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James Cleverly – We are not ‘going to initiate’ a general election

4 August 2019

11:54 PM

4 August 2019

11:54 PM

Niall Paterson stood in for Sophy Ridge this morning, interviewing the Conservative party chairman James Cleverly. Paterson asked Cleverly whether billions of pounds worth of spending pledges outlined by new PM Boris Johnson meant that the government was considering an early general election. Cleverly insisted that the government would not be pursuing this course of action, despite a vanishingly small majority in the House of Commons:

NP: Tell me there isn’t going to me a general election this year.

JC: …We are not going to initiate a general election. We have elections all the time… What we’ve got is a new Prime Minister who, during the leadership campaign, made a number of explicit commitments… What we are ensuring is that the things that people have told us… mattered to them, we are delivering on.

New NHS cash will come ‘from economic growth’

Paterson moved on to the freshly announced £1.8 billion for the National Health Service, and how the government was intending to fund this latest injection of cash. Cleverly said that the government was investing now in order to increase tax receipts for the future:

Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly claims that “economic growth“ is what will help fund an extra £1.8bn for the NHS.#Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/HEORZkAfLz pic.twitter.com/r9HDokhsnT

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

JC: The money is coming from economic growth. This is why it’s so important that we keep the economy growing… That’s what gives us the tax receipts that enables us to spend money on… those domestic policy commitments that Boris has made.

NP: So this is future growth…?

JC: That’s why Boris is talking about ‘pump-priming’ the economy… to make sure we’ve got the growth the fund the public services that we want.

We are going to deliver Brexit – fact’

The conversation turned to the Conservatives’ performance in Thursday’s by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire, which saw the party lose the seat to the Liberal Democrats, albeit in a close contest. Crucially, the Lib Dems benefitted from a so-called ‘Remain alliance’, where the pro-independence Plaid Cymru and the Green party agreed not to field candidates. Cleverly urged voters tempted by the Brexit party to reconsider their choice:

“We are going to deliver Brexit by the 31st of October” – Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly says it is a “fact” that the Tories will deliver Brexit. #Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/HEORZkiEU1 pic.twitter.com/gpshYeT8IR

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

JC: We campaign in these elections because we want to win… My real frustration is that 3,000 people who voted [for the Brexit party]… have now got a Lib Dem MP, who is going to make [it] her cause to try and prevent Brexit… We are going to deliver Brexit by 31st October – fact.

We still want to leave with a deal

Cleverly confirmed that it was still government policy to secure a deal with the European Union if possible:

Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly says it is important to make sure a no deal Brexit “is deliverable” but the government “wants to leave with a deal”. #Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/HEORZkiEU1 pic.twitter.com/B8hXVwginO

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

 

JC: The Prime Minister has made it clear that we want to leave with a deal. And if the EU can demonstrate a degree of pragmatism and flexibility, that can be done… [But] we’re going to make sure that leaving without a deal is deliverable.

Jonathan Ashworth – Government has failed to deliver on NHS cash in the past

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth took issue with the Prime Minister’s latest announcement of a £1.8 billion increase for the NHS, arguing that the number was irrelevant if patients never saw the money:

“We’ll see if this money is ever delivered” – Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth doubts whether Boris Johnson will follow through with an extra £1.8bn funding for the NHS.#Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/ism4A08XW0 pic.twitter.com/FCiQmBh4Bq

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

JA: We’ll see if this money is ever delivered. Over the last 2 years, 145 separate announcements for new beds, new equipment [and] upgrades to buildings have been announced by ministers, totalling £2.5 billion. And only £100 million of it has ever been delivered. It’s sheer incompetence on behalf of the Health Secretary.


Labour will have ‘new funding settlement’ for NHS

Ashworth continued by saying that Labour would outdo the Conservative’s proposed spending on health, outlining his commitment if an early election took place:

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth promises Labour will “come forward with a new funding settlement” for the NHS if a general election is called.#Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/ism4A08XW0 pic.twitter.com/Tt530M48Je

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

JA: We, at the last election, said we’d want to invest another £10 billion in the capital infrastructure of our NHS… If a general election comes forward in the next few weeks or in the autumn, then we will come forwards with a new funding settlement for the NHS.

US trade deal would ‘force up’ drug prices

Ashworth said that a Labour government would refuse a potential trade deal with the United States if this meant any adjustments to the guidelines from NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), telling Paterson that it would mean higher costs for vital medicines:

Jonathan Ashworth MP says Labour will not sign a trade deal with America that would “force the NHS to buy US pharmaceuticals”.#Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/ism4A08XW0 pic.twitter.com/Y8WPL5lcMH

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

JA: The US have said that they want to force the NHS to buy American pharmaceuticals… at more expensive prices… We are not going to sign a trade deal with the US that would… smash up the regulatory regime that has served us well for many many years… Tory ministers should rule it out today.

