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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  November 28, 2021 2:30am-3:00am GMT

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a pcr test. israel is planning to ban the entry of all foreigners for two weeks from sunday night — to tackle the spread of the omicron variant, after one case was detected. israeli prime minister naftali bennett has said that israel is on the verge of a state of emergency. the family and friends of one of those who died in the english channel when their small boat capsized, have told the bbc that she was kind hearted. maryam nuri mohamed amin was a 2k year old kurdish woman, from northern iraq, who was travelling to be with her partner. now on bbc news: it's time for dateline london — with shaun ley.
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hello and welcome to the programme, which brings together bbc specialists with the foreign correspondents who write, blog and broadcast to audiences back home from the dateline london. this week, the 27 people smuggled across europe to their deaths in the channel. the brakes are off for germany's traffic light coalition. and the peppa pig guide to being prime minister. our dateline panel this week, the portuguese academic and journalist eunice goes. we're hoping to bejoined soon by thomas kielinger, veteran uk watcher and royal biographer. and in the studio with me, the bbc news presenter and foreign correspondent clive myrie. good to see you, clive. first, covid, a new variant identified in south africa, is causing concern and disrupting international travel as a result. and clive, it's been called omicron tonight.
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it's always a bad sign when they give it a greek name, isn't it? yeah, it is. it's an attempt not to stigmatise its place, seeming place of origin. but the south africans are feeling very bruised by this, actually, because they feel that their systems have managed to detect this, detect it pretty quickly, and bring it to the attention of the world. and the response from the likes of the uk and a number of other countries now is to suspend flights and they feel a little bit bruised by that. but there is a great deal of anxiety about this. the mutations are rapid and they're numerous. and as a result, there's a perception that it could well mean that the vaccines that are in operation may not be effective. but as far as the british are concerned, they feel, after the missteps that were made with the delta variant coming out of india and a failure to shut down flights from there quickly, they had to act precipitously, even though a case hasn't been found here. but you're seeing the politics
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of this covid problem play out throughout all this. and the hope is that, you know, the vaccines will be able to deal with this new variant in time. thomas, back a few months ago, cyril ramaphosa was one of a number of african leaders who were saying to western leaders, look, you need to help us get vaccine to our part of the world, if only for your own self—interest, because if you don't do it, the virus is going to have enough time to mutate. this looks tonight like it could be kind of evidence of exactly what we've been warned about. absolutely. and i'm sure other western nations were aware, and so was germany, of the need to help the third world in this regard. but they had so much trouble at home with the vaccination and the the enemies to vaccination. and germany had a fight on their hands to get the society to agree themselves to be vaccinated in sufficient numbers to stave off any further infections. and so we have a double
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crisis here. we have a crisis of confidence that vaccination at home is the way out of the problem. and we have the vaccination not sufficiently available in third world countries. i think it overwhelms the policy makers right now in a rather sad and dramatic fashion. thank you both very much. well, on wednesday, in another example of policy failure, as dusk fell and temperatures dropped, the cold, dark waters of the english channel claimed the lives of 27 people being smuggled into the uk. emmanuel macron vowed later that france would not allow the channel to become a cemetery. it already has, and notjust for these poor people. they, deceived perhaps, about the reception which awaits them in the uk, sent to their deaths certainly by the avarice of people smugglers, are the largest number known to have perished in these waters in a single incident. isaid, though, that they weren't the first. and sadly, eunice, they are unlikely to be the last. how big a failure of public policy do you think these
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deaths and the deaths of other people trying to migrate are for the political systems of the countries they want to come to or are passing through? well, this is a massive failure for all the political— systems in europe. but i think the western i countries in general have pretty much criminalised the whole process - of seeking asylum. and when we think that a lot. of the situations that have led thousands of people to seek asylum have been created . by western nations. i'm talking about wars. i'm talking about - military occupations. i'm even talking about pollution. the way that we essentially have not tackled _ the climate emergency. the actions of the west| are creating thousands, if not millions, of refugees worldwide _ and essentially we have tried to criminalise all the legal. routes for those thousands of people to seek- asylum in a safe way. and to a large extent, -
