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tv   BBC Election Debate  BBC News  December 11, 2019 12:00am-1:01am GMT

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doctor from his full support. a doctor from romford has become guilty of sexually assaulting 23 female patients. 50—year—old manish shah carried out invasive intimate examinations. he was acquitted of five other charges and will be sentenced in early february. six people are known to have died and eight are missing presumed dead following monday's volcanic eruption in new zealand. two british women are among the injured. dozens of tourists were on the island. about 30 have serious burns. and let's join noel thompson for the northern ireland leaders debate. it is the final run—up to the general election and on thursday we are back at the polls.
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in the next hour, our studio audience will put their questions to the politicians. it's the northern ireland leader's debate. applause hello. in two days‘ time we'll be casting our votes once again, brexit and the border of course are key issues in this election but in northern ireland and across the uk, the nhs has come into sharp focus too in recent days. we have invited the leaders of the larger parties to take part in the debate. our line—up is steve aiken, the recently—appointed leader of the ulster unionist party. colum eastwood, the leader of sdlp. naomi long, leader of the alliance party. michelle o'neill, northern leader of the sinn fein
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and vice party president. we also invited arlene foster but are instead joined byjeffrey donaldson, the chief whip in the last parliament. that is our panel. applause. tonight's questions come from the studio audience made up mostly of grassroots party supporters butjoining them some undecided voters, perhaps what they hear will inform the decisions they make at the polls in the next hour. you canjoin in by using this hashtag: welcome to our viewers across the uk watching on bbc parliament and on the news channel. the programme is being streamed on the bbc news ni website. let's get into it. ourfirst question comes from andrew foster, a student. he's from andrew foster, a student. from lisbon. do you believe brexit makes a united ireland more likely?
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a couple of polls indicates there are some change in support in 2015, 30% of people in northern ireland want a united ireland, now it is 51%. two thirds think brexit it's more likely in the next ten years. polls are only indications, not evidence. you have warned people not to fall into what you call the dup trap of saying the deal is a danger to northern ireland? according to these figures, perhaps it is. the first thing we have to do is deal with the crisis we are in, the emergency which is brexit which will destroy our economy. it has already shaken our peace process and we need to deal with that urgently. we have to have a second referendum. we have to send people to westminster who are prepared to vote for a second referendum. let's stop this brexit madness because i think there is no good that will come from it. it depends on who wins the election. it absolutely does. at a national level. this is the great thing about elections, the people
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get to decide. there isn't one ballot paper in a ballot box yet. let the people decide. i want to be part of a pro—remain coalition of parties right across parliament who will vote for a peoples vote, and let's put an end to this madness. there is nowhere as badly affected as northern ireland from brexit. it isa it is a real disaster. people here did not vote for it, more and more people don't want it. let's have an opportunity to try again and try to stop it, i think it is fundamentally damaging. all that we hold dear. sir geoffrey... do you think it is a trap? i think northern ireland will remain part of the united kingdom, i don't think there is that existential threat to northern ireland's position within the uk. the people of the united kingdom voted for brexit, it was a democratic vote. we can't go on with the situation where we ignore what people said because we don't like it. we keep putting the question to them again. the poll was held and people voted.
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we are having an election and people have the opportunity to vote again. you don't like the deal? well, that is true but that is because we had poor negotiation on the behalf of the uk government and the deal they put on the table is not acceptable. that is why we used our ten votes in the house of commons to block the deal. the dup was crucial when it came to brexit. the reason borisjohnson has had to go to the country not delivering brexit is because his deal is flawed. but you get him support throughout the process until that final vote? actually we blocked mrs may's deal because it was not acceptable. until we get the right deal. that is why it is really important in this election. my message to unionists to send a strong unionist team back... don't send you back, you put a border down the irish sea. that is what i am hearing on the doorstep that unionists want.
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steve keeps going on about the 2nd of october. steve needs to get his facts right. if you want to be a member of parliament... let's do this. let's show both sides of what we're doing. there it is. borisjohnson's deal and the date of the deal is not the 2nd of october, it is the 17th of october and two days later in the house of commons the dup blocks that deal because it is not good for northern ireland. arlene foster, a strong and sensible deal... let us have steve aiken come back on that. that is the benefit of having a strong unionist team. and a strong dup. arlene foster said something that steve aiken has got a point on. very, very clearly arlene foster on the 2nd of october said there was a strong and sensible deal. the only difference between the deal that you agreed on the 2nd of october. there wasn't a deal.
