Richard Madeley slams Labour MP for 'avoiding question' over rail strikes



Sultana joined Good Morning Britain's Richard Madeley and Kate Garraway on Tuesday's show, where she was questioned by Madeley about Network Rail disruptions caused by strike action. The first 48 hours of strikes began on Tuesday, while a second lot will begin on Christmas Eve. Madeley scolded Sultana on the ITV programme for "avoiding the question" as she argued in defence of the strike action while he claimed those striking are being "unkind".

The Coventry MP tried to explain why she believed strikes are necessary, but Madeley was keen to find out why they couldn't be pushed back until after the festive season.

"To do it at Christmas seems to be an act of unkindness," Madeley argued.

"Why couldn't all these strikes, the same number of strikes over the same period of time, be moved into January?

"Why does it have to be on Christmas week? Why does it have to be today?

"It is destroying a lot of people's personal Christmases and it didn't have to happen.

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"And it's destroying quite a few businesses - a lot of restaurant and bar owners are saying they're going to go down this Christmas. 

"They're not going to make the money that sustains them for the rest of the year. It seems almost sadistic to have picked this week."

"This didn't have to happen," Sultana replied. "If the transport secretary was willing to meet union leaders to get a deal at work -"

"But why now?" Madeley cut in. "Can you just address the question? Why Christmas?"

The MP responded: "The cost of living crisis has got worse. People simply can't pay the bills. There is an unprecedented economic crisis..."

"I'm not avoiding the question," Sultana disagreed, to which Madeley continued: "You are. Why Christmas?"

"I'm saying that this has continued and it isn't just a one-off, it is a series of strike action," the MP went on.

"Well isn't the answer to the question that you're not happy to provide me with that actually it has more impact at Christmas?" Madeley fumed.

"It gets much more publicity and has much more impact."

"Strikes have to disrupt because otherwise, they are not doing their job," Sultana stated. "They have to force negotiations to take place and for the demands to be met."

"Of course they do," Garraway agreed before Madeley insisted Christmas was the wrong time for strike action.

He commented: "But there was a Christmas truce in the First World War. They actually stopped shooting at each other for a few days.

"I mean, Christmas is a time to actually set disputes aside, couldn't they have done it for a week?"

"The government is who you should be focusing this on, who haven't been goodwill partners in this," Sultana replied.

Good Morning Britain airs weekdays from 6am on ITV.