tv Newscast BBC News November 19, 2021 1:30am-2:01am GMT
this is bbc news. we will have the headlines and all the main news stories for you at the top of the hour, straight after this programme. we are so dedicated to today's main news story, which is changes to the rail network, we've all been on trains today. we are loving the news. living the dream! laura is getting very excited, because she is heading to cardiff, for reasons that will become clear in a moment here on newscast. i did a little dash to warrington bank quay in cheshire, a little day trip, some filming for next week. but, adam, you've scooped the lot of us, because you just came to work. yeah, unfortunately, i didn't have any exciting
assignments today, so ijust did a selfie of myself passing through king's cross station. on your way to work. on my way to work. passing on a tubejourney i do about 58 times a week. laura is getting very excited, because she is heading to cardiff, for reasons that will become clear in a moment here on newscast. well, in a few minutes, we'll be hearing from the taoiseach, micheal martin, the irish prime minister, who is in wales to talk to other ministers from different parts of the uk about the relationship between those two countries, which at the moment is so straightforward, nothing much going on to talk about! i am sure the phrase article 16 will not materialise at all. oh, yeah, it will be the entire subject of the interview.
now, talking about... we'lljust be talking about the rugby, that's all. now, you talk about the relationship between two countries, today has all been about the relationship between cities in england and how they are connected by rail, and we've got london, birmingham, nottingham, derby, leeds, manchester, sheffield, nottingham, all those places have been... bradford. they've all been in the mix, because the government introduced its new integrated railways plan today, a long—awaited document, much previewed and leaked as well, but there's loads of things in it and you basically need a bit of a map to understand it. you do, so we'll show our viewers a map and we'll paint a picture of a map for those listening to the pod. so the leeds leg of h52 is being scrapped, which has not gone down particularly well with lots of people in that part of west yorkshire. there is going to be no new northern powerhouse rail line between leeds and manchester, although that journey will get quicker, the government emphasises. as far as hs2 is concerned, the bit between crewe and manchester will happen, the bit between birmingham and the east midlands will happen. we already know they
are building the bit between london and birmingham. and then there will be this new northern powerhouse rail line between warrington, where i happened to be earlier on, manchester and marsden in west yorkshire. the government making the argument that it's cracking on with stuff quicker and more cheaply, but plenty of people saying it's a sell—out and plenty of people in the north of england reckoning they are not getting what they hoped to get. shall we hear from somebody in the north of england? yeah, one of those people who's a little bit annoyed is the labour mayor of west yorkshire, tracy brabin. it is a betrayal of the north and it's a betrayal of the people i represent in west yorkshire. only what feels like months ago, the prime minister stood in front of stevenson's rocket in manchester and promised a new rail line, northern powerhouse rail. the interesting thing about this from a political point of view is that boris johnson and the tories made such a feature of making these big promises to the north
of england, and i will always remember the morning after the election, he made this speech and he said, talked directly to people who voted tory for the first time, in areas that had never done before, and talked about how the pencil might have hovered over the box but he would keep his promises to them. let's be clear, the government is spending loads and loads of money on improving railways across a lot of the country, but that's the problem here, isn't it? they are not doing what they promised they would. you guys have been looking more closely at the details of it. does it stack up to something that feels like a promise that just hasn't been delivered? i think you are right. that sense that boris johnson has a ways tried to rebrand that idea of what being a conservative is, what being a conservative prime minister is, particularly to those people who voted conservative for the first time and may or may not be tempted to do that again. we've seen this whole flurry of newspaper front pages in the north of england, the manchester evening news, the yorkshire post, the northern echo and others, all saying that this is an absolute sell—out, and yet the government confronts itself with a situation where they are
spending shedloads of money on a big, long—term project and still getting hammered for saying it's not enough because it doesn't match up with what they were originally saying they would do. although we have to be careful about the money, because there is a headline figure of £96 billion, which is shed loads of money to invest in something in this country, over a long period, admittedly. actually, quite a lot of those billions are things that were being spent already on the bits of hs2 that are going to go ahead, so there's a little asterisk next to that 96 billion. the other asterisk against kind of the new tory voters is, remember, there were constituencies that this bit of hs2 were going to go through that weren't going to have any train stations in them... but would get the downsides. exactly. so there will be new tory voters will be really happy tonight that that railway they hated is not going to go through their back garden. and the places it was going to, broadly speaking, in urban england, are labour strongholds. you are totally right though that what borisjohnson is very good at is selling a big, dramatic, easily branded a bold thing.
