Dominic Raab clashes with BBC Breakfast host Charlie Stayt over Tier 3 lockdown talks: I’ll answer the questions as I like
The Foreign Secretary was speaking on the show this morning when Mr Stayt shut him down for bringing up the same point several times.
Mr Raab repeatedly criticised the divide in opinion among Labour politicians towards lockdown measures, pointing out the difference between Keir Starmer’s calls for a nationwide circuit breaker and Labour mayor Andy Burnham‘s relunctance to impose harsher measures on Greater Manchester without more financial support from the Government.
Ministers are working with local leaders to try and implement their new three-tier lockdown system, which sees geographical areas put under different alert levels and measures, depending on their rate of new infections.
While discussing the issue, Mr Stayt interupted Mr Raab to say he had given the same answer at least “three times”.
Mr Raab snapped saying that he would “answer the question the way I deem appropriate” and the pair began speaking over each other.
A technical error on the show led to more interruptions as Mr Raab, who was speaking over videolink from Surrey, answered with a slight delay throughout the interview.
Mr Stayt asked the Foreign Secretary why the Government is not immediately putting Manchester under a Tier 3 lockdown, especially when time is vital in the fight against the spread of Covid.
Mr Raab said: “We’re obviously holding reserve the ability to do that. We’ve strived with every sinew to work with local authorities. By and large that has been effective.”
He referenced London and Merseyside’s leaders coming to an agreement with the Goverment, before saying: “We’d like to get there with Andy Burnham and with Manchester and frankly all those other areas including Lancashire.
“In most places talks are ongoing but we’ve got to have a reasonable approach and a collaborative approach on both sides.
“You’re absoluterly right to say time is important because we know the disease is spreading in those areas.
“The right response is Andy Burnham to recognise that the financial package being offered is generous to follow and work with the government rather than just to pull up the draw bridge.”
Mr Raab continued to point the finger of blame towards Mr Burnham as he explained the reasons for the delay in a decision on Manchester.
He said: “It’s crazy. We have Andy Burnahm resisting local time pressures, then Kier Starmer in London calling for a national lockdown.”
But Mr Stayt quickly interrupted, saying: “I don’t want you to make that point again because it’s a point you have made three times now.
“I want to come back to the science if that’s ok and leave the politics aside for the moment.”
But Mr Raab then interupted to argue: “But it’s an important one. With the greatest respect, I’ll answer the questions in the way that I deem appropriate.
“You ask any question you like but I’m just pointing out that there is obviously a big discrepancy for what the Labour leaderships in various parts of the coutnry are calling for.”
Mr Stayt spoke over him again, saying: “Ok, I’m going to ask a question which is going to take us away from the politics.”
During the interview, Mr Raab repeatedly accused Mr Burnham of trying to “hold the Government over a barrel” by resisting tougher coronavirus restrictions.
He told BBC Breakfast: “Ultimately we need to take action – we can’t have a situation as we have seen in Manchester where Andy Burnham is effectively trying to hold the Government over a barrel over money and politics when actually we need to take action.
— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) October 16, 2020
“The cases there are 470 per 100,000 so it is very serious, and we must take action in the interest of the people of Manchester and the wider area, and if we take those targeted actions in those areas most affected… we get through this and we avoid the national level lockdown.”
He urged Mr Burnham to “do the right thing by the people of Manchester”.