Sunday Shows Round-Up: Mind Your Language Edition

Boris Johnson is rebuked as Brexit battles rage on.

The Sunday politics programmes may be slightly thinner on the ground since Parliament returned from summer recess, but news certainly isn’t.

This week, Brexit battles continued in earnest, as Boris Johnson was rebuked by two former Cabinet colleagues and TUC boss Frances O’Grady warned Theresa May that she is preparing to campaign for a second referendum.

In what the more cynical among you may regard as something of a distraction tactic, the former foreign secretary caused controversy for the first time since erm, Friday – claiming in the Mail on Sunday that the PM has “wrapped a suicide vest” around the UK constitution as she continues to wade through negotiations with the EU.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
PA Wire/PA Images

He was swiftly chided by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show Johnson’s actions were “a reminder for all of use measured language”, while Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said the dedicated Brexit champion had “used the wrong tone”.

Junior justice minister Edward Argar also chipped in, telling Radio 5 Live’s John Pienaar”: “I disagree with both the language and the article – poor analogy and poor taste.”

Javid said he did not believe, however, that Johnson is Islamophobic.

“Absolutely not, not in the slightest,” he told Marr.

While Javid made clear he is behind the PM as she attempts to cobble together an exit deal for the UK ahead of March next year – “I don’t expect a no-deal outcome” – TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady was less confident.

As union members gathered for the organisation’s annual congress in Manchester, O’Grady warned May she was prepared to campaign in earnest for a second referendum if the government fails to strike a satisfactory deal with the EU.

“We should focus on getting a deal that’s actually good for this country and that means good for working people,” she told Marr.

“But if the prime minister is not prepared to do that, then it has to go back to the people and if there isn’t going to be an early general election then the only way is a popular vote.”

Her sentiments were echoed by CBI chief Carolyn Fairbairn, who told Pienaar: “We hoped we would come back after the summer with a direction and a renewed sense of purpose – instead we have come back to the soap opera and siren voices.”

Fairbairn stopped short, however, of backing calls for a People’s Vote, although she said she believed a no-deal Brexit would be a “catastrophe”.

“I don’t think it’s businesses’ job to have a view on whether to have a second referendum,” she said.

Labour’s Chuka Umunna, a long-standing champion of a vote on the final Brexirt deal, told Ridge he believed many people who voted for Brexit had since changed their minds.

Umunna courted some controversy of his own over the weekend, urging Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to “call off the dogs” trying to drive centre-left MPs out of the party.

The Streatham MP said the phrase he used was merely “a figure of speech” that was being used to deflect from the “real issue” – abuse directed towards some Jewish Labour MPs.

Umunna added that he believed the Labour Party was “institutionally racist”, while party chairman Ian Lavery claimed his comments were “absolutely outrageous in the extreme” and Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne made a desperate appeal for unity.

“I don’t support kicking out anyone from the Labour Party,” Gwynne told Pienaar. “There is room for all opinions, of the centre and centre left, within the party. Let’s unite and get rid of this chaotic Tory government.”

Brexit and party wars aside, James Brokenshire told Ridge he has been writing to private landlords to ask them to remove unsafe cladding from the high-rise buildings they manage in the wake of the Grenfell tower fire.

Finally, Sajid Javid managed to find the time to address the two biggest issues his department is currently grappling with – telling Marr more than 160 people were wrongly detained or removed during the Windrush scandal.

And admitting the two Russian men suspected of carrying out the Salisbury Novichok attack on Sergei and Yulia Skirpal are unlikely to ever been seen in the UK to face justice.


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