Sunday Shows Round-Up: From Labour Splitters To Tory Cabinet Rebels

Sunday Shows Round-Up: From Labour Splitters To Tory Cabinet Rebels

The dramatic resignations of MPs on both sides of the Commons dominated the news agenda this week – and the Sunday politics shows were no different, especially among Labour politicians.  In an impassioned interview with Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Chuka Umunna – one of original seven Labour MPs to quit the party to form The Independent Group (TIG) in parliament – said that Jeremy Corbyn’s party had become “unbearable”.  People have been driven from Labour by the party’s “awful appalling culture”, illustrated by “disgraceful anti-Semitism”, “a visceral hatred of people of other opinions” and a refusal to accept people have opinions that don’t match Corbyn’s, the Streatham MP said. “I have received threats from supporters of the leader where I have had to call the police in and someone was arrested,” Umunna continued. “At times it’s been really unsettling,” he added later on..@ChukaUmunna says he has “received threats from supporters of the leader where I’ve had to call in the police and someone was arrested” and says that “there is a rule by fear” in the Labour PartyFollow live updates on today’s politics news here:— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) February 24, 2019

But the now-independent MP – who said that Labour and the Tories were “both as bad as each other” – said that while Corbyn was to blame over anti-Semitism, his leadership team had also acted as “bystanders”. “It is disgraceful that the shadow cabinet has not done more, not been more vocal, not demanded more, not threatened to resign over what has been going on, on anti-Semitism. And the problem is it’s too easy to choose an easy life because there is a rule by fear.” But also speaking to Ridge, shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner accused Umunna of quitting Labour to join TIG because he knew he could never become leader. “It was fairly clear to me in effect the reason he wanted to leave the Labour Party was that he knew he could never lead the Labour Party. This is about personality,” said Gardiner, who argued that while he was “deeply saddened” by Luciana Berger’s decision to quit over anti-Semitic abuse, he had “no time” for the other splitters.Barry Gardiner says the reason Chuka Umunna left the Labour Party “was that he knew he could never be the leader of the Labour Party” #RidgeFollow live updates on today’s politics news here:— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) February 24, 2019

Commenting on rumours that he would lead TIG, Umunna had previously said that a decision had not yet been made, telling Ridge: “Everybody has a role to play”. Gardiner went on to accuse Umunna of hypocrisy, saying there was a “real inconsistency” between TIG’s calls for a second public vote on leaving the EU and his refusal to stand in a by-election for his London seat. Many of the Labour quitters enjoyed an increased number of votes in the 2017 election because of Corbyn’s manifesto, he added. He went on to acknowledge that while Labour had not acted quickly enough to deal with cases of anti-Semitism in the past, it was now getting on top of the issue and dealing with complaints faster.” However, speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, deputy Labour leader Tom Watson took a much more hardline view, saying Corbyn must “eradicate” anti-Semitism in the party if he ever wants to become prime minister. Labour is in a “crisis”, Watson said, describing the departure of nine Labour MPs in the past week as a “real blow to us”. “Jeremy needs to understand that to be in Number 10 he needs to change the Labour Party. We have got to eradicate anti-Semitism, anti-Jewish racism in all its forms.” Watson – who is also the shadow culture secretary – said he had sent 50 complaints of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party to Corbyn, saying he must take a “personal lead on examining those cases”.“There’s a crisis for the soul of the Labour Party” Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson talks to #Marr after nine MPs left the party this week— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) February 24, 2019

“The test for him as leader is to eradicate anti-Semitism. It is not Labour Party members who will be the judge of that, it is the British Jewish community,” the West Bromwich East MP said. “I think he understands now that if he is ever to be prime minister he needs to rebuild that trust.”Meanwhile Watson said he wanted to give a platform to moderates in the Labour Party in order to avoid more resignations, adding that there was an “urgent need” to address why people want to leave. “There is a crisis in the soul” of Labour, he told Marr, adding: “For us to hold this party together, things have to change.” Watson’s call to tackle anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was echoed by John McDonnell on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics, with the shadow chancellor saying that Labour must be faster and “more ruthless” in tackling the racist hatred. “I think we’ve changed anyway in the last few months…. I’ve always said we need to be quicker, faster in dealing with these cases and we need to be more severe,” he told the radio programme. McDonnell continued: “I want us to be the best political party in dealing with issues like anti-Semitism and racism and I want us to be able to, with clean hands, get out there and tackle it within our wider community.”While Labour MPs debated the major split in their party, Conservatives appearing on the Sunday shows focussed on Brexit and their own dividing lines on leaving the EU. In an interview with the Daily Mail on Saturday, three Cabinet ministers – namely Amber Rudd, Greg Clarke and David Gauke – said they would be prepared to rebel against Theresa May and vote to delay Brexit to avoid no-deal. Their comments led to Tory Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen – among others – calling on the senior Conservatives to resign from the government, saying it was the “honourable thing to do”. But speaking on Sunday, environment secretary Michael Gove rejected demands for the trio to be sacked, calling their statement an “expression of their views”.Michael Gove: “I will do everything I can… to persuade my colleagues to stay in government” #Marr asks the Environment Secretary if ministers can vote to delay #Brexit without resigning— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) February 24, 2019

“When we are facing the difficult choices that we have, we can try and say ‘Aha’ and heresy hunt and say ‘You are wrong here’ or ‘You are wrong there’. I think that is counterproductive. I think it is alien to the temper of our times,” he told Marr. Instead, their concerns must be listened to in a “civilised way” and the government must “seek to reconcile” them. “They are good colleagues,” Gove continued. “I think it would be completely inappropriate, given the nature of the conversations that the country is having about Brexit, to try to strike macho postures when what we really need is unity.”It is still government policy to leave the EU on March 29, he said, adding that it would be a “mistake” for MPs to back an amendment next week giving the Commons the power to demand an extension to Article 50 if May cannot strike a deal by mid-March. “It is not just about a potential extension to Article 50, it is about taking power away from the government and who knows where we might end up,” he said.“We might end up with a second referendum which would do real damage to our politics.”Speaking to Ridge, Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis said that while May’s negotiations with the EU over replacing the backstop with “alternative arrangements” were ongoing, he was “very confident and optimistic” that the prime minister would strike a deal with the EU that parliament would agree to by March 29. But deputy Irish prime minister Simon Coveney gave a less optimistic view, telling Sky that the Withdrawal Agreement was “not up for negotiation”. “You can’t ask Ireland to compromise on something as fundamental as the peace process and relationships linked to the Good Friday Agreement in order to get a deal through which is about placating a group within the Conservative Party who are insisting on moving the prime minister away from her own position.”


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