18/01/2013 Daily Politics


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Good morning, welcome to the Daily Politics. The hostage crisis is


still unfolding this morning, but some foreign workers, including


British Aris ditches, have been freed, with other still being held


by terrorists as Algerian forces continue their controversial


operation. -- including British hostages.


It was the most long awaited speech of modern political times, but


instead of talking Europe in Amsterdam, the Prime Minister had


to make a statement on Algeria in the Commons this morning. We will


show you what he said about Algeria and what he was planning to say on


Europe. And after this former minister


compared his old boss Michael Gove to a sitcom character, unnamed


government sources called Tim Loughton a lazy, incompetent


narcissist. What is going on at the All that in the next hour. With us


for the first half of the programme, Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, and


former Liberal Democrat press secretary and editor of an online


newspaper for young people like me, Miranda Green. What are you


laughing at? I would not dream of it! The Prime Minister should have


been in Amsterdam this morning unveiling his plan to repatriate


powers from Brussels and maybe even give us a promise of a euro


referendum. Instead, at 11am, he made a statement to the House about


the unfolding hostage situation in Algeria. Mr Speaker, during the


course of Thursday morning, the Algerian forces mounted an


operation. Mr Speaker, we were not informed of this in advance. I was


told by the Algeria Prime Minister while it was taking place. He said


the terrorists had tried to flee, that they judged there was an


immediate threat to the hostages, and had felt obliged to respond.


When I spoke to the Algerian Prime Minister last night, he told me


this first operation was complete, but this is a large and complex


site and they are still pursuing terrorists and possibly some of the


hostages in other areas of the site. The Algerian Prime Minister has


told me this morning they are looking at all possible routes to


resolve the crisis. Mr Speaker, last night the number of British


citizens at risk was less than 30. Thankfully, we now know that number


has been quite significantly reduced, and I'm sure the House


will understand why, during an ongoing operation, I cannot say


more on this at this stage. That was the prime minister leaving many


questions unanswered, despite that statement, so let's talked to Chris


Mason, who I hope can tell us more. He is in a very snowy London, as


you can see. The Prime Minister did give us more information, but I do


not yet have a clear picture of how many hostages have been liberated,


how many are still in captivity, and how many have become fatalities.


Yes, there are two strands to the uncertainties in all of this.


Firstly, there has been repeated statements from the Foreign Office


and from Downing Street that have emphasised that they have a limited


amount of information, and then added to that is the inevitable


caution from the Prime Minister in how much of the information he is


aware of he is willing to make public, given that this is an


ongoing situation, given that there still are a good number of hostages,


including a good number from the UK, who are still being held. The key


fact that we learnt in the statement from the Prime Minister,


and he stood on his feet taking questions now, one hour into taking


questions from backbenchers, is that last night less than 30


Britons were being held hostage. Now that number is, as we heard,


significantly reduced, but we do not have a specific number. Chris,


do we have any idea yet of British casualties? No. In specific terms,


we do not, beyond the initial announcement that a Briton had been


killed, beyond hearing that there was a man from Northern Ireland, a


career of an Irish passport, he was freed, we do not have any more


information. As I say, those two strands to the uncertainty mean


that we are learning a limited amount in the statement in the last


hour. There is an expectation, the Prime Minister said, that he hopes


he may be able to say a little bit more later today, but there is real


understandable nervousness within the Foreign Office about too much


information coming out too soon and potentially imperilling the lives


of those who are still there. Frustration, too, Andrew, about the


procedure adopted by the Algerian government, the Algerian forces, a


sense that the Prime Minister really wanted to hear in advance


that they were going to attempt a rescue mission, and he only found


out what it was under way once it was already under way to. There was


a clear sense in the Prime Minister's tone that he would have


liked to have known in advance, and that British special forces could


have been involved, they were certainly available. Thank you very


much for that update, very interesting, on the ongoing hostage


situation with British lives still at stake, and the developing


relationship between Britain and Algeria. To discuss the crisis, we


are joined by the chair of the foreign affairs select committee


Richard Ottaway. Are you surprised that the Algerians went ahead with


this operation without even informing the British or other


countries involved, never mind involving them? Good morning. No. I


think it is barely understandable, when you have got a clandestine


operation going on that you do not give notice in advance, much as


other countries, no matter how much they may be affected, may want to


be involved. As far as the special forces are concerned, the Algerians


are, you know, they have got a pretty efficient military machine,


and I'm sure they have the capacity to conduct the operation themselves.