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why did arlene foster and you lot all turn round and say, "it was a strong and sensible idea!" the only difference between that and boris johnson's deal was around the issue of consent. that is not true. if you actually checked... the big difference... if you're going to make the accusation then you have to let him respond. hold on a second, you turned around and recently arlene foster said, i think it was today on the radio, she said they talked with her majesty's revenue and customs to support borisjohnson's deal before rejecting it. did you, as a group of negotiators, look over the detail before the 2nd of october? the only difference between that and borisjohnson's deal was in fact the issue of consent. you agreed on the 2nd of october to put a border down the irish sea. let geoffrey come back. actually the big difference between what we were talking about on the 2nd of october and what boris johnson agreed to is it created a customs border in the irish sea.
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that was not what was on the table in the 2nd of october, we are clear about that. how many borders, geoffrey? let him finish. we made it clear we would not support a deal that included a customs border in the irish sea. you did. on the 19th of october there were ten dup votes that blocked boris's deal. they did not support it in the end. michelle, do you believe brexit makes a united ireland more likely? there is nothing good to come from brexit and we didn't vote for it, we voted on a cross—community basis to say we wanted to remain. this isjust a microcosm of what is happening in westminster. people cannot agree around brexit and where it goes next. the question was put — does it make a united ireland inevitable ? i don't think anything is inevitable. more likely is the question.
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my answer is i think it makes people focus their minds are where their interests would be best served. the one crucial point in the whole debate and the whole discussion about the future would be the fact the eu have said in the event of a successful new referendum the north automatically comes into the eu. so for people who wants irish unity, he may value their european citizenship, they think about where they are best placed in the future. i think there is a healthy composition under way which is a good thing because the conversation for me as a republican who believes in irish unity... should you not logically be a brexiteer? absolutely not. if brexit can lead in any way to a united ireland being more likely, why don't you support it? i don't think it is to anybody's advantage to run the north into the ground, for the economy to be a backwater.
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that build on something positive. i have tried very positively and have successfully defended the good friday agreement and an all—ireland economy and make sure that there was no hard border on the silent, because we used our influence where it mattered in the brexit debate. no matter what happens in westminster, irish interests are never going to be represented in westminster, that has been very clear. irish interests have never been served and you should know that more than most, geoffrey. you have been propping up the tories for the last two years and look where that has got you today. i think before we get to that we need to look at what geoffrey is failing to admit and the reason we are having a discussion about borders online and in the seas because they have supported brexit. —— on land. it is brexit that is the problem and it has because the challenges we're facing right now. it has created the existential crisis, if you want to put it that way, and the solution is clear, to remain. we believe the most democratic way... the country voted to leave! we believe the most democratic way as to allow the country to change its mind.
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geoffrey's colleague in westminster, nigel dodds has already said it is borisjohnson's deal or remain, he would rather remain. if they are allowed to change their mind, the dup too, then why can't the general public? the people were told in 2016 it was going to be unicorn brexit, we were going to have our cake and eat it, and what we have found is it has been disastrous in terms of the peace process, it has been a barrier to us being able to restore devolution, it is a threat to our economy and it is pushing people... into a much more difficult situation. this is the position of the outgoing government. if the conservatives win a majority of any kind on thursday, when he stopped asking for a second referendum because the country will have spoken in support of the party which supports brexit? i don't believe a general election is a proxy for a poll because people will vote for parties on a whole range of issues.
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so you'll keep doing it until you get what you want? no, we believe there should be a confirmatory referendum. it is not that unusual, especially when the deal on offer has strayed so far from even those who voted leave have asked for. when it has gone so far it is the right people should be consulted on that question. turn that round to the question of making a united ireland more likely. it has made northern ireland less stable, i don't think anyone could argue other than that. in terms of an impact, i don't think it makes a united ireland more inevitable but i think it puts it into the centre of political discourse, i don't think that is good for long—term stability. if you look at the polls, it is very clear the harder the brexit we have, the more borders, barriers and friction, the more likely people are to reconsider their position,
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and the more soft brexit that we have, the theresa may brexit, the more likely people artistic with the status quo. they are just polls. nevertheless, it would be foolish if people ignored that. boris johnson's united kingdom break—up deal, it is going to make northern ireland a place apart. it is going to drive scotland away from the united kingdom as well. there is nothing about his deal that is good. it is not good for our economy, it is not good for the future of northern ireland and that is why we need to stop borisjohnson's deal. there's nothing good about brexit at all. it is notjust his deal, brexit itself is divisive. it is the decision of the country. that's what you have to live with. i have already said clearly the country has a right to change its mind. the bottom line is these decisions are going to be taken in few weeks. if westminster elects enough people who will vote for a second referendum, then we will have a second referendum. sinn fein tell us there is no value to going to westminster, but they have acquired value,
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£5 million in expenses out of westminster in the last nine years. applause that is 206 teachers. 220 nurses. there is real value in westminster. and use toad down in northern belfast to allow a possible mother one in. —— you stood down in northern belfast to possibly allow another one in. it is part of a broader strategy to get as many programming mps in as possible and stop as many brexiteers as possible. people understand you can have many tactics for a broader strategy and people are we need to stop breakfast. you are saying you must vote for a mp that represents you but not in north belfast. people in north belfast understand perfectly well because they would rather not have nigel dodds in the house of commons. whatever geoffrey says, they are absolutely and totally culpable for the situation they find themselves in.
