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tv   Wednesday in Parliament  BBC News  December 10, 2020 2:30am-3:01am GMT

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britain and the eu are still far apart but a decision is expected on sunday. the us has passed another grim milestone in its fight against covid—19. the johns hopkins coronavirus resource center has announced that deaths rose by at least 3,112 on wednesday. it's the highest reported one—day increase since the pandemic started. facebook is facing a major lawsuit in the us claiming it isa lawsuit in the us claiming it is a major monopoly stifling competition. if it loses, it could be forced to break up the company and sell off instagram and whatsapp. now it's time for a look back
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at the day in parliament. hello there, and welcome to wednesday in parliament. coming up — ahead of crucial talks to try to get a brexit trade deal, the labour leader reckons borisjohnson is between a rock and a hard place. he's absolutely stuck dithering between the deal he knows that we need and the compromise he knows his backbenchers won't let him do. but the prime minister thinks labour's position isn't clear. if he can't say whether he will vote for our deal, yes or no, then he can't, i'm afraid, mr speaker, he simply cannot, he simply cannot attack the government's policy. also on this programme, michael gove sets out more detail on a deal that has been
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reached to make sure goods can continue to flow smoothly between northern ireland and britain after the end of the month. british sausages will continue to make their way to belfast and ballymena in the new year. and after the successful search for a coronavirus vaccine calls for the uk government not to give up in the hunt for a jab against malaria. now is not the time to slacken our efforts in the search for a malaria vaccine. we've seen hopeful improvements before, but history has shown that complacency and slacking off will lead to resurgence. but first — the prime minister has told mps that a "good deal" for post—brexit trade "is still there to be done". he was speaking in the commons ahead of a meeting with the president of the european commission, ursula van der leyen. time is running out to reach a deal before the 31st of december, when the uk stops following eu trading rules. the pair agreed to meet over dinner, after negotiations between officials ended in deadlock.
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at pmqs, an mp who described himself as a brexit "spear carrier" said the public had been assured that a trade deal was achievable. can i urge my right honourable friend to make one last effort, surely that deal is achievable because we have no intention of lowering our standards, but the eu should know this, that if consistent with national security, he cannot secure that deal for us, this parliamentary party will back him to the hilt because strength comes with unity! hear, hear! well, i thank my right honourable friend, and he is entirely right that a good deal is still there to be done, and i look forward to discussing it with commissioner von der leyen tonight. but i must tell the house that our friends, currently, our friends in the eu are currently insisting that if they pass a new law in the future with which we in this country do not comply, or don't follow suit, then they want the automatic right, mr speaker, to punish us and to retaliate. and secondly, they're saying that the uk should be the only country in the world not to have sovereign control over its fishing waters. and i don't believe, mr speaker, that those
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are terms that any prime minister of this country should accept. but whatever terms the uk ended up with... i have absolutely no doubt that from january the ist, this country is going to prosper mightily, mr speaker. the labour leader, sir keir starmer, was taking part via videolink as he was self isolating after a staff member tested positive for covid—i9. last september, the prime minister actually hit the nail on the head when he said that leaving without a deal would be, in his words, "a failure of statecraft." it would. it would be a total failure. and it will be the british people who pay the price. does the prime minister agree with his own spending watchdog, the obr, that the cost of that failure of leaving the eu with no—deal would be higher unemployment, higher inflation and
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a smaller economy? when he talks about the possible adverse consequences for this country, a deal on australian terms, which i think is what he's talking about, we have yet to hear from the labour party what their view is of that matter. would they vote for it, yes or no? i mean, he remained totally delphic last week, mr speaker, about his policy on fighting coronavirus. he's totally delphic about what to do on brexit as well. mr speaker, the prime minister talks about indecision, he's absolutely stuck, this is the truth of it. he's absolutely stuck dithering between the deal he knows that we need in the compromise he knows his backbenchers won't let him do. mr speaker, i genuinely hope this is the usual prime minister's bluster and that like one of his newspaper columns, a deal
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arrives at the last minute. i think it's a bit much of the leader of the opposition to criticise the government for failure to come up with a policy on brexit when he can't even, and a bit much of him to attack the putative consequences of coming out on australian terms when he can't even say whether he would vote for that deal, yes or no. if he can't say, if he can't say whether he would vote for our deal, yes or no, then he can't, i'm afraid, mr speaker, he simply cannot, he simply cannot attack the government's policy. mr speaker, the prime minister asked me how i'll vote on a deal that he hasn't even secured. secure the deal, prime minister. you promised it. and i can say this, mr speaker,
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if there is a deal, and i hope there's a deal, then my party will vote in the national interest, not on party political lines as he is doing. keir starmer asked about preparations at the uk border. boris johnson thanked businesses for what they'd done so far. we've all got to get ready because under any view, there is going to be change from january the ist. there will be change in the way we do business, there will be more opportunities for this country around the world. and i'm delighted by what i take as the increasing signal i'm getting, and i apologise mr speaker, the message from camden seems to be that, actually, given the choice, the right honourable gentleman would vote for a deal rather than not. did you get that impression? i think i do. because of its history and its land border with the european union, northern ireland has been made a special case and will remain in greater alignment with the eu. and now, there's been an extra agreement to make sure that goods can also still flow smoothly between northern ireland and the rest of the uk at least in the short term. the snp‘s westminster leader said government ministers had themselves described that as the best of both worlds.
