BBC's Andrew Marr erupts after Starmer dodges Brexit questions 'Straight answer, please!'

The BBC’s Andrew Marr blew up at Sir Keir Starmer this morning, demanding some “straight answers” on Brexit. Andrew Marr grilled the Labour leader on questions around fisheries, state aid and yet another Brexit extension. When Sir Keir appeared to dodge the questions, Marr erupted: “A straight answer, please!”

Marr had asked Sir Keir whether he would back down to EU demands on fisheries and state aid.

The BBC host said: “To resolve this problem with the EU there are two things that can happen.

“Either there is agreement on the two outstanding issues, which is fishing and state aid.

“Would you agree that the EU position is right on that or would you like the UK to hold out against the EU?”

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Sir Keir responded: “I think those two issues are capable of resolution.

“I think the government should get on with negotiating instead of introducing legislation to breach the agreement it already signed.”

Marr continued to press: “If these talks break down completely, as they might do in the next few days, would you support an extension?”

When Sir Keir said “these talks don’t need to break down, Andrew,” the BBC host hit back: “A straight answer, please!”

He later said he was sceptical of the Government’s arguments on state aid because the UK does not spend as much on state aid as currently allowed under EU rules.

He pointed to the amount of state aid that Germany and France use, adding: “I think the question on state aid is why on earth are they not taking advantage of the rules as they are now?

“Germany and France do. If they are so keen, they should get on and use it.”

Sir Keir also told Marr that a second independence referendum would have to be “looked at” if the SNP win a majority at the next election.

He continued: “I think another independence referendum will be divisive and that’s why the Labour Party will be campaigning into the May elections on the economy and ensuring our public services are in the right place and defeating coronavirus.

“I am frustrated in a sense, that in the middle of a pandemic, we’ve got the SNP talking about independence, we’ve got the Tory party talking about Brexit.”

EU cracks under Brexit pressure as Irish minister loses it on BBC's Marr – 'Let me finish'

The Irish foreign minister was visibly furious during his tense interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr this morning. Simon Coveney erupted in anger at several points during the exchange, amid growing EU frustration towards Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan. At one point, Marr tried to interrupt Mr Coveney, prompting the Irish politician to fire back: “Let me finish!”

The fiery interview comes after the British Government put forward a bill that will rewrite elements of the Northern Ireland protocol included in the Withdrawal Agreement signed by both the UK and the EU last year.

Mr Coveney said the UK government’s actions had created “enormous tension” in the negotiations in the “very little time left to get a deal”.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs said “trust has been damaged and eroded” between the two sides and blamed the “hugely irresponsible” actions of the British Government.

He also accused No10 of whipping up “inflammatory language” after Boris Johnson’s claimed that the EU had threatened to block goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain.

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Mr Coveney denied this claim, saying it was entirely “spin and not the truth”.

He added: “I think this is backfiring and we’ll see what happens in the British Parliament this week in terms of debating this approach.”

Marr pointed out that Ireland has a lot to lose from giving up on Brexit trade talks, explaining: “You are saying that trust has broken down, but isn’t it true that Ireland and the EU need these talks to succeed?

“A no deal would be catastrophic for Ireland. One study showed 50,000 jobs would be lost from your economy very quickly. Don’t both sides need to get on and come to an agreement?”

Iain Martin, columnist for The Times, tweeted after the interview: “Coveney performing very poorly under pressure from Andrew Marr.”

The SNP’s Pete Wishart responded to this, tweeting: “Hahaha! He’s calmly outlining the difficulties in negotiating with a rogue state.”

Mr Coveney confirmed that he has not yet spoken to any cabinet minister,  but said he hopes to speak to Michael Gove in the coming days.

Prime Minister Johnson has warned that an agreement on trade must be done by 15 October, or he will “move on and walk away”.

Boris is fighting 'to rescue Brexit' from 'sinister' EU-Remainer plot – BBC's Adam Fleming

The BBC’s Adam Fleming told Andrew Marr that the Government launched its controversial new Brexit bill this week in response to the “extreme positions” that the EU had taken in talks. He made the remarks after discussing the Sunday Telegraph’s leader during the newspaper review on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. The newspaper’s leader urged MPs to back the Internal Market Bill, despite fierce criticism from the EU and a brewing revolt among Tory MPs.

Earlier today, former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Sir John Major joined forces to urge Parliament to reject Boris Johnson’s “shameful” attempt to override parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Mr Blair and Sir John accused the Government of “embarrassing” the UK.

BBC’s Adam Fleming said: “I was surprised when I talked to people in this new Government about how much they hated the Brexit withdrawal deal and how committed they were to protecting UK sovereignty, and how unprepared they were to give any of it away.”

