Matthew Taylor

Sunday shows round-up: John McDonnell says he doesn’t trust Theresa May

Sunday shows round-up: John McDonnell says he doesn't trust Theresa May
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Andrew Marr's chief guest of the day was Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. McDonnell put considerable pressure on the ongoing Brexit negotiations between the government and the opposition. He said this was due to the Prime Minister having allegedly briefed the media on areas of potential compromise such as a 'comprehensive but temporary customs agreement', while Labour had been keeping quiet:

AM: In a word... do you trust the Prime Minister?

JM: No. Sorry, not after this weekend, when she's blown the confidentiality we had, and I actually think she's jeopardised the negotiations for her own personal protection.

May has acted 'in bad faith' over negotiations

McDonnell continued:

JM: We have maintained confidentiality because that is what we were asked to do. We haven't briefed the media. We've only commented when things are already in the public. So it is disappointing the Prime Minister has broken that and I think it is an act of bad faith... I fully understand now why she couldn't negotiate a decent deal with our European partners if she behaves in this way.

'It may well be' that we have another referendum

McDonnell floated the possibility of a second referendum. He argued that the sheer number of MPs who desired a second vote meant that holding one was potentially unavoidable:

AM: Emily Thornberry has been absolutely clear that in the end, [there is] going to have to be a public vote. Do you agree with her?

JM: It may well be... That's part of the negotiations that we're having. I think the Conservatives have to recognise that if a deal is going to go through, there might be a large number of MPs who want a public vote. That's the reality of it. We've got to take that into account.

Extinction Rebellion are 'brilliant'

McDonnell lavished considerable praise on the environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion, which held ten days of rallies in London last month. He told Marr that not only had he met with the protestors, but that he wanted them to contribute to Labour's environmental policies:

JM: I just love them... I just think they're brilliant. We need those sort of people, we need them on our case. So what I've said is, 'Please come in, brief my Treasury team'. I've asked Jeremy if they can come along and brief the shadow cabinet as well. We need them on our case pushing us all the time. They're brilliant!

Ruth Davidson - A deal 'is there to be done'

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who has recently returned from maternity leave, also joined Marr. Davidson was more optimistic about the chances of getting a Brexit deal done than many of her colleagues:

RD: We've seen since the Brexit vote, the two extremes at the edges are getting louder and louder and louder, and the voices in the middle are getting quieter... the answer has to be somewhere in the middle. We need to start walking ourselves back to an agreement where we can get the majority of people in the House of Commons on board. And I think there is a deal there to be done, I genuinely do.

'We're getting pretty sick' of independence referendums

Davidson also attacked the Scottish government's continued focus on a second independence referendum, following the SNP party conference:

RD: I believe that the referendum that we had should last for a generation... Nicola [Sturgeon]... had to get through a pretty tough conference a couple of weeks ago, and she did her annual rolling out of 'Let's ask for another indyref, come with me lads.' We're getting pretty sick of it in Scotland, but there is a way of taking it off the table, and that's to replace the SNP as the largest party at Holyrood in 2021.

Sian Berry - UK could be carbon neutral 'in 10 years'

Green party co-leader Sian Berry told Marr that her party's dream of reducing net carbon emissions to zero within the next decade was perfectly achievable with the right attitude:

SB: We've given ourselves ten years to get down to that kind of level, and it is possible... we had to change the way that people were burning coal to other things in peoples' homes. That was done extremely quickly because people were up for the challenge. There was political will behind it, and there was investment and funding behind it.

Nigel Farage - I challenge Jeremy Corbyn to an EU debate

Sophy Ridge spoke to Nigel Farage, leader of the newly founded Brexit party, ahead of the European elections this month. Farage was extremely upbeat about his party's chances, and told Ridge that he was looking forward to taking the fight to Labour:

NF: There are 5 million voters out there - Labour voters - who voted Leave... I'd love between now and polling day to have a debate with Jeremy Corbyn... because people are very confused about what Labour is standing for... If we dig into the Labour vote then we can surprise even ourselves with how well we do on May 23rd.

