tv Dateline London BBC News July 22, 2018 2:30am-3:01am BST
cu ba's national assembly is debating a new constitution which could bring far—reaching changes. measures to drastically reduce the communist state's control of the economy are being considered including the recognition of private property. presidential term limits may also be introduced and same—sex marriage could be legalised. president trump has hit out at his former lawyer, michael cohen, after claims he secretly recorded them talking about payments to a former playboy model. mr trump said it was inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client, and insisted he'd done nothing wrong. survivors of the boat sinking in the us that clamed seventeen lives have been giving their accounts of the disaster. one woman, who lost nine members of her family, said the captain told the passengers not to grab the life jackets as they ‘wouldn‘t need them'. now on bbc news, dateline london. hello and welcome to
dateline london, the programme in which some of the uk's leading columnists debate with foreign correspondents whose dateline is london. this week: theresa may's pragmatic brexit receives the approval of mps by a whisker. does a no—deal exit from europe now look more likely? and did the president mis—speak, or is he trump the traitor? to discuss all that, with me agnes poirier of the french magazine marianne, polly toynbee, columnist with the guardian, iain martin, whose columns appear in the times, and the irish broadcaster brian o'connell. a warm welcome to all of you. living in brexitland does sometimes feel like being on the other side of the looking glass. how's this for starters — one of theresa may's ministers resigned this week because he wanted
to support her chequers brexit plan, but said he was being ordered to vote against it. part of that plan was approved by a majority of just three in a house of commons of 650 — and then only because three mps from the labour opposition supported her, and the leader of the liberal democrats, another opposition party, told by his party managers it wouldn't be a close vote, went off for dinner instead. iain, in alice in wonderland, the red queen likes to believe six impossible things before breakfast, what do you think our blue queen believes at the moment? well, alice in wonderland is a really good comparison. she has survived, though. it is extraordinary. i am not a fan of theresa may, or her approach to brexit, but she certainly has resilience. somehow, she has managed to survive all of these votes. calamitous by most political standards, ten or 12 days, involving the departure of key members of her cabinet, the chequers plan, the great compromise plan, which was supposed to be the unifying force in the conservative party, has ended up annoying just about everyone. brexiteers don't like it
because it is too much of a compromise, and they think it is the beginning of a sell—out. remainers don't like it for all sorts of other reasons. so no one is happy. but still, somehow, just because of the logic of the fact that there isn't a clear alternative available to theresa may for now, she clings on. and yet, meanwhile, polly toynbee, her party appears to be tearing itself apart over this very issue, the one she has tried to establish some compromise on. you have tory mps talking about the party being in danger of destroying itself, anna soubry was saying a fewer hours ago, talking about the forces of darkness in her own party take control. it's a very strange set of affairs? yes, i mean, it has been brewing for decades. it is the great divide that has cut right through, destroyed every single tory party leader and driven them to distraction.
it has now really burst out in public. what started as a small cult of anti—european fanatics has gradually taken over the party. the people who select tory mps in the country, over the last decade, are very old and very eurosceptic. they have selected more and more of these eurosceptics, who have now seized a large part of the party. of course, not enough of it, it is still divided down the middle, there are still pragmatists there who one hopes might perhaps sees it back from the abyss that we face at the moment. the extra complicating factor is that theresa may does not have a majority after her ill—fated decision to call an election and is dependent on the dup, which takes a very strong line on brexit and is going to be another aspect of this difficulty in attempting to comprise? yes, theresa may was saying in belfast, she was talking about being evenhanded, she was talking about the parity
in the good friday agreement. politically, there is no way she can be evenhanded about dealing with northern ireland while she is relying on dup mps to actually support her government. i would not go as far as polly in describing eurosceptics as a cult. but i think tory historians, or historians of the conservative party in future years, will probably look back on this as the playing out of the endgame. most of us around the table are old enough to remember maastricht and john major's difficulties, and even before that ted heath. i think it is the playing out of the endgame and i don't think it looks very good. i think probably eurosce ptics have won. is there a case for optimism in terms of the tory party prospects in brexit, that actually once britain has left that eu, in a sense the boil will finally, after a0 or 50 years, have been lanced? depends on how brexit goes
and the form in which it happens, whether it is a messy dislocation or whether there is eventually a deal. longer term, clearly what is happening is a really interesting realignment in british politics. i mean, i reject the idea it is a cult. if it is a cult, 52% of us in britain are in this cult, in wanting to join countries likejapan, india, and chile, and not be in the european union. but the conservative voters becoming much more working class and lower middle—class. and so far the party is not, does not reflect that? well, that is probably going to change. but also, you then now have a lot of homeless british voters, middle—class, university educated, ultraliberal, who now find themselves politically without a home. they don't like brexit, but then they don't likejeremy corbyn either. the strange thing that happened in the last general election, which was a catastrophe for the conservatives, of course,
you saw a switch back to two party politics, the two main parties got their highest combined share of the vote for 25 years. that is the curious paradox. it is, because everybody hates them both! but you are stuck, you have an electoral system where you hold your nose and decide which is the least awful. is a dreadful electoral system for that reason. theresa may has stayed as long as she has, because she has produced a compromise that looked quite reasonable in the chequers context, a compromise within her party. but it is full of her red lines which are, themselves, contradictory and which europe cannot agree too, will not agree to. and it hasjust been killed. by the cult.
