Sir Vince Cable - 'Brexit may never happen'
Sir Vince Cable, who remains the only candidate in the running for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats, has once again hit the headlines due to his firm standpoint against the UK leaving the European Union. On this occasion, Sir Vince has opined to Andrew Marr that Brexit may not actually happen and that the Liberal Democrat policy of a second referendum could still be on the cards:
Marr: On Brexit, do you want Britain to fail economically?
Cable: I do not want it to fail economically. I don't think the public voted to have cuts in their standard of living...
Marr: The reason I ask that if I may interject is that you have said you have to hang on while the economy deteriorates before the public mood changes, and that's your moment. Which makes it sound as if you're an economic Eeyore, as it were - observing disaster happening and just waiting for your moment.
Cable: No. I think - it's not waiting for the moment. There is an imminent issue, which is whether the government continues to pursue the so called 'Hard Brexit' - leaving the customs union and single market - and we've got to work with other people. We did last week. There was a motion in Parliament led by some Labour MPs we supported to try and head off that disastrous outcome. But it may well be with the situation deteriorating in the economy - as I think it will. None of us are certain, but I think it will. People will realise 'Well, we didn't vote to be poorer', and I think the whole question of continued membership will once again arise.
Marr: Let me ask you about this Parliament, because in the end around 100 MPs, or a sixth of the MPs, voted for that motion which suggests the single market issue is now dead for this Parliament. But you've talked about making alliances and talking across parties. Do you begin to see an alliance sufficiently deep into the Labour family, and into the Tory family as well, of pro-EU politicians which is big enough to frustrate Theresa May's ideas on Brexit?
Cable: Yes. I think a lot of people are keeping their heads down. We'll see what happens in the Autumn when people come back. I'm beginning to think that Brexit may never happen. I think that the problems are so enormous, the divisions within the two major parties are so enormous. I can see a scenario in which this doesn't happen. And certainly, our policy of having a second referendum, which didn't really cut through in the general election, is designed to give a way out when it becomes clear that the Brexit is potentially disastrous.
Cable also said that taxes should increase beyond the 1 pence rise in income tax that the Lib Dems championed in their manifesto, and that he would be setting out his stall as leader in due course, whether there was a contest or not.
Owen Paterson - The establishment will suffer 'appalling damage' if Brexit does not go ahead
However, prominent Brexit campaigner Owen Paterson took to the Sunday Politics to give quite a different view on the matter. Speaking to Andrew Neil, Paterson dismissed Sir Vince as one of the usual suspects and announced that a full Brexit must go ahead, or otherwise the whole establishment will find itself broken beyond repair:
Neil: Vince Cable says that he thinks Brexit may now not happen. What do you say to that?
Paterson: Wow. What's new? Vince Cable always wanted to stay within the European Union. He's chucking buckets of water around. The fact is we had a huge vote this time last year. 17.4 million voters voted to leave. We had an enormous vote in the House of Commons - 494 votes to trigger Article 50. We had an election campaign in which the two main parties, Conservative and Labour, took 85% of the votes, and they made it very clear they back the Lancaster House speech, and leaving the customs union and leaving the single market and leaving the ECJ. And Vince Cable's party went down in votes, as did the other little parties that want to stay in the European Union. So I'm afraid Vince is behind history. We are going to leave. We are on target. Michael Gove triggered leaving the 1964 London Convention so we can take back control of our seas and bring back a sane fishing policy, allowing prosperity to our fishing communities and also much more importantly, getting environmental gains in our marine environment.
Neil: Alright, so you clearly think we're still heading for the exit. Mrs May called the election because she wanted a mandate for her version of Brexit. She didn't get it. Surely you can't just continue with business as usual?
Paterson: Well, we've been over and over the election. We did not get the number of seats that we wanted. But on votes we got 13.7 million. That's more - many more actually than the great Blair landslide...
Neil: You had an overall majority and you lost it... You know we're in a Parliamentary system where what matters is the number of seats you get in the Commons... We're not a presidential system.
Paterson: I'm fully aware of that Andrew, but you cannot deny that 85% of the electorate voted for parties that wanted to leave. And if you take votes in the Commons last week on the Queen's Speech, not a single Conservative member of Parliament voted against, and the Labour party unwisely... triggered an amendment wanting us to stay in the customs union and the single market, and got hammered... I'm absolutely clear that we have to deliver this. Much the most important point in this - if we do not deliver a proper Brexit which means leaving the single market, leaving the customs union and leaving the jurisdiction of the ECJ, taking back control as we made very clear in the referendum, there will be absolutely appalling damage to the integrity of the whole establishment. Not just political, you the media and the judicial establishment.
