Sunday shows: Labour will “act in the public interest” on Covid rules

The Andrew Marr Show

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy expressed concerns about new Covid restrictions and called for reassurances from the government but described Labour’s support in the Commons vote on Tuesday as “not conditional” and said the party would “act in the public interest”.

  • On whether Labour will vote for new Covid rules on Tuesday: “We very much share the view that there need to be public restrictions… We don’t share the view of those Tory backbenchers that you can just let this virus rip through the population with the damage that would do.”
  • She added: “But we want clarity from the government on two things: first, is this sufficient to get control of the virus? We’re meeting the chief medical officer tomorrow afternoon to discuss that. Second, will people be able to comply with this? We need proper support in place.”
  • Will Labour support government without extra economic help? “Our support is not conditional. We will act in the public interest. We need to know that these measures are tough enough to get control of the virus.”
  • Pressed further: “It’s not too late for the government to come forward with those assurances, and we’re not in favour of rejecting public health measures. Just remember, this is a straight up or down vote, it’s these measures or no measures.”
  • On shadow cabinet members being unhappy: “I think everyone in the country is quite unhappy at the moment… People don’t feel these decisions are fair.”
  • She added: “The reason I’m not committing to vote for these measures is that we’re not convinced at the moment that they are either sufficient or workable. It’s not too late for the government to convince us of that.”
  • In response to Marr saying Labour will probably vote with the government on Tuesday: “We’ve never voted against health restrictions, all the way through this virus.”
  • On whether Labour would want another national lockdown in the new year if cases rises: “No, what we want the government to do is make sure the measures they take this week are actually sufficient to get control of the virus.”
  • On her experience of being told to self-isolate: “I was given several different dates… I only got a phone call ten days in to ask if I was in need of any additional support. This just isn’t working.”
  • Asked whether she thinks Andy Burnham let down Manchester: “No, I don’t. I think Matt Hancock has a personal problem with Andy Burnham which at times I’ve felt is quite bizarre [and] not helpful at all.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab talked about the new Covid rules and Brexit.

  • On the government offering concessions to MPs ahead of the Commons vote on Tuesday: “Your horse-trading is another person’s accountability to parliament.”
  • On whether the country faces a third wave in January: “There’s a risk of that if we don’t get the balance right. But so far the R level is coming down, that’s really important.”
  • On the possibility of a third lockdown in the new year: “We’re doing everything we can to avoid that.”
  • On Brexit negotiations: “We’re down to two basic issues, particularly fisheries.”
  • On whether there will be a deal: “I’m not in the guessing game… The mutual interest in a deal is very strong.”

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon was challenged over her record on coronavirus deaths (“We have a lower prevalence of the virus at the moment than the other nations”), the attainment gap in education (“The gap is not widening”) and Alex Salmond (Marr highlighted the different dates she has cited for when she knew about allegations; Sturgeon said he was “conflating two issues”).

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon backed the regional, tiered approach for Covid restrictions, called on the government to scrap the peak and off-peak ticket system over Christmas to avoid creating “artificial bottlenecks”, and on Brexit said Labour “want to see a deal that we could support”.

  • Asked whether Labour supports “in principle” the tier system announced by the government last week: “Yeah, the principle is right… Having an approach that is right for each region and subregion is the right one.”
  • On whether the regions should be divided into smaller areas: “Having a really clear set of rules that speaks to a geography people can understand is really important… Having that on a county basis is probably the right level.”
  • On transport over Christmas and New Year and the transmission of coronavirus: “We don’t think at the moment the government has taken into account that people want to see friends and family.”
  • On what the government should do: “Let’s take practical steps that would help take away some of the bottlenecks – so for instance the peak and off-peak ticket arrangement where you almost create an artificial bottleneck.”
  • On scrapping peak fares: “At the moment, there is no peak. People aren’t using the railways as they would in normal times, so why have we still got the peak tickets in place that essentially create a bottleneck of demand?”
  • Asked how much it would cost to scrap peak tickets: “You could argue that it wouldn’t cost any more because people who are buying off-peak tickets choose those tickets because they are the affordable tickets.”
  • He added: “It’s very unlikely that between Christmas and the New Year people would opt for a more expensive ticket… These aren’t business travellers. These aren’t commuters. These are people who are going to visit friends and family.”
  • Asked whether Labour has costed the policy: “It’s not for us to cost it, it’s for us to say to the government: have you thought ahead to think about the impact that travel over Christmas and New Years is going to have?”
  • Asked whether he would like Labour to support a Brexit deal negotiated by the government when it comes to parliament: “We do want to see a deal, but of course until we see the content of the deal we can’t confirm our support for it.”
  • On Labour’s approach to considering support for the Brexit trade deal: “We want to see a deal that we could support. And what we say is that we would consider it a foundational agreement, which is something to build up from.”

Dominic Raab was challenged over areas with lower rates of infection than London being placed in a higher tier. He argued decisions are made on “five criteria” but are also “ultimately a question of judgement”.

The Foreign Secretary defended the Prime Minister’s claim that the tier system could end in nine weeks. He said: “I do think this feels like an exit strategy and I do think that with that comes some cautious grounds for hope.”

On MPs voting on the new tier system next week and a possible rebellion, Raab said: “We’ve got a confident message that we need to explain and listen as well, the reality is we want to come out of national lockdown and stay out of it.”

On Brexit negotiations, the Foreign Secretary told Sky News that “we’re in a reasonable position – there’s a deal to be done”, before adding: “It feels like there’s progress towards greater respect for what the UK position was.”

Times Radio

Jim McMahon joined Gloria de Piero and Tom Newton Dunn on Times Radio. He reiterated his call for a Covid travel plan and said it would be “illogical” for Labour to vote against the new Covid restrictions.

  • Asked whether walk-on tickets should be banned over Christmas: “What they [franchises] need to do is look ahead and see how many tickets are being booked, and if they see a spike… they do need to make sure they have mandatory seat reservations.”
  • On peak ticketing: “What we are still seeing is a smaller spike that takes place on the last off-peak ticket and the first off-peak ticket and so what we’re saying is over that Christmas period… take away that artificial bottleneck.”
  • Asked whether he will vote with government on the tiered Covid approach next week: “The principle has always been that we will support the government in the national interest to take the decisions needed to keep us all safe.”
  • He added: “But we’re also very clear with them that they need to be open about the data, they need to make sure financial support is in place to help those areas.”
  • Asked whether there is any possibility that Labour might vote against the new tier restrictions: “No, not on the basis of the the tier system that we have seen. It would be illogical to vote against it, because essentially, there wouldn’t be any restrictions in place.”
  • On Labour supporting a Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson: “It’s very difficult [to say] at this point because we haven’t seen the deal but what we’ve been very clear about is that no deal would cause untold harm to our economy.”
  • Put to him that Labour voted against Theresa May’s deal: “The choice is not whether Theresa May’s deal comes back. It’s not whether Labour has a deal it can present. It’s going to be a straight vote – either you vote for it or you vote against it or potentially you abstain.”
  • On an upcoming Brexit vote: “The choice is not this deal versus another deal… It’s going to be this deal or no deal, and it’s pretty clear from all the assessment and analysis that no deal would be so damaging that it would be reckless.”

More from LabourList