but it was going to die anyway. there was no way that europe could accept it. it is the argument that the brexiteers achieved a victory on monday in this tight vote and changed the chequers deal, did they change the deal? yes, they did. it is effectively dead, as a plan. it was supposed to be a plan which would unite the conservative party, they could go back to michel barnier in brussels, make a few more concessions and get towards a deal. essentially what parliament has done, the brexiteers have done in parliament, and this is why may is in such a difficult situation, i am sure we will come onto it, it puts the eu in a catastrophically difficult position, and she now has zero room for manoeuvre. she can make no more concessions. andrea leadsom said this week, that is it, that is the bottom line? half the cabinet would resign. you are saying she has shown amazing resilience, it is true that resilience is a human quality.
but to what effect? and the cost of it? you wonder whether it is a good thing for the country as a whole. i mean, yes, the tory party hasn't imploded yet. it will. you know, you are talking about the possible messy dislocation. we are getting there. you know, you've got the european research group, that cultish, quite large cult of 80 mps, a strong group of brexiteers. why do we call them a cult? ok, let's call it a clique. so you've got this eurosceptic clique in the tory party. but of course we can say there is momentum in the labour party, which is another clique, you might call it a cult, or a faction. actually, on brexit, the labour party is eerily quiet. that is why the brexiteers and rees—moggites can be so vocal. if the politicians can't solve this
problem, should we do as justine greening said, throw it out to a second referendum? the problem is there would be no agreement as to what the question would be. parliament has to agree what the question would be, would it be one question, two or three? it is very precarious, because you could very easily have a system where the minority opinion won because he would split three ways. it is risky. i am in favour of brexit, and when i'm asked of question about a second referendum i always say, well, let's make the best of three, best of five. maybe do it every former careers like the world cup? just go on and on. it will go on and on anyway. probably the winners
of this will say, look, let's get over the line in march, we will get out, we don't mind too much what the deal is. realists like michael gove no that once we are out, there is no way we can ever get in again. at that point, they can start and picking everything, they can break promises, a new leader will say they are no longer bound by what the old leader promised to ireland or anywhere else. it is going to be never ending, the brexit question. it will never go away. it will go on and on, wanting to change it. i am not a great fan of referendums, they do have a lot of them in ireland. two on lisbon. the problem is that it is a very blunt instrument. for example, if you have a referendum about capital punishment, they say do you agree with capital punishment or not? instead of saying, what would you do with a convicted murderer? so, if you have a referendum, asjustine greening is talking
about, it would have to be multi—optional. we have no idea what the options are yet because the options would have to be preagreed between brussels and the tory party, which seems an impossibility at the moment anyway. you probably need at least three options, eea, there is a famous story about the swedes, when they had a referendum on which side of the road to drive on. i understand there were about three questions in that! we will never know what the third one was, it sounds like my driving. dominic raab, the new brexit secretary — his predecessor had resigned because he didn't believe in the chequers plan — travelled to brussels this week for his first encounter with the eu negotiators. many of her fellow conservatives think mrs may has compromised too far already. if the eu wants more to achieve a brexit deal, the answer may have to be no. agnes, do politicians in france or elsewhere on the continent now believe a no—deal brexit is becoming the most likely option? everything is possible.
i would say yes and no to that question. we need a referendum! the way it is going, it is not going well. we've got 13 weeks until october to agree on something. then there is the ratification process. just to remind you, that is why we can't go up to march, it has to go through various parliaments and get the approval of different countries like ireland. you might argue that suddenly, because there are only 30 weeks left, suddenly something is going to happen. i doubt it. but it is still possible. no deal, what does it mean? that planes don't take off at heathrow? nobody believes that, do they? that is just brinkmanship? so no deal doesn't really exist, like brexit doesn't exist, it is a fantasy. i mean, the way it was sold to the british people. another brexit, leaving the eu, might be possible. no deal would probably mean a temporary measure, temporary transition.
