13/12/2016 Daily Politics


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 13/12/2016. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Hello and welcome to the Daily Politics.


There are warnings of atrocities, as Aleppo -


where 50,000 people are thought to be trapped - falls


Has Britain and the west turned its back the people of Syria?


Train drivers on Britain's biggest rail franchise go on strike,


preventing hundreds of thousands of people getting to work.


But who is to blame - the rail company,


The Chancellor suggests that transitional arrangements


may need to be in place after we leave the EU.


So in the short term, could life after Brexit be pretty


You either love them or hate them but should the Boxing Day sales be


banned so shop workers can spend more time with their families?


All that in the next hour and I have Labour royalty with me today -


Dame Margaret Beckett, no less - former interim leader,


former deputy leader, former Foreign Secretary,


She's had more jobs in the Labour Party than there are trains running


Let's start though with the grim news from Aleppo, where Assad's


forces are on the verge of taking the city after more than four


Thousands of people are thought to be trapped in the remaining


rebel-held parts of the city amidst warnings of atrocities.


MPs have secured an emergency debate on the issue this afternoon


with calls for the UK to use its diplomatic


muscle to secure safe passage for civilians.


But has the UK still got any diplomatic muscle when it comes to


stopping the carnage in Syria? Very difficult question to answer, but


there isn't any doubt that we should be doing, and I hope the Government


is doing, everything we can, whether it is reassessing... I mean a


feature of the debate will be that it's not all that long ago that our


previous Foreign Secretary said that things like airdrops should only be


considered as a last resort, but as a number of NGOs said recently, if


this isn't the last resort and there's been no delivery of food


since November, then what is a last resort? So you would back your


labour colleague who backed airdrops? I understand why the


Government is saying how difficult it would be, but if ever there is a


time to stretch, to encourage, to fight for a political solution, and


to look at the age situation, it must be now. People say there is no


chance of a political solution, even if Aleppo hasn't already fallen into


government forces it will happen shortly, government forces and those


who support them say it will mark a turning point in this dreadful war


which will allow Bashar al-Assad to take back control of the country. If


that's the case, do you think it should happen sooner rather than


later? Well, I suppose there is an argument for that because certainly


the degree of suffering is intense. I think anybody would hesitate to


say it would be a good thing for Bashar al-Assad to be more in


control because of what is happening as people are leaving Aleppo. So


many men are disappearing and nobody knows where they are going but


nobody thinks they are going to a nice holiday camp somewhere. So it


is a terrible thing to have to consider that Bashar al-Assad might


take control and the consequences no doubt will be dire but equally


prolonging the present situation doesn't seem to be helping anybody.


You are reflecting perhaps on some of the fury from Labour MPs on your


side of the party, on the front page of the Communist newspaper, the


Morning Star. Particularly the headline on the left, final


liberation of Aleppo is in sight. Welcoming dictators liberating


Aleppo, absolute disgrace. This from Angela Smith, how can anyone claim


what is happening in Aleppo is liberation? Ian Austin, after months


of bombardment people in Aleppo face bombardment. Do you agree with them?


