Sunday Shows Roundup: Nicola Sturgeon – Boris Johnson would be ‘disastrous’ for the Tories

Nicola Sturgeon – Boris Johnson will be ‘disastrous’ for Conservatives

This morning Sophy Ridge interviewed the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and the discussion soon turned to the race for who will be the UK’s next Prime Minister. True to form, Sturgeon did not hold back when giving her estimation of frontrunner Boris Johnson:

NS: I think he will be devastating, disastrous for the Conservatives UK wide, but particularly in Scotland. He’s seen in Scotland I think as one of the principle politicians who are responsible for the mess we’re in over Brexit.

Boris ‘has made overtly racist comments’

On Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford caused a commotion in the Commons when branded Johnson a ‘racist’ and ‘unfit for office’. Sturgeon rowed back a little from her colleague’s attack, but pointed to a recent description by Johnson of Muslim women wearing the burqa as looking like ‘letterboxes’ or ‘bank robbers’:

NS: Boris Johnson has made overtly racist comments. Now, I don’t know what’s in Boris Johnson’s head when he says those things… People who are prepared to make comments like that can’t suddenly throw their hands up in horror when people… say that they appear to be racist as a result of it.

Indyref2: ‘Right time’ is 2020

Ridge also raised the prospect of when another Scottish independence referendum would take place. Sturgeon has signalled that she wishes to see a referendum occur towards the end of 2020. Ridge asked why she wasn’t pushing for a vote to happen sooner rather than later:

SR: Why the delay?
NS: …We’ve been trying to get to a point where people have clarity about the Brexit future and then they can make an informed choice. I think given everything that’s happened, the right time scale is later in this Parliament.

Andrew Gwynne – Boris story in ‘public interest’

Johnson has had a rocky start to his campaign, with a row between him and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds having been reported both to the police and the Guardian newspaper by Symonds’ neighbours. The police have taken no further action. Nevertheless, Labour’s Andrew Gwynne defended the actions of Symonds’ neighbours to release the details of the incident into the public domain:

AG: In one sense, of course it is a private matter, but when you’re running for public office, when you are wanting to be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, then these matters are in the public interest, and I’ve long held the view that Boris Johnson is unsuitable to be Prime Minister of this country.

Rishi Sunak – Boris row ‘clearly a private incident’

However, Richmond MP Rishi Sunak has leapt to Johnson’s defence, telling Ridge that he and Symonds should have their right to privacy respected:

RS: The police were called and of course that’s going to be something that people are rightly interested in. But… there were no concerns that the officers had, and there was no cause for any further action. And given that’s what the police have said, and it’s clearly a private incident, I think we should just leave it at that.

I wouldn’t support Boris if I thought he was racist

Sunak, who declared his support for Johnson during the earlier rounds of the leadership contest, told Ridge that despite some incidents of regrettable language, he did not believe that Johnson was a racist as some detractors have claimed:

RS: I personally wouldn’t be sitting here supporting Boris if I thought he was racist… When you look at the context of that article about the burqa… here was Boris making the argument that women shouldn’t be banned [from wearing it]… Boris has very clearly apologised for any offence he has caused.

Ed Davey – Lib Dems should welcome pro-EU Conservatives

Sir Ed Davey, the former Energy Secretary who is now running to be leader of the Liberal Democrats, has said that we would open his arms to Conservative and Labour MPs who feel like they no longer have a political home in the current climate:

SR: Are you talking to Conservative MPs?
ED: Of course we do… I’ve never seen [pro-European] Tory MPs… so worried… Under me, the Liberal Democrats would be a political home… that then comes through the middle, while both the other parties are so split and divided and going to the extremes.

Liam Fox – Jeremy Hunt has a ‘good chance’ of getting new deal

On the Andrew Marr Show, International Trade Secretary argued his case for backing Johnson’s rival Jeremy Hunt, who he believed has a much better chance of securing a Brexit deal:

LF: I think that Jeremy Hunt has a good chance of being able to negotiate a new agreement with the European Union… Had Theresa May’s deal gone through, we’d have left the EU by the end of March and we’d be in a completely different scenario. So we have to find a way of getting that agreement through Parliament.

No deal important for ‘negotiating capital’

However, Fox stressed that the possibility of a no deal exit should always be kept on the table, or else the EU had no reason to reopen negotiations:

LF: We have to be very clear that [no deal] is the legal default position within the United Kingdom… It’s very important that we are very clear to the EU that we would take that course, because without the ability to walk away, we have no negotiating capital.

GATT 24 claim ‘isn’t true’

Fox sought to dispel an argument favoured by the Johnson campaign, principally the idea that the EU would not be able to apply tariffs to UK trade for up to 10 years in the event of a no deal Brexit. The argument is based on Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which offers a relaxation of the rules in certain circumstances:

LF: It isn’t true… You have to have a [trade] agreement to benefit from any temporary [exemptions]… If we leave the EU without a deal, the EU will apply tariffs to the UK, because you can only have exemptions… if you have a trade agreement to go to.

Caroline Flint – I won’t revoke Article 50

Labour MP Caroline Flint, who represents the strongly Leave voting constituency of Don Valley has told Marr that if it came to it, she would feel obliged to support a no deal exit over revoking Article 50:

AM: If… there isn’t a deal, do you go with a no deal exit, or no Brexit?
CF: I won’t be voting to revoke Article 50.
AM: So that means a no deal Brexit, if that’s what has to happen?
CF: If that’s where we end up, then that’s where I’ll be.

David Miliband – Jeremy Hunt should not be ‘absent’ from the world stage

And finally, the former Foreign Secretary David Miliband has argued that the current states of world affairs means that the UK can ill afford his successor devoting his energy to a leadership contest at such a critical time:

DM: I don’t think we can afford [Hunt] to be completely absent from the world stage… [The Iran standoff] is a pressing global threat to security… I don’t want to make people choke on their cornflakes, but we’re relying on the caution of President Trump to keep the hawks at bay in his own administration.

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