tv Dateline London BBC News December 16, 2019 3:30am-4:01am GMT
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thousands of anti—government protesters clash with police. and, putin's 20 years in power. hello, welcome to dateline london. i'm carrie gracie. this week... let the healing begin — so said borisjohnson on friday, as he celebrated the scale of his emphatic electoral victory. but the other big winner was scotland's first minister, and healing is not the first thing on her mind. today, we devote the entire programme to the immediate and longer term implications of the uk's election outcome. my guests are janet daley, columnist for the sunday telegraph, political commentator steve richards, maria margaronis of us news weekly, and author and veteran correspondent thomas kielinger. welcome to you all.
so i said it was an emphatic outcome. janet, you start us off, what do you expect to be done with it? well, we get out of europe, that's. .. orthe eu, rather, not europe, geographically. that's the start, which the country decided it wanted three and a half years ago, which seems an eternity ago, and the end of that paralysis will, at least for the moment, produce a kind of euphoria. it has already produced a kind of euphoria. now, if he is the clever politician i think he is, he will develop that. the conciliation he expressed in that opening speech, which was very well done, politically, a very clever move, is possible when you have a large majority, because there isn't going to be the rancour and acrimony within his own parliamentary party, because he has got such a commanding majority, so he is going to be able to accomplish what he said he would accomplish, in terms of official removal of our sort of trade relations,
you know, renegotiation of our trade relations and so on, without having to worry about his own party collapsing under him or disappearing under him. he will have a much less truculent parliament, because the opposition is in disarray, and there will be no excuse, in a sense, for him not accomplishing what he says he will accomplish. if he doesn't accomplish it, that is because that can be blamed on obstacles that are placed by the eu, rather than his own parliament. we will come back to the eu nitty—gritty in a minute. but steve, this idea of levelling up, one—nation conservative johnson, conciliation and restoring trust, what is the other part of his agenda that he now has the freedom of a large majority to accomplish? when you say freedom to accomplish, it assumes that he, because of the freedom, will accomplish it. it is difficult. there is no doubt at all that the cameron osborne period of turbo—charged thatcherism,
in terms of economic policy, that was a curious period. they proclaimed they were centrists and modernisers and the rest of it, but they were inducing deep real terms spending cuts. to overturn that, by definition, means deep real term spending increases, so where will the money come from? they have pledged not to put up taxes, so it will be dependent on economic growth, but economic is going to be —— economic growth will be sluggish because of brexit. is it? yes. good luck with that theory. we will not have any money to bet. so you can be tonally warm, and he has been tonally emollient, as you are when you have won big victories, but the challenges of delivering for some of those who have voted conservative this time are immense, unless you break with all the economic orthodoxy associated with the thatcherite and osborne cameron era. let's see if he does that.
thomas, janet says euphoria, steve is more cautious. where do you sit with regard to this agenda? neither the one nor the other. i'm not euphoric or defeatist. i think there is hope to be seen, and great expectations, and boris, knowing the man who wants to not just win elections but proved himself capable of governing, will do his utmost to do that. steve is right when he says, where does the money come from? a lot of his ability to fulfil the hopes of northern voters who came into his camp has to do with the fact that brexit is uncertainty, and that is where europe comes in, europe has to do its best to continue a workable relation with great britain so as not to lose it a second time. you lost through the brexit referendum, but you can't afford to lose britain again by being stubborn
and hard nosed and what have you. we will come to the brexit agenda in a moment but on another economic point, there is another problem which is that european growth is absent. it would be more absent by the lack of £11 billion that britain used to spend into the common coffer, but this is all speculation. the world is changing everyday, every month and so forth, so europeans will have to get their act together and make quite sure that they combine their own crises, lack of growth, lack of expansion, with not wanting to lose britain a second time, and create and craft a relationship which works for the benefit of both sides. it's difficult to predict how it will look, but they are not going to be able to be stubborn and refuse compromise. so the times are great on both sides, with the emollients of boris, mr johnson, and europe, to come together and work for a common, positive outcome. we'll come back to that in a moment.