Frankly, it is far from certain that if the SAS had been involved


it would have had a different outcome. We do not seem to have


much influence over Algeria. They are not a member of the EU, we have


a good bilateral relationship with them, there is no lack of harmony


in our relationship with Algeria at the moment, and this is a very


complex, fast-moving operation here, and I think we have got to give


them the benefit of the doubt. you in any doubt... Last night on


BBC One's This Week, Kofi Annan said he was in no doubt that the


terrorist action in Algeria was linked to the French intervention


in Mali. What is your view? I think this is something we have got to


look at now. There is a whole change in the character of the


region going on here as Al-Qaeda have been moved out of Afghanistan


and Pakistan, moving into Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, Algeria, and I think


we have got to rethink our strategy here, and much closer co-operation


is required between the intelligence services, military


organisations, and diplomatically. Although some people do not like


the phrase, you get the sense this is the latest front in the war on


terror. That is right, and I think it is really interesting that


everyone was so excited about the Arab Spring, but partly because


they got a bit of democracy in the region might take the pressure


towards Islamism away, but actually, the Arab Spring having happened,


this explosion of Islamist activity has taken place anyway, so it is an


enormous challenge not just for the West, but for the rest of Africa.


The one thing we learn is that it is, in some way, a knock-on effect


from events in Libya, because after the Gaddafi regime collapsed, the


number of these people had been closer to Gaddafi moved south.


Apparently, they raided all the arms dump, so they were incredibly


well armed, they moved into Mali and dominated the north of that,


enough to be able to move south and threaten the capital. I think what


we are seeing, what we had thought was a fairly straightforward


operation of Libya that got rid of Colonel Gaddafi has started a chain


reaction. The first phase was having these nomadic mercenaries,


moving south with their heavy armour, and the Algerian government


said that the attempt at the gas terminal was in response to the


French action in Mali. It looks right now as if this was a well


organised and deliberate retaliation to the French action,


which raises the question, if this is how they are going to respond,


not by attacking French soldiers but raiding Western interests and


the rest of Africa, then similar fields in Morocco, Libya and


Nigeria would also be at risk. I think David Cameron is realising


that Libya was the start of something but we are not seen the


end. I have just been told that Alex Salmond has been discussing


the Scottish hostages in the gas compound, the Scots have been freed,


we are waiting to hear about the rest of the British hostages who


are still there. Should we be giving more, and by week, I do not


just mean Britain, but the European Union and the United States, should


we be giving the French more support in Mali? Well, we have a


bilateral agreement with the French, and we would give them whatever


they asked for, because we have undertaken to do so in a military


treaty. If they ask for blitz on the ground, would we give them


that? -- Boots. There is co- operation with the French in the


treaty, it is not like NATO where an attack on one is an attack on


the other, but there is an understanding that these matters


are under discussion. We would not give them everything they would ask


for, we would consider in a friendly way what they ask for, but


if they ask for the Black Watch, we would not give them that without a


big debate, would we? I did not think it has got to that point at


the moment, and indeed we would be reluctant to put feet underground


just when we will be drawing troops out of Afghanistan. -- feet on the


ground. So are the French. They had a much smaller commitment and are


already out now. You know, you actually have to watch and see what


is going on in both these operations. If I can go back way


point raised by both Fraser and Miranda about has Libya triggered


something, if you urge democracy on countries like Libya and Egypt, you


have got to accept what it throws up. What we have got there is


moderate Islam, and these are Islamist we can and have to do


business with. It does not necessarily follow that radical


Islam will come out of that. I think actually you have got a more


sinister operation going on which is opportunistic, and I think they


are making a fair point, but I think it would be a mistake to say


that because Islamic democracy has arrived, that means fundamentalist


Islam will follow. But it certainly takes the lead of other Islamist


pressures. We in the West like these countries with nice, tidy


borders, but that is not the way they work, tried to move across


borders, and people are saying in Syria, let's help the rebels, but


we are not thinking about the knock-on effects. I think we are


too quick to think, let's get rid of the bad guy, without thinking of


the consequences. That is exactly the point I was going to make, it


is also to do with these being very mobile people, moving across a


continent to find the most convenient and conducive home from


which to export terrorism. Clearly, Mali became something akin to


Afghanistan. There is no Islamist democracy in Algeria or Mali.


is democracy in Algeria. His there? Yes, you have a parliament and a


government. We had a parliament in Moscow! Democracy comes in...


certainly none in Mali, they had a military coup. Democracy comes in


many forms. Going back to Syria macro, the reason the British


government is hesitating about Syria, they are far from certain


about who the opposition is now, its nature and its composition.


