Sunday shows: Get on and deliver a Brexit deal, Labour urges PM

The Andrew Marr Show

Labour’s Rachel Reeves would not give the government a “blank cheque” by revealing now whether Labour would vote in favour of a post-Brexit trade deal, but emphasised that the government should get one.

On whether Labour wants a Brexit deal at any cost: “We want a deal, the British people want a deal, that is what they were promised less than a year ago in the general election… I just say to the Prime Minister, this is not a game of snakes and ladders.”
On whether Labour would support UK concessions on fishing: “The differences are clearly not insignificant, but I don’t think they’re insurmountable either. On fishing, we do want access to the fish in our waters, but we also want to be able to sell the fish to the EU.”
On the level playing field: “The British government wants to be able to water down rules on workers’ rights and environmental standards. That would not be Labour’s priorities and I don’t think it would be the priorities of the British people either.”
On getting a deal: “There is a deal there to be done. If the government can’t sign a deal because they want to water down rules on workers’ rights and environmental standards, that is absolutely wrong.”
She added: “My message to Boris Johnson is that you made a promise to the British people to get Brexit done. You said you had an oven-ready deal. Well, get on and deliver it.”
On whether Labour will vote for the deal: “Let’s see… We’ll have to look at the content of a deal, but also any legislation that comes to parliament. We’re not going to give them a blank cheque but I think I have been very clear that the most important thing is that the government get a deal.”
Pressed further: “We can’t say how we’re going to vote in a hypothetical vote without seeing the legislation… Keir Starmer and myself will make sure we understand the implications of any legislation before voting on it.”

#Marr: If the Government gets a trade deal with the EU, will Labour back it?

Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Rachel Reeves: “We’ll have to look at the deal… we’re not going to give them a blank cheque”#Brexit https://t.co/XJOGgZil5C pic.twitter.com/3GRsCOMT1b

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) December 6, 2020

The government was represented by George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, who said: “There is still a deal to be done but there is no denying that the end of last week was quite a setback.”

On the real deadline for a deal, he added: “You could always extend, but unless you can resolve these quite fundamental divergences at the moment we are going to have to take a position in the next few days.”

On the impact of no deal on farming, amid warnings by the National Farmers’ Union, Eustice admitted the sheep sector would be exposed but said in “many other sectors” of British agriculture no deal would “create opportunities”.

#Marr: Can you keep your promises to farmers and fishermen?

Environment Secretary George Eustice: “We will see… we cannot be the only country in the world that doesn’t control its own waters”#Brexit https://t.co/XJOGgZil5C pic.twitter.com/siS6eh7w0W

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) December 6, 2020

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds defended Labour’s abstention on the Covid tier system vote earlier this week and refused to rule out the possibility of the party abstaining on a Brexit trade deal.

On Labour’s Covid abstention: “What we did was to act in the national interest. We accepted first of all that there should be restrictions. That’s why we didn’t oppose them. But at the same time there were still issues.”
On Labour’s approach to Covid: “We accept the need for restrictions but we still are pushing for improvement because… the economic package put forward by the government simply doesn’t match the ambition of the moment.”
On whether Labour will support a Brexit trade deal: “We absolutely need to get a deal… In terms of our position on any deal, clearly we need to see what has been agreed.”
On a potential vote: “We don’t know at the moment what’s actually going to be presented to parliament. Will it be the deal as agreed? Will it be a piece of legislation that is actually giving effect to that deal?”
Pressed on whether Labour could abstain: “The responsible thing for this is first of all emphasising the need to get a deal, but then to consider what has been agreed – but also to consider what’s actually going to be put before parliament.”
He added: “It may not be a straight vote on the deal. It may actually be that time is running out so much now that actually all we’ll get is an actual piece of legislation putting that deal into effect.”
Asked whether it is right that convicted criminals born overseas should be deported: “If there are people who are convicted of very serious crimes who’ve lost their right to remain, then yes they should be deported.”
On the controversial deportation flight to Jamaica: “The point that we were raising with regard to that particular flight was deep concern around the Windrush scandal and continuing injustice.”

Labour abstained on voting for coronavirus restrictions. Will it do the same on Brexit?

“We absolutely need to get a deal” and a no deal outcome would be “catastrophic” says @NickTorfaen – but Labour “need to see what has been agreed”#Ridge https://t.co/Y7JlOUGQ4W pic.twitter.com/tJQ7QjGiUO

— Sophy Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) December 6, 2020

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused the SNP of being “out of touch with the priorities of the Scottish people” in demanding a referendum within the next year.

