Sunday shows: Nandy says levelling up announcement has “missed the point”

Elliot Chappell

Sunday Morning

Shadow Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Lisa Nandy said an announcement, ahead of the release of the levelling up white paper next week, that 20 towns and cities will benefit from a £1.5bn fund “completely missed the point”. She described it as a “bit of a refund in a few places on the money that we’ve lost”.

  • On the funding announced: “This recycled money, which gives us a bit of a refund in a few places on the money that we’ve lost, just completely missed the point. People need money back in their pockets. We need good jobs and wages.”
  • Asked whether Labour would cancel the National Insurance contributions rise planned in April: “We wouldn’t bring it in in the first place… If there was a Labour government today, there would be no rise in National Insurance.”
  • Asked whether a Labour government repeal the rise: “With a bit of luck this won’t come in at all. We’re going to be doing everything we can over the next few weeks to try and appeal to Tory MPs’ consciences and persuade the Prime Minister to rethink. But if we can’t do that, what we’ll do is come forward with a much fairer taxation system that doesn’t hit working people the hardest.”
  • Pressed on whether a future Labour government would repeal the NI increase: “I’m trying to explain to you Sophie that we wouldn’t bring this in in the first place – but if the government ploughs ahead with it, and we get into government, what we will do is reform the taxation system in the round.”
  • Asked whether publishing the Sue Gray report would prejudice the police investigation into Downing Street parties: “Since [Boris Johnson] won’t come clean, we believe that the most important thing is to get that report out in full.”
  • On Johnson and the Conservatives: “It is up to the Prime Minister what he does now and it is up to Tory MPs. In the end, he is going to have to face the public… But we believe that it is absolutely essential that he levels with people.”
  • She told the Prime Minister: “You shouldn’t need a police investigation to tell you whether you were at a party or not… We say publish this report in full, put an end to this circus and then get on with doing your job.”
  • On the distraction partygate represents: “People are really struggling… And meanwhile we’ve got this farcical situation of a Prime Minister hiding from the public and refusing to come clean, being investigated by the police – and we’ve got a Levelling Up Secretary who is spending his time ringing around Tory MPs trying to sure up support for the Prime Minister.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it is “highly likely” that Vladimir Putin is planning to invade Ukraine, adding that “there is a real threat of invasion, but we don’t know what’s going to happen”.

Trevor Phillips on Sunday

Lisa Nandy called on the government to reassess its approach to the dispute with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol in light of the situation in Ukraine and stressed the importance of investment in energy for “national security and critical to our future prosperity”.

  • On Ukraine: “It was quite extraordinary that [Liz Truss] on the one hand was emphasising the importance of widening the sanctions regime… But just minutes later, she was talking up a row with the EU that the government has been trying to keep going for the last few years.”
  • She added: “The issues around the [Northern Ireland] protocol could be dealt with, with some creativity and goodwill, and I think the government really ought to reassess how it’s handled that in light of this very serious situation that’s developing on the border of Ukraine.”
  • Asked whether Labour would support the government widening the scope of the ‘Magnitsky’ sanctions: “We pushed the government to do it originally and my understanding was that was blocked by the Treasury. If the Treasury has finally realised that was a mistake, of course we will support that.”
  • On concerns that the Russian government will restrict gas exports to Europe: “I agree with Liz Truss that economic expediency cannot come before security and the defence of the UK and the defence of democracy.”
  • On energy policy: “For over a decade now we’ve had this very, very confused energy policy that’s been pursued by the government. We’ve lost a lot of our gas storage capability that was given away… We haven’t invested sufficiently in renewables… We’re now starting to see the folly of that approach.”
  • On energy and national security: “Not only would investment in renewables and in the energy industry and in helping energy-intensive industries to adapt do a huge favour to many parts of the country that desperately need to see new jobs… but at the same time it would help us to cut carbon emissions and reduce our dependence on imports.”
  • She added: “I hope that finally after a decade of inaction the government is going to wake up and realise that this is critical to our national security and critical to our future prosperity.”
  • On levelling up: “We welcome the small pots of money that have been announced for 20 places… But I think there is a profound sense that the government has really missed the point with the very small beer they’ve given us.”
  • Asked how Labour would ensure people do not have to move to find good jobs: “We’ve already made a significant commitment… £28bn investment every year for the live of the next parliament in green energy.”
  • On ‘partygate’: “The Prime Minister could put an end to this, be honest and come clean, but he is not going to. That is why this circus is continuing. That is why the country is being held back. That is why this levelling up white paper, frankly, doesn’t appear to be worth the paper it is written on.”
  • On why Labour has not removed him from office: “Do you want me to go down to London now and frog march him out of Downing Street? I mean, in the end, we live in a democracy and if Tory MPs won’t find the backbone and the courage to do the right thing then it will be up to the British people.”

Labour mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin welcomed the funding announced this weekend but criticised ministers for not factoring in levelling up when making key infrastructure decisions, telling viewers that West Yorkshire was “poorly served with the integrated rail plan”.

  • On the levelling up white paper and the money for 20 towns across England: “New money is always but welcome but after decades of underfunding, the question will always be is this going to be enough?”
  • On the government scrapping plans for a new station in Bradford: “We were poorly served with the integrated rail plan… And when I pressed government to give us the detail of where they were making these decisions, it seems that government and Treasury are just thinking about cost.”
  • On the integrated rail plan and levelling up: “The idea of levelling up wasn’t factored in. It wasn’t factored in about the opportunity of the people of Bradford to have a new station… and the money and investment that would bring.”
  • On buses: “We’ve allocated £1m to investigate public control because we know that at the moment a bus network that works for profit – this is where you end up, when the bottom line doesn’t work and the government doesn’t support you then sadly you’re starting to make cuts.”
  • She told the government: “We need a proper bus network and if you’re not going to fund us on the trains, please when we have our bus service improvement plan… we need the money – we have a transformational offer for government.”
  • Asked whether she would prioritise cheaper fares over new services: “We shouldn’t have to choose. Obviously, London doesn’t have to choose whether they get the service or they get the fares. It is part of a complete package.”
  • She added: “My plan is to cap the fare at £5.50 and we’re working with bus companies already… It’s fair, it’s equitable and it will mean that more people have access to the bus.”

Liz Truss also appeared on the show this morning. She told viewers that the government will soon announce “improved legislation” introducing new sanctions for Russia to deter an invasion of Ukraine amid rising tensions.

Asked whether the UK government will support a Ukraine resistance force in the event of an invasion, the Foreign Secretary said: “We’re ruling absolutely nothing out… We will look at every, every option and we will work with our NATO allies to support the Ukrainians and to support freedom and democracy.”

She defended the National Insurance hike: “I think the public appreciate that we spent a lot of money during Covid and we do need to pay that money back… We are committed to cutting taxes, we are committed to driving up growth.”

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