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tv   Newsnight  BBC News  March 16, 2018 11:15pm-11:45pm GMT

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back to salisbury. what do you think about how this nerve agent was him to be their? this is creeping forward incrementally. on monday i spoke about one of the novichok agents, a234 and the possibility it had been released into a car. today we heard the russian ambassador of being quoted by tass, saying that this was indeed the agent ever talking about any salisbury context. we also saw today the car of mr skripal being removed from the tow truck yard where it had been since it happened and ta ken away. it had been in an air—proof tent there to try to contain any contamination. police are still saying officially that they still don't know it was the car when the poison
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was released but there was a tremendous amount of emphasis on the car. i don't believe they found contamination in the home which would tend to undermine the suitcase and various other theories. it has not been subject to that. and people are not saying that there is contamination in the home so that is why it goes back to one o'clock on that day when they are believed to have got in the car. that was the real period of danger that the police are looking at. and they are looking to try and get the opcw involved now. that is the international watchdog, the un, the monitoring and enforcement council. and a few things have come out. they have put out a statement saying that they are looking into these novichok agents. so there are confirmation
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that they know these things exist and that they are modelling up on them but most stocks were declared to have been destroyed so that has to be seen in the context of russia when opcw certified that they had destroyed all of their chemical weapons and nobody ever said that they had novichok and some russian officials have said that was not included in that early 90s chemical weapons convention but the opcw said that today this is a real chemical weapons that we consider to be banned by the terms of this key treaty. to look not goaded. so who's winning? i'm joined by an security expert and russia watcher edward lucas, and kori schake, former adviser to the us pentagon and national security council.
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both are in no doubt the russians are behind the salisbury attack. we are talking about what their objectives would be. you think putin is working to some sort of game plan? what is he trying to achieve? one is it that it was at the end of the election campaign, painting the outside world out to get russia, the west misbehaving. and the idea of these efficient russian spy killer is going round the world bumping people off. he also likes britain's isolation at a time when it has difficult relations with europe and with america and trump because of brexit. but of course what you ought to be implying as a result of this
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is to cut off the city of london, the property market and financial system generally to dirty russian money and that is something they don't want to do, because... so this political model that britain is following, are they enjoying it by the sound of it? i think particularly borisjohnson as foreign secretary and gavin williamson ‘s coming out with these sententious things, if the worst we can do if we we have had a chemical weapons attack on our soil was to push out press releases and make statements either on our own with our allies... this is kind of about testing
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in britain and those kinds of things. absolutely, that is exactly right. what the russians are trying to do is use our western free societies as a means of undercutting our societies and they have mostly succeeded. is this to strengthen his power domestically? to divide and rule? i think it is both of those things. it is to distract domestic russian attention from the failures of the russian economy and the failures of domestic governance in russia and also everywhere that they can to try and divide western allies, to try and undercut the confidence that we have in our own governance and systems of government. is britain and the west's response, is it almost plain to the,
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are replaying fully to what putin is designing? i think clearly this is kind of a whodunnit, a howdunnit, and a whydunnit, and what are we going to do about it? and i think the government is not really going to take the sort of steps we need, and we don't have the lies. if we weren't really series it would notjust be britain throwing out 23 russian intelligence officers. it would be 30, a0 allies, all of nato and the eu collectively throwing out 700 russian intelligence officers. that would make an impact, that is what we ought to be doing. i think that free societies are slow to mobilise and it requires consensus.
