Theresa May - NHS to be given £20 billion 'birthday present'
Andrew Marr's pre-recorded interview with the Prime Minister has led the day's news coverage, featuring some notable highlights. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the announcement that the government will be injecting £20 billion of extra cash into the National Health Service over the next five years. May explained her proposals in more detail:
AM: The NHS is 70 years old... What are you bringing to the birthday party?
TM: ...We're going to ensure there's a 10-year plan for the NHS. That will be a plan for world-class health care - more doctors, more nurses. It means extra money. Significantly more money going into the NHS... Some people may remember seeing a figure on the side of a bus a while back, of £350m a week in cash. Well, I can tell you that what I'm announcing will mean that in 2023-24, there will be about £600m a week more in cash, going into the NHS. Now, we've got to fund that. That will be through the Brexit dividend. The fact that we're no longer sending vast amounts of money every year to the EU once we leave the EU'.
However, May also strongly hinted at tax rises to supplement this boost in funding, adding 'We as a country will be contributing a bit more', and said that 'We need to make sure that this money is spent wisely.' May also told Marr that she had met with Conservative rebels to discuss their concerns over Parliament receiving a 'meaningful vote' on the final Brexit deal, but added that Parliament 'cannot tie the hands of government in negotiations... We can't have a situation where every time we have to take a decision we have to go back and have a lengthy debate'.
May - Chope 'has been a longstanding Member of Parliament...'
In an uncomfortable moment, Marr asked May about the backbench Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope, who has earned scorn from across the political divide for blocking a new law which would have banned the practice of 'upskirting', an act where men take photographs by placing a camera underneath a woman's skirt. May asserted her determination to take action against upskirting, but squirmed when confronted about how her colleague came to be 'Sir' Christopher:
AM: Some people won't know who Christopher Chope is. He's blocked bills to pardon Alan Turing, he's blocked a bill to prevent revenge evictions, to ban wild animals in circuses and to end hospital car parking charges. He also - in 2009 - proposed abolishing the minimum wage. Why did you give him a knighthood 6 months ago?
TM: ...Let's be very clear about some of those things you've talked about. The pardon for Alan Turing, we did put through... and what we're going to do on this upskirting issue is, on government time, to put that legislation there on the statute book....
AM: So why did you give him a knighthood?
TM: ...Christopher Chope has been a longstanding Member of Parliament. What is important is how we respond.... The concern is not the issue of an individual... [This] is invasive of people's privacy. Are we going to ensure that action is taken about that? Yes, we are.
John Healey - 'Bogus Brexit dividend' is 'simply not credible'
Labour's Shadow Housing Secretary has attacked the Prime Minister's plans for a cash injection into the NHS. Arguing that the Brexit dividend was something of a myth, John Healey sought to play down the extra money, though he was challenged by Sophy Ridge on Labour's own spending proposals:
SR: It sounds like a good thing, doesn't it? More money for the NHS. Why isn't Labour welcoming it?
JH: Any boost to funding for the NHS is welcome after 8 years of the tightest funding the NHS has seen in its history... Most seriously, this isn't a pledge that's credible if the prime minister can't show how it's being funded. And claiming some bogus Brexit dividend is clearly something that doesn't exist - and she's only saying that because she's got her arm twisted up her back by her Cabinet Brexit hardliners.
SR: ...When you look at the numbers, the Conservatives are promising 3.4% a year more for the NHS, Labour are promising 2%.
JH: Let's see the detail of exactly what's promised, let's see the detail of exactly what's left out, and above all let's seen where the money's going to come from... Any bogus Brexit dividend is simply not credible.
On his own brief, Healey pledged that Labour would build 'a million new genuinely affordable homes' over 10 years, and would 'redefine what counts as affordable'. However, he also claimed that is was 'a big mistake' to think that building more homes 'would affect prices in anything other than the long run'.
Dominic Grieve - 'We could collapse the government'
Former Attorney General and prominent Tory rebel Dominic Grieve has signalled his willingness to go nuclear over the government's final Brexit deal if he was dissatisfied with the outcome of the negotiations. Grieve told Sarah Smith that he was extremely worried about the UK's future beyond Brexit and was in no mood to rule anything out:
SS: To vote against the government's deal at the eleventh hour would, in effect, not just seriously weaken the Prime Minister's authority. You could collapse the government.
DG: We could collapse the government, and I can assure you I wake up at 2 am in a cold sweat thinking about the problems that we have put on our shoulders. The difficultly is that the Brexit process is inherently risky. Really risky. Risky to our economic well being, to our international relationships, and ultimately to our national security.
SS: Fundamentally, you would prefer it wasn't happening. People's suspicion is that you're trying to stop it.
DG: ... Of course I think Brexit's a bad idea, that's why I voted Remain. But I'm also realistic that it's almost certainly going to happen. It could only not happen if there was a major change in public opinion.... I'm not sure that's happened, so I'm realistic about the outcome.
Grieve argued that 'The meaningful vote pledge that was given to us has got to be fulfilled. I think that's abundantly clear'. He continued 'The alternative is, we've all got to sign up to a slavery clause now saying whatever the government does... however potentially catastrophic it might be... I'm signing in blood now that I will follow over the edge of the cliff.'
Emily Thornberry - Trump is an 'asteroid of awfulness', but I would meet with him
And finally, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has shared her somewhat less than diplomatic language about President Donald Trump with Andrew Marr:
AM: An asteroid of awfulness? That's not very polite!
ET: That's what he is... We share values with the United States, we do not share values with Donald Trump, when he wants to walk away from the Paris Climate Change deal, when he wants to tear up the Iran nuclear deal. And I am happy to say that openly and I will say it to his face, I have no problem with that... When you have a bully like that you stand up to them, and you're clear about what it is that you disagree about, and you don't need to be pusillanimous.
She went on: 'Look at what's happened to Theresa May. She's been nice as she possibility can, and Trump can't even work out how many points of 10 he wants to give her'. But she clarified 'If we get an invitation to see him, of course we will go and see him'.