Happy New Year, everyone.
Theresa May has been trolled by Franz Ferdinand drummer Paul Thomson after she appeared on the BBC Andrew Marr Show to confirm she will reshuffle her Cabinet.
It comes as she is under intense pressure over her Government’s record on health, including from Marr himself who told the PM: “If I’d been waiting for five hours before I’d seen a doctor after my stroke I would not be here talking to you.”
Meanwhile, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Communities and Local Government has condemned the Iranian regime as “abhorrent” and a Tory MP has claimed Margaret Thatcher is her greatest living political hero.
Yes, it’s the HuffPost UK’s Sunday shows round-up.
The Andrew Marr Show
First up, before Marr’s big New Year interview with the Prime Minister, was Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth.
He strongly criticised the appointment of free schools champion Toby Young to the board of the Office for Students. ″These tweets from Toby Young are disgusting, offensive, sexist. She should show some leadership. She should get rid of him.”
He also went on to hit out at the PM over the NHS winter crisis.
“This crisis of this magnitude was entirely predictable and indeed entirely preventable.
“Remember Andrew, that we are now in the eighth year of tight austerity on NHS finances. We have seen community health services cut back. We have seen a reduction in district nurses.”
Next up was the Prime Minister.
She started by confirming that a reshuffle was on the cards, refusing to go into details but telling Marr: “It will be soon, yes.”
Marr then moved on to ask about the anger of the victims of the ‘Black Cab Rapist’ John Worboys after just nine years in jail for targeting around 100 women.
Asked if she understood the outrage, May said: “I do, absolutely, and in fact I know somebody who was one of his victims and who was not contacted and first heard of what was happening through the media.”
She added the Parole Board’s freedom to operate in secret would be looked at by the Justice Secretary.
She added: “We will look at what is necessary, yes. The secretary for justice, the Justice Department will be looking at that over the next couple of months. They’ll be asking the question do we need to do things in a different way, and whatever the answer is we’ll do what is necessary.”
Though widely expected to be the case since the Tories lost their overall majority, May also confirmed that she would not be holding a free vote on the foxhunting ban during the life of the Parliament.
She told Marr that she still personally supported foxhunting, but said: “As I’ve said, my own view hasn’t changed but as Prime Minister my job isn’t just about what I think about something, it’s actually about looking at what the view of the country is.
“I think there was a clear message about that and that’s why I say there
won’t be a vote on fox hunting during this Parliament.”
Cancelled operations were “part of the plan” for the NHS to deal with its worst ever winter crisis, the PM went on to say.
It comes amid 55,000 operations being cancelled in the space of a month, a return to mixed sex wards and 16,900 people being stuck in ambulances waiting to get into an A&E unit in the week from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve.
“Of course we want to ensure that those operations can be reinstated as soon as possible, but it’s about making sure that those who most urgently need care are able to get that treatment when they need it.”
It was then that Marr challenged May about his own stroke, with the presenter telling her: “If I’d been waiting for five hours before I’d seen a doctor after my stroke I would not be here talking to you. This is about life and death and up and down the country people are having horrendous experiences of the NHS.”
May was pressed on the case of Leah Butler Smith, a woman from Essex who has spoken of her anguish after she was left waiting five hours while her mum was having a stroke.
May insisted more money was being ploughed into the NHS but refused to be drawn on a ten-year settlement for the health service - something her own Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for.
Questions have also been swirling about Donald Trump’s mental health and his fitness to serve as President following allegations his former aide Steve Bannon made in the book Fire And Fury.
Trump has said he considers the book a work of fiction, Bannon branded the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”.
She said: “What I make of him is somebody who is taking decisions on what he believes is in the best interests of the United States.”
She went on: “When I deal with President Trump what I see is somebody who is committed to ensuring that he is taking decisions in the best interests of the United States.”
And added: “He will be coming to this country.”
May also said she did not know of Toby Young’s many offensive comments on Twitter about women’s breasts when he was appointed to advise the government on higher education, adding she was “not at all impressed”.
When pushed on the controversial appointment, however, she said she would stand by Young and he would keep his new job on the board of the Office for Students because he “apologised”.
May also came under pressure for rail policy after fares rose again this month and the Government will allow StagecoachVirgin East Coast to pull out of the rail franchises early.
Stagecoach/Virgin had been due to pay £3.3 billion to the taxpayer to run the line over the eight-year deal, which started in 2015. The bulk of the franchise payments — believed to be about £2bn — were due in the final three years. But as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is allowing them to pull out of the deal early, it is likely that a new franchise will pay considerably less to the government.
May firstly defended this year’s average rail fare increase of 3.4%.
She said: “Since privatisation, usage of the railways has doubled and we have seen the biggest investments since Victorian times in our railways.
“A lot of people rely on our railways.We want to see good service on our railways but that does mean that investment is needed.”
May admitted taxpayers could lose out from the East Coast rail franchise bailout.
When Marr asked May if the taxpayer would still get the £3.3bn, she just said Virgin and Stagecoach were “still paying money to the government”.
Marr concluded: “So the answer is no.”
In what looked like a direct protest at May’s health policy, indie band Franz Ferdinand’s drummer also wore an NHS T-shirt for their performance at the end of the programme.
Eddie Izzard, who underlined his desire to serve on Labour’s National Executive Committee, told the BBC’s Deputy Political Editor he was “a returner” when it came to his outlook on the EU and that he wanted the Labour Party to be “more forthright” on Iran amid widespread protests gripping the country.
“I would like them to be more forthright,” he said. “Absolutely, yes.”
He added: “I don’t understand why they’re being so hesitant on it. Well, I can see if you travel all different ideas of thinking on the Iranian government, but I just think human rights, it’s so important.”
On Brexit, Izzard said: “The next general election is going to be a referendum, even if not officially.”
Next up was Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Andrew Gwynne.
Gwynne said he would be “very surprised” if his boss Jeremy Corbyn did not call out the Iranian regime’s policy of hanging of gay men, but defended Labour’s decision of not uniformly back protesters, claiming Labour had to be “very careful”.
He said: “I would be surprised if Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t condemn the fact that gay men are hanged by the Iranian regime. That is abhorrent and it runs against everything that the Labour Party stands for.”
He went on to tell Pienaar that the people behind the protests “aren’t necessarily as moderate or as liberal as perhaps you are making out.
“And that’s the danger here, that if you then come out on one side against the other and say ‘one side is bad, the other side is 100% good’ it’s never perhaps as black and white as that as we have found in other Middle Eastern crises.”
Last up was Tory MP Rebecca Pow.
When asked if Theresa May was a strong and stable PM, Pow instead said she was a ” fair and balanced Prime Minister.”
During a quick-fire round of questions Pow also said that Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who appears to be spearheading a green revolution within Government, reminded her of “a quite tenacious Hereford bull.”
Asked who her living political hero was Pow named the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died in 2013.
When pointed out to Pow that Thatcher had passed away, the MP replied: “She’s living, she’s right next to my bed at the moment because my husband in my Christmas stocking gave me a little book about her - so at the moment she is living with me every night.”
Peston on Sunday and the BBC’s Sunday Politics were not on air this week.