what perhaps you could say he is less good at doing is the more nuanced, complicated, it's not the big shiny thing but there are smaller, shinier things coming faster. here's how he attempted to try and sell the message today. these are massive, massive. gains, and what they will also produce is the commuter- benefits that we want to see. we are notjust digging i huge swathes of new rail across virgin countryside - and through peaceful villages, which is what some of- the critics say we should be doing more of. we are doing a bit of that, i no doubt, building over 100 miles of high—speed line, | but we are also improving and upgrading the commuter network to shorten journey l times in the east midlands, . the west midlands and across the whole north of the country. i guess the crux of this, laura, whether it's rail and the announcement today
or anything else at the moment, at this stage in a parliament, between general elections, this is where a government at any time to start turning its rhetoric, its grand promises, into reality, and the point where voters will then come to a judgement. that's right. this government has been very conscious of that in the last few months, i think increasingly conscious of that, because of course the pandemic basically slammed the brakes on anything else that they wanted to do, of course, quite understandably. but it meant pretty much the first two years of the administration, and we are almost at that two—year anniversary, whether you want to celebrate it or commiserate over it, of course, that's up to you, newscasters, but we are almost two years in now, and it is absolutely at the moment, especially when it comes to big projects, if it's not happening now, it's not going to be done before the next general election. when it comes to railway lines, if you don't get spades in the ground very, very soon, people aren't even going to be able to see that it might be ready or might be happening in the next five, ten years, because these kind of things don't happen quickly at all.
i think, in the context of the fact the government has been taking lots and lots of knocks in the last couple of weeks, there is real trepidation among tory mps about whether or not they really have got a grip on what they want to do as a government, and frankly what a lot of people are starting to say is whether or not actually, and of course number ten would dispute this, and backers of boris johnson would dispute this very firmly, but a lot of tory mps are starting to say, perhaps actually we might be squandering some of this enormous majority, because it's only once in a generation, sometimes only once in every several generations that a majority as big as 80 actually comes along. why does that matter, guys? because, without a huge majority, you can't do controversial, difficult things, because you are always having to worry about sneaking things through, winning votes in the house of commons, and this is the moment, with a majority of 80, a party would normally be really steaming ahead.
you talk about tory mps and you talk about social care, and i think it will be very interesting over the weekend and the start of next week to see if there are complaints from the backbenches about social care, because, as you were hinting at, we discovered yesterday some more technical details about this cap on care costs. people who are getting funding from their local authority for their care, that funding will not contribute to their journey towards the £86,000 cap. so reinforcing this criticism that is aimed at it, that actually it's a thing to help people who've got lots of assets and lots of money already, rather than the poorest people on low or middle incomes. and the key thing about this change to the cap is, it's got to be passed through legislation. there has got to be an amendment to the health and social care bill, which is back in the house of commons on monday and tuesday.
so there is an opportunity for mps, conservative mps in red wall seats or seats with lots of voters who would be affected by this, to make their concerns known. in politics, things come in threes. laura said the first two, sleaze, hs2, and along comes a third. and again, laura, it's that gap, isn't it, between expectation and rhetoric and how reality might look. that's right, and i don't recall boris johnson standing on a stage saying, oh, we fixed social care but, ooh, actually, by the way, if you've got a bit of money but not that much, actually this isn't really going to help you. who recalls that? absolutely no one. and, you know, it's the kind of thing that, given the mood in westminster this week, it mightjust be by this time next week that we are actually talking about a huge rebellion over the government's social care plans. now, who knows? i haven't been in westminster today. i don't know of the chatter building among mps, but i have to say it's notjust red wall
