POLITICS
18/11/2018 14:50 GMT

Sunday Shows Round-Up: Letters, Plotters And Andrew Marr Losing His Cool

What a week it has been.

It has been a tough week for Prime Minister Theresa May 

To say it has been an extraordinary seven days in the world of politics would be an understatement. 

Prime Minister Theresa May finally published her draft Brexit deal on Tuesday and provoked the wrath of backbench Eurosceptics, with Jacob Rees-Mogg calling on fellow MPs to join him in a bid to topple her. 

Labour, meanwhile, continues to face demands to back a second referendum after Jeremy Corbyn said it could not stop Brexit. 

Here is your round-up of the Sunday politics shows.  

Ridge On Sunday 

After a tumultuous week, Sky News’ Sophy Ridge asked May if she had considered quitting, to which the PM replied: “No I haven’t.” 

She then warned party rivals thinking of replacing her as Conservative leader: “It is not going to make the (Brexit) negotiations any easier and it won’t change the parliamentary arithmetic.”

May later revealed that she had spoken to Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the powerful backbench 1922 Committee, and as far as she was aware the required number of Tory MPs’ letters to trigger a no confidence vote in her had not been reached.

She said: “I spoke to Sir Graham Brady at the end of last week, I have regular conversations with Sir Graham Brady.

“Graham Brady will make it known if 48 letters are reached, Graham Brady will make it known.”

Asked if the 48 letter threshold had been reached she added: “As far as I know, no, the answer to your question is no.”

Changing leader would “bring in a degree of uncertainty”, said May and “a risk that Brexit gets delayed or frustrated”.

The next seven days “are going to be critical”, say May, adding she would be travelling back to Brussels for talks.

The Prime Minister also laughed off suggestions that the Irish backstop represented a “Hotel California” Brexit - from which you could never leave.

The backstop is an “insurance policy”, she said, adding: “Both sides can say yes we agree that there are arrangements in place, that a deal that provides for the people of Northern Ireland and therefore that backstop is no longer necessary.”

Pressed over what the Government would do in the event a vote on the Brexit deal was lost in the Commons, May said: “There’s a process that Parliament will go through, were it the case that the deal was lost then the Government would come back with their proposals for what the next step was.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also gave an interview to Ridge On Sunday. 

He said his party “couldn’t stop” Brexit because of parliamentary arithmetic.

He also revealed that he believed another referendum was “an option for the future” and “not an option for today”. 

In such a referendum, however, he said he did not know which way he would vote, adding: “I don’t know how I am going to vote, what the options would be at that time.”

On Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal, he said it represented a “one-way agreement” in which the EU “calls all the shots”.

He said: “We’ll vote against this deal because it doesn’t meet our tests. We don’t believe it serves the interest of this country, therefore the Government have to go back to the EU and renegotiate rapidly.

“There’s 500 pages in this document much of which is quite vague, where’s the guarantee on environmental protections, where’s the guarantee on consumer protections, where’s the guarantee on workers’ rights?”

Asked if he could stop Brexit, the Labour leader said: “We couldn’t stop it because we don’t have the votes in Parliament to do so.”

He added: “There was a referendum in 2016, a majority voted to leave the EU, there are many reasons why people voted. I don’t think you call a referendum and then say you don’t like the result and go away from it, you’ve got to understand why people voted and negotiate the best deal you can.”

Also speaking to Ridge was Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director general. 

She warned that businesses had “watched on with a degree of horror that there is just so little sense of consensus” in Westminster in the last week.

“It almost feels like there is a Westminster bubble beyond which people are not thinking about the real people in this country, who work in our manufacturing businesses, who will be affected by this,” she said. 

“Our message from business, and it is a really heartfelt one that comes of frustration and concern about the future, is listen to the businesses in your constituencies.

“Go out and talk to people whether they now feel it is time to move on, whether it is not time to move beyond this so we can talk about the NHS and skills and all the things that really do matter to our country.

“Do that, when they come and they vote they are doing it based on what and businesses really think.”

She added: “There is a real danger that this becomes almost a political parlour game in Westminster where there are all sorts of different views that are swirling around while the rest of the country sits on and watches, and they are the ones who are going to be affected.”

 

The Andrew Marr Show 

Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, who resigned this week in protest of the deal, told Marr that the Brexit deal achieved was “fatally flawed”. 

He said that the customs backstop plan meant that the UK would remain tied to the EU with no say and no way of independently freeing itself.

