Jo Coburn is joined by MPs Liz Kendall and John Redwood to discuss Brexit immigration controls, government plans to restrict disability benefits and the proposed sugar tax.
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Hello and welcome to the Daily Politics.
The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says a "soft coup" is under way
against Jeremy Corbyn by "elements in the Labour Party".
We'll ask former leadership contender Liz Kendall
The Government faces criticism for changes to disability benefits
after the head of Theresa May's policy unit said the payments should
only go to "really disabled people", not those "taking pills at home,
The Home Secretary Amber Rudd all but confirms the Government
will introduce curbs to freedom of movement from the EU
once the Prime Minister triggers Article 50.
And while the world of showbiz was glued to the Oscars last night,
MPs in Westminster celebrated the British Kebab Awards -
we'll hear from the MP who had the mouth-watering job
And with us for the whole of the programme today the former
Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall, and the
Let's start with the government's plans for controlling
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, was asked on ITV's Peston On Sunday
programme about speculation she's looking at introducing
A lot of different options that the Home Office is working on.
It would be a mistake for me to go any further than that at the moment.
There's going to be two years of negotiations and preparation.
We can't give comments every week, but we're looking at all
One thing I can confirm is we will be ending freedom
Otherwise, we're looking at all sorts of different alternatives.
John Redwood, is freedom of movement is going to end as we know it once
Article 50 is triggered, how would that work in practise? What we'll be
looking at Is a scheme. We discriminate with the rest of the
world in a way we can't with the EU. We are not trying to block talent.
That is not going to be a problem. The problem is, too many people
coming in to pick up very low-paid jobs, keeping our wages down and
making it more difficult for us to get people settled here into jobs.
I'm sure there'll be a work permit system there. It won't be ready by
March 16th, let's take that as the day after Article 50 is triggered.
How will that work as a process being able to tell who arrived after
that date? I think it would be a good idea to say to anyone thinking
of coming to Britain from the EU after we've sent the Article 50
letter that once we have left, there will be new rules applying and you
could keep a list of the people if you wish to do so. We'll have to see
how the Home Secretary wants to proceed. It will be difficult for
police and Immigration Services how to know who to deport if people have
arrived afterwards and are still able to get the jobs and in-work
benefits perhaps at that point, if they don't know who has come in and
when? They'll need to know who has come in obviously and there would
have to be a system where you say to people, we have left the EU so apply
for a work permit for the future. As we have heard, the Government is
still working on this and in due course they'll announce policy.
They've got a bit of time to put it in but it would be good to have it
up and running for a time when we have left the EU. Are Labour in
favour of a move that stops British workers being undercut? I don't want
to see British workers undercut. What I think is interesting is some
of the proposals being put forward by backbench Labour MPs like Liam
Byrne. He's looked at how you might extend the points-based system for
people outside the EU to people inside the EU. He published a paper
last week and that called for the independent migration advisory
committee to set quotas for low-skilled jobs sector by sector,
backed up by a transformation of skills and training for British
workers, for example through the apprenticeship levy to make sure
they can get jobs. But crucially, it also called for freedom of movement
to remain for scientists and students because that's vital if we
want to build the knowledge economy of the future and for the Government
to do far, far more on helping refugees, particularly child
refugees. So there are a number of proposals around at the moment and I
think Liam's proseles are ones that are worth looking at -- proposals.
Do you back John Redwood's view? I don't think John is clear what the
Government is going to propose, neither is Amber Rudd. She implied
the kerbs would start immediately. Are you broadly in favour of that?
Freedom of movement is going to change when we... End she said? A
system which keeps the high skills we need to Go grow the economy in
the future which is also fair and enforceable. There are proposals out
there at the moment which, building on Labour's points-based system, is
one option that should be looked at. Do you think John Redwood there
needs to be a database of some kind so that we know where all the
foreign nationals from the EU are coming in from and when they
arrived? Well, you may need to do that or it may be that you just say
after the date that we have left the EU, people who're not British
citizens will need a work permit whether they come from the EU or not
and you could ask the employers to check whether they have one.
Ministers have been clear on the record, we have made clear we want
to keep ourselves open to tall enand people coming in with well-paid jobs
and big businesses. That is not the issue. The issue is the sheer
numbers and weight of the numbers coming in to take low-paid jobs. How
do you think immigration will fall after we trigger Article 50 from the
EU? No idea. It's fallen a little bit in the run-up to it. They said
it was a statistically unimportant... Unrelated to Brexit
and Article 50, no evidence that it's anything to do with that. I've
no idea and I'm reluctant to forecast a firm number. I can
understand that on the basis of the tens of thousands... If it's fallen
before we leave the EU, that is welcome. But if we have a workberg
mitt style system, the numbers will fall. If there are limits to in-work
benefits which of course the Government would be able to do once
we leave Brexit, what impact do you think that will have on the numbers
of EU nationals coming here, will it deter people? I think a lot of
people will still want to come and live and work in this country
because we are an amazing country with great opportunities. I think
the Government's promises of reducing immigration to the tens of
thousands, people just don't believe It because it hasn't worked. We need
to get a fair balance between the economy and what is happening in the
country. David Davis said he thought it would be years. Didn't think
levels of immigration would go down in the short-term. He said it
wouldn't happen for a long while. People will rightly feel that the
promises aren't being delivered as quickly as hoped. Many people will
want to see levels of net migration or immigration come down. If it does
deter tens of thousands of EU nationals coming here when we look
at the numbers in the NHS in the care industry and retail, that will
have a detrimental effect on the sectors, won't it? We have just
agreed that we don't want to put people off who have qualifications.
