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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  December 18, 2016 11:30am-12:01pm GMT

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civil servants and others that hold public office could be made to swear an oath before taking up their role. the communities secretary sajid javid suggested in a newspaper that the values could include democracy, equality and freedom of speech. the un security council is to vote today on whether to send observers to the stricken syrian city of aleppo. a ceasefire in the city has recently been reinstated after plans collapsed on friday. the leader of the rmt mick cash has denied that his union is using the dispute with southern rail to take on the government. thousands of commuters have been affected by the strike action over who should control train doors. the first time i heard about this was in the newspapers that got published. we are not trying to bring down this government. former ukip leader nigel farage has said he wants to be the bridge between the uk and the incoming trump presidential administration. the president—elect has previously spoken out suggesting mr farage would make a good uk ambassador to the us. bbc sports presenter ore oduba has been crowned champion of this year's strictly come dancing as lead judge
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len goodman leaves the show after 12 years on the programme. and tonight, personalities across the sporting world will be celebrating this year's sports personality of the year, with a record 16 contenders being shortlisted for the final award. now on bbc news... it's time for dateline. hello and welcome to dateline london. the fall of aleppo — how significant a moment is this — and what comes next? plus, britain's ambassador to the european union reports that brexit and the trade negotiations could take ten years. is brexit delayed, brexit denied?
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our guests today are: jef mcallister who is an american writer and broadcaster, suzanne lynch of the irish times, abdel bari atwan who writes on arab affairs and alex deane who is a conservative commentator. very good to see you. president assad's forces have taken over aleppo amid repeated and credible reports of appalling human rights abuses — and much hand wringing about the west "doing something." what is the "something" that could or should have been done? what are the consequences of the fall of aleppo? and does it merely show that russian policy — however horrific the consequences — is at least coherent, whereas western policy has made little sense, and is failing? first of all, this is a very big moment, yes? it is a very big moment. it is a turning point, not only in syria but the whole of the middle east. it proves that russia has got the upper hand. russia is winning and the west is losing on the middle east. this is the turning point. the west, there are a lot of cries saying we should do this, but you can't do anything.
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any intervention could drag us to a third world war. here, putin is determined to come back to the middle east strongly. it's not only syria, he will move to most of the region. now he's got iran and iraq. syria, god know what will happen next. what will happen next in syria, it will be the battle of idlib. now, they have managed to gather those islamists, or the al-qaeda and isis members in idlib. now the next step that the russians and assad will say is they are terrorists and we want to get rid of them. if you want to intervene you are supporting terrorists. because they separated the so—called moderate opposition or armed fighters from the radical ones, the islamist one so that islamists,
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most of them, go to idlib. this is the next battle. the choice for the west and aleppo, you have to choose. either assad or actually al-qaeda. this is the problem. if you intervene you have al-qaeda. if you don't intervene you are helping assad. but assad emerges victorious and it will be very difficult to depose him since aleppo falls to the hand of his forces. have we just got it wrong? in terms of russian policy, that is perfectly coherent policy, whether we find it despicable, the way it's worked out on the ground. has the west got it wrong? the russians have been brutal but consistent. they have achieved the end they set out to reach which is more than you can say for western policy in syria. bearing in mind we were against assad before we were sort of for him, we still say we are against him now.
