Sunday Shows Round-Up: Amber Rudd Goes Out Guns Blazing

The chaos continues.
Amber Rudd leaves her home in London, Britain September 8, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Amber Rudd leaves her home in London, Britain September 8, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Peter Nicholls / Reuters

Amber Rudd’s sensational resignation from the cabinet ensured a week of unbridled chaos in Westminster continued through the weekend.

Boris Johnson was also facing serious questions about whether he plans to break the law to force through Brexit on October 31, deal or no deal.

The Sunday politics shows were therefore essential viewing, covering all this and more.

Here’s what happened:

Rudd’s resignation

Rudd was unsurprisingly the star guest on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, where she launched a series of damaging attacks on Johnson.

She warned the PM he would lose any upcoming election unless she reintegrates people like her and the 21 sacked Brexit rebels, including “great Conservatives” like Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond.

“If we become a party which has no place for the type of moderate that I am, then we will not win,” she said.

She also accused the government of failing to do enough to get a Brexit deal.

Rudd, who has been replaced as work and pensions secretary by Therese Coffey, said: “When I asked Number 10 for a summary of what the plan was for actually getting a deal, I was sent a one-page summary.”

Rudd went on: “You might expect in the balance between getting a deal and no-deal 50/50 in terms of work but it’s not that, it’s like 80% to 90% of government time going into preparing for no-deal and the absence of trying to get a deal has driven 21 of my colleagues to rebel, and I need to join them.”

Government ‘cool like Fonzies’

Johnson’s chief of staff Dominic Cummings on Friday reportedly told special advisers to be “cool like Fonzies”, a reference to the Happy Days character, in response to the chaos.

And the two senior cabinet ministers sent out to bat duly responded.

Dominic Raab told Ridge he was ‘really sorry” to see Rudd stand down but insisted: “I think in fairness when she took the cabinet role everyone was asked ‘do you accept and can you sign up and will you support the prime minister’s plan to leave by the end of October preferably with a deal, but if not come what may’ and we all accepted that.

“I think the prime minister was right to restore some discipline and I think he’s right to expect it from his top team.”

Javid said he was “very saddened” but stressed: “Whilst I respect her deeply, I don’t agree with her on what I thought her central point in her letter was that she said the government is not taking seriously the issue of getting a deal with the EU.

“From day one, from the point this new administration was formed, the central focus of the government has been that we leave the EU on October 31.”

How Johnson escapes his trap

The pair also offered a fascinating insight into how the cornered PM might seek to escape the shackles parliament has imposed on him: compelled by the law but unwilling to seek a Brexit delay to stop no deal, and unable to call an election.

Raab said Johnson would “test to the limits” the Hilary Benn anti-no deal bill, suggesting he may try and find a legal loophole before going to Brussels to ask for an extension, or quitting.

He said: “We will adhere to the law, but we will also, because this is such a bad piece of legislation, the surrender bill Jeremy Corbyn backed, we also want to test to the limit what it does actually lawfully require.

“We will look very carefully at the implications and our interpretation of it.

“Across the board we will look very carefully, legally, at what it requires and what it doesn’t require.

“I think that’s not only the lawful thing to do, I think it’s also the responsible thing to do.”

Javid meanwhile said there are “a lot of days” for the government to figure out what to do before the October 19 deadline at which it has to either request a delay, or get MPs to approve either a new deal or leaving with no deal.

Shadow attorney general Baroness Chakrabarti responded by saying it would be “appalling” if Johnson broke the law.

“Every tinpot dictator on the planet throughout history has used the excuse of having the people on their side to break the law to shut down parliament and all the rest of it, it’s absolutely extraordinary and I think it’s very un-British,” she told Ridge.

Brexit Party pact?

Whatever happens, an election will be required soon with no party leader currently enjoying a Commons majority.

If that happens before Britain leaves the EU the Tories will face huge pressure to form a pact with the Brexit Party, and Nigel Farage on Sunday offered it a non-aggression pact to help return Johnson to Number 10 to deliver no deal.

Javid refused to rule out a deal with Farage but insisted the Tories do not “need” pacts to win.

“We are not in election yet,” he said. “I am clear we do not need an alliance with anyone.”

Remain alliance

On the other side of the Brexit debate, sacked Tory rebel Sam Gyimah conceded on Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Five Live that he would “have to do a deal with other parties to stand a chance of getting elected” as an independent.

And Liberal Democrat deputy leader Sir Ed Davey suggested more MPs could join his party, which has welcomed Phillip Lee, Luciana Berger and Angela Smith in recent days.

He told Pienaar: ““The momentum is towards the Liberal Democrats in Parliament and you are right that we are talking to others from other parties... but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more coming.”


What's Hot