So you are going to make allowances for those? We'd make special
arrangements for people with qualifications and who're coming in
for high value-added jobs. Seasonal workers for agriculture may be a
case for that. It's construction though, there's services,
hospitality, and I think this is the problem here, is that many companies
fear they are going to face this cliff edge, they are not going to
have the workers they need. Their businesses will suffer. At the same
time, we are seeing the Government cut things like the NHS bursary
scheme which is so important to training British young people to get
the jobs they need in the future. The devil really is in the detail
here. And will British workers do the jobs that are left vacant? Yes,
I think they will and there has to be a reduction after we left the EU
and there'll be a work permit or similar system to make sure there is
a reduction. But of course it needs to be flexible, where there is real
need, and we can not supply the labour internally. We need to put
the wages up in some cases though because people aren't doing it
because the wages aren't very good and we need to train and educate
people to a better stand so they can do the jobs. So you would call for
higher wages for those sectors? That is the way to get staff if you are
short of staff isn't it. Yes. But they have to be earned, so you need
a more productive workforce and may need more technology and investment
behind that workforce. A lot of big companies are generating huge
amounts of cash at the moment, maybe they ought to think about investment
in training and standards for their staff where they are not doing
enough and putting enough machine and computer behind them. All right.
Ukip donor Aaron Banks has told the party's leader Paul Nuttall
he wants to be party chairman to "sort out" the party
Today's question is, in his interview with
the Sunday Express what did Mr Banks say the party cannot
Or D - a poorly organised party in a brewery?
At the end of the show, Liz or John will give
The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has claimed that a soft coup has
been launched against Jeremy Corbyn by elements in the Labour Party.
In an article he wrote for the Labour Briefing website
before the Copeland by-election, but only published on-line last
night, Mr McDonnell says the plotters are distorting
the media coverage and using an exceptionally well-resourced dark
arts operation to destroy Jeremy Corbyn and all
His comments come after a weekend of public argument at the top
of Labour over how to respond to the by-election
Deputy Leader Tom Watson told the Scottish Labour Party conference
now is not the time for a leadership election, that issue
But he added that those at the top of the Labour Party "need
to have a long hard look at ourselves at what's not working.
The former acting Labour leader Harriet Harman told last night's
Westminster Hour that the thing about being leader is,
the buck stops with you Shadow Attorney-General Shami Chakrabati
Shadow Attorney-General Shami Chakrabati
I think sometimes we haven't had the fairest or most balanced
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has asked for more time
to develop his policies, telling the Guardian newspaper that
policymaking is longer and slightly more cumbersome than calling
in a few experts into my office to tell me what the policies should be.
And speaking at Scottish Labour's spring conference in Perth
yesterday, Mr Corbyn said it's not the time throw in the towel.
We haven't done enough yet to rebuild trust with the people
who have been ripped off and sold out for decades and don't always
But now is not the time to retreat, to run away or to give up.
We've been joined by the shadow international trade
Welcome to the Daily Politics. Is there a soft coup under way against
Jeremy Corbyn, as John McDonnell alleges? Not as far as I'm aware,
Jo. So why has he said it? I think this was frustration. You will
recall that there were the interventions by, you know, the
Labour grandees just before the by-elections. I think he... Talking
about Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson? John obviously got on the
late-night typewriter, as it used to be, and out of frustration penned
this. It came out at that stage, I think everybody in the Parliamentary
Labour Party that I know from Liz right the way through to Jeremy is
saying, look, let's get together, let's show unity, but more
important, let's go out and talk to the public. Right. Let's listen to
them and talk to them. But you say he didn't really mean it and that
might have been credible if he'd written a tweet in frustration, as
you say. He has penned a fairly lengthy and extremely detailed
article which he would have had to have thought long and hard about, so
I ask you again, why does he say there is a soft coup under way
against Jeremy Corbyn? Look, I think he was very frustrated, I think he
has retracted it since then, saying this was something that was borne
out of frustration, that it was because... . So it's not true that
he believes there is a soft coup, he isn't saying it's been perpetrated
by an alliance between elements in the Labour Party and the Murdoch
media empire, both intent on destroying Jeremy Corbyn and all
that he stands for. He retracts that, does he? Well, look, I haven't
had the distinct pleasure of reading the Labour Briefing, I'm not a
normal reader of it and I haven't read the article, but I think this
was written for a section within the Labour Party and clearly it was
written out of frustration that John felt. He has retracted it, he's said
look, it was wrong to put that out and he wants now to focus on what I
think all of us in the PLP ought to be focussing on, and that is uniting
the Parliamentary Labour Party and listening to the country so we can
better do our job of opposing the Government. Do you think it was
responsible for John McDone to pen this article when he did and talk
about elements in the Labour Party? Coup perpetrators at this time round
pursuing a covert strategy? This is the first I've heard of it
and I've no idea what he's talking about. Nobody should be fighting
phantoms. I think that there is a desperate yearning in the country
for a strong and effective opposition. Absolutely. People are
crying out for a Labour Party that they can trust on the economy and
who has got a clear plan and alternative on jobs, wages and
public services. Are Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonell providing that?
