Sunday shows: One billion jabs donation “missing the point”, says Thornberry

Elliot Chappell

Trevor Phillips on Sunday

Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry said the commitment to donate donate one billion surplus Covid jabs to low-income countries is “missing the point”, as the key issue is that the world is not making enough vaccines. She also discussed the Northern Ireland protocol row, and described recent cuts to aid spending as “simply wrong”.

  • On recent UK cuts to aid spending: “It is embarrassing – more than embarrassing, it is simply wrong – for us to be the only country in the G7 nations around that table that’s actually cutting our aid budget at a time like this.”
  • On Boris Johnson’s commitment while opening the G7 summit to build back better in a more “gender neutral” and “more feminine” way: “I don’t really understand what he’s talking about, to be honest with you.”
  • She added: “Of course we should be building back in a way that is better… Is that feminine, is that masculine? I don’t really care, to be honest with you Trevor. What I care about is climate change, I care about making sure we’ve got vaccines and I care about corporations paying their way.”
  • Asked whether she is supportive of the one-billion jabs target: “I kind of feel as though it’s missing the point. I think that if we say, you know, we will hand over our spare vaccines, that isn’t really – the issue is something else.”
  • She added: “The issue is that we as a globe are not making enough vaccine. We don’t have enough factories around the world strategically placed making enough vaccines and being able to step up and increase production.”
  • On the need for increased international production: “We may in the autumn be talking about the need for top-ups and all of us to have top-ups. We may, I hate to say, in five years’ time be talking about another pandemic.”
  • On the Northern Ireland protocol: “We just need to get this sorted out. I think it’s completely ridiculous. I think that there are plenty of ways it can be sorted out, and the government needs to step up and do it.”
  • On a solution to the row over checks on goods: “We need to have a veterinary agreement with the EU… I personally think that the Swiss model is the best one that we should have. And we should just get on with it.”
  • Asked whether public health restrictions should lift on June 21st: “We’ve always said that we must follow the scientific advice and the scientific advice is pretty clear – that we can’t have a lifting of lockdown at the moment.”

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown also appeared on the show today, arguing that the G7 summit would “go down as an unforgivable moral failure” to provide an adequate plan to vaccinate the entire population of the world.

  • On the G7 summit and the international response to the Covid pandemic: “It’s up to the chairman, and that’s Boris Johnson, to lead. The others would respond, but I think this summit will go down as a missed opportunity.”
  • On distributing vaccinations evenly around the world: “We needed 11 billion vaccines, we’ve only got offered a plan for one billion – we needed $50bn allocated for the vaccination of the world and only $5bn.”
  • He added: “This summit, I’m afraid, will also go down as an unforgivable moral failure, when the richest countries are sitting round the table with the power to do something about it… We have not set out the comprehensive plan that will deliver vaccination by the middle of next year.”
  • On the UK commitment: “There is a huge gap between what [Johnson] promised last Sunday and what is actually being delivered. And I’m afraid it is a gap in funding and I’m afraid it also comes back to the British cuts in overseas aid.”
  • On a plan: “We need a plan. We don’t have, yet, a plan. We’re going to have a shortage of vaccines over the summer and we’re still not going to meet the 11 billion that most people who look at this seriously say is needed.”
  • Asked what is needed to resolve the Northern Ireland disagreement: “It does come back to who’s in charge. You can’t solve the Northern Ireland problem without the Prime Minister engaging with it with the fullest attention.”
  • Asked whether we are facing a new Cold War between liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes: “It’s not just a Cold War, it’s people moving in a completely different direction; one international monetary fund for the West, one for Asia, one world bank for the West, one for Asia… We’ve got to avoid that.”
  • On Scottish independence: “There is no future in nations that are neighbouring nations fighting each other, and I fear 50 years of conflict between Scotland and England if we don’t get these problems sorted out.”
  • On the Labour Party and Scotland: “We have got to be the party of solidarity, of talking about empathy, reciprocity, cooperation and sharing.”

Dominic Raab said that the the G7 summit this week has delivered a “gear shift” in collaboration between countries around the world and argued the UK has led the way on coordinating vaccine distribution to poorer countries.

