POLITICS
14/04/2019 13:49 BST

Sunday Shows Round-Up: Julian Assange, Euro Election 'Disasters' And Nazi Comparisons

Everything you missed.

This week saw Brexit pushed back by another six months, with the EU allowing the UK to extend Article 50 to October 31 (and in turn opening up the possibility of a Halloween Brexit). 

But despite the newly-found wiggle room on leaving the EU, Brexit was still top of the agenda for many MPs appearing on the Sunday politics shows. 

First up was former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith telling Sky’s Sophy Ridge that it would be a “disaster for the country” if the UK was forced to participate in EU parliamentary elections. 

Until March 29 – the original date for Brexit – voters were prepared to give the PM “the benefit of the doubt”, he said. 

“The big problem was as soon as we didn’t leave you could see all the poll ratings start to crash.

“And it’s wholly linked to the fact that to Leave or Remain they were all expecting us to go and when we didn’t go it looked like a complete breach with the pledge that we had made and that’s a disaster for a political party.”

Duncan Smith called on May to stand down as prime minister as soon as next month. 

“I know that the prime minister has already said she’s going,” he continued.  “She said she would go as and when the agreement was ratified which was looking at around about May, June. I think those dates still stand.

“I think that what the PM has to do is aim everything now towards departure before the Euros which would then allow her to step away having done what she said she would do, getting the UK out of the European Union one way or the other and then we can have another leadership election and pick a new leader which is the way it has to be.”

He was echoed in part by Conservative energy minister Claire Perry, who said it would be “really silly and daft” to participate in the European elections “when the opportunity not to do that is in our grasp”. 

If the PM is able to get her Brexit deal through parliament before the end of May, the UK will be able to leave the EU before the polls open. 

Meanwhile, Perry said that a second Brexit referendum simply because MPs cannot agree on a deal would be a “real abrogation” of parliament’s responsibilities. 

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that  Brexit talks between Labour and the government in a bid to break the impasse in parliament would continue next week. 

But it was unclear how much progress had actually been made in the discussions. 

“As government, we have always made it clear that while we will do our best to try and reach a compromise with the main opposition party – it would mean compromise on both sides,” Lidington said. 

“If that doesn’t work then what we will want to move towards is to put before parliament a set of options with a system for making a choice and Parliament actually having to come to a preferred option, rather than voting against everything.” 

But the divisions in parliament were clearer than ever during a highly-charged interview with David Lammy on Marr’s programme. 

The Labour MP sparked a row after claiming that a speech he made comparing the pro-Brexit European Research Group to Nazis “wasn’t strong enough”.  

“British soldiers in this country died fighting this thuggery and extremism and here we are in 2019 with people bringing it into the mainstream for their own political advantage,” he said, arguing that the ERG acted as cover for “thugs on the street”. 

His comments were branded “batshit” by Tory MP Conor Burns. (Read the whole story here.

Away from Brexit, Julian Assange was another major topic of conversation. The Wikileaks co-founder was arrested on Thursday after spending almost seven years hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. 

He now faces extradition to the US over charges of conspiring to break into a classified government computer. 

In an interview with Ridge, Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson welcomed the support of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who this week called on the government to oppose his extradition to the US. 

“It is right and correct Jeremy Corbyn said what he said,” Robinson told the programme.  

“Julian has never been concerned with facing British justice or indeed Swedish justice. This case is and always has been about his concern about being sent to face American injustice.”  

Following an interview on Friday, Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott faced accusations of attempting to minimise rape allegations against Assange by repeatedly saying that charges had never been brought against him

But Labour’s transport secretary Andy McDonald told Ridge: “He shouldn’t be extradited to the US, he should be going to Sweden to face allegations there. 

“The women who have been allegedly assaulted have been without access to justice.” 

Swedish authorities could not bring charges against Assange because in Sweden charges must be brought in person, McDonald added. 

Finally, UKIP’s leader Gerard Batten made headlines after claiming that a candidate’s rape tweet to Labour MP Jess Philips was “satire”. 

MEP candidate Carl Benjamin previously tweeted that “I wouldn’t even rape you” to the Birmingham Yardley MP.

Describing Benjamin as “a classical liberal”, Batten said: “I don’t know the exact context of that and I certainly don’t condone any remarks like that, but he is not a bad person as he’s being portrayed. 

“He is a proponent of free speech. The context that he said it was satire against the people he was saying it about. He wasn’t actually making a literal statement.”

Phillips later tweeted: “My husband on seeing Batten (he had no idea who he was) saying people talking about my rape is satire said: ‘Is this man satire?’” 

Batten later went on to defend his beliefs that Islam is a “death cult”, saying: “I do not like the ideology, the literalist interpretation of Islam.

“I know lots of people in this country who do take a literal interpretation of Islam. I think that’s the worrying thing.”