Marr pointed out that the Withdrawal Agreement “was a deal Boris negotiated and signed himself”.

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BBC’s Adam Fleming said: “This is like talking to a senior member of the Government, reading this leader in the Sunday Telegraph.

“It is laced through with regret and pointing fingers over the deal.

“They suggest it is Remainers from the last Parliament, in league with the sinister EU, who foisted a bad deal onto Boris Johnson, who is trying to rescue it now.”

Marr responded: “So, the Government thinks that after the EU signed the deal they have acted in bad faith?”

The original Telegraph article read: “Ultra-Remainers still afflicted by a hysterical determination to always see the worst in Britain, have accused the Government of turning the country into a pariah state.

“Throughout the Brexit negotiations, the EU has been motivated by a sinister determination to retain as much power as it can over the UK, in defiance of the votes of 17 million people.

“Early on, Brussels realised that the delicate issue of Northern Ireland could be used as a mechanism by which to neuter our negotiating position and undermine Brexit itself.

“European negotiators are attempting to use whatever leverage they think they possess, including the Northern Ireland Protocol, to chain the whole UK to EU rules in perpetuity.”

The Internal Market Bill will be debated in the Commons on Monday.

BBC's Katya Adler explains how EU diplomats think they have uncovered Boris' ultimate plan

The BBC’s Europe editor claimed EU bosses believe the Prime Minister is accusing Brussels of threatening the UK and jeopardising peace in Northern Ireland in a bid to persuade the Conservative Party that reaching a deal in the autumn is the best option. Ms Adler tweeted: “Opinion amongst EU diplomats is broadly that IF PM is talking about EU threatening integrity of UK endangering peace in NIreland etc IN ORDER to eventually sell idea to Tory party that doing a trade deal with EU this autumn is the best way to avoid all this .. then ‘so be it’ say EU diplomats.

“General consensus here is that they’re not bothered how PM dresses up or presents a deal as long as there is one.”

Her post comes as Mr Johnson attempts to push through controversial legislation to override parts of the Brexit deal he reached with Brussels last October.

In a Twitter thread, the BBC’s Europe editor said both the UK and the EU have “played hardball” in post-Brexit trade talks.

But she warned Brussels sees the UK Internal Market Bill as breaking international law rather than “negotiating hardball”.

Ms Adler added: “EU attitude right now is to continue trade negotiations with UK to try to conclude a trade deal but if internal market bill becomes law in UK and is enacted by the government, then EU could suspend the trade deal.”

Her tweets come as the Prime Minister attempts to win backing for his UK Internal Market Bill.

A number of Conservative MPs have condemned the Brexit legislation, which could break international law by flouting the Withdrawal Agreement.

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He added: “Let’s remove this danger to the very fabric of the United Kingdom.

“Let’s make the EU take their threats off the table.

“And let’s get this Bill through, back up our negotiators, and protect our country.”

Mr Johnson on Friday held a conference call with around 250 MPs to drum up support for the Bill.

Both Ireland and the EU have warned the Prime Minister’s plans pose a serious risk to the peace process rather than protecting the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking this morning, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove backed the Prime Minister’s message.

He told BBC Breakfast: “We’re doing our part – generously – to help protect the EU’s own single market but we’re clear that what we can’t have even as we’re doing all that is the EU disrupting and putting at threat the integrity of the United Kingdom.

“These steps are a safety net, they’re a long-stop in the event, which I don’t believe will come about but we do need to be ready for, that the EU follow through on what some have said they might do which is in effect to separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.”

EU revenge plot: BBC's Katya Adler exposes Brussels' plan to wipe out UK industries

Despite emergency talks between the two sides, the UK Government has rejected EU demands to scrap the legislation that Brussels deems a “clear breach”.

Adler said that the EU was still negotiating on trade with Britain, because Brussels knows it can use this deal to punish the UK down the line.

She explained: “Both sides say they want a deal, that it is in their interests to have a deal.

“The EU has said, we will go ahead and try to get a deal, we managed last-minute concessions last time around with the withdrawal agreement.”

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The BBC journalist added: “Those concessions can always be dressed up as victories – we have seen that before.

“The EU suggests it is difficult, that time is running out, but it is not inconceivable.”

However, Adler warned that the EU has also outlined a series of threats and punishments that they can wield if Boris Johnson defies Brussels.

She explained: “Along with its threat of legal action over the Internal Market Bill, the EU is saying that in the withdrawal agreement, there is an arbitration dispute mechanism that they trigger if they need to.

Adler added: “They could take away any extra agreement, such as financial services, which is so important to the UK.