Yes, it's like a sick joke. Another Labour MP goes further, he says


Seamus Mill is behind the headline, he says these are your people,


Seamus, did you ask for the sickening front-page calling Russian


slaughter liberation. Do you agree with John Woodcock? I have no idea


who Seamus Milne's good friends are. I'm afraid I think it would be wise


for Jeremy to distance himself from that kind of headline because it is


almost like a sick joke. It is something you couldn't make up in a


satire magazine. Yes, because as you said, people who are trapped in the


city, there are already eyewitness accounts of atrocities as government


forces going to Aleppo and no doubt that will continue. No doubt likely


to be more. Now, up to 500,000 rail passengers


in the south of England are facing travel chaos as a strike by train


drivers paralyses Almost all trains have been


cancelled after members of the Aslef union walked out for 48


hours at midnight. Another 24-hour strike


is planned for Friday. Passengers have suffered


months of disruption, with the unions and the train


company that operates Southern services failing to reach a deal


on how services will be staffed. But while up until now it has been


conductors who have walked out, Drivers are striking as part


of the same long-running dispute over who operates the train doors


on Southern services. Southern's parent company wants


to bring in driver-only-operated trains where the driver,


rather than the conductor, opens and closes the doors


when a train pulls into a station. Unions say the on-board conductor


has a much better view of the doors But Southern says CCTV installed


in the cab means the driver can see the length of the train,


and this is already standard Govia Thameslink, which runs


the Southern franchise, A fifth of all passenger journeys


are made on GTR trains. Passengers on GTR's Great Northern


and Thameslink trains have also experienced disruption in recent


months with the company blaming cancellations on a sharp increase


in train crew sickness and a refusal Govia Thameslink are paid a fee


for running the super-franchise, with the Department


for Transport keeping fares. This is a different arrangement


to the way the rest of the rail network is run and means the cost


of all the strikes and disruption is picked up by the Government


and taxpayers, not the train firm. This morning, Transport Secretary


Chris Grayling said he had no power to stop the strike but would examine


possible changes in legislation "very carefully", adding


he was "ruling nothing in or out." And we can talk now to our news


correspondent, Leanne Brown, What's happening? Usually this


station would be ram-packed full of passengers, around 300,000 commuters


use Southern Rail services every day, but not today. As you can see,


there are rows of taxis here that would usually be being used, but


pretty quiet here this morning. I've been into the station this morning,


there are people milling around using the shopping centre but the


departure boards are blank. There is one service that it is running, the


Gatwick Express. There's quite a few people I have seen with luggage,


they seem to be using that OK, however it is a limited service and


one of the people we spoke to this morning got all the way to the


airport, missed his flight and had to come back. It seems most people


have planned ahead and they were aware of the strikes so they have


gone to social media to vent their anger instead. Many people saying


they have had to take the day off or try to work from home. One chap said


he had faced an 11 hour commute overnight to try to get to work. And


of course this isn't just affecting those commuters, it's also affecting


the larger economy as well. It is expected it will get even quieter as


the day goes on. At rush hour there certainly won't be a rush on here.


Now, a really quiet. Thank you. I'm joined now by the Conservative


MP Nick Herbert, whose constituency is served by Southern trains,


and Mick Whelan, General Secretary Mick Whelan, cancer treatment


appointments missed, jobs at risk, jobs lost, children unable to travel


to school, do you consider these acceptable consequences of the


union's industrial action? Now I have a great deal of empathy and


sympathy with the people impacted. We don't want to be here. This isn't


about money, it is purely about safety. What do you say to Mick


Whelan, he doesn't want to be here. This is not about money and it is


not their fault. Of course that is their fault because they are


striking but it cannot be about safety because a third of the trains


operated on the national network of these driver operated doors and the


irony today is that there will be drivers driving Thameslink trains,


which are run by the same company that have driver only operated doors


on the same day we have striking drivers saying the trains are not


safe. That cannot be right, if the trains were not safe they wouldn't


be allowed to be run and they have been for 13 years. Aslef told Chris


Grayling the trains could be hit with a decade of industrial action.


He says you are hell-bent on fermenting this dispute. Why should


Southern passengers have any faith that you want an end to the strike?


We have had this policy is the best part of 15 years. Of not extending


DOO. The technology that was introduced in the early 1990s was on


far shorter trains and without the footfall we have now. If you haven't


answered the question. We don't normally rush the barricades, we do


not have an industrial history... But you are prepared to have a


decade of industrial dispute about this. That is slightly out of


context. When we met, I expressed my concern with driver only operated


trains. Chris Grayling was intelligent about our concerns and I


made a comment saying it may lead, with the digital railway elsewhere,


to long-term problems. So you are digging your heels in and it could


lead to years of industrial dispute. This particular issue was fermented


by the DFT, it was a matter of public records. Peter Wilkinson who


works at the DFT said he would cause the strikes, and they have done. You


are literally setting your face against technological improvements


and progress and that is why you will continue to block and go on


strike. If you look at our record and a good well, we have helped


introduce the technological process, everything from ATO... But you are


not doing it over driver only operated trains. And has been our


policy for over a decade, and we would seek to have a safer, better


the operated railway. But it has been in use since the 1980s. The


rail safety standards board, and I have their inspection here, says it


is safe so this isn't about safety, is it? The rail safety standards


board is not an independent body. They say they have independent


inspectors. The members of the board are the managing directors of the


companies. Are they independent or not? They were set up after the


Clapham rail disaster but you don't have to take their word for it, the


independent rail network director of safety has said these trains are


safe and specifically the trains being introduced on Southern are


safe. The fact is this strike clearly has a political agenda, it


is absolutely nothing to do with pay. No pay cuts, no job losses.


