04/11/2011 Daily Politics


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04/11/2011

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Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics on Friday. Greek

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tragedy descends into farce with profound implications for the

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future of the eurozone and the world economy. As Prime Minister

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Papandreou faces yet another vote of confidence, EU leaders and the

:00:34.:00:41.

Treasury think the unthinkable - Greek departure from the euro. Can

:00:41.:00:45.

it be avoided, should it be avoided and what would it mean for the rest

:00:45.:00:50.

of us? As G20 leaders scratch their heads and wonder what to do, we'll

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have the latest from Athens, the City of London and one of the most

:00:53.:00:58.

powerful British members of the European Parliament. And remember

:00:58.:01:04.

this? Was the ban on fox hunting really worth the fight? We talk to

:01:04.:01:06.

the man who pushed the controversial legislation through

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Parliament and a Tory MP who wants David Cameron to keep his promise

:01:10.:01:20.
:01:20.:01:20.

And with me in the studio is Bronwen Maddox, editor of Prospect

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:01:30.:01:36.

magazine, and the Mirror's Prospect is for intellectuals and

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So George Papandreou is still the Greek Prime Minster but for how

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long is anybody's guess. This time yesterday we reported that he was

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on his way to the President to offer his resignation. We even

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named a likely successor. But those reports turned out to be wrong.

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He's still there. Though for how long is another matter. Until

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yesterday afternoon we thought he wanted to hold a referendum - but

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it turns out he doesn't. And yesterday there was talk of a

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government of national unity. But there isn't one. Confused? Join the

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club. So where now for this Greek tragedy? Yesterday, and forgive us

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for the togas but we had to do it eventually, the key players were

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working frantically to find a way out of the mess. Mr Papandreou

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offered to abandon the now infamous referendum and instead proposed a

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coalition government. The markets rallied on the news but his offer

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was rejected by the leader of the Greek opposition who called on him

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to resign. So far he's staying put - no referendum vote. But he faces

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a vote of no confidence in the Greek Parliament tonight. Meanwhile,

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in Cannes, the G20 leaders are left like spectators at the feast. Jose

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Barroso, who's President of the European Commission, has admitted

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that there is a possibility Greece could leave the euro and that

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preparations are being made if that happens. Last night, as fears

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increased that Italy could be the next country to implode, key

:02:55.:03:02.

European leaders and President Obama met to discuss the crisis.

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One possibility gaining ground is a proposal to increase the firepower

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of the International Monetary Fund, something that would see Britain's

:03:08.:03:18.
:03:18.:03:19.

liability in the fund increase. Indeed, beefing up the IMF looks

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like being the fig leaf G20 leaders will don before leaving Cannes.

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Speaking this morning George Osborne, the Chancellor, said that

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was something the British Government was pushing for. I think

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we've got a day apart negotiating ahead of us here in Cannes. The

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eurozone have to face up to their responsibilities and have to stand

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behind their own currency. No one else can do that for them,

:03:41.:03:44.

including Britain. Then the rest of the world, which includes Britain

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but also China and Japan and the like, have to make sure that the

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international economic system that is stable and well funded. And that

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includes the IMF. That was George Osborne. The eurozone doesn't

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really seem to know what it's doing. Can you imagine a bigger mess?

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can. So far, this is what muddling through looks like. We haven't got

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a complete disaster. Just disaster. Just disaster. There needs to be

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degrees of disaster. That sounds like a good joke but distinguishing

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between the euro falling completely apart, Greece in a very disorderly

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way, not paying any of its debts. That may still happen. Yes, but

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that's different from what we've got now, which is a test of whether

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the Greek government can hold itself together. Be set up to a

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shambles -- it's an utter shambles. There's no guarantee it could get

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better, it could get worse. Trying to second-guess what the Greek

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political a leader to wing is impossible because they don't even

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know themselves. We don't know what's happening to the euro, the

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impact on Britain, we don't know what's happening on the world

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economy. One thing is certain, the eurosceptics on the Conservative

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benches have already clocked that Britain, David Cameron, George

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Osborne giving money to the IMF, rather than the European financial

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stability fund. He is just using the middleman to possibly bail-out

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the euro. The it's not just the Tory eurosceptics. Labour is not

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keen on this either. They've stayed at arm's length from this. Ed Balls,

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the shadow chancellor, has already said he thinks it should be the

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European Central Bank which effectively is supposed to police

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the euro, that should be putting forward the money and not the IMF.