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the stated position of our foreign secretary, when he meets other counterparts is the future of syria has to be without assad, even though this seems to make it far more likely he remains in place. plainly if this series of events in aleppo brings peace then it is to be welcomed. i think there are many who would rather we were talking about the fall of assad rather than the fall of rebels. the caveat from my perspective is in 2011, 2012, when there was a nascent movement we could have supported to oppose assad and it was consistent and coherent, we effectively let that be crushed. the british parliamentary vote was the crowning glory of that lack of action. the jihadis took over. one of the ways you can tell that happened in areas like aleppo, is they wanted international journalists to be there because they would tell the story of aleppo and syria to the world, to kidnapping and murdering journalists because they wanted a monopoly of news. that is what the jihadists do, and that's what they have achieved. a lot of people looking
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at this blame obama and you set a red line and when somebody crossed it you did not do anything, over gas attacks and so on. we know about wmd in iraq and people being very suspicious but the buck stops with obama? i think fundamentally that is right. i have been sympathetic to him because after the ridiculousness and terrible misery and stupidity of iraq where the lesson obviously needed to be learned, that just because you want a good outcome in a complicated country you can just achieve it by wishing it, or bombing, or having a no—fly zone, i have been very sympathetic to obama, not wanting to make a more stupid mistake than doing nothing. but when you look at the outcome you have to think a no—fly zone as hillary wanted, or at least establishing the red line and enforcing it to some degree, pushing back somehow, going forward
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and taking a risk would have resulted in something better than the outcome we have now, which is notjust bad in the middle east but will also be bad in terms of refugees, jihadis coming back to europe and the united states. it makes the west look foolish and stupid. it doesn't make putin have a coherent policy but he has picked a target and he has won. if it's the rules of grozny, which means nothing much left, he's still won and people pay attention to that. i think the timing of the fall of aleppo could not be worse for president obama because it will overshadow his last month in the white house. we may see some action from him in the next few weeks over russia's involvement and the hacking which is separate but connected, given russian involvement. the timing is interesting. i think around the world people are in wait and see mode, waiting for the new administration to take their seats in the white house. obviously, the actions in the last few weeks
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by the russian backed assault in aleppo was about getting facts oi'i the ground, rushing as quickly as possible to get that situation in so we have a fait accompli if you like in the city before donald trump takes over. there are still rebel strongholds throughout the country so this is by no means over. it may in fact just be the beginning. how was the scene in the gulf and saudi arabia? i talked to a very prominent businessman from that area, an arab businessman, and he said the arab world is so completely divided it does not make sense to talk about an arab world. libya is a disaster, we know what is happening in yemen, and russian influence has extended. he is very, very worried about the future of prosperous gulf states in saudi arabia. they are really very embarrassed, particularly saudi arabia and qatar and other states. they were promising the syrian people for the
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last six years that they will oppose assad. there is no future for assad in syria at all. he has to leave. the foreign minister, he must go by political settlement or military adventure. but in the end, syrians are frustrated and so angry with qatar and saudi arabia, you let us down, your american allies let us down. we have been fighting, carried arms, suffered a lot with 6000 refugees and more than 600,000 were killed, and now aleppo falls to the hands of assad. but talking about obama, i believe he was extremely wise when he did not intervene, when he chickened out when it came to the chemical weapons. there will be a confrontation with russia. was he going for the
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head of assad or the chemical weapons? it was the chemical weapons and he has got it. we can see the picture from outside. the russians are on the ground. the americans are not on the ground. i wanted to broaden that conversation about russia's aims because we have seen in a lot of newspapers today, allegations of russia hacking not just the united states but the united kingdom. they are making the suggestion that he may not have a global foreign policy... if the status quo assists russia's national interests, enforce it. if the status quo does not assist russia's national interests, upset it. this is precisely what he's been doing in country after country. that is why theresa may is convening our national security council to investigate allegations of russian hacking of british interests. this is a serious concern notjust in america, but across europe. we have a series of european elections next year and there are a lot of fears about russia's involvement in those. the national front in france has
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already got a loan from a russian bank close to the kremlin. another interesting development is the centre—right candidate francois fillon for the french presidential election. he is pro—russian. he has queried whether the west should still impose sanctions. he met angela merkel on the fringes of a meeting in brussels this week. we could be looking at a situation in france next year where we have a pro russian president, either if the centre—right candidate gets in, or marine le pen. we also have a pro—russian president in the united states. and he may have been elected partly because of putin. the leaks obviously came from putin, and the false information which got put into the ecosystem. even if he wasn't elected, his relaxed attitude to hacking with the cia saying... it is unprecedented. it is unbelievable that he has
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not only been negative but he said he does not trust the american intelligence agencies to give a fair assessment of what is happening. i agree that his own position on his own intelligence services is odd. not odd! his position on russia per se is odd and his position with his own intelligence services is deeply worrying but i see no evidence that russia manipulated the election result. the question of the president of the united states being relaxed about hacking by a foreign government, i think we all agree on. what is he going to do with any of these issues? i would make the argument that if there is to be more fighting in syria, perhaps he canjoin in on the side of the russians. i would not go that far necessarily, but i think he is not going to put any brakes on. i think he is going to make
