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Sunday Shows Roundup: Dominic Raab – Brexit deal should be agreed ‘in October’

22 July 2018

4:54 PM

22 July 2018

4:54 PM

The House of Commons breaks for recess on Tuesday, and accordingly the Sunday shows will be taking a break. For his last show until September, Andrew Marr was joined by the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who has taken over the reins after David Davis’ resignation and has already made the headlines by insisting that the UK could tear up the agreed £39 billion ‘divorce bill’ if the two sides do not reach a trade deal. Raab told Marr that he was ‘striving every sinew’ to get the best deal for the United Kingdom, and insisted that his government was on course to agree a deal in the timeframe they expected:

DR: We are striving every sinew to get the best deal, but… I think it’s the only responsible thing to do – to be prepared if in those negotiations the energy, the ambition and the pragmatism we are showing are not reciprocated. Whether it’s the allocation of money, preparation of our treaty relations, we are hiring extra border staff and I think people need to know that actually we’re ready so that Britain can thrive, whatever happens… But actually, if it’s reciprocated – the energy that we’re going to bring to these negotiations – we get a deal done in October.

When Marr questioned him about the European Commission’s position that there ‘would be no specific arrangement in place’ for UK citizens living in the EU in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, Raab replied ‘I think that’s a rather irresponsible thing to be coming from the other side’, and added ‘the prospect of us not moving swiftly to resolve their legal position – or that people would be removed from this country – is, I think far-fetched, fanciful and would not happen’. He told Marr that ‘there is obviously an attempt to try and ramp up the pressure’, and refused to be drawn on ‘selective snippets…that make hair-raising stories’. He told Marr that he thought the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier was ‘a man that wants to do a deal with us’ and that 80% of the withdrawal agreement was already ‘settled’.

Rebecca Long-Bailey – Labour has lost the faith of the Jewish community
The Shadow Business Secretary has defended her party against accusations of anti-Semitism, but conceded that Labour has failed to convince its Jewish members and voters after adopting a new definition of anti-Semitism to replace the internationally accepted one of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Long-Bailey’s interview comes after the veteran Labour MP Margaret Hodge reportedly told Jeremy Corbyn that he was a ‘racist’ and an ‘anti-Semite’ earlier this week. Long-Bailey explained to Marr where she thought things had gone wrong:

RLB: We recognise this week that there was some concern… We wanted to develop a code that was legally robust and detailed so that we could enforce it quickly in our disciplinary processes. But we haven’t won the faith of the Jewish community, and indeed my own parliamentary colleagues have expressed concern. The intention was never to omit parts of the IHRA definition… We recognise the concerns and that’s why this week it was right for the NEC to look at the code again and look at consulting with the Jewish community to make sure we get it right, because we have to restore faith in the Jewish community.

Long Bailey continued that the party was in ‘a very dark place’ because of the actions of a minority’, but also condemned ‘the failure of us to deal with it quickly’. On Brexit, Long Bailey refrained from chastising Labour Brexiteers who voted with the government last week, saying ‘we weren’t expecting anything else’ and ‘they’re entitled to hold their opinions’. On a potential ‘no deal’ Brexit, she said ‘we have to work very hard across all parties in Parliament to make sure that that isn’t an option’.

Sir John Major – A second referendum is ‘morally justified’
Marr’s final political guest of the day was Sir John Major, who used his platform to advocate for a second referendum on Brexit. The former Prime Minister, who helped to transform the European Economic Community into the European Union with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, took aim at the Leave campaign and those associated with it:

JM: I mean, frankly a second vote has democratic downsides. It has difficulties. But is it ‘morally justified? I think it is. If you look back at the Leave campaign, a great many of the promises they made were fantasy promises. We now know they’re not going to be met. It’s painfully obvious… I don’t deny that both sides got it wrong, but it was the Leave side that said ‘This is going to be the easiest trade deal in history, we can get it in an afternoon’… Many of the things that they said were absolutely pie in the sky, and if you look at any possible deal we’re going to get and compare it to what people were promised with Brexit, there will be a gaping gap.

Major went on to tell Marr ‘if we crash out without a deal, the people who have least are going to be hurt most’ and called a ‘no deal’ scenario a ‘terrible betrayal of the interests of everyday people’. He bemoaned ‘a considerable number of Conservative MPs, who are on the subject of Europe are irreconcilable’ and said that they had ‘boxed the Prime Minister into a corner. He continued ‘If the House of Commons continues to be deadlocked… and the whips of the other parties decide to take political advantage of the government’s voting weakness… then there is the possibility… of a general election becoming ultimately unavoidable’.

