POLITICS

Sunday Shows Round-Up: David Davis Dismisses Moves To Oust PM And Gove Backs Boris

It has been a busy Sunday in the world of politics.

12/11/2017 15:36 GMT | Updated 13/11/2017 10:35 GMT
DD
Brexit Secretary David Davis

It has been a busy week in politics with Theresa May replacing two cabinet ministers and calls intensifying for her to sack a third - Boris Johnson. 

Brexit talks got back underway in Brussels on Friday and speculation is mounting about May’s future as PM, with 40 Tory MPs reported to be ready to back a vote of no confidence in her leadership. 

So, despite some shows not airing on this Remembrance Sunday, it was a very busy day for politics news. 

 

The Andrew Marr Show 

First up on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show was London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who pulled no punches when asked about Johnson, who this week may have added ten years to the jail term of British-Iranian mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. 

The aid worker is in jail in Tehran on charges of espionage but insists she was in the country on holiday. Johnson told a Commons committee she was “training journalists”, an error interpreted as a “confession” by Iranian media and which may see her behind bars for ten years.

“As your panel just said this is the latest in a long line of gaffes by our Foreign Secretary,” Khan told Marr. 

He pointed to Johnson calling former US President Barack Obama anti-British and “part Kenyan” and the foreign secretary using a platform at the Conservative Party conference to ‘joke’ that Sirte, in Libya, could become the next Dubai if the “dead bodies” could be cleared away. 

Zaghari-Ratcliffe could face an additional five years in jail because of Johnson’s error in front of the Foreign Select Committee earlier this month. 

“Look, I think he has got to go,” Khan said. “He is our Foreign Secretary, whose job is diplomacy and representing the best interests of our country. If Theresa May was a strong Prime Minister she would have sacked him a long time ago. 

“There are questions about why she appointed him in the first place. She did, but surely he he must have had enough to go.” 

Next up was Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who was on the show to speak about his plans for a “green Brexit”. 

Gove plans to set up a statutory body to “hold the powerful to account”. 

He said the “world-leading” organisation will maintain environmental standards and a national policy statement will “embed” protections for land, water, air and wildlife into policy-making as the UK leaves the bloc. 

But Marr was determined to press him on Vote Leave’s campaign pledge to send £350m-a-week to the NHS after Brexit. 

It comes after Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, last week called for Brexiteers to make good on that promise. 

Gove said: “As (Health Secretary) Jeremy Hunt said last week, I’d like to see a significant slice of that (money) go to the NHS once we’ve left, but it’s up to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister to decide.” 

Gove was also asked whether Johnson was unsackable, but the environment secretary said critics were shifting the blame on to Johnson for Zaghari-Nazanin’s incarceration when they should be blaming the Iranians. 

“I think Boris Johnson is doing a great job as foreign secretary,” he said.  

He added: “I think that it is plain wrong for us to try to find fault with democrats when the real responsibility is to say to the Iranian regime: you are a serial abuser of human rights, you are the principal state sponsor of terrorism, you have blood on your hands in Syria, your responsibility is to ensure that this British citizen is at liberty. 

“We play their game. We play into the extremists’ hands if we do anything other than show solidarity in the face of their human rights abuses.” 

Billionaire businessman James Dyson was also on the show. 

He made a number of controversial statements, including that he believes it is time to walk away from negotiations with the EU and a post-Brexit Britain should scrap corporation tax and make it easier to hire and fire workers.

The entrepreneur, who campaigned for Leave in the referendum, said it was quite outrageous that “incredibly unreasonable” Brussels is demanding “billions and billions”.

The inventor, who made huge increase in profits after shifting production of vacuum products to Malaysia, also wants it easier to hire and fire workers arguing “not being able to flex your workforce is another big reason why you wouldn’t start or expand a manufacturing business”.

And he said corporation tax should be “eliminated” adding it is a “very odd thing because there are ways of getting around paying it”.

“You shouldn’t really be taxing profits, you should allow profits to be reinvested.”

 Air Chief Marshall Sir Stuart Peach was also a guest on the Andrew Marr Show. 

He was asked if Gavin Williamson, the UK’s new Defence Secretary, had enough knowledge of the armed forces to represent them effectively, to which he gave a very reserved response, pointing out that the armed forces serve the people and therefore the Government. 

It comes after Sir Michael Fallon resigned amid allegations about his behaviour. The Department of Defence is mid-way through a wide-ranging review. 

Peach said: “The secretary of state is our boss and we support him in understanding the world we’re in, how we must respond to it, both with allies and on our own, and it this important point about NATO - the very first priority our sec of state made was to visit NATO as part of defence ministers’ meeting, and as Mr Staltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO made clear, the UK is a leading member of the alliance and the secretary of state is leading that armed force,” he said. 

 

Sunday With Niall Paterson

Sky News’ Niall Paterson’s big interview this week was with Brexit Secretary David Davis. 

When asked about moves to oust the Prime Minister - the Sunday Times reports that there are 40 MPs calling for May to go (eight short of the number needed to trigger a no-confidence vote) - Davis said he was “quite certain” she would be in the job until Brexit, or “my retirement”, was done and dusted. 

He compared the “flurries” the Government is experiencing to Winston Churchill and said he would be “very surprised” if EU leaders are preparing for the fall of May’s Government.

He added all governments have “issues that come up and go”, with May’s minority administration no different to those which have come before.

He said to Paterson: “I suggest you have a look at Churchill’s government in the early 1940s before he went on to great success and won the war, or other ones.

“I served in John Major’s government for a long while and we had flurries then, to say the least. Tony Blair’s had flurries and actually David Cameron’s had flurries.

“So all of them have issues that come up and go - that’s the nature of politics.” 

He was also quick to defend his fellow Brexiteer Johnson, saying: “Why would you want to sack him? He’s a good foreign secretary.” 

Davis was also asked how the Northern Ireland border will work post-Brexit, with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier making it plain this week that the border with Ireland was a top priority. 

The Brexit Secretary said he was searching for a “unique solution” having earlier ruled out Northern Ireland staying in the customs union and single market. 

When asked by Paterson if that would mean a hard border, Davis replied: “No, we’ll find other ways around that.” 

He was also asked about the thorny issue of the so-called divorce bill, with Barnier issuing an ultimatum that an agreement had to be reached on this inside two weeks. 

Davis said UK tax-payers “would not want me to just come along and give away billions of pounds” but did not offer any more clarity. 

Peter Dowd, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was up next. 

Laying into Johnson over his Zaghari-Ratcliffe error, he said: “We have a British citizen languishing in the prison abroad and could be languishing there for longer because the foreign secretary hasn’t got the detail right, hasn’t done his homework.” 

He added: “He’s just really completely unsurefooted and he can’t continue as the foreign secretary.”

But Paterson pressed Dowd on Jeremy Corbyn taking money from the Iranian Press TV, asking him if it was hypocritical to call for Johnson’s resignation, until Dowd offered: “Two wrongs don’t make a right if you want to put it in those sort of terms.”

Sir Stuart Peach also gave an interview to Paterson. 

He told Sky News he had been “very impressed” with Williamson’s first week as Defence Secretary. 

When asked about the overall defence and security of the country, he said “the threat picture has got worse”. 

He said: “Mr Churchill talked about the gathering storm. There are ways of bringing this to life and I think we have a duty to do so, because it’s not just the fact that we have seen the brutal expression of organisations such as Daesh tragically killing our own people here in this country, but in many other friendly countries, too.

“And I think there is a gathering storm.”