maria, looking at the domestic agenda, and some are criticising, saying there is ideological incoherence between his talk of levelling up people withoutjobs, infrastructure and the rest of it, and on the other hand the free market globalisation agenda. completely, and frankly i am depressed. first of all, i think having a large majority without an adequate opposition is bad for democracy and, secondly, i don't trust borisjohnson, i don't trust the people he has surrounded himself by in the election campaign. i think the election was won on very kind of clever slogans and a lot of falsehoods, for example, about the number of hospitals that will be funded and so on, and i agree with steve that he will have difficulties in putting through his agenda, and how he's going to keep together... i mean, both of our main parties have been coalitions for a very long time, and the tory coalition, just as much as the labour party is, how is he going to keep together the big tory funders, the metropolitan financiers and so on, with these new conservative voters
in the north, and the new mps from the north are a very interesting bunch. can i say, i don't think anybody in the country voted on the basis of how many new hospitals were going to be promised by the tories. if they had done that, they would have voted for labour, who were promising much bigger spending, and biggerfunding in public services, completely unfunded. with no logic about funding them at all. this was the second referendum. they voted for relief from this horrendous paralysis, which i cannot remember in the 50 years i've lived in this country ever seeing before, where there seems to be a parliament determined to obstruct what had been the referendum result that they all swore they would abide by. that was the most extraordinary sin against democracy. but here is the thing. because of that paralysis, all we have focused on in the uk is that parliamentary battle, and with the almost sort of unwritten implication that, if the parliamentary battle could be
resolved, there would be this great liberating moment. let's come to that. but the biggest obstacle has been getting brexit done in practice. trade agreements, as you know, are really complex. the steve, answer the question you have posed yourself. is this going to happen in the course of 2020, as promised? the prime minister has got a big call to make. it could happen in one situation, which is if he decides to go for very close alignment with the eu, so, by definition, the negotiation becomes much simpler, because you are not extracting yourself from everything with what is called maximum divergence from the eu. that kind of prospect will take years. but, if he does the other way, i think there will be people in his party saying,
hold on a second, this is soft brexit, that's it, by name only. and there will be problems, because the purists are still there. he has the freedom to make that decision with the big majority, but it's going to be difficult. going back to thomas' point about europe, and you described it as the obstinacy, i would say the arrogance of europe. if the eu negotiators had not behaved in the way they did, it's very possible that we would be in a very different place. but the point is that everybody has to do business, and europe's rate of growth is below the uk, the uk has had better growth, even during this horrendous period of paralysis. germany's growth rate is 0.5% and ours is 1.5. in order to salvage the eurozone and the european economy, the europeans will have to meet our negotiations halfway. as i said before, in order to for boris to make the most of his victory, the europeans play an important part
and make it possible that, within the year, some semblance of a workable trading relations will emerge. do you think they are relieved in europe that there was a clear outcome? absolutely, so i don't share the depression of maria, because, when you think of the horrendous stalemate we have suffered for three years, the emergence of a big government majority come it is not so much a feeling of undemocracy and democratic relations breaking down, it's a relief, to be able to work again for the future and try your best. the uncertainty was horrendous for business, and i said this in the past. when the vast obstacle put before parliament to that withdrawal agreement that boris came back with, the heartbreaking e—mails i got on the newspaper from readers who run small businesses...
can ijust say very quickly, and this uncertainty thing. the parliamentary uncertainty is over. businesses, as we sit here, do not know what is going to happen with their supply chains, do not know the relationship in terms of the single market will be and so on. so the substance is still... you said it is very difficult but, maria, going back to visit the difficulty that steve posed for borisjohnson, is he going to a soft brexit and alienate or offend some of the hardliners in his business backing community or his party, or...? i suspect he will have to do a softer brexit. he isn't beholden to the erg in the way he was and, if he is going to listen at all to his new tory mps of the north, in his trip to the north today and the speech he did yesterday are anything more than window dressing, he will have to, because those northern towns like stoke—on—trent, all the other towns from the so—called red wall that voted tory, they are expecting something back, and they voted
as they did because they feel they have been neglected for decades and they will expect an economy that functions, which means good trade agreements with europe and elsewhere which are going to enable them to revive. janet, are you expecting a close alignment with europe? close, it's a semantic problem. what is close ? one of the reasons we don't have to think in terms of a nine—year negotiation of a trade agreement, as canada did with the eu, is that we start in the same place. at the moment, our regulations are identical with europe, so it is a question of how far we move from that. so how far do we move? however far he moves, i can tell you he will be able to sell it. that's the thing. he's probably the best person for that, to be able to persuade his party and the country that he has done something that's called a real exit from the european union. and his mindset is not fanaticism. he is open to a new kind of european approach,
witness the day of the referendum, when he had a column ready to argue for the benefits of staying in europe. are you saying that is a positive? it is a positive. you can write both sides of the argument and you decide which one you are persuaded by. but those of us who write for a living can understand the kind of possibilities of persuasion. we are not reiterating 2016 here. no, you're right, carrie. but it's a character issue. it's a huge decision, and these terms are bounded around without clarity, soft brexit, what precisely does that mean? but at the moment, he is committed to divergences on a big scale, again imprecise. if he sticks with that, a big if, but if he does, a this negotiation will take years, and he has to decide in july whether or not to ask for an extension. the talks will not begin until march
