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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  November 25, 2020 12:30am-1:01am GMT

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policy under his presidency, saying, "america is back, ready to lead the world". the biden team's global worldview differs shaply from donald trump's "america —first" approach. mr trump still hasn't conceded the election, but the transition is gathering pace. christmas has been given the go—ahead across the uk. with families being told they can celebrate together. ——but i think if you look at ministers from england, scotland, wales, and northern the scorecard of the government ireland have agreed on broad as a whole, you have to put nationwide rules, which struck other things into balance. a balance between allowing people to meet loved ones i think the economic support and the risks involved. that businesses have received has been some of the most effective in europe. us airports are filling up and i think on the testing side, the expansion of testing for the thanksgiving holiday, as travellers ignore public capacity means that population testing, the sort of mass health warning to stay home testing that we see in qingdao to stop the spread of covid—19. in china, in slovakia, in liverpool in the uk, we are probably closer since the start of the pandemic to that than any major in march, holidays have western european country. but when we consider lockdowns triggered outbreaks and what the government does of the virus, including in terms of the balance after the fourth of of public health and safety july and halloween. against maintaining economic activity, there is now a raging debate about christmas and what the uk government plans to do. it seems clear they want to, over the next few weeks,
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that's it from me and the team. create a situation where, at christmas itself, now on bbc news, it's hardtalk. the five—day holiday period, they're going to allow people much greater freedom to socialise with welcome to hardtalk, theirfamilies again. i'm stephen sackur. there are scientists, many of them senior the uk has the highest covid—19 advisers to the government, death toll in europe and one like andrew hayward, of the steepest declines who are saying they feel this is a mistake. what do you think? in economic output. opinion polls suggest prime minister boris johnson's claims of a world—beating well, the virus doesn't care governmental response cuts if it's christmas or not. little ice with the public. and the last thing we would want to do as a country my guest today isjeremy hunt, is allow people to mix freely in christmas and then end up with a rise in infections former health secretary, injanuary and a rise in deaths in february. foreign secretary, and mr so the question is, can we get johnson's rival for leadership of the conservative party. the transmission rates low has the pandemic exposed enough ahead of christmas weaknesses in the country's so that that doesn't happen systems and its leader? and so we can keep a lid on the rate of transmissions as we wait to distribute the vaccine? and i think what's changed between now and a few months back is that we have this easter date, which both borisjohnson and the health secretary, matt hancock, have confirmed we could potentially vaccinate everyone
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vulnerable in the population by easter, and that would mean that was a real date that we could look at returning to normal. andrew hayward is very specific. jeremy hunt, he says, "my personal view welcome to hardtalk. thank you. one of your current is that we're putting far too parliamentary responsibilities much "emphasis on having is to hold the government to account, to scrutinise it, hold it to account a near normal christmas. on health policy. "we know respiratory infection do you think borisjohnson‘s rates peak injanuary. "we are, in effect, government has a record throwing fuel "on the to be proud of when it fire over christmas. comes to covid—19? well, we're still in the middle of the pandemic, so it's probably too early to make that assessment. but we're certainly "we're on the cusp," he says, not amongst the best. "of being able to protect and i think the interesting elderly people we love through this vaccination," as you've just mentioned it. thing, if you look at europe, to him, it seems crazy that we are risking that is that france, spain, italy, by creating wider social bubbles, allowing maybe three households to mix over and the uk have all had the christmas period. pretty terrible pandemics. germany slightly better, norway, denmark slightly better. but around the world, the real dividing line that's what the government's is between the east asian talking about. i'm asking you simply, countries — singapore, do you believe they are wrong? well, that's notjust what the taiwan, hong kong, japan — government is talking about. they're actually talking about making us have a lockdown and europe and north america. until 2 december, making us
