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Sunday shows round-up: ERG attacks, Windrush and Labour anti-Semitism

14 April 2019

3:00 PM

14 April 2019

3:00 PM

David Lammy – ERG far-right comparisons ‘not strong enough’

Andrew Marr interviewed David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham who has been at the forefront of calls for a second Brexit referendum. Lammy doubled down on comments he has made about not ‘appeasing’ the pro-Brexit European Research Group. Marr challenged him on the remarks made to the crowd at the Put It to the People March last month:

AM: By implication you’re comparing the ERG to the Nazi party… That was an unacceptable comparison wasn’t it?

DL: I would say that that wasn’t strong enough… We must not appease…  I’m not backing off on this…  and the BBC should not allow this extreme hard right fascism to flourish.

AM: These are elected Conservative MPs.

DL: I don’t care how elected they were. So was the far right in Germany. They’re often elected, often giving a cover for the thugs on the ground. And I’m afraid when people are experiencing rising hate and extremism in this country, we must not concede ground. We must fight it and call it out for what it is.

 

Windrush generation ‘will never forgive the government’

Lammy also laid into the government over its scheme to compensate the victims of the Windrush scandal, which was exposed last year:

DL: The system is heavily capped when people make individual claims… If you’ve been deported, you have a cap of £10,000… What we will see two years down the line… is that people remain in deep hardship as a result of this scheme, and the British West Indian Caribbean community will never, ever forgive this government.

 

Labour anti-Semitism allegations ‘are a stain’

Lammy saved some condemnation for his own party, responding to a newly released tape recording which revealed that Jeremy Corbyn was unhappy with the way anti-Semitism cases were being processed within the Labour party:

DL: There has been a failure of leadership. It’s a stain on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of this party… It’s shameful the way these complains have been managed, and frankly when a senior backbencher like Margaret Hodge is crying… I stand in complete solidarity.

 

Mood is to accept Brexit deal ‘with a referendum’

Lammy also told Marr that he felt that these was a consensus emerging that if a breakthrough could be made in the current Brexit talks between the government and Labour, then Labour backbenchers would finally vote for the withdrawal agreement. However, he added one significant caveat:

DL: It’s clear that there is a mood in the party to accept the deal that emerges [from the Brexit talks] as long as it’s put to a referendum. That is, in a sense, the compromise.

 

David Lidington – Discussions with Labour won’t ‘drag out’

Marr went on to speak to the Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, and asked him about the cross-party Brexit talks. Lidington said that although he had ‘a good businesslike meeting’ with the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, if further progress could not be made then parliament would have the final say:


DL: I don’t think this question can be allowed to drag out… I don’t have a particular [deadline] date… We’ll do our best to reach a compromise [but] if that doesn’t work… we’ll put before parliament a set of options with a system for making a choice and parliament actually having to come to a preferred option.

 

Our position on second referendum ‘hasn’t changed’

Lidington also said that while McDonnell continually raised the prospect of a second referendum at every meeting, he should not expect to find compromise on this front:

DL: We understand where he’s coming from. He does raise it at every meeting. The government’s position is very clear. It hasn’t changed. We think that the public came to a clear view in 2016… A referendum… has been voted on and defeated.

 

Windrush scheme to be kept ‘under review’

Marr also put David Lammy’s accusations about the Windrush compensation scheme to Lidington:

AM: Are you going to look at this again?

DL: I’m sure this is something that Sajid Javid will keep under review. But I think David, in fairness, could have given more credit to the fact that these problems… started under the previous Labour government, and that when this was bought to the Home Secretary’s attention, he took very resolute, very swift action.


Gerard Batten – Nigel Farage accusations are ‘a smear’

Marr’s other political guest of the day was UKIP’s leader Gerard Batten. UKIP finished first in the 2014 European elections, but is now facing competition from the new Brexit party launched by its former leader Nigel Farage. Farage has said that UKIP is now linked to ‘extremism, violence, criminal records and thuggery’. Marr asked Batten for his response:

GB: Nigel’s known me for 27 years. He knows exactly where I stand on things… He knows that that’s a smear. This is a device that he’s now using to try and discredit UKIP, his former party, and to enhance the chances of his own.