Angela Rayner - Writing off all student debt would cost £100 billion
Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has raised a few eyebrows by revealing the enormous cost to the government of abolishing all student debt, a policy which her leader Jeremy Corbyn announced during the recent election campaign. The cost is currently projected at £100 billion, and is forecast to increase. Rayner told Andrew Marr that, due to the huge sums involved, the policy remained an aspiration rather than a firm commitment:
Marr: Right at the end of the campaign, I think seven days before polling, Jeremy Corbyn said that he wanted to think about wiping out the current student debt, which is a vast amount of money.
Rayner: It is.
Marr: And he said that you are now going to be working on that policy. Now, that's not funded at the moment.. Have you been working on that policy? Do you have any numbers about how much that's going to cost
Rayner: Well, Andrew it's a big abacus that I'm working on with that. It is a huge amount. It's £100 billion, which they estimate currently will increase.
Marr: 100 billion?!
Rayner: It's a huge amount of money, but of course we also know that a third of that is never repaid.
Marr: Were you surprised to be handed that abacus right at the last minute?
Rayner: I like a challenge Andrew, but we've got to start dealing with this debt crisis that we've foisting on our young people. It's not acceptable. They're leaving university with £57,000 worth of debt. It's completely unsustainable, and we've got to start tackling that. There's three things that I call on the government to do that they can to immediately. They can reverse the maintenance grants, abolishing that. That will help the most disadvantaged students. They can stop and reduce the percentage rate that students have to pay on their loans. And they can ensure that the amount that they repay, the income threshold, goes up in line with average earnings. They're three things that the Conservatives can do before September that will help students out.
Marr: Aren't you just simply spraying around huge, huge spending promises too recklessly? I mean, another £100 billion on tuition fees right at the last minute? That's some sofa you have to find
Rayner: Well, like you said, Jeremy said that that's an ambition. It's something that he'd like to do It's something that we will not announce that we are doing unless we can afford to do that.
Rayner also contradicted Jeremy Corbyn on his recent declaration that fewer working class children were applying to university. She clarified: 'I believe that more [working class] students are going to university, but there's record levels of students that are actually having to leave university before they finish their qualifications', something which she ascribed to current government policies.
Debbie Abrahams - Teachers in London would have to save for 71 years for a deposit on a house
Appearing on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams has lamented the cost of housing in London, arguing that a typical teacher would not be able to afford to own their own home unless they worked well past retirement age, and proposed that the public sector pay cap should be lifted to deal with this. However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies puts the cost of a 1% rise in public sector pay at £9 billion, in sharp contrast to Labour's estimates of £4 billion. Ridge challenged Abrahams over Labour's arithmetic:
Abrahams: A teacher wanting to buy a house - an average house - in London... to save up to buy a home, they'd have to be saving for 71 years to get a 63pc deposit for a home. Again, teachers are leaving in their droves. We're relying on bank staff and additional cost in teaching costs. This just doesn't make economic sense.
Ridge: So if you feel so passionately about it, why aren't you putting more money into it?
Abrahams: We believe that we've costed in an effective way... The models that we use [are] different and that explains the discrepancy between the IFS figure and the figure that we came up to. If we used similar models, then I would hazard a guess that we'd come up to similar results.
Ridge: A 1pc increase to public sector pay costs about £1.8 billion a year. Inflation is at 3pc. So to do the maths, £4 billion isn't going to cut it, is it?
Abrahams: We said that we would refer to pay review bodies who would set the level that we would be considering if we were in government.
Ridge: ... But the money doesn't add up does it?
Abrahams: ... We used one model, the IFS used another. We believe that we can satisfy the needs for both the public sector pay rise, and for doing the right thing.
David Lidington - 'Too much sun and warm prosecco leads to gossipy stories'
And finally , the new Justice Secretary David Lidington has dismissed the suggestions made by Tory colleague Andrew Mitchell that Theresa May must go immediately and that the Prime Minister is 'dead in the water'. Lidington told Marr:
Marr: You're a grown up, you've seen all the papers. You've seen the extraordinary story coming out from your colleagues, Andrew Mitchell and others saying that the Prime Minister has really lost so much authority that she can no longer be in charge of this process and has to make way, possibly for David Davis or somebody else. What is your message to your colleagues, who are so busy at summer parties and this kind of thing?
Lidington: Well, I think the summer parties is key to this. I've been in Parliament 25 years and almost every July a combination of too much sun and warm prosecco leads to gossipy stories in the media. But the key thing is this - the public's had an election. I think they want the politicians to go away and deal with the real problems that people in this country are facing. Social care, digital technology, we need to get on with that, and that's what the PM's doing.