of course, as we say in french, the temporary can last for a very long time. we already have a transition deal. of course. so it is not really the case now? we don't. because of ireland. just going through the separate elements... it is very helpful to do this, because people have lost sense of this over the months. the uk government agreed to the backstop idea in december, theresa may reiterated this to donald tusk s last march. she now says because of th, chequers agreement, which we know is going nowhere, we don't need a backstop and everything will be ok. the irish government and michel barnier are saying, no, we cannot move ahead with anything to do with the withdrawal until we
get the backstop sorted out. it doesn't need to be the wording that the eu have proposed, they have invited the british to come back, the irish have said we can sit down and talk about the wording. that may or may not happen. that is the first thing. the second thing is what happened in the house of commons, iain says it is probably dead in the water, or most of it is. any agreement based around a customs arrangement in the chequers agreement is not going to get through the house of commons. furthermore, michel barnier is pretty cool about it, he has sent back several questions through the british government, saying, can we have further details about how he would run a customs arrangement like this, so on and so forth. it is pretty unlikely that will form the basis of any negotiations. unless and until there is an acceptable irish deal that ireland is satisfied with, there will be no transition. which means that no deal could really be something quite scary. it seems unlikely and unreasonable,
you don't think people are crazy enough. that is what people always say... i'm not comparing it to a war, but a major international crisis, of course that would never happen. history tends to happen by accident. the imf report looked at the financial consequences, it said, bottom line, there are countries like the netherlands, denmark and of course ireland that would suffer significant long—term damage of britain left without a deal. aren't those governments, when it comes to the crunch, going to put pressure on michel barnier? after all, he isjust a civil servant, an official who can't have this happen, we have to compromise? i hope so, but i am not holding my breath. mark carney, the governor of the bank of england, put his finger on the key dislocation, which has nothing to do with manufacturing, goods and trade, which is to do with financial services.
essentially, a large number of european politicians seem not to understand precisely where all of the debt is hedged, where all of the derivative contracts are in london. well, that is their debt. when those contracts no longer work, that is a problem for britain, that is a spectacular problem for the italian government, or for german banks. i'm not advocating that happening, i'm just saying that by accident you could end up with it. where i think this is breaking down is that the european union, and you've got to take your hat off to the eu negotiating tactics, in a sense they are negotiating an approach that has ended up being too successful. why do i say that? what really matters now is that they won on the sequencing, which is that we did withdraw first and then future arrangements. the problem is... because we wanted to do a few things... it is clear the eu does not want to do a detailed future arrangement,
it want a vague piece of paper and it wants its 39 billion... that is not true. michel barnier is going back to the irish backstop, the border issue again. when this was resolved at the beginning of the year, simply because theresa may yesterday, in a speech in belfast, tore it up and said we do need that any more. precisely, the withdrawal agreement... with money, transition, it has basically been blown apart by uk politics. maybe uk politics, but the point is that the british government signed up to this legal, operable, think those are the keywords in it, backstop, so that it is now no longer operable because of what happened in the house of commons. so we have to renegotiate that. this process of withdrawal, and then future trade, it falls this autumn because it will crystallise in uk terms as we sign a large cheque, yes, we get transition. what do we get in return in terms of future trade? we get a big commitment. so you don't need to pay the money.
none of it will get to the house of commons. the most likely outcome then becomes no deal. exactly! that is what the maddest of the leaders have always wanted. jacob rees—mogg what they have always wanted, what they call clean break. that sounds very attractive. for a lot of people who voted out, for all sorts of reasons, "for heaven's sake, let's get on with it", without understanding how dire the consequences will be. the pragmatists are left saying it is very complicated and difficult. there is another alternative, that emmanuel macron, angela merkel, the other serious heads of government can take control of this process and say there is an option, which is a full, free trade agreement on a canada plus plus model, a bolted on security arrangement, and don't forget that europe needs the assistance of the uk, leading security powers in fighting off russia, which is incurring... i will let you both come
in and then i will move on. a basic misunderstanding of the eu position, and it is what michel barnier is there for. he is not there, necessarily, to facilitate the british government. it is a british problem. he is there to protect the integrity of the single market, the customs union, and the interests of the eu 27. that is what he's doing. he is not negotiate on the chequers agreement. he said yesterday very clearly that he has a list of principles. the market blows up and european debt markets.