Britain has endorsed them. We have endorsed the transitional council,


which is not necessarily the same as the people fighting on the


ground. So why have we endorse the transitional council if we do not


know who they are? Because ultimately we do think that Assad


will fall and we want to be in there, trying to influence them as


soon as possible. You want to be on the winning side. We always want to


be on the winning side. Listening to the Prime Minister today, he was


talking in very general terms about the Islamic threat in Africa, and


it was very resident of the language we use about Al-Qaeda in


Afghanistan, these guys are a threat, they will come and get as


later, and part of me wonders of Mali may be David Cameron's third


war. Tony Blair at five, didn't he? Why should he hold back?! Thank you


for being with us, Richard Ottaway. The PM's euros thoughts have been a


long time coming, and thanks to events in Algeria, we will have to


wait still longer. Well, not quite. Well-placed stories in this


morning's newspapers of a sneak preview of the speech because they


were handed out by Downing Street when they still thought the speech


was going ahead. It was not cancelled until early in the


evening. They reveal the Prime Minister plan to talk about his


growing frustration with Europe, there's a surprise, highlighting


three issues. First, the economic problems in the eurozone which are


pushing Europe towards closer integration. Second, a crisis of


European competitiveness, as other nations across the world saw ahead.


Third, a gap between Europe and its citizens which is growing ever


wider. That has led to a lack of democratic accountability and


consents that is felt particularly acutely in Britain. Finally, he


planned a stark warning, if we do not address these challenges, the


danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift


It is strange that we're able to tell you what is in a speech even


though the speech will not be delivered this morning. Fraser


Nelson, what do you make of the content of what he was planning to


say? This was like a good Eurovision Song contest entry,


something designed to resonate across borders. You have got to hit


both the domestic and foreign audience. He was saying that Europe


needs to reform and Britain is one of the good guys. You want us in


the EU because we will be encouraged in this process that you


all want. But there was not much detail. The key points in the


speech are still those that James Forsyth outlined in the Spectator a


couple of weeks ago. There will be re negotiation before 2018. That


will be contingent on a Tory majority which is the biggest if in


the whole equation. The tone of these excerpts that we have is


quite Europe friendly? He is trying to have it both ways. He wants to


feed red meat to his backbenchers, but he is also saying to pro-


Europeans, if it gets better, we will stay in. Yes. The Prime


Minister seems to me like somebody who is having a relationship crisis


and taking bad advice from a friend in a pub. In this case, that friend


is the wing of the party who is very hostile to Europe. They are


saying, you have got to give them an ultimatum. That does not really


work. That gets you into a negative situation. That alone would not


have pleased a lot of his own backbenchers. No, and it was not


intended to. The very fact that he wanted to find some random location


in Europe to give the speech was a message that it was for the people


back home and those people in Europe as well. He can dress it up


however he wants, but his party will not like it. Do you know where


he is on the referendum? Now it is mac. Fraser assured us this morning


as many people have done that David Cameron does not want Britain to


leave the European Union. He said so himself. Indeed. We take it on


trust. It may be true. There is this danger of drifting out. Ed


Miliband, to his credit, has expressed his very eloquently in


the last few weeks. The problem is that his strategy to manage the


situation of his own backbenchers is very risky. You introduce a


referendum, this idea of renegotiation, which is very


dangerous. It may not work. You may not be able to offer people


something in a referendum that will satisfy at that particular wing of


opinion. Then you have to offer them another referendum. It will


keep us in a job! Why are we even speaking about this? It is all


predicated on Mr Cameron winning an overall majority, not just getting


back into power. The Liberal Democrats would not let him go down


this road again. The bookies will not give you good odds on that at


the moment. They will give you 4-1. It is more likely that Scotland


will vote to go independent. It is more likely that Nick Clegg will be


gone before Christmas. It is more likely that the royal baby will be


born blonde. That threw me. Off all the many IFS, this is the biggest


one. When David Cameron comes back he will be under pressure to say


that any government he reads will have his referendum. Even if he


goes into a coalition of Liberal- Democrats. As always under these


circumstances, I wanted to ask where the postponement of the


speech leaves us. Is this an advantage to Mr Cameron, or having


marched all his men to the top of the hell, he has now marched them


down again? Does he have to march them back up? I think he probably


does. This adds to the uncertainty. That is very damaging for the UK.


They is pressure on the currency at the moment. Our allies do not know


where we stand and there is panic in Washington. There is irritation


among our EU allies. It could be a damp squib? I suspect it will be.


No one mentions public opinion. Only one-third of people in this


country think that membership of the EU is a good idea. I think you


have to be cautious about that. If you look at the recent YouGov


opinion poll, it is moving in the other direction. When you start to


speak about the cost of leaving the EU, it starts to go the other way.