There will still be guards on almost all of the trains that currently


have guards on at the moment, it is just that they are not operating the


doors so the long-suffering passengers will look at this with


dismay and asks why the whole service has been brought to a halt


today and seriously disrupted by the RMT before Aslef joined this strike


action for a period of months. It has gone on for an extended period


of time causing misery, the point is who is to blame and how can it be


sorted? You have accused him of being ideological in carrying out


the strikes but isn't it true to say that when we look into the future


the railways are expensive to run and the obvious way is to reduce


overheads with more technology coming in. Ultimately, even if you


are not cutting staff by saying driver only operated trains, you are


downgrading the role of the second person on the train with a view


presumably to phase it out. Well, the people who are going to be


on the trains are going to be able to look after passengers. They will


be safety trained. Right, will they be paid less? No. Will the jobs be


less skilled? The pay is being maintained. That's why this is so


ridiculous and frankly it is the passengers who are being put last


here. They have been losing their jobs. They have, we have suffered a


loss of contracts in my constituency. This has gone on for


months because of the industrial action that's been taking place


between the strike days and it cannot go on. Right, just to be


clear, if new people are recruited to those jobs, the second person on


the train, will they be paid less? No, my understanding is they won't


be paid less. Right. But in any case, Mick represents the drivers.


And these drivers are already driving these trains elsewhere in


the network and that's why it is so ridiculous that they're going on


strike today about the introduction of trains that these drivers already


drive. Right, well let's go back to the question of whether it is


ideological which is what Nick Herbert and the Government believe.


There are reports of unionised workers repeatedly calling in sick


or refusing to work overtime. Is unofficial sympathy action being


taken? Not to my knowledge. Not to my knowledge doesn't mean it isn't


happening, you would accept that? I can only attest to what I know. Is


ASLEF encouraging this? No. There is widespread reporting of this going


on across various lines and suburban lines in and out of London. Trains


aren't running because the staff aren't there. People are working to


rule and not doing the overtime, there are fewer trains at the


weekend. Downed stand why people would be angry? I understand why


everybody is angry. Is it happening? Not to my knowledge. ASLEF have got


an official overtime ban as well as the strike days. Right, have ASLEF


got an official over time ban? We have an overtime ban on Southern,


but at the same time what it has highlighted, because I'm getting


intrigued by the figures, 500 to 600 services it is claimed are being


cancelled because of the overtime ban. Is that happening to your


knowledge? That tells us not enough drivers are employed within the


company itself. Do you deny reports that unionised workers on other


lines are falsely reporting that trains are broken down and can't


run? Yes. You do. These are denials. Claims are being made, why do you


believe them? Well, we have heard these claims. The reason I believe


it because I have watch this service be disrupted over a period of months


and although there are issues with Network Rail and the track which


needs to be improved with investment and there are issues with the


operator, yes, as well, they were as nothing compared to this serious


disruption that was caused the moment this union action started in


April and it has not been on the strike days, it has been on the non


strike days where the staff have been working to rule and they have


been trying every means they can, legal, and bending the law, not


turning up because of the high rates of sickness to disrupt the operation


of these trains and it is the poor passengers who have been suffering.


