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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  November 19, 2018 3:30am-4:01am GMT

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president trump says he's been advised not to listen to an audio recording of the murder of journalist jamal khashoggi. he's confirmed the us authorities have the tape — recorded at the saudi consulate in istanbul — and that it's too "violent" and "terrible" to listen to. strong winds in california are hampering progress for emergency crews battling camp fire which is still only 60 per cent contained 10 days after it started. at least 80 people have died and 1200 are still unaccounted for. tensions have built in the mexican border city of tijuana as nearly 3,000 migrants from a caravan that has been travelling through central america poured into tijuana in recent days. the federal government estimates the number of migrants could soon swell to 10,000. those are the headlines. now on bbc news, dateline london. hello and welcome to dateline london, the programme that
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pits some of the uk's leading commentators against the correspondents who write their stories for folks back home, with the dateline "london". today, we devote the whole of the programme to the fate of the brexit negotiations, and the fate of the woman doing the negotiating on the uk's behalf, theresa may. with me — katrin pribyl, uk and ireland correspondent for the newspaper publisher rnd, in germany. eunice goes, portuguese journalist and academic. iain martin, columnist with the times newspaper. and tim montgomerie, political commentator, who founded the website conservativehome to give a voice to the party's grassroots. now, at times of crisis, there's always a classical analogy you can draw on. this weekend, theresa may resembles sisyphus, who according to greek myth spent eternity rolling a huge boulder up a hill, only for it to roll back down again. the task was laborious and futile, and with no means of escape. theresa may's boulder is her chequers plan for brexit.
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sisyphus was punished for his deceitfulness. mrs may's job is on the line this weekend in part because many of her backbenchers, as well as the democratic unionists who kept her government in office, think she promised them one thing in the brexit negotiations, only to deliver something else. now she faces two challenges — one to her authority, from five cabinet ministers who want her to reopen negotiations with the eu and demand changes, the other to her very survival as prime minister, from those conservative mps who've submitted their demands for a no confidence vote to be held in her leadership. tim, the first question i suppose is, do they have the numbers, and will they actually move against her? i think they do have the numbers. i think the numbers are already in with the chairman of the tory backbench committee, which decides these things. i think we will get the formal announcement on monday. it has not been well organised, this "coup," in inverted commas, and i think it is unlikely that theresa may will be toppled this time. i don't think there is a majority in the parliamentary party who feel there is a way forward without her,
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an alternative leader. so, although there's a lot of unhappiness with her, there's no basis for an agreement for anyone else. what effect would a leadership challenge at this stage, even if it was over quite quickly, it was a vote of no confidence and she wins it by enough to survive, what effect would it have on the party? well, for the reasons tim explained, i think she will probably survive this vote. it's rather embarrassing for the brexiteers who have propped her up for the last year, since she ran a disastrous general election campaign, failed to remove her, and then now, at this crucialjuncture, ahead of the vote on the deal, which has to be done by 15 december, it'll probably fail for these reasons, because it's not really the moment to remove the prime minister. quite a few brexiteers
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who are opposed to the challenge think the logic is that it has to play out and go to a vote in parliament, and so she could survive this confidence vote and then actually be gone with in three or four weeks' time anyway. so if the vote went against her brexit deal, she would have no option but to resign? i think that would represent a complete failure of the uk government policy, and she would have to pivot and say either she is going to get a better deal, or she would have to then say get ready for no deal, and present herself in — luckily it's not as serious as that, but in almost churchillian terms of a difficult but perfectly survivable experience. i think at that point it's highly unlikely that the cabinet would ask her to stay. a lot hinges on the vote on 15 december. i could be wrong, there could be more conservatives than people imagine ready to vote against her. but i think she has behaved in such a way in the last few days that i think she'll get the benefit
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of the doubt from her party for a few weeks more. eunice, do you feel any admiration for theresa may at this stage? well, it's quite remarkable fortitude and serenity. i was quite struck by how serene she looked when she went to parliament to explain the deal, when she did also the downing st announcement. she seemed to be in command, and she had the quality that voters, conservative voters and party supporters, appreciate. she comes across as someone who's talking straight, she's telling the truth. she's saying, "what i'm doing is extremely difficult, this is the best that can be done." and on the other side we a bunch