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totally culpable. applause i have said i think he is disingenuous. one or two irish mps are not going to go to westminster... the numbers mean you could have changed it. let's look at the facts. 35 mps cannot make a difference. -- 35 snp mps —— 35 snp mps couldn't make a difference. your mps could have stopped it. you will have a chance to address this. there is not one single threat of protection in scotland for the withdrawal deal that has been negotiated. one or two irish mps will never make a difference. your party was in westminster for many years, they were not able to stop austerity, welfare reform... you voted to give the tories power for welfare reform. don't be lecturing anybody on welfare reform. again, you are being disingenuous with the public.
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you are pretending you can go to westminster, stop brexit. that is absolute nonsense. no, no, what i am saying is as part ofa no, no, what i am saying is as part of a broad coalition of mps who want to stop brexit, you don't want to stop it. you would be better working with me and the other pro—remain parties to prevent a hard border. it will never be served in westminster. the evidence is there. i have done that. i will take my seat and try to stop brexit because that is what people want. we will stop austerity being imposed, you want to stand outside looking in the window. applause. what you are trying to do, your aspirations are to go over to the green benches withjacob rees—mogg. that's what i love, i want to lie on the green benches. i want to speak up on behalf of people here, you go over to lobby mps in england.
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because you're not prepared to do them yourself. you have taken £5 million in nine years. your mps yourmps are your mps are always in the coffee shopin your mps are always in the coffee shop in westminster. applause. i have been a backbench mp. i am aware of the limitations of the role. but if you can deliver if work with others. you cast your vote in favour of what you are in favour of, work with others to build coalitions, and i believe around brexit there is an opportunity to do that. i think sinn fein should take their seats and put the fight where it needs to be. i'd actually put the fight where it needs to be in westminster. they are not going to add their voters know that. if i can finish, we have had a lot of points from the others. i understand it is a completely
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legitimate position for someone to be an abstentionist. people may vote for them on that. you cannot berate others for performance in parliament if you are not there to counteract. some who were against brexit did not bother to take their seats. some audience reaction please. this gentleman here. go ahead, sir. my question is to michelle o'neill, you are right that one or two irish mps will not make a difference in westminster, but it is the case that ten mps from the north of ireland have made a difference in wales and westminster. how can you justify seven mps not doing thejob but how can you justify seven mps not doing the job but taking how can you justify seven mps not doing thejob but taking expenses? during the indicative process there was a tied vote on whether to continue that indicative process. if it had passed, we could have voted in favour of a customs union in ireland.
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therefore if colum eastwood had been mp for foyle instead of elisha mccallion, he would have tied up and voted for that indicative vote process to continue. for all beano it is not certain but we could have had a customs union instead a damaging deal that jeffrey has brought us. for the last two years, all we have had is infighting in the tory party. claim and counterclaim in westminster. all we've had is not one bit of attention given to irish interest in the fact that we voted to remain on a cross—community basis. i have said very clearly, we have been very successful because two years ago whenever the brexit debate came about, we took a conscious decision about how we would use our influence and did that in brussels, worked with the irish government and our friends have the united states and made sure we were... how many of these were successful? and we ended up with borisjohnson's withdrawal agreement. how do you measure the success? i measure the success, we want to achieve special status. we said we would protect the good friday agreement. it was and is the lp notion? one of yours, john
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o'dowd, he said... people didn't vote for special status. applause. finish your point. we said very clearly when we developed that document it became the irish government's position because of we brought attention to, it became the brussels position because we brought a motion in the european parliament. and it stopped brexit? that motion, the withdrawal agreement we have today, we did not achieve that in westminster, they were achieved outside westminster. stopping brexit happened at westminster. the withdrawal agreement was the least worst option. it is not better than remaining. we'll stop brexit with votes in the house of commons. andrew foster, what do you think? you asked the question, do you think brexit makes a united ireland more likely? yes, ultimately i think it does. even just the chaos of brexit
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and indeed if there was a hard border, effectively yes, it would make it much more likely. so, colum you have been campaigning about stopping brexit but your predecessors in the sdlp actually abstained for most if not all bills and boats with regards to eu membership and the referendum, so you have been a bit disingenuous. it's public knowledge. if elected to westminster, we vote on issues that direct —— directly affect us. if you look at any of those bills, there could be 30 votes at any time. somebody will abstain, samuel vote yes or no, but people feel our presence, we are they'll when it counts.