That's what they need to do now. We all know the difficult situation
we're in. We need a clear strategy to change where we are going forward
because people do want to see a Labour Party that they can trust,
who shares their values and who they believe can set out a positive and
unpatriotic vision for Britain's future. How helpful is it, then, to
have these words printed by the Shadow Chancellor post the Copeland
and Stoke by-election, Copland which Labour lost after 80 years, where he
says the coup is not being waged upfront in public but strictly
behind-the-scenes? Having learnt the lesson of the last coup attempt at a
direct attack on Jeremy Goggin and his policy will ensue a backlash...
How helpful is that? He was the it is helpful but Casey has retracted
it. Is it helpful as Shadow Chancellor to make these sort of
accusations against people in his own party? What I really want to see
our Shadow Chancellor doing with a budget coming up next week is
showing our alternative, how we are going to spread jobs and growth at
every part of the country, how we are going to make sure the half of
households who face a decade of stagnating wages will be able to get
on in life, how we are going to transform our NHS and fight the Tory
cuts to school funding. That is what John, the shadow economy team and
every member of the PLP should be laser focused on over the coming
days. You are not part of a soft coup? S no. Do you know anyone who
is? Identity top is he making this up? I don't note it up is he deluded
to make up his accusations in such detail? You are trying to get me to
say something and I'm not going to. We have got to meet people's
desperate desire. What effect will this have on the Parliamentary
Labour Party when he talks about elements within Labour? Was he
talking about Clive Lewis, who has had to deny that there were websites
put up talking about his leadership bid very shortly after he joined the
Shadow Cabinet? I don't think so. I think is talking about people who
are no longer part of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I think
he was frustrated that the Labour grandees from yesteryear had come
out publicly before the by-election in a way which, actually, not only
to John but too many members of the PLP thought was unhelpful to have
done that immediately before Stoke and Copeland and I think what you've
got to understand is that John McDonell is somebody who has history
with those people and he probably conceived of it and perceived it as
an aggressive act to which he wanted to respond. More importantly, he now
thinks it is a mistake. Chitty come out in praise of the PLP to my? He
has already publicly said he retracted. I think Liz is absolutely
right. We as the Parliamentary Labour Party need to focus not on
ourselves any more. We are double talking about ourselves. We want to
focus on the things that mattered to the public. Let's talk about those
because is Copeland a freak result as far as you're concerned? Many of
the Labour leadership team seem to imply that. Or has the party under
Jeremy Corbyn become more repugnant than a Tory government closing a
local maternity centre, as the head of Progress? I don't think it is a
freak. I hope it is a freak result but I don't think it is in anyway
something that has simply just happened by chance. This a long-term
process of those seats, that part of England, where we've seen more
automation of jobs, more insecurity in jobs, more zero hours contracts.
But this is a Labour heartland, as you know. Is this a failure of the
party, just not taking responsibility of its own failures?
There have been seven years of a Conservative and Coalition
government and austerity measures throughout, yet how do you explain
that Labour is still trailing 14 to 18 points in the polls? Gob of you
quite rightly say this is seven years of Conservative
administration. The Conservative administration has seen those wages
for those people stagnate. And they are angry. But in areas like
Copeland and the North, Labour is often seen as the party of
administration, the party of government, because it has been an
local government for so long and they have had a Labour MP for so
long. Many seats like that are associating the pain that they are
feeling, the insecurity that they are feeling, with the party. They
blame Labour and not the Government? Exactly. What we need to be doing is
coming up with not just saying it is all the government's fault, we need
to be coming up with the answer is that they believe are credible.
Clearly they don't believe you will come up with the answers or they
would be voting for you. Jeremy Corbyn says you need more time to
develop policies. Is he developing the right sort of policies? Are they
going the right direction? Sometimes I think we in the Labour Party love
lots of policy detailed. Don't get me wrong, unless you've got
something clear, simple and credible, people won't back you but
I think it is more about whether people believe we stand for them,
whether we share their values about work, responsibility, about
fairness, about paying in before you get out, about decent support, great
schools and how we are going to run the economy in a way that is fair
and makes sure everybody sees their benefits of growth. And Labour is
not doing that? From my conversations with people, they
don't believe we are a strong and effective opposition and they are
not convinced they can trust us on the economy and on security. Do you
think Jeremy Corbyn should be given more time to do that? Do you think
it will come to a state of play where people will trust Labour on
those issues? I think he will be given more time and the
responsibility on all of us is... What's happening at the moment isn't
working. We are not doing anywhere near well enough in the polls on the
by-election results were catastrophic. Something has to
change and I think that is showing people, what is Labour for? How will
we back people's aspirations for themselves and their families and
deliver great jobs and decent public services? Unless they trust us on
that and believe we are a proud unpatriotic party that stands up for
Britain at home and abroad, they would support us. -- proud and
patriotically atop do you agree with Harriet Harman, who said the buck
stops with Jeremy Corbyn was I think the buck stops with all of us who
are in leadership positions in the PLP. No Labour MP should think, it
is the leadership of the Shadow Cabinet. We are, all of us, the
leaders of the Labour movement, in particular the leaders in our own
constituencies and areas. We have to show the leadership and unless we
all do that, I don't think there is any point in blaming one or two
individuals at the top. It is our responsibility. Unity is strength is
a mantra which has to cut both ways. Thank you.
