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Sunday shows round-up: Stephen Barclay – our Brexit proposals are ‘very serious’

6 October 2019

1:11 PM

6 October 2019

1:11 PM

The Brexit Secretary joined Andrew Marr to discuss the government’s latest proposals for negotiation with the EU 27, which are aimed chiefly at finding a replacement for the controversial ‘backstop’ arrangement for Northern Ireland. The plans outline a new ‘regulatory zone’ which would have to be regularly agreed to by the Northern Ireland Assembly. Critics have suggested that the proposals are not realistic, but Barclay defended the government’s new approach:

SB: We have put forward very serious proposals, which I think people across the EU recognise address many of their concerns… We’ve brought forward proposals on a regulatory zone, but with the crucial addition of consent in order to address the concerns that came up before.

The government ‘will abide by the law’

Barclay insisted that the government was going to follow the rule of law, despite accusations of the contrary. This would mean that – in accordance with the Benn Act – the government will send a letter asking for an extension to negotiations if no agreement is reached by the 19th October. However, Barclay did not rule out the possibility that the government might try to subvert the letter in other ways, such as potentially asking European allies to exercise their right to veto the extension:

SB: I can absolutely confirm that the government will abide by the law… Whatever the law says the government we will comply with the law… To get a deal is the best way to deal with the Benn legislation.

Shami Chakrabarti – No loophole in the Benn Act

However, the Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti told Marr that she did not feel that there was any legal way for the government to challenge the Benn Act. She argued that undermining the Benn Act would be to break it, and accused the Prime Minister of speaking with a ‘forked tongue’, behaving differently in the courts to his pronouncements in the television studios:

AM: Is there any way around the Benn Act that you can see?

SC: No… It was drafted with great care… It’s very, very specific and explicit about a personal duty on the Prime Minster… No one is above the law, even a British Prime Minister.

General election ‘hopefully’ before Christmas
Marr asked about the likelihood of an early general election. Chakrabarti reckoned that one would be taking place sooner rather than later:

SC: I think realistically, once the Benn Act has been complied with… then I think we’re looking at a general election, certainly this side of Christmas, hopefully substantially before.

Krišjānis Kariņš – UK-EU deal depends on compromise

Marr also interviewed the Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš. Kariņš told Marr that he still though the chances of an agreement being reached between the two sides was possible, albeit with a caveat:

KK: If the offer from the UK turns out to be a ‘take it or leave it’, it is going to be very difficult… but if it’s a proposal that is open for more negotiation, but… sometimes when you’re down to the wire, some decisions can be made more quickly.

‘Diplomat’s wife ‘has questions to answer”
Sophy Ridge interviewed the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick. She raised the case of Harry Dunn, the teenager who was killed in a road accident in August. The suspect, who is married to a diplomat, has returned to the United States and claimed protection under diplomatic immunity:

RJ: This is a very tragic incident. The Foreign Secretary has spoken to the American Ambassador and made clear our disappointment… The family involved have our absolute assurance that we’re going to do everything we can to resolve this… We want to see the US change their mind and [see] this lady come back to the UK to answer the questions that she needs to.

Lisa Nandy – May’s deal is the only way to stop no deal

Lisa Nandy, the MP for Wigan, told Ridge that she felt it was time for Theresa May’s Withdrawal Bill to return to the House of Commons to be voted on for a fourth time. Representing an area that voted strongly to leave, Nandy is considered one of a small group of Labour MPs who could be persuaded to pass a Brexit deal if push came to shove:

LN: There have been some attempts to talk cross party with senior members of the cabinet… to see if there’s a way that we can bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill before the House. It met the vast majority of Labour’s key tests, and it’s the only way to prevent us from leaving with no deal in just a few weeks time.

Extinction Rebellion – We need zero carbon by 2025
And finally, Ridge spoke to Sarah Lunnon and Savannah Lovelock, two members of the pressure group Extinction Rebellion, whose protests have been growing more and more frequent across the UK. She asked them what a victory for the group would look like:

Lunnon: A victory would be… the most extreme carbon reduction target possible – zero carbon by 2025… and a citizen’s assembly. Because if we don’t do that we don’t have a future.

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