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what is good for northern ireland, mr speaker, is surely good enough for scotland. why is scotland being shafted by this double—dealing? can the prime minister explain to scottish businesses why this is fair? mr speaker, in common with the whole of the rest of the united kingdom, scotland will benefit from the substantial access of devolved powers for scotland and will benefit from the regaining of money, borders and laws. and as i never tyre of telling my friend, the gentleman opposites, in spite of all hisjeering, mr speaker, scotland will take back control of colossal quantities of fish, which i think is something that the people of scotland deserve to be able to exploit for the advantage of those communities. borisjohnson. well, straight after pmqs, the cabinet office minister set out the details of that brexit deal on northern ireland, which ensures goods can
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still flow smoothly around the uk at least in the short term. i'm pleased to say that under the agreement that we've reached, northern ireland businesses selling to consumers or using goods in northern ireland will be free of all tariffs, whether that's nissan cars from sunderland or lamb from other areas. internal uk trade will be protected as we promised, whether we have a free—trade agreement with the eu or not. we've got a grace period for supermarket to update their procedures, and our agreement also prevents any disruption at the end of the transition period on the movement of chilled meats. british sausages will continue to make their way to belfast and ballymena in the new year. ours is a great country, and labour wants to see a good life for all our people. but as great as our country is, it cannot afford to be afflicted by government incompetence. every price rise, every traffic jam, every lost contract and every redundancy caused by this government's mistakes and poor planning holds our great country back. next year must be a year of rebuilding and recovering from covid—19.
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not dealing with the fallout of reckless decision—making, tariffs or incompetence. so this is decision time for this government, and it is time to get the deal. this party opposed a protocol and warned about all of the problems which the minister is now having to address. and whilst we welcome the changes we've made today, nevertheless, the real test will be on how these measures work on the ground rather than the spin we get in this house. we welcome the details that businesses have sought anxiously all year, and, of course, we keenly anticipate a wider trade deal that might finally allow us to enjoy the conditions that we currently enjoy. can i ask how he proposes to ensure continuity of supply for squeezed northern ireland households to have to have choice and affordability after mitigations on export health certificates expire in six months? minister gove.