“Financial services may trade in the EU single market, and the EU can take away those permissions or Brexit licenses at any moment.

“That is what the EU is threatening and why they are still pursuing the trade negotiations.”

Adler later tweeted that Brussels is also having to talk tough on Britain’s breach of the withdrawal agreement in order “to send a clear message to EU members that break/threaten/dance around EU regulations and the rule of law .. eg Hungary, Poland.”

She added that the EU was hoping that the “brewing rebellion amongst some Tory MPs plus opposition in House ofLords will kill the Internal Market Bill in current form”.

BBC's Katya Adler explains why panicked Brussels fears Boris will walk away from EU talks

Brussels is suspicious that the internal market bill, which the Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis admitted would breach the law, was designed to collapse the talks.

Katya Adler told BBC News: “The EU asked for emergency face-to-face talks so that they could be told what exactly Britain plans to do with the withdrawal agreement they signed in January.

“The EU is not happy. The Commission President has already said that this proposal undermines trust.

“There is talk here in Brussels that the EU could even take legal action against the British.” 

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Adler continued: “But this is also understood as tactic. The French trade minister said it is a part of a game of bluff.

“It is assumed by many here to be an attempt to put pressure on Brussels just as EU-UK trade talks are really coming to a climax.

“I have spoken to EU diplomats who have said they will still pursue trade talks with the UK, that they still want this deal.

“But the atmosphere was already so bad before today that speculation that the talks could break down all together is beginning to get louder.”

A leaked EU legal opinion suggested that Britain has already breached the withdrawal agreement by tabling the internal market bill.

The European Commission believes the UK breached the terms of the treaty simply by taking the first steps to pass a law that would negate key parts of the agreement signed last year.

This has prompted Brussels to draw up planned legal action against the UK. 

The Commission has even told the 27 EU member-states that there are grounds for the bloc to take “legal remedies” through the European court of Justice before the end of the transition period.

'That can't be right, Andrew!' Raab in fiery clash with BBC's Marr over EU's Brexit stance

BBC One host Andrew Marr played the devil’s advocate for the Brussels bloc as he reminded Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab the EU is accusing the UK’s negotiating team of failing to compromise in the Brexit trade talks. Reading out EU negotiator Michel Barnier’s latest statement, Mr Marr said: “You say it’s the EU’s fault as it were. Michel Barnier says ‘the UK has not shown any willingness to compromise on fisheries, has refused to engage on credible guarantees for open and fair competition.

“‘Where the EU has shown openness to possible solution, the UK has shunned our offers’.”

But Dominic Raab furiously hit back: “So just factually, on the question of open and fair competition we’ve agreed to sign up to what Canada did and other countries who negotiated a free trade agreement with the EU.

“So that’s not true.

“On fisheries, let’s just look at this for a moment, having seen UK fisheries and the UK fishing industry pretty much decimated as a result of EU membership, the EU’s argument is we should keep control and access to our own fisheries permanently low.

“That can’t be right, Andrew.”

He added: “So look, we want a deal, the arm of friendship and goodwill is outstanding.

“It is the EU on those two issues (state aid and fishing) – and it’s really only on those two issues – that must now move.”

More to follow…

'Pathetic': Woke brigade refuse to accept defeat after BBC's Rule Britannia climbdown

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg celebrated the news by playing a snatch of Rule Britannia on his mobile phone in the chamber of the House of Commons – but others were much less impressed. Author Derek McMillan tweeted: “The BBC had backed down on the issue of jingoistic claptrap.

“Patriotism is the first second third and last refuge of a scoundrel. Own goal BBC.”

Janet Martin added: “They should have stuck to their guns.”

Another user said: “Pathetic climbdown. At least I won’t have to listen.”

Meanwhile a fourth said: “The lurch to the right is complete. Time to change the channel…”

The broadcaster had previously said the pieces would feature without lyrics, following controversy over their perceived historical links with colonialism and slavery.

However, both will now be performed by a select group of vocalists.

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In a speech in Parliament at the time, he said: “I do think this country is going through an orgy of national embarrassment about some of the things that other people around the world love most about us.

“People love our traditions and our history with all its imperfections. It’s crazy for us to go around trying to censor it.

“It’s absolutely absurd and I think we should speak out loud and proud for the UK and our history.”

A spokesman for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was the “right decision” but that “enjoying patriotic songs does not and should not be a barrier to examining our past and learning lessons from it”.

A spokesman for the BBC Proms said: “The pandemic means a different Proms this year and one of the consequences, under COVID-19 restrictions, is we are not able to bring together massed voices.