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and somehow in east asia, stay in a very high degree of being locked down they've got a whole bunch until just before christmas. no, with respect, they've made of things right that we haven't it clear that whatever got right in europe the regional tiers arrange and north america. after 2 december, shops, for example, will be allowed yeah, i take that point, but even within europe, to open across the country. we know from a lot of there are real differentials. scientific research that shops i'm thinking of germany, and households where families for example, or a mix are the two key country like denmark. arenas where this virus i mean, it is the same virus faced by all of these is transmitted and spread. countries, and yet we have performed particularly badly. so, i put it to you again — the government is when it comes to the death toll, it's obvious. clearly taking a risk. do you believe that is wise? more than 55,000 people dead — much the worst total in europe. i think you're mischaracterising what why? the government is doing. well, in the case of germany, i think we can see a couple to be clear, i'm someone who's of things that they did well criticised the government's approach at a number from the outset. the first is that they had of key moments. but shops actually, providing a very rigorous test people are wearing masks, and trace system. is not the highest—risk place. they had these things called corona detectives in germany, the highest—risk places tend that were local council to be bars and places officials who would go where people are speaking loudly, or people are singing, round rigorously tracking and they are talking about not allowing bars to open who had been infected, unless the transmission who they had been near, and rates come right down. trying to get them to isolate. so my answer to your question and our prime minister told us very directly is if we can get the transmission rates down low that we were going to get enough so that christmas
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a world—beating test, doesn't risk a further trace, and isolate system. simply hasn't happened, has it? wave, a further spike in transmission, then i think well, it's happened it's the right thing to do. in fits and starts. i think we've done better but i don't think anyone on the testing side than on the tracing side. would want to take that risk but germany was doing this with christmas if it meant that right from the start. in february we had a sudden spike in deaths. they never stopped their community testing programme. i am interested in your role we stopped our community on the parliamentary committee that scrutinises, holds to account the government on all things public health and, of course, covid—i9 being central to that. testing programme in march, 00:04:31,047 --> 2147483051:39:00,238 then we restarted it 2147483051:39:00,238 --> 4294966103:13:29,430 in the summer. the head of amnesty international, kate allen, she said this of the record of the government on care homes and protecting the most elderly and vulnerable in the uk community. she said, "the government has made a series of shockingly irresponsible decisions which effectively abandoned care home residents to die. discharged without being tested, thousands of older people were sent to care homes at great risk to themselves, to other residents, and to staff. the appalling death toll was entirely avoidable. it is a scandal of
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monumental proportions." where is the accountability for what happened in the care homes? well, i think the government is being held to account by my select committee, but by people like kate allen, by the media. and it is very clear that there were lots of things done in other countries that we should have done here and we didn't. for example, in germany, care homes weren't allowed to receive patients from hospitals unless they could quarantine them for two weeks or, indeed, unless they were tested. in hong kong, they sealed off care homes and that meant that they didn't have a single coronavirus death in any care home in hong kong. so there are clearly lots of things that we didn't do the first time round. ithink... which cost thousands of lives. and ijust wonder, if you were health secretary and you've served in that position, you know, the weight of responsibility, if you had overseen this disaster, catastrophe, as amnesty international call it, would you have stayed in post or would you have resigned?