 

MEP candidate’s comments were ‘satire’

Marr turned to comments made by one of UKIP’s candidates for the upcoming European elections this May. Carl Benjamin, also known as the YouTuber Sargon of Akkad, said in 2016 that he ‘wouldn’t even rape’ Labour MP Jess Phillips. Marr asked if Benjamin was an appropriate candidate for political office:

GB: I think this was satire… He’s precisely the kind of person that Nigel would have liked in the party… because he can open up access to us on social media…

AM: …How is that satire?

GB: …I certainly don’t condone any remarks like that, but he is not a bad person… The context in which he said it was satire… He wasn’t actually making a literal statement.

 

Jennifer Robinson – Ecuador’s Assange accusations are ‘outrageous’

Sophy Ridge was joined by the lawyer representing Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who had been seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London until they withdrew their protection on Thursday. The US government has asked for him to be extradited and Swedish prosectors are also considering reopening an investigation into rape allegations made against Assange, which he has always denied. Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, rebuffed some of the more gruesome rumours about Assange’s behaviour and argued that his concerns about being extradited to the US were well founded:

JR: Ecuador has been making some pretty outrageous allegations… to justify an extraordinary and unlawful act of allowing British police to come inside an embassy… The politics of the case… changed with the change of government… and ever since then it’s become more and more difficult. To suggest that someone would choose to remain in there without legitimate concerns about US extradition… I think people can’t understand what it would be like.

 

Jeremy Corbyn’s intervention ‘is welcome’

Robinson also welcomed the public intervention by Jeremy Corbyn who has said he opposes any request Assange faces to be extradited to the United States:

JR: Of course it’s welcome and I think that anyone who believes in public interest journalism and understands the public interest in the publications that WikiLeaks made… changed the way we think about journalism and the right to know. Having someone extradited for any actions associated with those publications… ought to be a concern and it’s right and correct that Jeremy Corbyn said what he said.

Anna Soubry – I don’t regret leaving the Tories

Sophy Ridge was also joined by Anna Soubry, the backbench MP who left the Conservatives to join the Independent Group. She told Ridge that she doesn’t regret her decision for a second:

AS: I have to say I have never felt so sure about anything and almost every day, especially when I sit in parliament and I look at the benches opposite… and I’m afraid the Tory party is the Brexit party. One nation Tories like me can’t stay and it’s leaning to the right and if someone like Boris Johnson or Dominic Raab becomes the next leader, the next Prime Minister, it will absolutely be that real understanding that it’s gone towards the more extremes of the right.

 

Iain Duncan Smith – Not leaving on 29 March is ‘a disaster’

However, the former Conservative leader and arch-eurosceptic Iain Duncan Smith has argued that it is his party’s failure to deliver Brexit that has seen it slump in the opinion polls:

IDS: Up until the [29th] people were prepared to give Theresa May the benefit of the doubt but… as soon as we didn’t leave you could see all the poll ratings start to crash and it is only linked to the fact that – Leave or Remain – they were expecting us to go, and when we didn’t go it looked like a complete breach with the pledge that we had made, and that’s a disaster for a political party.

 

‘We simply cannot fight the European elections’

And finally, Duncan Smith argued that fighting the European elections at all was destined to be a demoralising and pointless experience for the Conservative rank and file:

IDS:  We simply cannot fight the Euro elections. I gather dozens of Conservative association members have now written a letter to the Prime Minister saying they are not prepared to fight Euro elections, it would be an utter disaster for us. It would be a disaster for the country. I mean what are you going to say on the doorstep – vote for me and I’ll be gone in three months? It doesn’t make any sense.


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