Jo Coburn with the latest political news and debate. Cristina Odone joins Jo to look at David Cameron's diplomatic push to secure a deal in Europe.
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Hello and welcome to the Daily Politics.
David Cameron is in Prague on the latest leg of his tour
to drum up support for his plans for EU reform.
The Prime Minister says he's not in a hurry,
despite speculation that's he's still aiming for a referendum
Meanwhile, the EU is facing bigger problems than Brexit as thousands
of migrants continue to arrive daily - can Europe's
They're no longer smoke-filled and now they let in women -
we'll be looking at the role of gentlemen's clubs
But just why would Germany be named the best country in the world?
All that in the next hour and with us for the first half
of the show is the journalist and broadcaster Cristina Odone.
the Prime Minister has ordered ministers to clamp down on lawyers
pursuing claims against veterans of the Iraq war.
He's asked the National Security Council to draw up options to end
what Number Ten called "spurious claims".
Lawyers are continuing to refer alleged abuse by soldiers
to the Iraq Historic Allegations Team, which has so far informed
about 280 UK veterans they are under investigation for alleged abuse.
Well, there are a number of steps I'm going to be examining.
First is making sure that people cannot claim
legal aid unless they are resident in the UK.
We're going to look at the measures we can take against companies that
We're also going to look at the conditional fee
arrangements, the so-called no-win, no fee arrangements that some
of these companies are entering into.
So we will take whatever steps are necessary to make sure
we shut down this industry that I think is treating people who have
served their country in such an appalling way.
Well we're joined now by Clive Baldwin.
He's the senior legal adviser from Human Rights Watch.
Welcome to the Daily Politics. As you've heard, David Cameron says he
will take whatever steps to curb this industry. Is he right to do it?
What the Prime Minister is wrong to do is to be making such statements
when enquiries are ongoing. There is an independent investigation going
on and the results of an independent investigation into the allegations
of crimes. For the Prime Minister to step in now and say that all the
allegations are spurious, talk about destroying an industry. He's not
saying all of them but he is saying he wants to stamp out spurious legal
claims against British troops who are serving their country. The broad
principle - is that something you would support? The place to decide
whether a claim is spurious or not is in the courts. But the industry,
he is saying, itself, should be looked at very carefully. Not just
individual firms are not just individual cases but he is calling
it an industry. When your mind that is wrong? That is wrong. What do you
think? I think places like human rights watch have done fantastic
work, monitoring what is going on out in Iraq and other places. The
British justice system, of course, whether it is the military or the
civilian branch, should be totally accountable, but there is beginning
to be a feeling that there are witchhunts going on, that lawyers
are taking advantage of, and that this whole no-win, no fee mentality
is about getting the this whole no-win, no fee mentality
matter what, rather than the pursuit of the truth, which is what we like
to think rule by law means. Do you want to respond to that? Rule by law
must be pursued of the truth but it is important to say these
allegations have that does come from the lawyers. They originally from
the British media, which investigated ten years ago, from the
Red Cross, who made reports that time saying they were very
concerned, from people like a senior legal adviser of the Armed Forces in
Iraq, who spoke at great length about this. And even public
enquiries and though a particular in Greek rejected some claims, it found
evidence of abuses going on. What about the point Cristina is making
about the core of some of these claims, these no-win, no fee
arrangements, that some people are being encouraged to come forward,
that the number of claims has grown exponentially over the last few
years, that that, in fact, is driving a different sort of momentum
to claims that are made? No-win, no feed... I'm not an expert on this
issue but as I understand it, it was partly brought in by the Labour
government when it started cutting back on legal aid, so it is not to
attack the messenger, it is more to say... And remember, this is a very
special case. The UK had invaded and occupied part of Iraq, so was
responsible for governing citizens. If those people made a claim, there
has to be some measure of accountability. If the reports RIA,
that legal aid is going to be clawed back, or they are not going to be
made available to people who aren't resident in the UK, that is going to
prevent people putting in claims at all. We obviously want everybody to
have access to justice but there is a sniffing sense here that no-win,
no fee is about the pursuit of money, rather than justice. But
soldiers shouldn't be above the law, should they? Absolutely not. But on
the other hand, I don't think lawyers should rule everything,
either. Are firms like Leigh Day and others just ambulance chasers? Leigh
Day and others have also been responsible for others. There was
recently the case of people from a Miao Miao in Kenya in the 1950s,
which took 15 years and in the end the British Government admit it on a
mass scale because of litigation that was brought. Is important to
say that the proper place for any allegations against lawyers is with
the lawyers regulatory authority, it is not for the Prime Minister to be
saying that while the allegation is going on. That does damage the
appearance of rule of law. What do you say to the defence secretary,
claiming there will be a fear of lawsuits which could then impede the
effectiveness of British troops? Well, anyone who actually has gone
above the law needs to fear those lawsuits. What you do need is a
proper system of independent, speedy investigation, which can clear the
innocent quickly and if anyone is guilty of war crimes, that they are
held accountable quickly. It all needs to be speeded up. Thank you.
