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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  July 28, 2018 4:30pm-5:00pm BST

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now on bbc news, it's time for dateline london. hello, a warm welcome to dateline london, i'mjane hill. this week, we're discussing the british prime minister's summer charm offensive in europe and asking, what is the new deal in the middle east? we'll discuss syria, iran and the us's approach. my guests this week — the british political journalist steve richards, with us before he heads off to the edinburgh festival with his one—man show. from germany's die welt, stephanie bolzen. the editor of the abu—dhabi—based daily the nation, mina al oraibi. and the american writer and broadcasterjeff mcallister. it's offcially summer —
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school's out, and so is parliament. but there's no rest for senior members of the british government. theresa may says she has now taken personal control of the brexit negotiations, and she and her ministers are fanning out across europe on a charm offensive, trying to win over leaders to her vision, the chequers vision, of future relations between the uk and the rest of the eu once britain has left the bloc. steve, it's been a bumpy few weeks — how many times have we discussed whether theresa may is secure? she remains fragile. she remains, i think, in the most extraordinary position of any prime minister for many, many decades. there she is, promoting, as you say, going around european capitals, her proposition for brexit, very detailed. which has already triggered two cabinet resignations, several ministerial resignations.
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there is no evidence at the moment of a majority for it in the house of commons. and the reaction of barnier representing the rest of the eu suggests there are huge barriers to overcome from the brussels perspective. it is an extraordinary situation, because on one level, certainly, her proposition in the white paper will not survive in that form. there might be proximity to it, but it will not survive. the chequers deal, as we have come to call it, maybe we should call it a compromise, is it a deal? what it is is her version of brexit, and it is absolutely identified with her. now, whether she can become identified with of brexit rather than no deal, which i know she would
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regard as cataclysmic, is a massive question. one of several questions which makes this autumn in british politics and to some extent european politics seismic. no—one quite knows what is going to happen, but it feels very, very turbulent. yes! stephanie, how do you read the dictat to her ministers — go out, spread the word across europe, do soundings, press the flesh? how is that being viewed, from your perspective? well, you can really recognise a lot of eagerness, if not a bit of panic, in downing street to create the impression that the prime minister is in control — going out there to the continent, she is now taking over the control of the brexit negotiations. there was this week this demotion almost of the new brexit secretary just coming in and a day after, it was said, the prime minister is in charge. the prime minister goes out,
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she saw the austrian chancellor, sebastian kurz, in salzburg. the big news this morning is there will be a summit in september and they will talk about brexit, as if this wasn't news there. that was announced in march. there will be a summit in the form of a head of state meeting. you are saying that is a british spin they put on that? so much spin happening now. i don't think that is very healthy because they can only disappoint with that. apart from theresa may travelling the continent, jeremy hunt was in berlin for the first time. the new foreign secretary. it didn't go down very well. he was perceived as threatening. he said, if europe is not flexible and has no imagination, something we have heard for a long time, there will be no deal. this will be the fault of the europeans.
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some commentators in berlin said that he sounds like donald trump. so it is something that the british government going around making friends, it's not quite what for now they have achieved. how do you regard... sounds like donald trump, interesting, how do you feel, watching from a us perspective? weakness is strength. i don't know quite how you add all this up. it still makes no sense. tony blair's criticism of the chequers deal was actually the most trencha nt that has been uttered. the resignation speeches of the departing ministers had no particular new ideas or system. at least blair's criticism, which says — this is the worst of all possible worlds, we have to take most of the european regulation and be tied to europe in the same way without any control of what europe does — it's correct. it is a nonstarter. brexit remains... we get so excited with this
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meeting, leaked summit, the fundamentals do tend to get lost. all the exporters say, this is a disaster for us. crashing out of brexit is a disaster. we have stockpiling of food being discussed, possibly, by the departed or the no longer powerful brexit minister, the companies saying, we have no capacity to stockpile food and we haven't been asked. they are talking about stockpiling medicines and things you can stockpile. how do you get out of this mess? with this odd combination of a referendum, which really is not a parliamentary device that makes sense in a parliamentary system, it's stopping everything. the conservative party is stuck, it is all congealed, mrs may is prime minister because no—one else wants to take the brass ring, which has no particular solution.