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a gamble that our real enemy is isis. they're going to ally with the russians against isis. i don't care if it is messy, i don't care about international human rights, we are just going to go for our enemies. the french candidate is clear. with trump, we are not clear. we have general mike flynn for example. how is he? he has been pictured beside putin but he is very anti—iran. iran is a player now. there are militants being supported by iran who are on assad's side. where do you see russia's role in all this? there are those who think russia has brilliantly muddied so many waters. we have confusion about
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the american election. we have in ukraine, what they say has happened in ukraine is certainly not what many other people think is happening. people in the baltic region are very concerned. they say there are some russian generals who are saying that a limited nuclear war in europe is possible. a limited nuclear war, this is something which is wrong—footing the past 60 years of what we have endured. we endured 30 years of russian nonexistence on international politics. america and the west were the dominant figures in the middle east, in southeast asia, in europe. now this monster is waking up. now we have vladimir putin. he wants actually to make russia great, as trump wants to make the united states great. he came back, you have to remember that
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russia was humiliated in afghanistan by the west. they were defeated, they lost the soviet union empire, they were bankrupt, corruption, during yeltsin and the last days of gorbachev and the last days of the soviet union, now there is a strong man. he is from the kgb, he wants to reinstate his country on the international map again as a strong superpower. he wants his power back and we are not going to give it to him, as an american senator once said. he does want his empire back, doesn't he? i think that is broadly speaking right. there is another thing to come out of that conversation. last night in his departing press conference obama said russia is a small country, a weak country, an insignificant country. odd sort of trash talking that
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you often see pre—boxing match between opponents. if that is right, he has the opportunity to impose a fresh round of sanctions, to sharpen the issue, to put it on top of the national agenda and double down, leaving that legacy for president trump to think about. perversely, although trump opposes everything that obama stands for, if the ticket of sanctions is far more strong oi'i russia he is less likely to immediately unwind. let's not fool ourselves about the power of russia here. we have also got nato and huge military might. it is down to choice whether they will intervene or not. we are back to cold war arguments. but a diminished nato. the hardware is there but the political will is not? now it is all up to trump essentially. let's move on. according to britain's ambassador to the european union — one of the best informed people at the sharp end of british policy —
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the mood in the eu is such that any brexit deal could mean any future trade deal with the eu would demand up to ten years of negotiations, and be subject to constant sniping from one or other or several of the 27 eu governments. in ten years the british government could change twice. what do we make of all this and its implications? first of all, he is the conduit. the ambassador is not saying this is what i think, he is saying what other people think. is he right? there is no doubt a significant trade deal between britain and the eu would take longer than the two years set out in article 50. i think people are fooling themselves. we are looking at a two—year process in the immediate term and then a transitional agreement that would last until a new trade agreement is formed and that could take eight, nine, ten years. i think it could if you look at all the complexities. very significant this week is philip hammond suggesting for the first time that he thinks it is a good time to
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have this transitional arrangement. it means after britain leaves after two years, it would still be subject to the eu in some form. it would still be under eu law or paying into the eu budget. that is real politics. sir ivan rogers reflected what other member states are saying. there was an eu summit which theresa may attended and they are sticking strong to that line. there has been no concession on the eu side and the conversation on thursday night took 20 minutes. they took 20 minutes and they are consistently saying we will not discuss this until you come to this, but they are obviously discussing among themselves and setting out their own red line. this is pleasing nobody, the remainers who are sometimes called remoaners will hate any move and people who want to get out all want to get
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out straightaway. do you buy that it is more complicated? that is life. when you have a binary option referendum you have one or two sides but when you live out the reality of that decision it will take longer than some would like. i'm relaxed about it, i want to get on with it but i am relatively relaxed. just to clear up one thing, rogers has done nothing wrong. he is a diplomat conveying information as he rightly should do. we need more intelligence, not less. let's not criticise those who deliver it. on the substance, i sort of agree with sarah, but i disagree with the criticism of the two—year period as if there is something wrong with article 50's process being played out in that time. the article 50 negotiations are purely and simply about britain leaving the european union and the different negotiating teams on either side. their mandate is to deal with article 50, how britain leaves. how britain has a relationship with the eu after that is a separate article. but you cannot just fall off
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a cliff with no problem. the tone of your voice does not necessarily mean it is wrong. if i was british i would not think it was a good idea. why would it possibly be a good idea? my point is, framing an option in pantomime terms does not make it better or worse, it just says how you feel about it. this is not the same situation. we are not a member of the wto yet. since 1995, you are right, we gave up an ownership of the wto to participate via the eu but are any of you seriously claiming that the united kingdom would be kept out of the wto as a member? probably not, i agree. all the complexities, think of greenland
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taking three years to leave the eu. think of canada... when norway decided not to join it took eight months. norway was not a member of the eu. you left the eu. you decided to quit, ok, so you should not expect those people who you turn your back to them, to be nice to you. you cannot ask for free trade agreements and get the same benefits as if you are a member of the eu, no, you can't. you have to leave and after that, they will decide whether they will give you this free trade agreement or not. but you cannot leave and have all the benefits. but you were in favour of brexit, weren't you? no, i was against it. i was always against it. the city of london, most businesses would like a transitional agreement.
