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Sunday shows round-up: Javid calls for ‘measured language’ after Boris’s ‘suicide vest’ comment

9 September 2018

3:57 PM

9 September 2018

3:57 PM

Sajid Javid: Boris Johnson should use ‘measured language’

Boris Johnson has been dominating the headlines today for a variety of reasons. The news that he and his wife Marina Wheeler are to divorce is juxtaposed alongside his comments in the Mail on Sunday that the government’s Brexit stance has ‘wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier’. His remarks have prompted outrage in some circles, most notably from his former Foreign Office colleague Sir Alan Duncan. Andrew Marr asked Home Secretary Sajid Javid if this was the right way for Johnson to conduct himself:

AM: What do you make of the use of the term ‘suicide vest’ to describe the Prime Minister’s approach? A lot of your colleagues are absolutely furious about that.

SJ: I think there are much better ways to articulate your differences. And it’s a reminder for all of us in public policy, whichever party we represent, to use measured language because I think that’s what the public want to see.

AM: …Do you think Boris Johnson has a language problem?

SJ: You’ll have to get him on your programme and quiz him yourself.

Javid denied any suggestion that Johnson was Islamophobic, saying: ‘I think he loves all of Britain’s communities no matter where they come from’. However, he declined to endorse a future Johnson candidacy for the leadership, telling Marr: ‘we are lucky to have a very good leader… and she’s doing a great job.’ Turning to Brexit, Javid told Marr that: ‘I don’t expect a no deal outcome, but we need to prepare for all contingencies… I don’t think people need to worry.’ On the suspects in the Sergei and Yulia Skripal poisoning, Javid proclaimed that: ‘we’ve got a European arrest warrant out for them, an Interpol red notice… if they ever step out of the Russian Federation again, Britain and its allies will bring them to prosecution.’

Frances O’Grady: ‘It’s only right’ that people should have a say on Brexit

After polling carried out by the People’s Vote campaign showed heavy support from the membership of Britain’s three largest trade unions for a second referendum vote, the TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady also joined Marr to outline where her organisation now stood:

AM: Is [the ‘people’s vote’] going to become a TUC policy?

FOG: I want to serve notice to the Prime Minister today that if we don’t get the deal that working people need, then the TUC will be throwing our full weight behind a campaign for a popular vote so that people get a say on whether that deal is good enough or not… There is no way a trade unionist would negotiate a deal and go back to their members. We know that people want a say, that they don’t trust politicians, they’re really worried about what Brexit means.. So it’s only right that people should get a say.

O’Grady also urged the Prime Minister to seek an extension to Article 50 if necessary, ‘to get these talks back on track, and start focusing on the things that matter’. On keeping trade unions alive in the future, O’Grady said: ‘in a digital economy, we need digital trade unionism’, but added that. ‘in some ways, it’s not that different to what the pioneers did when people were hired at the factory gates day by day’.

Chuka Umunna: Labour is ‘institutionally racist’

Chuka Umunna, a vocal critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, has dealt his harshest words yet over the Labour party’s handling of the anti-Semitism crisis. After several weeks of turmoil, during which the party finally accepted the internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism, Umunna told Sophy Ridge exactly how he feels about his party’s current predicament:

SR: Do you think that the Labour party is effectively institutionally racist?

CU: Yes, I do. If you look at the definition of institutional racism as outlined by Sir William Macpherson in the Macpherson report and the Macpherson inquiry produced an institutional racism definition, the Labour party – it is beyond doubt for me that it has met it. It is very painful for me to say that. Part of the reason that I joined the Labour party, that my family started supporting the party was because it was an anti-racist party. And I think the failure to deal with the racism that is anti-Semitism is particular and clearly is a problem.

Umunna added: ‘This has taken months and months and months and months and there are still outstanding complaints… There have been threats of violence against MPs which the Labour party has known of, but has not told [them about].’ When Ridge asked why Umunna was still a member, he replied ‘Because I want it to change… if you simply leave the field as it were… I’m not sure you necessarily always make progress.’

Ian Lavery: Umunna’s comments are absolutely outrageous

Chuka Umunna’s words come amid a row where he urged Jeremy Corbyn to ‘call off the dogs’ as a series of moderate Labour MPs faced no-confidence votes from their local membership. When Ridge interviewed Labour party chairman Ian Lavery, she asked him what he thought about Umunna’s intervention:

IL: That is so disrespectful. It’s so offensive to members of the Labour party. Calling anybody a dog is absolutely outrageous in the extreme, and Chuka Umunna of all people should know that… I hope he takes the opportunity of apologising to those people who he’s offended immensely… So Chuka, be respectful to these people. These are the people who keep us in employment. These are the grassroots, the footsoldiers of our wonderful party.

Lavery also slammed Boris Johnson, saying: ‘Johnson says things which are absolutely despicable, and he does it for one reason – publicity. We need to be ignoring this individual’. Lavery also told Ridge that he did not know the number of people who had been expelled from Labour for anti-Semitism, iterating instead that ‘there isn’t any room in our party for anti-Semitism… or any type of harassment, intimidation or bullying’.

James Brokenshire: Karen Bradley is ‘doing a fantastic job’

And finally, the former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has defended his successor Karen Bradley after she admitted in an interview with The House magazine that she had a very limited understanding of Northern Irish politics before taking up the post:

SR: She said – a very startling admission – about when she first got the job: ‘I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought in Northern Ireland, people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice versa’… Were you a bit worried when you read that?

JB: I think Karen Bradley is doing a fantastic job… She has come forward this week with a very clear plan on how the powers can continue to operate… I think what Karen was really talking about was the fact that when you spend time there, the depth of that feeling, the strength of view that people have – that’s where you really see that and feel that – when you spend that time there.

Brokenshire, now the Housing Secretary, also told Ridge that he wanted to see longer tenancies for renters despite rumours that a standard three-year tenancy was likely to be blocked by No. 10, and stressed that he was working to remove unsafe cladding of the type found on Grenfell Tower, saying that he was writing to developers and insurers urging them to ‘do the right thing’.

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