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well, ithink, you know, when you're looking at the incredibly challenging job of being health secretary, i think you have to make these judgments in the round. and one thing i would say about matt hancock is he has been absolutely indefatigable. there's an enormous amount of pressure. and i think that the accountability in terms of people'sjobs, you don't really want that happening in the middle of a crisis. yes, at the end... well, you sort of do. if the guy at the top has overseen a policy which was so catastrophically wrong, you want him out, you want somebody else in. well, i think you also want people at the top who have learnt from what's gone wrong, who have understood and gone up that very steep learning curve about all the scientific evidence and all the judgments. and so i think, you know, someone changing their job in the middle of a crisis is not always what you want. right, the questions aren't just about care homes. you know that very well from your committee. there's a huge question
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mark about procurement, the way in which the government tried, under difficult circumstances, to ratchet up the procurement of protective equipment for health service workers, and indeed for care homes, as well. it seems to have been marked by incompetence and contracts being awarded to chums, friends of the government, people with key contacts. that cannot be acceptable, can it? well, i think there are two things. there's one thing the government got wrong, and there's something else where i think the government has a more reasonable case to make. what happened in care homes, one of the things that happened in care homes, you rightly talked about them, was that they found when there was a shortage of protective equipment at the start of the crisis, the nhs, which is a huge supplier, a huge consumer of protective equipment, crowded them out of the market. so care homes suddenly found, because all the local hospitals were trying to get ppe,
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they couldn't get any at all. and the lesson from that is that care homes have to be better prepared. in hong kong, they have to have three months‘ stock of ppe, and we need to learn that lesson, as i think we did for the second wave. but we haven't learned lessons, it seems. i mean, £250 million was spent on face masks which weren't safe and could never be used. and on the flip side of that, when it comes to the friends being offered contracts, we know that there were strange deals done which involved middlemen — middlemen who had contacts with the government. there was one particular spanish businessman who acted as a go—between and ended up pocketing more than £20 million himself. again, you're the head of this committee, which is supposed to hold the government's feet to the fire. what guarantee can you give the british public that this won't happen again? well, we held the health secretary's feet to the fire on that very issue this morning in the select committee, which i've just come from. so, absolutely, we ask all those difficult questions. but all i would say is that we...
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well, difficult questions are one thing... sorry to interrupt. difficult questions are worthwhile, but... this is ourjob, because we are a scrutinising committee. it's what you do rather well, as well. but the public wants to know what's going to change? what has changed as a result of the exposure of this failure? well, what has changed — and let me now defend the government for a moment — is having taken on board criticism of people like me and many other people about the shortages of ppe, this time around in the second wave, people generally have the protective equipment they need, both in hospitals and in care homes. but to get there in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a global shortage of protective equipment, they had to act fast. and i think it wouldn't have been sensible or right for them to follow the normal procurement processes, because lives were at risk and speed was at a premium. so, yes, mistakes were made, but i would rather some of those mistakes were made and the problem's solved, as i think it has now been.
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i now quickly want to look forward. there are two potential game—changing developments. one is that testing is becoming much quicker and it can be rolled out on a vast scale. you appear to be suggesting that, right now, you think in the uk, we should insist on mandatory regular testing for the whole population. do you seriously think that can and will happen? i've never advocated compulsory testing, no, but what i do think is we should have mass testing, population—level testing with incentives for people to participate. and perhaps the best example in europe is slovakia, where they managed to test nearly the whole population injust a weekend. now, it's a smaller country, but the result of that exercise — nearly four million people tested — is that they reduced transmission by 85%. and if we want to get back to normal, if we want people to go back to the freedoms that matter so much to all
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of us, then you have to get transmission under control. so i do think population testing has got an important role to play. so you want people to do it, but you shy away from the word "compulsion". but when it comes to the vaccines — and we now know at least three, maybe more, but at least three vaccines look highly effective and could be rolled out, according to the uk government, late this year and then into the spring of next year — there is a real question of how you ensure enough people are immunised to overall change the game, normalise life, and make sure covid—i9 is a part of history, not our future. is it conceivable it should and could become compulsory to get a vaccine? i don't think so. it's not the british way and i think the danger of making it compulsory is you would have an anti—reaction when it's actually in everyone‘s interest to get this vaccine. but i think the key thing is not to bet all our
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money on the vaccine, because there are still some uncertainties. the distribution is going to be very difficult. both the health secretary and the prime minister seem to think we could get the vaccine out to all vulnerable citizens by easter — which would be an amazing accomplishment, a big step forward, but we need to make progress on the mass testing side as well, so we have a plan b. on both the mass testing and the vaccination, you're indicating you want to see people take it up, but you don't want to force them to take it up. you've introduced this notion of passporting. that is, parts of life would be open up to you if you have a passport — ie, showing you've got a negative test — and if you have another certificate or passport showing you've had the immunisation. 0ne airline in australia is going so far as to say, "nojab, no fly." now, that's not the same as a government demanding, forcing you to take the jab, but it's getting pretty close. when we set up test and trace, the great hope was that it would be successful enough for us not to have to have a second lockdown.
