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Sunday shows round-up: what’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done Boris?

8 December 2019

2:24 PM

8 December 2019

2:24 PM

Boris Johnson – I deliver where it matters

The Prime Minister showed his face once again this morning, appearing in a pre-recorded interview with Sophy Ridge. With voters heading to the polls this Thursday, Ridge began by asking Johnson whether people could trust him, a theme that has featured throughout the campaign:

BJ: If you look at what I do as a politician – what I say I’m going to do, and I do – I have a record I think, of delivering for people where it really matters. Whether that’s running London, where I was able to cut crime very substantially, or deliver more affordable homes than people thought we ever could, cut delays on the tube by 30 per cent, [or] a pretty successful Olympic Games, I deliver.

Britain and Northern Ireland should have ‘unfettered access’

Ridge asked about the implications of the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal for Northern Ireland. The deal has raised concerns among the Democratic Unionist Party, and Johnson has contradicted his own Brexit secretary on the nature of post-Brexit trade arrangements across the Irish Sea. A leaked government document has also suggested that there will be extra forms for traders to fill in, but Johnson denied this when confronted about the issue:

SR: Will there be checks?

BJ: No. Absolutely not… The only checks that there would be, would be if something was coming from GB via Northern Ireland, and was going on to the Republic. Then there might be checks at the border into Northern Ireland… [The deal is] very clear that there should be unfettered access.

There will be 31,000 ‘new’ nurses

Ridge moved on to another commitment made by the Conservatives – to increase the number of NHS nurses by 50,000. The figure has been attacked as dubious because it involves the government retaining nurses who would otherwise have left the profession. The Prime Minister defended his method of counting:

SR: How many of those nurses will actually be new?

BJ: 31,000 is the answer to that… There are 19,000 nurses who would leave the system unless we put the investment in now… [Otherwise] we’d be down 19,000.

Immigration ‘will come down’

Ridge asked Johnson about immigration levels and the new framework that would be put in place for migrants from EU countries:

SR: Can you guarantee that numbers will come down?

BJ: Yes, I can make sure that numbers will come down. Numbers will come down because we will be able to control the system… I think people want to see democratic control.

‘We will bear down’ on unskilled migration

Given Johnson’s previous answer, Ridge challenged him on whether the Australian style ‘points-based’ system which he favoured would really be successful in reducing numbers:

SR: If you want to see lower immigration, why are you adopting a system based on the Australian model, which has higher immigration currently than the UK?

BJ: It depends how you apply it… The Migration Advisory Committee will tell the government what’s happening, and we will take a view on how to control it… I’ve said that what we want to do is bear down on migration, particularly of unskilled workers who have no job to come to.

‘What is the naughtiest thing I’ve ever done…?’

Ridge brought the interview to a close by asking the journalist’s favourite on-the-spot question. After floundering for some time, the Prime Minister finally came up with an answer:

SR: What’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done?

BJ: … I may sometimes, when I was riding a bicycle every day… not always obeyed the law about cycling on the pavement… [That’s] the naughtiest thing that I’m prepared to admit.

Jonathan Ashworth – Johnson is ‘lying’ about migration

Ridge next spoke to the Shadow Health Secretary, who accused the Prime Minister of misleading the public over his plans to reduce immigration while increasing the role of the Migration Advisory Committee:

JA: He’s trying to give the impression that he’s going to bring immigration down, but when you look at the details… he’s going to hand over decisions over who will get a visa to an independent committee… There will be no democratic control and no accountability… Again, Boris Johnson is lying to the British people.

Everyone will get free personal care

Ashworth made a pledge that a Labour government would introduce free personal social care for every elderly person who needed it. He told Ridge that the plan would cost an extra £10 billion. Ridge asked if the significant costs could be justified:

JA: No one will have to pay anything for the care they get…

SR: No matter how wealthy they are?

JA: This is about ensuring fairness in the system… This issue has been ducked by parties for years.

Nigel Farage – Johnson won’t cut immigration

The Brexit party leader also joined Ridge, and he too attacked the Prime Minister over his promise to bring immigration down, arguing that Johnson’s record hinted that his heart would not be in it:

NF: This is the fourth Conservative manifesto in a row promising to reduce numbers… Boris Johnson has always been very soft on immigration, but you know what? There’s an election on, so [he’ll] tell people what they want to hear.