The Government is facing criticism today from all quarters over plans
announced last week to make changes to who qualifies for a benefit
Personal Independence Payments, or PIPs, are weekly payments that go
to people with a disability or a long-term health condition.
The Government is rolling out PIPs to replace a former payment known
The Government was required to widen the eligibility
criteria around PIPs, to include more people
with psychological problems, after two tribunal rulings.
But ministers say that doing so would cost the taxpayer
So instead they're legislating to change the rules around PIPs.
Ministers say that there will still be a strong safety
net for disabled people after the changes.
George Freeman, the Conservative MP and head of Theresa May's policy
unit, got into hot water on this issue yesterday.
In a BBC interview he said that money should go
to "really disabled people", not those "taking pills at home,
Those comments were condemned by the Labour Party.
John McDonnell said they were "an insult
And the shadow minister Louise Haigh accused the Conservatives
of being "in the gutter trying to shame those in desperate need".
But George Freeman hit back at those critics.
He said he had suffered from mental health problems in the past
and didn't "need any lectures on the damage anxiety does".
And he's also said this morning that he "regrets" it if his comments
Let's get the latest on this now from our assistant political
editor Norman Smith, who joins us from Central Lobby.
So, an apology of sorts from George Freeman because of all the flak that
he and the Government have received over his comments. Yeah, he says he
hugely regrets any offence caused. In a way, Mr Freeman, it seems to
me, almost by the by, and the government are in an almighty mess
regardless of his comments in part because disability benefits is one
of those issues where the Government has repeatedly come a cropper. You
think most recently of George Osborne's budget when he had to
backtrack on his plans for cutting PIPs and I think that began the
unravelling of the Cameron - Osborne government. They are in trouble
because of the way they have done this. They announced this on the day
of the Copeland and Stoke by-election. Whether by design or
default, that looks like they were trying to sneak it out when all of
us were looking elsewhere. And they're in trouble, out, because of
the way they've tried to do this, by amending regulations. What that
means is they are acutely vulnerable to the House of Lords putting down a
fatal motion and what that means is if the House of Lords voted against
these changes, they're dead, it is over, which would mean the
Government would have to introduce primary legislation to carry through
these changes and I was speaking to one former Cabinet minister who said
to me, there is no way of this parliament approving any legislation
on benefits. So the stakes really are hugely high for the Government.
There has been criticism from all quarters, including Tory MPs. Will
that put enough pressure on perhaps them deciding to widen the
eligibility in the way that they've been told to do by the tribunal? I
think this is a moving picture in the sense that as of now, they're
saying this costs far too much money, ?3.7 billion, which is an
upward ratchet, if you are going to give PIPs to people suffering from
dementia and other mental illnesses, it has gone to go up and up, and
disability has been going up and up for decades so they don't want to do
that. Then again, if you're going to lose anyway, and I think there is a
real chance they will lose in the Lords, in part because peers, if
they have to cave in over Brexit, will want to show they're still
tough and independent and willing to stand up to the Government, they
choose to put down a marker on this. If you are going to lose anyway,
better to concede in the budget and lose in the Lords and have to pay up
the cash anyway. Should the Government widely eligibility, as
they've been instructed to, by the tribunal rulings that they should,
in the future, include people with mental illnesses? I'd want to see
the detail and I think the Government accepts people with
mental illnesses often have a very serious condition and we need to
help them. They haven't accepted it in terms of letting them have money
through PIPs. I think they have. The issue is which group of
circumstances qualified. I don't think they're saying that we don't
want anybody with mental health illnesses qualifying. One of the
reforms announced was to have people with mental conditions equally
eligible to those with physical conditions. I've got an assurance
from ministers that nobody who has received a PIPs payment from the DWP
so far will lose it or have it cut. These are about future payments. It
is important to tell your audience out there that nobody who has
approved payment is going to get it cut and I certainly wouldn't be
voting for cutting existing payments. The issue is whether we
widen the criteria, compared with those which the government thought
it had put in. I would like to see the details and I'm sure my
colleagues were. But they are spending 50 billion a year and we
need to be generous to those with serious disability, weather and
mental or physical condition, and let's see what they come up with by
way of a specific proposition. They just feel it is going to wide.
Wasn't acceptable for George Freeman to say it shouldn't go to people
taking pills that time who suffer from anxiety? As I understand it,
George has said he didn't mean any harm by that. He didn't mean any
harm but he didn't retract what he said. You must ask him. They were
not my words. But I'm asking you for your reaction to those words. Do you
think that is acceptable by someone who was the head of policy unit at
Number Ten to say money should go to really disabled people, not those
taking pills that I'm? They are not my words and I don't wish to repeat
it and he must explain that. Liz Campbell, you are shaking your head.
