tv Dateline London BBC News July 30, 2018 3:30am-4:01am BST
this is bbc news, the headlines: firefighters in the us say 90 large wildfires have now burned a million acres in m states. the deadliest fire is in northern california where six people have died and thousands of people have had to abandon their homes. president trump has declared a state of emergency. a relief operation‘s underway on the indonesian island of lombok after a powerful earthquake left 1a people dead and damaged thousands of homes. the main quake hit early in the morning when many people were still sleeping and was followed by numerous aftershocks. officials say the number of casualties is expected to rise. just hours ahead of zimbabwe's historic election, former president robert mugabe has said he won't vote for the ruling party candidate. he was ousted last year and replaced by his former ally emmerson mnangagwa. the main challenger is the leader of the opposition mdc, nelson chamisa. now on bbc news, dateline london. hello.
a warm welcome to dateline london. i'm jane hill. this week we're discussing the british prime minister's summer charm offensive in europe and asking, what is the new deal in the middle east? we'll discuss syria, iran and the us's approach. my guests this week, the british politicaljournalist steve richards, with us before he heads off to the edinburgh festival with his one—man show, from germany's die welt, stephanie bolzen, the editor of the abu—dhabi—based daily the nation, mina al oraibi, and the american writer and broadcasterjeff mcallister. it's summer — school's out, and so is parliament.
but there's no rest for senior members of the british government. theresa may says she has now taken personal control of the brexit negotiations, and she and her ministers are fanning out across europe on a charm offensive, trying to win over leaders to her vision, the chequers vision, of future relations between the uk and the rest of the eu once we've left the bloc. steve, it's been a bumpy few weeks — how many times have we discussed whether the pm is safe? she remains fragile. she remains, i think, in the most extraordinary position of any prime minister for many decades. there she is, promoting, as you say, going around european capitals, her proposition for brexit, very detailed. which has already triggered two cabinet resignations, several ministerial resignations, there is no evidence at the moment of a majority for it in the house of commons, the reaction of barnier representing the rest of the eu suggests there are huge barriers to overcome from the brussels perspective. it is an extraordinary situation, because on one level certainly her proposition
in the white paper will not survive in that form. there might be proximity to it, but it will not survive. the chequers deal as we have come to call it, maybe we should call it a compromise. what it is is her version of brexit, and it is absolutely identified with her. whether she can become identified with another form of brexit rather than no deal, which i know she would regard as cataclysmic, is a massive question. one of several questions which makes this autumn in british politics
and to some extent european politics seismic. no one quite knows what is going to happen but it feels very, very turbulent. stephanie, how do you read the dictat to her ministers — go out, spread the word across europe, do soundings, press the flesh? how is that being viewed from your perspective? you can really recognise a lot of eagerness if not a bit of panic in downing street to create the impression that the prime minister is in control, going out there to the continent, she is now taking over the control of the brexit negotiations. there was this week the demotion almost of the new brexit secretary just coming in and a day until after it was said, the prime minister is in charge. the prime minister goes out, she saw the austrian chancellor, the big news this morning is there will be a summit in september and they will talk about brexit, as if this wasn't news there. that was announced in march.
there will be a summit in the form of head of state meeting. you are saying that as it did he spin they put on that? —— you are saying that was british spin they put on that? so much spin happening now. i don't think that is very healthy because they can only disappoint with that. apart from theresa may travelling the continent, jeremy hunt was in berlin for the first time. the relatively new foreign secretary. it didn't go down very well. he was perceived as threatening. he said, if europe is not flexible and has imagination, something we have heard for a long time, there will be no deal. and, in brackets, this will be the fault of the europeans. some commentators in berlin said he sounds like donald trump.