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i give the british government, i think it was careful in how it described what was happening. it went to allies and institutions in the international order, it could not get ahead of itself. it left the russians exit ramps if they wanted it and the fact that they did not take them, help stodel. so what was the exit ramp that the russians had, what was the way out? first, it was not described as an armed attack so it did not trigger nato's article five. it gave time for the russians to explain themselves. there were explanation is that the russians could have given. and it left open the possibility that somehow they had lost it. president trump was quicker signing
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responsibility to the russians than prime minister me was. maybe they are enjoying keeping is guessing. but i don't think they thought, let's try and back off. i think the russian reaction may come at an unexpected time and be of an unexpected nature as well. there were some name—calling. they were calling gavin williamson a vulgar old harpy. you are talking to someone who spoke to the leader of north korea
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as rocket man. so it could be that standards are falling. it could be that the russians are trying to trivialise this. and that western politicians, maybe they need to understand that russia as an adversary because russia is behaving like an adversary. we will leave it there. one question that arises out of salisbury is whether britain has been too willing to offer itself up as a comfortable home the very wealthy russians, often close to president putin. "don't ask, don't tell" seems to have been the policy in regard to the origins of russian wealth coming into london. and there has been a discernible reluctance to use that wealth as a diplomatic weapon. it's not just russians that we have been nice to, by the way. remember the london school of economics had taken money from colonel gaddafi's son, saif, and given him a phd. if we are a soft touch, is it because some parts of our establishment are too easily impressed
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by the riches of foreigners? john sweeney now looks at one example, the social connections of russian aluminium magnate 0leg deripaska. and a warning — this report starts with flashing images. every summer, the haves and the have—yachts converge for very private holidays. in 2008, russian oligarch 0leg deripaska sailed to corfu for one. lord mandelson was there. so, too, was george osborne. it caused a bit of a do. i didn't break any rules, but i think i did make a mistake, and i think in politics it's not just what you say or what you do, it's how things look, and i have to be honest, this didn't look very good. there were all guests of financier nat rothschild, who owns this villa on the island. what happens in corfu stays in corfu. that's the deal. but there was a leak. a newspaper was tipped off that lord mandelson had,
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allegedly, been "dripping pure poison about gordon brown in osborne's ear". furious at this indiscretion, nat rothschild revealed that osborne went aboard 0leg deripaska's yacht with the then tory fundraiser, andrew feldman. rothschild said they were soliciting a donation, something they denied. bun fights like those held at nat rothschild's villa are moments when british establishment types can get cosy with russian money — and, whether they know it or not, that means they could be just two degrees of separation from the master of the kremlin himself, vladimir putin. putin demands the loyalty of russia's billionaires. there are nearly 100 of them. deripaska is near the top of the list. he's one of the most important links between putin and the british establishment. through george osborne and tory fundraiser andrew feldman, you could say that putin was just three degrees of separation from david cameron.
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i don't think there is necessarily blackmail. i think the question of what kind of friends you have is influenced by what you need to understand about the political situation in russia. and, if you understand that oligarchs in russia today are not independent people, but cannot hold onto their wealth without maintaining good relationships with putin, then that is something that british politicians need to understand. is something that british politicians need to understandm the case of this man, the american authorities have been more wary than the brits. the us has denied him of these are. he made his mega— fortune in the 1990s, after russia's
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aluminium wars, so—called because some proprietors were literally killing off the competition. there is no suggestion that he was involved in violence, but surviving in that environment was tough. involved in violence, but surviving in that environment was toughm was very difficult. i believe whatever i did, i can't say i was proud, i believe i was in the right. he told the high court in london in 2012 that he had been forced to pay protection money to a man with links with organised crime. one of his new business associates is the former energy minister, greg barker, now lord barker, another david cameron chum. he is the chair of the energy company, which was recently allowed to list on the london stock exchange. and this week it was revealed by the financial times that
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they are one of the clients of lord mandelson‘s strategic advice consultancy. they say neither lord mandelson nor 0leg consultancy. they say neither lord mandelson nor oleg deripaska are involved in this work. 0leg deripaska is big news in russia at the moment. opposition politician alexei navalny release this footage about him. it was filmed by an escort, 19 years old at the time. in london, a company run by the home secretary's rather handled the pr for the recent stock market flotation of the 0leg for the recent stock market flotation of the oleg deripaska business. i am not in the pr business, but i think when one is the immediate family of somebody in the immediate family of somebody in the top leadership position, one should be careful about what foreign professionals, what foreign clients
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one has. donald trump's campaign manager has worked for 0leg deripaska as well, something 0leg deripaska as well, something 0leg deripaska is not keen to talk about without an appointment. get lost, please. thank you. a tory fundraiser, the british wives of oligarchs bid big money for the experiences, like having dinner with gavin williamson, the defence secretary. "make getting involved in the art world, donating money to charity, buying shares in football clubs. these other ways that britain's cronies can become of the posh folk of london. —— putin. but if the business is illegal and the stock exchange —— if the businesses are