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in the end, that didn't work out. and one of the reasons is because we didn't, through our test and trace system, have enough people complying with the request to isolate. they were worried about their income. and what we have to do is make it advantageous for people to do the right thing in terms of public health. so, yes, i do think the nhs app should record if you've had the vaccine, should record when you've had your last test. and if restaurants want to check up on that, then that is within their rights to do that. because, of course, it's not just about keeping you safe, it's about keeping the other people in that establishment safe as well. covid—i9 has done extraordinary damage to the uk and indeed the world economy, and governments are having to figure out how they can try to get close to balancing the books in a very different economic environment. the british government, it is clear, intends as one cost—saving measure to slash the foreign aid budget,
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to renege on its long—term promise to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid every year. as a former foreign secretary, how do you feel about that? i would be very sad if that's what we ended up doing, because, yes, this has been a very tough year for the united kingdom, but the world bank say that this year, between 100—150 million more people will go into extreme poverty. that's a daily income of less than $1.90 a day. and i don't think we should ask the world's poorest to pay the price for some of these incredible challenges that we do admittedly face at home. well, should we ask the british public to continue to stump up millions of pounds for aid projects that include significant amounts of money going to countries like china, for example? no, and we are withdrawing our aid programme from both china and india for that reason. but there are other countries, particularly on the african subcontinent, where there is desperate, crushing poverty.
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and throughout the whole of the last recession, the austerity period between 2010 and 2014—15, we made very painful cuts in public spending here, but we maintained our commitment to the world's poorest, and i think that is one of the reasons that britain has much more influence than other countries of similar size, because we do accept that we have global responsibilities. so i hope that's something we continue. andrew mitchell, former international development secretary, says, "it will diminish us on the world stage if we go ahead and do it." would you agree with that? and if you do agree with it, would you vote against it if it comes to a parliamentary vote? i would find it very difficult to vote in favour of that measure. would you vote against it? well, i need to see what comes before parliament before making that decision, but i think this is something that we can feel incredibly proud of in this country, that we blazed a trail in terms of making a very, very significant commitment to supporting the world's poorest.
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as a former foreign secretary, you must also be following the day—by—day brexit negotiations very closely. is it plain to you that the uk simply cannot afford a no—deal brexit? the governor of the bank of england has just warned that the cost of a no—deal would be significantly bigger in the long term than the cost of the covid—i9 pandemic. in your view, can britain afford or simply not afford a no—deal brexit? well, for sure, there would be very severe short—term consequences from a no—deal... this isn't short—term, this is over ten years. well, we know that there would be long—term consequences, too, because they've been modelled, but there would be particularly severe short—term consequences. but we also have an obligation to do what the british people asked us to do in 2016 — which is to implement that brexit result. and that was reaffirmed in the general election ofa yearago...
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but they didn't at any time vote to make the economy smaller by up to 8% over ten years. no, but they voted to leave the european union cleanly. and if we don't do that, there will be democratic consequences that, in my judgment, would far outweigh the economic consequences of leaving without a deal in the long run, because it would send a signal to... i mean, i voted to remain in the european union, i should say, stephen, but the majority of the country did not, and those people would interpret not leaving cleanly, as they instructed politicians like me to do, as the political class riding roughshod over what ordinary people have asked for. just a quick thought on the politics of all of this. i began by asking you how you think boris johnson's government is doing. the british public take a fairly dim view of how he's handling covid. the approval ratings on that particular issue are low for boris johnson, around 34% approval. and generally the government appears very eager to establish a reset.