Forget about Miss Saigon, The Phantom Of The Opera
or Les Miserables - there's a new musical opening
in London soon that is sure to break box office records,
So our question this morning is, what particular part
of the Labour leader's life is the musical concentrating on?
A - his alleged motorcycle holiday with Diane Abbott?
the correct answer later in the show.
So, speculation about when an EU referendum takes place rumbles on.
Plenty of people in Westminster are putting their money on a date
in late June, but that depends on the outcome of an EU
And David Cameron's hopes for a deal next month took a blow
as French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that discussions
Last night David Cameron responded, saying that he was in no hurry
to hold the referendum if the deal on offer from the EU
Meanwhile, speculation continues about which cabinet ministers
might split from the Prime Minister
and campaign for an "out" vote regardless of the reforms.
Here's Eurosceptic Cabinet Minister Theresa Villiers
This is a crucial question and I'm proud of the fact that it's
a Conservative government that are giving the people
of the United Kingdom the choice to vote on our relationship
We all need to wait for the outcome of the referendum...
If nothing is brought back, you will be voting to get out?
Well, certainly no one is happy with the status quo.
The Prime Minister isn't, the government isn't
and, frankly, I think there are many people across this country
who would agree that the European Union needs
It needs to become more competitive, it needs to be fairer
Well, we don't know what he's going to come back with,
if anything, but if he comes back with nothing you will be
Well, the government will obviously take a view...
We need to wait and see what the outcome of
the negotiation is and then the reality is that every man
and woman in this country has the choice.
Home Secretary Theresa May, who has so far refused to pick
a side, was yesterday seen lunching with leading Eurosceptic Liam Fox,
prompting rumours that she could still be persuaded to back
And there are plenty of other big public figures wading in this week.
First the Pope called for Britain to stay in, while this morning actor
Michael Caine told the Today programme he was backing Brexit.
You've now got in Europe a sort of government by proxy of everybody,
And I think unless there's some extremely
significant changes, we should get out.
It all means David Cameron has a lot of work to do
if he is going to secure a deal that he can take to the country
as evidence of why we should stay in Europe.
Today he leaves the World Economic Forum in Davos to travel to Prague.
Our correspondent Eleanor Garnier can tell us more.
So, Eleanor, another pit stop and David Cameron's tour of European
capitals. These visits just for show? Well, he's done so many of
them, hasn't he? There are only four weeks to go until the EU leaders are
going to be in Brussels and trying to find consensus on this and at the
moment, the deal is far from done, so he's got a lot of hard work to do
before mid-to-late February. The Czech Republic has been one of the
most outspoken countries over David Cameron's plans for that four-year
ban on EU migrants claiming in work benefits. The government there is
firmly opposed to anything that might undermine the principle of
freedom of movement and, of course, firmly opposed to anything that
might discriminate against its own citizens. Having said all that, it
does want the UK to stay in the use. It has said that it is willing to
find a solution but clearly they just haven't got to that point just
yet and that is why David Cameron is on his latest stop of his diplomatic
tour. And there's been a change of tone, hasn't there, in the last week
or so, from David Cameron and, it seems, George Osborne in terms of
timing of the renegotiation and then a referendum? I know they haven't
given explicitly a date but it did sound like it could happen this
year. Now he's in no hurry to get a deal. Is that an admission that his
timetable has now been thrown off course or is that part of his
expectation management? It is definitely expectation management.
If, like you and me, you've been playing very close attention to what
ministers have been saying last week or so, you might have concluded a
deal was very close to being done because George Osborne said just at
the end of last week the essential pieces of the deal were falling into
place. The Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said recently that a June
referendum was quite possible. So we have this growing sense of momentum,
this optimism, and almost inevitability that a deal in
February would be done and I think David Cameron could have ended up
extremely red-faced if he'd got to the February summit and it didn't
deliver a deal. So we saw some very clear expectation management
yesterday and on top of that, we also heard, as you pointed out from
french fry minister Manuel Valls, saying more time was needed for
discussion and a deal at any cost would not be acceptable. -- French
Prime Minister. I think the tone has changed over the last week or so.
Thank you. We're joint by Robert Oxley from the Vote League campaign.
