Matthew Taylor

Sunday shows round-up: Aukus ‘is not about provoking anyone’

Sunday shows round-up: Aukus ‘is not about provoking anyone’
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Alok Sharma: Net zero targets can be met with incentives

With the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow looming ever closer, Andrew Marr spoke this morning to Alok Sharma, the President for COP26. Marr asked about what the UK government was preparing to do in order to meet its ambitious targets of zero carbon emissions by 2050:

AS: The UK actually has been making progress… This isn’t about forcing anyone to do anything, this is about providing incentives.

People ‘shouldn’t be concerned’ about rising gas prices

The Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has been in emergency talks with energy companies after the price of gas surged by as much as 70 per cent in August alone. Amid warnings that such a jolt could not only add significantly to household bills, but also threaten Christmas, Marr asked Sharma if the situation could be bought back under control:

AS: People shouldn’t be concerned about the risks to [gas] supply… We have the energy price cap, we have the Warm Home Discount to protect people.

President Xi’s appearance at COP26 is not confirmed

Trevor Phillips also spoke to Sharma and asked him about the big fish that COP26 would like to see in its net – China. Over half of the world’s leaders will be in attendance, but President Xi has not yet given a personal response to his RSVP:

TP: Has President XI Jinping of China said he’s coming.

AS: No, not yet… [but China] are very clear that they want to see COP26 as a success.

Aukus ‘is not about provoking anyone’

Phillips turned to the new defence partnership between the UK, the US and Australia that was announced on Wednesday evening. Though not explicitly aimed at doing so, Aukus is widely seen as an attempt to push back against Chinese dominance over vast swathes of the Pacific:

AS: This isn’t about provoking anyone. We want to have good relations with all countries.

Ed Davey: We ‘absolutely believe in free speech’

Marr interviewed Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and tried to pin him down on his objection to the phrase ‘Adult, Human, Female’ as a description for a woman. One of the reasons that the issue has come to a head in the Lib Dems is because party member Natalie Bird is suing the party after she sported a T-shirt carrying this slogan. In response, Bird was banned from the party headquarters and has since been barred from standing as an MP in her home constituency:

ED: A trans woman is a woman, and a trans woman is a man… We absolutely believe in free speech.

Caroline Lucas: Sharma is undermined by his own government

Phillips spoke to the Green MP Caroline Lucas, seeking her response to the government’s plans for COP26:

CL: The first rule of diplomacy is to walk your talk… I’m afraid that Alok Sharma… is being cut off at the knees by the Prime Minister.

M25 protestors’ ‘extreme actions’ ‘were reasonable’

Philips pushed Lucas on her attitude to the protests by Insulate Britain, a group whose demonstrations saw them blocking the M25 three times over the past week, resulting in 48 arrests being made:

CL: In extreme situations, it is reasonable to take extreme actions… I fully understand why protestors have felt driven to [do this].

Gerard Araud: ‘You don’t behave this way between allies’

And finally, France's former Ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud made clear his frustration at the new Aukus deal, which involved Australia ditching a previous contract to buy 12 French submarines:

GA: The way it has been done is amazing… For months, British, Americans and Australians have been plotting at our back... You don’t behave this way between allies!