POLITICS
22/10/2017 12:56 BST

Sunday Show Round Up: Budget Hints, Brexit Baby Steps And Building Houses

All the news from the world of politics this morning.

Empics Entertainment

With Brexit talks taking some small steps forward this week, listen carefully and you could hear some tiny tectonic shifts in attitudes on where Britain is headed.

Absent was the big talk and bravado previously touted by many Eurosceptics around the possibility of the UK leaving the EU with no trade deal.  It was replaced with a general acceptance that this would generally be a Bad Idea - although some politicians went further than others.

Meanwhile, Savid Javid admitted the government is considering borrowing more to invest in infrastructure and house-building - putting them not a million miles away from some of Labour’s manifesto pledges.  The communities secretary hinted at some potentially big announcements to come in next month’s budget. 

The Andrew Marr Show

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry was first up.  She made it clear Labour MPs continue to be concerned about Britian’s future - and Theresa May’s ability to negotiate it.

Thornberrry said she wanted to see the UK continue to enjoy tariff-free, red tape-free access to the single market and “some form of customs union”.

Meanwhile, Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis said his government would make sure the lives of “ordinary” British expats would not be disrupted in the event of no deal.  

“The relationship between the UK and Spain is a very important one. 17 million Brits come to Spain every year and we want to keep it that way as much as possible,” he said.

Dastis came under fire, though, for suggesting pictures of Spanish police beating Catalans in the midst of the clash over the region’s recent independence referendum were “fake news”.

The most significant news story of the morning came from communities minister Sajid Javid, who said the government will consider borrowing more to invest in infrastructure and homes in a bid to solve the housing crisis (full report here).

He said the government had not done enough and suggested there may be further announcements from Chancellor Philip Hammond next month.

Peston On Sunday 

International trade secretary Liam Fox shot down French president Emmanuel Macron’s claims the UK is “bluffing” about crashing out of the EU without a trade deal in place.

But the Brexiteer cabinet minister adopted a slightly more conciliatory tone in the wake of Theresa May’s small steps forward in negotiations this week.

By end of the year we need to give the EU further assurance that we are moving in right direction,” he said. 

“I think the tone was different coming out of summit - the prime minister is very sincere about wanting to come to an agreement.

“If we have no deal and we trade on WTO terms, it’s not exactly a nightmare scenario.  I am not scared of that, but I would prefer to have a deal because it would give us greater certainty.  We are absolutely determined to get to that deal.”

But Theresa May won’t be happy with his answer on who he would like to be stuck on a desert island with.  

While the PM picked Fox when asked the same question during an interview a few weeks ago - for his medical expertise - he said he’d “rather be a long-distance swimmer”.  

Ouch.

BBC Sunday Politics 

In a futher indication of a slight softening of the hard Brexiteer stance, backbencher Nigel Evans appeared to concede the UK would inevitably have to pay a hefty “divorce bill” on its exit from the European Union. 

“We should only pay what we absolutely need to,” he added.

“I want the rest of the money to be spent on public services.”

Some pundits said the change in language suggested Tory MPs were backing away from Boris Johnson’s “go whistle” stance and were adopting a less confrontational tone towards vital negotiations.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams appeared on both Peston and Sunday Politics to talk about Labour’s challenge to the government on its flagship benefit reforms.

The party won a significant moral victory this week after Tory MPs abstained en masse from a vote on a motion calling for the government to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit, which passed with no opposition.

Theresa May also agreed to scrap the 55p per minute charge on the benefit’s telephone helpline after she came under fire from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour supports the principal of Universal Credit but says delays to first payments and the amounts being paid are pushing claimants into poverty.

But Abrahams was unable to confirm how much her party would commit to spending on the benefit, saying only that it would “work with the government”.

Sunday With Paterson 

Sticking with the Universal Credit theme, shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth told Sky’s Niall Paterson that he expected poverty to increase under the benefit roll-out.

Earlier this week, work and pensions select committee chair Frank Field said foodbanks were stockpiling 15 tonnes of extra provisions in anticipation of more people going hungry as the benefit changes are implemented across the country.

Ashworth said he found watching Theresa May’s premiership “excrutiating” - while popular Tory backbencher Johnny Mercer made it clear he has no desire to take on the mantle himself.

Mercer, one of the Tory rebel MPs who raised concerns about the impact of Universal Credit before last week’s vote, said he was confident the PM was listening to the views of her party. 

“I am not going to talk about private conversations with the prime minister,” he said. 

“I think the government is listening, and if I didn’t I would say something about it.”

Seems like a fair warning...

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