David Cameron told French TV last week that he feels deeply European
so that means is going to campaign to stay in. I do think it is quite
clear that the Prime Minister made his decision a long time ago that he
was going to campaign to stay in at all costs and I think the
renegotiation has effectively become an expectation management game. It's
become a very trivial exercise in renegotiating our relationship but
it isn't going to bring powers back, it isn't going to solve the problem
is that the Prime Minister said were absolutely key. The independent
George Osborne think tank have said that they will have not much affect
on immigration, so I think David Cameron is very much replicating
what Caine's movies. Is gone off to Europe, tried to do a smash and grab
but is ultimately coming home empty-handed. You thought about that
on the Michael came from. Christine, you are in favour of Britain
remaining in the EU. Do you think David Cameron is going to get a
thing substantial or is this a bit of a Charente? I think this is an
amazing courtship and it's not going to lead to any kind of seduction.
But I think that what has been very interesting is seeing the Prime
Minister himself, who seems to be in a rush not only to get the
referendum going but to force an election this summer. I think he is
now kicking the ball into the long grass. Do you actually think he's
doing that or do you think he's going to come back after that summit
and say, it's fine, I've got something, let's have a referendum
in June. I think we are looking at 2017. Do you agree with that? Do you
think it is being kicked into the long grass or do you think this is
part of the showmanship of hard work and struggle and he will come back
with something he feels he can sell? in it's there is a constant exercise
in expectation management. We have to be ready to go as soon as
possible. The government want to of the actual we want to keep a number
of the voices who quite clearly see the interference at brussels and who
are unhappy about it, but they are being kept it does not leave you
much time to start a campaign if it is June, or had the support of those
Eurosceptic cabinet until the re-1 of the things we have on our side is
we are building but you have to you have to that without being in the EU
Britain will be a smaller and less significant player on we are quite
clear, that to leave the EU, we will do a free-trade deal. We are your's
largest market and you do not have to be a political member of the EU
to trade with Europe, despite that goes back to my point about the
grassroots network. We are building that up, we have got street stalls,
we had 32 last weekend and we will have 150 in January have put out 2
million leaflets in the on the other side they do not have grassroots
support, are there risks to stay people will look at the recent
crisis of the euro? We are not part of the euro, but it impacted people
will think it could be a risk to I think Scotland if they and with in
the EU for trading we are stronger partners, I we are going to showing
up in Germany and as do you think people are getting more engaged
political arguments and referendums it is really only in the last few
have become engaged. Do you think people are getting
People like Tim and Cymru and other observers and commentators who are
really excited but I'd be the general public is -- Tim Montgomery.
Why do you think Theresa May was having lunch with Liam Fox? I think
they will be chatting about what is going on. They are being told to
keep the primers to's line. Do you thing she is discussing what she can
say and do? I can't speak for what Theresa May thinks about this issue.
I'm sure she will at the appropriate time. I think we are talking to the
Cabinet and we hope that Cabinet members will... Who are you talking
to? Tim Montgomery says there are five. What we do see at the moment
is that the campaign is slightly shaping up to be an establishment
coming out to back staying in the EU at all costs despite there being
very few changes, where as those at the grassroots network and people
who have seen the interference and cost of Brussels will be on the
other side. I'm quite happy if we are on the side of the people rather
than the establishment. Do you have a problem Cabinet ministers are only
allowed to talk in coded language until this negotiation is completed?
Those Cabinet who want to stay in the EU, they are allowed to but on
the other side they are being told to keep quiet until the maximum
about what is achievable. The Donald Tusk letter said David essentially
not much, but the fundamental change he Labour should get a free
vote the it is are you going to be on the phone I cannot confess to
Now, if I said I was off to a club after the show
think my Friday night had started early.
But here at Westminster that could also refer to London's
to men, and they've played a big role in shaping
Giles has been off to the smoking room to find out more.
It's worth reflecting that whilst a lot of modern
politics is done inside a 19th-century building,
Parliament, a lot of it is also done on our
So why have I come to the smoking room of the National Liberal Club
They don't, obviously, smoke in here any more.
Well, because clubs have always had, and to a certain extent still do,
There's the Great Fire of 1834, which not only devastates Parliament
but for the next 30 years, Parliament is a building site,
and you can't run the country from a building site,
so a lot of the functions that we now associate
with Parliament happen because MPs go in exile into their clubs
and they are literally running the country from London clubs.
So Parliament's been a building site.
Well, Parliament starts to commission club
architects, people like Charles Barry, who's best-known
for the Reform Club, for the Travellers Club,
and they asked for a new Parliamentary building
that's basically modelled on a London club,
because they've spent 30 years getting used to all the creature
comforts and all the conveniences of a London club.
