Matthew Taylor

Sunday shows roundup: Emily Thornberry on a second referendum - ‘All options are on the table’

Sunday shows roundup: Emily Thornberry on a second referendum - 'All options are on the table'
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Damian Hinds - May's opponents should consider 'what the alternatives are'

As the nation prepared to mark the centenary of the end of World War One, and to pay its respects to those who have died as a result of war, politicians from both major parties sat down for their final TV interviews before the ceremonies began. The Education Secretary joined Andrew Marr, and the discussion turned to Transport Minister Jo Johnson, who resigned on Friday to call for a second referendum on Brexit. Hinds issued a word of caution to the government's critics within the Conservative party and the DUP:


AM: [Are there] more resignations to come?

DH: We’re in the latter stages of this negotiation, about 95% of the way through. The last 5% is always the hardest... We have to see what comes back, and of course everybody in Parliament will be looking at that very closely and they need to think about what’s right for the future of our country. They also need to think about what the alternatives are.

Hinds continued, 'Actually I’m very confident the deal that comes back will be a good one and it will be one that Members of Parliament will want to support', adding 'It is not necessarily going to be something everybody is going to think is absolutely perfectly what they want. But that’s the nature of these things. There are some trade-offs'. Marr also quizzed Hinds on school funding. Hinds replied 'There are pressures on school budgets, I’m not denying that for a moment, and I take it very very seriously', and defended per pupil spending as 'at a considerably higher level than it used to be'.

Emily Thornberry - 'All options are on the table'

The Shadow Foreign Secretary has sought to downplay comments from her leader Jeremy Corbyn on the issue of whether Brexit can be halted. Last week, Corbyn told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine that he 'could not stop' Brexit, which has irritated many Labour MPs determined to reverse the process. Instead, Thornberry told Marr that Labour may still call for a 'people's vote' in certain circumstances:

ET: We do need to have an injection of democracy in between the result of the referendum and us going any further... What we wanted was a meaningful vote [in Parliament], and Theresa May is simply giving us a devil and the deep blue sea... If we don't have a general election, which we think we should have, then yes of course all the options remain on the table and we would campaign for there to be a 'people's vote'. But there are several stages before we get there.

However, Thornberry gave an assurance that Labour would not try to halt Brexit without a vote, stating 'there are some deeply anti-democratic forces out there and we’re not going to be part of it'. On the issue of rising knife crime in the capital, Thornberry told Marr that it was 'a profound problem', and backed up comments from London Mayor Sadiq Khan that the problem might take a 'generation' to put right, saying 'it’s not something that can be fixed overnight. I’m afraid Sadiq is right about that'.

General Sir Nick Carter - 'We stand ready to help' with Brexit

Marr's final guest was the Chief of the Defence Staff and former head of the British Army, Sir Nick Carter. Marr asked about the kind of planning that the military was putting in to adapt to a potential 'no deal' outcome if the Brexit negotiations turn sour:


NC: What we always do of course is to make sensible contingency plans for all sorts of eventualities, whether it's a terrorist attack, whether it's a tanker drivers dispute, industrial actions or whatever else it might be. And you will not be surprised to hear we make all those sorts of plans all the time.

AM: So what have the government asked you to do for a no deal Brexit?

NC: At this stage, people are confident there will be a deal. If there's not one, then we stand ready to help in any way we can.

Carter added that he had not been asked specifically by the government to make 'no deal' preparations. Carter also expressed his concern at the number of British soldiers being investigated over their roles during the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the implications that might have, telling Marr that 'Frankly what we don't want to do is end up with a legal framework in which our leaders at all levels are not able or prepared to take the risks that are necessary to take on the battlefield'.

Tom Tughendat - The government is 'a bit worn out'

Rising star of the Conservatives Tom Tugendhat has conceded that the current government is looking a little weary underneath the weight of Brexit as well as the many other important issues of the day. He elaborated to Sophy Ridge:


SR: The Conservatives have been in power for eight years - do you sometimes worry that the current administration... is a bit tired, a little bit consumed by Brexit?

TT: Well I think the nature of any major struggle is that it consumes those who are engaged in it... Whatever it is, you always find that those who have really focused in on it, who have really had to do nothing but that for a long period of time, tend to get a bit worn out and that’s hardly surprising but it’s a credit to those who are engaged in the debate at the moment that they are devoting every inch of energy, every moment of energy in order to try and bring forward the best outcome for the British people and I think that’s absolutely right.

Tugendhat continued: 'Once that is done, will people look for a change? I suspect they will and I think it’s for the Conservative party to come forward and be that change and I think we can be'. Tugendhat also highlighted the opportunities that Brexit could bring, telling Ridge 'I think it’s extremely important that we use this moment to look hard at our relationships around the world and none more so than our relationship with India'.

Nia Griffith - Trump made a 'serious misjudgement' over war cemetery

And finally, Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary has told Sophy Ridge of her deep disappointment in President Donald Trump, who is currently in France to celebrate the sacrifice of the soldiers who fell in World War One. However, the President failed to honour one of his expected duties yesterday:


SR: What did you make of Donald Trump’s decision to not visit the war cemetery in France yesterday because of the bad weather?

NG: I was absolutely horrified quite frankly. When you think of the sacrifice that people made and I think that people up and down the country and across Europe, whatever their political views, do think that it’s very, very important that we commemorate what happened and I think we were all really taken aback by that. I think that was a serious misjudgement about the mood across Europe.

Griffith also attacked the comments of prominent Labour supporter and activist Aaron Bastani, who recently referred to the British Legion's poppy appeal as 'grotesque' and 'racist'. She described his remarks as 'an utter disgrace' and said that Bastani 'in no way represents the Labour party'.