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this is what happened, sadly, very, very sadly on wednesday. what we saw, what we witnessed was over 50 refugees, _ and i think we should call them. refugees because most of them, from what we know, come from areas of conflict - in the world. so they do not live comfortable lives. | they left because they were at massive risk. i and they tried to reach - the united kingdom through the only way that they thought was possible for them, - because the legal routes i and the safe routes are no longer open to them. and this is the big tragedy. and until countries - like the united kingdom, and the rest of europe, - because we see something similar to what we witnessed in the channel, we've been. seeing in the mediterranean
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for the past year, _ since at least 2015. until there is a real- reckoning and an acceptance of responsibility, this i will continue to happen. this was a tragedy. that was preventable. it was predicted. and if we continue i to have a stand—off, and there is still no attempt to find a multilateral - solution to this problem. and so far what we've been seeing is the - passing of the bucket. britain essentially does not want to accept its l international responsibilities in receiving asylum seekersl and is essentially expectingi france to control and police its own border, something quite extraordinary. - so, for us, as long . as this will continue, this kind of stand—off, . childish stand—off, we're going to continue to watch . victims dying in the channel. let's hope these i
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were the last ones. you've used the word childish, and i suppose some people look at events on friday, clive, when the french president abruptly withdrew an invitation to the british interior minister to attend a meeting the home secretary priti patel in paris, i think in paris, or certainly in europe on sunday, to talk about exactly this problem because of a tweet that borisjohnson had put out, i mean, of course, it's all politics, but the relationship between france and the uk right now looks poisonous. yeah. and on a subject where people's lives are being sacrificed. asylum seekers are caught in the middle of a much bigger game. you'd think that this kind of tragedy would be the kind of thing that would bring countries together to work cooperatively to prevent that kind of thing happening again. but as i say, the asylum seekers are caught up on a much bigger canvas between france and the uk. post—brexit relationship has been terrible. overfishing, over northern ireland, you've got the defence pact between the australians
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and the americans and the british in which the french were left out. you've also got two leaders who at the moment feel they've got to play to the gallery. president macron has got a big election next year and borisjohnson hasjust come through one of the worst periods of his premiership. his opinion poll ratings are at their lowest since he became prime minister. they both have to give red meat to those on the right in their parties. and as a result, you don't have two leaders who are necessarily looking for compromise. so the idea that borisjohnson might float, that british police could be helping the french patrol the beaches of northern france, it's an absolute non—starter. even though if you stand back from the politics it seems rational. it makes perfect sense. and it could well be the kind of thing you see happen after the french election next year, or after a period of stability for boris johnson and his own conservative backbenchers. at the moment, you have got
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two leaders who are not willing to compromise. but certainly when it comes to potentially allowing french police officers, british police officers on french beaches, maybe it's something that will never happen. thomas, gerald darmanin, who is the interior minister in france, was saying on the wednesday after this tragedy became public that, you know, this is a europe—wide problem. eunice has already mentioned what's happening in the mediterranean. we know what's happening on the border with poland, although actually we don't know because the poles have kind of banned any ngos, organisations working, doing the humanitarian work there. but nonetheless, we know that it's a europe—wide problem. but he pointed out that all these people had come not from france, but they'd been bussed to the french coast from belgium some time in the small hours, and the boats in which they came had come from germany. well, i'm very glad you mentioned so that we can widen the debate, notjust look at the at the fraction between britain and france, but there's other european
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countries involved here. we have, after all, in europe, the dublin regime by which refugees or migrants who come to a european country have to first at the point of arrival apply for asylum laws in that country. so belgium here, i think, is a country which has been largely overlooked. they have pushed the bucket on to france and allowed a majority of these refugees who arrived in their countries to begin with, to continue to migrate into france. so i think it's essential that when tomorrow four countries, belgium, france, germany and the european union, brussels organisation, will be meeting in calais to discuss the situation along the channel, will at least admit that belgium and other countries have a role to play here.