brexit would very much be a european union problem. but the uk, so far, and the uk's demands, have ignored the founding principles of the eu. we can negotiate many things. freedom of movement is not a founding principle. it's from 1994. we could have vetoed it, we agreed it, we were the architects of it. the single market was constructed by margaret thatcher. and hopefully there will be a bust in brussels long after the uk have left, acknowledging that. if there was, i'm going. it was just a slip of the tongue. when donald trump, standing next to vladimir putin, their news conference beamed live around the world, said "i don't see any reason why it would be russia" trying to interfere in the 2016 us presidential election, he "mis—spoke". what he actually meant to say was, "i don't see any reason why it wouldn't be russia". so barack 0bama can't have been thinking of his successor when he denounced "shameless leaders who, caught in a lie, just double down and lie some more." polly, how much damage has this done, notjust to president trump,
but potentially to america? every time he opens his mouth at this huge damage to america. it does huge damage to global politics in a more profound way, that the lie, being able to say everything is fake news, is beginning to catch on. there is a whole right—wing network that has spread right across europe. we had a small demonstration here last week, to free a right—wing leader who had been doing something disgraceful with the courts. and there, people interviewed said, well, we don't believe anything we read, we only believe what we want to believe. he has managed to make the truth entirely pliable, in a way that is really frightening. there are no sources of authority, there are no fact checkers that are accepted. and indeed no officials in this meeting, just the translators. well, they should call the translator to give evidence. really interesting. it remains the case that many in america still backing, whatever he does. he has been doing what many wanted him to do for decades, reaching out to rush and try to normalise a relationship that has been dysfunctional
virtually since the russian revolution. well, not quite in the way that they wanted, i was not one of those on the left that have that view. you were always sceptical about russia ? absolutely, no fellow traveller. i think there are still people in america who understand very well that russia is a fearsome and dangerous opponent, that strongman politics are not the way of the future. donald trump to prefer north korean leader, russian leader, because they are strongman in control, like himself. well, not quite in the way that they wanted, i was not one of those on the left that have that view. you were always sceptical about russia ? absolutely, no fellow traveller. i think there are still people in america who understand very well that russia is a fearsome and dangerous opponent, that strongman politics are not the way of the future. donald trump to prefer north korean leader, russian leader, because they are strongman in control, like himself. this democratic stuff is messy, complicated, gets in the way. you can't make strong decisions. that attitude is spreading. there is a lot of american
money behind it. all of the far right wing movements across europe are being funded by those people who have that view. i think poses an existential challenge to the west, that he has created in the mind of the russian government, which seems to be winning, that places like montenegro, the baltics, countries like sweden, crawling with russian activity, that the west will not defend itself. i think that is extremely dangerous. i think there is a more positive way to look at it, though. when he did this, and it really backfired in the us, what i found encouraging was that so many senior republicans actually saw the disgraceful press conference as the crossing of a line. i saw one survey of republicans, party supporters, suggesting that they thought it had been
a great success? well, it was an interesting poll. it suggests that one in five took a different view, donald trump won the presidency with only 75,000 votes in critical states. it could be very close next time. there is something we shouldn't forget, that there is a residual strength in the american system, american institutions, in its military, in its intelligence capacity that will outlive trump. is at a time for a restraining hand from his best buddy, emmanuel macron come to say, hang on, just before you jump into with vladimir putin... i think he tried everything with trump and that failed. no, we should be very worried. i don't see any thing positive in that latest episode. trump is a traitor, he is a traitor to his own country, to the idea of america.
he shows weakness, which is terrible in the face of russia. russia, or putin's russia, is not our friend, it is an adversary. well, he was a friend to germany when he wants to buy cheap energy. well, here's a friend to the far left and far right in europe. putin's russia has been meddling in elections in western world for more ten years. hacking political organisations. don't you think that is what he does, rather successfully. you are calling him a traitor. i am in no trump fan. that isjust the mirror image of the american right
calling 0bama a traitor. on that point we have to leave it. my thanks to our guests and to you forjoining us. back same time next week. pretty warm and humid out there, and quite overcast and a number of areas. the main headline for the coming days is that the heatwave is going to return, not everywhere, but it is going to turn much hotter across england. in the short term, and a lot of cloud across the uk. the clouds have been streaming off the atlantic in the last two to four hours. with that, some very humid out. the temperatures first thing in the morning in london should be around 18 degrees or so. a bit of cloud and rain across the north—west here, at least on and off. the sun should come out around the eastern counties and central parts of the country and to the south as well. temperatures will get to around 28 degrees in london, 25 maybe in aberdeen. another hot day on the way. from monday onwards, those temperatures are set to soar across
parts of england, particularly in the south. it looks as though we could see temperatures in excess of 30 degrees pretty much every day in the week ahead. hello. cuba's national assembly is debating the draft of a new constitution which could introduce radical changes to the communist country's economic and social policies. private ownership of property might be recognised for the first time in 50 years and same—sex marriage legalised. will grant reports from havana. after decades of soviet—style socialism, glimpses of meaningful change in cuba. the 1976 constitution isn'tjust going to be reformed. it's being completely rewritten. key to the changes, private property recognised on the communist—run island for the first time in generations.