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Source: Labour List UK

Ridge on Sunday

Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves said the Education Secretary failed “miserably” to reopen schools for most children before September, and she called for a ‘back-to-work Budget’ in July to save jobs.

  • On shopping: “I went to the shops yesterday to buy Father’s Day presents… I did that, I wore a face mask, I tried as best as I could to be socially distanced from other people in the shop. We all want the economy to get back up and running.”
  • On reopening schools: “He [Gavin Williamson] should have been using this period of lockdown to prepare schools to ensure that the space is available because many schools are cramped – particularly in inner-city areas.”
  • She added: “Williamson was set a test. He has failed it miserably and now the government are trying to blame other people for their failure.”
  • Asked what could have been done: “Labour put forward constructive proposals like using libraries and leisure centres.”
  • On social distancing: “Even with the social distancing measures that we’ve got in place now at two metres, more children could have been brought back into a school setting if the government had made the effort to use other buildings, bring in temporary staff to put up temporary buildings.”
  • On the economy: “We do need from the Chancellor a Budget for jobs, a back-to-work Budget in July this year to quickly get on top of this – to support people to go back to work, to protect jobs.
  • On the recent 2019 election review: “No one underestimates the scale of the challenge… But I think also everybody can see that in the past two and a bit months that Keir Starmer has been leader of the Labour Party, we’ve begun to climb that mountain.”
  • Asked if it was right to elect Starmer as leader given his role in shaping Labour’s Brexit policy in the 2019 election: “All of the party, the previous leadership of the party, were responsible for those decisions.”
  • She added: “I don’t think that is the only reason, or even the biggest reason, for our defeat in December.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called for the government to take equity stakes in firms, and warned that the Covid-19 economic crisis could be as bad as the 1930s if “we don’t get our act together”.

  • On the economy: “The jobs market is on red alert… The government can’t afford to stand on the sidelines and watch good firms go bust and jobs go to the wall.”
  • On government support so far: “What we’ve seen too often is a pattern of dithering: a PR announcement, rushed last-minute consultation, no planning, poor delivery – and instead what we need is a real, laser-like focus.”
  • Asked about the government’s ‘retraining revolution’: “What we need now is to make sure we can reopen the economy by making sure firms are safe… But also to have a jobs guarantee and targeted support for industries.”
  • On equity stakes: “One thought that we want the government to consider is taking equity stakes in firms… Too many firms are afraid of getting loaded up with debt, we don’t want to see them go to the wall.”
  • She added: “This is not the time to take the foot of the pedal… What we’ve got to do is make sure that we avoid the costs of long-term unemployment.”
  • On the recovery effort: “This could be as bad as the 1930s if we don’t get our act together and come together. We want to see the government setting up national councils – this should be a national effort for recovery.”
  • On the test, trace and isolate scheme: “Where is it? We need it up and running, that’s absolutely critical to the infrastructure to ensure that people are safe.”
  • On risk assessments: “We’ve argued, and the government have agreed, that risk assessments should be published… Too many firms and big high-profile names have not published their risk assessments.”
  • On schools not reopening until September for most children: “I would trace some of these problems, at least, back to that basic issue of meaningful consultation.”

Matt Hancock also appeared on the show. He would not confirm that the next stage of lockdown would end on July 4th, but said that the UK is “on plan” and that measures to ease the lockdown will be set out then if “safe to do so”.

The Health Secretary also suggested that people could have to register before going into a pub in the future, as part of measures that the government is considering introducing to ensure it is safe for the hospitality sector to reopen.

The Andrew Marr Show

With guest presenter Nick Robinson, Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth discussed Labour’s view on changing the two-metre distancing rule and on schools returning, as well as Labour’s 2019 election performance and how to win again.

  • On the news from Reading: “Absolutely terrible scenes and our thoughts are obviously with those who have lost loved ones to what looks like horrific murder.”
  • On changing the two-metre rule and ‘Independence Day’: “Two metres is quite clearly marginally better than one metre. Other countries around the world have imposed a one-metre rule, but those countries have tended to go for a broader range of mitigation measures… usually insisted on greater wearing of face masks, provided workers who are very public facing with face shields, they’ve usually got a better test and trace system up and running and an app up and running.”
  • On whether Labour would back the change to one-metre: “Yes, under certain circumstances. We also need to see a greater use of face masks, greater use of face shielding, let’s get testing and tracing up and running…. We cannot be complacent. If we’re going to relax some measures, we need to make sure other mitigation measures are in place.”
  • On children returning to school: “The reason children have not been going back to school in full in all years is not because of what Labour has said. It’s because the government and Gavin Williamson have failed.”
  • He added: “We want to work with the government to make sure all schools are safe. We want children back in school.”
  • On what would make Labour ‘get off the fence’: “We’re not on the fence. We’ve been saying from day one we want children in school because we know it’s hugely damaging for children not to be in school… The key things is schools putting in measures.”
  • On the Labour Together 2019 election review and his assessment of Labour’s performance: “Let’s be absolutely clear. We got hammered in that general election… Anyone who went on the doorstep knew that we were poorly received on the issues of leadership, but also that we weren’t believed about the programme we were offering the country – it was not seen as credible. We’ve got to accept that. But we’ve also got to ask ourselves as a party why the Conservative party have increased their vote share four elections in a row.”
  • On what Labour needs to do to turn around its chances: “I think we’ve got to show we’re in touch with the country. That we’re putting forward policies that the country wants and needs.”

Matt Hancock said the government would set out the details of mitigation measures businesses will be asked to take when reopening. On the app, he said: “We’ll get there.”

On breaking the distancing rules in the Commons by patting a colleague on the back: “It was just totally natural. This shows how difficult social distancing is. I know these rules inside out, I hadn’t seen my colleague for weeks and I really like him!” He added: “All I can do is say I’m terribly sorry for this momentary breach.”

On the ‘cash for favours’ story of Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who watched a promotional video on the mobile of developer Richard Desmond at a Tory fundraiser before overruling a planning inspector to approve the plans: “Mr Jenrick has put out a statement that is perfectly reasonable”.

MIL OSI United Kingdom