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of brexiteers who essentially cannot run even a kind of an oxford union—style debate. it was a mess. they were expecting far more resignations on thursday, following her announcement on thursday night. only two heavyweight cabinet ministers resigned. most of the resignations were really unknown conservative politicians. and they lost momentum. it looks very amateurish. there is no—one in the brexiteers' benches who has the stature to go to brussels and to be able to negotiate something different, or can claim they can negotiate something credible with the eu. how do they regard her now, for example in your country, in germany? do they see her as an admirable figure or a tragic figure? i think that some really admire her resilience
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and her stubbornness. at the same time, people know that she made the big mistake to trigger article 50 without being prepared enough, and i think that's the key problem nowadays. and also, it was her who set out the red lines right at the start, and there was no way back, and all of a sudden she ended up in this really problematic situation, to not be able to manoeuvre a lot. and she did sell this dream of the brexiteers, in a way. but at the same time, you kind of have to give her credit, that she was basically — that she's the only person trying to engage with reality nowadays. i'm a constant critic of theresa may, but it's this tenacity, this kind of indestructibility —
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people like my mum really admire it. and she gets cross with me, and calls me timothy, because of the way i criticise her. and she's got so much goodwill because of this ability to keep doing what brexiteers haven't done. she has been there, and knows the challenge. but even so, it doesn't add up to getting a good deal, it doesn't add up to good government, so it shouldn't be enough. if she sees off a leadership challenge, there seems to be a problem of a lack of trust now. i mean, we had this rather portentous statement from jacob rees—mogg, when he declaimed in the house of commons that this is a prime minister who says one thing and does another. should i write my letter saying i have no confidence? but that gets to it — not just him, but for example the democratic unionists,
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think they were sold a lie. in human terms, i can admire her ability tojust keep going. politically, i think essentially what has been done is inherently deceitful, that if you like a secret or not—so—secret negotiating strategy has obviously been run for at least a year, and people in number ten downing street who said that some of the things which are crucial elements of the deal would never, ever be anywhere near the deal are now saying they're in the deal, but there's only a small percentage chance of it ever happening, so talking primarily about the backstop. so the politicians, david davis and dominic raab, were not running the negotiations. the negotiations were run — and if this has been the case, which it is, i would rather she was more honest
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and straightforward about it. if she said, look, on one hand, here are the brexiteers who i think are mad, and here are the ultra—remainers, who i think are mad, i think that would at least be straightforward and honest. to claim that it delivers or avoids precisely what she has been publicly committed to avoiding, i think, is a mistake. i don't think she's the most deceitful in all of this mess. it's true that if she had been candid with the country about what is achievable, she would be in a better position, but this is speculation. who has been deceitful are the brexiteers who claimed they could have the best of both worlds. it is not possible. the cost of leaving the eu on the terms of the brexiteers cannot be the undermining of the eu. it's true that if she had been candid with the country about what is achievable, she would be in a better position, but this is speculation. who has been deceitful are the brexiteers who claimed they could have the best of both worlds. it is not possible. the cost of leaving the eu on the terms of the brexiteers cannot be the undermining of the eu.
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it's cake—ism — it continues to pervade all the discussions. it's the assumption... labour had six tests that said they would not accept the deal unless it was as good as what we have now. but the european research group is trying to get us into a position of no deal, trying to drive us to it, because they don't have a plan, they don't have an alternative to theresa may's plan. i don't think that's entirely fair. all sorts of people now — i'm a moderate brexiteer, but there are certain things in the deal i think are unthinkable for a sovereign nation to agree to. like what? well, the arrangement on customs union is almost unprecedented in international law. it is, as even lord falconer, who is a remainer, a former labour lord chancellor says, you cannot have an arrangement that i don't think that's entirely fair. all sorts of people now — i'm a moderate brexiteer, but there are certain things in the deal i think are unthinkable for a sovereign nation to agree to. like what?