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you didn't start brexit, you did not stop... you were there. you did not stop brexit, you did not stop austerity, you did not stop the assault on public services. so do not wax lyrical about your achievements. no help from you eithger, none at all. you were not even there. you voted for... you voted for welfare reform. you haded the tories more power. next question. jeremy eaves is a banker— businessman. if boris wins an outright majority at his withdrawal bill is passed, how can northern ireland make the best of a new reality? we may not like it, but if it is there? first of all you need representation at westminster to ensure that you can shape the bill as it goes forward. given what we have, we know sinn fein are not going to be there, how will you deal with it? the checks, east—west,west—east
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, how will you cope? looking at the opinion polls, we cannot be absently sure, but i think this election will be quite close. there is every prospect that northern ireland mps can use their influence again in the house of commons, to get the changes that are necessary to that bill. i know there is support and most other parties to get those changes. that is what we will be working for. the question was, if he wins a majority, and many of the polls suggest he will. that does not necessarily translate into getting your legislation through the house. but it is an indication you will have to work a lot harder, you're going to need more support. what will you do if you cannot do that? how will you adapt to the reality? what we have to do the first of all is look at the bill itself, because that bill has yet to be completed in its passage through the house of commons, so there will be opportunities to amend the bill and we will be seeking to amend it, safeguard northern ireland and uphold the laws that are already there. the customs act that was passed
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arising from brexit actually safeguarding northern ireland's position. this deal reaches that act of parliament. so there are areas there where we can challenge the government and get change to what they are proposing to safeguard northern ireland's position and avoid having this customs border in the irish sea. and the best way to do that is to get a strong team of dup mps back at westminster because the more the numbers, the better. the idea that we would send back a hodgepodge of mps, that is not going to make the difference. you have the impossible contradiction of the opposition, opposing a hard border but you want no divergence from the uk on any issue. that is a contradiction. we want to avoid a hard border but we also point what the prime minister and his predecessor stated very
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clearly, that northern ireland would have unfettered access to the uk single market. borisjohnson's deal does not deliver that. it goes on the opposite direction. that is why we could not support his deal, we blocked his deal in the house of commons and we will use our buy votes again in the house of commons to do precisely that. until we get this deal right. how will you adapt to these new realities? in terms of negotiation, i don't think geoffrey's team have delivered what was expected. they've delivered what was expected. they've delivered chaos and uncertainty. in their own literature they are telling everybody the union is in peril. we know how it got there, they put it there. so it is your fault. in terms of how we would respond to the situation where boris gets a majority and drives his bill through, we have to say those government conservatives, i think we should look for mitigations in terms of protections that we have been sitting along the northern ireland
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so sitting along the northern ireland so there are no hard borders anywhere these islands. notjust a land border or a sea border, so we need to work with them manager whatever checks are required i going to be minimised. we also need to look at our economy and the opportunities for us to be able to grow our economy, that requires investment. that has fallen behind in the latter half of the last decade. we need to invest in our infrastructure, because that is usually important in terms of business have the opportunity is to be able to export and import and do business. i also think we need to invest in connectivity, because whatever happens we need to be able to operate in a global market whether we do so through the european union, which is my preference, or as part of other uk trade deals. my fear is that such uk trade deals are a long way off. as northern ireland is already behind economically when compared to the rest of the uk, the blow that we would suffer
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as a result of brexit would set us back even further. that is a genuine concern that we have when it comes to brexit. we will go and do everything we can to fight for local business and to fight for the infrastructure, the skills, and the connectivity that will allow businesses to survive. would we be ok with that? no. one of the things we have to do, here is one of the big issues with business in the community. there is such a degree of uncertainty about boris johnson's deal. the treasury report said this week, because it is going to fundamentally undermine the principles of the northern ireland economy, that is why we need ulster unionist mps in westminster, because we need to be able to negotiate suitable mitigation factors that means, as we have said all along right from the beginning of the whole process, that we cannot have any borders north, south, east orwest. what is a mitigation factor? we need to make sure there is the minimal interference
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going back and forth with trade. one of the issues, in the report today, it says that if n ireland goods are coming across and we have a tariff business where there is a refund, there is only a limit of up to 200,000 euros that can be. the situation means our businesses, tesco could do that in a day coming back—and—forth, we need to have substantial mitigation methods going forward, because if we do not then northern ireland business will come to a grinding halt. infrastructure, let's be clear, the fantasy bridge to scotland that the dup want to talk about, how much will that cost? £30 billion? please take half of that and put it into a long—term strategic infrastructure plan. to fix our water system, takes our communication system and fix our... your colleagues voted in favour because like every other policy, whatever you might say and however much i might agree with that, when i speak to the next ulster unionist candidate they will be saying something entirely different.
