Sunday shows: PM “gone missing” while Covid decisions being made, says Nandy

The Andrew Marr Show

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said Labour would not vote down the government’s Covid measures for the North of England as some restrictions are needed, but slammed the Prime Minister for having “gone missing” while restrictions have been decided.

  • On the public response to Covid measures in the North: “People feel that they haven’t just been abandoned by the government, they now feel that the government is actively working against us.”
  • On the need for more support: “We have people ringing our offices saying: ‘Have I got a job to go to tomorrow?’ If they don’t do something quickly, they’re not just going to lose control of the virus – they’re going to lose trust.”
  • On calls for a parliamentary vote to reject the measures in the North: “We will be looking for mechanisms to make sure that there is a vote… What we really want, though, is the government to come forward with a package of financial support that enables people to comply with the health restrictions.”
  • On the current proposals and the financial support available: “The financial package is not sufficient. We don’t want to get rid of what the Chancellor has done… but the help is by no means good enough.”
  • On the challenge facing people: “If he doesn’t think again, we will have people being evicted. We’re in the middle of winter and a global pandemic. This is really not a sensible way to carry on.”
  • On a vote: “We wouldn’t vote down a support package with nothing in its place. That wouldn’t be a responsible thing to do at all. But we certainly will be seeking to find a way to force a vote in the House of Commons for a better support package.” She added that the mayors have suggested legal action if the government does not offer more support.
  • On rules that would restrict travel and stop people leaving their local areas: “It is oppressive, of course it is. But it is also potentially necessary.”
  • On measures restricting pubs: “It is probably right to say that there are going to have to be restrictions on pubs. I think that the length of time young people spend in pubs probably is part of the driving force around this.”
  • On evidence not being shared with local government: “It is absolutely absurd that the mayor of Greater Manchester, who is seeing very high transmission rates in his area, cannot get access to that data.”
  • Asked if it is a good idea to close bars and restaurants: “It is starting to look like that is necessary.”
  • Put to her that workplaces, colleges and schools are greater sources of transmission: “The data that we were shown last week contradicted that. It said that pubs, hospitality, were the major source of transmission.”
  • She added: “But this just shows how absurd it is that the government hasn’t shared this information, and we have a Prime Minister who has gone missing all weekend while these decisions are being made.”
  • Asked why Labour is planning to abstain on the 10pm hospitality curfew, she said it is “clear that we do need further restrictions”, and added that the problems with the rule are caused by “the way it’s being implemented”.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick also appeared on the show this morning. Asked if the country is heading for a national lockdown, he said: “None of us want to return to a blanket national lockdown.”

He told viewers today that the government would be “making use of local councils to do contact tracing” but refused to say that control of the contract tracing system would be handed over to local authorities.

He added: “People who know their own community, particularly harder to reach communities, are bound to be better than Whitehall or national contact tracers.”

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds discussed the Covid measures, as well as calling for an investigation following accusations that allocation of money through the Towns Fund favoured Tory battleground seats.

  • On new Covid restrictions in the North: “The first thing I just have to put on the record is the level of anger and frustration in towns and constituencies like mine at the way this has been happening.”
  • He added: “There have been leaks to newspapers, there has been no consultation with local leaders. People feel they are being treated with contempt and not with respect.”
  • On the need for new rules: “There are going to have to be further measures and the reason for that is the government has lost control.”
  • On extra support needed: “There are other things the government could do. We haven’t yet got sick pay for everybody – the payment of £500 to people that was announced, only one in eight workers are eligible for that.”
  • On the risk of more people breaking restrictions: “It is a worry, to be frank. At the beginning, we talked in the country about how there might be lockdown fatigue. That is definitely more of a feature.”
  • On Covid restrictions elsewhere: “Just look over there to Wales and what they’ve been able to do is far superior to what we’ve got in England, so there are real lessons they’ve got to learn.”
  • On the 10pm hospitality curfew: “We back restrictions in hospitality as long as they’ve got the economic support that should go with that.”
  • On an upcoming vote: “It’s not a vote specifically on the 10pm rule, it’s a vote on all of the package of measures affecting areas like this. When the infection rate is as it is in constituencies like mine, you can’t be arguing for less restrictions.”
  • On Labour’s call for an investigation into Robert Jenrick regarding the Towns Fund: “We found out where that money has gone has very much been directed by ministers to what look like Conservative election battlegrounds.”
  • On accusations against the Housing Secretary: “We know that ministers have directly tried to influence that. They have, in Robert Jenrick’s case, sat on the local board that made the application and then tried to cover that up.”
  • He added: “The whole question has always been a murky one on how this money has been allocated, the Secretary of State has questions to answer and an investigation is the right way forward.”

Jenrick rejected accusations of failing to communicate with regional leaders, following reports they found out about restrictions from newspapers, arguing that he was “trying to work very closely with mayors and council leaders”.

Responding to whether the government should be doing more to support jobs after criticism of the Chancellor’s new job support scheme, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary said: “We can’t do everything.”

He also rejected the call for an investigation into the Towns Fund and argued the allegations were “political point-scoring stories that are completely baseless”. He claimed the allocations had been made on a “robust and fair methodology”.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said testing in Scotland, which is running at half its 30,000 daily capacity, was “demand-led” and was building up for winter when “we are likely to see more people with symptoms”.

She called out those who have criticised her role in the Alex Salmond scandal, and argued that “often it’s a woman that ends up answering for them” when a man is accused of misconduct against women.

Alastair Campbell, former spokesman for Tony Blair and Downing Street press secretary, marked World Mental Health Day by highlighting the link between economic crises and suicide. He said: “I don’t have any sense of the government planning for this.”

More from LabourList