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No, he has said things which are very similar, not a world away from

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George Osborne, of Britain needs to support the IMF, but being careful

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about what commitments the IMF should make to Europe. I don't

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think it does a lot of good to sit there and say it is all a shambles.

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It could be worse. Anything could be worse. They could be a military

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coup in Greece. It could be worse. Yes, but we haven't yet got a Greek

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default. We haven't yet got a complete abandonment of the attempt

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to patch it up. In Greece, they look at Argentina and what happened

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to it when it defaulted, they are beginning to wonder if the best way

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is to default now. If it only happened in Greece, that's fine.

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But the contagion could spread across the entire eurozone. That is

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the big point. Let's get the latest on the crisis in Athens from our

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correspondent Mark Lowen. Let me ask you a couple of scenarios. If

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Mr Papandreou loses the vote tonight, what then happens? Then

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the government would collapse, Mr Papandreou would be forced to call

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early elections. That is a strong possibility still because, as you

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say, it is on a knife-edge. George Papandreou at the moment has a

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parliamentary majority of just two. Yesterday, we had three of his MPs

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threatening to vote against him in the vote of confidence, mainly

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because of one reason. Because he called a referendum earlier in the

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week on the latest debt deal for Greece negotiated in Brussels last

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week. But within the last hour, the finance minister here as officially

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said that he has spoken to his European colleagues to inform them

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that the referendum has been scrapped. That will reassure these

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three rebel MPs, it will probably persuade them to vote with George

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Papandreou. One of them has told me she will vote but George Papandreou,

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so he could still come through this by the skin of his teeth. If he

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does, does he then proceed, does he go back to plan B and Desi attempt

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to implement all the reforms and cuts that have to follow from the

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bail-out of the Greek economy agreed on 27th October? What we

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think would happen is this. That George Papandreou would get through

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the confidence motion and would then, there are indications that he

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may then tried to initiate proceedings to form a national

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unity government involving his party, PASOK, and the main

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opposition New democracy party. The opposite party say they want Mr

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Papandreou to resign, they don't want him to be leader. They want

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fresh elections. Presumably, any unity government would not have

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George Papandreou at the helm. If another leader took over, there

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would then be an attempt to vote through the bail-out deal agreed in

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Brussels last week to implement the measures. That would be a caretaker

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government until fresh elections were called. The big question now

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was whether that caretaker government could steady the ship,

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could prevent even more political instability year and could allow

:08:52.:08:55.

Greece to ride through this storm and then received perhaps the next

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instalment of its bail-out, 8 billion euros this country would

:08:59.:09:03.

need by mid- December in order to avoid bankruptcy, and then continue

:09:03.:09:11.

to try to ride out the financial Thank you very much. We are joined

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:09:21.:09:23.

Quite a lot of ground to cover here. Let me put this to you. Even if the

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Greek bail-out now goes ahead, even if the government in Athens

:09:27.:09:31.

attempts to implement it, I suggest to you it won't work. Yes, I agree.

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I don't think it's going to work. That is why the situation is so bad.

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Even if what was agreed in the so- called magnificent bail-out deal

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last week by the EU, even if that is agreed it would work, it's not

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enough. That's because the amount of debt that will be written off

:09:47.:09:50.

for Greece is just not enough, they would still have far too much debt.

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This would only therefore delay the crisis a bit. Secondly, because the

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other linchpin of this bail-out plan, the bail-out fund, I think

:09:58.:10:03.

that has run into a lot of trouble. It was meant to tap the Chinese to

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increase its capacity, that doesn't seem to be working. I don't think

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that the situation looks very good. At the same time, you have mounting

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fears for Italy that are getting worse by the day. Let me come to

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you on Italy. It is a much more serious problem and a much bigger

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problem. Italian yields are now over 6%. At one stage this week

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they were heading to 6.5 % because of fears of the Italian sovereign

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debt situation. If they had 7% of his game over, is it not? If they

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hit back and stay there for a few days it is probably going to cause

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a really big crisis because of the structure of the financial system,

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the fact that the exchange on which these bonds are effectively traded

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would require more collateral on. These technical reasons would mean

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it would precipitate quite a bad crisis. I really think that the

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eurozone has to try and maintain this crisis in Greece. That is the

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reason why I think there's been such a big psychological shift.