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one of your candidates has actually said in the last... naomi, be every clear. one of your candidates in the last week has said that brexit is a matter of conscience for the ulster unionist party. another candidate has said that you have a peoples vote would be anti—democratic, so how are you going to stop boris's deal and not put it back to the people? it's beyond me. i think you need to be consistent on this. i agree, when it comes to the bridge, i agree. in 2016, naomi, you said yourself in the assembly, it is reported in hansard, you said that people had voted, we needed to respect the referendum. that is what you said. that is the principal going forward. that is the principal. and we have now clear evidence that it is tainted by lies and dark money. we know people were promised something in 2016... you made points, he is replying. you can come back. let's go.
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boris's bridge, fantasy bridge, there is nobody in the ulster unionist party who believe that boris's fantasy bridge is going to be built. there is nobody in the ulster unionist party who believe that we are going to build a high—voltage dc cable to iceland. these are absolutely fantasy projects. to start with the whole of derry would be good. we need to be taking part of that money. there are other people on the platform, i am going to bring in michele o'neil. he's made a particular allegation that i've needed to speak about. you have been swapping back and forth, we will stop it there. how would northern ireland make the best of it? one of the most powerful things of the last years has been the fact people running parties have been able to work together and that demonstrates a new kind of politics that people who desperately want to see. i think we were all consistent
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in saying that what we have achieved in terms of the deal as it currently is, it is far from perfect as we all know, but it is the least worst outcome you could achieve, and for me, you have to adapt to that situation. what do trade patterns look like on these islands in between these islands? we need a new economic strategy that looks at it sector by sector, it looks at the needs of our industries and what we can do. we need that new economic strategy. even before brexit our economic performance is poor, especially when paired to britain. 1% growth year paired to 5% growth in the south of ireland. that shows you the dice in economic talent. we need a clear thought out consistent strategy and we need to be able to deliver that. you think we can adapt to it successfully? i think the nature of business mean people will adapt. there is not anything good to come from brexit. we have to adapt to the situation. when people talk about, on friday morning if we wake up with a tory government that will push through their agreement, or a labour government that won't negotiate another and have
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another referendum, businesses are crying out for certainty. the other thing we need to have is our northern ireland assembly back up and running. applause let's leave that for a moment. i want to bring colum eastwood in on the idea of adapting to the realities. the business i speak to don't want brexit at all and i don't believe the battle is over. in a democracy, the people get to decide. the people can send mps to westminster who will vote for a peoples vote and that is what they get if they vote for the sdlp. if they don't? if they don't, they should remember how we got here. the dup had all the powers, ten mps, theresa may at their beck and call. i think you have made that point. the question is as if there is a simple majority with the tories, what do you do?
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i want to make one point, the dup at any point at the beginning of all of this could have forced theresa may to seek the softest possible brexit. they could have had their political brexit but not an economic brexit, they refused to do it, they followed jacob rees—mogg and they have been left behind. we are now in a situation where we are forced to look at this deal. it protects us from a hard border in ireland but it does real economic damage. the other problem is there is no hope at all that a trade deal is going to be done within the next year. that means we are facing a no deal cliff edge this time next year, that is the reality of what this deal brings, that is why we have to send people there who are going to work with others to try and stop it. not on their own but with a coalition of people who are prepared to
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vote against brexit. the fact that borisjohnson has ruled out any extension to the negotiating period for a free trade agreement actually demonstrates that this deal simply cover in order to get through the parliamentary process and get the no deal he has always pursued from the beginning. can business adapt? business will have to adapt if the forces that are through. but will business be as economically sound and stable as it could be? no. every single assessment shows that it will take at least 40—50 years for us to recover from the damage that brexit will cause. yes, business will adapt, of course, but that doesn't mean to say we will be any good situation post brexit. let me go back to the question. what is your view? most of what i have heard is incredibly negative, we have a golden opportunity if we could just look at. we could get a tariff free access to the uk,
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down south, and the best way to get a good investment is to go back to the idea of putting our corporation tax on the same level so we have the best location within the uk for multinationals coming in here. the problem is we send a university with of students away every single year. we have to properly invest in skills. some come back, i did. about 20% to 80% live within a couple of miles of the university they went to. tax is important but it is about number six on the list if companies are looking to come here. what is important in skills and we had a cap on the number of students we are able to train here, we need more students trained here so our families and communities don't lose generations of people like we are doing right now. they don't come back, that is the unfortunate reality. we would have had corporation tax cut if we had an assembly to make that decision. we would have had a lot of things
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done in the last three years if we had a assembly to take that decision. michelle talked big about people working together, the place to work together is the assembly. i note the next question is, you don't, but i do. it comes from a bank worker in belfast. our nhs is the worst off in the uk since the dup and sinn fein can work together, is it time we put party politics aside and have direct rule for the sake of people's lives? i could reach out a long list of statistics. suffice to say the health service is in a pretty desperate position. i don't think anybody up there or back it would take issue of that. it is a big issue. i will ask you to carry on jeffrey donaldson, is it time for direct rule for the sake of the people? there are huge decisions that need to be taken in northern ireland. i see it every day in my work