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the opposition is not proposing any real opposition. i don't know how you get out of this impasse. some kind of a second referendum, maybe when there referendum, maybe when there is a particular deal to offer, is the only way that the politics are going to start aligning with the fundamental economic reality, which is that brexit as currently discussed makes no sense for britain. mina, your take on this. time is ticking, people are discussing a referendum, but we have again this deadline of next spring coming up, so we're ten months away — less than that, nine — and there is no real agreement. i take a different turn on theresa may, i think with her stepping up and saying, this is my deal, here's what i will try to reach for, has changed the momentum that we have had where you had people in her own cabinet that no longer believed in collective
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responsibility, so they were going their own way. at least now, whether it fails or succeeds, you can say that it is clear that this is the vision of the prime minister and she's going to try to fight for it, even if there is not if everyone agrees with, it is different from six months ago when we did not know whether the foreign secretary in private discussions were trying to undermine his own prime minister. we have reflected here a number of times about theresa may's strength or weakness, but if the conservative party changed its leader, it doesn't change the fundamentals. there is still a deadline of march 2019. it changes nothing. newspaper editorials sometimes say we need strong leadership, borisjohnson implies that he could do it and so on. he couldn't. there would still be a hung parliament. a european union...
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protectors of the purity of the single market and other things. so all of the problems would still be in place if they changed their leader. that doesn't mean they might not contemplate it, they are contemplating it, but it would solve nothing. her problem is that she has now become associated with this plan. i agree with you on one level, it is like a protective shield, a very battered protective shield. at least she clings to a plan, where most others have not even got such a detailed alternative. but it is so battered, no majority in the commons, and partially rejected by europe already. it is really difficult to see where this ends, which is why there is now more talk of a referendum. she is the key to that, because she has always opposed one. but if you remember, before she called an early election, she said there would be no early election, then she changed our mind. she was genuine, she said she did not want an early election that she went walking in wales, saw the opinion polls,
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giving her a 20—point lead, highly deceptive. there may be a way through with a referendum. if there is parliamentary paralysis. they will be no parliamentary majority for no deal. jacob rees mogg and others are relaxed about a new deal, there are about 60 of them in the house of commons. the rest are not. i still think no deal is not feasible. you cannot impose no deal without parliamentary backing. it would be an historic decision, and there is no majority for it. when we say no deal, we are talking about leaving and going out of the wto rules. leaving with no agreed proposition between the uk and the rest of the eu. it's the default, unless something positive can be done. but they cannot even, the government, manage the public relations element of no deal, because they have now decided they need to start talking
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up that possibility. in talking up the possibility, one minute, they talk about stockpiling food, that alarms people, then it emerges that they are not talking about that, sojust preparing the spin on no deal is problematic. they're not managing it in reality. as i said, i don't think they would get parliamentary backing for it. stephanie, in the wider european question, on the other member states, it is not like no deal has no implication for a lot of other member states. there's an impact on both sides. it is almost ironic that the no—deal scenario is not only domestic, but actually a threat to the rest. it puts pressure on the eu, and i would not say they shrug their shoulders, but it will hit many countries very hard. especially germany. i think there's something that is not... it doesn't have any effect, no politician in germany or beyond has said, the brits
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have said there is no deal, we now have to compromise. the german car industry, which is always named as the... they look at this and they say, ok, our second biggest market bar the usa, but we have the single market in front of our doors. they really completely agree for the time being with the german government, which is the integrity of the single market and the rule of the european union, which works very well for german business, we're not going to put this at risk. we want to save theirs. we want to save this. and i find this almost ironic that actually, in this country, politics... business is almost desperate, saying, please, listen to us, while in germany at least, the government constantly talks to business. they agree that if it is coming to the 12th hour and you need to make a decision, it is europe and not
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the uk, they will have to support and not give a special cherry—picking solution solution to the brits. the other irony is that brexit has made europe more popular with the european public than at any other times since1983, according to polls. borisjohnson has had this ironic effect of making europe recognise that the eu is a more positive thing for them. even marine le pen says to stay in the eu, and the italians are talking about leaving the eu and that has gone off the table politically. european unity in the face of what they consider to be inefficient and not intelligent operations by the uk to make britain look more irrelevant. britain has used, you still hear the same cake and eat it for two years.
