
  • She added: “One very quick and simple thing that the UK could, and should, be doing is to impose sanctions on the Chinese officials involved.”
  • Asked about Russia and the NHS documents uncovered during the election: “I wasn’t in the shadow cabinet at the time and I don’t know how those documents were obtained or why they were used.”
  • On whether the party should have used the documents: “I can see why a Labour leader who was concerned to defend the NHS would.”
  • Asked if she would have used them: “No, if I was making that decision, if Keir Starmer was making that decision, and we knew that they’d come from Russian agents then of course we wouldn’t use them.”
  • On Russia: “We got it wrong on Russia when the Salisbury attack happened… We should not have equivocated or prevaricated.”
  • She added: “We weren’t just failing to be tough on the Russian authoritarian regime… we also let the Tories off the hook for being too complacent and too slow to respond.”
  • On Shamima Begum: “The law was on the side of bringing her back to the UK, because it’s not legal to deny someone a fair trial or to make them stateless.”
  • On what the Home Secretary should have done when the case first emerged: “[He] should have taken proper legal advice to see whether it was possible to deal with this case overseas… What he did was play to the gallery.”
  • She added: “A precedent may have been set where many other people may return as well. Now, I’m not sure that we’re prepared for that, and I think that the blame for that lies squarely at the Conservative government’s door.”

Dominic Raab appeared on the show this morning as well. He told viewers that the government thinks that the Shamima Begum ruling is wrong and will be seeking to appeal the decision.

The Foreign Secretary also discussed the offer of citizenship made to British national overseas passport holders in Hong Kong, saying that the government would not “put a cap on number” of people that can come to the UK.

On getting people back to work in the pandemic, he said: “We trust employers to say that, you know, we do need more people coming back to work – and so we’re giving them that discretion.”

Ridge on Sunday

Nandy also appeared on Ridge on Sunday this morning. She discussed the Prime Minister’s comments on Friday about localised lockdowns and the UK’s relationship with China and Russia.

  • On the PM’s comments: “Well it’s right to implement local or national lockdowns if they’re needed, but I think he’s right to aspire to open up the economy again to get things moving.”
  • On the local lockdown strategy: “There are great gaping holes in the plan that the PM announced on Friday… many people aren’t coming out of their houses, they aren’t spending again in the economy because they’re nervous.”
  • On what the government needs to do: “We need to see far more contacts traced and told to isolate far more quickly, because the government is actually going backwards on that. And we need a mass winter flu vaccination programme.”
  • On China: “We’ve got to be in a position first and foremost to safeguard our national security, and while Chinese investment is very welcome in the UK there are serious concerns… that we shouldn’t be handing over large chunks of our key infrastructure.”
  • On Huawei: “If we had acted sooner, if the government had paid heed to the warnings… then we wouldn’t be in a position now where the roll out of 5G is delayed and the costs have increased.”
  • On human rights in China: “We’re appalled by what is emerging out of the Xinjiang province… I’m also very concerned about the pattern of behaviour that is emerging from the Chinese government.”
  • On that pattern of behaviour: “We cannot stand by while we see a pattern of behaviour where freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights are abused and do nothing about it at all.”
  • On what the government should do: “Freeze the assets of any of the Chinese officials that are involved in those human rights abuses… The UK should not be a haven for people who abuse human rights overseas.”
  • Asked if Labour has been naive on Russia: “We got it wrong on Russia… When the Salisbury attack happened we prevaricated, we equivocated, we called for dialogue at a moment when chemical weapons had been used.”
  • On the Tories’ approach: “The Conservatives have been desperately slow to wake up to the threat that is posed by the current Putin administration… We’ve got to have a much more strategic approach to Russia, or we will pay the price.”
  • On Shamima Begum: “We had a Home Secretary who shot from the hip, who tried to play to the gallery, and as a consequence we now face a real problem.”
  • She explained: “She has the right to a fair trial… but it sets a precedent. So, many other people may now return from overseas and it’s not at all clear that the UK is prepared for that.”
  • She added: “We could have avoided this mess if the Home Secretary had taken proper legal advice, observed the rule of law and handled this process properly in the first place.”
  • Asked if Labour is “siding” with someone who joined Islamic State: “I don’t think that is about siding with someone who joined IS… This is about saying that people who take those actions must face justice.”
  • On Harry Dunn: “The first thing that would really help the family… is to be honest. There are real inconsistencies in the account that the Foreign Secretary has given about how Anne Sacoolas came to leave the UK.”
  • She added: “If this happened to your child – I mean I would want to know that the British government was on my side. That it wasn’t working with other countries in order to let the person who did it off the hook.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted that the government is “on the side of the family” in the Harry Dunn case, and that the case would be discussed during the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit next week.

On incorrect reporting of Covid-19 deaths, he argued that “there’s always been issues and methodological questions that we’ve been constantly trying to streamline”.

The Foreign Secretary said that “we need to be very careful in our dealings” with China – but insisted that the government wants to maintain a “positive relationship” with the country.

He also said that the government had reviewed the UK’s extradition arrangements with the country and that he will be updating parliament “on the conclusion of that review, along with other things that we’ve been looking at” tomorrow.

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