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well, it is the case that we've been working with supermarkets and with other traders in order to ensure that their supply lines and the current provision, and indeed in the future, i hope enhanced provision, on all the goods that consumers in northern ireland currently enjoy can remain. the chaos at ports is already occurring before the end of the transition period, and this is because people are stockpiling because they are so worried about what will happen next year. can he confidently say that the perfect storm of christmas, brexit stockpiling, covid restrictions and the new customs regime will not lead to significant disruption come january? no, it is a very fair point, there are a number of things which are coming together this christmas, and it's helpful that she contextualizes the fact that the situation that we have is a result
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of many factors. we are doing everything we can in order to ensure that trade continues to flow freely, but as she quite rightly points out, there are a number of factors, with which all governments are having to grapple. given this disagreement will add an impetus, if you'd like, to the wider trade talks, will he commend the prime minister for not making last—minute compromises just to get a trade deal over the line because he has the support of a conservative party, should he decide to walk away and trade on australia and canada terms. after all, a trade deal is for keeps, not just for christmas. mps representating other parts of the uk seemed envious of the deal secured for northern ireland. what northern ireland has got is great for them! "best of both worlds" is a phrase that we in scotland are pretty much familiar with, it's what we were promised in 2014. now, in 2020, we are faced with the worst of all worlds. so, we would give our right arm for access to the eu single market, unfettered access across the rest of the uk market. 95% of cumbrian farm exports
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are to the single market, our farmers need unfettered access to that market too. his friend, the defra secretary at the weekend said that british farmers would find tariffs with the eu, i quote, "unmanageable." from the ist ofjanuary, onwards, if he was a business owner, primarily exporting to the eu, would he prefer to be located in northern ireland or wales? well, that is the most difficult question i've ever faced in this house. and it was one he diplomatically decided not to answer, insisting that he loved both northern ireland and wales. well, later, the house of lords formally deleted parts of the united kingdom internal market bill following that agreement with the eu over northern ireland. the clauses they took out had been hugely controversial, as they would have allowed ministers to break international law. we sought these measures to guard against the possibility of not reaching agreement with the eu in thejoint committee. as we have now reached agreement with the eu, i am pleased to say that the clauses that provided for the safety net
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are no longer needed and the government is content for them to be removed from the bill. the government's climb—down was widely welcomed. i still like to think that the government has recognised the strength of feeling throughout this house, across all parties and none, not least some of the giants of their own party in this house, that those clauses simply would not do. i welcome the fact that the government has seen fit to remove these clauses, which, for the reasons lord judge gave, should never have found their way into legislation, draft legislation. the government should never have asked parliament to agree to the breaking of international law, which these clauses would have provided. earlier, the government suffered a series of defeats on the bill. amid claims of a westminster "power grab", peers voted to give governments in wales, scotland and northern ireland
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a bigger voice in rules that decide trading across the uk. we want this to be a united kingdom internal market, after all. and that means that it needs to suit the needs and aspirations of all parts of the uk, which may differ greatly from one part to the other. this is particularly in the case of the smaller nations, who are part of our united kingdom family. we do think, and i think we would all warn government to be very careful about clawing back decisions from our now quite long—established devolved settlements. the government will obviously continue to reflect further and continually on these matters, not only within this bill but more widely, but the certainty provided by this bill, my lords, that has been sent to us
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by the other place is what businesses and citizens across the united kingdom need. but the government was heavily defeated and will need to decide whether to overturn that vote in the commons in the next round of what's known as parliamentary ping pong. the government has also, as promised, deleted some controversial clauses from its brexit taxation bill. like the internal market bill, it was expected to override the uk's brexit divorce treaty and allow the government to make its own decisions about tariffs on goods going to northern ireland. but following the agreement with the eu announced by michael gove, the government withdrew that part of the bill. a treasury minister said brexit would provide the uk with great opportunities... the government is acutely aware that at this time, it also has a great responsibility to provide certainty to people and businesses and to preserve this nation's unity. and the fundamental purpose of this bill is to achieve those goals. ..particularly, he added, for companies trading in, or with, northern ireland. labour said that once again, the bill was being dealt with in a last—minute scramble.
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because the conservatives had a not—so—cunning plan to use this bill as negotiations entered a critical point by threatening to override the withdrawal agreement. at a time when we're seeking to negotiate new trading relationships across the international community, when the government's trying to project an image of global britain to the world, this tactic certainly sent a clear message, albeit not the message the government intended. and that was echoed by alison thewliss, who was speaking for the snp. it is unacceptable that the uk government is coming so late in the day with these proposals and blatantly using them as a form of leverage in their negotiations. these proposals before us today will impact the daily lives of residents in northern ireland and of businesses more widely. alison thewliss there. and that bill later completed its first two commons stages in under four hours. you're watching wednesday in parliament, with me, alicia mccarthy.