I mean, the polite way to put it is that George Freeman's comments were
ill-advised and ill informed. I have looked at the detail of this and the
people who the tribunal are saying should get a PIP are people with
dementia, schizophrenia, epilepsy, learning disabilities. And instead
of ignoring the very serious criticisms of PIP that the tribunal
is have made, the Government should be listening. But the whole PIP
system is a mess. I have had a constituent who was diagnosed with
terminal cancer. He had to wait eight months before he got anything.
He was told at that stage he would not get extra help for daily living,
then he had a stroke. As circumstances change, they
reassessed and got rid of his enhanced mobility component. I have
been fighting this for a year. That was presumably an error. This
happens time and time again. But this is about eligibility. There are
mistakes that me but let's be clear, this is about the criteria that will
be used for future claimants. At the moment, nobody will lose PIP money,
as it stands. This is about the Government being asked to widen the
eligibility rules to include people with the sorts of conditions you're
talking about, rightly or wrongly. Do you think they should widen it?
Nell to pen this article when he did and talk about elements in the
Labour Party? Coup perpetrators at this time round pursuing a covert
strategy? Yes, I do. But my point is wider, the PIP system isn't working,
the Government needs to have a fundamental review of that as well
as accept the tribunal courts rulings about extending eligibility.
You would extend the money then by ?3.7? Yes. Where would you find the
money? The Government has a huge budget that it can look at. There
are all sorts of different decisions they could make, I think this is
just and fair and right and they should do it. The Tory MP has said
she'd find the money come what may. Isn't there a level of hypocrisy
John Redwood when the Government and Theresa May herself say there should
be parity of esteem between physical and mental illnesses and then the
Government sneaks out, which is how it will appear, to the public and to
the Houses of Parliament on the day after the by-election, the fact that
they are going to change the rules so they don't have to widen the
eligibility? I think the Government will say that they are trying to
keep the rules as they intended them to be and as they thought they were
being applied. There is now the issue posed by the court - should we
be more generous and I'm open-minded, I would want to see how
generous, what it would cost and what cases it would cover.
Individual cases may have been wrongly judged and we all feel very
sad about that and that's about competence, it's not about the
rules, and then there's this separate issue about the rules. I
didn't come into politics to be unkind to the disabled and I'll want
to be persuaded by the Government that this change... Does the
Government look like it's being unkind with the changes? That's
where I would want the see the detail but having listened to them
today before doing this programme, that is not their intention. Their
intention is to have more generous benefits for those who're disabled
and the PIP system now is better than the previous system was. Liz
Kendal, you have said you would want to find the extra money. Who would
do that? Government could make huge numbers of different decisions...
Sure but there would be a choice here? May I say the Government's
taken a choice to cut inheritance tax for the very wealthy. What is at
the heart of the tribunal's decision which the Government hasn't grasped
is that physical and mental disabilities are not two separate
things, you need to look at the two together. Unless the Government
grasps that, it's not going to get the support that people rightly
need. As you understand it, John Redwood, what is PIP for, what is
the allowance actually supposed to do for people who're disabled? Well,
it's to pay for the extra costs that the disability creates that they can
have a more normal life like the rest of us but they need extra
support. Daily living and mobility and the tribunal made decisions
about both the issues. For people with schizophrenia and severe
depression. What will the money do? Give them the enhanced mobility
component which may include support for somebody to help them go out and
standard daily living, people need to medicate at home or monitor their
health at home say for instance with diabetes, people need support with
that. It's simple if you understand the reality of what it's like having
a physical, mental or learning disability. You need extra support
to live with that condition at home and to get out and about. That's
what the court's said. Do you think this is going to be difficult to
actually introduce because of what Norman Smith said, that if they are
going to introduce change rather than primary legislation, it could
be guillotined in the Lord's? I think they've got to have a package
which enough people think is fair and reasonable and these are
difficult judgments. It isn't you've got one party that doesn't want to
pay money to the disabled and others do. Liz Kendall would clearly pay
that money? That's my view. We all agree we want to be sensibly
generous to disabled people who have serious problems and compensate them
to the extent that money can. But there Haas to be a limit, you have
to be able to say, you qualify for the lower rate, so we are arguing
about the marginal cases at the edges of the current PIP
allocations. I'm sure a lot of fair minded people in the Lords and
Commons will want to look at what the Government has to say and say
yes, that's a sensible view or it's too tough and should be looser.
The imposition of a sugar tax on some soft drinks will move
a little closer in next week's budget, when the Treasury
announces how much the rate of the levy will be.
Celebrities like Jamie Oliver will be happy -
they've been campaigning for action against childhood obesity such
But for Dia Chakravarti of the TaxPayers' Alliance,
the proposals are regressive and don't actually make any sense.
In just over a week's time, the Chancellor,
in his budget statement, will tell us exactly how much
tax he will be slapping onto some sugary drinks.
A great win for the nanny state champions but the rest of us?
For a start, this tax will hit the poorest families hardest.
The so-called consumption taxes, like this one and ones on,
say, tobacco or alcohol, hit poorer families harder
because they pay a greater portion of their income in these taxes.
Hardly a recipe to help hard-pressed families.
What makes the plans even worse is that evidence suggests
So, while the consumption of drinks like these might go down,
these drinks are exempt from the scheme even though
People will just get their sugar fix from somewhere else.
There's plenty of evidence from abroad that it doesn't work.