So this is why the Parliamentary estate has smoking
And have clubs played any role politically
The nature of clubs, the nature of their being
designed with these small, conspiratorial alcoves,
and that element of plausible deniability, as a plotter's
paradise, is such that when these sorts of things have happened -
and I'm thinking for instance of party leadership
campaigns that have been plotted in clubs -
but the people involved tend to disclaim them very quickly.
The National Liberal Club clearly wears
its political colours but today, many members are interested,
However, there is a club that was, is and,
one imagines, always will be a political beast -
the dining room of Torydom on earth, you might say,
It was founded for that express purpose.
There is a very marked political element and there
is a political committee that organises a programme of speakers
and policy discussions and very usefully, as far as the Tory Party
is concerned, the political committee is responsible
for a political fund to help candidates in marginal
constituencies during general election campaigns.
It might not look it but clubs have modernised.
Women may not be on the walls but are full participating
And though the hours are more social than serious business,
the tradition of political discourse is still
They are absolutely beautiful, but are they not just relics of the
past? What is wrong with a relic? We should not Botox the London
landscape free of all wrinkles and tiny little, strange initiation
rites. Those wooden panelled rooms still smell of cigar smoke. They
will never get rid of that after all the years of smoking. They are
wonderful. But do you think there should be meant only clubs? As long
as we can have women only clubs. Have you been to any of these? And
one of the best dinners I ever had was at the Beefsteak Club. It was
the late Evelyn Waugh who was the guest and she invited me along and
we had to sit on a very long table with all the club members in a
completely democratic fashion. I was seated next to a minister and over
there was a barren something or other and there were actors, it was
fantastic. I am sure it was. Political deals were done in these
clubs, not so much today. It seems to be a place to socialise with
people who think the same sort of thing about politics, but not any
more. Do you think it is where politics is done? No, it is not, and
yet the influence peddlers peddle their wares and I wonder if maybe
David Cameron at the Carlton club overhears somebody topping, a
captain of industry may be says Goldman Sachs could come and spend
?1 million. Is that right? If you overhear something in a social
setting, why not? Now, world leaders have been
gathering in Davos in Switzerland this week, and what else
would they be discussing than whose According to a survey unveiled
at the gathering in the Alps, the answer is Germany, with the UK
coming in a respectable third. It's apparently based on a range
of factors including cultural influence, entrepreneurship
and economic influence. Well, we wanted to find out more,
and being ever fond of a cliche we sent the German journalist
John Jungclaussen off I am a German living in London and
have lived here for many years, but this week I am asking if I have made
the wrong choice. A poll has been published which says Germany is the
best country in the world. Britain only came in third.
Is Germany right to be voted the best country in the world,
No, it should be somewhere where it is sunny all
Isn't there are around 300 countries in the world?
I'll take German beer, maybe notches it up to the top ten.
Oh, yeah, they're better than German sausages.
But I've grown up with British sausages.
As a lorry driver you have travelled through a lot of countries, why is
Germany the best country in the world? Because it is very strict.
I am glad you've finished the sausage. Were you surprised that
Germany came top? At the sausage? No, Germany came top. No, actually.
Germany has been in the news for the last few years as a leading force in
the European question in the European crisis. Angela Merkel was
on time magazine. The migrant prices brought the country into the
headlines. It makes sense that people talk about Germany and read
about Germany more and talk about it more in everyday news. It is not a
surprise. Looking at the factors they included, cultural ones,
economic influence. Suddenly an economic influence and
entrepreneurship as well. Cultural factors, best in the world? Not only
cultural factors, but my Institute publishes its own prosperity index
and Germany comes 14 and Britain ranks 15th. But the reason Germany
does not do as well on our prosperity index is because you do
not have such an entrepreneurial spirit or start-ups. Start-ups are
more expensive in Germany than in Britain. We have got more doers and
shakers. The flip side to that is of course Germany relies on family run
company 's who make Germany the export champion because they produce
the goods that the Chinese want. Is it not about manufacturing? The
manufacturing prowess of Germany stands out, rather than the get up
and go? I agree although if you look at the
Volkswagen scandal about diesel emissions, Germany can also do
software. I tell you what I thought was very interesting, and I think
that this is really Angela Merkel's incredible gift to her people... I
think there is now the good German. The German people have now started
to feel really proud, even though they have all their headaches and
they are wondering, are we right in being so welcoming? But boy, oh,
boy, have they crafted a new national character and it is the
noble German, rather than the nutty German. Do you think they have been
able to deal with the past in a way that they can move on? Absolutely.
And when I compare it to what we are doing to ourselves with these road
stretches and hurt Celso drew because of a colonial empire, I
think Germany is the way to go. Every country needs an inspiring
figure at the top but it is also history. I think the Fuhrer has now
finally vanished in the mists of history. It is the next-generation.