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as a public representative. i see the impact it is having on the people we represent. i am eating them on the doorsteps as i am sure all of my colleagues here are. people are suffering as a result of having to wait for access to treatment that they desperately need now. we need our assembly back and we need it back today. health has to be priority for us. any restored assembly. but i say this, when the secretary of state convenes those talks, if we cannot get an agreement by the 13th ofjanuary when the legislation runs out, the emergency legislation, then i think we have to look at handing this back to westminster where people like me will be there to speak for northern ireland and to ensure we get the best deal we can having delivered {1.5 billion extra for northern ireland, will be there again to make that argument and to make the case to secure what we need. people talk about investing in infrastructure, in health, but that needs money as naomi reminded us. we need investment and if we can't do that ourselves through
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an assembly, we need to do that somewhere in the place to do that is westminster so yes, i will be putting my hand up for direct rule if sinn fein and others cannot get their act together and get back to work in stormont. direct rule is not an option, that was made clear back in the time of the st andrews agreement. we can only go forwards. i believe we need to give people the hope and vision that was there back in 1998 when he signed the good friday agreement. where is hope and vision in local politics? i tried to be hopeful because people need something to look forward to. stormont would give everyone in northern ireland hope. they want politics to work here, i am listening to people on the doors and they want the assembly up and running and the executive working but it needs to be sustainable and credible. we need to make sure the previous agreements made between political parties... this is about the health crisis. he will have your chance to speak.
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it needs to be sustainable and in orderfor it to be sustainable in the future we need to have a very substantial financial injection for the british government. the issue of the health service crisis, the health service is in crisis because of tory austerity, it is on its knees and we need to bring forward the transformation plan. do not think if the assembly got up and running and do something about health, that would give people hope? i desperately really believe in the good friday agreement and making the assembly work. unfortunately the topic we just talked about, brexit, the crux of our problem for the past three years have been the fact the dup had traded out... you won't take your seats at stormont. the governments have described it as this. they do not have the bandwidth to deal with both situations. there will be some clarity at the end of this week and i hope the dup will come out of the process next week, and i hope the other parties come at it with the same attitude, if we're going to be successful we need all the parties around the table. i was disappointed to learn
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colum eastwood said he would not grant an assembly. i did not say that. all sorts of accusations here. i am a wee bit sick of fake news. what did you say? i said we wanted to be in an executive. you put down preconditions, tabby people the truth. you have no government! the precondition is to form stormont. we have no executive because one party will go in without an irish language act, one party won't go in with one. michelle! let him speak. we want to be in government, we think it would be great if everyone was in government. the last time we didn't was because the dup and sinn fein refused point blank to even negotiate anything around education, health, investment.
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theyjust assumed we would be bullied again like they have been doing for years. that did not happen. we do not want to be in opposition, we want to be in government. the bottom line is, no, there is no government. the only one to get one is if these 2.8 minister and deputy minister and then let's have a discussion about who goes into the government. the idea that michelle is criticising others is absolutely and totally... you have heard of this, the big problem we have in northern is we don't have a government because for the last mere decade, dup or sinn fein have not made any decisions on education or health or anything. we cannot wait. lots of decisions were taken. we cannot wait for the health system, we go through a couple more months of squabbling and elections and see what happens there. we have been calling time and again to make sure there is a directional health minister brought in now.
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we don't have a crisis any more, we have a health emergency. people are in real danger. i don't use these words lightly. people are in real danger of having very serious consequences for what is going on. the time has gone beyond four are faffing around, we need to get on with it and we must do it. let's get someone in place to make political decisions now. let's get paid parity for our work is now. that's what we need to be doing. firstly, i understand entirely where you are coming from on that. the problem is we don'tjust have a health crisis, we had a crisis in education which people are not focusing on, massive budget overspend is in schools and real struggles.
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when children swimming teachers have to bring toilet roll and pencils and papers out of their own pocket to school, you can tell something is seriously wrong. schools have to fund raise to pay for books and everything as people need to get an education, there is a crisis. we have a crisis in infrastructure. i agree with steve on the nonsense of a bridge built but there is a huge amount of investment required in our search network, in albert road, in a transport infrastructure. do we need to direct rule to make it happen? do i want to see direct rule was that no, i think it is a failure of devolution. i want to see devolution restored and local ministers take those
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decisions because i believe local politicians are the best people to take those decisions, but we are very clear in our manifesto and we have been clearfor some time, that if we cannot get devolution up and running again by the 13th ofjanuary, there is no alternative. we cannot continue to tread water like this indefinitely. we cannot continue to have mlas drawing a salary when they are not legislating. we have to accept the 13th is a hard deadline. it is over to the secretary of state to come up with a form of government that can work, whether it is a coalition of the willing or whether he goes to another election and puts it back to the people, to you, teaches different politicians who can actually work together and delivered for the best interests of our people. having listened to what is being said so far, the idea of the for that is just about a month away, it does not value with hope we are close to resolution. we need to get stormont back up and running. gentlemen here with the beard. i read special education in schools is being cut by 50% in some schools and that is a disgrace. if you got elected, how would you tackle that and fix the issues there? thank you.