The polling industry is ‘laughable’

Farage was similarly scathing about the opinion polling companies, which have not shown the Brexit party faring as well as it would hope. It is currently forecast not to pick up any seats in the election. Farage stated that the results on polling day would see him vindicated, and promised to rebrand the Brexit party as the ‘Reform party’ to stand at future elections:

NF: The way the polling industry actually operates is laughable. I promise you when you sit there and see the results coming through… you will see that we are on roughly 13 to 14 per cent.

SR: How many seats do you think you’re going to win?

NF: I think there’s a handful which we have a seriously good chance of winning, and I think we will get some in. I genuinely do.

Arron Banks ‘doesn’t understand the numbers’

Farage also took aim at his former colleague Arron Banks, who recommends that Brexit voters should back the Conservatives. Banks’ fear is that the Brexit party standing candidates will allow Labour and the Liberal Democrats to make unexpected gains:

NF: He doesn’t understand the numbers. The Lib Dem seats would have been… in the South… We’re not standing in the South…. In Labour areas, we take Labour votes.

Jo Swinson – Tory/Brexit party ‘stitch-up’ hurts Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrat leader suggested that the Brexit party’s withdrawal of candidates had been quite effective at suppressing her party’s ambitions:

SR: Last month on the show you said ‘I’m a candidate to be Prime Minister at his election’. Do you still think that?

JS: …What we’ve seen is a cosy stitch-up between Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson… That stitch-up clearly changes the electoral arithmetic and makes it more difficult.

More female leaders will combat sexism

Ridge asked Swinson whether she felt that her unpopularity in the opinion polls was due to her being a female leader. Swinson said that this was possible, but that she was helping in her own way to normalise women in leadership roles:

JS: …There are double standards that apply, and I knew that when I took on the job… I think about my nieces growing up, I want the world that they inherit to be one that is less sexist, and one of the ways we can do that is having women in leadership roles.

John McDonnell – ‘We’re going to learn more lessons’ on anti-Semitism

The Shadow Chancellor joined Andrew Marr, who asked him about Labour’s efforts to tackle anti-Semitism within the party. McDonnell conceded that the debacle may be a major factor if Labour performs poorly in Thursday’s election:

AM: Do you accept that if you lose this election, this will be part of the reason?

JM: I worry that this has had its effect, and we’ve done everything, I think, we can possibly do. We’ve apologised to the Jewish community.

AM: Nothing more you can do?

JM: We’ve always got to learn lessons… I apologise to the Jewish community for the suffering we’ve inflicted on them. We’re going to learn more lessons.

Borrowing for WASPI is ‘the right thing to do’

McDonnell also told Marr that borrowing to cover the cost of the estimated £58 billion needed to compensate the WASPI women was fully justifiable as the women were entitled to the money:

AM: Where’s that money coming from?

JM: …We will have to identify that funding, either from our headroom we will inherit, or… we’ll borrow, and I don’t shy away from that… The bulk of this money will be borrowed but it’s the right thing to do.

Nicola Sturgeon – Labour should respect timing for indyref2

Scotland’s First Minister said that if it came to backing Labour in a hung parliament, the timing of a second independence referendum was a major red line that would have to be respected:

NS: I’m not asking Labour to support Scottish independence… I’m making the reasonable request that they respect a principle, which is that… the timing of a referendum should not be matters for Westminster.

‘I apologise’ for missing health targets

During her leader’s interview with Andrew Neil, Sturgeon was quizzed extensively on the state of the Scottish health service. Marr pursued the same line of enquiry. Sturgeon defended the Scottish NHS, but apologised for missing key targets:

NS: We have challenges in health… but Scotland’s health service… is actually performing better than the health services elsewhere in the UK… I apologise to anybody who doesn’t get the treatment on the health service that we want them to get

Brandon Lewis – No Russian money funding the Tories

And finally, the Security Minister Brandon Lewis denied that the Conservative party was accepting Russian money as donations:

AM: Has there been Russian money funding the Conservative party in this campaign?

BL: No. The funding for the Conservative party comes from people who are declared through the Electoral Commission who are British citizens.

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