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most people in business and trade would like a transitional agreement. this weekend we saw a very important report from the house of lords on the uk fishing industry. i was very surprised. uk fishing was something you would think would want to come out of the eu altogether and the common fisheries policy that even in that area the house of lords were saying they would have to keep some eu membership. but the areas with fishermen and women voted overwhelmingly for brexit. i'm not opposed necessarily to transitional agreements, i think it's unlikely that it will be agreed in the timescale set out in the treaties. that is the problem isn't it? it takes so long to work out. as long as you get to a scenario where britain can govern itself, decide its own laws and lead its own future, then i am comfortable. if that means we need a transitional agreement then i hope they can come into place. the weird thing is, the three of you seem all to believe that the european union will be fundamentally irrational in its emotional behaviour towards the uk. that may be true.
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what sort of union do you want us to be in? when you have a divorce, people often get a lot angrier when they are on their way out. that's how they behave? they often do behave irrationally. all you need is one veto. what is keeping you in that marriage is blackmail... there is fear of leaving and everything. on this side of the table you have already conceded that the eu is a very movable feast. the french elections, we don't know what'll happen in france, the italian banks are in a shambles, the greek problem has not gone away. syriza is one of the least popular greek governments. this is not a happy club of 27
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holding hands and having a hug. which is precisely why they do not want to make it easy for britain. with 27 countries versus one, i know britain is a very important global power and a very important trading power, but why would these 27 people give britain a good deal when they decided to leave earlier? obviously, there will be pragmatism, there are a lot of exporters crucially from germany, so angela merkel will be very pragmatic about this and she will be the dominant person i think... assuming she is re—elected. they said last week, they cannot have a better position than when they were in the eu. the arabs will solve the problem. theresa may was the honourable guest of the gulf council. but unfortunately, the oil prices are going down and most of the countries are suffering. now she is starting to look to alternative markets. to compensate for 50% of the british
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exports to the european union, i think it would be extremely... why would it stop? why would the exports stop? because the tariffs on, if there are tariffs on british exports in to europe they will not buy as much fish from britain, that is how it works. just taking the fish example, how will they take them to australia? you basically have to have a free trade regime. why would it not be possible? alex's main point is that the european union are going to act in a rational rather than emotional manner, they may be angry but eventually we have to do a deal and if it is good for everybody to trade there, those are the terms. it is not europe's position.
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they have said they don't want that. they would prefer to be in the wto. what you are describing is a protectionist customs union. that is what they want. david davis has said he would prefer to prioritise free movement controls over trade. that will be the choice of britain, not europe. and he is right. a final thought, on domestic politics, one reason why i thought the 10—year report will be interesting, we have no idea who will be in government in ten years' time. ifjeremy corbyn does not get his act together... my instinct is, the conservative party gets a free ride in the house of commons. jeremy corbyn does not control his party.
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i think our relationship with the eu will come down to some of these trade deals. barnier seems to think we can get a deal done in less time. we can leave it there because we have 2017 to talk about it! that's it for dateline london for this week. you can comment on the programme on twitter and interact with our guests. we're back next week at the same time. please make a date with dateline london. goodbye. once againa once again a fairly quiet spell at the moment. i am sure you have noticed. it does not come without problems. especially across the
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southern half of the country, a real issue with fog this weekend, that continues into the afternoon. dry weather, get out and get on with it whether. more breeze in ireland and western scotland and double figures in some spots but if you hold onto the fog you will be close to four, five or six. then it returns, not necessarily in the same place, that is part of the problem with it. and with the breeze and the scottish borders and north of england we may have more fog here than of late. not a particularly cold night because we have got all that cloud. the weather front creeps into the north west of scotla nd front creeps into the north west of scotland and part of northern ireland in monday. more rain in the western hills of scotland. further south, some brightness coming in but watch out for the fog personal thing and later we may have thicker cloud in the east counties for the odd spot of rain. fog is the real issue at the moment but for many it is get out and get on with it.
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this is bbc news. i'm martine croxall. the headlines at midday: ahead of a strike on southern rail tomorrow, the rmt leader, mick cash, denies accusations his union is using the dispute to take on the government. for us it's all about safety, it's our absolute priority and that's what we're seeking to do and we are very frustrated that we can't get a deal. in the last hour, fresh hope for civilians trapped without supplies in the syrian city of aleppo, as rescue efforts begin again after two days of disruption. swearing an oath to british values — a government plan to make all public sector workers pledge to commit to values like democracy, equality and freedom of speech. also in the next hour, ore oduba lifts the glitter ball in the final of strictly come dancing. the bbc sports presenter and his partnerjoanne clifton
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