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now, does the arrival of the covid—i9 vaccine mean everyone is a little safer from the virus? the health and science select committees have been asking how the roll—out of the pfizer—biontech vaccine, and the hoped for arrival of other vaccines, will change the handling of the pandemic. but first, they heard how the uk managed to approve the first vaccine so much faster than other countries. the regulators decided to examine the data from clinical trials as it became available — what's called a rolling review — which meant they could assess all the results much more quickly. the highest standards of safety, effectiveness and quality have been met. no corners whatsoever have been cut, no compromises on standards whatever. well, clearly, we've been talking about the pfizer vaccine. when do you expect to complete your review
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of the astrazeneca—oxford vaccine? the data packages for the astrazeneca—oxford vaccine have been arriving. we do expect a further package in the coming days. the committees would be aware of the publication in the lancetjust yesterday, a peer—reviewed journal testifying to the excellent and intensive work that has been done by the oxford group and astrazeneca. i would not be able to give the committees a firm date because the review is clearly a very active review. there will be questions and deliberations that we will be pursuing in exactly the same way as we have done for pfizer—biontech. then the committees quizzed some familiar witnesses — did the arrival of the vaccine mean that restrictions could be relaxed because the risks were now lower? we're not there yet. for the next three months... i want to be very clear, for the next three months, we will not have sufficient protection. we're going through the most difficult time of year for respiratory infections and the most difficult time of year for the nhs,
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so the idea we can suddenly stop now because the vaccine‘s here, that would be really premature. it's like someone giving up a marathon race at mile 16. it would be absolutely the wrong thing to do. but there will come a point where the choice about exactly when to start to ramp things down, how fast and which, needs to be made, and that is fundamentally a science—informed political decision. and will the population have a choice ? i would want a choice. and would it depress vaccination rates if people aren't allowed to choose? well, i think getting to a situation where we have enough vaccines that you have a choice which one you wish will be a very nice problem for us to have. it is not the problem we have for the moment and it is not the problem we're going to have for the next four months, so the choice... when it gets to my stage, when it's my turn to be vaccinated — and i'm nowhere near the top end of the tiers, so it won't be for a while — i will absolutely have the vaccine at the point when it is appropriate for me to do so. i will be given a choice, probably between either having no vaccine or the vaccine
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that is available for me at that stage, and i'll be very happy with that. the concern is behaviour will change and become more lax. what's your response to that? thank you, chair. well, i think that's one of the risks, that people... and chris has already alluded to this earlier. i mean, the biggest risk we face now is everyone thinks this is all over. and it isn't all over. we have a very important light at the end of the tunnel, with vaccines. we've got a lot to do to roll out the vaccines, we've got a lot to do to make sure the vulnerable are protected. we're a long way off yet knowing how we can move it to the rest of the population. that's dependent upon things like "does the az vaccine get approved? " it's not the time to suddenly say we relax everything. and if that happens, we will have a big surge. well, staying with vaccines, earlier in the week, it was announced that
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the oxford team behind the coronavirus jab has taken a step towards producing a low—cost vaccine for malaria. final stage human trials are due to begin in several african countries. the disease kills around 400,000 people a year, mainly children. in 2016, the uk government signed up to a £500 million a year spending pledge to fight malaria which runs until march 2021. in the lords, peers wanted to make sure that would continue. can the noble lord the minister confirm that the proposed reduction in the overseas aid budget will not impact on the funding of this vitally important vaccine? there will be, of course, reductions across the budgets. we're working through that exercise, and my right honourable friend, the foreign secretary, is overseeing that particular programme directly. and at this point, i can't give a specific commitment as the noble lord desires, as i've said previously in your lordship's house, but we hope to have more details of our planned priorities and spending, including important projects that we're protecting in the new year. i am concerned that he cannot give a specific commitment that the cut in development aid funding will not affect the development of this vaccine. would the noble lord the minister accept that now is not the time to slacken our
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efforts in the search for a malaria vaccine? we've seen hopeful improvements before, but history has shown that complacency and slacking off will lead to resurgence. would the minister accept that it's taken us more than four decades to recover the ground lost since the 19705, when anti—malaria funding dried up, and that we must not allow this to happen again? i cannot, as i said — i'm being very open, because we're going through that process at the fcdo — give specific figures of our support for malaria, but we do support through various funds. and we'll continue, i'm sure, to support the important development of the vaccine.