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germany also, of course, which provides the dinghies and so forth, will have to cut that down. but it's basically open to all adjacent countries around france to ask themselves, do we not have a right, or an obligation rather, to allow those who arrive in our country to apply for asylum and not push them on to the next neighbouring countries? so that has to be looked at and will have to be solved hopefully tomorrow when they meet in calais. eunice, a lot of talk of action against the smugglers. but you talked about legal routes. i mean, when you look at the statistics, up to march this year, germany received the largest number of asylum seekers who were accepted, were in germany, 122,000 in the year to march 2021, france 93,000, the british 36,000, which puts us fifth, i think, in the numbers of applicants. it is a problem of scale all around europe. what could we be doing that might work, that might
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create an environment in which the people smugglers no longer had a business? well, i think by opening legal routes and safe i routes for asylum seekers who claim asylum. - the french government, - we've learned this afternoon that the french government has proposed to have british - officials processing asylum applications in france. - |this is what happens in severalj european countries that receive all of a sudden a whole wave of asylum seekers. - so they send their own police officers and home office - ministers and officials to process the asylum applications. this has to happen, - but there has to be a really honest conversation - about the politics of asylum.
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i think, for instance, _ in the case of this row between france and and united kingdom, there has to be a conversation. i is it really reasonable - to expect france to be policing at the cost of the french taxpayer, because it's. france who mostly pays - for the policing of the coast to protect the british borders and to protect the integrity . of britain from greater numbers of asylum seekers? _ i don't think it is. i don't think that britain - would accept something similar. would it be acceptable for britain to have - french police officers policing their coast? i i don't think that would be considered acceptable. - and in terms of europe, thomas mentioned - the dublin regulation. the dublin regulation has been a completely dysfunctional - regulation for a very long l time, because it places the burden mostly on the countries that are in the borders, -
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who are receiving - those asylum seekers. so it's essentially often the l poorest countries in europe. we had greece at the height of the eurozone crisis - with terrible economic crisis, facing as well a migration - crisis, with hundreds _ of thousands of asylum seekers trying to enter- europe via greece. greece did not have the . administrative or financial capability to deal with that - pressure from asylum seekers. the same thing happened in italy, and then - spain and then france. on the other hand, northernj european countries are quite protected, because the whole i idea that asylum seekers claim asylum in the first safe country of entrance, i it's not a very fair- way of tackling asylum. well, on the other hand, europe | has also outsourced its refugee| problem by expecting libya and turkey and other- countries to essentially deal with the refugees coming i from africa, - from syria and so on. so essentially, everyone | is passing on the bucket, when in reality what we forget is being a refugee, people - have the right to claim - asylum and that countries, every country in the world has the duty, the responsibility. of providing refugee status
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for those who claim it - if the claim is legitimate. thank you all very much. and the curtain will fall in just over a week's time on angela merkel�*s 16 years as chancellor of germany. this week, the social democrats, the greens and the liberal pro—business free democrats reached agreement on a new coalition government, what's called the traffic light coalition. the spd�*s campaign colour is red, the fdp's is orange. they'll enjoy a comfortable majority in the bundestag. thomas, all things being equal, there will be a vote and the new chancellor will take office. tell us about this man, olaf scholz. what's he like? well, he is a 63—year—old man from hamburg, a business—oriented pragmatist, somewhat introverted,
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and who has been working in the shadow of angela merkel because he was together with her in the grand coalition. yes, but he was a junior partner. he was the deputy prime minister and finance minister, and somewhat publicly inconspicuous. but he has a huge amount of public self—confidence, which shows when, as president of the city state of hamburg, which he once was in his career, he had to face certain scandals that fell off, rolled off his back like water off a duck�*s feathers. and he he managed to overcome them pretty easily. and interestingly, he was considered by his own party, the spd, which is a social—minded sort of left—of—centre party, not to be the leader of the party three years ago when they voted against scholz to becoming the leader of the spd, amazingly, hooray, hooray, a year later, the same party which rejected him as leader appointed him to be candidate for the successor to mrs merkel.