They introduced a tax on sugary drinks in Mexico
not that long ago and, yes, the consumption of these drinks
did go down and the number of calories also went down -
People simply got their calories another way.
You can potentially tax people away from cigarettes
because the alternatives to them, like e-cigarettes or nicotine
patches, are actually healthier than tobacco,
but that's not necessarily the case for the alternatives
A study in America found that a similar tax resulted in a rise
in the sales of beer - hardly the alternative we're after.
And even if it did work, is it really necessary?
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that obesity has actually
peaked and it is public information campaigns that actually are more
effective in bringing about a real change in people's lifestyles.
This is just an ill-considered way for the Treasury
to raise some money, but hurting the poorest
So, while our politicians, in their smugness, can pick up one
of these sugary drinks on their way to more nannying, tax-free,
anyone buying these sugary drinks will be penalised.
A lot of drinks manufacturers have already lowered the amount of sugar
in their drinks to avoid higher taxes so in effect the levy has
worked. This has been happening for a long time so by DEFRA's own
figures, sugar consumption peaked around the 70s and since then we
consume about 20% less sugar, since 1992, we consume 22% less sugar so
that's been happening for quite some time. We can't say it's happening
because of this. Is it necessary to have a sugar tax? Yes, I would like
to see stronger restrictions to advertising, a public health
advertising campaign and more investment in things like child
support. Look, the reason we have to do this is obesity related illnesses
are costing the NHS ?6 billion a year and obesity is a huge problem.
This isn't a silver bullet but I think as part of a measure of things
it could make a real difference in bringing obesity levels down. As the
Taxpayers' Alliance, surely you would be happy at any move reducing
costs for the NHS and obesity Kay cording to public health England
costs the Government billions? If it worked there would be a good
argument for it. What is your evidence that it doesn't work?
People who are bringing this in think it wouldn't work. In the words
of one of the most vocal advocates of it, it's just a symbolic slap on
people's lifestyle. We know it's not going to work because the
Government's already spent the ?520 million it wishes to raise from it
because we know that people's lifestyle doesn't change that way.
The alternatives here are not necessarily healthier, as is the
case with say alcohol for example and tobacco. The alternatives may
well be healthier, that's not necessarily the kiss here. Although
we have seen a massive drop in the number of people who smoke. If you
look at the figures in Mexico which you cited, there is a 5.5% drop in
the first year, 9.7% drop in the second year and actually, from what
I've read, the health impact is not yet known but that severe drop in
consumption must be a good thing? It would, but again it doesn't work to
the extent that we wish it to work. Another example would be the fat tax
in Denmark which they spent about 200 million Kroner in bringing it
in, it simply didn't work. 15 months later, they completely scrapped it.
They found that people had gone into neighbouring countries. I don't
think it's a silver bullet but it's part of what we have to do. People
like your good severals are always against any good intervention by the
state. My preference is always to limit sugar, fat and salt in food.
If you want to sprinkle more shuck a ah on your Frosties, fine but what
is the alternative? Public health campaigns which have worked. The
money's been cut from quite a few public health campaign budgets. This
is the point, if sugar consumption peaked in the 70s, we have been
doing something right. Our sugar intakes are rampant. This is an
important point here Jo, the politicians with the greatest
respect to the both of you, get seduced by the idea of being seen to
do something. Let's... John Redwood...
ALL SPEAK AT ONCE. The evidence is though that the
poorest families are going to get hit the hardest. Reseduced by the
pressure lobby campaigns on this issue of putting a tax on sugary
items like fizzy drinks? We have heard two very powerful advocates
today and there's good in both and I think it's absolutely right, we have
got a major obesity problem and diabetes problem and anything to
highlight that will help to deal with it. Will it work? It's quite
right that before the Government takes action, it's got to make sure
there is evidence to say this will have the desired impact. What it's
clearly doing is creating the public conversation. I think you agree with
me that that's probably even more important to have the public
conversation so people understand they're damaging their own health if
they go to extremes. The evidence is stark, you got it from health
professionals and also celebrities and Cancer Research saying what the
numbers are of those who could avoid getting diabetes. Would you support
this being broadened further to include other items with high levels
of sugar? There is some impact. I respect expertise but there are an
awful lot of the spot forecasts as we have seen with Treasury and Bank
of England and IMF forecasts that are wrong and you have to be
critical about what they do when trying to apply knowledge. This may
be another case where it might be unlikely that they have the exact
number right. Milk shakes, high sugar coffees and other drinks are
exempt? That is a proob. One other big issue is how much sugar is in
anything, a lot of it is hidden -- that is a problem. Unless you obsess
about the nutritional information. I would like to see a simpler way of
labelling food. You are talking about fruit juices as well. How many
things are going to tax. Jamie Oliver said it was a symbolic slap.
To people like Jamie Oliver, that bit of extra money paid in tax
doesn't really count but it does to many poor families and that's the
issue here, I can't believe the politicians aren't hearing this. Are
you proud that it's a Conservative Government bringing this in? I'm
proud that they are looking at the problem but I find in the
supermarket I value the extra information but it makes it a
long-winded task trying to buy things because it's not presented in
a similar way on each packet and there are so many things that
experts say are damaging to us, it's tempting to say I'm in a hurry, I'm
going to just buy this. If the extra tax goes on something that's really
important, I think that would make a massive difference. Sports for
example. We have make sure the extra tax, the revenue is tied with
getting kids active and moving again. It can't possibly do both,
can't raise the revenue and have an impact. It could. Greater proportion
of the poorest families money in tax, that's all it's going to do.
