19/05/2019 13:59 BST

Sunday Shows Round-Up: European Election Edition

Everything you missed.


With the European elections just days away, the Sunday politics shows were dominated by one topic – Brexit.

With an eye to poaching any undecided voters ahead of the polls opening on Thursday, parties from across the political spectrum put forward their heavy-hitters to explain why they would be able to solve the UK’s current political crisis.

Batting for Labour was leader Jeremy Corbyn. But despite polling suggesting the party is currently limping in third behind the Lib Dems – and his own MPs demanding a clear stance on Brexit – Corbyn refused to be shifted from his current fence-straddling position on leaving the EU.

“It’s yourself and the British media who are obsessed with defining everybody by how they voted three years ago,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“Labour supporters voted both leave and remain,” Corbyn said. “Every other party in this European election is appealing to one side or the other, defining everybody by 2016.

“We’re not. We’re defining people as hopefully supporters of us, but also people who have common problems however they voted – levels of poverty in remain and leave areas are very similar…”

Throughout the election campaign, the Labour leadership has been calling on voters to look past division over Brexit and focus on pressing social issues like poverty, education and the NHS.  

Meanwhile – following the news on Friday that negotiations between Labour and the government had broken down – Corbyn reiterated that there would be “no more talks”, adding that he would not write a “blank cheque” for any new Brexit proposals from the government.

But Tory leadership hopeful Rory Stewart, who is currently international development secretary, was more positive about the situation, saying that Labour and the Tories are only “half an inch apart” on the terms of a Brexit deal. 

It is still possible to close the gap, he suggested to Marr. 

“If we are in the territory of a deal, where we need to focus is parliament, and particularly getting Labour votes across. Maybe not Jeremy Corbyn’s vote but there are many other moderate sensible Labour MPs.”

Theresa May is expected to put her Brexit deal in front of MPs again at the start of June. 

As you might expect, Change UK’s spokesman Chuka Umunna came to a very different conclusion on Brexit during his interview with Marr, warning that the UK must now revoke Article 50 in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

It would take “at least” five or six months to organise and hold a public vote on Brexit, he said.

“We now no longer have the time to do that by the 31st of October, when we are due to crash out, so we need to stop the clock now to allow that to happen.”

Meanwhile, Tory leadership candidates hoping to take up May’s spot in Number 10 are “falling over themselves to say they will take us out – come what may – in October without a deal”, he said.

“So faced with that – no deal or revocation – you have got to revoke,” he said.

But Lib Dem leader Vince Cable – whose party is also calling for a people’s vote – had other ideas, telling the BBC there was still time for a second referendum.

The Lib Dems would back the prime minister’s deal in parliament as long as a confirmatory vote was attached to it, he said. “It could be done before October.”

He also told Marr he was “not in the least bit embarrassed” of the Lib Dems’ “bollocks to Brexit” European election slogan, merrily announcing it on breakfast TV despite the host saying he couldn’t.

On Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, UKIP leader Gerard Batten was representing the party ahead of the European elections.

But Batten – who took on the top job last year – admitted that his time as leader could be over as soon as this time next week.

“I think if I lost my seat in London [in the European elections], it would be untenable for me to continue as leader,” he told Ridge.

However, Batten said he would make his final decision after the results were announced, saying that the membership have “overwhelmingly” told him they want him to remain leader.

But, if you’re to believe what Batten has been told, perhaps he doesn’t need to worry about his job.

The UKIP leader told the programme he had seen polling which ranked his party as the second most popular among voters aged 18-25 – though admitted “I can’t exactly remember who did the polling.”

Finally, representing the Conservative Party – who have yet to release a manifesto for the European election – defence minister Tobias Ellwood admitted that voters were likely to use the ballot as an opportunity to express their frustration with the government over Brexit.

On the topic of the upcoming Tory leadership race, Ellwood said he wouldn’t be running and urged his Conservative colleagues to focus on the real issue – Brexit.

He was echoed by Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay, who told Ridge: “I would say to my colleagues – focus on the day job, concentrate on what is before us, ensure we deliver on what we promised to the public, ensure that we leave.”

But Barclay undermined his own stern message somewhat by refusing to rule out whether he would be throwing his own hat into the leadership ring.