“For that reason, we took the artistic decision not to sing Rule, Britannia and Land Of Hope And Glory in the Hall.

“We have been looking hard at what else might be possible and we have a solution.

“Both pieces will now include a select group of BBC singers. This means the words will be sung in the Hall, and as we have always made clear, audiences will be free to sing along at home.

“While it can’t be a full choir, and we are unable to have audiences in the Hall, we are doing everything possible to make it special and want a Last Night truly to remember.

“We hope everyone will welcome this solution. We think the night itself will be a very special moment for the country – and one that is much needed after a difficult period for everyone.

“It will not be a usual Last Night, but it will be a night not just to look forward to, but to remember.”

BBC's Naga Munchetty in stitches amid chaotic Radio 5 interview with Sir Iain Duncan Smith

Naga Munchetty couldn’t help but break into a fit of giggles live on-air as she was confronted by a bizarre sound. Filling in for Emma Barnett on Radio 5 Live, the BBC presenter had been grilling senior Tory MP, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, about the Government’s latest U-turn on school exam results. However, throughout the interview, strange clinking noises could be heard in the background, leading Ms Munchetty to investigate at the end of the conversation.

She asked the former Cabinet Minister: “One thing has puzzled me throughout this conversation, Sir Iain Duncan Smith.

“Were you unloading the dishwasher or were you making a cup of tea or were you putting together a bowl of cornflakes?”

Sir Iain informed his host: “No, though I am in the kitchen to be fair.

“The plate has been moved away from me, I’m sorry.”

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The pair burst out laughing still live on-air before Ms Munchetty assured him the noise hadn’t been too bad.

She said: “It’s absolutely fine, I hope you had a good breakfast.”

Sir Iain admitted that it had been a healthy breakfast.

The BBC presenter joked that he should “keep it going”.

Sir Iain also defended Education Secretary Gavin Williamson who is now facing calls to resign from the Cabinet.

The MP said: “I think when you’re in a situation like that you get very close to it and make decisions about it.

“Ministers are human, they cleave to their position because they feel that they’ve got it right, and the others got it wrong.

“I always go back to the simple principle which is in pretty much everything you do you need to ask yourself what the worst that can happen is, how that will work out and how to avoid it.

“They thought they’d avoided it with the issue of the algorithm, but I think technical solutions don’t work exactly as they think because people aren’t like that.”

BBC's Emma Barnett in huge clash with Pimlico Plumbers boss over Rishi Sunak's 'mistake'

Appearing on BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Mullins claimed the Chancellor had made a “mistake” by extending the coronavirus furlough scheme until the end of October. The Pimlico Plumbers boss argued the scheme should have been terminated in July, allowing companies like his to force employees to go back to work for the summer. But BBC host Emma Barnett confronted him: “A few weeks ago Martin Lewis the Money Saving expert was on this programme complaining about furlough shaming.

“Basically blaming people who have been told not to go to work. Do you worry that what you’re saying today could sound like that?”

Mr Mullins replied: “Look, everybody is entitled to an opinion, I’m just being honest.

“Why should I wait until October and then say to these people you haven’t got a job no more and then you’re going to have massive unemployment coming up for Christmas.

“This is giving them an opportunity to start looking for a job elsewhere or retraining.”

As the BBC host pointed out to him that Boris Johnson was forced to backtrack on the easing of lockdown measures because of an increased number of cases in the country, he blasted: “Okay, but what do you do about that?

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“Nobody seems that worried when they go on the beach or they go to a barbecue about social distancing.

“But all of the sudden they get worried because the go into the workplace.”

More than £50 billion of loans to businesses hit by COVID-19 have been approved so far, the Treasury said.

This includes, up to August 2, £33.34 billion in bounceback loans for 1,135,575 businesses.

The Government, which is guaranteeing the vast majority of the loans should they not be repaid, added that £13.08 billion has been endorsed through the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) and £3.27 billion through the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme (CLBILS) to larger firms.

A total of 537 convertible loans have been awarded through the Future Fund, totalling £534 million.

“Small firms and their staff need to be confident that the infrastructure is there to tackle this virus.

“We were promised a world-beating Test and Trace system, and such a system is integral to getting businesses firing on all cylinders again.

“While most have benefited from direct government support, many have not. Thousands of directors and newly self-employed people have been left with no help for months now. As we look to the autumn, the Government needs to think carefully about how it will help those who have been left behind.

“Bounce Back Loans have provided critical cash injections for huge swathes of the small business community. Firms now need a guarantee that they won’t have to start making repayments until they’re making a profit. Such a pledge would give them the confidence to invest, recruit and expand today rather than hoard cash for fear of what’s coming down the line.”