:10:57.:11:00.

They are starting to realise it may be too late for Greece, regardless

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of what happens tonight and tomorrow. It may be too late to

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save Greece and keep Greece within the euro. Therefore, the only

:11:07.:11:11.

chance of trying to avoid a much greater problem, a problem that

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could engulf the whole of the global economy, is to cut graceless

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and try and do something about Italy and Spain. The problem is

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they don't really have a plan to stop the rot from spreading. We've

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seen the business about the IMF been called in to start looking at

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what's going on in Italy. That is not enough forced a new mentioned

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the IMF, let me bring you to my third proposition. It looks like

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the IMF is now becoming everybody's get out of jail card, it's what the

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G20 will probably concentrate on in their communique today. At my

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proposition to you is, is -- it is not the 5th Cavalry. It's not. What

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is even more frustrating about this is a week ago the big get out of

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jail card was this bail-out fund. Now that the IMF it. I'm pretty

:11:57.:12:00.

sure that in a few weeks' time it is going to be the European Central

:12:00.:12:04.

Bank again. The pressure will be bound to -- mountain on them again

:12:05.:12:08.

to become the lender of last resort for these countries and start

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printing money. The problem is they made it very clear yesterday they

:12:11.:12:14.

don't want to do that, and the Germans are adamant this must not

:12:14.:12:18.

happen. So I don't see a way out at the moment given the current

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structures. It's easy to say, we are going to get the IMF involved

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and all of our problems will go away. But we can see from the

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history of the IMF that it doesn't really work that way. Does

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denouncing you are increasing the firepower of the IMF, that doesn't

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achieve anything. We've seen this time and time again over the last

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few years. Grand announcements at G20 meetings and so one about the

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so-called massive bail-out funds and firepower. In reality, it never

:12:45.:12:55.
:12:55.:12:55.

really resolve the crisis, it just delays it. And we're joined by

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Sharon Bowles, Liberal Democrat MEP and Chair of the European

:12:58.:13:03.

Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. Going back to

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Greece, you told us in July that Greece leaving the euro would be

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bad for everybody. Do you still believe that? I think if Greece

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leaves the euro and the EU, then the fall-out of that and the

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contagion could still be very bad indeed. Unfortunately, since July

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we have had on going rumbling contagion and some of the things

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that men were unthinkable on now becoming more -- more thinkable,

:13:30.:13:34.

partly as a consequence of action not being definitive enough forced

:13:34.:13:39.

to has it become the case for both the the German Chancellor and the

:13:39.:13:43.

French President in particular, that have increased leaving in a

:13:43.:13:48.

messy way would be bad. Greece staying in is bad. We are in a very

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difficult position. They are both bad. We are between a rock and a

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hard place. It is quite difficult to workout which is the optimal.

:13:57.:14:03.

You could have cut Greece lose ages ago, one thinks about it now and in

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retrospect maybe that would have looked better. But there is a great

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concern that if Greece believes the euro that the markets would just

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think, OK, now we will hand on to the next one. Any kind of measure

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like that would have to be accompanied by something that was

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the action will binding close-up of the rest. But what we are seeing

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here is a failure of European leadership. It's not just that

:14:29.:14:33.

Greece was a problem. The 27th October deal was beginning to

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unravel before the ink had dried. The bond markets have already

:14:37.:14:41.

started to put up the price of Italian yields before Mr Papandreou

:14:41.:14:47.

had a rush of blood to his head. If the Europeans came up with a shock

:14:47.:14:53.

and all bail-out fund, a crew euro fund that would be big enough to

:14:53.:14:58.

protect the countries that are in liquid - Spain and Italy - as

:14:58.:15:03.

opposed to the countries that are just insolvent, i e bankrupt,

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Greece. I largely agree with you. If you look at my past quotes, you

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will discover I was there with two trillion at the beginning of the

:15:11.:15:15.

year. Why can't they come up with that? I think if they come up with

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something like that at the beginning of the year it would have

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been easier. The problem now up trying to come up with two trillion

:15:21.:15:24.

is it would potentially undermine the creditworthiness of the

:15:24.:15:27.

guaranteeing countries, even France would be at risk. Realistically,

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they couldn't go beyond what they've already put in without

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there being a mechanism to do it, such as these leverage or guarantee

:15:36.:15:41.

schemes. But they are a little bit fancy and they didn't bring out the

:15:41.:15:45.

detail at the same time as the announcement. We are still waiting

:15:45.:15:53.

