POLITICS

Sunday Show Round-Up: Michael Fallon Talking 'B****cks', Labour's Robin Hood Tax And Michael Gove Loves Boris Again

A spicy Sunday morning

14/05/2017 13:14 BST

The Andrew Marr Show

Emily Thornberry was up on Marr to discuss Labour’s plans for an “ethical foreign policy.” Those ethics did not extend to cancelling Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK, with Thornberry saying it would damage US/UK relations to disinvite the President.

She was asked about Jeremy Corbyn’s previous claims that Nato is a threat to “world peace”, and claimed the Labour leader had “been on a journey” since those comments.

On Labour’s planned ‘Robin Hood tax’ on financial transactions, Thornberry said it would actually stable the market.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon was grilled over the cyber attack which hit NHS hospitals last week – particularly why the Government didn’t pay for a security upgrade in 2015. Sir Michael blamed the trusts for not shifting to more secure IT systems.

On the UK’s commitment to spending 2% of GDP on defence, Sir Michael said Nato believes the UK was hitting the target, despite former military top brass raising concerns.

SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon was grilled on her record as First Minister, and not independence, for a change.

She admitted there needed to be more of a focus on literacy and numeracy in Scottish schools. 

The moment which set Twitter ablaze was when Sir Michael and Thornberry sat down on the sofa at the end of the show, and the Labour politician accused the Defence Secretary of talking “bollocks”. 

Peston On Sunday

In Croissant Corner on Peston, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said a “big priority” of Labour’s £10billion NHS investment would be on cyber security.

Brexit Secretary David Davis – who always seems to have a smile on his face – was first up for a main interview.

He repeated the Tory line that negotiations of the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU should take place alongside the divorce bill conversations – despite Brussels opposition to that process.

However, he agreed with his EU counterparts that citizens’ rights needed to be settled “as fast as possible”.

He claimed the divorce bill and trade deal need to be negotiated together as they impact each other. Davis also pointed out the Irish border question can’t be settled until the UK knows what its relationship with the EU will be after Brexit.

Davis wants EU citizens in the UK to have the same rights they have now after Brexit – but the European Court of Justice should not have jurisdiction to rule over any cases where those affected feel they are being treated unfairly.

Nicola Sturgeon hopped over from the BBC to tell Peston that Labour’s election manifesto contained numerous pledges which the SNP had already put in place north of the border.

Sturgeon accused Theresa May of dodging the TV debates because she is “feart” (‘frightened’, for the non-Scots among us). 

Sturgeon did not support Labour’s plan to raise the tax rate on those earning £80k and more, but did back a return of the 50p rate on top earners.

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the party’s ‘Robin Hood tax’ was not about punishing the bankers, but about “tackling a couple of loopholes.” 

When confronted with criticism of the plan from Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan, McDonnell said “circumstances had changed” since those words, as other countries were moving forward with a similar system.

On the Labour manifesto leak, McDonnell said it was not anyone from the leadership team which released it to the press.

On Labour’s tuition fees pledge, McDonnell said it was a much-needed reform of a system “which is going to collapse anyway”, and would stop “burdening young people with debt.” 

The SNP’s Alex Salmond admitted there are “challenges on Scottish education”, but Scotland had the “third lowest rate of youth unemployment in Europe.”

Salmond was bullish over his chances of defending his seat from the Tories in the General Election, telling Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson: “Bring it on!”

Michael Gove was sent out to defend Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and said the reason he’s not been seen much since the cyber attack on the NHS is because Hunt is so “hands on.” 

Despite stabbing Boris Johnson in the back last year during the Tory leadership contest, Gove today said the Foreign Secretary has been an “asset to the country and the Government” in his role. He also said Theresa May has got “every major decision right as Prime Minister”.

When asked when was the last time he had spoken to David Cameron, Gove replied with a smile: “A while back.”

Pienaar’s Politics

Former Lib Dem Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable – standing in the election after losing his seat in 2015 – hinted there could be a realignment of centre and centre-left parties if the Tories win a huge majority.

“I think the question that needs to be asked over the next few years is it’s very clear that the Conservatives are heading for a very very large majority so people will be looking for ways of finding an effective opposition. Certainly what my party is doing, particularly in the areas where we are strong is making sure we have a sufficient number of MPs to provide that option.”

When asked why there had been no defections from Labour to the Lib Dems, he said:

“I think many of the Labour people are just waiting to see, to get this election out of the way. I think frankly then you will have a lot of bloodletting because it’s clear that Jeremy Corbyn is not going to win, he’s going to be trounced, the Labour Party’s future is in great doubt and we have hung in there. We have recovered and established a base. Then there will be serious conversations about where British politics goes and how you create an alternative to the Conservatives which is centrist, centre left, pro business, practical offering an alternative to what is potentially a very damaging form of Conservatism.”

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said a Labour government  would seek to make pay more equitable and “address some of the grotesque inequalities on rewards within a company.”

Questioned on how that might affect the Chief Executive of BAE Systems, Charles Woodburn, who is expected to have a salary of £7.5m, McDonnell confirmed that a Labour government would seek to work with the company to cut his pay. 

Pienaar: I know you’ve got no problems with straight answers have you. So how long a transitional period before Charles Woodburn at British Aerospace has to take a 7 million pound pay cut or lose all future contracts for British Aerospace.

McDonnell: It would depend on the agreement that we have with that company and with their shareholders and with the workforce.

Pienaar: OK but that would be the outcome at the end.

McDonnell: Yes. Look we want to get to equitable pay. We want to address the grotesque inequalities that there are within our society, that actually do undermine in many ways the standing of those particular companies.

Sunday Politics

Despite Labour’s draft election manifesto being leaked last week, the party’s Shadow Business Secretary repeatedly refused to comment on its contents.

Rebecca Long-Bailey stonewalled on details around rail nationalisation and the public ownership of the national grid.

Home Office Minister Brandon Lewis was hauled over the coals for large multinational companies not paying sufficient corporation tax. He admitted there is “more to be done.”