The people who are about to get interested in politics now don't
even remember the fall of the wall, which is 25 years ago, so it really
is... Moving back. The news that Germany is now the best country in
the world - enough to draw you back home? Maybe for the summer holidays.
But you're staying put in Britain? I think I might stay here. Thank you
very much. It's time now to find out
the answer to our quiz. The question was, which particular
part of Jeremy Corbyn's life His alleged motorcycle holiday
through Eastern Europe? Please tell me that it is the ride
with Diane Abbott in Eastern Europe! Oh, I think it is! I think I've seen
the picture of the motorcycle. I love it! Does that mean you're going
to be getting tickets, Cristina? You bet. I'll invite both of you! I
would like to see the production of the manhole cover story, how that
could be staged. That will be the sequels, especially for you.
Coming up in a moment, it's our regular look at what's been
For now it's time to say goodbye to Cristina Odone.
For the next half an hour, we're going to be focusing on Europe.
We'll be discussing the migrant crisis still gripping the EU
and the fraught relationship between Brussels and the new
First, though, here's Ellie Price with our guide to the latest
In the week the World Economic Forum named Germany as the best country
in the world to live in, the Chancellor, Angela Merkel,
faced more pressure over immigration policy.
The EU lifted sanctions on Iran after the International Atomic
Energy Agency certified it had restricted its sensitive nuclear
Multilateral and national economic and financial
sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme are lifted.
The EU steel industry cannot rely on public funds
to survive, says the Competition Commissioner, while not ruling out
further anti-dumping measures aimed at China.
The French president Francois Hollande set out to ?2
billion job creation plan in an attempt to lift France out
of what he called a state of economic and social emergency.
The EU criminal database is to include non-EU
citizens in an attempt to reduce the risk of another
And in the UK, 10 million homes received a pro-Europe campaign
Leave campaigners kindly offered to return
And with us for the next 30 minutes, I've been joined
by the Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope and the UKIP MEP
Let's talk first about one of those stories mentioned there,
and that's campaigning beginning to heat up ahead of Britain's
How is looking to you now? The Prime Minister is in no hurry. Manuel
Valls says there is still a lot of work to do. I think there is a lot
of work to do but I think the Prime Minister has made a lot of progress.
I'm talking to people in Europe every day and the feedback I'm
getting is very positive. On which areas? Particularly in relation to
the question of freedom of movement. That is a tricky one and that has to
be sorted out and I think he is making progress in his discussions.
Equally well on the question of the terms, like ever closer union. I
think that is making progress in getting the right kind of terms and
the right kind of agreements. Which way will you vote? I will see what
the Prime Minister comes back with. If he can give us a positive
outcome, and I'm pretty confident, more confident than I was, I will
support him and I will support remaining in the EU. As it stands
now, you would vote out? I wouldn't vote out. I will wait to see what
the terms are but I'm very positive in my view. It is not just what
Britain can get out of this deal, it is what happens from then on. If the
other countries in Europe are going to take part in the process the
prime ministers negotiating, that's got to be good news for Europe as
well as for ourselves. If people like Timothy Kirkhope have been
persuaded by this negotiation process, you're not going to see
many Conservatives like him voting for Brexit. Sitting on the fence is
bad for your help. I remember asking you last year why David Cameron
isn't actually negotiating fundamental free movement and you
said it was silly. We are hearing lots of Conservatives saying one
thing at home and going into the European Parliament and saying a
different thing. He is not calling for free movement to be reformed or
ending the rights of people who have been attracted by this migrant
crisis to come to the UK. The ?20 billion we give to the EU every
year, nothing about stopping that. There is no change. It is just
shadow-boxing. Do we think it is owing to be in June? Sooner the
better. Sooner the better but Tim is wrong about something he says. Do
you know how it take to get a passport in Germany? Eight years.
Ten years in Italy. Five years here. You just don't know your facts. That
hasn't stopped the mass immigration... We are going to talk
about immigration in just a moment so you can hold your fire.
The EU is in the grip of a migrant crisis and it's not
This week the International Monetary Fund predicted that 1.3 million
migrants could arrive in Europe every year.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned that Europe's migration
crisis poses a direct threat to the future of the EU.
And there's evidence that Schengen, that's the EU's passport-free travel
zone, of which the UK isn't a member, is already unravelling
as member states reintroduce border controls to try to stem the flow
of people fleeing conflict zones in the Middle East and elsewhere.
