David Davis and Liam Fox both say the Government are preparing for ‘no deal’ with the EU, but are confident one can be struck.
Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey says her party “might have supported” the tax hike on millions of self-employed workers if it came alongside increased benefits such as maternity and paternity pay
Lord Heseltine accuses Boris Johnson of using “waffle, charm, delay” to avoid answering tough questions.
Tory MP Anna Soubry says she is worried the UK will crash out of the EU within nine months
The Andrew Marr Show
A report from the Foreign Affairs Select Committee released this morning claimed the Government would be guilty of a “dereliction of duty” if the UK left the EU without being fully prepared for life on World Trade Organisation rules.
Committee chair Crispin Blunt appeared on Marr to hammer home the point, saying leaving the EU with no deal would have “serious implications for businesses and individuals.”
Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey was up to give her party’s verdict on the Budget, but first had to deal with Jeremy Corbyn’s claim another Scottish referendum would be “absolutely fine”.
She said Labour in Westminster would not block a second referendum, but would oppose Scottish independence.
Back to the Budget, and when Long-Bailey was asked if Labour wanted to “reverse this change” to self-employed National Insurance Contributions, she said:
“If the Government had put forward a package when announcing this proposal and provided the support we’d been asking for then we might have supported them, but they haven’t, they’ve completely attacked low and middle income earners, they have breached a manifesto pledge and as the Federation of Small Businesses state this completely undermines there supposed strategy to support UK business.”
Marr then took Long-Bailey through all the spending commitments Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has made – totaling £60.3billion. Long-Bailey claimed Labour could find the funds by reversing Government cuts to inheritance tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax and the bank levy. Marr wasn’t sure the sums added up.
Brexit Secretary David Davis was on next with two clear goals: persuade MPs not back amendments to the Brexit Bill in the Commons tomorrow, and reassure people the Government has been planning for a ‘no deal’ scenario.
He also predicted the issue of EU citizens rights – and those of Brits living in Europe – would be one of the first deals done when negotiations begin.
Peston On Sunday
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was the headline guest on Peston, and he quickly took over the interview with his usual rambling style.
The full write-up is here, but below are the highlights.
Johnson seemed to refuse to confirm the Chancellor’s National Insurance increase would actually go ahead.
He said a deal with the EU was “the most likely outcome”, despite the “excessively pessimistic” view of the Foreign Affairs committee.
Johnson also dodged the question of whether the Government was doing the “serious work” of preparing for ‘no deal’, despite David Davis confirming just minutes earlier on Marr that it was.
Lord Heseltine was much more thrifty in his language than Johnson, simply stating it was “rubbish” that ‘no deal’ would be OK for Britain. The peer then accused Johnson of using “waffle, charm, delay” to avoid answering tough questions.
The former Deputy Prime Minister – sacked as a Government advisor last week for backing Parliament getting a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal – also warned the Tories’ success in Copeland was a “fluke”.
He said: “A huge number of Conservatives are appalled, the feel betrayed by what is going on now [with Brexit].”
Sophy Ridge on Sunday
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer joined Sophy Ridge in her glass box on Sky News.
He repeated the line that Labour wanted EU citizens rights to be guaranteed and for Parliament to get a meaningful vote on any Brexit deal before the Article 50 process is triggered.
Starmer claimed the Government is obsessed with triggering Article 50 this week.
After almost 30 Labour MPs called for Jeremy Corbyn to do more to defend the UK’s membership of the Single Market, Starmer said that would mean Britain leaving the European Parliament, but still being bound by its rules. “No legislation without representation,” was his mantra.
He acknowledged Brexit was a problem for Labour, but MPs needed to “accept and respect” the referendum result.
He brushed aside questions about his own leadership ambitions.
In her Ridge on the Road section, the Sky News presenter travelled to Leicester to speak to Labour MP Liz Kendall.
The Leicester West MP warned there was a tendency to “over-complicate” politics, and most people want a “good job that pays a decent wage.”
Kendall also said that Labour has “a bit of a blind spot” over women in power in the party.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the Government was planning for ‘no deal’ after Brexit, but it was unlikely to happen because “economic reality is likely to get in the way” – i.e. the EU needs a deal as much as the UK does.
On the suggestion that the International Trade department is referring to the UK’s future as “Empire 2.0”, Fox said that is not a phrase he would ever allow his civil servants to use.
“It’s a phrase I find slightly offensively caricaturing.”
On the National Insurance rise, Fox tried to argue the party hadn’t broken its manifesto promise as the changes are part of a “package” in which some self-employed workers will be paying less.
One of the Tory’s chief Remainers, Anna Soubry, took to the airwaves to say it is “perfectly reasonable” for Parliament to get a vote on the final Brexit negotiations – even if there is no deal to vote on.
She also warned the UK could crash out of the EU in the next six to nine months because of arguments over the size of the divorce bill.
She said: “My very real concern is that within six months, where we’re not making much progress, it may be 9 months, we’re not making much progress and people are getting increasingly fed up with the EU because they’re being told it wants unreasonable demands and then we crash out.
“I think what is happening is that the government is putting in place basically scaffolding at the bottom of the cliff to break our fall when we come to fall off that cliff. And I think many in government are actually preparing, not for a two year process, but six to nine months off the cliff, out we go. That’s my real fear.”
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said ‘no deal’ would be better than the status quo as he believes the UK would thrive on WTO rules.
Farage also said if a by-election was called in South Thanet, he “probably would” stand again – hoping to make it eighth-time lucky in trying to get elected to Parliament.