Sophy Ridge on Sunday Interview with Andrew Gwynne Labour MP

Sunday 23 June 2019


SOPHY RIDGE: Now this week 26 Labour MPs wrote an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn urging him to reject calls by some in the Shadow Cabinet for Labour to back remaining in the EU. Well joining us now from Greater Manchester is the party’s Shadow Community Secretary, Andrew Gwynne. Thank you very much for being on the programme this morning.

ANDREW GWYNNE: Good morning.

SR: Before I get to Labour’s policy on Brexit I just wanted to get your view on the story that’s dominating the newspapers today about the police being called to Boris Johnson’s flat, is this a cause for concern or is it something that is a private matter that we should draw a line under?

ANDREW GWYNNE: Well 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. I mean I’ve had my run in’s with Boris, I infamously was almost tackled to the ground in the 2017 general election by this man but I just think his record throughout his time both as Mayor of London, wasting money on the Garden Bridge, wasting money on Routemaster buses, wasting money on water cannon that couldn’t be used through to his disastrous tenure as Foreign Secretary just renders him completely I think unsuitable to be the Prime Minister of our great country.

SR: Okay, well we’ll be hearing more from a support of Boris Johnson later, it does seem that people are very keen to give him a kicking this morning on the programme. Let’s move on to Labour’s position on the second referendum, this is something I know that a lot of our viewers will be very interested in so can you just outline, has there been a change and what is the position now?

ANDREW GWYNNE: Well there has been a change in the sense that we recognise coming out of the European elections and into the Tory leadership contest, that we are probably facing a hard right Tory Prime Minister who will want to run down the clock to no deal and let’s be very clear Sophy, the Labour party has always said that we are against a no deal Brexit scenario, it’s in our manifesto from 2017 …

SR: I know that, I’ve heard that many times but I’m just trying to get to the bottom of whether the Labour party position has shifted. Is the party now in favour of a second referendum in all circumstances?

ANDREW GWYNNE: Well Jeremy said that and that is because we face the risk of no deal so that any Brexit deal that is brought to Parliament, including a no deal scenario, we will say as the Labour party that there should be a second referendum on those prospects because, you know, it’s looking increasingly likely that we’re heading to no deal. That was not on the ballot paper in 2016, it is a real risk to the NHS, it is a real risk to manufacturing industry and I represent a constituency in Greater Manchester which is still heavily reliant on manufacturing industry and it is a huge risk to the security of our country because it tears up all of those security relationships that we have with Europol and Eurojust and the European Arrest Warrant and these are things that people who voted to leave did not vote to be made less safe and to have their country plunged off a cliff.

SR: You talk about your own constituency there which of course voted to leave the EU, I just want to ask you about something that you wrote recently after the local elections. You said in this piece, “It’s clear from the reaction on the doorstep that the talk about another referendum was a difficult message to explain to many of our traditional voters.” Is it a difficult message? You were concerned that perhaps some of your colleagues representing London seats that voted Remain don’t appreciate what a difficult message it is in some parts of the country.

ANDREW GWYNNE: It’s an incredibly difficult message because look, at the end of the day we put a question to the people and we got an answer in 2016 and Parliament has tried to negotiate its way through the mess that the government has created. We set out what we thought could be reasonable terms for a Brexit deal that would command a majority in the House of Commons but that time’s passed. We are not going to get Labour’s Brexit deal presented by Prime Minister Johnson or Prime Minister Hunt and so the realisation is that whatever they come back to Parliament with between now and October, we have to go back to the people and we have to say is this really the Brexit that you want?

SR: I’m keen to talk to you about some of the domestic agenda as well. There’s a report that was commissioned by the Labour party, published on its website, called Land for Many, it’s received some attention over the last week or so, so I just want to get to the bottom of whether or not this is policy that you are actively considering. One of the things that it references in this report in the Mail on Sunday today is that dropping the Capital Gains Tax exemption on family homes, in other words if you made over a certain amount when you sell your home, that would be taxed, is that something that Labour is considering?

ANDREW GWYNNE: No. Look, this report, it’s an important report, it’s independent of the Labour party, it’s been submitted to the Labour party as part of our policy considerations and our deliberations. There are some interesting ideas in that report but none of it forms Labour policy. We have got National Policy Forum processes to go through, we’ve got annual conference to go through, these are the bodies that set policy alongside the Shadow Cabinet and this report will help inform some of those decisions as we go forward but absolutely the ideas in that report are not Labour party policy.

SR: Another idea in the report is potentially replacing Inheritance Tax with something called a Lifetime Gift Tax, so all gifts that you give your children over a lifetime over a certain amount will be taxed rather than just in seven years before your death. Can you rule that out?

ANDREW GWYNNE: Look, it’s exactly the same answer, it’s a report that’s been submitted independently to the Labour party, it will go through the policy making processes but it’s the Shadow Cabinet, it’s the National Policy Forum and it’s annual conference that actually determines what our policy is. These are ideas that have been submitted independently, they are not Labour party policy.

SR: Okay, Andrew Gwynne, thank you very much for coming on the programme this morning.


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