"Come back on when you've read the Budget," Eddie Mair tells Shadow Treasury minister

11 March 2020, 18:29 | Updated: 11 March 2020, 18:31

This is the extraordinary moment Eddie Mair questioned the Shadow Treasury minister on today's Budget and suggested the MP should "come back on" once he'd actually read it.

"Your party has accused the Conservatives for decades of wanting to run down the NHS, of wanting to privatise the NHS," said Eddie, "Here we have a Conservative government who says the NHS will get a blank cheque. Do you applaud them for that and do you agree your analysis was wrong?"

Mr Dowd responded that the NHS will get every cost it needs "during the coronavirus" but this will be "very short-term."

Eddie challenged, "But does it sound like a party that wants to privatise the NHS if it's going to give it whatever it costs on the biggest public health crisis facing us in decades?"

Mr Dowd said that in relation to the coronavirus the government will give the NHS whatever it needs but "when the coronavirus goes away, it still leaves the NHS with a massive funding gap for what it needs."

Eddie repeatedly questioned why the Shadow Treasury minister couldn't give the government credit for their response during this pandemic as "this is the biggest public health crisis facing the country."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivers his Budget in the House of Commons, London.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivers his Budget in the House of Commons, London. Picture: PA

The Shadow Treasury minister said that this Budget still doesn't leave the NHS with enough money it needs in the long term.

Eddie then asked whether he approved of fuel duty being frozen for another year and Mr Dowd said "eventually these matters will catch up... eventually you'll have to get revenue for somewhere."

Eddie admitted concern that Labour's views on freezing fuel duty wasn't clear and Mr Dowd said he wouldn't get "drawn in" to specific policies and wanted to take a view of the 119-page Budget "in the round" before commenting.

"Why did you come on then?" asked Eddie, repeatedly challenging Mr Dowd to give his view, "I'd really just like to know what you think that's all. Maybe the better thing to do would be to not come on today and come on tomorrow when you've had a chance to read all of it."

Mr Dowd insisted, "I want to focus on a rational response to the government's proposals and as soon as I have all the information I'm happy to discuss anything with anybody.

"Then we would love to have you on as soon as that day comes," Eddie said.