so it is something that the british government going around making friends is not quite what for now they have achieved. how do you regard... sounding like donald trump, interesting, how do you feel watching from a us perspective and the coming summer? weakness is strength — i don't know quite how you add all this up. it still makes no sense. tony blair's criticism of the chequers deal was actually the most trenchant that has been uttered, the resignation speeches of the departing ministers had no particular new ideas or system. at least blair's criticism, which says this is the worst of all possible worlds, we have to take most of the european regulations and be tied to europe in the same way without any control of what europe does, it is correct. it is a nonstarter. brexit remains... we get so excited week to week with this meeting,
leaked summit, the fundamentals do tend to get lost. all the exporters say this is a disaster for us. crashing out brexit is a disaster. we have stockpiling of food being discussed, possibly, by the departed or the no—longer powerful brexit minister, the grocery companies saying, we have no capacity to stockpile food and we haven't been asked yet. they are talking about stockpiling medicines and things that you can stockpile. how you get out of this mess, with this odd combination of a referendum, which really is not a parliamentary device that makes sense in a parliamentary system, it is stopping all thought. the conservative party is stuck, it is all congealed, mrs may is prime minister because no one else wants to take the brass ring, and she has no particular solution. the opposition is not proposing any real opposition. i don't know how you get
out of this impasse. some kind of a second referendum when there is a particular deal to offer is the only way that the politics are going to start to align with the fundamental economic reality which is that brexit as currently discussed makes no sense for britain. i want to ask about a second referendum. mina, your take on this. time is ticking, people are discussing a referendum, but we have again this deadline of next spring coming up, so we about ten months away, less than that, and there is no agreement. i take a different turn on theresa may, i think her stepping up and saying, this is my deal, here's what i will try to push for, has changed the momentum that we have had where you had people in her own cabinet that no longer believed in collective responsibility, so they were going their own way, at least now whether it fails or succeeds you can say
that it is clear that this is the vision of the prime minister and she's going to try to fight for it, even if there is not the image and everyone agrees with, it is different from six months ago when we did not know whether the foreign secretary in private discussions were trying to undermine his own prime minister, which we haven't seen for some time. we have reflected here a number of times about theresa may's strength or weakness, but if the conservative party changed its leader, it doesn't change the fundamentals. there is still a deadline of march 2019. it changes nothing at all. newspaper editorials sometimes say we need strong leadership, borisjohnson implies that he could do it and so on. of course he couldn't. there was still be a hung parliament. there was still be a european union protective of the purity of the single market and other things. so all the problems would still be in place if they changed their leader. that doesn't mean they might not contemplate it, they are contemplating it, but it would solve nothing. her problem is that she has now
become associated with this plan. i agree with you on one level, it is like a protective shield, a very battered protective shield. at least she clings to a plan where most others have not even got such a detailed alternative. but it is so battered, no majority in the commons, partially rejected by europe already. it is really difficult to see where he says, —— it is really difficult to see where this ends, which is why there is now more talk of a referendum. she is the key to that, because she has always opposed one. but if you remember, before she called an early election, she said there would be no early election, then she changed her mind. she was genuine, said she did not want an early election,
then she went walking in wales, saw the opinion polls, giving her a 20 point lead, highly deceptive. there may be a way through a referendum. there will be no parliamentary majority deal. jacob rees mogg and others are relaxed about a new deal, there are about 60 of them in the house of commons. the rest are not. i still think no deal is not feasible. you cannot impose no deal without parliamentary backing. it would be a historic decision, there is no majority for it. when we say no deal, we are talking about leaving and going under wto rules. leaving with no agreed proposition between the uk and the rest of the eu. it ends up being the default unless something positive can be done. but they cannot even, the government, manage the public relations element of no deal, because they have now decided they need to start talking up that possibility. in talking up the possibility,
she is saying, one minute is all about stockpiling food, that alarms people, then it emerges that they are not talking about that, so itjust preparing —— sojust preparing the spin on no deal is problematic. imagine managing it in reality. as i said, i don't think they would get parliamentary backing for it. stephanie, in the wider european question, all the other member states, it is not like no deal has no implication of a lot of other member states. there's an impact on both sides. it is almost ironic that the no deal scenario is not only domestic but actually a threat to the eu. it puts pressure on the europeans, and i would not say they shrug their shoulders, but it will hit many countries very hard. especially germany. at think there's something that is not... and doesn't have any effect, no politician in germany and beyond has said, the brits have said there is no
deal, we now have to compromise. the german car industry which is always named as the... they look at this and they say, ok, our second biggest market behind the usa, but still we have the single market in front of our doors. they really completely agree for the time being with the german government, which is the integrity of the single market and the rule book of the european union, which works very well for german business, we're not going to put this at risk. we want to save this. and i find this almost ironic that actually, in this country, politics doesn't talk to business. business is almost desperate, saying, please, listen to us, while in germany at least the government constantly talks the business. they agree that if it is coming to the 12th hour and you need to make a decision it is europe and not the uk, they will want to support, and not give a special cherry
picking solution to the british. the other irony is that brexit has made europe more popular with european public than at any other times as 1983, according to polls. borisjohnson has had this ironic effect of making europe recognise that the eu is a more positive thing for them. even marine le pen says we are going to stay in the eu, we will do thing in other ways, and the italians are talking about leaving the eu and that has gone off the table politically. european unity in the face of what they consider to be inefficient and not intelligent operations by britain tends to make britain look more irrelevant. britain has moved, you still hear the same "cake and eat it" for two years.
