Sunday shows: Get Brexit done and get control of virus, Labour tells PM

The Andrew Marr Show

Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, set out Labour’s position on Brexit and the controversial internal market bill. She concluded by telling the government: “Get Brexit done, get a deal, and concentrate please on getting control of this virus.”

On Brexit…

  • Asked whether Labour will vote against the internal market bill unless the controversial clauses that break internal law are taken out, as suggested in Keir Starmer’s Telegraph article: “That is indeed correct.”
  • She added: “Tomorrow the bill, as it stands, the Labour Party – and it looks like a large number of Conservative MPs – will not be able to support it. Because I cannot go through, Keir Starmer cannot go through, the division lobbies knowing that we are deliberately and consciously breaking international law. It’s the wrong thing to do for our moral standing in the world, but it’s also absolutely counter-productive in achieving what we want to achieve.”
  • On tensions between UK and EU: “I think there is posturing on both sides. From the British government seeking to renege on an international treaty, but also from the EU. I would urge both sides to stop the posturing and get back to the negotiating table – and take this seriously.”
  • On the bill taking devolved powers back to Westminster: “We do have concerns about those things… Also the race to bottom on standards. But the crucial thing in this bill is the breaking of international law.”
  • Asked what there would be left for Labour to vote for if the devolved powers parts and the Northern Ireland Protocol parts were taken out of the bill: “We want to have a thriving and functioning internal market. There will be changes after we end the transition period, so legislation is needed. But we’d like to see a greater level of collaboration and deliberation between the nations of the UK rather than a power grab by Westminster.”
  • On Tory MP Bob Neill’s amendment, which would give parliament a veto on overriding the withdrawal agreement: “We’d need to look at the detail of that amendment. The shadow cabinet will meet on Tuesday… We’ll be tabling amendments of our own.”
  • On control of state aid rules: “We do need to have control over state aid. But… being in the EU isn’t what has stopped us from using state aid. It is the British government’s intransigence and failure to support British industry that has stopped us spending more on state aid.”

On Covid…

  • On Labour council leaders saying they don’t have the money to put in place Covid marshals: “The government has got to provide support to enable these things to happen… The rules seem to chop and change all the time. It doesn’t help when you’ve got the government who wants to disobey international law who then tell the citizens of this country that all got to obey the laws they set.”
  • On the new rules coming in tomorrow: “I think the simplicity of the rule of six is useful, but I think the government needs to keep under review whether children need to be included in that… We’re saying get Brexit done, get a deal, and concentrate please on getting control of this virus.”

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said he would resign if he sees “the rule of law being broken in a way I find unacceptable”, but added: “We are not at that stage… I don’t believe we’re going to get to that stage.”

Ridge on Sunday

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Louise Haigh discussed the government’s “baffling” approach to the Brexit negotiations. She also declared that a rise in Covid cases was “inevitable when the government was encouraging people to go out”.

  • On rising Covid cases: “That was relatively inevitable when the government was encouraging people to go out, back into restaurants and pubs, to eat out and to get back socialising.”
  • She added: “It beggars belief that when the government had asked people to get out of the house… they hadn’t put in place that testing capacity in order to underpin it and make it safe.”
  • On getting people back to work: “Keeping the economy moving is not at odds with protecting people’s health, because we need the economy to be functioning to fund the health service.”
  • Asked if Labour supports the latest Covid restrictions: “We will support the government on restrictions… as long as they are based on evidence and sound medical advice.”
  • Asked about the outstanding issues of fishing and state aid in the Brexit negotiations: “These issues are not insignificant… but they’re certainly not insurmountable.”
  • On the government’s approach: “What’s baffling about the government’s approach is that there was every prospect that those issues were going to reach agreement on the joint committee this week.”
  • On state aid and the Northern Ireland protocol: “The protocol states that state aid will apply to Northern Ireland… That is what was already written down and ratified in an international treaty by Boris Johnson.”
  • On Johnson’s approach: “What his actions are now doing is undermining the protocol and unnecessarily pushing the conversation back to the border on the island of Ireland. That is seriously risky.”
  • On Brexit and Covid: “As we’re attempting to respond to Covid… what we need is a deal with the EU that protects our trading relationship, protects businesses, protects jobs and protects peace in Northern Ireland.”
  • On breaking international law and relationships after Brexit: “Why on earth would we be stepping into that next chapter of history as the UK, undermining our reputation as a country that… upholds the international rule of law?

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady discussed childcare and employment, in particular for working mums. She called for a “right to flexible work” and action on ensuring women get “equal pay for work of equal value”.

  • On the pandemic and childcare: “Life is really tough for working parents, but especially working mums who are bearing the brunt of it and especially people with kids under ten.”
  • On working women with children: “Some of the choices that women are being forced to make include cutting their hours at work, or going in really early, or ending up doing effectively an evening shift to try and keep on top of their jobs.”
  • On research showing that women are taking on the majority of childcaring responsibilities in the pandemic: “The risk here is that we see attitudes and behaviours setting women back decades.”
  • On flexible working: “The government needs to understand that we need working patterns that work for parents, and especially working mums… We’d like to see a right to flexible working”.
  • On support the sector in Covid: “The childcare sector deserves a bailout because it is crucial for the economy. It allows working parents to do their jobs.”
  • On the gender pay gap: “We’ve got to make progress on equal pay… We still have a way to go before women get equal pay for work of equal value.”
  • On pay disparity in crises like Covid: “Women are always going to end up picking up the pieces when there’s a childcare problem because they’re not often, on average, earning as much as their partner.”

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