Mick Lynch: Toe-curling moment Tory MP tries to catch union leader out on live TV

·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read

RMT boss Mick Lynch has become the face of the rail strikes this week thanks to his scathing put-downs of journalists and politicians.

The union leader has repeatedly gone viral with his cutting rebuttals to claims he is both a union “baron” and a hard-left Marxist.

His latest viral moment came during a BBC Question Time panel in Stratford-upon-Avon when transport minister Rachel Maclean was caught out making an inaccurate claim about redundancies.

Read more: Rail strikes: RMT says more action to come if agreement not reached

After Lynch said that National Rail was refusing to guarantee that rail workers would not be subjected to compulsory redundancy, Maclean brandished a letter from the company to the union which she said was evidence that Lynch was wrong.

When requested by host Fiona Bruce to read out the letter from National Rail, Maclean said:

Rachel Maclean had to backtrack and admit the Network Rail  letter didn't actually guarantee there would be no compulsory redundancies. (BBC/Question Time)
Rachel Maclean had to backtrack and admit the Network Rail letter didn't actually guarantee there would be no compulsory redundancies. (BBC/Question Time)

"When the changes are implemented, our need for maintenance and work delivery staff is likely to reduce. We will need to commence formal redundancy consultation with our trade unions...

"Again, while we do not have to agree... while we do not have to agree those redundancies with our trade unions, we would much prefer to implement them with your agreement and cooperation.

"We very much hope and anticipate that sufficient employees will volunteer for redundancy to avoid the need to make anyone compulsory [redundant]."

Read more: British Airways strike: When and why are airline staff striking?

However, this immediately triggered a rebuttal from both Lynch and Bruce, who challenged the minister on her claim that the letter guaranteed non-compulsory redundancies.

"That is compulsory redundancy," said Lynch.

"It doesn't say it's 'guaranteed'," said Bruce.

Lynch went on adding: "It doesn't say 'no compulsory redundancies'... Network Rail gave us that guarantee for 12 years on the trot... It doesn't say what you [Maclean] said it said, that's your problem."

Mick Lynch told transport minister Rachel Mclean: "It doesn't say what you [McClean] said it said, that's your problem." (BBC/Question Time)

Maclean almost immediately appeared to backtrack: "Of course it doesn't [guarantee non-compulsory redundancies]."

It was the latest example of Lynch being on top of his brief.

This week, he has left multiple news presenters reeling with sharp comebacks in response to some bizarre questions.

When asked by Good Morning Britain Richard Madeley host whether he was a "Marxist", Lynch said: "Richard, you do come up with the most remarkable twaddle sometimes - I have got to say."

Read more: When is the UK train strike and which lines are affected?

On Kay Burley's flagship morning news show on Sky, Lynch accused her of "verging on nonsense”.

When asked why his Facebook profile picture was a picture of a character from Thunderbirds by Piers Morgan, Lynch responded: "Is that the level you're pitching this at Piers?...

"He's the most evil puppet made out of vinyl in the world, is that the level journalism is at these days?"

Mick Lynch criticised Piers Morgan's journalism after he spent a segment asking the trade union boss about Thunderbirds. (TalkTv/Piers Morgan Uncensored)

He also took on Tory MPs. On Newsnight on Monday, a Tory MP falsely accused Lynch of walking out of negotiations with Network Rail which was quickly shutdown by Lynch, who called him a liar 15 times.

“That’s a lie,” said Lynch. “That’s a direct lie.”

And on BBC's Politics Live, Lynch told Tory MP Jonathan Gullis: "I don’t want this disruption, I don’t want people to be inconvenienced and I want a settlement to this dispute.

Read more: 'Get a grip': Tory MP widely ridiculed for blaming rail strikes on Labour

"I can’t do that with a backbench MP who’s just learnt it off a script. We know what the issues are."

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