when you're on the continent, you have a feeling that the europeans have already moved beyond. if you talk about a second referendum, they will say, no, we're not having that, they are going to leave. that is also a risk for the british government if they say, well, we may want an extension and have negotiations. but the europeans will say, what carp for another limbo? —— but the europeans will say, what, for another limbo? in fairness to theresa may, any prime minister would be trapped in this situation. the referendum was held and brexit one. the referendum was held and brexit won. but you do? you have a hung parliament, partly down to her for that early election. you have a divided party, and you have a series of obligations which are contradictory. the soft border in ireland, but not wanting to be part of a customs union. her plan, in fairness to it, is an attempt to square all those circles. because they are not squareable,
it is a plan that is going to fall by the wayside with scrutiny. it was an attempt to try and meet all these contradictory demands, and there is no other equivalent around at the moment. the labour party position is different, it would be part of a customs union, it claims it would get alignment with the single market without being in it, but that too raises 20,000 questions. so there isn't this summer, you were saying start of the summer, clarity really about what form this will take. we will see. let's park that for now. the next brexit talks are late august. let's see whether here on dateline we get through the summer without discussing it. let's see. is that hollow laughter?
we'll leave that for now. there is much more to discuss. let's turn to the middle east, because the recent helsinki summit between donald trump and vladimir putin was overshadowed by those extraordinary comments that the us president was later forced to row back on, but what really was achieved in terms of policy? no communique was issued, but it appears syria was discussed. is the us now renconciled to bashar al—assad remaining in power? and how does that tie in with the trump adminstration‘s approach to iran? mina, from your vantage point in the gulf, how does this situation look at the moment? it is clear that for the trump administration the priority is to push back around. and to limit around's activities, militant nefarious groupings in the region.
that has become the parity for the trump administration, you have had various us officials come out of the gulf and other parts of the middle east to duplicate that. —— of the middle east to communicate that. we recently reported that the national, we were expecting a summit and jordan and egypt in the autumn and probably washington, but it's still not clear in the us, to discuss exactly that, to push on the iran issue. in helsinki, we studied under the details of the meeting, but it was discussed as disabling the issue of syria. the russians for sure have been the guarantors of that assad regime. the survival of bashar al—assad is because of russia and iran. there is the contradiction. it trump feels can't feel do business with putin, he certainly does not want to be doing business with the iranians and the reigning president, who he is threatening in the capital letters on his twitter account. there is that contradiction. it seems that the thinking amongst american officials is that we work with the russians to sort out syria
and push back around. the reality on the ground is very different. it is not that clean, it is very messy and ugly. if we put aside the moral question of syria, which is the fact that millions of people have been displaced, half of the population have been displaced, at least 80,000 detainees unaccounted for and only this week, we are getting hundreds of death certificates being issued for people who have died from torture and detention. if we try to put that aside and say, security wise, how does this work because the syrians are not calling the shots it is the russians and iranians. even if the top administration, the region, the world except that the assad regime survives, they are not in control of this country, and to be beholden to militias that have run directly by the arabian revolutionary guard and supported by russian air power, given the russian pullout, the iranians are not going to give
up the vantage point they have been able to establish and they're very strong presence in syria, going into lebanon, the helsinki summit, even if there was a agreement about assad, some of the other dynamics are left to be answered. what is the us administration's answer to that? who knows? i think, fundamentally, it is hard to understand what the us administrator is any more. because there's the president's tweets and his nomination, and there is the bureaucracy that works for him and they often are at loggerheads. 0n iran, it appears that the fulminations are more policy than they were with russia. john bolton said bad things about iran, at the same time the tweets went out, and the secretary of state did too. but there's all these other dynamics too.