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legal and the stock exchange is happy, could we get? the danger here is shared —— smearing all russians. there are lots of gifted entrepreneurs, russian artists, rebels, in london today. it would be awful to have a total attack on all russians in london. it is wonderful that we have this expatriate russian committee, the political parties should be careful and government should be careful and government should be careful and government should be very careful about who it does business with and take money from. people are saying there is a trouble with jeremy corbyn's judgement about russia. is that the only problem with british politics and russian influence? it has got to be said that the conservative party has been very rash in some of its, who it has taken money from, who would have done business with, and new labour who is currently on the war path againstjeremy corbyn has all kinds of questions to answer. but russian money has washed around
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the corridors of power in london for perhaps too long. the question is will be nerve agents poisonings in salisbury change anything, or will it continue to be rubles as usual? we might pick up 12 of those things shortly, but the country has not just been talking about russia this week, we have also been talking aboutjeremy week, we have also been talking about jeremy corbyn. the conversation has focused inwards as well as outwards. the sultry faq as being another —— salisbury attack has been another chance to debate britain's relation to do the rest of the world, not just britain's relation to do the rest of the world, notjust to russia but to trump, the us and other allies. and it has been a chance to ask how powerful, how grown up and how trustworthy we are to deal with these things. it is easy for the right to benefit at times of external threat, and the polling backed up on this occasion. if we look at the yougov poll on whether
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theresa may has responded well, most people think she has responded well to the incident in salisbury. the same question on jeremy to the incident in salisbury. the same question onjeremy corbyn, and it is to — one the other way 18% saying he has handled it well. a vast number of don't know in his case. theresa may, jeremy corbyn, but see if we can dissect the politics of the week with a panel drawn from the best and brightest of oui’ drawn from the best and brightest of our nation's madrid. racheljohnson, bestselling order and guardian columnist owen jones and bestselling order and guardian columnist owenjones and the times' jenni russell. the media failing has been a disgrace, and that includes your own programme. yesterday the background on your programme you had jeremy corbyn dressed up against the kremlin skyline, no, dressed up as a soviet... you even further shot his
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hat. it was him in front of the kremlin. people should complain to the bbc about that, it is whoever signed it. it was a real picture of him. who was it, which party over and over again demanded an amendment to crackdown? which party resisted, the conservatives. which politician kibosh and enquiry, delayed undermined from a year after year, against the poisoning of litvinenko, and in doing so potentially embolden those who used theresa may. ——chemical weapons, it was theresa may. which party is awash with russian links? the conservatives. why are the polls 2—to—1 in herfavour on this
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and 2—to—1 against him? has he bungled it this week? you are saying, look how good he is on this, and the country are not buying it. i am saying he isn't having a fair hearing, and i'm glad there are so many people who say they don't know. what sort of country do we live in where the media constantly tries to portray the leader of the opposition, who was the only one who stood up in solidarity in parliament with russia's rights, being smeared for things? this is a serious point, because it is how the media operates in this country. he backs the expulsion of the diplomats, that's what the labour party did. the argument of the labour party is to go further and clamp down on russian money, which the conservatives party, which is bankrolled by russian oligarchs. jenny, do you agree the framing is being unfair? i think owen made some very good
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points about the injustice of the british media towards putin — towards corbyn. i didn't watch your programme last night, but if you take a photograph taken years ago in a different context and put it up there... itr was a provocation. well, images matter. and he's right that many of the issues that he raises. it is true that the conservative party have not done the magnitsky act. but, but but — corbyn had an opportunity to say exactly anything that he pleased when he stood up in the commons this week, and he completely blew it. he made it sound as though he wasn't primarily interested in defending the british people, as if he was more interested in exploring every possible reason why somebody else might have been responsible for this attack. the point is, if you intend to lead the country, as jeremy corbyn does, your first duty is to make people feel that you will defend
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them against attack, and corbyn, although he was perfectly right to lay out some questions about what we know, corbyn didn't do it the right way. he should have come out at the beginning it made it clear that he would defend britain and he would ask other questions later. rachel, where are you on these? they have both made sensible points, but i thought that jeremy corbyn was right to point out that we needed some proof before we risked escalating what could be a very dangerous international situation, and i think a lot of the country really agreed with him on that. we've had eight years of the war in syria, we got 1500 civilian casualties in yemen, and then we have the death, probable assassination by a russian agency of one british citizen, a russian spy swap, and suddenly the entire international security establishment decides it's time to really launched an international diplomatic offensive against putin. i understand the reasons
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about the chemical attack on british soil, but i think we were right to be cautious. last word on corbyn, because i want to get onto other things. what will get the russian regime where it hurts? labour has accepted that either russia is directly responsible or criminally culpable by allowing its weapons to pull ——fall into the arms of the gangsters and oligarchs who ravaged russia ever since the fall of the soviet union — and what will hurt them? going after russian dirty money, and i'd ask, which party would you trust, a party bankrolled by the city of london, the centre of this money—laundering, or one which isn't? the conservatives are awash with russian money and theresa may has refused an enquiry into the litvinenko poisoning.
