Sunday shows: “We stand with the government,” says Labour on Ukraine

Trevor Phillips on Sunday

Emily Thornberry, Labour’s Shadow Attorney General, has argued that the UK and wider West must be “completely unified” against Russian involvement in Ukraine. She called on the UK government should be “more imaginative” on the sanctions imposed.

  • On Ukraine: “We have to completely unified on this… So, yes, we stand with the government on this. We think that we absolutely need to. It is outrageous, the threats that Putin is making, the claims that he is trying to make.”
  • She added: “I don’t think we use sanctions in the way that we could do. I think we could be much more imaginative in the way that we do – there [is] a new generation of sanctions out there.”
  • Giving an example: “There’s a power, for example, to go for wealth that can’t be explained… and there are many Russian citizens in Britain at the moment who have unexplained wealth. We ought to be much stronger on that.”
  • On a statement from the Foreign Office on an alleged coup planned by Moscow to install a ‘puppet’ Prime Minister in Ukraine: “We do know that Putin has been trying to meddle in affairs in Ukraine for a long time and, indeed, more than that – you know, he invaded part of Ukraine.”
  • On health staff losing their jobs if they do not get vaccinated: “The principle behind that, I’m afraid, we do agree with. But the question is when should that policy be implemented. There is discussion about putting off the deadline.”
  • On Labour’s plans to cut VAT on energy bills: “We want to cut VAT on energy because, to be honest, the government has had a bit of a windfall, because obviously as prices go up they get more VAT out of it.”
  • On a windfall tax: “We also want to have a windfall tax on the energy companies who themselves are also making much greater profits as a result, and we want that money to be targeted at the squeezed middle, on the poorest, on pensioners, to make sure they’re given assistance with their energy.”
  • On why Labour has not moved a parliamentary vote of no confidence against Boris Johnson: “We are doing our best to turf him out… In the end, although the Prime Minister is answerable to parliament, parliament is skewed in that [the Conservatives] have a majority of 80.”
  • Asked whether a “wounded” Johnson is better for Labour than seeing him replaced: “Boris Johnson full stop, as Prime Minister, does this country no good, and that’s why we want to get rid of him.”

Ex-Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the “nightmare” humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan and urged the government to call a conference of the 40 countries that joined the invasion coalition to raise the $4.5bn needed.

  • On why the UK should increase aid to Afghanistan: “We face a nightmare, we face a catastrophe. It’s really a moral failure because when children are starving and when families are emaciated, and when there is no health provision despite polio, cholera and Covid, I think we’ve got a duty to act.”
  • He added: “There are self-interested reasons for acting: we want to prevent terrorists gaining the upper hand again… We want to prevent heroin getting to the streets of Britain. We also want to prevent mass migration… But there is also a duty to help children in particular and families.”
  • On the level of aid needed: “There is an appeal now for $4.5bn. That is urgently needed for the 23 million people that you talked about to prevent them starving, and only a quarter of that money has been raised.”
  • On the international community: “What I’m suggesting is that Britain and the EU call a humanitarian conference, bring the 40 countries together, get the money in, make sure it’s actually going to the starving children and to the families in need – all that can be done but the money has not been raised.”
  • On a Save the Children petition: “I believe the British people can ask the government to pay attention to this, call the conference, get this done.”
  • On Johnson and the government: “My fear is that scandal is going to following Boris Johnson as long as he is Prime Minister… I don’t think we’re going to see this administration end in anything but scandal.”
  • He added: “It is the character of the government that is at issue. It’s the standards in public life. And if I were [Johnson], I would be sure to say we’re going to have a massive review of all rules governing public life in this country.”

Dominic Raab, Deputy Prime Minister, said the UK would “support” Ukraine in “defending themselves”.

  • On Ukraine: “I think President Putin and Moscow have had this habit of trying to take advantage of opportunities when the world’s attention is perhaps elsewhere, and the Foreign Secretary is quite rightly pointing to the designs that Russia has. We are saying, we need to say first of all that Ukraine is a free country under international law and should decide its own fate. We will support them in defending themselves but also to the International Treaty, our NATO allies, the US, we are standing shoulder to shoulder, so there will be very serious consequences if Russia takes this move to try and invade but also install a puppet regime.”
  • On sanctions: “It will obviously involve a range of economic and financial sanctions, we wouldn’t telegraph those in advance… I certainly think financial sanctions, properly targeted and done in concert with our major partners, is something that we would readily look at.”
  • On whether the UK could send troops: “I think it is extremely unlikely that we would do that.” He added that the UK is “already willing and engaged in training programmes to support the Ukrainians defending themselves” and “we want to make sure that the economic cost to the Kremlin is sufficiently severe that they’d think twice”.

Sunday Morning

There was no Labour representative on the BBC’s Sunday show.

Dominic Raab, Deputy Prime Minister:

  • On the Sue Gray report: “The process for [publishing it] will be for the PM to decide.”
  • On whether it will be published in full: “I’m not quite sure the shape it will come out.”
  • On whether the PM may have to resign: “The ministerial code is there for everyone, including the prime minister.”
  • On Nusrat Ghani saying she was sacked as a minister because she is Muslim: “First of all, it’s a very serious allegation, a very serious claim, and we take it very seriously. There can be no discrimination, islamophobia or any other discrimination, in the Conservative party. The chief whip has made it clear overnight that this is in relation to him, Mark Spencer, and he has categorically denied it in what can only be described as the most strenuous terms. What I would say is if there’s ever any complaint like this, particularly as serious as this, a formal complaint should be made and it would then be investigated… No formal complaint has been made.”

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland:

  • On restrictions affecting businesses: “The idea we can navigate a pandemic with no impact at all [on businesses] is unfortunately not the case.”
  • On whether compulsory mask wearing in public spaces could continue for months or years: “I hope not. I don’t want any of these measures to be in place for any longer than is necessary. But masks, and there is very good international evidence on this, masks are something we can do. None of us enjoy wearing them, but they are perhaps not the biggest handicap to endure.”
  • On the timing of a Scottish independence referendum: “The preparatory work for that is underway and we’ll determine the precise date for introducing that legislation in due course.”
  • On support for independence being at “only” 50%: “If you’d told me when I was a much younger politician that one day 50% support for independence would be seen as some kind of failure, I would have grabbed that with both hands.”

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