mps are worried about, or who are not pleased with how this proposal has actually emerged. we will see what the next few days bring. but it was interesting to note today immediatelyjust how very publicly disappointed the man who designed the system, andrew dilnot, who of course we don't need to introduce to newscasters, somebody who is a giant brain, policy expert, who basically invented this kind of system where care costs would be capped a long time ago. he was pretty scathing today in his criticism of the way that the government is proposing to do it. also, it's worth remembering that this cap, even this less good version of this cap, as people perceive it, is still better than the current system, it's just not as amazing as if they'd gone for the full plans come up with by andrew dilnot a few years ago. right, laura, we are now going to speak to micheal martin, the taoiseach, just in a couple of sentences, explain why is he worth speaking to tonight on newscast? well, newscasters will remember, in the last couple of weeks, there has been a real build—up of tension over whether or not the uk
is going to start an official legal bust—up with the eu over what they see as the over—the—top, overzealous implementation of the rules that govern northern ireland that were agreed as part of the brexit deal. that would be the so—called triggering of article 16 and in the last couple of weeks, the irish said it would be unwise, reckless to do that, but was he taking quite such a dramatic tone when i talked to him tonight? i think people, you know, genuinely, in the north, from my last engagement, which was only late last week, people genuinely want this resolved by agreement and i think lord frost, to be fair to him, went to northern ireland two days this week, to discuss these issues with people on the ground as well and i think a genuine effort is clearly being made now in respect of endeavouring to get this resolved by agreement. is it reasonable that someone, for example, who lives in barnsley in england would have to get a rabiesjab for their dog if they wanted to go on holiday in the north
of ireland? is it reasonable that somebody selling second—hand agricultural machinery from somewhere in england over to northern ireland has inspectors crawling under their vehicle with torches to make sure that they have scraped off every single piece of soil? is it reasonable? well, again, i think you can isolate examples like that and in the generality of trade, i think it would be far more streamlined and efficient and it would be part of the package that has been brought forward which is designed to minimise all of those checks, particularly sps checks, medicine and so on, but of course remember, you know, the british government signed this agreement with the european union for a reason, brexit, and brexit clearly has changed the landscape and this is a unique solution to the challenges that brexit created, if you like, in terms of the sensitive relationship between britain and ireland, northern ireland, and it is never going to be perfect, but it is important
that we do not allow perfect to become the enemy of good. but for many people itjust seems to be, you know, over—the—top, and yes, the eu has put some new proposals on the table, but when they say they would cut 80% of checks, they'd mean 80% of checks, if the protocol was being fully implemented. well, again, the european union is there to negotiate, to engage, and to minimise the issues and the vice president went to the north, i spoke with him before he went to the north and he is very keen to get this resolved. you know, i spoke to angela merkel, one year ago who said to me, the last thing we want is an abundance of checks. we want to minimise checks. that is what is happening, though, isn't it? no, it's not. i think it is overstated to some degree. there is not an abundance of checks and it can get resolved, with goodwill on all sides. what happens if this cannot be resolved? the uk has been clear — if there is not a significant move on the eu side, the uk is absolutely explicit
that it may well push the button on a legal dispute — article 16 is the technical name of the mechanism. you said it would be "reckless and unwise" for the uk to trigger article 16. why? well, my own view is that unilateralism never works and i am very encouraged by what has transpired this week and last week between lord frost and maros sefcovic and lord frost himself said that this can be agreed. but why would it be unwise and reckless, then? sorry, that comment was made some weeks ago, when indications were that a unilateral move is going to be made tojust trigger it, without really serious engagement on the issues. i now believe that what is happening is good and positive in terms of the engagement — it's the very type of thing that i want to see, that i had not been seeing, and this was prior to cop26 and when i was at cop26, i was hearing different messages from other european leaders in terms of what london was saying but i am glad to say that the mood music has
changed now. there is still a long way to go and people have to see the substance and the detail of the issues being reconciled, but i believe they can. a year ago we spoke — in fact, almost exactly a year ago we spoke — when the uk and the eu were trying to get the brexit deal finalised. a year ago, you said that the uk had to knuckle down to get a deal. what is your message to the uk now? it was christmas eve in the end. it was! i would say don't leave it until christmas eve this year! i think my message is, one, the european union sincerely wants to engage and get a resolution for this. of that, i have no doubt. and i think the uk government, you know, should really accept those bona fides and engage likewise with the european union. i believe that they are now. i think lord frost's comments this week were helpful in that regard.
