Sunday shows: ‘I haven’t changed my mind. Johnson not fit to lead’ – Starmer

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Labour leader Keir Starmer declared that he has not changed his position on whether Boris Johnson should resign as he still believes the PM has “lost the moral authority to lead” and is not “fit” for the job.

  • On Ukrainian refugees: “So far, I think the Home Office and the government have got it completely wrong. The scheme that they’ve put in place so far has been too slow, too narrow, too mean and we’re where we were essentially with Afghanistan, which is only acting in the heat of the moment.”
  • On Michael Gove’s commitment that councils will be given £10,000 per refugee they take in: “That’s a good thing, but if the government was announcing now those plans in hard-edged form I would have much more comfort in them… I’m not against the scheme that he is proposing.”
  • On the support Labour wants to see: “You need language experts. You need experts with traumatised families. You need experts who can help them contact their relatives back in the country they’ve just fled from. You need people who can sort out schooling very quickly. You need the local authority to be completely engaged in it. And you need housing providers.”
  • He added: “I would just like the reassurance of knowing that plan is in place. I’m not against where families can housing a refugee. Of course I’m not against that. But I do think the basic support needs to be put in.”
  • Asked whether he would like to see an “uncapped” number of Ukrainian refugees coming to the UK: “What I want to see is very simple and it’s a simple, safe route to sanctuary for those who are fleeing for their lives.”
  • On what Labour is calling for: “We want emergency protection visas – very simple, very straightforward – that could be dealt with en route, in advice centres, en route to the UK so that by the time people are here they come straight in the country and get the support that they need.”
  • Pressed on whether the number of refugees the UK admits should be capped: “No, I don’t think it should be… A cap is a number and I’m not going to pluck a number… It shouldn’t be capped.”
  • Asked whether there could be a point in the conflict where the UK might need to escalate its military response: “There is always a chilling risk of escalation that none of us want to see. I think in the middle of a conflict like this, we shouldn’t be speculating on the what ifs.”
  • Asked whether Vladimir Putin is a war criminal: “Yes, what I’ve seen already amounts to war crimes – particularly the awful attacks on civilians and I think it’s very important that he’s held to account… and all those who are acting with him know that they too will be held to account.”
  • On concerns around the peerage granted to Lord Lebedev: “In light of the further revelations today, I think the Prime Minister’s got serious questions to answer. What did he know and did he override security advice?”
  • He added: “Let us have a process to look into what actually happened. What did the Prime Minister know and what did he do in response to that? I think that’s the least we’re entitled to in relation to this appointment.”
  • On the cost-of-living crisis: “We were in a cost-of-living crisis before Russia invaded Ukraine, so this has been something that’s been on the cards for a very long time. What we’ve said is: do something now to deal with the energy bill that people are facing.”
  • On what Labour is proposing: “What we would do is have a windfall tax on the oil and gas companies in the North Sea who have made more profit than they expected… Use that to reduce energy bills for households by up to £600.”
  • Asked whether the UK should be accepting more oil from Saudi Arabia given its human rights record: “What I would like to see is an energy strategy which is based on the UK, not so reliant on other countries – Saudi Arabia or other countries.”
  • Pushed on whether the UK should be looking to source more oil from Saudi Arabia now: “If there’s anything that can be done to bring the price down now then all – well you say OK, but the problem with energy strategy is we’ve always done the short term over the last 12 years and we are where we are.”
  • He added: “If this is a short-term measure to bring down prices, well that’s one thing. If it is a long-term strategy to make us dependent on Saudi Arabia instead of Russia, then I would take a fundamentally different approach.”
  • On whether he is still calling from Boris Johnson to resign: “I haven’t changed my mind on Boris Johnson. I think he’s lost the moral authority to lead. I don’t think he’s fit to be our Prime Minister. I can’t force him to resign, only Tory MPs can do that.”

Sunday Morning

Michael Gove expressed caution when asked about Western intervention in the war in Ukraine, offered details of the ‘homes for Ukraine’ scheme and defended meeting Evgeny Lebedev.

On the war in Ukraine…

  • “Russia has already lost this war politically. Militarily, there is no happy outcome for Russia.”
  • On red lines for Western intervention: “We’re already doing everything we can to support… We’re also dealing with Russia as a nuclear armed power. Nobody wants to see this conflict escalate. That is why it’s important for the UK and its allies in the EU and NATO to coordinate our response, to demonstrate strength and solidarity. We’ve reinforced our military deployment in Estonia, in Poland and elsewhere. We stand ready. But it’s really, really important, given the scale and the nature of what escalation would involve, that we all do everything we can to avoid the conflict escalating in that way.”
  • He said the UK will match named Ukrainian individuals to families in the UK from Friday and such connections are being made via social media and charities.
  • On whether he would take in a Ukrainian: “Yes. Without going into my personal circumstances, there are things I’d need to sort out, but yes. However, it is a big commitment.” He said the government is offering £350 a month to hosts and money to councils for providing extra services, plus Ukrainians will be able to work in the UK.
  • He said just over 3,000 visas have been issued and visa centres are now open for longer.

On sanctions…

  • Asked whether he knew the security services were worried about Evgeny Lebedev when he had dinner with Lebedev and Boris Johnson: “No.”
  • On what he thinks now: “Lord Lebedev is proprietor of the Evening Standard, a British citizen… I know that Lord Lebedev has on the front page of his newspaper condemned Putin’s actions and again I think there is a distinction to be drawn between the actions of parents and the actions of children.”
  • “I was not aware of any of the concerns that have been expressed until they have appeared in newspapers.”
  • “I’m sure that all the proper processes have been followed. If not, then I am sure that those involved will make that clear.”
  • On using sanctioned homes for refugees: “I want to explore an option that would allow us to use the homes and properties of sanctioned individuals for as long as they are sanctioned, for humanitarian and other purposes.”
  • “I’ve never met Roman Abramovich.”

On the cost of living…

  • Asked whether the National Insurance hike should be postponed: “I don’t think we should do that but I do think we should keep under review all the measures that we have in order to provide support.”

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