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i want to move on to theresa may, because a lot of people have said she has had a good week. the polls seem to indicate that, ahead of labour by three points in one poll today. is it game changing? is this the new strong theresa may? does that strengthen her position in the party, delaying the day when the people come and tell her to go? i thought she performed ok this week. thank goodness there is a grown—up in charge. however, the whole reason this is so threatening, and probably the reason this happened is that britain is extraordinarily weak. we are walking away from our allies in europe, wilfully alienating them, and we can't depend on our allies across the pond, and that is a situation which theresa may has made much worse than it need be, and the backdrop for all of this
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is that, when this episode is over, we should be dwelling on the fact that very few countries in the world have chosen to walk away from their allies into something that is so cold and threatening as this world... secondly, when you are saying, as she done well, the context is that theresa may is completely confused about what she wants about brexit, so is her party, we are going nowhere in the negotiations. it could be testing our isolation. i am a remainer, but i have to say, i think it's a joke to say that this is a distraction from brexit. the russian embassy said, the russian embassy new... they knew everybody would start talking about our security position post—brexit, and that's why they said a probable assassination, was an m15 plot to distract us from brexit. all talking at once.
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..we had the first statement by the quad, germany, france, the us and the uk for decades. there hasn't been any disintegration of the transatlantic alliance. all talking at once. again, it's about their track record. let's not forget the conservatives lobbied to dilute sanctions against russia in the past, on the basis it would damage the city of london, but if you look back to 2003 in iraq, libya in 2011, everybody said, ‘look how strong and commanded david cameron and tony blair are', and anybody dissenting from the government line was betrayed as traitors, cowards, stooges of the enemy. 400,000 people marched. i'm saying that the media and the new labour elite and the conservatives did that, especially with libya, where only about 13 mps voted against. we do have a foreign policy which is reckless and endangers the national security
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of everybody watching, because of theresa may's support for the saudi dictatorship or the turkish regime, so this idea that, because we are doing some theatrical standing up in terms of expelling a few diplomats instead of taking on russian dirty money... you are making this argument a lot better than the people running the labour party. the labour party is making any argument like this extremely well, the labour party is making any argument like this extremely poorly, because corbyn was rating about 19% before this. there are many reasons to be very worried about british foreign policy and about british foreign policy in the past. i was among many people who marched against the war in iraq, afghanistan, but jeremy corbyn is now saying he will reassess the membership of nato...
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that is corbyn's policy. he might not ever want to use a nuclear deterrent. you can't have somebody coming in to say per minute recess, ——to be pm who says 'i may not want to use the ultimate sanction'. i want to give rachel the last word. when you look at moments like this, do you think they show our country at its best or do they show it at its worst? theresa may performed well and prime ministerially, and i thought she struck the right note. and i think that, unlike, there has been terrible banter from the defence secretary. and the foreign secretary! the russian embassy's command of the english language is superior to that of our defence secretary, and in that sense we are on the back foot. government of the clowns, by the clowns. thank you, all. before we go, the cable
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car across the thames, which opened in 2012, is facing an uncertain future tonight. it could be sold off or scrapped completely, according to the evening standard. the emirates air line, the project of former mayor borisjohnson, was the uk's first urban cable car. it was meant to be a new form of mass transit. but it didn't attract the masses. having cost £60 million to build, according to one report, only four regular commuters were using it. is it farewell to one of london's least loved modes of public transport? we'll miss it, even if the customers don't. goodnight. # are you lonesome tonight? # do you miss me tonight? # are you sorry we drifted apart? # does your memory stray to a brighter sunny day # when i kissed you and
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called you sweetheart? # welcome to sportsday. the headlines tonight, two premier league teams will become one, after liverpool draw manchester city in the last eight of the competition. the beer referees will be used in the world cup for the first time, after fifa formally approve the technology for this year's tournament. and no


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