but you make it sound, though, as if the uk doesn't quite believe that the eu was serious. and certainly on the uk side, many people would say to you, "if the eu seriously wants to get this resolved, "there are steps that they could "take that are far more radical, that would budge far "further than what they have put on the table so far." they have come very far. i would be surprised by that description of it, obviously, because most people in europe, actually, quite a number of countries thought that maros sefcovic went too far in terms of the package that he offered. but it sounds as if you think this might all be solved sort of rather easily, and what would the eu do if the uk does follow through with its warnings? well, i think the eu president has made very clear to the united kingdom it is prospective on that. i do not think that now is the time to be speculating as to what would or would not happen. but remember, this was an agreement that was signed not too long ago between the british government and the european union, in good faith, and the protocol and the withdrawal agreement was agreed in advance of the full trade agreement
and, in essence, in sequence, and that is the challenge and the difficulty is for everybody. but some people have speculated it — and your colleague, simon coveney, in your own government, speculated that the whole trade deal might be a casualty if this went ahead. well, a number of weeks ago... is he wrong? a number of weeks ago there was a different atmosphere governing the situation and there were all sorts of rumours and lines of communication being articulated to and fro. since then, that has calmed down somewhat and there is a better appreciation, i think now, of where these talks can go. if this cannot be resolved, what is the worst—case scenario? again, i do not want to be entering into a doomsday scenario here or making comments that might be perceived as threatening, you know, in terms of what could happen but i think the implications are clear to all of us, in a sense, that this agreement signed over a year ago, the guts of a year ago and that there are a number of relationships
there, between the uk and the european union, do we really want that to go into a period of stress? are you getting frustrated that this has become such an issue? i am, yeah, i am frustrated. i do not think this needs to be where it is right now and i think it can get resolved. i passionately believe in that. and in my last meeting at chequers with the prime minister, we did focus on some of the potential in the british— irish relationship that we should be working on, but these issues that are not resolved that are rising out of the protocol and brexit are getting in the way of a full flowering of that relationship into the future. do you feel as is, actually, that there is any one you have any affinity with? what about boris johnson? what is he like as an opposite number? a very pleasant person, and easy enough person to engage with and to discuss issues with, i have to say that. a recent profile of you said that when you were younger, you used to do impressions of people. do you do impressions of any politicians? privately! can you do an impression of borisjohnson? people try. no, i have not done one of boris. iwatch, though, and i am impressed with how he —
he has very good, i think, presentation at times, in terms of his engagement with people, people on the street and so on, but i have never, ever tried to impersonate him. i am working on it. who what about the presidents, then? donald trump, joe biden? any of them? don't go too far now! i got into trouble in one interview and i took off on one many years ago, so i don't need to go back there, you know. i used to do that when i was young and i suppose that is just something in my persona, i was interested in mannerisms of other people. my school teachers were my favourites, trying to take them off when there was a free class or something like that, you know? any particular one that you can tell us about? teachers? oh, my maths teacher in particular, yeah. but i am not going there now. you're not going to get me into doing an imitation. i might be able to tempt you! just lastly, a lot of people will be watching this on our podcast, newscast, and listening to it — which, of course, used to be brexitcast. and the number of hours that people in the uk have heard talking
about the irish and the british relationship, what has that been like for you as an irish politician? has itjust been annoying sometimes, that it has almost become caught up in this, you know, united kingdom process and you have ended up being, i don't know — do you see ireland as having been, you know, a victim of all of this? do you get frustrated by being stuck in the middle between the eu and the uk? i don't get frustrated — i mean, i do worry about it. look, i am a passionate believer in membership of the european union for ireland. i accept fully the democratic wishes of the british people to leave the european union but, to me, britain has contributed a lot to the european union — and to europe more generally has an awful lot to contribute. we need britain — we need britain's heft in terms of the geopolitical situation globally and that is why i genuinely believe there has to be greater harmony and a really strong, constructive alignment of interests between european union and the united kingdom and then in terms of the british—irish relationship, it is a wonderfully rich relationship — in sport, in families, i mean, i have many
cousins living in the uk. my uncle fought with the british army in world war ii, was a prisoner of war injapan for three years in the changi prison in singapore, when singapore fell. these are the kind of normal, natural ties between ireland and britain that have been there for decades and centuries so we do really, ithink, need to overcome this brexit challenge which has been a blip in all of that and move on. thank you very much. thank you. right, let's compare notes. laura, what do you think, as we would say in the trade, were the top lines from that interview? well, i think we just heard the taoiseach there really try to be very conciliatory — i can't say that word, conciliatory — after a few weeks of quite hot tempers in terms of how things have been between the eu and the uk — and, indeed, some of his irish colleagues, like simon coveney, who not so long ago was saying, "well, if the uk trigger
article 16, then the whole trade agreement might come crashing down". so i think he was genuinely, you know, trying to add to what some people have seen as a more constructive environment in the last couple of weeks. but you could still tell, though, he said it was a bit frustrated, he said the uk needs to believe that the eu is really trying to solve this with goodwill so i think, in a funny way, he is also that kind of politician, you know, if you talk to other people about, they are amenable, someone who wants everyone to get on, but if you take some of that out, he is also kind of saying, "look, the eu has put proper concrete proposals forward. "believe that that is what we are going to offer you but take that opportunity or, very diplomatically, things might get quite sticky." so i wonder where we are now, laura and adam, versus where we were before we heard that interview or where we were, say, a week ago. are where we in substantively a different place or not? well, he is definitely de—escalating the irish position after, as laura said, simon coveney, his deputy, escalated it a few weeks ago and he sort of suggested that the uk has been
doing that privately, diplomatically, with other people around the world as well. now, whether that is true, whether that is a tactic he is deploying to reduce the temperature and actually, the uk has not been doing that, then i also wonder if there will be a bit of blowback from that because david frost and borisjohnson like to look like the hard men in and so if they have got people on their backs going, "hang on, have you dialled down these threats about article 16?" that could cause them a little bit of a domestic political problem. also, ijust think, two other little things that i scribbled down — he were sort ofjoking, but he sort of meant it, please do not make it another christmas eve crisis! and he is a well—known impressionist and he denied that he has been working on a borisjohnson impression! what was interesting as well is that the last few days, i have been talking to people on the uk side about this because there have been these kind of question marks about "oh, well, when there was all that rhetoric and sabre rattling — was that really — did that really mean that they were about to push a button? has the uk really changed its mind?