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lord ahmad. a task force of 300 uk troops has arrived in the west african country of mali to join the un peacekeeping mission there. the country is facing huge economic problems, while also battling an islamist insurgency. in august, a group of colonels seized power, sparking international condemnation, although the coup was welcomed by many in the country. a defence minister gave more details of the uk deployment. 0ver recent years, mali has become one of the most unstable countries on the african continent. terrorist aggression and conflict between communities has been on the rise, and the united nations multidimensional integrated stabilisation mission in mali is mandated to support the malian people in their effort to secure sustainable peace, to support the re—establishment of state authority, protect civilians and to promote and protect human rights in mali. by the 22nd of december, the majority of our 300 uk armed forces personnel will have deployed to minusma and completed quarantine. 0ur contingent consists of 250
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troops from the light dragoons, the royal anglian regiment and other attached personnel, and a further 50 forming a national support element. they will soon begin operations in mali, joining some 60 other nations contributing to the un mission. he rightly says today that deploying to minusma does not come without risk. the un has described this as its most dangerous mission, with 227 personnel killed since 2013, so what assessment has he made of these risks and what specific steps have been taken to reduce them? last week, the french base in mali, at gao, was attacked. where will our troops be stationed and how secure will the british base be? the honourable gentleman asked me about the camp. it is a brand—new camp. it is indeed in the un super camp at gao. but that camp is protected by a german early warning system called mantis, which, for the idf, the indirect fire attack that the honourable gentleman mentioned in his reply, mantis picked that up, which allows people in the camp to take cover and adopt all of their drills when there's incoming indirect fire.
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and that, sadly, as a veteran of iraq and afghanistan, is just a reality of being in camps in those places. while the uk is sending personnel to the area, which of course is most welcome, it is also cutting aid by 30%. these two issues cannot be considered separate when we're looking at the humanitarian response. the minister, james heappey, pointed out that a lot of mod activity had, in his words, "huge humanitarian advantage". and that's it from me for now, but do join me next time for our round up of the week here at westminster. but for now, from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye.
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hello. in comparison to recent mornings, thursday gets off to a relatively mild to start but not very inspiring skies for the majority first thing. a lot of cloud around, gloomy, and we will be stuck with that cloud in many areas throughout the course of the day. it's courtesy of an area of low pressure, a big area of low pressure which actually is a combination of smaller low pressure centres — one to the south—west of the uk this morning could bring some showery rain in here. the tail end of another one to the north—west will, i think, bring some more persistent rain through the course of the day into western scotland, gradually tracking it a little further eastwards. some showers will push across wales into the north—west of england as the day pans out as well. the best chance of any brightness probably in a few sheltered eastern spots across east anglia stretching up into lincolnshire.
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temperatures around average at best, typically 8—9, perhaps 11 for plymouth. but look towards the west and you'll see another band of rain approaching. now, this one tends to mean business. it will produce some heavier rain for all areas as it tracks way eastwards. it's tied in with another one of those smaller low—pressure centres we saw as part of that big one at the start. but clear skies look like they could just hang on overnight to give us a patchy frost from the north—east of england and eastern scotland initially on friday. but the day overall is dominated by increasing winds and some rain pushing its way eastwards, but this area of low pressure will also manage to pull in some comparatively mild air to the south of the uk. you can see the amber colour here on the air mass picture behind me. so, actually, if we do see the sun coming out on friday, it could well turn out to be one of our warmest afternoons across the uk if we compare the whole of the weekjust gone. and the best place to see the sun at the moment, it looks like probably southern counties of england. we could widely see double figures here where the cloud lingers. further north, though, and some rather persistent rain, probably 7—9 just about covers it.
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now, for the weekend — blink and you'll miss it but there's a little ridge of high pressure in there. yes, that low still whirling away towards the west but saturday looks like a quieter, clearer, drier day. but as you can see, that low isn't giving up the ghost any time soon. for saturday, a little bit cooler, quite cloudy, but not a bad day. sunday, milder but we're back with the wet and windy conditions.
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welcome to bbc news, i'm lewis vaughan jones. our top stories: britain and the european union remain far apart as talks between borisjohnson and eu chief ursula von der leyen in brussels end without agreement. but despite no deal, negotiations to break the trade talks deadlock will continue, with a firm decision expected by sunday. the us passes another coronavirus milestone — reporting its highest one—day increase in deaths since the start of the pandemic. facebook is facing a major us lawsuit that could force the company to sell off instagram and whatsapp. for the first time ever, human—made objects are about to outweigh all animals and plants on the planet.


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