Sunday shows: Labour calls for “NHS rescue package”

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth this morning stressed the need to get to grips with rising patient waiting times and cancer care, and called for a “rescue package” to properly fund and staff the health service.

  • On cancer care during the pandemic: “We shouldn’t have to make a choice between Covid care and cancer care but that’s what we’ve been doing and today we’re missing all the targets – all the main targets – for cancer care.”
  • On the NHS: “We need an NHS rescue package. We need a plan to put funding into the NHS, but crucially we need a plan now to recruit the staff that we’re going to need for the future to deliver the quality care that patients deserve.”
  • On the vote in parliament this week to extend the Coronavirus Act by six months: “We have to be driven by the data and that will mean, I’m afraid, that government will have to have the power to impose restrictions where necessary.”
  • Asked whether Labour will be voting in favour: “It’s a complex piece of legislation. We broadly support it. It ought to be properly scrutinised.”
  • On summer holidays: “Vaccination in the whole of the UK, while important and will save lives, does not make us bullet-proof. It does not make us completely safe. We’re only safe when everybody is safe.”
  • On Covid in Europe: “As long as the virus appears to be surging in France, Germany, parts of Europe… We run the risk that more mutations emerge, which bounce back and hit us and evade the vaccine success that we have had.”
  • On the lifting of restrictions under the Covid roadmap, he added: “It’s too early to make a judgement around the May 17th date on international travel.”
  • Asked why Labour had pursued an all-male, all-white, one-person shortlist for its selection of the Hartlepool by-election candidate: “We’re still committed to all-women shortlists and improving the representation of women in parliament.”
  • He added: “We’ve actually got more than 50% of women in the Parliamentary Labour Party because of all-women shortlists… We will continue to use all-women shortlists in parliamentary selections and future by-election selections.”

Steve Baker also appeared on the show this morning. On the parliamentary vote extending the Coronavirus Act next week, he told viewers: “I expect to vote against.”

“The thing is with so many vulnerable people now vaccinated and record progress being made, people will be right to ask why the government is still seeking to hang onto these powers,” the Conservative backbencher argued.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Ridge that “no one wants draconian measures”. But he stressed that progress had been made on the vaccine roll-out and added: “I don’t think now is the time to throw that away or to potentially put that at risk.”

The Andrew Marr Show

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy told viewers this morning that Labour would not oppose the vote next week to extend the Coronavirus Act, and argued that the UK must “calm down” tensions over the EU-UK vaccine dispute.

  • On the UK-EU vaccines dispute: “The president of the EU commission’s comments were deeply, deeply unhelpful. I think that it was right, listening to the commissioner just now, that we should try to calm down these tensions.”
  • On whether the UK should block vaccines going to the EU: “This is precisely the tit-for-tat we don’t want… If we do get into that situation the consequences, not just for the EU but for the UK and the world, will be very, very severe.”
  • Asked whether the Prime Minister should ban holidays abroad: “We can’t allow the good work that has been done from the vaccine roll-out to be unravelled by unlocking too quickly or by failing to secure our borders.”
  • She added: “The government is right to say we should be guided by the science… We do need to be careful, we do need to be cautious and, frankly, I haven’t booked a foreign holiday for this summer and I won’t be doing so.”
  • On the vote in parliament this week to extend the Coronavirus Act by six months: “We certainly won’t be standing in the way of the government in getting this legislation passed.”
  • On the extension of the cap on nuclear weapons by another 80 missiles: “We were absolutely baffled why the government has done it… This is a really serious step that potentially threatens the security of our country.”
  • Asked whether Labour will vote against the move: “The government has not given any reason… Until they can give an explanation to the House of Commons, we won’t support them.”
  • On the Hartlepool by-election and Labour candidate Paul Williams’ misogynistic tweet: “He was right to apologise and if he hadn’t apologised frankly we’d be having a very different conversation on this show this morning.”
  • She added: “Paul has apologised. He now has to go out and show that when we said that this was a watershed moment we’re going to use it. He has a huge platform through the by-election to demonstrate that.”

EU commissioner for financial services Mairead McGuinness also appeared on the show this morning. Asked whether the EU will block vaccines to the UK, she told viewers that the political bloc has exported vaccines to 31 countries.

“The leaders will meet this week and they will make an assessment of the current situation about the roll-out of vaccines and perhaps make decisions,” she said. “But as the president of the commission said herself, everything is on the table.”

Asked whether French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent comments about the AstaZeneca vaccine were “irresponsible”, the commissioner said: “I actually don’t agree with you that there’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy.

“It was interesting before vaccines became available, a lot of people were hesitant. But when the vaccine was rolled-out and people saw its efficacy, people then wanted to be vaccinated… We all know that vaccination works.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told those watching this morning that “we need a credible nuclear deterrent” when asked whether the UK needs 80 more nuclear warheads and warned that Russia has moved to “invest strongly” in its capacity.

Asked about China and allegations of genocide and Dominic Raab’s recent comments on trading with the country: “We haven’t been soft on China… trade often gives us influence to try and help countries change their behaviour.”

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