Is it sustainable for Europe to continue the way it does when quite

:15:53.:15:57.

clearly behind the scenes you've had the leaders of France and

:15:57.:16:02.

Germany interfering directly in Greek domestic policies? They have

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clearly been at the Finance Minister. They've been speaking to

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:16:16.:16:16.

the opposition. They have been behaving with powers. Some of the

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things with Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy behind the scenes

:16:18.:16:22.

that we don't like that much, and many of the eurozone member states

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don't like it very much, when they don't know what's going on either.

:16:25.:16:31.

However, I do agree that you had to put some pressure on to the Greek

:16:31.:16:34.

political parties. If you look at Spain and Portugal, even though

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they were having elections, their political parties got their act

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together and worked together for stability. In Greece they weren't.

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They were always... Sure. But you were part of this project. You were

:16:47.:16:54.

the one that wanted the eurozone to be created, and wanted us to join

:16:54.:16:59.

it. You are part of the club class Europe while the Greeks are wall on

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the ground in austerity. I don't think that's the argument of the

:17:03.:17:09.

moment. Give us an apology. Just a small one. I said I made the

:17:09.:17:14.

mistake of not recognising how our financial market legislation would

:17:14.:17:20.

undermine the fact that we should have had a bond market that

:17:20.:17:24.

exercised discipline. Whilst you have zero risk waiting on sovereign

:17:24.:17:27.

debt you don't get it. You were warned about that at the time but

:17:28.:17:31.

we were told it wasn't an issue. It seems to me the struggle here is

:17:32.:17:35.

that, even if Greece proceeds this, problem doesn't go away. The Greek

:17:35.:17:40.

economy is now 15% smaller than it was three years ago. They are now

:17:40.:17:45.

asked to take even more austerity. This will just rumble on and it's

:17:45.:17:50.

the single biggest depressant on the growth of this economy and

:17:51.:17:55.

other economies around the developed world. If it really gets

:17:55.:18:01.

serious about Greece leaving the euro, commercial life stop there is,

:18:01.:18:04.

because because people can't work out what stock they are dealing in

:18:04.:18:08.

and what it might be worth. point is, there is no resolution of

:18:08.:18:12.

this, even if the bail-out fund comes back on to the scene. It just

:18:12.:18:17.

rumbles on and continues to depress any chance of getting growth into

:18:17.:18:20.

the economy. Italy has to be the point. This is the economic flaw on

:18:20.:18:24.

the your open. I was always attracted by the political concept

:18:24.:18:30.

but believed wait and see, prepare and decide, because you haven't got

:18:30.:18:33.

labour markets Mobility around Europe. You can't move from one

:18:33.:18:37.

country to another to get a job without the language skills. You

:18:38.:18:44.

don't get a transfer big enough that you would in Britain if that

:18:44.:18:48.

country goes down the plan. Maybe Greece would be better in the

:18:48.:18:52.

medium and long term with a default, with their own currency that can

:18:52.:18:55.

fluctuate, because they are now locked into a currency that's

:18:55.:18:59.

making them massively uneconomic. final question to you. The European

:18:59.:19:03.

Union hasn't been able to do it, the eurozone hasn't been able to do

:19:03.:19:07.

it, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy haven't been able to do it.

:19:07.:19:12.

Did you really think the IMF is your saviour here? I think the IMF

:19:12.:19:16.

can play a useful part in this early intervention. I've always

:19:16.:19:26.
:19:26.:19:27.

been one of those that believed that the ECB has to be the eminence

:19:27.:19:36.

grise at the end of the day. Where there is a will there is a way.

:19:36.:19:39.

Thank you. As I'm sure you know, this week is

:19:39.:19:45.

the first of the hunting season. Obviously I know, that because it

:19:45.:19:55.
:19:55.:19:59.

! Tally-ho! I hear you cry. And no wonder, because six years on from

:19:59.:20:02.

the ban on hunting with hounds, the practice is alive and well. But are

:20:03.:20:06.

the foxes? And if not, was it worth it? Adam Fleming caught up with the

:20:06.:20:15.

man behind the ban. In 2001 Alun Michael was phoned by Tony Blair

:20:15.:20:24.

with the job offer of Rural Affairs Minister, and the job of banning

:20:24.:20:29.

fox-hunting. I said I take it you want me the get the legislation

:20:29.:20:34.

through quickly. He hesitated and said that wasn't quite what I had

:20:34.:20:39.

in mind. I thought you could search for a compromise. I was taken

:20:39.:20:42.

abarks because opinions had become so embedded on both sides of the

:20:42.:20:45.

issue, nobody had been allowed to be neutral, there was such a

:20:45.:20:49.

passion. Passionate is one word you could

:20:49.:20:54.

use to describe the argument that followed. Culminating in this

:20:54.:20:57.

protest outside Parliament by the Countryside Alliance, who claimed

:20:57.:20:59.

the Government was attacking individual liberty and beating up

:20:59.:21:05.

on the rural economy. It was very nasty. There was some very violent

:21:05.:21:07.

people involved in the demonstration. I think the main

:21:07.:21:11.

problem was that the Metropolitan Police had been given to believe

:21:11.:21:14.

that these were nice people who were coming up just to exercise

:21:14.:21:18.

their democratic rights without using violence. And on the day that

:21:18.:21:25.

wasn't the case. Inside, just as much drama. Five protesters broke

:21:25.:21:30.

into the chamber, the first non- parliamentarians since the days of

:21:30.:21:37.

Charles I. It happened as hall lan Michael debated with his shadow.

:21:37.:21:40.

James Grey was just about to let them through into the open space.

:21:41.:21:47.

They seemed at a loss as to what to do with it. One stood in front of

:21:47.:21:53.

me and said, "You, hunting, pension, it's all gone wrong." Sorry, could

:21:53.:21:58.

you say that again? Also gone was the proposal for a tribunal to

:21:58.:22:03.

licence individual hunts, replaced with an outright ban. The Bill

:22:03.:22:06.

ping-ponged fruitlessly between the Commons and the Lords until the

:22:06.:22:11.

then speaker forced it through using the Parliament Act. THE

:22:11.:22:14.

SPEAKER: Very to tell the House that I have certified the Hunting

:22:14.:22:21.

Bill under section 2 of the Parliament Act 1911. So from

:22:21.:22:27.

February 2005 the hounds have chased fake trails laid by hands.

:22:27.:22:36.

Some say it is a law often breached. I think over a longer time than my

:22:36.:22:40.

original tribunal the legislation will have its way and this will be

:22:40.:22:44.

something consigned to the darker days of our history. I'm not sure

:22:44.:22:50.

his old boss Tony Blair would toast that. In his memoirs he says he

:22:50.:22:53.

would have had less trouble if he had proposed euthanasia of

:22:53.:22:57.

pensioners. Joining us now from Carmarthen is

:22:57.:23:00.

the Conservative MP, Simon Hart, who used to be the chief executive

:23:00.:23:08.

of the Countryside Alliance during the fox-hunting wars. Is it fair to

:23:08.:23:14.

say that the hunts still continue? And that the foxes sometimes still

:23:14.:23:19.

get caught? Since those days I think there've been 100,000 days'

:23:19.:23:22.

hunting and it is all pretty confusing. Thing package

:23:22.:23:25.

highlighted that. I think everybody's attempting to remain

:23:25.:23:29.

within the law, confusing though it is. Sure enough, I don't think it

:23:29.:23:35.

always works as well as it should. Is everyone attempting to stay

:23:35.:23:38.

within the law? I think they are doing their best in the

:23:38.:23:42.

circumstances but it's not easy. The police say it is very hard to

:23:42.:23:47.

get evidence to prosecute. The dogs do pick up the scent. It is hard

:23:47.:23:52.

then to stop them. It is pretty hard to know whether people really

:23:52.:24:00.

are abiding by the law or are just getting round it? I don't think it

:24:00.:24:05.

is just the police. The judiciary and the public are saying that it

:24:05.:24:09.

is complicated and the people doing the hunting. It is a unique law in

:24:09.:24:15.

that it has managed to upset and disappoint everybody who is

:24:15.:24:20.

involved, whichever side of the ooct. David Cameron offered a free

:24:20.:24:25.

vote to restore funding. I think it was a part of the Tory election

:24:25.:24:30.

appeal. Do you think, do you feel let down he hasn't done that?