we have seen that lord frost has been in northern ireland this week, seeming to at least, to be seen to be trying to get to a deal. but i have talked to a few people in government in the last 48 hours who have said, "no, our position has not changed, so basically forget about the rhetoric here, the position is not any different. "don't think this has all gone away, don't think we suddenly think that the eu proposals are going to fix it all" and you wonder if someone in government suggested to me today, quite casually, but suggested there was maybe a bit of wishful thinking going on because actually, lord frost in the lords today was very clear to basically say "our position has not changed" and it was also suggested to me by someone who was talking to government about this, who is pretty well—placed, but actually the position had not changed, but the government, they suggested, had held off on cracking on with article 16, because the sleaze saga had gone on for so long and they did not want to open up a new front of —
i was going to say a rude word, that would be terrible — a ne tricky domestic front, a new front politically, until that was somehow fading from view. ah, picking through every syllable — that is taking me back to brexitcast. brexitcast never quite leaves us, even with our relatively newish branding for newscast. no. anyway, laura, that was a great interview. thank you for rustling up the taoiseach for us on this episode of newscast and we will be back with another one very soon. bye! newscast. newscast, from the bbc. hello there. who'd have thought, by the middle of september, we'd still be experiencing temperatures during the middle of the afternoon into the mid—teens? that's exactly what happened on thursday, with temperatures peaking just over 16 celsius in parts of aberdeenshire. now for many, we are under this influence of high pressure
and a south—westerly flow is driving in a lot of cloud, but a lot of warmth with it. yes, a weather front into the far north, but it means that we start off on an incredibly mild start this morning — these are more akin to daytime maximums at this time of year. so, double digits quite widely first thing. the cloud, however, thick enough for a spot or two of drizzle — quite a damp, murky start out to the west — and our weather front producing some heavy, persistent rain to the far north of scotland and the northern isles. top temperatures, though, with a little bit of brightness into eastern scotland, maybe north—east england, once again 14—15, maybe 16 degrees. however, that front will gradually sink its way south through the weekend. it's a cold front. it's allowing the wind direction to change to a northerly and to bring quite a different feel to the weather as we go through the weekend. so on saturday, it will weaken off considerably as it moves its way through northern ireland into northern england. ahead of it, we should get some sunshine. to the north of that, it will be a cooler feel with a scattering of showers — temperatures struggling to get into double figures by then. now, saturday night into sunday, the front
continues to sink its way steadily southwards. we can track the isobars all the way back up into the arctic. that cold air is starting to take hold. it means in sheltered, rural parts of scotland, we could see a touch of frost first thing on sunday morning. sunday, there will be some sunshine but a keen northerly wind driving in some showers potentially along the coast. and factor in the wind direction and the strength, it is going to feel noticeably cooler, so temperatures struggling to get into double figures right across the country. but watch this — those clear skies continue through the night. temperatures are likely to fall away in scotland and the north of england. we are likely to see more of a frost as lows get down to —2 in one or two places, so a bit of a shock to the system in comparison to what we've had just lately. and in fact, to close out the month of november, it is going to stay on the cold side. the potential for some wintry showers later in the week with overnight frosts as well.
welcome to bbc news. i'm mark lobel. our top stories: trapped on the edge of the eu — the desperation of migrants. we have a special report from the border between bosnia and croatia. global concerns grow about the safety of chinese tennis player, peng shuai, unseen since accusing a senior government official of sexual assault. we're all pretty worried, given what's happened over the last couple of weeks and that, really, the right kind of contact and communication with peng shuai has not happened yet. tracing the origins of coronavirus — the new study providing the most reliable account yet about the evolution of the virus. british columbia declares a state of emergency, as record breaking
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