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so that shows you what sort of a comeback sort of man he is, and he will have to, of course, ride three horses at the same time. we've never had a tripartite coalition government. it's a totally new experience for germany, and all bets are off how they will manage. don't forget, we have huge public debt, according to the aid which had to be paid to companies and individuals to overcome the corona crisis. the country has incurred huge debts. we are lagging behind in digitalisation of the economy and so forth. but there is at least a new impetus that these three countries, the liberal—minded, the liberal party, which saw a strong growth in the economy, the social—minded spd from which mr scholz comes, and the green party will go and give a huge push forward in the climate change debate that might give new impetus. merkel�*s government in the last few years was somewhat lacking in charismatic
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sort of pronouncements. the chancellor pronounced all her policies as being without alternatives, and so that was stymying, as it were, the public debate for renewal. and so renewal at least, is what we are getting. and where the direction of renewal is taking place will have to be determined. indeed. clive, i mean, you were a europe correspondent. you watched angela merkel�*s kind of star performance on the european stage. does german leadership matter as much now, do you think? is olaf scholz going to be looking as much to what's happening europe—wide as worrying about some of those problems which thomas sort of implied the merkel government had neglected ? oh, yeah, absolutely. there's no question about it. i mean, germany, along with france, is at the heart of the european project financially and politically. there's no question about that. and i suppose the thing about angela merkel�*s sort of unflashy style of politics, particularly compared to a sarkozy or a chirac, who were the guys in power when i was in europe, gave her a sense of stability
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and a sense of seriousness that perhaps, certainly when it came to sarkozy, perhaps some would argue did not exist. but i think thomas has hit on something there which i think is interesting. and thomas has written brilliantly about angela merkel over the years. i think we're beginning to see potentially a reassessment of her legacy, and this focus on the fact that there has been very little investment inwardly, you know, in germany, the missteps over certainly for some germans, migration, missteps over the handling of the european financial crisis. the greeks are still very bitter about what happened. the preponderance of the focus of the energy policy on russia — moving away from its own domestic nuclear capability in terms of energy. i think germany will remain very important and at the heart of european politics, but i think the last sort of, what, 10, 15 years of angela merkel,
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i think they're being reassessed in interesting ways. yeah. just finally, eunice, briefly, if you can, you've just seen a government collapse in portugal. you do a lot of comparative politics. when you're not being a journalist, you're lecturing on politics. portugal had a rickety coalition, as they called it, but it lasted quite a long time, didn't it? are there lessons, do you think, for olaf scholz as he becomes chancellor? well, i think the lessons - for any long—lasting coalition government is dialogue - and respect for your partners. at the moment where therel is a loss of dialogue and less respect, that's essentially when the coalition - will collapse. thank you very much. now, are you sitting comfortably? then i'll begin. once upon a time, there was a pig called peppa. peppa lived in peppa pig world. it had very safe streets and discipline in schools. peppa could travel around with all her friends. oh, you haven't been? borisjohnson has. he's the prime minister, you know? he says it's in hampshire. it is.
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that bit isn't fiction. in fact, it is in hampshire. mrjohnson extolled the virtues of the peppa theme park in a speech to some of the uk's leading business people this week. a speech, whether or not you like peppa pig, clive, which has been widely derided as a bit of a car crash. it got terrible write—ups. what went wrong? when we give public speeches and, you know, i've given a few in my time, you know, you lose your place. i make sure that i number of them from now on, then i don't end up having to rely on the brilliance of peppa pig. borisjohnson is a populist. he is a boosterist, i'm sure he wouldn't mind me saying. he's someone who... the glass is always half full. yeah. he's very, very optimistic, and he puts that idea across in pretty much
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everything that he does and in how he behaves. that speech was in front of the cbi, the main business and industry organisation in this country, at a very worrying time following covid, the end of the furlough scheme, you know, all kinds of economic problems in terms of potentially rising inflation and so on. boosterism was not what these people wanted to hear. they wanted facts and a government agenda. now, while borisjohnson may have been able to get away with riffing on, you know, various things in the past, this is a serious moment for british industry and for the economy. and a riff on peppa pig was not what was required. it also perhaps pointed to wider problems within the administration, a lack of grip, a lack of rigour. and, you know, the various problems that the government has had recently. you've talked a lot on this show about about potential sleaze, the problems with not