Finally, on this issue, I understand the Prime Minister says


that if he does get this overall majority, he wants to repatriate


parks. On the assumption he does that, I think he would then let us


have a referendum. -- he wants to repatriate powers. If we vote no,


what have we voted for? To leave, to exercise air writes. Maybe


people will say, I quite like it the way it is. There will not be


three options, there will be two questions. Does he realise that?


Absolutely. That is the implication when he is speaking about the


British exit. He has to focus their minds if you will not get through


the negotiation. And we will have more on the speech


that never was a little later in the programme.


If you are a smoker, it is currently the NHS's job to help you


quit. But from April, that responsibility shifts to local


councils. So should those council workers' pensions be invested in


tobacco stocks? Local authorities in the West Midlands have put


nearly �130 million into cigarette companies and many others across


the country have similar investments. It is a nice little


earner but have they allowed their ethics to go up in smoke?


Last year, smoking killed around 80,000 people in England. Latest


figures show it cost the NHS more than �5 billion treating related


diseases. That is why the NHS are keen to get the message across to


smokers to quit. I tried it on my own but I was never successful. Oil


was started smoking, especially during the holidays. Having someone


to speak to you and encourage you was better. Because of the way the


NHS is being reorganised, in April it will be your local councillor


who will be responsible for stopping people smoking. But I have


discovered via a series of Freedom of Information Act quiz, that


councils in the West Midlands are or investing up to nearly �130


million in tobacco companies through their pension pots. --


Freedom of Information request. They are trying to persuade people


to give up the product at the same time as this. What is the point?


You could argue that their campaigning against their own


interests as they are going along. They have got to get rid of the


conflict of interest. Councils are currently investing �21 million in


tobacco companies. They say it is because they have got to get the


best deal possible for their pensioners. Some people think there


is a conflict, but I do not think there is. We have an administrative


function rather than a political one. We administer the pension fund


and remind ourselves that this is the money of pensioners, not the


money from the council. We try to get the best return we can. There


is method in what some are describing as the council's madness.


Over the past decade, tobacco stocks have done twice as well as


the rest of the market and there had been to pay for a happy


retirement for many workers. Across Warwickshire, councils hold tobacco


shares worth seven. Million pounds. Councils in Staffordshire hold �31


million, and the councils of the West Midlands have almost �60


million. Will they change their tune? Staffordshire are the only


authority promising a review. For the others, it seems that tobacco


is a hard habit to kick. I think that is a good story. I am


amazed at these councils investing in tobacco companies. I thought


they were so politically aware that they would check with your money is


going. Absolutely. Recently they got in trouble with ill-advised


investments in Iceland. They lost a lot of public money. You would


think that in the wake of that they would have gone through all their


investments and wake up with they were wise Finance Lee, like the


Iceland mistake, but also whether they were ethical. This will be


hard to defend. The devil has the best investments. The highest rate


of return! The European Union condemns smoking but still


subsidises tobacco manufacturers. Some of the most potent tobacco


that the world makes, be subsidised as the ghost of it. -- and they


subsidise the production office. It is dumped in Africa. I think that


this report will probably trigger most councils to have a late


because it is not just tobacco, it is a whole lot of things. If you


want an ethical Investment Portfolio, they are available, but


they do not pay as much. More on a curious story we looked


at yesterday. You may recall that former Children's Minister Tim


Loughton created a stir earlier in the week when he criticised his


former boss, Michael Gove. You can never have too much of a good thing


so before we hear about the latest twist in this tale, here is a


reminder of what he told the Education Select Committee. There


is an upstairs downstairs mentality in the department. The ministers


are all on the 7th floor. Officials are summoned to her office when I


just wanted to have a quick chat. If I wanted to do that, the meeting


had to go in the diary. Occasionally I went to another


flower and it was like a state visit. Most officials have never


met the Secretary of State, other than when he will troop out some


chosen people for the new year party, like Mr Grace from Grace


Brothers, to tell us we have all done terribly well.


How has that gone down in the Department For Education? Not well


is the answer. Fraser's magazine, the Spectator, carried a story


yesterday quoting an unnamed government source who did not hold


back when it came to Mr Loughton. back when it came to Mr Loughton.


back when it came to Mr Loughton. Some of that was clearly


unparliamentary language but there is a little bit of confusion around


about what our next parliamentarian was getting at in a Commons debate.