Let's take a look at the main political events expected this week.
This afternoon, members of the House of Lords
continue their consideration of the Article 50 Bill,
which paves the way for Theresa May to kick off Brexit negotiations.
Votes on amendments are expected on Wednesday.
This evening, former Conservative prime minister John Major
makes his first public statement since the referendum
last summer in a speech billed as being about "the realities that
Britain and Europe face in the future".
On Tuesday, the British Chambers of Commerce
John McDonnell and George Osborne will be there.
Wednesday, as ever, brings Prime Minister's Questions.
Watch it live here on the Daily Politics.
Thursday is polling day in Northern Ireland
after a scandal brought down the last government there.
And on Friday, we turn to Scotland, where the Scottish Conservatives
And to talk about all that, we're joined
by Kate Devlin from the Herald and Harry Cole from the Sun.
Welcome to both of you. Sorry about your umbrellas and being outside.
Hope it's not freezing! Harry Cole, what about the Lords and the
amendments that they are going to be looking at? Do you think those are
going to pass in terms of Article 50 changes? I expect they probably
will. The Labour and Lib Dem peers, with the help of people like Lord
Heseltine, are increasingly confident that they have the numbers
to attach a fuel amendments back and send the bill back to the Commons
but the Home Secretary let the cat out of the bag and confirmed
yesterday live on TV, it is not going to make the slightest bit of
difference and it is very unlikely the Prime Minister will accept these
amendments. I don't think there's a huge appetite for an extended ping
pong, as they call it, so I think we will see the Lords their point, add
an amendment, whether the government accepted or not is up to the
government, but I don't think it will drag on in quite the epic
battle song would like to see to it there is more Brexit news. Are we
likely to see a Tony Blair style intervention from John Major or
something less controversial? I think probably a bit more supported
it up they are speaking to different audiences. Tony Blair was speaking
to primarily Labour and Lib Dem voters who did want Brexit and voted
against it it up John Major argued very, very strongly against Brexit
but he knows as a former Conservative Prime Minister, he will
be speaking mainly to Tory voters who overwhelmingly backed leaving
the European Union. It will be a slightly more subtle argument trying
to set a bit of a pass for the kind of Brexit that the pro-European
Conservatives want to see. Do you think, or how much, do you think it
is going to anger Brexiteers in the Conservative Party? Brexiteers in
the Conservative Party ten to get angry at the drop of a hat. We've
had one Tory MP declare that Heseltine should be fired from his
minor role advising the government on business strategy. Brexiteers are
going to get angry regardless of how sensible their case is and that's
been the case for many years and one person who knows how angry the Tory
party get on Europe is John Major. Yes, he has a bit of experience in
that regard! When a former Prime Minister speak... John Major really
pixies moments and he will be heard with a dignity. -- picks his
moments. Is he howling at the moon? I think he probably is. He said the
case for a second referendum is very credible. I don't think that will
happen. What do you think the atmosphere will be like at the
Parliamentary Labour Party meeting tonight? The first after the
by-elections? We are not expecting Jeremy Corbyn to be there and even
if he was, it wouldn't be the kind of bloodbath I think you would
expect. Lots of Labour MPs really now believe that what they have to
do is kind of quietly oppose the leadership and not cause these big,
massive rows between the PLP and Jeremy Corbyn that you've seen in
recent months. One of them said to me today, when somebody is failing
this badly you just let him get on with it. I can hear the rain coming
down and you are probably drowning out their! Sorry about this. Harry
Cole, what do you think it is going to be like tonight? Cake is right
that everyone has been told not to mention leadership elections.
Absolutely. They call it the Gareth strategy because one of Jeremy
Corbyn's aids in a candid moment in a documentary, called Gareth, said
that if any of his enemies want to fail, they should just keep quiet
and let him do it himself. There are some die-hard Corbyn critics like
John Woodcock who is in a neighbouring seat to Copeland, who
is very angry and worried about his own future prospects but we have
seen a concerted efforts to keep a lid on it. It is so the core
blisters can't turn around and say, it is just the evil, right wing PLP
unsettling Jeremy. It will show it is the incompetence of their own
leadership. Today in another example, we've had Shadow Chancellor
John McDonell who yesterday called for unity, saying everybody should
get behind the leader, and then last night and article was published
accusing Labour of being in cahoots with the media for a soft coup. I
think the Parliamentary Labour Party should sit back and watch the chaos.
