tv Dateline London BBC News May 17, 2020 11:30am-12:01pm BST
the uk government defends plans to begin reopening primary schools in england from next month — it says there'll be measures to ensure the safety of children and teachers. barack obama has launched a scathing attack on the trump administration's response to the coronavirus crisis. borisjohnson has acknowledged the new lockdown guidelines in england are more complicated than the previous message to "stay at home" — saying he understands people will feel frustrated with the new rules. the government is to spend millions of pounds on accelerating the mass production of a vaccine but the prime minister has warned a vaccine may never be found. the italian prime minister admits the country's taking a calculated risk by easing a number of lockdown measures from next week. now it's time for dateline london with sean ley.
hello and welcome to the programme, which normally hosts round table discussion, debate and argument between some of the uk's leading columnists and the foreign correspondents, who file their stories for the folks back with the dateline london. well, we've kept the table and two of my guests are imagining their knees jammed under it, even as we speak. eunice gauche is a portuguese journalist and academic. jeffrey kaufman is an emmy award winning broadcaster who was the us network abc's man in london. and our woman of the world is lyce doucet, the bbc‘s chief international correspondent. welcome, lyce. good to see you again. i am a woman of w1 now! grounded in london she may be, but always alert to the world beyond. this week in the uk, boris johnson changed the government's coronvirus tune:
stay at home is now stay alert. according to pollsters, only one third of people think they know what it means. the first ministers in scotland and wales say whatever mrjohnson means, they prefer the old message, thank you very much, and are sticking with it. so for now at least, it's the disunited kingdom. let me ask, how different has this week been for you? did you notice anything? did it feel different midweek when these restrictions were eased just ever so slightly? not really. i am lucky enough to be able to work from home, so i've stayed in my little haven of north london and so i might go out — i go out a little bit more than i used to, so i am taking two walks when i can, and i continue to see that my tube station is shut, and few people in the streets...
a little more in the parks but my life has changed very little. i don't know if my life has changed but i notice that a lot of the life on the streets have changed. construction sites around where i live are starting to come alive, more people on the streets, fast food outlets are opening for take—out, but people don't really know what to do, mixed messages from the prime minister and government... how do you stay alert to a virus that you do not see? it is not like bombs or packages on the tube. i think this confusing message has forced people to make up their own rules. as eunice said, she used the word lucky. we are among the privileged. we have food in our fridge and jobs and work to keep us busy. i think all of us would embrace the slogan, in it together, when you see restrictions are being eased, you think of those who are living in crowded apartments, trying to work at home
with children, or who really, really desperately need to get back to work. nothing like a breath of fresh air. now that we have more breaths of fresh air it is wonderful. it means we linger a bit longer. iran into an opera singer singing outside. i thought maybe it's ok, i'll stay a little while. you started by saying we're all grounded. i used to travel a lot and now i have become, to use a french word, a flaneur, strolling the streets and it is an absolute delight. i think that all of us are listening to nature more and i am discovering bits of london as i walk home from work that i've never seen before, so there is light in the dark but i think the easing of the lockdown means an easing of the darkness for so many people. it is a great thing that in a city like london that it's safer at the moment to look up. you don't always necessarily have to look ahead of you. you suddenly realise the history of buildings. actually, as you look further and further up, you see the age of the buildings, never mind the modern signs. seeing what is up and beyond. jeff, what about you? i have been moving around a little bit more. i might be moving a bit further.
the hope that i might socially—distanced, be able to wave at my mum through the window down in devon perhaps this week for the first time in weeks. jeffrey, what do you make...? you mentioned this mixed message. what do you make of how the prime minister is doing at the moment? i don't think this was a good week. i think that he came out of his illness. i think there was a huge amount of empathy and sympathy. i think that he showed some humility in his first words. but the lack of clarity in this slogan is not what people are looking for. to say you can go back to work but you should not take the tube, public transport is now overcrowded, it's not meant to be but there are no directives. how do i behave at work? this is borisjohnson exposing his weaker side, which is decisiveness, which is depth. there is a kind of superficiality coming through from him. how that slogan stay alert even got past him. what were his advisers thinking when they came up with it?