Dominic Grieve – ‘No deal’ would see a ‘state of emergency’
The former Attorney General and vocal critic of Brexit has expressed considerable alarm that the Brexit Secretary was countenancing a ‘no deal’ as a possible outcome of the UK’s negotiations. Sophy Ridge asked Grieve, who has campaigned for a meaningful vote in Parliament on the government’s deal, to expand on why he felt a ‘no deal’ outcome was unacceptable:

SR: Are you relieved that the government is making these preparations, or are you worried that they are even talking about the fact of ‘no deal’ at all?
DG: I think ‘no deal’ will be absolutely catastrophic for this country. Clearly if the government thinks there’s a risk of no deal it’s right to take emergency measures. We’ve got to be realistic about this. We will be in a state of emergency. Basic services which we take for granted might not be available. It wouldn’t be possible, for example, for someone to fly to Rome because the overflying rights over the other countries of the EU are regulated by EU law. We wouldn’t get medicines in… we’d be out of the medicines agency. And, there’d be difficulties bringing food into this country because of the number of regulatory checks that would take place.

Grieve denied that he was ‘scaremongering’ and expressed hope that smaller ‘side deals’ could come into play to address the complications that may arise from a ‘no deal’ Brexit. When Ridge asked if Theresa May was at risk, Grieve replied ‘I don’t think she is’, and said that ‘the only group that could possibly bring the Prime Minister down is if a group of my ‘hard Brexit’ colleagues so lose the plot that they decide that is an effective way for them to proceed’.

John McDonnell – Brandon Lewis and Chief Whip should resign over paring debacle
Also speaking to Ridge, the Shadow Chancellor did not hold back in calling for the heads of both Julian Smith, the Chief Whip, and the Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis. Both had been implicated in breaking the parliamentary pairing system, whereby arrangements are made for MPs to cancel each other out if one cannot attend a vote. Last week, Lewis voted in a knife-edge division to back an amendment to the customs bill while his pair – the Lib Dem Jo Swinson – was on maternity leave. The Times found that Smith had given the all clear to Lewis to do so:

SR: Do you think the Chief Whip needs to go?
JM: I think so. I don’t say that lightly. Theresa May said at Prime Minister’s questions that this was done in error. We now know there were instructions given about breaking the whip… I don’t think it’s acceptable. And you know in Parliament you have to have certain democratic standards, and once you start breaking the rules in that way, the operation of the institution itself comes into doubt…
SR: And what about Brandon Lewis?
JM: I find it very difficult to believe that this was in error because there were 7 votes. Why is it on this particular vote suddenly he makes an error? I think he has a lot to answer for…. I think he should go. I think both of them now need to come clean.

McDonnell backed his party’s new anti-Semitism code, saying ‘there are different views within the Jewish community’ and promised to review it if necessary. He concluded ‘Let’s get on with the job… let’s start using what we’ve got to root out anti-Semitism wherever it is’. On the prospect of an early election, McDonnell said ‘I’m a natural pessimist on this… I’ve thought the Tories will cling on for as long as they possibly can’, but added that the Conservatives ‘seem to be imploding rapidly’.

Nadine Dorries – The government must deliver on Brexit
And finally, the ardent eurosceptic Nadine Dorries took to the airwaves to denounce the government’s Chequers deal to Sarah Smith and ensure that the Sunday Politics’ last ever show went out with a bang:

ND: Theresa May has already taken soundings last week from the Conservative core membership across the country, who have let her know in no uncertain terms that the Chequers Deal is not acceptable to them. I think as we go forward into the summer and more information is gathered by No. 10, they will themselves realise that the Chequers deal, just as it stood, as it was, is just not acceptable. It does not deliver what 17.4 million people voted for.

Dorries dismissed the need for another referendum to bolster her own position, arguing that ‘it would take at least another year or 18 months for that to even happen’. She also told Smith that this smacked of ‘bullying’, and asked ‘Do we say to the British people we don’t trust you?’ Dorries also retaliated to this morning’s intervention by John Major, stating ‘More people will leave the Conservative party and move over to right wing parties like UKIP… that they know will deliver on their vote. I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of time for John Major and I have even less time after listening to that interview’.

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