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Sunday shows round-up: Amber Rudd – no deal is taking up ’80 to 90 per cent of government time’

8 September 2019

1:37 PM

8 September 2019

1:37 PM

Amber Rudd – There is not enough effort to get a Brexit deal
The major talking point of the day has been the resignation of Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, who made her announcement on Saturday evening. Rudd is not just relinquishing her cabinet post but also the Conservative whip, and plans to stand as an independent at the next election. Rudd’s departure comes in the aftermath of the Prime Minister expelling 21 rebel MPs from the Conservative party after a critical vote last week. Andrew Marr spoke to Rudd about her decision:

AM: What was the crucial thing that made you leave?
AR: It’s the combination of the fact that there’s not enough work going into actually getting a deal – which I think is not what the Prime Minister signed up to try to do – and secondly, the expulsion of 21 of my colleagues, who are good, moderate Conservatives.

The cabinet is not ‘having proper discussions about policy’
Rudd criticised the way the government was being run, arguing that important decisions, such as the decision to prorogue Parliament, were being taken outside of the cabinet and imposed on ministers:

AR: I don’t think the cabinet is having proper discussions about policy. The issue of prorogation, we were told on the morning, rather than [having] a proper discussion. I would like to see a cabinet where proper discussions take place.

No deal taking up ’80 to 90 per cent’ of government time
Rudd stressed that she agreed with the government’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit, but added that she believed the direction of travel was being skewed towards one particular outcome by No. 10:

AR: There is this huge machine preparing for no deal, which is fine… But it’s like 80 to 90 per cent of government time is going into preparing for no deal. And the absence of actually trying to get a deal is what has driven 21 of my colleagues to rebel.

Sajid Javid – ‘There has been progress’ in negotiations
The Chancellor of the Exchequer also joined Marr and expressed his disappointment at Rudd’s decision to leave the government. However, he insisted that the government was making progress towards its goal of getting a withdrawal deal:

SJ: I was very saddened by the news… [Amber] is a good person, she is my friend… but I don’t agree with her with her central point… There have been numerous meetings with Brussels… numerous bilateral meetings with EU member states… There has been progress.

The government ‘will obey the law’
Javid insisted that the government would abide by the law in all circumstances, but seemingly contradicted himself by arguing that the Prime Minister would not obey Hilary Benn’s anti-no deal Brexit bill which passed the Commons this week, which demands that he ask for an extension to the October 31st deadline:

SJ: This government, of course it will obey the law…
AM: So, if the law says the Prime Minister must ask for an extension… he will do that?
SJ: The Prime Minister will go to the October council meeting… [but] he absolutely will not ask for an extension in that meeting… The government will not change its policy.

John McDonnell – I don’t trust Boris Johnson an inch
Javid’s opposite number John McDonnell was also on the Marr show and was asked why Labour had refused to vote in favour of an early general election this week. The Shadow Chancellor said that he did not have faith in the Prime Minister not to break his promises over the date of the election (or indeed anything else):

JM: We don’t believe we can pin him down, and I don’t trust him an inch… We’ve got a Prime Minister now who’s saying he won’t even abide by the law… We’re in a situation now where no one can trust – while he’s in place – what can happen.

Dominic Raab – We will test anti-no deal bill ‘to the limit’
Meanwhile, Sophy Ridge interviewed the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Raab gave more context on how the government would react to the Hilary Benn bill. Raab argued that the legislation, which the government has dubbed the ‘surrender bill’, was ‘lousy’ and that it was right for the government to exploit any weaknesses it could find within it:

DR: I think it’s very difficult for the legislation to micro-manage in detail how [our] conversations will go. We will adhere to the law, but we will also… want to test to the limit what it does lawfully require… That is the responsible thing to do.

PM should ‘expect discipline’ from top team
Raab also made clear his unhappiness that Amber Rudd had resigned from the government, but countered that the Work and Pensions Secretary had known what she was signing up for:

DR: In fairness, when she took the cabinet role, everyone was asked ‘Will you support the Prime Minister’s plan to leave by the end of October… come what may?’ We all accepted that, and I think the Prime Minister was right to restore some discipline and… expect it from his top team.

The rebels ‘knew what the implications would be’
The discussion moved on to the 21 MPs who rebelled against the government on the vote allowing the Commons the right to set the agenda and legislate on Brexit. The rebels include several eminent figures across the Conservative party’s history, including former chancellors Philip Hammond and Ken Clarke. Raab defended the decision to remove the whip:

DR: I regret anyone [having] the whip withdrawn… But this was because they voted for legislation that gave Jeremy Corbyn control of the business of the House of Commons… They were told in advance that it would be a confidence issue, but it was their choice and they did it knowing what the implications would be.

Shami Chakrabati – Johnson is ‘un-British’ and behaving like a ‘tinpot dictator’
This week saw the death of the former Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. Labour’s Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabati told Ridge that she believed Boris Johnson’s premiership shared some similarities with ‘strongmen’ of Mugabe’s ilk:

SC: Every tinpot dictator on the planet throughout history has used the excuse of having the people of their side to break the law, to shut down Parliament and all the rest of it. It’s absolutely extraordinary and I think it’s very un-British.

Justine Greening – I was sacked by voicemail
And finally, the now independent MP Justine Greening told Ridge that she was not impressed with the manner in which she had the whip withdrawn by Chief Whip Mark Spencer:

JG: I wasn’t able to take [the call] on the tube, so he simply left a voicemail… I think it might have been polite after 14 years to try to call me back perhaps a second time… I think it says an awful lot… about the state of the Conservative party.

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