and when he looked at it, why didn't he say, "what will people do with this? what exactly is that meant to do to shape behaviour? i think this has been an extremely bad week for him in the sense of bringing the country together, helping us ease lockdown. as lyse says, people are living... this is really tough for so many millions of people in this country. what they are looking for is clarity, leadership, direction and honesty. i do not think that there is a sense that we are seeing that and the polling numbers suggest that confidence in the prime minister is slipping. what do you make of the open discord between the prime minister of the uk and be first ministers in scotland and in wales? is itjust a bit of party politics re—emerging? i think it is more than that. i think there are real disagreements about the way ahead, the way to address this crisis. ithink in
scotland and wales, the governments seem to be far more worried with the impact of using the lockdown. —— easing. let us say that britain has the highest rate of deaths in europe. the situation is not completely under control, those r—numbers are not where they should be. so it is far more than ideology, or party politics. this is about worrying about livelihoods. there might be an issue here of ideological approaches to this, and the british government, borisjohnson's government, has been trying to push forward an approach that allegedly tries to save the economy or prioritises the economy, or livelihoods, so there is this almost false dichotomy between you either open the lockdown a little bit in order to save the economy or you keep within restricted measures for a little bit longer and you stifle the economy. this is a bit of a false dichotomy
because actually we have seen from the countries that had not imposed lockdowns, sweden for instance, and other countries took a more laissez—faire approach, their economies have been as badly hit as the economies of spain or italy or france, who have imposed really tough lockdowns. so i think it has to do with, on the one hand there are different ideological approaches, this is a government that does not really believe in the power of state and it is immensely preoccupied with the economic impact of the lockdown, and it is trying to... it is trying to address the concerns and anxieties of the population but at the same time still default to the position of not believing in the power of the state to actually do good. we are all learning more about the science now. the r—number, in other words, the reinfection rate. citizens are sacrificing a lot,
and by and large observing and making the sacrifices, but there has to be science and there has to be common sense in it. i think the r—rate, the figures released yesterday, is that the r—rate — the rate at which reproduction — one infected person will infect how many other people — it is higher in scotland, it is higher in wales, it is higher in the north east of england, it is falling in london. there was an emphasis on the four nations approach — we should have common guidance. but if the r—rate is different then, of course, leaders who have to be responsible to their people — they have to take different decisions about how fast and far they want to open up. it is very appropriate to talk about the uk and the potential divisions here because british eurosceptics used to grumble that whenever the european union encountered a new problem, the solution was always said to be "more europe". if that was the brussels disease, perhaps the pandemic will cure it. 27 countries have pursued 27 different policies,
with the closure of borders removing one of the continent's major selling points, borderless trade and borderless travel. covid—i9 has exposed again a deep fault line which became apparent a decade ago: the wealthier north doesn't wasn't to share the costs of the poorer south. this is something you have been worrying about this week, why? very much, because if europe does not get its act together, and by this i mean have solidarity, have a european vision on how to address this crisis, the whole european project might as well unravel. we witnessed last week, or about ten days ago, a ruling by the german constitutional court questioning the judgment of the european court of justice on the bond buying scheme of the ecb. this is quite technical. the long and short of this is that we have a national constitutional court questioning the
authority of the european court of justice. in the european union, the rulings of the european court of justice, they have to be implemented by the member states, the buck stops with that court. the national court has no say. the ruling of the german constitutional court can set a really dangerous precedent in european practice. it can lead, for instance, to countries like hungary, which is already in a state of emergency, and practically a non—democracy in europe, or poland, or even the countries of greece, the governments of greece, italy and portugal, questioning rulings of the ecb on the grounds that they violate the remits of the european institutions. ecb being the european central bank. the european central bank. if you start to have many member states questioning the legitimacy
of european institutions, that is pretty much the beginning of the end. on the other point you have made about the lack of solidarity between the north and south, and so the divisions between the alleged saints of the north and the alleged sinners of the south, this is essentially... this could have profound consequences. so far, the european union have tried to come up with a comprehensive response to the coronavirus, there are not exactly 27 different solutions, the approaches of each member state are actually extremely similar, but europe will need to come up with a marshall plan for europe, because the economic consequences of covid—19 will be very dire. we are going to see the impact for instance of the closure of the tourism industry in southern europe. this is going to be catastrophic. it is predicted a doubling of unemployment in europe until the end of the year. this is extremely concerning.