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when you're on the continent, you have a feeling that the europeans have already moved beyond. if you talk about a second referendum, they will say, no, we're not having that, they are going to leave. that is also a risk for the british government if they say, well, we maybe want an extension of article 50 and have locked in negotiations. but the europeans will say, what, for another limbo? in fairness to theresa may, any prime minister would be trapped in this situation. the referendum was held and brexit won. then what do you do? you have a hung parliament, partly down to her for that early election. you have a divided party, and you have a series of obligations which are contradictory. the soft border in ireland, but not wanting to be part of a customs union. her plan, in fairness to it, is an attempt to square all those circles. because they're not able to be squared, it's a plan that's
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going to fall by the wayside. but it was an attempt to meet all these contradictory demands, and there is no other equivalent at the moment. the labour party position is different, it would be part of a customs union, it claims it would get alignment with the single market without being in it, but that raises 20,000 questions. so there is not this summer, at the start of the summer, clarity really about what form this will take. yes, we will see. let's park that for now. the next brexit talks are late august. let's see whether here on dateline, we get through the summer without discussing it. let's see! hollow laughter.
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we'll leave that for now. there is much more to discuss. lets turn to the middle east, because the recent helsinki summit between donald trump and vladimir putin was overshadowed by those extraordinary comments that the us president was later forced to row back on, but what was actually achieved in terms of policy? no communique was issued, but it appears syria was discussed. is the us now renconciled to bashar al—assad remaining in power? and how does that tie in with the trump adminstration‘s approach to iran? mina, from your vantage point in the gulf, what is your sense of what's going on? it's clear that for the trump administration, the priority is to push back iran. and to limit iran's activities, militant nefarious groupings in the region. that has become the priority for the trump administration,
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you have had various us officials come out to the gulf and other parts of the middle east to say that. we recently reported at the national we were expecting a summit injordan and egypt in the autumn and probably washington, and in the us, to discuss exactly that. to push on the koran issue. in helsinki, the details of the meeting, it was discussed as disabling the issue of syria. the russians for sure have been the guarantors of that assad regime. the survival of assad has been because of russia and iran. there is the contradiction. it can't feel he can do business with putin, he does not want to be doing business with the iranians and the reigning president who he is threatening the capital letters on his twitter account.
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there is that contradiction. it seems that the thinking amongst american officials is that we work with the russians to sort out syria and push back around. with the russians to sort out syria and push back iran. the reality on the ground is different. it is not that keen, it is very messy and ugly. if we put aside the moral question of syria, which is the fact that millions of people have been displaced, have public displays, at least 80,000 detainees unaccounted for and only this week, we are getting hundreds of death certificates being issued for people who have died from torture and detention. if we try to put that aside and say, security—wise, how does this work? the syrians are not calling the shots in their own country. it is the russians and iranians. even if the top administration, the region, the world accepts that the assad regime survives, they are not in control of this country, and to be beholdent to militias that have been run directly by the arabian revolutionary guard and supported by russian air power, given the russian pull—out, the iranians are not going to give up the vantage point they have been able to establish and very
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strong presence in syria. the helsinki summit, even if there was agreement about assad, the other dynamics are left to be answered. what is the us administration's answer to that? who knows? i think, fundamentally, it is hard to understand what the us i think, fundamentally, it is hard to understand what the us situation is. because there is the tweets and his nomination, and the bureaucracy that works for him and they often are at loggerheads. 0n iran, it appears that the fulminations are more policy than they were with russia. john bolton said bad things,
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but the same time the tweets went out, and the secretary of state did too. there is another sideshow with israel having an excellent relationship with russia, concerned with pulling back the militias from the israeli border. maybe for trump's own internal purposes, getting some degree of cooperation, enough to satisfy israel, would feel like progress that he can show that he has gotten with putin, who will be pushing the iranians to take his ball back from the israeli border. there is no real israeli border. sorry, i agree. the fundamentals, there still is a desire in washington to bring down.... and pulling out of the nuclear deal, which has caused the value to drop and making life difficult for iranians and creating dissent. there is no endgame that makes any sense. the iranians have cyber attacks and they could do a lot of things
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to make life tough for donald trump if they want to, but he is gambling that they will be scared of him, but there are american soldiers in syria that the iranian militia can start taking potshots at. i think he wants to look like he's being tough on iran. there is no good american strategy. i don't think anything is well developed out of iran. listening to nikki haley, she reminds russia, we expect russia to use its influence here inside syria. is she over—estimating the influence? no, russia has great influence. assad knows that he's beholdent to the russians. they have been instrumental in making sure that his regime and army control the country. they are over—estimating how much russia can influence iran. the russians are getting ready
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to step right in with american sanctions getting slapped on, the russians have not taken a pledge to consider these sections, neither have the europeans or chinese. they are thinking, we can strengthen our ties and make iran beholdent, at a time when we are being squeezed. that is unclear. the russians also wanted a more stabilised arab world in the middle east. regardless of whether we agree or disagree with their strategies. they do not want the iranians destabilising syria and iraq, yemen, it is not working in the long—term benefit of the russians. they could try to pressurise iran, then iran is getting pressurise more and the tools they are using are going to get hardened.
