POLITICS
13/01/2019 15:52 GMT

Sunday Shows Round-Up: Bercow Row, Barclay On Brexit And Corbyn's Bid To Topple May

We watched them so you didn't have to.

Reuters

The critical vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal was just two days away as the Sunday politics shows began their broadcasts and there was plenty to talk about.

Just hours earlier reports had emerged that Speaker John Bercow was plotting with rebel MPs to sideline the Prime Minister and hand parliament more control over Brexit. 

Meanwhile, pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to table a vote of no-confidence in the government was building and rumours of a snap general election were in the air. 

So, there was a lot going on. Here’s the run-down...

Could Theresa May still get her Brexit deal through parliament? 

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay gave an interview to the BBC Andrew Marr Show in which he did everything he could to avoid saying what will happen if - as seems inevitable - Theresa May faces defeat on Tuesday. 

Barclay said the government was “moving” on the issue and pointed to senior Tory George Freeman and former Labour minister Jim Fitzpatrick indicating their support. 

Labour’s John Mann was among the opposition MPs who said they would throw their weight behind the government on Tuesday. 

He gave an interview to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge. 

But Barclay admitted “we recognise that it is challenging” to win the vote. 

Pushed again on whether there is a Plan B, Barclay said: “Well there is a process in place following that vote if we were to lose it in terms of the Prime Minister coming back to the House.” 

Told by presenter Andrew Marr that the public have a right to know what comes next, Barclay again ignored the question. 

“Well the country does have a right to know what Members of Parliament are for, not just what they are against and it’s important that the House comes to a view as to what it can back,” he said.

Barclay later added the deal “delivers for Brexiteers but does so in a way that respects the needs of the business community and MPs that vote for it will own the consequences of that.” 

So, what happens next? 

Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, has made headlines after he appeared to dash the hopes of remainers in his party who have been campaigning for a second referendum on Brexit. 

“I would rather get a negotiated deal now,” he said, before adding “I’m not a dictator” indicating he would listen to voices within Labour. 

The party’s policy, which Corbyn’s frontbench team have repeatedly underlined, is to vote down May’s deal and to seek a general election. 

After that, “all options” will be on the table, the party has said. 

Corbyn was asked if he would immediately table a vote of no-confidence. 

The Labour leader replied it would be “at a time of our choosing” and stressed that it would be “soon”. 

He went on to say that his party would do everything it could to avoid a “catastrophic” no-deal exit. 

Pressed on whether Labour would go into a general election campaigning to leave the EU, Corbyn sidestepped the question and said he would be fighting for a country “brought together by investment”. 

Asked about Labour’s Brexit policy, Corbyn said it was “a reasonable position” to have a UK-EU customs union, with the UK having a say on future trade deals the bloc strikes with third countries. 

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable dismissed reports that his party would back a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government if it baked a re-run of the referendum in an interview with Marr. 

Cable also focused on Brexit and said it would be “absolutely outrageous and unforgivable” if Britain crashed out without a deal. 

“The gov itself has demonstrated the follies and the dangers of going down this road,” he said. 

Parliament taking control of the process and forcing a so-called ‘People’s Vote’ was “much more likely”, said Cable. 

 

Rows over the far right 

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, meanwhile, cautioned against any attempt to thwart Brexit. 

He said it could lead to the “emergence of populist parties”. 

“We have seen in pretty much every other country in Europe the emergence of new significant political parties at the political extremes, and my concern is if we say to those 17.4m people who voted to leave ‘actually, guys, we are not leaving after all’, we will see the emergence of a force like that and we will see real impact on our politics,” he later told the BBC’s John Pienaar. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan pushed back on Grayling’s comments.  

Khan, a high-profile supporter of a so-called People’s Vote, told Radio Five Live’s Pienaar’s Politics: ″I’m hoping the British public do take back control and that this campaign is a more positive one.

“The idea that we should allow a fare of the far-right to dictate our policy I find astonishing. 

“The far-right, for example, wouldn’t want someone who looks like me to be the Mayor of London. Does that mean I don’t stand to be mayor of London?

“The far-right don’t want many, many things. The idea that this government are capitulating to the far-right as a reason for not holding a public vote I find astonishing.” 

 

Is Speaker John Bercow safe? 

Bercow faced a huge wave of criticism after he ignored legal advice and allowed a vote against the government this week. 

The government was defeated and the PM is now compelled to present an alternative plan within three days. 

Brexiteers maintain Bercow should never have allowed the vote and fresh revelations in claiming rebel Tory Dominic Grieve met Bercow, who is known to have voted remain, in his private flat on the parliamentary estate the day before the vote.

Jeremy Corbyn mounted a passionate defence of the Speaker, claiming Bercow was “religiously fair” and saying the attacks on him from Brexiteer Tories were “unwarranted” and “unfair”.

He called the attacks on Bercow “absolutely disgraceful”. 

“He shuts me up as much as he shuts anyone up,” Corbyn told Marr. 

Transport Secretary Grayling later told Pienaar he believed Bercow should refrain from doing anything that would “cause controversy around his position” and “undermine” the credibility of the post.

He said the Speaker must be a “dispassionate referee” of proceedings in the Commons, adding he hopes Mr Bercow will do this in the coming days.

 

What else happened? 

The Tory chair of the Education Select Committee and champion Robert Halfon repeated calls he made last year for his party to do more to attract working class voters. 

Speaking about the party’s future electoral prospects, he said the Tories need a “radical agenda” and that many MPs “good ideas” that weren’t being heard. 

Asked if Labour had the “radical agenda”, Halfon replied: “I don’t agree with the prescription but nevertheless in many cases they are talking the language of the British people. 

“People are struggling and they want to know that the Conservatives are on their side and we have got to prove that.” 

Grayling was also pressed several times on how well he was doing as transport secretary. 

The minister has drawn ire from opponents after he awarded Seaborne, a company which does not have any ferries, a contract for a ferry deal should the UK crash out without a deal. 

He also claimed that a test run of how a no-deal Brexit would impact lorry queues in Kent “worked fine” despite it causing a major traffic jam and just 89 of the 150 lorries turning up to take part.