In August last year Hungary built a fence along the border
with non-Schengen country Serbia, blocking a railway line used
In September, Austrian authorities imposed border controls at the main
Later that month, the German government imposed border
The next day, Slovakia placed 220 police officers along its borders
And the Netherlands temporarily reinstated border
In October, Hungary built a razor-wire fence along
And at the beginning of this year, Sweden introduced checks
on the Oresund bridge, which links the country with Denmark.
While Denmark imposed border controls with Germany.
We are joined by a Labour MEP and my other guests are still here. Showing
is dead, isn't it? It is in deep trouble and Manuel Valls was
absolutely right to say that this is an existential crisis and is a deep
crisis. The problem with what he's saying is that he is a Prime
Minister of a big country and it is only the big countries that have the
assets to do something about it. When he says it's the EU, the EU has
limited assets to do anything, institutions, that is. They are
minimal assets. It is not a big agency but a bunch of civilians
doing a job and minimal budgets. It is the big countries that can do
something. Whatever your view on the migration crisis, whether you think
Germany was a pull factor, whether you generous about the migration
crisis, in the end, to deal with this, to have a tough external
border, for example the border agency, to have relocation, whatever
your view it is the countries like France, the big countries, who will
have to do something now to create integrity on our external border and
to create an organised and compassionate response. There is no
other way out of this. Even if Germany had not done what it has
done, we would have had a global crisis. Would it have been on this
scale? Let me tell you the reason why. 85 the centre of referees in
Turkey are living outside camps. Even if Turkey was helping us now,
they would not be able to control the situation. Would quotas have
been a more efficient way of working through this migration crisis? Lets,
for argument's sake, say we would still have had large numbers of
people coming from the Middle East and parts of North Africa... Quotas
would have meant there would have been regulated system, that each
country in the EU would have taken a proportionate number of migrants and
then both of the Dublin agreement, where refugees have to seek asylum
in the country they arrive in, and Schengen would have continued to
function. The key point is the renegotiation of Dublin, of the
agreement, but retaining the basic principles we seem to have lost. I
don't know whether Claude agrees with Yvette Cooper's remarks that
Schengen should be disbanded but all I'm saying is that I don't think so.
I think the key thing is to get the nuts and bolts right. The nuts and
bolts and the principles applying to people who arrive at the external
borders of the EU. We are not part of Schengen but the external borders
are important to us. Can Greece and Italy coach with those numbers? They
will need more resources and that is part of what we would propose. They
need help but once they have had help, there should be no question
about maintaining that principle that the first safe country that
people arrive that has to be the country that processes applications,
otherwise it becomes chaotic and that is what has been going on, I'm
afraid, with a lack of resolve by some countries. Do you agree with
that principle that the Dublin convention should stay put and
should be reinforced? You should claim asylum in the first safe place
you get to. If your houses on fire, you don't go looking down the
street, you go to the first has to call the emergency services. Is that
practical when you have Greece with people arriving in numbers they
have? The German chancellor said, come come all. These countries...
Germany should pay up. Do you agree with Yvette Cooper that Schengen
should be dismantled? That her view. If you dismantle it, you need
something in its place. There is broad agreement about Dublin because
the commission is now consulting about scrapping Dublin and replacing
it with Dublin four. There is broad agreement because it is natural to
claim in the first country you arrive in. If you take that away,
you need to replace it with something pretty sensible. At the
moment, the commission are not coming up with that. And Schengen,
what Yvette Cooper is saying is that it is now de facto dying but these
freedoms are at the heart of Europe and they matter and there is no
point in her saying it is dead without saying what we replace it
with. Without Schengen, is that the beginning of the end of the EU,
which is what Manuel Valls said? No, I disagree entirely about that. That
is what Tim wants. The point about Schengen is it has always had within
it the ability to reintroduce borders when there has been pressure
or an emergency. That is what some countries are doing. The key point,
we come back to it, the nuts and bolts. We are all feeding our ideas
for the new Dublin agreement. That is coming in until March so I'm
surprised that there is so much speculation about saying what Dublin
is going to be stop it isn't decided at all and I'm convinced that that
basic principle of people being dealt with at the first safe country
will be maintained and that is the key to it all. But even if Germany
and an Le Merkle hadn't said refugees, you are all welcome, would
we be in a totally different situation? -- Angela Merkel. There
has been movement across different European states will border controls
to be reinstated but there is a borders crisis in the European
Union, there was a crisis of free movement and I'm still waiting to
hear why David Cameron will not let sheet free movement. Why is heating
with benefits? You called renegotiating free movement stupid.
