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Sunday shows round-up: Michael Gove – We are going to leave by October 31st

20 October 2019

1:29 PM

20 October 2019

1:29 PM

Michael Gove – We are going to leave by October 31st

The so-called ‘Super Saturday’ session of Parliament yesterday did not quite go as the government had hoped. After an amendment tabled by the now independent MP Oliver Letwin was passed, the government delayed a vote on its new withdrawal deal until it could be backed up with legislation. Boris Johnson has now sent a request for the EU to extend negotiations, alongside another letter arguing the opposite course of action. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster joined Sophy Ridge to discuss the government’s predicament:

MG: We are going to leave the EU by October 31st. We have the means and the ability to do so… [An extension] letter was sent because Parliament required it to be sent, but… Parliament can’t change the Prime Minister’s mind… or government policy.

We are triggering Operation Yellowhammer

Gove also said that the government would be recommencing with their preparations for leaving the EU without a deal in light of the Letwin amendment and the subsequent possibility that EU leaders could veto an extension to Article 50. Gove confirmed that he would be proceeding with Operation Yellowhammer, the worst case planning scenarios that were infamously leaked to the Times back in August:

MG: As a result of yesterday’s vote, the risk of leaving without a deal has grown… It is my constitutional responsibility to prepare for all eventualities… We are triggering Operation Yellowhammer.

John McDonnell – PM ‘behaving like a spoiled brat’

The Shadow Chancellor made yet another appearance on Ridge’s show to decry the government’s response to its defeat on Saturday. Making reference to the dual letters sent by the Prime Minister, McDonnell floated the possibility that the government might find itself in court once again over the issue:


JM: He’s clearly trying to undermine the first letter. And not signing the letter – he’s behaving a bit like a spoiled brat… And this idea that you send another letter contradicting the first, I think it flies in the face of what Parliament and the courts have decided.

Boris has ‘betrayed’ the DUP

McDonnell also launched an attack on the Prime Minister for going back on his promises to the Democratic Unionist party, who have helped to sustain the Conservatives in office since the election in 2017:


JM: This is a Conservative and Unionist Prime Minister who has just betrayed his partners, the DUP… They were promised by Boris Johnson in his own words – ‘no border down the Irish Sea’ – that’s happening. They were promised that he would abide by the processes of the Good Friday Agreement… How can we trust him on anything?

Amber Rudd – I didn’t vote for an extension

One of the MPs voting for the Letwin amendment was Amber Rudd, who last month resigned her cabinet post and the Conservative whip last month because she did not feel the Prime Minister was serious enough about reaching a deal with the EU. Rudd told Ridge that she would now be supporting the government’s efforts, and explained the reasons behind her vote yesterday:


AR: I didn’t vote for an extension, what I voted for was an insurance policy… I want to make sure that we leave with a deal [and] not no deal… I support the Prime Minister’s deal and… I think most of us former Conservatives who supported the Letwin amendment will do so as well.

This deal has a ‘fragile but sincere’ majority

Rudd continued that she thought the current withdrawal agreement had enough votes to make its way successfully through the House of Commons, fractious through that support might be:


AR: I regret very much the fact that the Prime Minister did not allow us to vote on his deal after the Letwin amendment… I think he would have seen then that he has a fragile but sincere coalition of people who want to support it.

Nigel Farage – This is a rotten deal

However, the leader of the Brexit party told Ridge that the deal did not meet his criteria for a proper Brexit and argued that under different circumstances, the Conservative European Research Group would not have been so keen to support it:


NF: This is a rotten deal. If Boris Johnson had presented this six months ago to the House of Commons, the ERG – every man and woman – would have voted against it… but it is nothing more than Brexit in name only.

I would rather have ‘a short delay’

Farage even suggested that he would rather spend a little longer in the EU rather than leave under the current terms:


NF: I want to leave on the 31st October but I warn everybody, if this treaty goes through, nothing will have changed at all. I think far better to have a short delay and a general election where we might solve this.

Keir Starmer – Labour will back referendum amendment

Andrew Marr spoke to Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer. Starmer confirmed that Labour would vote for an amendment for a second referendum on the government’s deal next week, but that the front bench would be unlikely to instigate it:


KS: I think it’s more likely [an amendment] will come from the backbench, because almost every victory we’ve had has come from the backbenches… Whether it’s this deal or any future deal, it’s got to go back [to] the public.

The DUP should talk to us

Sir Keir also extended an olive branch to the DUP, promising talks to try and address Northern Irish concerns about the deal potentially weakening ties with the rest of the United Kingdom:


KS: I would openly invite the DUP to talk to us… I say to any MP [and] any party, but the DUP in particular, if you want to work with us on this, to improve the situation we’re in, our door is open to that discussion.

Dominic Raab – Deal good for ‘every quarter’ of the UK

Marr also spoke to the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Raab acknowledged the wariness among the DUP MPs about the government’s deal and promised to continue making overtures to them to alleviate their worries:


DR: We’ll keep talking to the DUP and see if there’s further reassurances that can be provided, but we’ve got a good deal for every quarter of the United Kingdom, and… only the Conservatives have the plan to get us moving forward.

Oliver Letwin – No more amendments next week

And finally, Marr spoke to Oliver Letwin himself to see if he had anything else up his sleeve for the week ahead:


OL: No! I’m absolutely behind the government now. As long as they continue with this bill, continue with the deal, I will support it… because I think that’s the right thing for this country, to get out in an orderly fashion… There will be no more Oliver Letwin amendments next week.


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