so, within two or three months of the talks starting, he has the biggest call of his premiership. i'm not hearing from any of you a reason why he should not have more freedom of movement to do the thing which appeals to some of his new voters, which appeals to the europeans... you are hearing that. but he has to be true to the programme on which he was elected, which is a genuine brexit and, if he comes through with a phony brexit, all of us in the press will expose that very quickly and he will be discredited. but what you call a phony brexit can be made to mean a more amenable solution to the help of those people in the north who have suffered. he has a lot of freedom. freedom for manoeuvre is his biggest trump card. hold on, what people say in an election and in a manifesto, even borisjohnson, matters subsequently. tony blair won a majority of 180
then he wanted to go into the euro at various points of his leadership but he couldn't do it because of what he had pledged in an election, that you would have to hold a referendum first and he knew he would lose it. so you can have a majority of 500 but what you say does matter. he has said certain things that might define a trade negotiation in a way that europe has to decide what it wants to do but so does he and the british government. in reality he will have to compromise. never mind what he said in his manifesto. and angela merkel had president macron have warned that that regulatory harmonisation, as they put it, will be necessary for access. president macron has warned that regulatory harmonisation as they put it will be necessary for access. they don't even have regulatory harmonisation between the two of them. so we don't need to take seriously what they say about that? there are regulations...
people are going to have to do business. they are going to have to do business. particularly the europeans are desperately in need of business, our business, they are not going to be in a position to be bloody— minded. there are differences but they will come together. i completely agree there are differences between france and germany but they will come together as they did with the withdrawal agreement and come up with a set of terms that they will stick to. there might be internal tensions now but they will stick to a line, i'm sure of it. they will stick to a line, i'm sure of it. we don't even know who is going to request... let's leave that and turn to another huge issue for boris johnson domestically, leaving one union and binding another. maria, take us away on this question of how on earth he deals with the problem of scotland voting snp, new scottish parliamentary election coming up in 2021. the pressure he is going to be under. i think it will be very difficult. these very hard—line statements coming out from sajid javid saying there is not going to be a scottish referendum are premature. and i think the political pressure
from scotland, especially after 2021 when i think the snp will sweep the board in scotland, will be very great. there is also the issue of ireland. northern ireland now has a... minority unionist and is looking much more like a possibility of a unification of ireland eventually down the road. we still have under the withdrawal agreement the border in the irish sea which is going to be a problem. i think it will have a problem with scotland and with northern ireland. bear in mind that one of his strongest cards he played against corbyn is that you are going to have two referendums in the next year, the scottish referendum which will disrupt the united kingdom and another referendum on europe. so for him to give in and allow scottish referendum now would be a serious blow against his own argument againstjeremy corbyn.
not that that counts for much. but is there a problem with the consent of the scots? not in parliamentary terms, no, because he has a huge majority. his majority is in england. it's in westminster. it is in the westminster parliament. whatever he decides, he can do. there would be a political price to pay but if he decides if he wanted to be absolutely ruthless, given the snp have now swept the board and there are so few tories, i think one tory mp left in scotland. three or something. janet... let the healing begin... he can afford to just do what he wants. that would be politically unwise in the long term but for the next year i think he has to keep to that promise that you will not be stuck with another referendum, meaning britain. is there something he can do to charm the scots at this point? no. and scotland is moving away from england and wales, or to put it a different way, i think england and wales over the last nine years has moved away from scotland.
they are in many ways, certainly politically, they are sort of unrecognisably different. england is pursuing this brexit with a big tory majority. scotland voted snp overwhelmingly. and that dynamic... and remain. i think at some point, if the snp sweep the board again, people in england keep predicting that the snp‘s moment has passed and then they do well again. i think they will do well again at the scottish parliamentary elections. and there comes a point where you have to concede the referendum and i think he will have no choice but to do so at some point. but not in 2020? not in 2020 but sometime within the period of this westminster parliament. what about the irish point that maria raised? you have under the existing terms of the withdrawal agreement insofar as we have seen it, a semi border in the irish sea. some say that drift
towards the island of ireland uniting economically will mean a constitutional political drift. northern ireland is split politically between the people who are pro—remain and were very relaxed about improved relations, economic and otherwise, with the southern part of ireland. the hardliners, dup and so forth. they are on a sticky wicket in this election. the people who were pro—remain and were very relaxed about improved relations and economic and otherwise with the southern part of ireland. there is a tendency in all of ireland to do the logical thing, improve frictionless trade and eventually even reunite constitutionally. that is a question mark for the union of the kingdom. there was a poll couple of months ago where english tory voters were asked, would you stand in favour of leaving the eu even if it means a threat to the united kingdom and they said yes. which to me was astonishing. they play loose and fast of the possibility of breaking up the uk. that is because they were so desperate for brexit.