if the european union does not come up with a comprehensive solution, it is about solidarity, burden sharing, as opposed to loans, and those loans have attached to it austerity measures that will make the solution even worse. this can lead to ugly politics and pretty much the unravelling of the european project. jeffrey, are you as worried about this? unlike say the financial crisis of a decade or so ago when the europeans in part were blaming the southern europeans, that their behaviour, as eunice was saying, that they were somehow sinners, they had not been good europeans and saved, they'd spent and all the rest of it. the reality of this is it is nothing to do with whether you are a good or a bad country, everybody gets this. you are a victim of this virus and therefore, that argument
that some of the northern european countries were using then, ought to be a lot weaker this time, didn't it? i think that what worries me and what scares me more than the virus itself is the political virus that seems to have taken hold in the world that makes it impossible... the agendas of different countries and different leaders have so divided the world at a time when the world needs to come together. it is notjust the european union, where is the united nations in this? look at the world health organization and the politicisation of it by president trump. instead of seeing leaders come together in this, as we saw after the second world war when the world was obviously ruined and ravaged, we are not seeing that now. i think as big a threat as the science is, the inability of leaders to come together and to say, "we need to work together and pool our scientific knowledge and create plans to support economies so that this does not destroy people's lives for a generation and lead to instability and fracture in ways we
can only begin to imagine. globally, do you think, lyse, there is evidence of this fracture? what is really heart—warming is that the scientists keep telling us that they are working together as never before, and we are all now focused as individuals, as societies, as the world, about this race for a vaccine. once it is found, let's hope there will be one, who will it be produce it and who will get it? i think that will become, asjeffrey says, the political question. there has to be a global response to that, but the fact, asjeffrey mentioned as well, that the united nations security council, the premier political body of the world, created out of the ashes of the second world war, have been missing in action and largely because of the tussling between the united states and china over the who and other issues which are driving an even greater wedge between them. it is really shameful.
the acting president of the security council used that. it is shameful. if there ever was a moment to stand — not shoulder to shoulder — but two metres apart, it is now. it is now because all for one and one for all. we will rise and we will die together. thus far, i have not seen anyone suggest that the latest anti—trump song doing the rounds on social media this week, ‘the liar tweets tonight', a skit on the lion sleeps tonight, first covered by the doo—wop group the tokens in the early—60s, is anti—trump propaganda, "made in china." in what he hopes is his re—election year, mr trump wants quite a bit less of everything made there. so the us president will doubtless approve of the taiwanese manufacturer tsmc, which announced friday plans to build a factory producing computer chips in arizona, in the united states, hours before the trump administration outlined plans which would require companies supplying the chinese telecom giant huawei — a great bogeyman of the us —
to get permission from the us department of commerce. huawei relies on tsmc for all its high—end chips. the taiwanese firm wants to ensure that continues, whilst building in the us, giving it a strategic hedge against any deterioratinfg relationship between china and the united states. jeffrey, that is something that lyse was talking about there. what is happening in the china—us relationship? how bad is that? how much worse is it going to get and what do you think the consequences are? it is really bad and, the odd thing is, because of the mercurial nature of president trump, a month ago it seemed to be getting better. he was friends with china, but in his... trump's very clear priority is to position himself for the election, let us not kid ourselves. he sees this pandemic through a partisan lens
and he is searching for ways to rally his base and he is neutralising his ability to go out there and hold those mass rallies. where does he look? he looks for some kind of enemy to point to. the virus came from china, as he constantly reminds us. reminds reporters. so for him there is an opportunity to vilify china, to say it wasn't us, they inflicted it on america, they are america's mortal enemy. what is worrisome is, one, we need to work together. china had this virus first, china has science that is advancing faster than anywhere because they had a head start. we need to be pooling resources, not putting up walls, not creating animosities. the long—term consequence is that this new form of cold war could break out
and undermine a world of global cooperation and this detente that we have lived with for a last few generations. there is a lot at stake here, but what is really worrisome when you look at the united states... we have seen it and talked about it around this table before, but it is getting amplified week by week, the injection of partisan politics into everything that happens in the white house. it is undermining the need for a coordinated effort to control and ultimately solve this pandemic riddle. china is very particular about the control it exercises over the messages that are expressed i mentioned taiwan, that is a notorious example of something that china insists is a part of china and one without any academic institution or country would insist
that taiwan is a separate nation. an eu ambassador got into trouble in china a few weeks ago for allowing a statement about the vaccine to be altered at the chinese government's behest. it is a really difficult thing for a lot of countries to deal with, how they handle china? absolutely. in europe there is a lot of concerns about the ambitions, economic ambitions of china, because over the last decade they changed many chinese state and chinese companies have been buying quite a lot of important assets over europe. they are preying on the fragile economies that were battered by the eurozone crisis to buy electricity companies and anything else, and now the art supply medical equipments to those european