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well, the arrangement on customs union is almost unprecedented in international law. it is, as even lord falconer, who is a remainer, a former labour lord chancellor says, you cannot have an arrangement that either parties cannot give notice from. that potentially — it's not guaranteed, but potentially, if the talks on the future relationship do not work, and i do not trust the british government to negotiate a positive outcome, if that happens, if these talks fail, britain falls into an endless limbo, and a legal situation which no sovereign country, let alone the leading intelligence power in europe, could ever sign up to. all of this anger about the backstop this week — it's an insurance policy,
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at the end of the day. it never has to be put in place. but the mere fact it's there must say something about the lack of trust on all sides. and northern ireland requires some sort of solution, and so far i have not heard any good solution from any brexiteer, so they come up with a technological solution. but there's no software on the table yet. we have heard it again this weekend — five cabinet ministers, including michael gove, andrea leadsom and others who are strong brexiteers, like liam fox, are going to try to persuade her to renegotiation on the irish backstop. we've heard about this for more than a year. eunice just told me that your dress is midnight blue, and it is nearly midnight. i share many of the reservations that ian does about this deal. i think it has two things that voters wanted in brexit — control of borders, and our money back. so i think it's good enough. but i think the time to raise objections was after chequers, the summit with boris johnson and david davis.
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to raise objections now, and potentially throw this into chaos and say we want a better deal, as those five cabinet ministers are saying, as labour are saying, i think the wake—up will come when leaders gather in europe to agree this treaty. but i think ministers will say to the labour party, your dream of a different agreement is a dream. and then they will have the real choice to vote this down, and have the chaos of a no deal. i think this bill will have a choppy time in parliament, but still pass. in his view, there would be nothing wrong with theresa may winning the vote on the back of labour mps, even if her party didn't back it, i think this bill will have a choppy time in parliament, but still pass. in his view, there would be nothing
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wrong with theresa may winning the vote on the back of labour mps, even if her party didn't back it, because it would be seen as the national interest. but what message is going to be delivered on sunday the 25th when the eu leaders gather? i think the message of europe will be very clear — this is as good as you are going to get. the manoeuvre in the last few days has been the discontent of many nations. i think it will be saying we are not pleased with what has been negotiated, we will continue to demand things about fisheries and all of that, but this means no matter who will be negotiating, you're not going to get a better deal unless you are ready to change your red lines.
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if you are ready to do that, then we can talk, but this is as good as you're going to get. it doesn't matter who goes to brussels? no, and labour have to be honest. i don't think they're going to support theresa may. they don't have any room to manoeuvre. brexit is a political idea, and the eu is a legal construct, and i think people forget that because those two things don't really go together. the eu is based on contracts. but sometimes you have to get a political agreement. but splitting up the four freedoms is out of the question. the british service industry would like the free market and services differently. germany's argument that these freedoms are sacrosanct — you haven't let britain's services into your markets, so i think you can be flexible when you want to be. there is a misunderstanding between both sides...
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0ne rule for some... as someone who is very anti—eu, but regards himself as european and is pro—europe, i think that is the tragedy of the vicious and dishonest way, on both sides, that negotiations are being conducted. both sides misunderstand and misread the other. maybe i have been guilty of this as much as anything, but i think the brits have thought you can fudge things. to me, the irish border is perfectly fudgable. but the eu sees itself as very rigid, the napoleonic code, that is its legal codes... it is childish to make comparisons with napoleonic europe. it is a union of democracies.
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but you accept there is a difference between the english common law approach and the highly codified... i am not using napoleonic as an insult. it is a legal term. the brits have an endlessly flexible, slightly dishonest view of constitutions — that you can make anything work. the northern ireland peace process would never have worked otherwise. we take dramatically different views on how these things work. how do you have a union of 27 without those rules? britain can have an unwritten or uncodified constitution, based on trust, but even that is unravelling as we speak. the rules, drafting, and the idea of the eu as not flexible, it's how it works, and the eu also has to protect its own construction. it cannot encourage other countries
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to follow the example of britain. in the end, the biggest fear in brussels is that other people saw what britain did and like it, and therefore britain is an example? i don't think it is about punishing britain or showing what is happening. you didn't have to do anything in the past few years to show it is not a good idea to break up the membership or leave. britain has always benefited most of the time. the whole mess has actually already set an example.
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you are absolutely right. the eu should not have to change its fundamental character for the uk, which is why the uk is voting to leave, and i want to leave. but rather than us having an honest parting of ways, there is deceit, and it has been at the heart of british politics and a problem for the eu as well from the start, in that the british were sold a different idea of europe, the idea of a trading body. it is precisely as you described. the british are having to face up to that reality. of course, what is happening in parliament now is shambolic, but i think in a way i relish it, and i think it is a good thing that britain is being forced to face up
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to the consequences of its actions, and that means leaving the eu, and i think it looks like no deal. you increasingly think, because of the particular model the prime minister has signed up to, that she can't get it through? i think people in westminster are saying that the deal can never pass, and the reality of these things, like in the financial crisis, the vote to save the us financial system fell, and then it it was passed. the numbers are so bad at the moment for the prime minister — 50 or 60 conservatives opposed, she has lost the dup. the tories do not have a majority, and they only govern because of the dup votes. then there is the question of the labour party.
