The Andrew Marr Show
The Grenfell Tower tragedy and the start of the Brexit negotiations dominated the Sunday Shows. Up first on Marr was Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer.
After trying to find some difference between Labour and the Tories’ policies on Brexit, Marr hit gold when Sir Keir said he wanted to see staying in the customs union kept on the negotiation table.
Chancellor Philip Hammond settled in for a long chat, and opened by talking about the Grenfell tragedy. Marr accused the Government of sitting on recommendations to review building regulations for four years, but if it had been to do with Buckingham Palace, Ministers would have dealt with it within five minutes.
On Brexit, Hammond was unequivocal – the UK would be leaving the Single Market and the customs union. He was also very clear about the implications of “no deal” for the UK: it would be a “very, very bad outcome.
Reflecting on the General Election campaign, Hammond was bullish in his assessment of where it went wrong for the Tories: it’s the economy, stupid.
The Chancellor admitted he wanted a higher profile role in the campaign than the one he was given.
Hammond ruled out a Summer Budget, but insisted he and the Government are “not deaf” to the message which came from voters who are “weary” of austerity. He ruled out more borrowing, and left the door open for tax hikes.
Peston on Sunday
Jeremy Corbyn was first up on Peston. In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, he called for homes deliberately being kept empty to be taken over by the state to help victims and tackle the housing crisis in general.
Corbyn confirmed Diane Abbott is back as Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary.
Volunteer Nisha Parti revealed survivors of Grenfell tower are being given just £10 by the local council, despite millions being raised through public appeals.
Tory MP Sarah Wollaston said she was “beyond disgusted” by the revelation.
Philip Hammond popped across from the Marr show, and repeated most of what he said. On Brexit, he indicated the priority must be the economy over reducing immigration.
Labour MP David Lammy believes the Brexit “mood music” has changed since the election and called for the UK to stay in the Single Market and customs union.
Sophy Ridge on Sunday
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said he would have reconvened Parliament to push through new laws allowing the Government to seize empty properties as part of his response to the Grenfell fire.
McDonnell was asked why he was telling people to take to the streets to protest against the “democratically elected Government”. The Shadow Chancellor said he wasn’t calling for the “rising up” of insurgents, but peaceful protests.
On Brexit, McDonnell suggested the UK could stay in the Single Market if it wasn’t “constrained by the structures” such as freedom of movement.
Minister for London Greg Hands defended Theresa May’s response to the Grenfell fire, saying she has been closely involved in trying to solve problems arising from the tragedy.
Hands said those now homeless after the fire will be rehoused in the local area – but not necessarily in the same borough.
On sprinklers, Hands said it is unknown if sprinklers would have made a difference in the Grenfell fire.
Tory MP Robert Halfon – sacked as Skills Minister by Theresa May last week – appeared to further develop the criticism of the party he’s been dishing out in recent days.
Ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith hit out at “silly people in the Conservative party with big mouths and small brains” plotting to depose Theresa May
On Radio 5Live, Sir Keir Starmer repeated the point he made on Marr that Labour would not necessarily pull the UK out of the customs union after Brexit.
“Let’s take the question of the customs union. There’s a lot of anxiety in the business community about stepping outside the customs union because it creates so many difficulties. And that’s why we’ve said it’s an option that should be left on the table. The question of whether in the end we stay in the customs union is one that we need to address when we get to the end of the negotiating process because it will depend on what level of access we’ve got to the Single Market. The question then will be is it better to have freedom to strike new deals across the world or are we better off staying with deals that are struck by the EU. That is something that at the moment we can’t answer. That is why we’ve said look at the outcomes, leave options on the table. That’s a perfectly sensible negotiating strategy.”
London Minister Greg Hands also appeared, and repeated most of what he said on Ridge, although he was pushed more on why Grenfell Tower residents’ complaints were ignored.
John Pienaar: “Whether consciously or unconsciously there is an unfairness there because if your better off, if you’ve got more money, maybe a bit more education, you know to organise yourself, you know how to complain and have the complaints heard. If the complaints aren’t heard you can just hire a lawyer and they’ll put the pressure on and just get things done. That is a fact isn’t it Greg?”
Greg Hands: “Well I think the public inquiry will look at the specific aspects of the complaints that were made in Grenfell Tower. But in general experience, my experience of local Government and central Government is that people in general respond well. Whether it be local authorities, whether it be members of parliament, whether it be GLA members, councillors and so on there is a lot of very committed people in London to making sure that people lead their lives as well as they can”.
John Pienaar: “Obviously on the case of Grenfell Tower no one would have wanted to see a horror like this. But there were complaints and they weren’t listened to”.
Greg Hands: “Well I think we will have to look at the role of the tenant management organisation (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation). You’ve got to remember this is an organisation set up with the very best of motives twenty or more years ago as a way of tenant’s managing their own estate. That was the principle behind the tenant management organisation, with the noblest of principle. We will have to see how that worked out in practice and the responses from the landlord – the KCTMO – in this case. That will be clearly part of the public inquiry”.
The Sunday Politics
With no Andrew Neil, it was up to former BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson to deliver a late morning grilling of MPs.
Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom echoed her Prime Minister’s claim that “support wasn’t good enough” in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell fire.
Leadsom defended having a two-year Parliament in order to fully scrutinise Brexit legislation. She denied the charge that it was because the Government was scared they would not be able to pass another Queen’s Speech in a year’s time.
Labour’s Andrew Gwynne denied the suggestion that Labour is “stirring up” anger on the streets of London in the wake of the Grenfell fire. He vowed to hold the Government to account through the Commons.
Gwynne was asked about former Shadow Cabinet Minister Clive Lewis’s tweet that said: “Burn neoliberalism, not people.” Gwynne said people need to be “measured” in their approach to the situation.