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rather than thinking, how can we negotiate with american administration and so forth? the fear is that we will see more bloodshed when they think they have nothing to lose. what a desperate situation we are in that we sit here and you quite rightly say, for the sake of this discussion you have to park the moral argument, we have to forget about the millions of people who have been killed displaced, and that... but we shouldn't, because, yes, it will have security imperatives. there are millions of people who have lost their homes, young, predominantly men who are unemployed have lost everything, had cousins or brothers killed in detention. eventually, someone has to give them that money and arms in syria. and then what happens? and it has had a knock—on in terms of refugees, which speaks to european issues that we have discussed for many months. where is europe? europe has been standing at the side and watching for a long time. this week, it was a secret meeting in berlin, angela merkel
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and the foreign minister met the russian foreign minister lavrov. it came out that the german government did not comment, but the russian foreign ministry did. they said it was an excellent meeting. there was also talk about refugees. there is some information, and i think this is part of the whole dynamic that is now happening, that europe now will come in and help build up syria, and this is part of the russian plan. so russia does not have the money to build up syria again, and the europeans are keen to build up syria. they want safety and security, but they want the refugees to go back to syria. the moral argument is parked. if you remember, there was a time when the allied forces talked about allying themselves with assad to remove isis, and then they were talking about working with the rebels to remove assad, so this is a constantly moving moral set of dilemmas. the eu...
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the whole iran deal that trump reneged on originated from the eu. jack straw was foreign secretary at the time, and with britain, germany, france and others, they got that iran deal going. it's such a decline in the european union in recent years that such an initiative would now be impossible, in the current state of chaos. the problem with the deal was that it only dealt with the nuclear, and nothing else. that is the weakness of the europeans. thank you very much and enjoy your summer. we're back next week at the same time. goodbye. what a change to the weather
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in the last 2a hours. especially across east anglia and the south east. a ten—degree drop and thunderstorms, and a lot fresher across the whole country. blustery showers and very heavy rain in northern ireland, and an amber warning in force for northern ireland this afternoon. so, check your local weather, it may impact your plans. this weather system brought the fresher weather. this is heading our way bringing wet and windy weather tonight and tomorrow into the south—west. this is thejet stream, and behind that, a shot of colder air out of the north atlantic. this is the amber warning for northern ireland from the met office. a lot of rainfall to come this afternoon. not everywhere, but be prepared for some localflooding. through the rest of today and into the evening, further showers. the winds will pick up
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across the south—west, in south—western england, wales, the north west of england by the end of the night. but eastern areas should stay dry and the lowlands of scotland and perhaps northern ireland in—between these two weather systems. blustery day on sunday. linked to this area of low pressure here off the western isles of scotland. windy weather in the western isles and down towards the south—west. in the south—west, gusts of 40—50 mph. bad news for the holiday—makers here. and the rain spreads to the north and east. most of us catching some rainfall tomorrow. and in the brecon beacons, it could be a lot, 50 millilitres. a couple of pockets around the uk, the north—west of scotland and northern ireland — not a bad day, with sunshine. it's cold for everybody, relatively speaking. temperatures typically in the high teens or around 20s celsius. low pressure across the atlantic on monday,
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where the air is coming from. quite breezy, so no more air coming off the continent, it's coming off the ocean. but it's warming up a little bit across southern parts of the uk not quite so fresh. but overall, for the week ahead, it's a relatively fresh start, with showers, but gradually warming up towards the end of the week. this is bbc news. the headlines at 5. victory for britain at the tour de france — wales‘ geraint thomas is set to win after maintaining his lead on the penultimate stage of the race long delays on flights, ferries and eurotunnel trains as the recent extreme weather continues to cause problems. mps warn british democracy is in crisis because of targeted campaigns of hate and misinformation on social media. the chief constable of the west midlands admits his police force occasionally provides a poor, and apologises.
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we are incredibly busy at this time. the level of calls that we are receiving this summer are very challenging. sometimes, that service that we are providing at those peak times does not meet what the public expects. also coming up, australian sailor wendy tuck has become the first female skipper to win the clipper round the world yacht race.
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