countries. there is far less charm offensive that showing of the teeth. going back to the question of donald trump's dealings with china, it is clear this is done for electoral reasons, something that was explored and it was a winning formula in 2016. he is doing it again and i think president trump is worried what will happen in november when there is a presidential election. they mentioned the possibility of cancelling the presidential election, which of course the white house cannot cancel. this statement can be seen as a sign of how worried donald trump is with the impact of coded 19 over his personal ratings, and the whole effect in the us economy. “— and the whole effect in the us economy. —— covid—19. the last thing
the us needs is a trade war with china. we need to tread carefully but i do not think we can expect any careful statements coming out from the united states at the moment. another group in his sights apart from chinese politicians are inspectors general, the people who oversee the federal government to make sure it is behaving itself. another got news late friday evening he was going to be fired. he got fired. the reports are onlyjust coming into the full extent of this toy that someone in the state department who initiated investigations into mike pompeo has lost hisjob. there have been a lot of reports on american media, including leading newspapers, saying this is a time where there needs to bea this is a time where there needs to be a regulatory framework, where such eye watering sums of money need
-- is such eye watering sums of money need —— is that they are being spent, we need to hold authorities responsible. —— money is being spent. this is yet another example. we had seen it in the navy in this pandemic and other parts of the us government. yet again it is a worrying sign. the man who got the news late friday night, who was given 30 days notice. last month we had the removal of the coronavirus watchdog, which is to oversee the government's financial relief operation. also in may, the person who led the department of health and human services office by the inspector general was fired and in april the president fired the director—general of the intelligence community. what is his problem with
these people? he does not like to be accountable. these people are looking after the interests of the taxpayers when it comes to the billions and trillions that are being spent routinely. now hastily. the need for this kind of oversight is massive and donald trump does not like to be questioned. we know that. this is one of his characteristics. he hates being challenged and he wa nts to he hates being challenged and he wants to deal as he wants to deal, whether it is above board or not. we need to know of course he does not wa nt need to know of course he does not want us to know. i think, listen, i don't want to sound apocalyptic here but as i said earlier, i think the virus in politics is as menacing to the world right now as this pandemic. the great american experiment of 250 years is being tested in a way that civil wars, civil rights and world wars have not tested it. the resilience and
independence of its political institutions are being undermined daily by decisions like this and they have consequences. we will not simply get through if people and politicians do not stand up and hold the president and the republicans around him who are blindly endorsing him accountable. this is a really serious challenge of the fundamentals of democracy and it is all ultimately, again, about positioning him to hold onto power for another four years. this is our last few moments. the weather is warming up in the uk this weekend, the beaches in greece have opened already. what one thing i'm most looking forward to doing when the restrictions in england are eased so much more? going to their theatre. that is essentially one of the things i miss the most. that is essentially one of the things i miss the mostlj that is essentially one of the things i miss the most. i think seeing friends face to face. i am so over staring at a computer screen to
talk to people. i want to see friends face to face at a safe distance and have a good laugh i had a good discussion, you just feel it through your whole body when you see someone. through your whole body when you see someone. it reminds you of human contact via zoom is just someone. it reminds you of human contact via zoom isjust not someone. it reminds you of human contact via zoom is just not the same. thank you all very much. that's it for dateline london for this week, we're back next week at the same time. goodbye. good morning stop quite a lot of cloud and rain to come across
northern ireland and scotland. england and wales brightening up with some sunshine. what a glorious start to the day across the far south coast. 0ver start to the day across the far south coast. over the next few days the weather will become drier, sunnier and warmer. by wednesday temperatures could reach 27 celsius, likely to be the hottest weather we had seen so far put up 27 into the early 80s in fahrenheit. not as hot today. extensive cloud over the north and west of the country. that is rain bearing clouds affecting northern ireland and scotland. into the afternoon we will see sunny skies in the south. the sunny breaks will develop elsewhere in england and wales. most areas should enjoy brighter conditions. in scotland there will be a spell of sunshine this afternoon, boosting temperatures in aberdeen to 16. in northern ireland it was stay cloudy throughout. more wet weather on the
way throughout the latter part of the afternoon and evening. tonight the afternoon and evening. tonight the rain will spread into scotland, northern england, it may be the midlands and wales seen damp weather. wherever you are it is a mild nightly temperatures seven to 11 mild nightly temperatures seven to ii celsius. high pressure will drift in and there will be southerly winds bringing warmerair in and there will be southerly winds bringing warmer air across the uk. 0n bringing warmer air across the uk. on monday we will start to see the warmerair on monday we will start to see the warmer air ride across the south and temperatures will be boosted. across wales, northern england, northern ireland and scotland there will be clad and we could see further outbreaks of rain at times. 18 in aberdeen, feeling pleasant in the sunshine that 2a towards london and south—east england. tuesday more dry weather for more of us and more high temperatures. still rain affecting western scotland. the weather front eventually will go out of the way.
this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. the uk government defends plans to begin reopening primary schools in england from next month. it says there'll be measures to ensure the safety of children and teachers. it is the case that it is extremely unlikely that any school is likely to be the source of a covid outbreak and if, for any reason there are risks, then we can take steps to mitigate them. barack obama has launched a scathing attack on the trump administration's response to the coronavirus crisis. more than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing.