18/03/2017 Dateline London


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18/03/2017

Foreign correspondents currently posted to London look at events in the UK through outsiders' eyes, and at how the issues of the week are being tackled around the world.


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LineFromTo

Hello and welcome to Dateline London.

:00:24.:00:25.

Could Theresa May be the prime minister who takes

:00:26.:00:27.

the United Kingdom out of the European Union -

:00:28.:00:29.

and unwittingly helps to break up the United Kingdom itself?

:00:30.:00:31.

And six years of civil war in Syria - is there an end to this?

:00:32.:00:35.

Mustapha Karkouti who is a Syrian writer,

:00:36.:00:41.

in our Glasgow studio Kevin McKenna of the Guardian and The Herald,

:00:42.:00:44.

Annalisa Piras who is an Italian journalist and film maker,

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In a democracy people have the right to choose whether to leave a union

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where the government seems remote and does not reflect

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That was at the core of the argument against

:01:00.:01:02.

the European Union and for Brexit - now it is the same argument

:01:03.:01:05.

being used by nationalists in Scotland calling

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Will Theresa May go down in history as the prime minister

:01:08.:01:11.

Kevin, why did Nicola Sturgeon decide to call for a second

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referendum? It is quite whiskey isn't it? Any decision to call for a

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referendum carries a degree of risk. -- risky. This isn't just about

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taking Scotland in three Europe away from the UK. I think the First

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Minister lots patients with knocking consistently on Theresa May 's door

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looking for Scotland's interest to be represented in any future Brexit

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negotiations and having the door was slammed on her face. The First

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Minister talked about the continuous intransigence of the UK Government

:02:02.:02:10.

since June 23 last year. This is because Scotland voted 62% to 30% to

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remain in Europe. The second thing I think that has alarmed the First

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Minister and many other people in Scotland is the sense of chaos that

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seems to have enveloped the UK Government with regard to Brexit.

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Every week or so we have another Brexit minister spokesman being

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dredged up. Seeing that we don't know how this will work out. There's

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this disdainful attitude that some of these ministers seem to show for

:02:45.:02:52.

the former European partners which makes one believe that the

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negotiations are not going to be very beneficial for the UK. Scotland

:02:55.:03:01.

will be left out and have to take whatever the UK and London decides

:03:02.:03:06.

for it. And I think that Nicola Sturgeon said that we need to have a

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voice ear and the only way we can have a voice is a referendum and to

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seek our own relationship with Europe. She feels she has a mandate

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because was an overwhelming victory for the SNP both in the UK election

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the Scottish election. Let's be bringing Iain Martin. Kevin touches

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on the resentment that many Scots feel that this is such an important

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decision and we are being ignored but economically they could see the

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case for leaving the United Kingdom is worse now. It is much worse and

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this is a bit rich for Kevin Stockburger chaos when we'll see in

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the SNP can't even answer basic questions about the economy such as

:04:01.:04:03.

which currency Scotland were dues. I think it is key to remember the

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Scottish people and the polls are very clear this do not want an early

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referendum. Voters in Scotland, just as in England, a perfectly

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reasonable and weather or not they voted for Brexit it is preposterous

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the idea that you might in the middle of trying to negotiate this

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difficult deal, difficult set of negotiations in late 2018 early 2019

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that the UK Government would also have a referendum on breaking up the

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UK. Nicola Sturgeon is made a point and maybe it suits everybody that

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the Prime Minister is saying you can't have it just yet. Whatever

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protestations are made in public maybe that is fine for Nicola

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Sturgeon because she can point again to the arrogance of Westminster

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telling us what to do. That is true. It may everybody gets a bit of what

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they want but I think it is worth remembering that the SNP are

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brilliant at politics but they are not perfect at it. They're

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infallible. And they are not now pretty wanted to be are intended to

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be after the Brexit referendum. By now Scottish anger about Brexit was

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supposed to have led to a clamour for an instant referendum and move

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into the European Union which incidentally the SNP are now backing

:05:25.:05:27.

away from and no seems to favour some sort of Norway status because

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so many SNP voters actually voted for Brexit. A third of SNP voters 42

:05:35.:05:39.

leave the European Union. Sturgeon finds herself in a tricky position.

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Alissa There are governments in Europe that are concerned such as

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Spain concerned that of Scotland gets out the same will happen for

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Catalonia. I think this was an old argument against independence of

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Scotland in the eyes of the European Union but this has been surpassed by

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events. -- Annalisa. Britain is sabotaging our union. There is a

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reason for resentment out there. If people in favour Brexit were to be

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punished by the break-up of the United Kingdom I guess a lot of

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people would not be so displeased any more. We do not know what

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relationship Scotland would want if it were to be independent but would

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that make it easier? Would there be more of a welcome for the Scots? I

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think so. It is understandable because it would be a validation of

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the regional dimensions of the European Union which is very

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important as well and the fact that the Scots would be ready to leave

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the UK to rejoin the EU would be an encouragement and don't forget that

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the European Union is changing very fast. All the convection prejudice

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are changing as well. There is a lot of goodwill towards redesigning the

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European Union. It is all up in air. Nobody has a solid and comprehensive

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view on the matter. The battle of the two unions. The two are

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interconnected. What ever happens to the first, pulling out from Europe

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through Brexit, will certainly affect the United Kingdom. There are

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noises now, certainly Scotland is started. Maybe you will hear that

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from Northern Ireland as well. It is very interesting seeing how it will

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be sorted out, the relationship between Northern Ireland and Ireland

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which is part of the European Union. Today Gordon Brown, former Prime

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Minister, came up with this new or third option. That is what is

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calling it. Give Scotland the devolved authority and more power,

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even to the extent that they can sign international treaties, and

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also power to do their own agriculture policies. A lot of other

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things as well. At the same time remain in the United Kingdom. So

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Theresa May should really take a look into all of these things.

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Kevin, I wanted to bring you on about some of the criticisms that

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Iain may. You could say if that is another referendum in two or three

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years fatigue of having the same party in power for Scotland my not

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play into the interests of the SNP. As we know, you cover criticism

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about how the NHS is working and the education system which any

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Government gets but it is not a great platform for going to the

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people in Singh should be independent. There were a couple

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things that I would like to pick Iain up on. We're not talking about

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referendum any time soon. We're talking at the earliest next autumn

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and probably more towards spring which is two years away. That is

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within Theresa May 's own timetable for the conclusion of Brexit talks.

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We're not too far away. With regard to the economy or future predictions

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of Scotland's future economy, any uncertainty is surely going to be

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eclipsed by the economic apocalypse which could be visited upon the UK

:10:01.:10:05.

as a result of a harder Brexit and a chaotic Brexit which is what we have

:10:06.:10:10.

at the moment. To address that point about the internal workings of the

:10:11.:10:17.

country, the SNP as a Government does have a responsibility to

:10:18.:10:22.

improve for instance the attainment gap in Scotland in education and

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that is one thing the Nicola Sturgeon this First Minister in

:10:28.:10:30.

Scotland asked us and the country to judge a run at the next election in

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2021. Yeah, it be host the SNP -- be holes -- behoves the SNP to do this.

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Calling a referendum at any time is a risk. The Prime Minister believes

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there has been an attack on the southern status of the Scottish

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Parliament. That is yes majority there. Looking at how this is being

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handled and the kind of things that are being said in Parliament and the

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lack of scrutiny from the Labour opposition, it is not picture. In

:11:27.:11:35.

terms of Brexit and also the budget. We have seen a complete U-turn on a

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major part of policy within a couple of days and be seen the

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interrogation of the Prime Minister at prime ministers question time but

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the Leader of the Opposition which was not exactly forensics. What I'm

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trying to say is that politics in Westminster does not inspire a great

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deal of confidence that people actually know what they're doing.

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I'm not sure it is restricted to Westminster. Talking about the

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European Union having the prosperity of 20 countries does not really

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applying grease. I always said it would be difficult. -- in Greece. I

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do not agree with Kevin saying this is an apocalypse. This week Mr David

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Davis said he does not even have a simulation of what the cost would

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be. Can you imagine if he said I have run the numbers and would you

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like a paper on the economic apocalypse which is coming? Key

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thing which is not focused on that is focused on in Germany is that the

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UK runs the Eurozone. It runs 75% of the debt markets. The Eurozone is a

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giant gets machine and runs out of the City of London. This is why

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Germany does not want to see disrupted. A deal, if everyone is

:13:16.:13:20.

sensible, it's possible. But if you bought it for Brexit and use other

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battle bus that said 350 million a week for the NHS if you bought for

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us, which is a very specific figure which perhaps nobody believed, there

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was great specifics about how it was going to be fantastic and know there

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is no specifics. -- now. All the evidence so far is that the

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overwhelming body of public opinion in the UK, people just really want

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to get on with it. May is bowling extremely well because people think

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a reasonable person who's going to try to try to get a deal. A deal is

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possible but she is also preparing the ground in case it is not a deal.

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Which is not the apocalypse. Go and tell the British farmers that 40%

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tariffs slapped. Because of the deals that the UK would fall on

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automatically if it crashes are the single murky. How on earth will be

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cold protruding like the Americans and the Chinese? You would sell your

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beef did Americans? You used to be a nation of shopkeepers and you you

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what was the value of selling to 500 million people is on your doorstep.

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Now you see will sell everything to New Zealand and Canada are America.

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One thesis is that she would swap the single murky of 509 people with

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this. It is not one of the other, it is both. France and Germany want to

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trade with the UK and the UK wants to trade with France and Germany. If

:15:15.:15:18.

everyone a sensible deal can be done. But Theresa May has said no

:15:19.:15:25.

deal is better than a bad deal. Kevin, you wanted to come in. When I

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talked about some of the enforcer rhetoric of some of the ministers

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responsible for these negotiations, people like Liam Fox talking about

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building another empire. No, he didn't. And saying that Britain

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doesn't have anything to apologise for any of its history. We're

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talking about 27 member states we have to with. I don't think anything

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that they have seen the last eight months coming out of Westminster,

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covering out of Britain, instils in them any confidence that they are

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dealing with somebody who as you keep seeing a sensible about this.

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Meanwhile in Scotland, Scotland has a history with Europe which predates

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its history with England. We were dealing and trading with Europe at a

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time when England and the rest of the UK was wanting to fight them

:16:19.:16:22.

compete with them in Africa and Asia. Scotland has a longer history

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of European involvement and multiculturalism than the rest of

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the union. Kevin is a brilliant journalist and an old friend. I can

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remember when there was an Irish nationalist and when he was a

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British Unionist to stop know he is a Scottish Nationalists. It is

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nonsense to say that Liam Fox said he was trying to invent the empire.

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It is simply not the case. Perhaps that is influenced a lot of people

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took it. That is what of the record one official said to a newspaper and

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it is not the same thing. We are really watching that in the third

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World. With great interest. The debate on Brexit and Scotland. We

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also look at it with a great entry because we do not have such

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diplomacy unfortunately. We can sort it out very quickly by using the

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army and they put an end to it. I don't think that will happen here.

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How interested people across Europe on this? I go to Germany and they

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are interested in one thing which is mainly the German elections. France,

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the same thing. The headlines in a lot of union papers this week were

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about the stand-off with Turkey as they put it with Turkish

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interference as they see it. The situation in the world is very

:17:47.:17:51.

serious. We have a situation of chaos. All across the borders of the

:17:52.:17:55.

European Union and North Africa and the Middle East. Ukraine. Today the

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first contingent of 800 British troops are on the Estonian border to

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try to deter the aggression of Russia. There are big things going

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on in the world. What is not really clear in Britain is for the rest of

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Europe Brexit is sorted. So now Britain has to get on with it. They

:18:23.:18:29.

will say today in the German parliament we have understood that

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it is going to take a very long time for the British to understand the

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kind of self-inflicted pain that they have chosen so we just need to

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wait and see. And that sums up the situation. That is a complete

:18:43.:18:50.

misrepresentation. Why did the polls when it came to London just before

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Christmas bring their entire cabinet? -- Poles. They are most

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worried about Russian incursion. The UK is the second power in Nato and

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the leading intelligence listening power. It is very strong relations

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with the French but it is a key part of the European security system. We

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do take our responsibility seriously. The Polish realise and

:19:21.:19:26.

increased with the German I speak to realise that that is much more to

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the European question than the narrow question of the European

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Union. Britain is going to have to do more, France is going to have to

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do more to defend its border. Because of Russia. There are very

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serious issues that are much more important to the EU as an

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institution. Let's move onto one of those very serious issues.

:19:51.:19:54.

Six years ago this week the people of Syria rose up

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Six years on an the dictator is still in place

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Can anyone see an end to this war whose humanitarian

:20:01.:20:04.

It doesn't seem that there's an end at the moment, not even really in

:20:05.:20:16.

the foreseeable future. Unless the world attitude towards what is

:20:17.:20:20.

happening in Syria changes. And that really means the involvement of the

:20:21.:20:31.