so what do we do with this slogan, let the healing begin? he was talking about england. how can we begin the healing? this is still the united kingdom, still. but the bitterness that exists in parts of england is different from the kind of healing in other places. i've never seen a time there was so much utter contempt by what you might call a metropolitan elite for the working class hinterlands. what in america is called the rust belt. it has been astonishingly ugly. putting an end to that kind of vitriol is what he has in mind. the healing quote will be looked back on like on like the margaret thatcher one in '79. i think healing will be impossible. i'm sure that is the intent. that frances of assissi point.
when margaret thatcher said it it was soon followed by the miners strikes and all the rest of it. riots and so on, yes. high unemployment. these things around that when set at a moment of euphoria, and then people play than ten years later with a sort of ironic smile. he went up to the north and was received very often with ecstatic friendliness. that was never the case with margaret thatcher. she couldn't have visited the mining towns and been greeted like that. let's talk about the north and what it called itself the natural party of the north, for labour, worse result since the 1930s. they claim to represent the working class but they lost a vote to an old etonian. where is it going to go next? they talk about a period of reflection and electing a new leader. will that turn into an election winning machine? periods of reflection and electing new leaders do not necessarily produce that. it will not necessarily produce that. it depends what form that will take.
they are in disaster area. they lost four elections in a row after 1979 and they've just lost another four in a row. this is a party that is so dysfunctional it cannot win elections when it should be able to do so. so this is a massive task. although it is much harder on most levels from 92 because the tories only had a very small majority then, but on another level i think it is doable. i think this alliance that borisjohnson has won it is a massive personal triumph for him but it is a fragile one. the voters in the north of england who are disillusioned now can become disillusioned with him in a different way. there is a route back but it needs a giant figure and i'm not sure who that giant figure is but it needs the labour party to be wholly overhauled because it too often loses election. the parallel of the four defeats that steve has come up with, they did overhaul at that point. they were taken over by a marxist cult.
but they went to blair after the four defeats. that is the point i am making, and then they won. i don't think there is a hope in hell of that happening again because the marxists have hold of virtually all the levers of the party. the refusal ofjeremy corbyn to stand down as one would expect him to do and his insistence on a period of reflection have been enforced by the people who run him because they have to hold onto those levers of power long enough to see to it they are not displaced. it is a longer term historical tragedy. it is a party created to express the views of the industrial proletariat. there is no more industrial proletariat. what is their role? the future of the labour party is so dire it reminds me of the 1983
election when michael foot came with a manifesto. which was soon after called the longest suicide note in history. creating the corbyn phenomenon was another suicide note. look at the debate now compared to the 80s. it's about how much money should be spent. were talking about quality of social... if the uk moves left... if they don't move left is there credible room for another party of the centre—left? if labour is curtains? i don't think labour is curtains yet. i agree, corbyn disaster and brexit vagueness disaster and all these things... but the labour party comes from the grassroots. what we're seeing now from tory mps in the north is a different kind of grassroots politics. it will have to go back to the grassroots. i am sure we will see difficult times ahead economically in this country and that is where the labour party
will have to regrow from the community projects, those soup kitchens and those local self—help movements. it has got to go back to the roots. and there we have to leave it. we could have gone on for longer but that is it for dateline london for this week — we're back next week at the same time. goodbye. hello. once again overnight showers may have left a rash coating of snow over some in northern england in central southern scotland in particular. icy conditions you to start the day but even elsewhere it could be slippery roads and pavements with temperatures in the airafew pavements with temperatures in the air a few degrees above freezing. an exception in the class south we
still have clouds and showers between east anglia to start today, showers in northern and scotland, wintry on the higher ground but it's true that a were central, western scotla nd true that a were central, western scotland and northern ireland are the most frequent readily turning to snow over the highlands, gale force winds out to the west as well but lighter winds for the weekend, he was showers but england and wales in the afternoon and temperature fairly similarto the afternoon and temperature fairly similar to what we've been seeing, 4- 10 similar to what we've been seeing, 4— 10 degrees most will drop quite rapidly once the sun sets on monday afternoon so another chilly night to come, very quickly. showers continue scotla nd come, very quickly. showers continue scotland and northern ireland, snow over the higher ground. it's rained towards the far south—east and the channel islands, keeping temperatures up but elsewhere, 00:28:42,837 --> 4294966103:13:29,430 frosty, icy started tuesday.