:24:30.:24:36.

Should he do it? It is part of the coalition manifesto, and the

:24:36.:24:42.

coalition... Why hasn't he done it? We've only been in office 16 months.

:24:42.:24:44.

Everybody realises there are slightly more pressing concerns at

:24:44.:24:48.

the moment. This is not exactly something that would be top of the

:24:48.:24:52.

list of priorities. The PM has been clear, lit happen in the lifetime

:24:52.:24:59.

of this Parliament, I have no doubt. This is not a satisfactory

:24:59.:25:02.

situation for anybody, so let's sort it out, this time once and for

:25:02.:25:09.

all. Do we need to go back on this and have another vote? There this

:25:09.:25:13.

is an argument for tighten up the law. I remember him predicting the

:25:13.:25:18.

end of rural life as we know it. That hasn't happened. How did you

:25:18.:25:24.

know? When were you last in the country? I go there all the time.

:25:24.:25:30.

You fly over it! I don't own any. Does David Cameron really want to

:25:30.:25:37.

spend time on having MPs vote on setting dogs on deer and hares?

:25:37.:25:42.

you have a vote on this? It is not pressing, but I'm a liberal on

:25:42.:25:49.

these things. You have to set the bar high. I don't like fox-hunting

:25:49.:25:55.

but I didn't like the legislation. It was a shambles. Let me go back

:25:55.:25:59.

to our MP here. If you had a vote in the House on this you would

:25:59.:26:03.

almost certainly lose it wouldn't you? I think there would be a small

:26:03.:26:08.

majority. It is tight. The numbers are in the too bad. There are fewer

:26:08.:26:13.

Conservatives who are against hunting than there were back then.

:26:13.:26:17.

This is nothing to do with your outgoing Defence Secretary? He was

:26:17.:26:24.

a bit of a blue fox. There are fewer now than there were in 1993.

:26:24.:26:28.

Fewer foxes or MPs? Fewer Conservative MPs against hunting.

:26:28.:26:33.

The argument is no longer really about the individual practice but

:26:33.:26:38.

whether this is good law, whether it is appropriate, whether it works.

:26:38.:26:42.

The coalition agreement says it, the Prime Minister says it,

:26:42.:26:46.

everybody realises we are in a really unsatisfactory state of

:26:46.:26:51.

affairs. Let's sort it out. Are you off fox-hunting this weekend?

:26:51.:26:59.

I can't get time off from the whips. I didn't know they controlled your

:26:59.:27:05.

weekend, but at least it will be a good weekend for the foxes.

:27:05.:27:10.

Coming out of Cannes it looks like there is no real agreement on what

:27:10.:27:14.

size the new IMF fund should be. They haven't been able to agree on

:27:14.:27:18.

the scale of the increase. Time now to look back over the week

:27:18.:27:21.

gone by. There's been a lot of Europe. This is the week in 60

:27:21.:27:31.
:27:31.:27:34.

It was all eyons Europe as Greek PM George Papandreou caused financial

:27:34.:27:39.

shock waves on Monday with his plan for a referendum on the eurozone

:27:39.:27:43.

bail-out. The chaos in Athens dominated G20 discussions in Cannes,

:27:43.:27:48.

as France and Germany gave the Greeks a stark option, take it or

:27:48.:27:52.

leave the euro. No wonder Mr Papandreou dropped his referendum

:27:52.:27:57.

plan. Back at home, GDP figures were slightly better than.Ed. David

:27:57.:28:01.

Cameron promised tough action on councils that fail to place

:28:01.:28:08.

children for adoption quickly enough. The current situation isn't

:28:08.:28:12.

working Work. And the protest outside St Paul's continued this

:28:12.:28:16.

week. The Dean became the second clear Tokyo leave.

:28:16.:28:21.

The offer over public sector pensions wasn't enough to convince

:28:22.:28:27.