Sajid Javid: No-deal UK ‘will still be a very safe country’
This morning Andrew Marr was joined by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid. With the possibility of a no-deal Brexit on the horizon, the interview turned to the implications that could have for the UK’s national security. When Marr asked if security could be diminished, Javid avoided a direct answer, repeatedly telling Marr that ‘we will still be a very safe country’:
SJ: There will be a change in capability, and there are capabilities that I’d want to keep... but they require cooperation with the EU, and I have to proceed on the basis that in a ‘no-deal scenario’ the EU will no longer allow us access to those capabilities... Most of these capabilities began in 2015. We were a safe country then, and we'd be a very safe country in a no-deal scenario.
Javid told Marr that he hoped to see a deal between the UK and the EU. Marr asked if there was any chance that the Conservatives would give in to Labour’s wish to have a customs union in order to help Theresa May's deal pass the House of Commons. Javid said he did not feel this was a serious option:
SJ: In principle I am totally against a customs union because it would not, in my view, deliver on Brexit because we need to be able to have our own independent trade policy... I don't actually think you would get a majority, so I just think it's a complete non-starter.
In contrast to some of his more wary colleagues, Javid was optimistic about avoiding a hard border in any event:
SJ: I asked the Border Force months ago to look at it and tell me what alternative arrangements were possible, and they’ve shown me quite clearly you could have no hard border on the island of Ireland, and you can use existing technology. It’s perfectly possible. The only thing that's missing is a bit of goodwill on the EU’s side.
Marr challenged Javid on his record on violent crime, which has recently seen a sharp increase. In particular, the question of funding and resource allocation reared its head:
SJ: I recognise we need to put more resources into policing... Increasing resources isn't going to be enough... Part of the answer is more frontline policing, but the police themselves will tell you it's about much more than that.
Barry Gardiner: ‘My vote is not for sale’
The Shadow International Trade Secretary was also in the hot seat. The discussion turned to the prospect of several Labour MPs breaking the Labour whip in order to vote for the government's Brexit deal, if they were offered substantial investment in their constituencies. Gardiner told Marr that he sympathised with his colleagues feelings, but he insisted that they ‘should not be selfish about this’:
BG: Why would you as... a Labour MP who stood on [our] manifesto say ‘You know what? If I can get a little bit of money extra into my constituency, I don't mind about the rest of the country not getting what we promised in our manifesto’, which was investment as a whole into those areas... My vote is not for sale.
The interview turned to a difficult area for the Labour leadership in the form of Venezuela, where a political crisis has erupted after President Maduro’s re-election has been decried as rigged, amid chronic hyperinflation and reports of widespread hunger and crime. Gardiner was more vocal in his condemnation, but stopped short of backing the government's position of fresh elections in Venezuela, instead calling for ‘negotiations’ to take place:
BG: I abhor what's gone on in Venezuela... the extra judicial killings that have taken place, firing live ammunition on protestors, some of whom are suffering from malnutrition... That needs to be resolved... If you don't uphold human rights wherever you see them being violated, then you have no moral platform to stand on.
Liam Fox: No-deal Brexit is ‘survivable’
The International Trade Secretary Liam Fox was interviewed by Sophy Ridge. Ridge put the point to Fox that the UK was not prepared to face a 'no deal' Brexit. Like Javid, Fox made clear that it was not his preferred outcome, but said that a no deal scenario ought to be treated in a more rational way:
LF: We would be able to deal with that scenario but it wouldn’t be in our interests to go there... If we left the European Union with no deal there would be disruption to our trade, there would be disruption to European trade as well, it wouldn’t be in our best interests to do that. Of course it’s survivable but we don’t want to be putting our economy into a position of unnecessary turmoil. It wouldn't be in our best interests to do that.
On the subject of trading on the terms of the World Trade Organisation, he added: ‘If WTO was so good people wouldn't be looking to have trade agreements or customs unions which are ways in which you can further improve on those WTO rules’.
Fox also told Ridge that he had no sympathy with any MP who pledged to vote for Brexit in 2017, but who subsequently decided to have second thoughts:
LF: Those who get elected on that promise and then don't follow it through once they get to Parliament, I think will have a difficult time with the voters the next time, and if that happens, they deserve it.