Philip Hammond – No deal would be ‘a very, very bad outcome’
One day before Brexit negotiations get underway, Philip Hammond took to the Andrew Marr Show and announced that if the UK achieved no deal with the EU it would be a ‘very very bad outcome’. This appears to be somewhat at odds with Theresa May’s repeated assertion that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’…
Marr: Do you think no deal is better than a bad deal?
Hammond: Let me be clear that no deal would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain. But there is a possible worse outcome, and that is a deal that is deliberately structured to punish us. To suck the lifeblood out of our economy over a period of time, and I would not agree to a deal that was clearly structured and designed to destroy us by slow bites over a long period of time. That’s not acceptable.
These comments have been seen as undermining to the Prime Minister, who already finds herself in a much weaker position than she was only a few weeks ago.
The Chancellor has also made the headlines for attacking the Conservative’s general election campaign, from which Hammond was notably marginalised. There had also been speculation that he was ripe for the sack had Theresa May not fallen at the last hurdle. Hammond lamented that the election campaign did not seek a greater focus on the government’s economic record.
Marr: When you saw the exit it poll on election night, it must have been a bittersweet moment. You knew you’d probably lost your overall majority, but you knew you were going to keep your job, because if Theresa May had got a big majority she’d have fired you as Chancellor.
Hammond: You’re much too Machiavellian Andrew. My reaction was bitter, there was nothing sweet about it. I was shocked, as I think everybody else was. That wasn’t the feeling that I had got from travelling round the entire country over the election period.
Marr: We didn’t see much of you during the election campaign, and as I said, and the Prime Minister was planning to sack you apparently. Did you have a conversation with her where you said ‘I’m still here, are you going to get rid of me’? What did you say to her?
Hammond: Well, I’m not going to repeat to you the private conversation I had with Theresa May on Friday. It’s true that my role in the election campaign was not the one I would have liked it to be…
Marr: Why was that do you think?
Hammond: …I would have liked to have made much more of our economic record, which I think is an excellent one, creating 2.9 million new jobs, getting the deficit down by three quarters…
Marr: Was this Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill keeping you off the airwaves?
Hammond: I’m not going to speculate about what happened inside the campaign leadership team. The end result is that, in my judgement, we didn’t talk about the economy as much as we should have done…
Marr: And do you think Theresa May recognises that was a mistake now?
Hammond: And we didn’t put enough energy into dismantling Jeremy Corbyn’s economic proposals and his spending plans which will be catastrophic for this country, and we will now do that. We will address those plans that Corbyn set out in his manifesto and take them apart, which I would have done during the campaign.
However, Hammond also claimed that ‘we are not deaf’ over the growing concerns about government austerity and added that ‘we’ve never said we won’t raise some taxes’ to offset future increases in public spending.
Keir Starmer – Britain could stay in the customs union
Hammond was not the only politician to cause a few ripples over the UK’s upcoming negotiations today. Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer attempted to clarify Labour’s position on Brexit, by saying that although leaving the EU meant leaving the single market, remaining part of the customs union could still be on the table.
Marr: Would you sacrifice control over freedom of movement in order to stay inside, or have very good access to, the single market?
Starmer: It’s clear that freedom of movement will end when we leave the EU and therefore the discussion we’re having is what model fits with changes to freedom of movement, plus the trade that we need.
Marr: So we could have some freedom of movement remaining?
Starmer: Well, I don’t understand this notion of some freedom of movement. In the end, immigration comes down to…
Marr: You sound like, in a very gentle way, you’re saying exactly what Theresa May would say if she was sitting there.
Starmer: No, Theresa May is taking the wrong approach, the tone of her approach is completely wrong. I say we can’t have membership because that was decided last year. We can have partnership if we change the tone and approach. We need to be much clearer…
Marr: …Customs union – in or out?
Starmer: I think that should be left on the table as an option.
Marr: …So we could stay inside the customs union?
Marr: That is the single biggest difference between you and the Conservative party.
Starmer: There’s also this notion of no deal being a viable deal, which Theresa May and the government have repeatedly said. No deal is what happens if at the end of the two years and you haven’t been able to reach agreement. You’re pushed over the cliff. To say I’ll jump over the cliff isn’t a negotiating stance that makes much sense.
Jeremy Corbyn – Empty properties should be requisitioned for Grenfell survivors
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s interviews with Robert Peston are becoming more and more frequent. This time, Peston inquired about what Labour’s response would be to the disaster that befell Grenfell Tower earlier this week. Corbyn reiterated his previous statements that empty properties belonging to foreign millionaire should be requisitioned for the purposes of housing the survivors of the tragedy.
Peston: You made a statement that some people think was controversial, which is that vacant properties in the area should be appropriated. How would that work in practice?