West directly. With troops? Not necessarily only troops. Troops will

:20:32.:20:35.

not sorted out. The West is used troops before in other conflicts.

:20:36.:20:41.

The last of which was the former Yugoslavia. Troops were not enough.

:20:42.:20:47.

We have to deal with the economy and sanctions and trade and

:20:48.:20:53.

reconstruction as well. You're talking about hundreds of billions

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of pounds. For reconstruction in the country. Over the country the

:20:59.:21:05.

estimates by United Nations agencies and the World Bank and the rest of

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them is huge. Unless the United States and the EU and the UK and

:21:14.:21:18.

France and Germany, certainly, this should have come around and bring

:21:19.:21:28.

over a vision to sort it out. Stop or contain Russia to start with. And

:21:29.:21:35.

also put a limit to Iran interfering, not only in the country

:21:36.:21:40.

but in the entire region itself. How do you see this, Annalisa? There are

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those who say they didn't want to see it any more. I think we all have

:21:50.:21:56.

that kind of sorry. It is a tragic situation. People have become used

:21:57.:22:03.

to horror and they can take it any more. But it is also a huge

:22:04.:22:08.

responsibility for political leaders and people in the media to actually

:22:09.:22:12.

explain more clearly that not looking at it will not make it go

:22:13.:22:16.

away. North Africa and the Middle East, they are on fire. There is a

:22:17.:22:23.

very difficult situation they are that is not going to improve. We

:22:24.:22:30.

have seen America disengaging from a lot of those kind of scenarios and

:22:31.:22:35.

Russia is increasingly belligerent. We cannot pretend that this is not

:22:36.:22:41.

happening and look only at at our naval and think about Brexit. What

:22:42.:22:47.

is danger just this -- the world is dangerous and we need to do

:22:48.:22:53.

something. Kevin, there is a sense that some people have compassion

:22:54.:22:56.

fatigue and there is much worse ahead. It is not just humanity doing

:22:57.:23:00.

terrible things to other human beings, it is Somalia and the

:23:01.:23:04.

drought and people are on the move and the migration question. This

:23:05.:23:08.

will be the story of at least the next decade and it seems to be

:23:09.:23:15.

getting worse. You can never overestimate the common humanity and

:23:16.:23:19.

humanity of ugly people. Who responded to these crises in many

:23:20.:23:25.

countries and the charitable giving and taking refugees and asylum

:23:26.:23:30.

seekers into homes. You can't overestimate that. But that is a

:23:31.:23:38.

pretty going on because whenever that are these humanitarian crises

:23:39.:23:43.

in what we have previous to call the third World and parts of the Middle

:23:44.:23:48.

East, and Africa, we put up our hands and we express horror at it

:23:49.:23:54.

and then we move on. But Syria is going to be with us for another

:23:55.:23:59.

generation at least. And the West, if they are going to make any

:24:00.:24:04.

movement, they have two face up to their responsibilities in the region

:24:05.:24:08.

and face up to the part it played in quite a lot of that instability. I

:24:09.:24:16.

want to bring in Iain. I agree with that. It is shaming and shameful. I

:24:17.:24:22.

think it is also understandable. A lot of it is down to the position

:24:23.:24:28.

that President Obama took. That came after the Iraq experiment and

:24:29.:24:30.

Afghanistan and the financial crisis. There was no appetite in the

:24:31.:24:36.

West to engage properly with these problems. The result is a human

:24:37.:24:39.

catastrophe and I think it is really down to a failure of leadership in

:24:40.:24:45.

the west across parties and across the country is. To then vacate that

:24:46.:24:50.

space and responsibility and allow the Russians to fill the vacuum of

:24:51.:24:57.

thing will be a catastrophe. It will not work. People are being killed

:24:58.:25:06.

daily. Human life means nothing nowadays and fortunately. The people

:25:07.:25:12.

of the region are paying the price of the failed policy of the West. In

:25:13.:25:18.

Iraq and Afghanistan. And Libya. And everywhere else.

:25:19.:25:23.

That's it for Dateline London for this week.

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I'm leaving the BBC in a week's time and so Dateline London next week

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I hope you can join me and my guests.

:25:29.:25:31.

The rest of this week will bring a mild and breezy weather for the vast

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majority that cloud amounts and rainfall amounts will vary. Aberdeen

:26:06.:26:08.

Shire started fairly bright.

:26:09.:26:11.