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gentlemen at the back. can ijust ask by way of proffering... maybe it is a solution, is an irish language act is still a precondition? if it was introduced as a backbench bill, with the dup be willing to put aside a petition of concern and let it run through its majority? in the same way the same—sex marriage before the whole thing collapsed went through. can we get that out of the way to deal with things that matter? irish language matters but probably not quite as much. this gentleman here. it is interesting you talk about health emergency. the nhs consists of two sides, the demand of the supply side. given how much obesity is costing the nhs, alcohol and drugs, if you look into the statistics, it is hard tojustify public health. what are your solutions to changing people's attitudes? let me ask the gentleman at the end
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of the room. you might not even have an nhs if workers are on strike. it is not an either—or situation, why should we have to choose between our rights as citizens and good public services? we deserve both. there will be in irish life, which the act, because it had so important because we had in the past... i am not saying it is more important than health, but you cannot look at this as an either or situation. that is to boil it down to say our politics is broken because of the irish line was out, that is not the case. it was because of discrimination against people with irish national identity, behaviour of the dup, made untenable.
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whenever martin mcguinness resigned from the executive, he did not do it very lightly but with the heavy heart. he had no other option. i don't think anybody would have thought it would have taken us three years to get our politics working again. two people have brought it up, let me put it to you. the irish language act is not as important or more important than anything else? it is not either—or. i deserve to have my rights as a citizen and good public services. can ijust finished a point? because of the irish language act, it is incorrect. there are issues outstanding from previous agreements made. if politics is going to work, you have to deliver on the commitments you make. that is the crux of our problem. legacy issues, how do we build a good society for the future if we don't fix the past? the petition of concern is to ask a number of parties around the studio who said that was an issue for them and for us because we need to see proper reform.
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jeffrey donaldson? irish language act? it is not a priority. our priority is the health service, education system, special schools, as mentioned. all of those issues that impact daily on the lives of... it is also the issue which brought the assembly down three years ago. sinn fein have issues they want to have dealt with in an assembly. the place to do it is in the assembly. the essence of democracy is that you stand for election, you get elected, go to the elected body and you seek to implement the things you want. we cannot work the way we are going at the moment anymore. we hold the world record now for being without a government for the longest time, longer than anyone else. that is something all of us here should be ashamed of. we need stormont back up and running. there are many priorities that matter to the people that we represent out there, and they want the parties
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to get on with the job. surely we can do that. the dup have been so caught up in their affairs, and i... we are ready to go into government, michelle. we want to share power with you! don't shout at me. but do you want to discriminate against people in our society? i want to sit down in government get on with the job of delivering that. so do i. we have got a plan to do that i'd we want the opportunity to do that. i want to make politics work, that involves us all working together. that's the only way it's going to work, there's no other show in town. we need to make our politics work, so when the process happens on monday let's deliver on the outstanding issues, resolve the outstanding issues, get back into government and make sure we extract the maximum funding we can for education, health, economy, because that is the other way we can do this. stormont collapsed due
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to incompetence and scandal. that is why our stormont hasn't come back. a plague on all their houses, you are saying? the other issue is one of the reasons it has not come back as there is no trust, no trust between the little parties, no trust between the dup, no trust between the sinn fein and quite frankly, most about don't trust either of them. because one of the things we have seen time and again is we must see substantial reform in stormont. there is no point in bringing stormont back up and running if it is going back to the way it was. the unionist electorate, they elected ten of us. we will csa do on thursday. crosstalk. you have made your point. very quickly, very quickly. i think people are sick of this squabbling. everybody i speak to what those in their dealing with the problem.
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one in four people are on the waiting list. the man in the audience hit the nail on the head, let suspend, reform or suspend the petition of concern, put a vote to the house in the assembly on the irish language act and get on with it and back to dealing with this. this is an important issue, so i want the opportunity that others have had to speak. it is important that stormont is restored but it is notjust about saying to the british government we want more money, we have to be willing to the reforms necessary in order for our health education services are sustainable. we have reviewed our health service, we need to implement that. we now need to review our education service and implement it, but it needs to be done quickly because we are in crisis. our last question. you work for a music charity? how are your party are going to take on tackling the climate crisis, and what things do you do personally in your life day—to—day to help tackle the climate crisis? steve aiken?
