Sunday shows: Extinction Rebellion acting “in tradition of suffragettes”, says Abbott

Ridge on Sunday

Former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott described as “ridiculous” reports that the government may reclassify Extinction Rebellion an organised crime group, and said the group’s blockades were “in the tradition of the suffragettes”.

  • On the Extinction Rebellion protests blockading two printing UK presses this weekend: “It’s important to remind ourselves that direct action, which is what those actions were, is actually legal.”
  • On similar action: “We also saw over the weekend, blockading of the port of Dover by far-right and anti-immigrant activists… These tactics are legal, no matter what we think of the people committing them.”
  • On government classifying Extinction Rebellion as an organised crime group: “Ridiculous. They are not criminals, they are protestors and activists in the tradition of the suffragettes and the hunger marches of the 1920s.”
  • Asked whether Labour under Keir Starmer has shifted to the centre: “I don’t think Keir Starmer would say we’d shifted from the left… He said the case for a strong radical Labour Party is as important as ever.”
  • On whether Starmer was “happy to appear more left-wing, more pro-Corbyn” for the purposes of gaining votes in the leadership election: “You may say that, I couldn’t possibly comment.”
  • She added: “All I am telling you is that on the record, Keir Starmer has been very clear that we shouldn’t abandon the radicalism we found in the Corbyn era.”
  • On the dangers of a no-deal Brexit: “I think there’s a very real danger that we will leave without a proper deal and that could be disastrous in many ways.”
  • On refugees and Brexit: “We are not going to be able to act effectively against, with migrants crossing the Channel, once we come out of the EU and we don’t have the cooperation, we don’t have the access to databases.”
  • On Black Lives Matter protests and if the UK police are racist: “The figures don’t lie. Black people are disproportionately more likely to be stop and searched, Black people are disproportionately more likely to have handcuffs used on them.”
  • On the police and Black people during the pandemic: “Even under the Covid legislation, Black people were disproportionately more likely to have fines applied to them.”
  • On stop and search: “Theresa May, though I didn’t agree with her on a lot of things, understood that stop and search was a problem for the relationship between young people and the police and minority communities and the police.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard also appeared on the show this morning. He reiterated his refusal to stand down as leader and said that he believed the SNP’s record in government will drive voters to choose Labour in the 2021 election.

  • On whether he was going to resign: “No, I’m not, and I think those people who have been calling this week for me to step down have underestimated both my resolve but also the mandate I got from members.”
  • He added: “The mandate that I was given by the members… was to campaign on a radical agenda, but it was also to be the leader of the Scottish Labour Party going into the May 2021 elections.”
  • On the SNP’s record: “There will be a reckoning for the SNP’s record. It said education was going to be a top priority, but actually the attainment gap in education between the poorest areas and wealthier ones is widening.”
  • On Labour’s chances: “There are big questions that the SNP will be called to account for… People will realise that there are alternatives.”
  • On a second independence referendum: “There needs to be a greater parity of esteem between the different parts of the UK and greater decentralisation, but if the question is whether I believe in the creation of a separate Scottish state, I do not.”

Dominic Raab discussed the reported difficulties in Brexit negotiations. He said there were only “two bones of contention left” and that the government’s red lines on fisheries and trade were “just plain common sense”.

The Foreign Secretary defended Tony Abbott’s appointment to the UK Board of Trade. Raab said he didn’t believe accusations that the former Australian Prime Minister is sexist and homophobic and argued he had “huge trade expertise”.

Asked if Extinction Rebellion should be classed as an organised crime group: “I’m astounded by Diane Abbott’s remarks. The idea that it’s right to damage property or intervene with a free press in the name of progressive protest is perverse.”

The Andrew Marr Show

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds discussed whether people should be returning to offices and urged the government to introduce a “two-test” Covid system for travellers coming to the UK to remove the need for “blanket” quarantine.

  • On people returning to the office: “There has to be a very strong, robust system of communication in which people have confidence – and if that doesn’t exist then people will not go back.”
  • He added: “What we cannot have are people threatened with the sack, for example, if they won’t go back to the office or people who have previously been shielding who are being forced into it.”
  • On Labour’s position: “We support this gradual reopening… The point I’m making is, to achieve that aim, to make sure that we do do all we can to reopen the economy, you must have a strategy in which people have confidence.”
  • On concerns about students returning to universities: “What we need obviously going forward is to ensure that we do have the test, track and isolate system properly set up… That really must be the focus of the government.”
  • On quarantine and testing at airports: “What I’ve suggested to the Home Secretary in a letter today is a two-test system that takes away the need for a blanket 14-day quarantine. And that’s supported by international experience.”
  • Asked about safe routes for refugees coming to the UK: “The Dubs amendment… everyone expected it to be 3,000 unaccompanied children that this country would assist, that was closed down by the government with less than 500 accepted.”
  • On the UK’s resettlement programme: “That was closed down in March. We are now starting to reopen international travel – that now should be slowly and safely reopened as well.”
  • On working internationally on displacement: “The government has to deal with the underlying causes of why people flee their homes… Now is not the time to be abolishing the Department for International Development.”

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