Skip to Content

Coffee House

Sunday shows round-up: John McDonnell clashes with the former head of MI6

7 October 2018

4:40 PM

7 October 2018

4:40 PM

Sir Richard Dearlove – I’m ‘troubled by Corbyn’s past’

The former head of MI6 has expressed concern about the Labour leader’s previous links to several unsavoury political groups. Speaking to Sophy Ridge, Sir Richard Dearlove outlined why he felt uneasy about the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister:

RD: Someone coming from my background is troubled by Jeremy Corbyn’s past associations. Some of which I find surprising, and worrying. He may have abandoned them now, but I don’t think you can entirely dump your past.

SR: What past associations do you mean?

RD: …He’s enthusiastically associated himself with groups and interests which I would not say were the friends of the British nation.

However, Dearlove ruled out the suggestion that the security services should withhold information from Corbyn if he became Prime Minister, saying ‘that would be the democratic decision of the British people. You have to treat him as Prime Minister’. He also deniede that the ‘deep state’ was working to undermine Corbyn. Dearlove was more upbeat about Brexit, telling Ridge ‘I’m personally happy with us ceasing to be a member of the EU… We would obviously still have a very very close relationship with continental Europe’. He was level headed about the threat from Russia to the UK, opining ‘I don’t see that the threat that Russia presents now is equivalent to the situation that we had during the Cold War’.


John McDonnell – Universal Credit ‘just not sustainable’

The Shadow Chancellor also joined Ridge from his home in Hayes. Ridge asked him about the future of the government’s Universal Credit policy, a flagship reform of the coalition government. McDonnell made clear that a Labour government would scrap the policy and start again:

JM: I think most people have now come to the conclusion it has got to be scrapped. I’ve been listening to people over the last few weeks about the rollout in their particular areas. I’ve been looking at what the government has said, how they’re seeking to reform it. The reforms haven’t worked… It’s not a system that’s providing the safety net that people expect when they need support. I think we’re moving to a position now where it’s just not sustainable, it’ll have to go.

McDonnell was scathing about Sir Richard Dearlove’s comments about Jeremy Corbyn, telling Ridge that ‘I think Richard Dearlove should spend his retirement in quiet contemplation of the role he played with regard to the Iraq war’. He was also less than impressed with Theresa May’s supportive remarks towards the Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott about abuse she had received. He told Ridge ‘I find it a bit hypocritical… It was the Conservative party campaign that set the dogs onto Diane Abbott during the election’.


Simon Coveney – A Brexit deal will be ‘a bumpy ride’ but can be done

Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney also featured in a pre-recorded interview with Ridge to discuss the upcoming deadline to achieve a Brexit deal between the UK and the EU. Ridge asked about the likelihood of a good deal being done:

SC: I think the chances are good because I think the consequences of not getting a withdrawal treaty agreed are very very negative indeed… [It’s] going to be difficult. I expect that it will be a bumpy ride, but I believe it can be done and will be done because the consequences of not doing a deal is really very negative for everybody.

Coveney said that the text of the withdrawal treaty was already ‘about 90 per cent agreed in terms of text’ and that he believed that ‘the two negotiating teams need to lock themselves in a room for the next 10 days or so’. Coveney rejected the idea that Theresa May was ‘humiliated’ at the recent Salzburg summit and asserted that May ‘has a lot of respect across the EU [and] Ireland because she has faced down many people in the British political system… who want to press ahead with a Brexit that would cause a lot of damage to British-Irish relations’.


Brandon Lewis – Universal Credit ‘is the right way to go’

Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis defended the principle of Universal Credit against John McDonnell’s earlier attack, amid a general backdrop of easing up on the government’s ‘austerity’ programme:

BL: The reason we think Universal Credit is the right way to go is that it does get more people into work, it ensures that work pays and it is fair for the taxpayer. So it’s a system that we are moving to, it’s a system that is delivering for people at the moment, and I think it is the right way to go.

Lewis argued that the Chequers agreement was ‘the one clear plan on the table’ and was adamant that there ‘cannot be and there must not be a hard border’ on the island of Ireland.


Nicola Sturgeon – I would expect SNP MPs to back a ‘people’s vote’

And finally, as the SNP party conference gets underway in Glasgow, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon left Marr in no uncertain terms about where the SNP stood on a so-called ‘people’s vote’:

AM: Let’s be absolutely clear, if there is a vote for another Brexit related referendum across the UK, the SNP MPs will vote for it?

NS: I would expect the SNP MPs to vote for that if it comes to a vote in the House of Commons.

Sturgeon also told Marr that she could not envisage her party voting for Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal in its current form and added that ‘the future EU-UK relationship is the context on which Scotland would decide [the] question of independence’. She referred to the 2016 referendum result as ‘an illustration of a democratic deficit’ between Scotland and the UK and concluded that Scottish independence was inevitable in the long run.

Show comments