Alex Salmond - Theresa May 'will crumble' over Scottish referendum
Despite Parliament having retired this week, the political debate rages on. Alex Salmond appeared on the Andrew Marr show to offer his take on the circumstances of a second referendum on Scottish independence. He remained defiant that it would still take place despite Theresa May's statement that 'now is not the time'.
'The Theresa May line... "Now is not the time" is not going to stand. Back in the day I remember David Cameron telling me there wasn't going to be a Scottish referendum, but that didn't last against the democratic wishes of the Scottish people and the Scottish Parliament and neither will the Theresa May line. It won't necessarily crumble today or tomorrow or next week but over the next few months that line will crumble.'
Salmond did concede however, that 'the right time for the second referendum is when the Brexit deal is known, and therefore that can be compared against the prospect of an independent Scotland in Europe'. He said that the case for Scottish independence was stronger than ever thanks to Spain's foreign minister Alfonso Dastis's claim that there would be no Spanish veto against Scottish membership of the European Union.
Salmond also added that Boris Johnson was in 'deep political trouble' after his announcement that he would no longer be meeting with his Russian counterparts in Moscow to discuss Syria:
'Rex Tillerson is going on Wednesday, so it can't be that we've moved to a Cold War position of no talking whatsoever. And the idea [that] the Foreign Secretary can't be trusted because he might pursue his own line or have an independent thought or cross over what the Americans are going to say just makes him look like some 'Mini Me' to the United States of America.'
John McDonnell - My advice to Ken: Apologise
Interviewed by Sophy Ridge, John McDonnell gave his verdict on the recent Labour Party trial of Ken Livingstone over his comments suggesting that Hitler supported Zionism. Rather infuriatingly for McDonnell, the fiasco only arose because his former parliamentary assistant Naz Shah had shared content on Twitter about removing Jews from Israel to America, something for which she later apologised. McDonnell told Ridge that Livingstone should have followed Shah's example:
'Last year I made it clear to [Livingstone] he should have apologised immediately... He didn't and I was quite angry about that... I immediately asked [Shah] to stand down and she did... She apologised immediately, realised the mistake that she had made and was shocked by it... [She] met the Jewish community and was applauded since for learning the lesson. That's what I want Ken to do.'
McDonnell claimed that he 'could weep' over what the scandal has done to Labour's standing in the Jewish community and stated that Labour should be 'at the forefront' of confronting anti-Semitism, concluding that 'we've now got to re-establish our credentials as an anti-racist party.'
Thornberry - Free school dinners made me who I am today
Labour achieved the unthinkable this week after the leadership produced a policy that united the parliamentary party -- namely that of providing universal free school dinners for primary school children. Andrew Marr queried Emily Thornberry -- the shadow foreign secretary -- about the proposal. When asked if the money earmarked for the policy couldn't be better spent, Thornberry replied:
'I believe that education should be universal, that all children should go to state schools, and part of that education should be having a lunch... and part of that is being taught about healthy eating. If you look at poor children now, they are not thin, they are overweight and that is because of poor eating, because of bad eating habits, and part of your education ought to be teaching you about, you know, how you'd grow a carrot.'
Meanwhile, Thornberry seemed to be lost for words when asked about her party's position on President Trump's decision to authorise strikes on Syria this week. Asked whether the shadow defence secretary took the same anti-strike stance as Thornberry and Corbyn, the shadow foreign secretary responded that she would not be responding on 'internal party gossip'...
Priti Patel says everything without saying anything
Also appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, Priti Patel, International Development Secretary, offered a lesson in 'how to avoid the question'. Asked whether the Foreign Secretary had cancelled his trip to Moscow due to American pressure, she delicately avoided answering the question on a sore issue for the government. When pressed for the second time, Patel replied:
'This week alone, I was in Brussels, the Foreign Secretary was in Brussels and we were engaging with all our counterparts, so it's fair to say that our engagement is... with everyone... but as we've seen today the US Secretary's going to Russia. Our Foreign Secretary is engaging with other international counterparts. We need a negotiated political solution, there's no doubt about that and Russia has an important role to play here as well because they have to become part of the solution and we will all engage with them through hopefully a UN mediated process.'
Congratulations are clearly in order, as with the ability to say so much without saying anything, Patel appears close to mastering her boss Theresa May's approach to interviews. Fortunately for May, Patel is clearly getting stuck into her current job, speaking passionately about the work of her department and describing UK aid as 'so important'. Not bad for someone who once called for her department to be abolished...