On the Northern Ireland protocol, the Foreign Secretary told viewers there has been a “very lopsided approach” from the EU, telling viewers this morning that “the Prime Minister has been very calm, but also firm about this”.

On a delay to lifting Covid restrictions on June 21st, he said that “we want to proceed irreversibly and that means we need to do it carefully and cautiously”, adding that the public would get the “full answers” from Johnson on Monday.

The Andrew Marr Show

Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry discussed the Northern Ireland protocol disagreement, calling for ministers to agree a veterinary agreement with the EU and saying a Swiss-style arrangement is the “most realistic” solution for the UK.

  • On the Northern Ireland protocol row: “We are a united nation, but what we need to do is sort out the problems of the protocol and make sure that we are doing everything we can to support the Good Friday Agreement.”
  • On a veterinary agreement: “We need to have a veterinary agreement – so, we need to have an agreement on the export of meat and food across the border and we don’t have it at the moment – we don’t have anything. You know, America has a better deal with the EU than we do.”
  • Asked whether the UK should accept the offer of a Swiss-style arrangement put forward by the EU: “I personally think that that’s the most realistic.”
  • Put to her that this means the UK will have to “dynamically align” with the EU on standards: “What I would suggest, with respect, you ask ministers is: what farm standards do you want to drop? In what way do you want Britain to be worse than the rest of Europe? And what trade deals do you want to do with who?”
  • Asked whether she would “junk” the trade deals being negotiated with Australia and the US: “No, of course I would not.”
  • On the approach ministers should take: “You look to make a trade deal that’s in the interests of your country… You won’t say, ‘oh I want to be able to make a trade deal with America some time in the future, therefore I’m going to drop my food standards in the hope that the Americans some time in the future will agree a trade deal with me’.”
  • On rejoining the EU: “We’re not going to be able to rejoin… We had a number of things that were actually quite good for us – not being in the Euro, not being in Schengen… If we rejoin now, we would have to take all of those rules.”
  • On delaying the lifting of Covid restrictions on June 21st: “What we need is to be confident that the government is following the science, and we know that they haven’t really done that very often in the past.”
  • On delaying and the vaccine roll-out: “It just needs extra time, I think, and we just need to be realistic about that. What we don’t want to do is find ourselves in a situation where it takes hold, it changes, we then all need boosters.”
  • On the delay in closing the border to the Delta variant: “It’s such a shame, isn’t it actually, that they didn’t close the borders faster than they did. I do think that Boris Johnson kept the border with India open until the last minute because he still had this fantasy that he was going to be able to go off to India and somehow or other get some sort of pre-deal deal.”
  • Asked which health restrictions need to continue: “We need to make sure we have the borders properly closed… It is still too chaotic, people still don’t have very clear ideas as to what they can do and what they can’t.”
  • Pressed on what restrictions should continue: “You would have to sit, listen to what the scientists were saying, make the decision and then give a clear answer and make sure that all of your ministers are saying the same thing.”
  • She added: “We have brilliant scientists, we have a fantastic NHS, we are getting everybody vaccinated. You know, the weak link is government ministers not making decisions fast enough and not communicating them properly.”
  • Asked whether the balance of risk has been changed by the emergence of the Delta variant to the extent that AstraZeneca jabs should be offered to the under 40s: “In the end, you follow what the scientists say.”
  • On holidays abroad this summer: “It is very unlikely that people will be able to go on holiday abroad this summer, I’m afraid… But again, we need to hear what the ministers say. They need to give us clear instructions.”

Asked whether the under 40s should now received the AstraZeneca jab, in light of the spread of the Delta variant in the UK, Dominic Raab replied that it is a “question for the medical authorities, the scientific authorities”.

The Foreign Secretary added: “We wouldn’t take any step that wasn’t very carefully considered. We’d take the scientific advice as we’ve done all along and we would make that decisions if we felt there was an imperative to do so.”

He insisted that the UK is “on track” on vaccines but said “the questions, as I’ve said before, is quite how far we are down that track in terms of breaking the link between transmission and hospitalisation to make the step to step four.”

“We don’t want to yo yo back in and out of measures. Of course we really understand the hankering to get to the fourth step,” Raab said. “But we’ve got to be data and evidence driven and its that critical link, as I said.”

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