Customs union compromise would be 'the final betrayal'

Farage also made clear that he had little time for any likely compromise deal that could be reached between Labour and the government.

NF: The public don't want a deal, and certainly not the deal that Mrs May is talking about this morning - permanent customs union, alignment with single market rules... This would be the final betrayal. If May signs up to this, I can't see the point of the Conservative party even existing.

UKIP is 'past its sell-by-date'

Farage also dismissed his former party, Ukip, who are standing in the Europeans elections. Farage left the party over Gerard Batten's appointment of former EDL leader Tommy Robinson as an adviser:

NF: 26 years of my life I was with UKIP. I was the leader, the chairman, the national organiser. For me, leaving UKIP was a difficult thing to do, but now frankly, it's past its sell-by date, it serves no purpose. It's done, it's gone... it's attracted certain individuals that I would never have allowed to join.

I won't reveal donor's identity

Ridge pressed Farage on the identity of a high-profile donor whom he had previously referenced in an interview. Farage was reluctant to reveal his name (he has previously been adamant that it is not Arron Banks), though he confirmed that the Brexit party had received a 'small donation' of £100,000:

SR: Why [won't] you tell me?

NF: ...You know what will happen. If I tell you the name of this person, you will hound him... You'll be outside his house for the next three weeks...

SR: Doesn't he deserve some scrutiny?

NF: He'll get it all in good time.

Rory Stewart - It would be wrong to try and 'outdo Farage'

Ridge was also joined by the cabinet's newest member Rory Stewart, who has been promoted after Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson was sacked for allegedly leaking sensitive documents from the National Security Council. The new International Development Secretary told Ridge that the Conservatives had a difficult balancing act ahead of them:

RS: In 2017... most Brexit voters voted for the Conservative party, but four million Remain voters [also] voted for the Conservative party. If [we] were to make the mistake of trying to outdo Nigel Farage... then we would lose those four million Remain voters. We'd lose young people, we'd lose Scotland, we'd lose London, and we'd lose a lot of the most energetic parts of this country. We've got to be a broad party.

George Clooney 'couldn't charm his way through Brexit'

Stewart went on to defend the Prime Minister against suggestions from figures such as Iain Duncan Smith that she should step down:

RS: I think this idea that somehow it's all to do with an individual is naive... This is about the fact that we have a country that is divided right down the middle... I don't think if some sort of superhero turned up, if George Clooney suddenly became Prime Minister, I don't think he'd be able to charm his way through this. The problem is not the individual, the problem is with Brexit.

Jonathan Ashworth - Tories were 'absolutely monstered' but we should be doing better

Ridge interviewed Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth about his party's performance in last week's local elections, which saw Labour perform extremely poorly, despite the government shedding over 1,300 councillors. Despite some modest gains, Labour lost 84 councillors overall, and the Conservative collapse largely benefitted the Lib Dems and independents:

JA: We should be doing better and I can't pretend I'm not disappointed that we've lost seats. But it is worth emphasising that the Tories got absolutely monstered... This is the worst result for the Tories since 1995... We did make progress, but of course there were disappointing results across the country... and we have to work harder as a party to regain trust so we can form a government.

Vince Cable - Lib Dems have 'fully recovered'

And finally, Sir Vince Cable, the outgoing leader of the Liberal Democrats, had reason to be cheerful after his party put in a strong performance in the local elections, gaining control of 10 councils and adding over 700 councillors to its ranks. Sir Vince suggested that this performance meant his party had left the dark days of the coalition far behind it:

VC: We're very committed to local government. We do it well. We campaigned intensively over a period of months. That was all part of it. [There] was disillusionment with the government... people who felt very strongly about remaining in the EU got behind us too... Our party has now fully recovered, and is a very strong force in British politics... It was very much a positive vote... and that is going to carry forward I think into the European elections.