Here is Christchurch MP Christopher Chope in the House of Commons


yesterday. Before I do that, let's get your reaction. This was a


senior Department source. This was not an off-the-cuff reaction. They


have been looking with increasing anger at the pauses that Tim


Loughton has been striking since he left. I think he thought he could


take a free hit at his old department, and slag off his old


boss. He has found out that you cannot do that and not expect some


form of retaliation, especially if you're playing a card that your


colleagues do not believe you were ever entitled to play. What would


you advise Tim Loughton to say in retaliation? I would not give him


any advice because this is so much fun. That quote is every


journalists's dream. The Department for Education has been extremely


good under Michael Gove at making enemies. It now seems to be quite


good at making enemies even of former ministers. I think they are


slightly too happy. Michael Gove is such a gentle man. It is almost


impossible to think of him saying a bad word about anybody, but that is


not to say that the rest of his I dined, on all three nights, in


the dining rooms, and almost nobody But the service was absolutely


fantastic, Mr Speaker, because there was three servants for each


person sitting down. Yes! Exactly! Can the Tories ever learn, plebs


and now servants? That was a slip of the tongue, I am sure he sat


down, it will look terrible, because it revives memories of


plebgate and stuff, but I think this simply was a man taking a


alliteration a little bit too far. Well, he got out of it by saying,


we are all servants! Would you buy that? It would have been better to


say it was a slip of the town, the word is waiter. It was probably not


meant in a derogatory way, but it does not help, because when a


Conservative politician is overheard making a remark like this,


it adds to the impression of them being out-of-touch toffs.


Christopher Chope lets the cat out of the back by referring to House


of Commons waiters as servants! The Tories cannot escape this class


trope, can they? They are vulnerable to this attack, and


David Cameron fears is more than anything else. This is their state


of Kryptonite to wave against him, and he just cowers. Similarly, they


cannot handle it very well. They should have said, first off, sorry,


there are millions of waiters in this country, and the idea that the


Tories consider them servants is manna from heaven for Labour.


easy how little slips of the tongue can be stared up into real rows.


Upstairs downstairs again, it is not a good luck for the Tory party.


OK, do we have any idea now, coming back to the Prime Minister, when


this speech is going to be re scheduled? We don't. It is hard to


believe he's going to wait more than another week. We already know


the key points, we have seen phrases from it. If he leaves it


more than seven days, it is going to become even more of a farce that


it was a few days ago. He needs to visit Disneyland, somewhere in


Europe, give it and come back. does he have to go to Europe to


give it? It was supposed to be the symbolism, I am here, I am


committed, still part of the club, I want us to remain in, but I think


you are right, he should just get on and give the speech and move on.


Can he do that old trick of a letter to his constituents which


never gets to his constituents? Liam Fox does that. I don't know.


He is going to have to... I think he has got a mild case of


microphone phobia, the needs to get in front of it and come out with it.


We will leave at there and see what happens. Thank you both for being


with me today. Coming up in a moment, our monthly look at what


has been happening in European politics, but for now it is time to


say goodbye to my two guests, Fraser Nelson and Miranda Green.


This week members of the European Parliament have been meeting in


Strasbourg for their regular plenary session, so what have they


been getting up to, and what else has been happening? Here's our


guide to the latest from Europe in It is goodbye cybrid SARS Ireland


takes over the presidency of the EU. -- Cyprus as. Enda Kenny says that


Europe is at a crossroads. This presidency will be all about


stability and jobs and growth. have been on the minds of MEPs as


they called on member states to introduce a guarantee that no-one


and a 25 goes without work or training for more than four months.


But it is good news if you have got a job working for the EU, this


month a levy on their salaries first introduced in 2004 has


expired, which means that basic pay has gone up by 5.5%. Credit rating


agencies face tougher rules after a vote by MEPs. Many of them blame


the agencies for contributing to the financial crisis. And European


foreign ministers have met to discuss the French military action


and Mali. The EU will send a military training mission, but


And with us for the next 30 minutes, and joined by Labour MEP Mary


Honeyball, and UKIP MEP Roger Helmer. Welcome to you both. Let's


look at one of those stories in more detail, the vote to rein in


the influence of the credit rating agencies. I would suggest that


given the role of the agencies in the run-up to the financial crash,


at some stage they were going to be more regulated. I think that is


absolutely right, Andrew. Credit rating agencies have evolved


recently from being simply information givers, which is what


they were originally setting out to do, to actually having a big impact


on policy. Clearly, they have done that. The crash a couple of years


ago was largely to do with the credit rating agencies, the way


they behaved in the United States, with mortgages... Continuing to


give AAA ratings... When they clearly were not. At just as badly,


they have had an effect on sovereign debt, on countries. This


country is desperate to keep its rating. Part of what gave the


agency's their importance was that legislators, parliaments,


governments in various countries, and even at the macro level, they


gave them almost an official status. -- Bert EU level. They said that


people at Bryn Estyn AAA bonds. is is a case of shooting the


messenger. OK, they did a rotten job of protecting the crisis. But


nobody has a good record on that. This amounts to an attack on free


speech. These independent agencies are entitled to an opinion. Should


they still have an opinion? But they will not have the same weight.