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the ulster unionist party's position is we need to get to zero net carbon by 2025. i am asking all the political parties, as part of the programme for government if we ever get one, is we make that a fundamental point of what we need to do. we need to do quite a few things. we need to change how we do public transport, we need to change how we look at and deal with fuel poverty. we need to change how we generate electricity and move to a non—electric economy. something more fundamental, we must change how we work our economy. we must look at things like agribusiness, we must look at things trying to get improvements and issues to do with biogas. but first of all, we must first accept the fact that there is a climate emergency. there is a political party here who has an mp who does not even believe there is such
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a thing as climate change. that is absolutely ridiculous. the first thing we need to do is say we have a problem. what do you do in your life? what do i do personally? i recycle, i make sure very clearly that my next car, if i can afford one, is going to be an electric going forward. i doubt would love to be able to be in a position to put solar panels on my roof. that is the kind of thing we need to do. we would like to get carbon neutrality by 2030, people say it is a crazy ambition, but we need to do it. this is not climate change any more, it is a climate crisis. i have two daughters, rose is four, meyer is two, we are leaving them some inheritors to tackle this. there is a lot of things personally we have to do, but no number of paper straws is going to fix this problem.
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we need to go after the oil and gas companies who have created this problem, making it worse. we have to incentivise... try to recycle, but if we focus this just on individuals, we are making a huge mistake. this is about major companies who are destroying this planet today. if we do not tackle them, we will not tackle this crisis. nobody needs to convince most others here that the climate emergency is real. we recognise that and we are reaching a tipping point where at that point we will not be able to restore to where we are now. so we have got to get away we need to be very quickly. we have set a target of zero emissions by 2030. we also want to see more investment in renewable resources. because we actually believe, people have been asking where are the opportunities, this is somewhere where northern ireland can excel in terms of developing renewable strategies. divestments from oil and fossil
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fuels, we need to work harder, faster to get to where we need to be. in my own life, since becoming an mep my carbon footprint has increased dramatically because of the amount of travel. i do that public transport and i try to do it at home. as well as all those things, this emergency is much bigger than individual choices. it is about global choices and that is why it is so important that in the eu we are able to influence policy on a continent wide basis. we are running out of time. sorry about that. steve aiken, jeffrey was talking about insidious propaganda of the green river, the hysterical semi—religion of climate change. do the dup believe in climate change? i will ask the questions. laughter. thank you for the free publicity, and yes, we do believe that we need to change radically to prevent this climate change and its impact on the planet that we live on. and i am happy to share with you, well, you know, steve,
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there's a lot of hot air, but these are proposals about what we can be doing in northern ireland, in our plan, how we can play our part in helping the uk to meet its targets. in parliament we have voted for those targets time and time again to reduce our carbon emissions in the united kingdom and we will keep on doing that. we recognise there is a real threat to the future, we want to protect our local environment, this is a green and pleasant land, we want to preserve it for the next generation. this is about the future. on a personal level? well, in terms of my own personal approach, we are recycling household, i also use public transport, particularly when i am across the water. i think we can all play our part. that is the really important thing. but i agree with colum in that there's a lot more we need to do, be more radical. we would want to see an independent climate change agency, legislation so targets have to be
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adhered to and you can make sure people are not just paying lip service to it. there is a lot of things we can do, green new deal, creating green—collar jobs, an opportunity for us to do something better. personally, myself, iam becoming so much more aware, and i think it is testament to young women like greta thunberg who has given the world an education about climate change, so myself, using disposable cups and thanks, my own diet. make sure you're eating seasonal vegetables. they are being flown across the world otherwise. lots of things like that are important. very quickly. the other issue we do have is fuel poverty. one of the things we can be looking at particularly as we move forward, some other things if we get innocently back up and running, by 2035 we could be tackling fuel poverty in a big way in northern ireland. no, sorry, right now do you try petrol, diesel or electric?
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diesel. petrol. . —— next one. i drive a fiat 500, a tank of petrol take me a long way. hopefully electric but it will need more charging point between derry and belfast. thank you all very much. we have run out of time, sadly as we always do. we must leave it there. a full list of candidates standing in northern ireland can be found on the bbc news ni website. that website. the views of some of the smaller parties can be heard on the bbc airwaves, radio ulster for example, and on bbc newsline's lunchtime output. thank you to our political panellists, who have been hard at it on the campaign trail and really bad weather. glad they made it tonight.
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to the studio audience, thank you, and as always, to you for watching, thank you. from the northern ireland leaders' debate, i wish you a very good night, and good luck on thursday, may the best team win. applause.
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the taipei i'm rico hizon in singapore and welcome to newsday on the bbc. the headlines: formal impeachment charges for president trump are unveiled — a vote is expected next week. to do nothing would make ourselves complicit in the president's abuse of his high office and public trust in our national security. aung san suu kyi appears at the international court ofjustice to defend her country against charges of genocide against the muslim rohingya community. i'm kasia madera in london. also in the programme. recovery teams are hoping to begin work shortly on the volcanic island
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