On whether Scottish people would vote for independence: “If there was a referendum, we’d win it and Scotland would stay in the UK. But it’s going to be a hard battle because people are frustrated, they’re fed up.”
On devolution: “All the different parts of the UK, they need far more powers of economic initiative and the centre will have to admit that it cannot do everything itself and that centralisation is not working.”
On Boris Johnson saying devolution was a “disaster”: “He’s completely out of touch and that’s why he’s not popular in Scotland. But neither would he be popular in Wales where people want devolution to work.”
On devolved nations and regions: “We have a multi-national state, we have regions with a great deal of different needs… But this government has not found a way of cooperating with them, of consulting them, of working with them.”
He added: “There seems to be no formal mechanisms in place by which the mayors or the first ministers can actually talk to the Prime Minister or talk to the leading cabinet ministers.”
Asked whether the SNP will have a mandate for another referendum if they win a majority in Holyrood next year: “You could of course have a referendum… But should you have a referendum? And the answer is no.”
On other priorities: “We’ve got to deal with the recession. Unemployment is rising. We’ve got to vaccinate people in Scotland.”
On the SNP pushing for a referendum: “The idea you can have a referendum during the first 12 months of the next year seems to me quite unrealistic… The nationalists are really out of touch with the priorities of the Scottish people.”
Asked whether Labour should back a Brexit trade deal negotiated by the government: “I don’t think you can say what you do about the deal until you know what the deal is.”
Pressed on whether Labour should vote for the deal over no deal: “That’s up to Keir Starmer to make his decision. But I would make my decision, and I don’t think he’s going to make his decision, until he sees what the deal is.”
On Rishi Sunak: “Having given out all this money, his problems are really now beginning and I think he’s going to be tested… He has not provided for the recovery in the way that should be done and I think he faces huge problems.”
On what the Chancellor needs to do: “He must plan recovery and not rest on his laurels because we’ve had a rescue operation, we need a recovery operation now and I don’t think that is forthcoming yet from the government.”

“I think if there was a referendum we’d win it and Scotland would stay in the UK” says former PM Gordon Brown on Scottish Independence and adds ‘there’s a growing sense that people in all regions feel they’re not being listened to’.#Ridge https://t.co/7d85kNDhUM pic.twitter.com/EU59rVlrQG

— Sophy Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) December 6, 2020

George Eustice said the Brexit negotiations are “in a very difficult position” this morning, and argued that there was hope for a deal last week before the EU “added a whole load of additional demands”.

Asked whether the government will nonetheless hold votes on legislation breaking international law, with MPs set to consider the internal market bill and the finance bill, the Environment Secretary confirmed: “Yes, we will.”

He declared that Covid vaccinations will begin “in earnest from this week” but could not say how many doses would be arriving in the UK. He said he “doesn’t have the precise number”.

On Covid and the UK leaving the EU, the government minister argued: “We’ve got many contingency plans in place. There won’t be any effect on the deployment of this vaccine from a no-deal Brexit.”

“Yes, we will” says George Eustice, confirming clauses breaking international law will be reintroduced to Parliament if a deal isn’t agreed by tomorrow.

He says the “clauses are very important in the event we leave without an agreement” and give clarity for business.#Ridge pic.twitter.com/xMOUFLCkLc

— Sophy Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) December 6, 2020

Pundit and former footballer Gary Neville criticised Labour for abstaining on Covid rules earlier this week and highlighted that the “economic support isn’t in place aligned with those restrictions”.

Asked whether Labour should have voted against the rules, he said: “When you’re elected and you’re in that seat in Westminster, you’ve to take a position, you don’t abstain, you take part in the match, you’re the opposition.”

Times Radio

Labour frontbencher Sarah Jones told Gloria de Piero and Tom Newton Dunn that there is “theatrics and macho posturing” in the final days of Brexit negotiations but would not say whether her party is encouraging the government to take what’s on offer.

On the deportation flight to Jamaica, the shadow policing and fire minister said Labour is “not convinced” that the Home Office has systems in place to ensure that the Windrush scandal cannot reoccur.

“We wanted to make sure that what has happened in the past – we’ve seen people who have the right to stay in the country removed – we want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Jones said.

Unite the Union general secretary Len McCluskey urged Keir Starmer to vote for a Brexit deal and to resolve the situation with Jeremy Corbyn’s whip as quickly as possible.

On Labour and Brexit: “Labour’s position is obviously slightly awkward and difficult for Keir, in as much as on the one hand he needs to win the trust of the Red Wall seats and those who voted Leave… But he needs to be in a position in six months’ time to be able to attack the government without being regarded as a hypocrite.”
On Labour’s Brexit deal vote: “Labour need to be seen not to be sitting on the fence… The idea of an abstention is completely wrong.”
On Labour’s position under the last leadership: “I never opposed Theresa May’s deal. I wanted Brexit done. I could see the slow car crash that was coming for Labour if we didn’t get Brexit out of the way.” He said he shared these views “privately with the Labour leadership”.
He added: “Unfortunately people didn’t listen and we know the consequences.” Who did not listen? “Jeremy, Keir, John Mac, Emily, the leadership of our party.”
On Starmer’s campaign pledges: “I’ve told Keir I’m going to frame those ten points and send them to him.”
On the ‘under new management’ slogan: “I think it’s a pretty bland statement… The platform he ran on was a radical, some said Corbynite, platform.”
He added: “Sooner or later Labour needs to identify itself.”
On withholding the whip from Corbyn: “We need a united party. What he’s doing with Jeremy Corbyn and the withdrawal of the whip is extraordinary.”
On why Corbyn will not say ‘I’m sorry’: “The idea someone says he has to say sorry or has to do this when a process has been gone through is ridiculous… It looks like people have been seeking to humiliate Jeremy Corbyn.”
He added: “I’m hoping that Keir will resolve this as quickly as possible.”
On reports that Unite is not paying its affiliation fees to Labour, McCluskey explained that he put a stop on all affiliation fees back in July/August as he wanted to “examine the impact of Covid” on the union, but “for clarity, we’ll be paying our affiliation fees next week, there’s no issues with that”.
On talks behind the scenes to readmit Corbyn: “I think there has been bad faith on the side of Keir and his team.”
On whether local parties should be able to discuss such issues: “Without a shadow of a doubt… We are a democratic party.”
On his retirement: “There will be an election for the new general secretary next year. We haven’t quite worked out a timetable yet, but a new general secretary will be elected next year.”

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