These were serious attempts to curtail what they were able to say,


and that is wrong. It is interesting that their opinion does


not matter so much, they have downgraded France and the United


States, and they are still borrowing as cheaply as we are.


That may be true, but I think Roger is being a bit disingenuous with


this for it is not just about them having an opinion, it is about the


effect that the opinion had. You may be right that that that effect


is not as important as it was, but the point of these legislation was


to make the way they operate more open, so we could understand it, so


there was a level of accountability. It is a good piece of legislation.


Before events in Algeria unfolded, MEPs in Strasbourg were discussing


the Islamist offensive in the neighbouring African country are


Mali. One prominent MEP said it underlined the continued lack of a


common foreign policy, so what has been the response, and should it


have had one anyway? Yesterday EU foreign ministers were called in to


an emergency meeting in Brussels to talk about Mali, and a promise to


speed up the deployment of a training mission to support African


troops. But of course it is France acting individually and acting


quickly to send their forces to the north of the country with the


support of other countries, including the United Kingdom on


logistics. Perhaps this illustrates the challenge facing Baroness


Ashton, the High Representative of the EU foreign ministry. Her job


was created under the Lisbon Treaty, supported by the external actions


servers. They won praise for their diplomacy over Iran's nuclear


ambitions, but when it comes to major interventions, such as in


Libya or Mali, it has been member- states that have taken the lead.


You may remember the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger


once asked, who rely call if I want to call Europe? His successor,


Hillary Clinton, she is said to get on well with Baroness Ashton, but


it is still not clear if the question has been answered. What


role has the European Union played in the unfolding events in the


Maghreb? I think you describe it perfectly, that the action has come


from one member states, France, which is now being assisted by


Britain, so you have two member states on an inter-governmental


basis starting out on that project. Then you have the European Union


running along behind and desperately trying to bowl on


sunbeds so that afterwards it can say it is a European initiative, a


European initiative. -- bowled on some bits. Baroness Ashton has been


wholly ineffective since she has been appointed, and her foreign


service is forecast and no benefit. Inter-governmental ism can work


very well, the European Union is, in effect, a relevant. Well, it is


not irrelevant, and the point that Roger has very carefully not talked


about is that these kind of foreign policy initiatives are, in fact,


taken by member states, they always have been, and it has never been


part of the EU remit of foreign affairs to do that. So what is the


point of having Cathy Ashton? Because it brings its together and


it allows the EU to do what it was set up to do, and what these


particular foreign policy initiatives was set up to do,


provide humanitarian and non- combatant aid where it is necessary.


That is actually what she is doing. So what is the EU's foreign policy


en Mali? What is happening is that Baroness Ashton brought together


the heads for all the member states' foreign offices a few days


ago, and they agreed there would be a EU training mission to Mali


through to enable them to set up better and more sustainable


democracy, a kind of enabling mission. It is nothing to do with


the fighting, as indeed the UK is not part of the fighting. It is


enabling the EU to claim to be involved. It is providing


assistance to the people of Mali, who are finding themselves in is


impossible situation, where they have terrorists in the north of the


country, which is what the French are helping the Government's deal


with. The EU is providing a very small amount of assistance to help


the democracy in Mali. That is not really foreign policy, is it? It


could come under international aid. Does the EU support the French


intervention? That is part of a bilateral agreement between us and


France... Does the EU support it? I know why the UK is involved, as a


nation-state, and we have a treaty arrangement with France to help, as


they were supposedly help us, too, but what is the EU policy?


supports the initiative, and it wants to jump onto the bandwagon.


It is not jumping onto the bandwagon, Roger. It does support


the initiative. It followed a long. It did not take the initiative


because it is not the EU's role, that is the point. I think it is


all right as it is. I would not like to see an extension of the


foreign policy role, because I would not, no, I wouldn't, because


I think what you are dealing with, obviously, in the EU is a grouping


of 27 countries, and I think it is difficult in the present


circumstances to get any kind of agreement. A lot of those 27 do not


want collective foreign policy. Here's another thought, it is


probably going to be a long time before that changes! I think you


are probably right. It has reached its limit and gone beyond. Since we


are agreed, we will move on! If David Cameron had stood up in


Amsterdam, his speech would have been heard across the Continent.