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investing in the rail network that they thought they were going to invest in in the north of england, which was the plank of his election strategy in 2019, investing in the north, levelling up. levelling up. all that added to a sense that this government is not on top of things. and that's why borisjohnson�*s approval ratings are frankly the lowest of his premiership at the moment. we've just got a couple of minutes�* left. eunice, is there any reason why borisjohnson should be more worried about this particular trough rather than past troughs? because every prime minister has kind of troughs and then peaks in their time in office? yes. and he also benefits - from a really largely very positive and supportive media. you know, look how we are laughing at this incident, . when in fact, you know, - it's quite bad when the prime minister has completely no grip land is seen as rather pathetic. | i think you'll start i to get worried once the conservative party begin to trail behind the _ labour party, the main
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opposition party. - that hasn't happened yet. and so for as long as - the conservatives seem to be leading, which is quite. extraordinary given that they've been in power- since 2010, he is comfortable in his position. thomas, in the closing seconds of the programme, you've watched many, many prime ministers. i think i might hesitate to say, but maybe back as far as harold wilson. what are his prospects, briefly? not too bad. not too bad, because there is a theatrical streak in the british character. lots of people are somewhat entertained by borisjohnson, that at the height of the crisis that the country is in, the world is in, he can afford to get away to some extent with a speech like that. that is an entertaining sort of moment in the theatre. it's theatre, pure and simple. i mean, look, you have a speaker of the houses of parliament who has his parrot, who is a speaking parrot, who takes him on train journeys and entertains the other co—travellers. the name of the parrot is boris. that's another element of how the country always manages to have, you know, delight in_ entertaining moments. thomas kielinger, eunice goes,
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clive myrie, thank you all for entertaining us this evening. even on some very serious subjects, it suddenly occurred to me that i didn't tell you peppa pig was, in case you didn't know, it's a children's animation. from all of us on dateline london, goodbye. hello. storm arwen brought wind gusts close to 100mph across northumberland. the storm has now pulled away south and eastwards and with pressure building from the west, the winds will continue to ease, but sunday will be another cold day, further wintry showers in the forecast and the risk of ice through sunday morning and an area of rain, sleet and snow originally
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across scotland and just clipping northern ireland, will move into the north of england and into the midlands and wales by the end of the afternoon. on either side of this there will be some good spells of sunshine but further wintry showers just clipping the east coast and more cloud pushing into northern ireland, but we will see some late afternoon sunshine here. by comparison to saturday, the winds will be much lighter but still fairly gusty down these eastern coasts for a large part of the day and in that way and it is going to continue to feel cold. temperatures for some struggling to get much above two or 3 c and we could see seven or 8 c for some western coast. the area of rain, sleet and snow starting to move its way south through sunday evening, clear skies behind it, another cold and frosty night and more cloud and outbreaks of rain, a little bit of higher level snow pushing into north—west scotland and maybe northern ireland. temperatures across northern ireland staying above freezing, elsewhere another cold and frosty night. this is how we start monday, with this frontal system moving into northern ireland and scotland.
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it is a warm front so behind it the air is going to be slightly less cold but it will bring a lot of cloud, initially some snow on monday, through the grampians, the southern uplands, more like rain come the afternoon. further south, mainly dry, often cloudy, the best of any brightness, i think across southern and south—east england, where temperatures again, just four or 5 c. further west, they are starting to rise a little and we could see nine or ten across parts of north—west england, north—west scotland and northern ireland. as we move into tuesday, we see another frontal system pushing in from off the atlantic and this one is going to provide some heavy outbreaks of rain, initially in the scotland and northern ireland and gradually sliding its way south and eastwards through tuesday. some parts of central, southern and eastern england may stay dry through daylight hours, but look as the temperatures recover into double figures, 11 or 12 c on tuesday. behind that rain band, things will be turning colder again on wednesday with some wintry showers and feeling cold in the wind, still quite cold on thursday.
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welcome to bbc news — i'm simon pusey. our top stories... the new omicron strain of coronavirus is detected across europe — with cases confirmed in germany, italy, belgium, the czech republic and the uk — prompting new measures. we will require all contacts of those who test positive with a suspected case of omicron to self isolate for ten days regardless of your vaccination status. israel plans to ban the entry of all foreigners for two weeks from sunday night — to tackle the spread of the omicron variant. the family and friends of one of those who died in the english channel when their small boat capsized, tells the bbc that she was kind hearted, and humble. # go easy on me, baby...

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