No deal Brexit ‘will put lives at risk’

Ashworth confirmed that he would be working with MPs from across the House to try and prevent a no deal Brexit, including with disgruntled Conservatives. Ashworth told Paterson it was likely that some patients would lose their lives if a no deal Brexit caused significant disruption in supplies reaching the UK:

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth says Labour will “work to stop” a no deal Brexit, which he claims would be “disastrous” for the NHS.#Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/ism4A08XW0 pic.twitter.com/EaqiNCfuPc

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

JA: To push us out of the European Union at the end of October… on a no deal basis as we’re going into winter – which is always a difficult time for the NHS – it’s the height of irresponsibility… It will put lives at risk. That is the gamble that Boris Johnson is taking… He is playing with people’s lives.

Labour members ‘want Jeremy Corbyn to go on’

Ashworth defended Labour’s poor performance in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, where Labour only just managed to retain its deposit, winning just 5.3% of the vote. The disappointing result prompted the former Labour MP Pat Glass to say her party should ‘smell the coffee’ and elect a new leader. Ashworth said that Labour were in contention in important marginal seats:

“The party members want Jeremy Corbyn to go on and fight the next general election” – Jonathan Ashworth MP backs the Labour leader despite calls within the party for him to resign.#Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/ism4A08XW0 pic.twitter.com/Zi0QZC8DZL

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

JA: We lost [Peterborough] under the days of Tony Blair. We won it back in 2017 and we held onto it in a difficult by-election… the sort of marginal seats that will be a key electoral battleground… in the general election whenever it comes… The party members want Jeremy Corbyn to go on.

Henri Murison – Devolution ‘is a key step’ for the Northern economy

The Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership has argued for the maximum rollout of devolution and elected regional mayors across the whole of the North of England. Murison expressed his hope that, with Boris Johnson a former mayor himself, this might encourage him to look favourably on this proposal:

Director of the Northern Powerhouse Henri Murison says devolution for the north “is a key step” to help build skills and talent in the area. #Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/pQo2gDD2lK pic.twitter.com/Uq6dkrNE4q

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

HM: Devolution is a key step we need to take, because unless we unlock the Northern economy, even if we improve the infrastructure, we won’t have the skills and talent that businesses need… Rather than only half of the North having a directly elected mayor, we [need to] get to that 100% figure.

HS2 will unlock talent and growth

Murison also put the case for High Speed 2, a policy which is currently under review by the new government. He said that the combination of both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (formerly known as HS3) would lead to ‘transformative economic benefits’ for the North:

Director of the Northern Powerhouse Henri Murison backs the HS2 train network as it could help “bring talent” and “growth” to the north.#Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/pQo2gDD2lK pic.twitter.com/HrskBV4Atj

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

HM: It is more valuable because it will be linked to Northern Powerhouse Rail… That wider network when you plug it into HS2 will really rebalance the economy… The transport networks to get around and between our regions are absolutely appalling.

Claire Fox – Brexit party will continue ‘arguing for democracy’

Claire Fox, the Brexit party MEP for the North West of England, has defended her party fielding a candidate in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, despite the eventual result not being ideal for delivering Brexit by 31st October. Fox said that her party still had a vital role to play in public discourse:

Claire Fox MEP thinks it is “offensive” to ask the Brexit Party to “stand down” in case they take votes away from the Conservatives.#Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/pQo2gDD2lK pic.twitter.com/ECyujoZBld

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

CF: The role of the Brexit party continues to be to argue for a clean Brexit, to carry on arguing for democracy… The idea that anyone treats the Brexit party as a kind of junior wing of the Tory party that can be dismissed because we’ve ‘done our job’, doesn’t actually understand that there’s something more profound happening in British politics today.

Electoral pact with Conservatives ‘could happen’

And finally, Fox said that the possibility of the Brexit party forming an electoral alliance with the Conservatives at the next election was still very much on the table:

Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox does not rule out a potential pact with the Conservatives but says the situation is “complicated”. #Ridge

Read more here: https://t.co/pQo2gDD2lK pic.twitter.com/oVWOxv3WNK

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 4, 2019

CF: Of course it could happen… It depends on when the election is called. But can we just move away from this idea that any party owns Brexit?… There are a lot of people who are Labour leavers who think very strongly before voting for the Conservatives, so what I’m saying is, it’s more complicated that [us] simply being told to ‘go away’.

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