Sunday shows: Labour calls on Boris Johnson to “consider his position”

The Andrew Marr Show

Labour leader Keir Starmer described Tory government behaviour as “corrupt” in light of the Owen Paterson scandal and others. He said former ministers and MPs should be banned from paid consultancy jobs.

  • On the Owen Paterson scandal: “Instead of upholding standards, he orders MPs to protect his mate and rip up the whole system. Now, that is corrupt. It is contemptible. And it is not a one-off. This Prime Minister has form… What makes me most angry is the Prime Minister is trashing the reputation of our democracy and our country.”
  • “When there was sleaze in the 1990s, John Major rolled up his sleeves, he put in place the Nolan committee on standards in public life. He as PM said I will clear this up. Boris Johnson as PM is leading his troops through the sewer. He’s up to his neck in this.”
  • On whether Labour is calling for Johnson to go: “As opposition, we always want the government to go… In Britain, we have high standards, we play by the rules and we have relatively low levels of corruption. That is known around the world, that is to be cherished.”
  • On Claudia Webbe: “I’m glad you brought up that example because no case exemplifies the difference in approach better than that case. When Claudia Webbe was charged, the Labour Party suspended her. When she was then convicted, we didn’t argue with the conviction, we expelled her from the Labour Party. We now say she should resign and would support a recall petition.”
  • On Webbe being one of seven former Labour MPs being handed a jail sentence in the last ten years: “We’ve got a new programme now for selecting candidates of the future, which I think will be a very, very good programme.”
  • On Labour’s call for another investigation into the No 10 flat redecoration: “I think it’s very important that these are drawn to the attention of the authorities and they look at them.”
  • On whether Labour would abolish the Lords: “We’ll certainly be changing the House of Lords.” He added that he had set up a commission to look at the constitution. “I’ve said we need to change the House of Lords, I stand by that, I’ve asked Gordon Brown to look into exactly what those changes should be.”
  • On ministers being banned from paid consultancy: “I think they should be banned. There’s an argument as to how long that should be – some have argued for five years, that’s something that I think we need to talk about, the exact period… You shouldn’t be able to come out of being a minister and straight into a consultancy of some sort that draws on what you’ve been doing as a minister.”
  • On Lord Falconer, Shadow Attorney General, currently working for a lobbying firm: “It is important to distinguish between the position of those in the House of Commons and those in the House of Lords… In the House of Lords, there’s a daily allowance but nobody receives a salary.”
  • On whether Lord Falconer would be allowed to keep the job if he were a Labour government minister: “He wouldn’t be allowed to lobby, I wouldn’t have that.”
  • On whether Labour still backs a ban on almost all MP second jobs: “In the Labour Party, on consultations and directorships et cetera, we’ve been saying for many many years that they should go… We went a step further in 2019 to say no second jobs with clear exemptions.” He added: “The principle is right. No consultants has been a long-standing position in the Labour Party.”
  • On whether Labour would back the government if it triggered Article 16: “I don’t think triggering Article 16 will resolve dispute in relation to the Protocol in Northern Ireland. That isn’t tin the interests of the communities of Northern Ireland or the businesses. What is in their interests is resolving the issues.”
  • He added: “What I’m saying is don’t rip up the Protocol…. But a veterinary agreement – there are ways forward that would reduce those burdens between GB and NI.”
  • On Brexit, he ruled out rejoining the EU or renegotiating the deal entirely but said he would make “sensible adjustments” to it.
  • At the end of the programme, actor Brian Cox explained to Starmer why he is no longer a Labour voter.

 

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, defended the government over accusations of corruption and claimed – despite a massive, sudden U-turn – that it has had a consistent position on the Owen Patterson lobbying scandal.

Asked about the story highlighting that Conservative treasurers who donate £3m to the party seem almost guaranteed a peerage, Eustice defended the status quo and described the Tory donors turned peers as “philanthropists”.

Trevor Phillips on Sunday

Thangam Debbonaire, Labour’s shadow House of Commons leader, declared that both Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg should consider their positions. She also said the government should move a motion to retract the motion on scrutiny of MP standards passed last week before Tuesday is over.

  • On the Owen Paterson scandal: “[Jacob Rees-Mogg] literally lays the business. If he’d wanted to reform the appeals any part of the standards process, at any time over the last how ever many years, he could have put that before parliament and he didn’t.”
  • Asked whether Rees-Mogg should resign: “That’s for others to say, but I have to say it’s been an extraordinary week for Jacob, given that he was trying to make out that he had no power whatsoever over when to bring motions in the House when he could have done at any time, given that he didn’t seem to have taken notice of what I said very clearly – as did others – in the debate that this was conflating two issues, and he then gets up the next morning and says it’s unfortunate, given that he’s still left us in a state of chaos. The amended motion still stands.”
  • On what Rees-Mogg should do now: “He really does need to stand up and move a motion to rescind that motion, which has to happen in my view before Tuesday is over.”
  • On a peerage for Paterson: “The government themselves, and I think Jacob should be saying this to the Prime Minister, needs to make clear that Owen Paterson will not be recommended for a peerage, and we need to be supporting the standards committee report.”
  • Pressed on whether Rees-Mogg should resign: “If I was him, I’d be considering my position. That’s what I think he should do today… I think his position is untenable, yes.”
  • On the process for investigating MPs’ standards: “The standards committee reviews the evidence, they take further evidence if necessary, they can ask the standards commissioner to go back and look again and in this case they considered the evidence overwhelming. So there already is, in effect, an appeals process.”
  • On the possibility of Paterson being recommended for a peerage: “I hope that the Prime Minister sees sense and rules that out. We have called it out and said he should not be recommended for a peerage.”
  • On what the government should do: “That should happen at the earliest possible opportunity. It’s not too late for the Prime Minister to do that today. He could rule it out now… If he wants the bad press coverage to stop, he could do this now.”
  • She added: “They could also do what Keir Starmer would do, which is establish an anti-sleaze, anti-corruption unit with real teeth and real powers.”
  • On Claudia Webbe MP: “As soon as Claudia was charged, we suspended her from the Labour Party. As soon as she was convicted, we expelled her. We have called on her to resign and if she doesn’t we will support a recall petition.”
  • On the government’s reputation: “We are lawmakers, we should not be law-breakers. We should be upholding the system of standards and, I’m afraid to say, I think the public knows how to judge… Their reputation frankly is in tatters and I hope that Boris Johnson also considers his position this weekend and takes the steps he needs to repair the reputation.”
  • Asked why Labour is behind in the polls: “Let’s not forget we suffered the worst defeat in 2019 that we suffered in many years… Keir Starmer, in particular, is showing the public that there really is an alternative to a man such as Boris Johnson who thinks he’s above the law and Keir Starmer who literally enforced the law. I think people can really see that contrast.”
  • She added: “We’re now turning that corner, we came out of our conference really strong with bold policies particularly on things like climate change… The public is certainly starting to see Keir Starmer as the Prime Minister that I know he would be.”

Cabinet minister George Eustice described the row over Owen Paterson, in which the government sought to overhaul the MP standards scrutiny system while defending the Tory MP, as a “Westminster storm in a tea cup”.

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