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one of the key advisers to borisjohnson, and an arch brexiteer, dominic cummings, has left the government and there's talk of a reset and a reshuffle. do you think this government really does need new faces and a reset? well, that's a matter for the prime minister. i'm asking you what you think. yes, but that is for the prime minister. and, you know, my view is that there will be a fresh start for the government when we put the pandemic behind us, because the pandemic is the single biggest challenge that any government has had to face in the post—war period, and it's been very tough for the government, but it's been very, very tough for people up and down the country. and a final thought — again, as a former foreign secretary. britain is now talking about going it alone. of course, we've left the european union. we have perhaps the promise of a more complicated relationship with the new american president, joe biden, who has expressed doubts about the brexit policies, expressed some doubts about boris johnson
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and his leadership, as well. britain without the european union, in the words of one former british ambassador to the us, peter westmacott, "on our own, somewhere offshore from the european union, somewhere in the mid—atlantic, trying to create something called global britain." it is not going to be easy, is it? it's not going to be easy. but, you know, ever since the days of britannia ruling the waves and us having an empire that covered a third of the globe, people have been betting against britain, and we've always bounced back and we've always maintained our influence. and the reason is because britain is associated — despite being a small country, less than 1% of the world's population — with the championing of democracy, human rights, the rule of law, free trade. these are things that britain and america — the two countries that have really championed those values throughout the world. and those are important to many, many people across the globe, and they will be even more important in the next decade,
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because for the first time in our lifetimes, the largest economy in the world will not be a democracy. so i do think we have a great future ahead of us. jeremy hunt, thank you very much for joining me on hardtalk. thank you. hello again. we had some big weather contrasts across the uk on tuesday, england and wales, a lot of dry weather with some sunny spells breaking through the cloud, some fine sunsets to end the day particularly for eastern areas, but it was north wales that was the real mildest spot in the country, 15 celsius, mild weather across most areas. contrast that with the rain that just wouldn't stop across scotland and northern ireland,
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thanks to this weather front, this cold front, and as this pushes east over the next couple of days, colder air will be arriving across all parts of the country. back to what we have at the moment, that weather front is still bringing some splashes of rain across wales and western england. it will very gradually move eastwards, bringing rain into parts of the midlands and central and southern england before long. a few showers for northern ireland and scotland, otherwise with clear spells, cold, might see 1—2 areas with a touch of frost. 0ur weather front continues to push eastwards, but it gets stretched out between these two areas of low pressure — one in scandinavia and one in spain and portugal. so the front will weaken very quickly as it slowly edges its way eastwards through wednesday, the rain becoming increasingly light and patchy as it dribbles its way across the midlands into east anglia and southeast england. there's no great rainfall amounts for these areas. the mild airjust hanging on across the east. 111—15 celsius in the very warmest spots but further north and west, it's much colder.
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temperatures down into single figures. following that, wednesday night, we will see patches of frost developing and maybe a few areas of fog to start the day on thursday. thursday looks like being a pretty decent day. yes, it will be cooler than it has been of late, but most areas will be dry and we should see fairly lengthy spells of sunshine developing. it will be cool for the time of the year, temperatures generally into single figures, just 5 celsius in glasgow, maybe 7 in belfast. then it looks like we will see some more mist and fog patches developing as we head into friday morning along with some frost. so for some of us, friday promises to be quite a slow start to the day and quite murky, some of those mist and fog patches may linger all day. where that happens, temperatures will be in the low single figures, but even in the brighter spots on friday, it looks like being a particularly chilly day for this stage of november. the weekend, mostly dry, but we will continue with the cool weather conditions, with frost and some morning mist and fog.
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this is bbc news, with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. i'm mike embley. ready to lead the world: joe biden unveils the team that will shape us foreign policy under his presidency. its under his presidency. 18 that reflects the fact that its 18 that reflects the fact that america is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from its, and once again sit at the head of the table. —— it's a team. christmas gets the go—ahead across the uk. families can celebrate together after all four nations agree on a plan. and the soldier's best friend — the hero dog awarded the canine un concerns about possible war crimes as ethiopian‘s army threatens an assault on the capital of northern tigray. and the soldier's best friend — the hero dog awarded the canine
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