Britain's attitude to Europe and his desire to renegotiate the


relationship with the EU is a hot topic for politicians, not just


here but across the European Continent, as David Thomson has


Strasbourg on ice, a parliament waiting to see where David Cameron


takes Britain and perhaps the rest of Europe. We will have to wait a


little bit longer now, but let's speed things up with a quick guide


to what they make of us and our Prime Minister. Europe is a family,


and of course there are good pupils and bad pupils, at now we have the


impression that the UK are proud to be the worst pupils in the


classroom! Mr Cameron asking for a renegotiation of the position in


the union, if we start with that and other countries can follow,


then for example France can start and as for the negotiations,


because they do not like the competition rules. German could ask


for a new statute in Europe because they do not like to pay for other


countries. At the end, we should have 27 different statutes for the


27 different countries. So that cannot work. We all know the


argument for renegotiation. Since we joined the EU, we have changed,


it has changed, the world has changed. Therefore why should not


be treaties which bind us changed to reflect that? The question is,


will our European neighbours, the heavy hitters in Strasbourg, buy


it? The good news for David Cameron... I think there is more


support than you think, because lots of people are unhappy. They


are in favour of the EU, but they wanted to reform, the Netherlands,


perhaps the Scandinavian countries. There may be some people in Germany


saying that we should reform the European Union because the Brussels


bureaucracy is not regarded as efficient. Now, he is a member of


the same group in the European Parliament as Britain's


Conservative MEPs, so you might expect him to support David Cameron,


but members of the Dutch governing party are not dismissive of his


approach either. We want to hear what he is proposing. We want to


look at it and say, where can we support you? We do not say no to


renegotiation, we say, let's sits down and talk. I say to those in


France to say, no discussion at all, we want France to be in, we want


Britain to be in, so we have to be Renegotiation might not be as


impossible as it is sometimes painted us. But David Cameron might


be careful about what he wishes for. Renegotiation always entails


several partners. It would be naive to it accept at one side gets all.


Joint banking supervision in the City of London would be one


concession that Europe would be looking for. We want to have great


Britain inside of the European Union. We must go one step in the


direction of Great Britain. Let's speak about the issues. But there


are deadlines, as well, for Germany. Unifier us think that Britain


should either put up or shut up. What is not possible is that any


member states can have one foot in and the other foot out. -- unifiers.


We need the UK with both feet in the EU. But if it is chat -- if it


is the choice of the British people, it would be better to have two the


doubt. That would leave David Cameron in the cold. This is


negotiation, Strasbourg style. And we are joined from Brussels now by


the Conservative MEP and chairman of the Conservatives and Reformist


Group in the European Parliament, Martin Callanan, and here in London


by the former permanent representative to the European


Union, Stephen Wall. Good afternoon. Is there really an appetite to do


serious negotiation with the British on repatriating powers


among the other member states? think he heard the reaction from


several leading MEPs. I was quite surprised by how positive some of


them were that the prospect. But MEPs are the most federalist in the


whole of the European Union. The heads of government are more


pragmatic. When they think about the possibility of Britain leaving,


not least our budget contribution, as an advantage, they will think


about to renegotiation. Do you believe that there is any chance


that even if they are pragmatic and prepared to go down this route some


way, that they would give anything like enough that would satisfy the


Euro-sceptics on the Tory backbenches? I think there is a


good chance. We certainly have to try. Public disenchantment with the


EU is massive in the UK. We have to have public support if we are to


remain members. That is why it is important that we give a solid


commitment to a referendum to give people a chance of accepting that


the brand new settlement or leaving. There has not been a referendum


since 1975 on Europe and there is public demand for one. It will help


to concentrate the minds of those politicians who are doing the


negotiations. Our partners will know that they have to satisfy the


British people. He is saying that this is going with the grain of the


British people. The British a Euro- sceptic, they want to repatriate


powers, or what is wrong with that? Overall if you look at the opinion


polls there are some people that one tout and some people who want


to stay in, and some people if you want less Europe, but not


necessarily know Europe. As to having a referendum, at David


Cameron finds himself in the situation that Harold Wilson was in.


-- no. Then our partners said that they would not change the treaty.


You have to accept that. We want to know that if the negotiations


succeed she will recommend to the people of Britain that we stay.


Will that be true? Gave Mr Cameron succeeds in getting what he would


regard as enough in terms of repatriation, he has made it clear


that he will say, a vote, yes, to stay in on these brand new terms.


think he probably will. It will depend on the results of the


renegotiation. There is a positive attitude from both sides. There has


to be a referendum because people will know that it will be a choice


of in or out on the brand new terms. We have to try and reach a brand


new deal because the current settlement is unsatisfactory. Even


Ed Miliband said on the radio yesterday that he is in favour of


renegotiation. We could have cross- party agreement on this.