We've heard from Barry Gardiner that he has retracted that article. That
makes everything all right! Just to inform you. Many people including
myself will have woken up to the sad news that Gerald Kaufmann has died
aged 86. Have you managed to speak to MPs at all today? They will be
coming back to their constituencies -- from their constituencies, and
Ken Clarke will take his place of the longest serving father of the
House. One of the things MPs are paying tribute to is the wit of
Gerald Kaufmann. Something that in more modern times in the House of
Commons has appeared to be lacking. He really was one of those MPs who
showed how much you can achieve in politics by a sense of humour. Thank
you very much. To rush inside! Gerald Kaufman, because obviously
you knew him. Yes. It was very sad news. He was very waspish and witty
but he was also, in person, very kind and always very willing to give
advice and you learn a lot from him over his years of experience. It was
always very measured and balanced but as that reporter said, he was
very waspish and witty and always a joy to listen to. I felt very sad
about that this morning. Quite a colourful character in the House,
not just in the way he dressed. Will you be listening with bated breath
to John Major's speech? I doubt it's. We spent the whole referendum
campaign with most of the big names, all the experts and institutions on
the wrong side, as far as I was concerned, and the fact that a few
of them haven't switched back doesn't surprise me and I doubt if
there will be new arguments. I think the Government is doing a very good
job on Brexit, we need to get across our message that we want to be
friends with everyone on the continent and trade with them and
have all sorts of collaborations with them but Leave does mean no
European court, no budget contributions, no open borders that
we don't control. I think what will be interesting is that there are
many people who supported Remain who now want to get onto, what does a
good Brexit look like for jobs growth, workers' rights and
environmental standards? My hunch, although I don't know, is that that
is what he will focus on - how do we get the best? Because there are very
different views and options for what kind of Brexit there is. Not
stopping Brexit? There isn't just one option. I know you've got an
option you want but there isn't just one option. I think what John Major
and others who love the EU and these kinds of institutions could do for
us as a country is to direct their comments to the European Union
because, in practice, whether we have to impose minimum tariffs or we
go tariff free will be a call that they make. We would like to be
tariff free. But there might be some momentum with Tony Blair... Can you
just listen to me for a minute? An issue where the Vote Leave and pain
felt very strongly. We want to assure everyone in Britain who has
come here illegally that they can stay to talk we have no wish to try
and get rid of them and I think it is probably illegal in international
law. Why can't be EU say the same thing? We must stand up for EU
citizens living on the continent. Mrs May is quite right about that.
John Major should address his remarks to the EU. You are meant to
be a Bastia decent values and you can't even say that you will secure
the rights of Britain's settled on the continent. Why couldn't she have
done it unilaterally? She has to represent Britain's interested top
the tone of both sides is important to adopt we are in a negotiation.
Why is it... Let Liz speak. Some of the things she has said have really
riled up Europe and vice versa and if we're going to get through this
and have a deal that works for Britain and the rest of the EU, the
is very important and I think that maybe what John Major tries to set.
And you can watch the entire Lords debate on Article 50 from 2.30 this
afternoon by pressing the Red Button on your TV remote.
While the showbiz world was glued to the Oscars last night,
in Central London, MPs flocked to another glitzy awards ceremony.
The annual British Kebab Awards took place in Westminster with dozens
of politicians in the audience and two on the judging panel.
Hopefully they didn't make any mistakes in this one.
MPs were keen to say they weren't supporting the event just
Really importantly, a lot of employment,
a lot of opportunity, and it's wonderful to actually
But, also, this helps fund a really important think tank,
the Centre For Turkish Studies, as well.
I think they're an amazingly important awards ceremony,
celebrating what is very good about Britain and that is
eating takeaway food and supporting the local economy.
This is the second time I've come to the awards and I'm
delighted that I was able to nominate my
I can't hear anything because everyone is looking at the food! Who
says MPs are not attracted by the offer of free food?
The Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, one of the judges at the awards
last night, is with us, as is Ibrahim Dogus
At least you didn't make any dreadful, jaw-dropping mistakes, I
assume! It ran like clockwork! Maybe you could give some advice to the
people who run the Oscars. Ibrahim Mihlib make that sort of the six.
Five years ago, he approached me with an idea. He is a brilliant
entrepreneur, restaurateur, sadly a member of the Labour Party but we
won't hold that against him! We are talking about the kebabs at this
point! He, five years ago, said, I've got this idea, the industry
employs about 20,000 people, ?2.8 billion. Lots of entrepreneurs,
manufacturers of products. We have the first one in Parliament,
standing room only, in a committee room. Now it is many people in the
Plaza hotel. Is going to continue? It will. This is just the fifth
year. Why are they so successful? Wires the British kebabs... This
poor man can't speak! Why are kebabs are so important? It has been
important UK for many years. The first kebab restaurant in Soho was
established in the 1940s so it is about 70 years now so it continues
to become a national dish in the UK and those enrolled in the business
are mainly small and medium enterprises. You are a fan of
kebabs, aren't you? I made it about last night and it is not winning any
awards but it did the job. John, any of these take your fancy? I'm sure
they will. No, I'm not sure they will. You might have to fight with
everybody else! What is it that pomegranate? It is a mixed salad,
which goes well with the mixed grill, Donner kebab. Oh, look,
fingers! Good for you! You are supposed to eat it with your
fingers. Are you feeling a bit peckish?
There's just time before we go to find out the answer to our quiz.
The question was, in his interview with
the Sunday Express what did Ukip donor Arron Banks compare
Or D - a poorly organised party in a brewery?
I have no idea. Whelk stall. You think it is the whelk stall? I think
it is deep. It is the jumble sale! At least you are concentrating!
Thanks to Liz, John and all my guests.
And to you for bringing in the kebabs. Well done for a fifth
successful event. At