there is another sideshow with israel having an excellent relationship with russia, concerned with pulling back the militias from the israeli border. maybe for trump's own internal purposes, getting that degree of cooperation, enough to satisfy israel, would feel like progress, that he can show that he's gotten with putin, who will be pushing, putin will be the dog who pushes the iranians to take his ball back from the israeli border. there is no israeli border. only the golan heights. sorry, i agree. the fundamentals, there still is a desire in washington to bring down and pull out of the nuclear deal, which has caused the value to drop and making life difficult for iranians and creating dissent. there is no endgame there that makes any sense. the iranians have cyber attacks
and hormuz, and they can do a lot of things to make life hard for donald trump if they want to, but he is gambling that they will be scared of him, but there are american soldiers in syria that the arabian militia can start taking potshots at. i think he was to look like he is being tough on iran. as there is in syria, no good american strategy, i don't think anything is well developed coming out of iran. listening to nikki haley, she reminds russia, we expect russia to use its influence here inside syria. is she over estimating, are you saying, the influence? no, i think russia has great influence inside syria. again, bashar al—assad knows that he is beholden to the russians. they have been instrumental in making sure that his regime and army control the country. i think they are overestimating how
much russia can influence iran. the russians are getting ready to step right in with american sanctions getting slapped on, the russians have not taken a place to add to consider these sections, neither the europeans or the chinese. they are thinking, we can strengthen our ties too and make iran beholden at a time when they're being squeezed. that is unclear. the russians also want a more stabilised arab world in the middle east. regardless of whether we agree or disagree with their strategies. they do not want what the iranians are doing, destabilising syria and iraq, yemen, it is not working in the long—term benefit of the russians. they could try to pressurise iran, then iran is getting pressurised more and the tools they are using are going to get hardened. rather than thinking, how can we negotiate with american administration and so forth?
the fear is that we will see more bloodshed when they think they have nothing to lose. what a desperate situation we are in that we sit here and you quite rightly say, for the sake of this discussion, we have to park the moral argument, we have to forget about the millions of people who have been killed displaced, and that... but we actually shouldn't, because when we do, yes, we park the moral argument, but it will have security imperatives. there are millions of people have lost their homes, young, predominantly men who are unemployed have lost everything, had their cousins and brothers killed. eventually, someone has to give them that money and arms in syria. and then what happens? and it has had a knock—on in terms of refugees, it speaks to european issues that we have discussed for many months, definitely. yes, what you have just been discussing is the question, where is europe here ? europe has been standing at the side
and watching for a long time. this week it was a secret meeting in berlin, angela merkel and the foreign minister met the russian foreign minister. it came out, the german government did not comment, but the russian foreign ministry did, they said it was an excellent meeting, they were also talking about refugees. there is some information, and i think this is part of the whole dynamic that is now happening, that europe now will come in and help build up syria, and this is part of the russian plan. so russia doesn't have the money to build up syria again, and the europeans are keen to build up syria. also because they want safety and security there, but mostly they want the refugees to go back to syria. the moral argument is part, if you remember, there was a time when the allied forces talked about allying themselves with assad to remove isis, and then they were talking about working with the rebels to remove assad, this is a constantly moving moral set of dilemmas. but it's interesting you mention
the eu, the whole iran deal that trump reneged on originated from the eu. jack straw was foreign secretary at the time, and with britain, germany, france and others they got that iran deal going. it's such a decline in the european union in recent years that such a initiative would now be impossible in the current state of chaos. bu the problem with the deal was that it only dealt with the nuclear, and forgot everything else. which is the weakness of the europeans. that's it for dateline london for this week. we're back next week at the same time. goodbye. good morning.
the rain clouds are not quite as abundant as they were yesterday. the breeze still shepherding the milder air toward the south and east this morning temperatures around 17 or 18. here, a lot of sunshine. through the day, showers in the south and west will push the rain northwards and eastwards. parts of the south—east, east anglia, yorkshire and parts of scotland too, showers will be heavy and dundry. showers we re will be heavy and dundry. showers were small portion of the day and some of you will stay completely dry. lighter winds and i mention too, temperatures will be offered to tree or two and will certainly feel warm under the sun. in the evening and into the night, showers, some
will return later on. some showers mainly across western areas that temperatures will be on the up. life 110w. “— temperatures will be on the up. life now. —— at temperatures. —— but temperatures. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. i'm nkem ifejika. our top stories — massive wildfires sweep north america, bringing death and devastation from new mexico to alaska. a relief operation‘s underway on the indonesian island of lombok after a powerful earthquake left 1a people dead and damaged thousands of homes. just hours before zimbabwe's historic election, former president robert mugabe says he won't back his successor and the man who ousted him. celebrations in wales as geraint thomas triumphs in the tour de france. he says his surprise win is the stuff of dreams.