Unfortunately labour are not signed up to a referendum yet. Where does


this leave UKIP? I think I agree with Stephen. David Cameron will


have the gravest difficulty getting anything more than cosmetic changes.


He will not get substantial changes. Martin sounds optimistic, he has a


party line to follow, but my view is that they've David Cameron


attempts to negotiate he will not come back with anything significant.


But I look beyond that to the outcome because if we have a


referendum would be renegotiated package is a trivial renegotiation,


as it was in the case of Harold Wilson, and the British people feel


they have been rebuffed by Europe, that will be an enormous boost both


for my party but for the no side. We have the re-election of David


Cameron or not between now and then so whether we get a referendum is


an open question. What is Labour's position on this? Ed Miliband has


said that we do not want a referendum at the minute. I think


we need to inject realism into the discussion we're having. We do not


know what will be repatriated. We do not know what any of this will


be about. We do not know the timescale and the outcome is not


known. It is fantasy to start speaking about a referendum when we


do not have the faintest idea when it will be and what it will be


about. That is not true. I Group of Tory backbenchers have given us a


list of major powers that they would like to repatriate. They are


pretty close to the David Cameron project. -- a group of Tory


backbenchers. Yes. David Cameron himself has spoken about several


areas. One EC Social Chapter, and the other is rules on benefits for


migrants. His difficulty a few wants to reopen the social chapter


it is that we need to have the treaty change to renew the opt-out


from the social chapter that John Major negotiated. If he wants to


change the directors, which is not impossible, the European Commission


will have to be persuaded to bring forward a proposal. He would have


to build alliances. The other thing that is hinted at in the


Conservative document that is interesting is that if we're in


this situation where there is a group of Eurozone countries getting


closer together, and some, not just Britain, outside the Eurozone, how


do we ensure that the institutions are not disadvantaged? On the


single market day is a built-in majority among the Eurozone that


could override this issue. That would be a difficult issue to


negotiate, but it would be in the British interests. -- interest.


will give you the final word. How worried are you about UKIP and the


threat to the Conservatives winning an overall majority in 2013?


they are going to take thought away from us, that is a threat. But I


think Roger Rees being churlish. He has been campaigning genuinely for


a referendum for many years. Here is David Cameron offering him that


referendum. I think the least he could do is welcome it. This gives


us a chance to say to be disenchanted Conservative voters,


series the referendum that you want. It is only a Conservative


government that will deliver it. will give him a chance to welcome


it when we finally hear the speech. Arguing Brussels or Strasbourg, I


cannot remember? I am in Brussels. I was in Amsterdam, but you


cancelled my trip from there! is the Prime Minister that


cancelled it. But I am sorry about that. We cannot waste the licence


fee. We all know that Brussels employs


its fair share of bureaucrats, translators and politicians. But


they are not alone. They are joined by hordes of lobbyists. Why are


they there and who are they trying to influence? Here is Adam Fleming


with the latest letter in his A-Z of Europe. L for lobbying.


Welcome to Luxembourg. This is Ground Zero for schmoozing. As the


powers of the EU have grown, so have the number of lobbyists. It is


estimated there are between 15,030 1,000 of them. -- between 15,000


and 30,000. There are charity groups and Industry organising


meetings for the powerful. Outside the European Parliament, there is


even a tree dedicated to lobbyists. And there are plenty of


opportunities for them. You can try to coax the commission whose job it


is to come up with brand-new laws that might affect your industry. Or


why not try cajoling countries to nudge the EU in your direction? Or


you can persuade Parliament to alter legislation in your favour.


There have been some scandals. Last year the Health Commissioner


resigned after being linked to a cash for legislation case link to


tobacco. He has always denied doing anything wrong. They have


introduced a code of conduct for lobbyists in an effort to make


things more transparent. But it is voluntary. Campaigners complain


about the revolving door. There is a massive number of people who


leave the European institutions and walk straight into jobs where they


peddle their influence. One person who did that is a former member of


the European Parliament called Nick Clegg. But everyone is agreed that


the year is far less money sloshing around the system here than in


Washington DC. -- but everyone in Brussels is agreed that there is


far less money. Coincidentally, the number of lobbyists there is


exactly the same. If Brussels was subjected to the


same amount of scrutiny as Westminster, lobbying would be the


next big scandal? At am not sure about that but the rules do need


tightening up. We are making progress but the register should be


mandatory rather than voluntary. Your report was quite the rocketry,


saying that lobbyists have a lot of money. -- do rocketry. It is not


like that. I'm knead the Music Industry in my office and I speak


to them about the issues. You think everything is fine. People speak


about industry lobbyists. There are lots of non-governmental lobbyists


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