He later accused the EU of “blackmail” and said the Government’s political will was lacking. 

He said: “I do think we are being bullied, I do think we are being subjected to what is pretty close to blackmail frankly.

“I do think there is a point at which, we probably should have done it before, were we just say ‘I’m sorry this is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, we cannot accept those dictated terms’.”

Asked if he believed the deal was worth the £39 billion “divorce bill”, Mr Raab gave a simple “no”.

The former Brexit secretary also said that he still supported the Prime Minister and would not support a leadership challenge against her.

He said: “I will support this Prime Minister and I want her to get this right.”

Raab, who is viewed as a potential successor to May, urged MPs thinking of sending no confidence letters to Brady to support the PM. 

He told Marr: “It’s a total distraction from what we need to do, we need to get Brexit over the line, we need to support our Prime Minister.

“I have got huge respect for her, I wrote that in my resignation letter, it is not flim-flam.

“I have worked very closely with her on Brexit and I think there is still the opportunity to get this right, support the PM - but she must also listen and change course on Brexit.”

Former first secretary of state Damian Green has said a leadership change would be “absurd”.

Speaking to BBC Sunday Politics South East, he urged Tory MPs not to submit letters of no confidence. 

He said: “If you step back, we are at the absolute crunch point of the most important negotiations this country has had for decades.

“I think saying that what the country now needs - let alone the Conservative Party, look at it on a national basis - to say that what the country now needs is a leadership election and a change of leadership, is absurd. From the country’s point of view, I think that’s exactly the wrong way to go.”

Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng, meanwhile, sparked controversy after he appeared as part of Marr’s paper review panel.

He was branded “absolutely shocking” after dismissing a UN report which uncovered “staggering” levels of child poverty by talking about “good management of the economy”. 

The Brexit minister was confronted with the plight of brain-damaged teenager Emily Lydon, who faces losing her home as part of her move to Universal Credit. 

The 19-year-old was asked to attend a work capability assessment but is deaf and cannot walk because her mother contracted the human form of mad cow disease (BSE) when she was pregnant. 

Kwarteng called it “a sad story” but said “what [the government has] done is manage to reduce the deficit”. 

Shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti also gave an interview to Marr. 

She was asked if Brexit can be stopped, to which she replied that May’s deal was “unacceptable” but Parliament was “long away” from the numbers to stop Brexit. 

Chakrabarti and Marr also clashed at one point when the presenter accused the Labour politician of an attempt to patronise him. 

Marr pushed on the point that Labour’s manifesto states it respects the result of the Brexit referendum rather than primarily pushing for a second vote.

Chakrabarti held her ground, insisting as a democrat her stance was a reflection of the original referendum.

Here is their extraordinary exchange. 

MARR: “I don’t understand why you want to leave the EU.” 

Chakrabarti: “I don’t want to leave the EU, I campaigned to Remain. I’m a democrat.”

MARR: “But you’re going to go through a General Election campaign as a member of a party whose manifesto says ‘we are leaving the EU’.”

Chakrabarti: “I’m a democrat, I don’t know about you Andrew, but I’m a democrat.”

MARR: “Don’t try and patronise me, I’m as much a democrat as you are.”

Chakrabarti: “I certainly wouldn’t try to patronise you and I’m sure you would  never try to patronise me.”

 

Pienaar’s Politics

Sir Graham Brady

The main guest on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics was Sir Graham Brady himself. 

The chairman of the 1922 committee said that not even his wife knows how many letters he has received from other Conservative MPs.

He told Jon Pienaar: “Victoria does not know, nor do the two vice chairman of the 1922 Committee or the other officers.”

The senior backbencher also revealed he was not totally happy with Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement.

Asked about the deal’s lack of a unilateral exit route from the backstop, Sir Graham said: “I’m not happy about it.

“We’ve got the draft withdrawal agreement, there might be some tweaks to that and I hope there will be.”

He said that it was “very likely” May would win a no confidence vote if one was triggered.

Speaking on the North West edition of the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, he said: “It would be a simple majority, it would be very likely that the Prime Minister would win such a vote and if she did then there would be a 12-month period where this could not happen again, which would be a huge relief for me because people would have to stop asking me questions about numbers of letters for at least 12 months.”

He said both he and the Prime Minister could technically put in letters calling for a confidence vote but that he would be “very surprised” to receive a letter from himself.