Corbyn: Well, I don’t think it’s very controversial at all… There are a large number of deliberately kept vacant flats and properties all over London. It’s called land banking. People with a lot of money buy a house, buy a flat, keep it empty…
Peston: But you would seize it forever or just take it for as long as they are needed.
Corbyn: Well, occupy it, compulsory purchase it, requisition it. There’s a lot of things you can do. Can’t we, as a society just think, all of us? It’s all very well putting our arms around people in the middle during the crisis, but homelessness is rising, the housing crisis is getting worse, and my point was quite a simple one. In an emergency, you have to bring all assets to the table in order to deal with that crisis, and that is what I think we should be doing in this case.
John McDonnell – We can requisition empty properties quickly if we need to
Appearing on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell elaborated further on his leader’s plans to requisition empty properties. McDonnell told Ridge that not only was requisitioning a measure that was very much on the cards, but that Labour would be able to do so quickly and efficiently.
Ridge: Jeremy Corbyn has called for properties in Kensington and Chelsea to be requisitioned. Now, what you’re talking about here is some of the most expensive properties in London. I mean, this would cost hundreds of millions of pounds, so I put it to you that you’re not making serious policy proposals here. You’re playing to the crowd.
McDonnell: No, what’s happened is, and we’ve been saying this for a long period of time – organisations like Shelter as well – have tried to point the obscenity of the of the housing crisis that we’ve got, the overcrowding, the poor housing that we’ve got, particularly in our capital city. And at the same time as that you have properties standing empty for long periods of time. In addition to that, in London we’re blighted by the fact that we have overseas developers buying properties up and actually leaving them empty on many occasions.
Ridge: These are different issues here. You’re talking about the wider housing issues. You’re not talking about what Jeremy Corbyn called for…
McDonnell: Sophy, they are linked. People would not be living in high rise blocks, unsafe conditions, some of the very poor quality if we didn’t have the housing crisis, and part of that housing crisis is the result of allowing housing, particularly in London, to be used for speculative gain rather than housing need. Now what Jeremy said is, if we’ve got a crisis like that, we need urgent measures, and if there are empty properties like that, they should be used, and councils have the power to do that already.
Ridge: Through compulsory purchase orders…?
McDonnell: If necessary…
Ridge: …which would take weeks. So it wouldn’t help would it?
McDonnell: Well, you can use the existing law extremely fast…
Ridge: By law, the owners must be notified, given 21 days to make objections, then there’s another 14 days after…
McDonnell: Any court in emergency measures, as we saw in wartime periods as well you can requisition properties. you will need powers to do it, we’ve got those powers. If necessary, I would have convened Parliament immediately to push new legislation through within 24 hours if that was necessary. We cannot be in a situation where you have people who have lost their homes struggling to find alternative accommodation.
Ridge: …No one would disagree of course with the need to re-house people as quickly as possible, but my point is more about whether requisitioning property is the way to do it. For example, hotel rooms could be cheaper. Perhaps not as popular…
McDonnell: If you look at what happened in hotel rooms, people didn’t feel comfortable in those. We saw one example of the council moving one gentleman into accommodation for older people which was completely inappropriate and unsuitable to him. I tell you, I would have done whatever necessary to house those families… and if that means requisitioning properties yes if necessary, because they’ve suffered so much.
Andrea Leadsom – Scrapping Queen’s Speech necessary to get Brexit done
And finally, the new Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, answered questions from the BBC’s Nick Robinson about her decision to postpone the Queen’s Speech next year, effectively making a two year parliamentary session.
Leadsom: It’s not unusual. It happened in 2005 and in 2010.
Robinson: It didn’t happen in the war. It’s not happened in other crises.
Leadsom: Yes, but there isn’t… it’s not so much crises as the weight of legislation. There’s a lot of legislation to be gone through and we’re leaving the EU at the end of March 2019, and so having a period in which to bring together Parliament and government, to really make progress on legislation that’s essential to making a real success of Brexit. There are some big advantages… select committees don’t have to ditch enquiries, bills don’t have to be carried forward, there will be more parliamentary time for scrutiny…
Robinson: The other big advantage is this isn’t it? Which is that you don’t have to risk another Queen’s Speech, which you might lose? In other words, having two years makes it just a little bit easier for the government to survive than it might otherwise be.
Leadsom: I want to be really clear here. That is absolutely not any reasons why we’re doing this… The point about this two year Parliament is that it enables us to get the work of leaving the EU done. But at the same time we have a big social domestic legislative programme to really try and tackle the issues of inequality, some of the issues of lack of opportunity and we really want to have a good run at that at this difficult time, to absolutely make the most of it.
— DailySunday Politics (@daily_politics) June 18, 2017