It is a basic principle which assists us in normal circumstances
through our trade and our exchange of services and skills. It is vital
for the British interests that we have freedom of movement. But should
it be suspended while this migration crisis is going on? There will be
many people who say, once these migrants are within Schengen, and I
don't know how many years it takes for migrants or refugees to gain
some sort of citizenship, they are free to move anywhere else. Refugees
do not have freedom of movement. Please remember that. All these
refugees that Ukip are frightening us about, the scaremongering
nonsense are that is not the same thing. They cannot have free
movement now, the refugees, so that is not an issue. Do you think Manuel
Valls has inflamed the situation with what he's said, because
inaccuracies about the status of refugees and migrants and who can
actually move, not only within Schengen but beyond, then starts to
get into the media narrative? He is in my party and I will see, yes he
has. There is no point in stating a problem and not saying what the
solution is. On Monday we have an Amsterdam council. You should be
sending ministers there to deal with the solution. This was an example
where refugees at the moment have a certain status, they don't have
immediate free movement. What the member states with the assets and
resources need to do with the problem we currently have is get to
work and sort out what we do about the relocation and the external
border because that is not going to go away. The other issues - Dublin,
Schengen - get some settlement on this. Irrespective of what we think
about what Germany did or did not do because we have a problem right now.
The big countries need to stop saying what the accidental problem
is. And start coming up with solutions.
Relations between the EU and Poland, the sixth largest economy
in the union, have soured over controversial media
and judicial reforms introduced by the new government in Warsaw.
The Eurosceptic Law and Justice Party swept to power
And this week the Polish Prime Minister was called to Strasbourg
to explain herself to MEPs at their monthly plenary meeting.
What could possibly make you think Poland's new Prime Minister doesn't
Prime Minister, would you like the EU...
Would you like the EU to butt out, Prime Minister?
In Poland, there have been protests because the government's sacked
loads of staff from the state broadcaster and it's appointed
a load of sympathetic new judges to the constitutional courts.
The European Commission's now investigating, using new powers
to check that member states are upholding the rule of law.
Let me show you just how heated this whole
Look at the front cover of this Polish news magazine,
which shows various senior figures from the EU,
like the president of the parliament Martin Schulz and Chancellor Merkel
In the Strasbourg chamber, Beata Szydlo used history to make
TRANSLATION: Poland's history has been a troubled history.
Our fathers and grandfathers gave them blood for freedom,
for us to be part of a united Europe, but they also spilt blood
for the freedom of other European nations.
to speak our own opinions, to fight for the right
We achieved that and we are not going to have that taken away.
Her main tormentor was the leader of the liberal group,
Guy Verhofstadt, who raised the spectre of Vladimir Putin.
The inconvenient truth here is that Mr Putin doesn't
He wants to destroy European unity and what's happening
While the man from the Commission tried to sound calm.
All members of the European Union have
signed, of their own free will, and ratified by their national
parliaments, European treaties, thus entering into obligations
as far as maintaining the rule of law is concerned.
But what about law and justice's parliamentary allies,
It is quite strange that they choose this
For example, when countries broke the stability and growth pact,
When countries like Greece do not play their role in defending
the external borders of the Schengen under the agreements they signed,
they don't come in, but suddenly you have more
Eurosceptic government and they decide to use this procedure.
For supporters of the Polish government
outside, some who'd travelled by bus for 16 hours for this,
it's a question of where power lies - with the US institutions
or with the individual member states.
If the Commission rules the Polish Prime
Minister's acting undemocratically, she faces the prospect
of losing her right to vote at future summits.
Oh, and she still wouldn't answer my questions -
Prime Minister, did you have a good trip to Strasbourg?