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snp are opposed. she is 50 votes short, apparently. it's not impossible, but it will take something extraordinary. and the problem is that this is the withdrawal agreement — in a sense, one might think the slightly easier bit of the negotiation, because they still have to agree what relationship we have after we've left. if it has been this hard to get this bit, how hard will it be to get to a sustainable long—term relationship? very difficult, and i'm afraid one of the reasons i don't want theresa may to negotiate the harder bit is because of the mishandling of the first bit. we agreed to pay a £39 billion divorce bill before we were clear what we would get in return,
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and i think it is incompetence. there were some commitments, but they didn't get into double figures in terms of billions of pounds. it wasn't 39. where i disagree is that i think this withdrawal bill will pass. but i think it is essential that the conservative party has a different leader and britain has a different prime minister for the second half of the talks. is there anyone — it is unfair to single them out, but is there anyone you think is capable of doing that kind of negotiation more effectively? i would back the home secretary, sajid javid. i have known him from 30 years. he has a depth in business, experience in government departments, and he is very eurosceptic but he backed remain.
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i don't think he is so sunk in any one trench, either side. i think he could unite the party. quite a challenge in itself. i don't think a committed brexiteer like borisjohnson or remainer like amber rudd could do that. you need somebody slightly more in the middle of the debate. i think sajid javid is probably the front—runner, which is probably not a good place to be. i would say dominic raab is also a possibility, when you run the numbers. jeremy hunt. there is a lot of unhappiness at dominic raab's running away at this moment. possibly, but i think he has behaved with honour in that he attempted to shift the government position and attempted to say that the cabinet should try again. if one of these people emerged, how would they have a mandate to go back and do this next negotiation more effectively? in a sense they would have
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inherited, the second conservative prime minister in succession who has come in part—way through, and they would be taking on this challenge. the public is still divided. do they need a general election or a referendum? i think if the deal passes, which i am sceptical about its passing, but if it does, it will then have such moral force and momentum that the deal will be signed, implemented, and the argument will be between the uk and eu about the nature of the future relationship that britain will have formally left.
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which explains why the remain forces are anxious and working overtime, because they know there is such a short period left once britain has left. it's no longer the remain campaign, it's the rejoin campaign. it's a much more difficult thing to sell. remain will be defeated if the uk leads the year at the end of march, as planned. i'm not saying the job is easy for the next prime minister to negotiate stage two, but it is easier because britain has left. there are a lot of conditionals there. we will tackle them, almost certainly, next week. that's it for dateline london for this week. we're back next week at the same time. goodbye. hello there.
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well, the night—time started off with clear skies like these and we have seen temperatures down to “11 in both inverness and also in braemar. but since then, cloud has been working on from the north sea. so it is going to be a cloudy start to the day for many of us, scotland, england and wales. the best of any brighter spells across sheltered western areas, and through the afternoon the cloud will thicken further and we will start to see some showers moving on. these most frequent, i think, some showers moving on. these most frequent, ithink, in lincolnshire, norfolk and affecting essex and kent as well. temperatures lower than the weekend, cooler at around eight or nine degrees for most of us so single figures. she gets even colder than that, though, for tuesday as we start to develop the stronger and colder north—easterly is, again dragging a lot of cloud from the north sea, some passing showers. perhaps a bit of winter in is mixed in with some of these and the winds
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will make it feel really quite cold. gusts of a0 or 50 mph, the strongest in some of our north sea coast. and those temperatures really struggling, highs of five for some. welcome to bbc news — broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. i'm reged ahmad. our top stories: president trump says he's been advised not to listen to an audio recording of the murder of journalist jamal khashoggi because it's too "violent" and "terrible". california's wildfires — how the emergency services are coping with the crisis — with at least 79 dead and more than a thousand people still unaccounted for. residents in the mexican city of tijuana take to the streets to protest the arrival of thousands of migrants at the us—mexico border the british prime minister speaks of a crucial few days ahead for her brexit plan — saying replacing her as leader won't make negotiations any easier.
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