Matthew Taylor

Sunday shows round-up: Jeremy Corbyn ‘didn’t know’ the NEC would try to oust Tom Watson

Sunday shows round-up: Jeremy Corbyn 'didn't know' the NEC would try to oust Tom Watson
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Andrew Marr's main guest of the day was Jeremy Corbyn, who he joined in Brighton as the Labour party conference is underway. Battling the cries of protestors throughout the interview, Marr's first line of questioning concerned an attempt by Labour's National Executive Committee to abolish the post of Deputy Leader, which would have removed power from the incumbent Tom Watson:


JC: I knew there were discussions going on about the role... I didn’t know a motion was going to be put... There was a move that didn't happen, didn't work, and I intervened to make sure we have an open democratic discussion about the structures of our party.

I will serve 'a full term'

Corbyn was also adamant that he had what it took to lead the country for a full five years, should he win the next general election. As Katy Balls reports, this conversation was one of several testy and awkward exchanges, with Corbyn going on to accuse Marr of 'wishful thinking' that the Labour leader would be gone within a year:


AM: If you become prime minister of this country, are you going to serve as a full term?

JC: Of course.

AM: ...And that’s a commitment?

JC: Why wouldn’t I? I’m very surprised by this question, what are you trying to say?

Andrew Fisher is 'a great friend'

Andrew Fisher, a key advisor to Corbyn who was the chief author of the party's 2017 manifesto, has announced that he is leaving at the end of the year. A leaked memo reported in the Sunday Times shows Fisher to have blasted his colleagues for their 'lack of professionalism, competence and human decency' and referred to a 'blizzard of lies and excuses'. Marr sought Corbyn's reaction:

JC: I think he said that because he was extremely distressed at that point about whatever was going on in discussions within the office at that moment... [Andrew] is a great colleague and a great friend... We get along absolutely fine.

Jean-Claude Juncker - 'I am doing everything to have a deal'

Earlier in the week Sophy Ridge sat down with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. Highlighting Boris Johnson's unwillingness to ask for an extension to the negotiations, Juncker told Ridge that he was 'convinced' that Brexit would happen and stressed that he wanted to see an orderly Brexit take place between the EU and the UK:


JCJ: We can have a deal... I am doing everything to have a deal, because I don't like the idea of no deal. Because this would have catastrophic consequences, it's better for Britain, and the EU to have an organised deal.

I have no 'erotic relationship' with the backstop

Juncker said that he was not personally wedded to the controversial 'backstop' arrangement for Northern Ireland. The backstop would see the UK maintain a customs union with the EU in the event that no future trade deal could be reached between the two sides. Juncker said that he was open to British proposals for 'alternative arrangements' that would keep the border open:


JCJ: I asked the Prime Minister... to make and create proposals as far as the so-called 'alternative arrangements' are concerned... I have no erotic relationship to the backstop. If the results are there, I don't care.

No deal means an Irish border

However, Juncker insisted that a defined border was necessary in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The UK government has said that it will not erect any barriers between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Juncker said that he wished to respect the Good Friday Agreement, but implied that a border of some description was essential to the EU:

SR: If Britain leaves without a deal - would there be a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic?

JCJ: Yes… The British have to tell us exactly the architectural nature... [but] we have to make sure that the interests of the European Union and of the internal market will be preserved.

SR: ...So the EU will insist on a border?

JCJ: We have to preserve the health and the safety of our citizens.

EU 'in no way responsible' for consequences of Brexit

Juncker continued by saying that the EU side bore no responsibility for any tensions on the Irish border if they should arise in the wake of Brexit:


JCJ: The EU is in no way responsible for any kind of consequences entailed by Brexit. That's a British decision... The EU is not leaving the UK, the UK is leaving the EU.

Luxembourg PM was 'not very helpful'

On Monday, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel held a press conference with an empty podium standing in for Boris Johnson, after the latter expressed his wish not to hold the event outside. Many commentators considered this an attempt by Bettel to humiliate his British guest. Juncker made clear that he thought his successor's decision had been counterproductive:


JCJ: I rather consider that this was not very helpful... I myself had a good meeting with Boris Johnson... It was not a meeting between two enemies, it was a meeting between two friends.

David Cameron - Breaking the law 'not a good idea'

Ridge moved on to speak to David Cameron, whose memoirs 'For the Record' were released on Thursday. Ridge asked Cameron if he had any advice for the current occupant of No. 10 Downing Street:


DC: No deal is not a good idea, breaking the law is not a good idea. Focus everything you've got on getting that deal. And that's what he's doing, to be fair to him.

I did understand the mood of the country

Cameron rejected the idea that he had badly misjudged the UK's outlook on immigration in the run up to the referendum result which triggered his resignation:


SR: You didn't understand the mood of the country did you?

DC: I don't accept that... I was one of the first politicians in a long time to make very serious speeches and attempts to get immigration under control... We were trying to answer the right questions, but we needed to move faster.

Stop and search 'key' to bringing down knife crime

Ridge pressed Cameron on cuts to the police service made during his administration, and the impact that this may have had on rising incidents of knife crime in recent years. Cameron defended the budget cuts and argued in favour of increasing police officers' rights to use 'stop and search' tactics to bring knife crime down:


DC: I absolutely think it was right of Sajid Javid when he was Home Secretary to look again at stop and search, because the number of police officers has an impact, but as big an impact is what are they doing... The key [change] was stop and search.

'I don't want to say any more' about the Queen

One of the more explosive revelations in Cameron's memoirs has been that he asked the Queen to intervene in the Scottish independence referendum. The Queen went on to make a speech ahead of the vote in 2014 asking Scots to 'think very carefully' about their decision. Buckingham Palace has since made clear their 'displeasure and annoyance' at Cameron's comments, and Cameron was notably evasive on the subject:


SR: Are you sorry?

DC: I don't want to say any more because I don't want to make the situation worse than it is.

Dominic Raab - 'We're going to abide by Supreme Court ruling'

And finally, the Foreign Secretary confirmed to Marr that the government would act in accordance with the judgment of the Supreme Court on whether the Prime Minister had the right to prorogue Parliament when he did, whatever the final verdict happens to be:


DR: We'll see what the Supreme Court decides... Of course there are different permutations as to what the Supreme court may or may not decide... But I can reassure you, of course we're going to abide by a Supreme Court judgment.