Well done for trying, Adam. Doesn't the EU have a right to investigate
and look at what is going on in Poland? It does, it can have its say
like any democratic chamber, but there is something untoward about
dragging an elected Prime Minister to the parliament and put them on
the naughty step and say, do not do this. The European Union has had its
troubles with democracy. It has asked companies to vote again. Maybe
it should get its house in order. All EU member states have signed up
to the idea that the commission can investigate whether countries are
upholding the rule of law and the Law And Justice Party in Poland are
threatening that. Does the EU have a right to do what it is doing? The
commission has a right to investigate any allegations about
treaties. You support it? No, what I say is Poland is one of the most
lively democracies now and since it through of the Soviet Union and it
has developed its politics in a lively way. The last party in power
did not like the new party getting a majority and ever since then they
have been trying to cause problems. I do not know what the answer is,
all I know is the Polish government I do not know what the answer is,
have very good reasons for doing what they have been doing and I
think the commission should investigate, but the European
Parliament, which is taken upon itself all these clever
investigations based on a political approach, I think that is not the
right forum. The reports are that the Law And
Justice Party has replaced judges and executives and broadcasters to
restore values. Is that I worry? That is up to Poland. No one else
has a mandate to interfere. If the Polish people do not like it, they
will vote. But it stuffed the court with its own appointees. Someone is
saying they are trying to read the balance because the media and the
courts were packed with people from the previous government. There is
nothing wrong with that? I watched the debate and many of my colleagues
feel the commission has a role in this, as it did with Hungary in
addressing alleged breaches, we can do it and it is there, but it does
backfire when you have this enormous theatre. She got the last word. She
put her hand up and said, Mr President, can I have the last word
for the sake of Poland and my nation? Timmermann 's made a great
play for the treaties and the rule of law and these breaches are of
concern... Alleged breaches. Alleged breaches. She ended up looking like
the heroine, they ended up looking like the bad days. Does it make you
feel queasy? It is probably not the way to do it to happen this court of
public opinion where you target the country. When they got Alexis
Tsipras it was like a show trial. They were waiting to take a swing at
him. They all get on their high horse. Does it have the desired
effect? It has the opposite effect. She left happily and she came
willingly. She was treated with respect. The arguments were
powerful, you sign up to these things. It was not a deviation from
the law. She volunteered to come. That is the point. And then we had
then might as well. The problem with all of this is you have many laws
which could be breaching treaties, so we have to get away from the
commission examining this and the theatre where it backfires. What
happens now? The commission investigates. Meanwhile, the
parliament will be going around making allegations with certain
political groups about Poland, it is on their agenda. Poland will not be
able to change things in the meantime? No, the European Union
will complain and moan about it, but then they will find some other
bogeyman. Now it's time for the latest
in our series Meet the Neighbours. Today we're looking at one
of the newer EU members states, Here's Adam again, and he's been
sizing up the Romanian The Ceausescus, the husband and wife
dictator duo who ruled Romania Now it is the country's parliament,
the biggest in the world apparently, They rolled out the red
carpet for me after Romanian MPs gave us
permission to film. The first thing you notice
is it is like a museum They got this idea of having these
beautiful lamps and once they were visiting France in the 70s
and they visited Versailles and Madam Ceausescu was impressed
and she thought it would be great And how about his and hers
matching staircases? The steps were smaller than usual
because the Ceausescus were unusually short and liked
to make a big entrance. Those curtains weigh
a tonne you know. In this place you can
walk for miles. All that marble makes
this the heaviest Parliament is not sitting
today so the corridors are pretty quiet, but Romania
went through a political A fire in a Bucharest nightclub
which claimed 16 lives led to the resignation
of the Prime Minister Talking of epic, check
out the ballroom. There is room for a symphony
orchestra and you can get a sports As a Romanian person how do
you feel about this building The first thing, we didn't need such
a building in those days. It was built with a great
effort, so that is what I need to appreciate myself,
the effort of the people who have worked with this building,
as there were more than a million people involved in
this grand project. I should say the urban myth is that
Ceausescu wanted this skylight to open so his helicopter
could land in here. If he couldn't escape that way,
there was always the spooky Is it true that down
here there is a nuclear bunker? Yes, it is true, not
only one but two of Sadly Top Gear beat us to it,
they staged a race down And here is our final stop,
the grand balcony with a specially lowered parapet so that Ceausescu
looked nice and tall when he addressed
the Romanian people Of course he never did that
because his regime collapsed before this massive
building could be finished. That was Adam. That building is
enormous. Do we underestimate how bad the histories of some of these
newer members of the EU have been? How difficult it has been for them
to come into a club where there are countries like Britain, France and
Germany. But the interesting thing is to see them recreating their
history. I have noticed that. People talk about the EU becoming a single
block, but as long as you have got countries like Romania, Poland and
Czechoslovakia coming in, throwing of Russian history and creating a
real history of their own, a pride in their country, that is a good
safeguard. Is it realistic to have countries that are so wide apart
where the disparity seems to be so huge, not just in economic terms,
but in cultural terms? I cannot imagine the horrors of living under
communism will stop anything we have got now is better than what they
went through. If the people want in these countries to join the euro,
that is for them, it is for the people to decide. Variety is a good
and positive thing about the EU. That is all we have got time for.
From all of us here, goodbye. Celebrate a country
4,000 years in the making. Let your New Year start with a bang
and visit an explosive new China.
Jo Coburn with the latest political news, interviews and debate.
Journalist and broadcaster Cristina Odone joins Jo for the first half of the programme to look at David Cameron's diplomatic push to secure a deal in Europe and the government's plans to crack down on lawyers filing claims against British troops.
German journalist John Jungclaussen discusses why a new survey puts Germany as the best country in the world and Giles Dilnot looks at the political history of gentlemen's clubs.
In the second half of the programme, Jo discusses the latest news from Brussels with Ukip's Tim Aker and Timothy Kirkhope from the Conservatives.