Right. Do you accept that this is, goes beyond rail strikes? This is


about trying to protect and defend public services which is pretty well


what Mark said earlier? I wish Mark well, he just had his heart


transplant. It is openly we are not fans of the pritised railway. That


doesn't drive our ideology on safety. Safety and politics are two


different things. You accepted that you are going beyond, it is not just


the issue of safety in your mind, this is a broader campaign to


protect public services? No, this isn't a broader campaign. We


campaign continually to protect public services. I have been on


platforms with Margaret campaigning to protect public services. This


strike action is solely in relation to the fact about the imposed


extension of driver-only operated trains on Southern. Whose side are


you on Margaret Beckett? Oh, I'm a mere passengerment We all in that


sense. I have sympathy with what ASLEF are saying and I can take the


point entirely what works on shorter trains in certain circumstances


doesn't necessarily work, I mean... Do you dismiss the safety record as


well from the rail standards board? I think the thing that clouds all of


this, this is a company that has a track record of inadequateness. It


didn't hire enough staff and run the line inefficiently for a long time


and I take the point entirely that people suspect that there are people


reporting in sick when they are not really and so on, overtime, but


should you really be running any train operating company with so


small a margin that if people don't want to do overtime the thing can't


run? The company must take some responsibility for that? I have been


critical of the company for failing to recruit enough drivers in the


first place. You can hardly believe the union? We can. This situation


has been made seriously worse as a result of the union action that


started in April. It has a political agenda, the unions knew that it


would be the company that would be blamed, if they took this action,


and their goal is to have the franchise removed and to have the


railways renationalised. It is a political strike and it is the poor


passengers who are suffering as a result. Do you accept the Government


is using Southern as a test case to set a precedent and therefore, break


the grip of the unions? How can this be a test case when this policy of


modernising trains has been going on for 30 years? By the way under


Labour Governments Margaret as well. These are trains which have been


running safely day in and day out. There hasn't been any evidence of


accidents that's been caused by them. The regulator says that they


are safe. It is just an excuse. It is the excuse wants to run to run a


campaign. It is rather debunked by a publishation of letter from boj and


Chris Grayling. The letter says that Chris Grayling says, "I want to keep


it out of the hands of any Labour mayor." It is political on his side.


This service has been diabolical for months now and yes, there are issues


with Network Rail, yes there have been issues with Southern, but it is


the unions that's the principle cause of the trouble now. Nick


Herbert... Two quick points. We have been meeting with all the major


stakeholders in the industry because the technology that all these trains


rely on, we're told we can't rely on: RSSB, there was a document they


produced on their website that said that a driver on shorter trains


would only see a safety incident on 90% of the occasions. There is merit


in what we say. This is a perfectly legal strike. Chris Gray lg the


transport secretary said he will take action to stop this kind of


strike carrying on, not ruling anything in or ruling anything out.


Is he going to make this strike illegal in the future? I would


support looking at what can be done to protect essential services from


this kind of political disruption that goes on. Including banning the


strikes on these essential services? We may have to look at no strike


agreements or binding arbitration, something that protects the


passengers. They are the ones whose interests we should be putting


first. It sticks in the throats of my constituents who are fed-up with


this. Gentlemen, thank you very much.


Now, negotiations on Britain's exit from the EU are due to begin


Two years after that, we should be out.


But will be need to have transitional arrangements


to smooth our exit, or should it be our clean break.


Well, in the Treasury Select Committee yesterday,


Chancellor Philip Hammond seemed to suggest transitional arrangements


I'd just like to move on to the question of transitional


Do you think they're going to be necessary?


There is, I think, an emerging view among businesses, among regulators,


and among thoughtful politicians, as well as, I think,


probably quite a universal view among civil servants on both sides


of the English Channel, that having a longer period


to manage the adjustment between where we are now as full


members of the European Union and where we get to in the future


as a result of the negotiations that we will be conducting


would be generally helpful, would tend towards a smoother


transition, and would run less risks of disruption,


Risks to financial stability, which must be a very real concern.


That's another way of putting it, yes.


We're joined now by the Conservative MP, John Redwood.


Philip Hammond says thoughtful politicians, whoever they maybe, and


many other people now back a transition period which, he says,


would be generally helpful to have more than two years to negotiate


exact pli what Brexit will look like. Do you agree with him? I


thought a lot about this. No, I don't. We could be more optimistic.


What business tells me they are getting used to the idea. It wasn't


the vote they wanted and they want the uncertainty removed as quickly


as possible. So that argues for putting all our effort into making


sure we get a good deal and then everybody knows where they stand. I


think if we generously offer zero for zero on tariffs, say them to


them, we don't want to charge your goods service, but we have have to


if you charge our goods tariffs. They would be a massive loser and


therefore, we would end up with a good outcome. There is a mismatch


between the way you are viewing the process in terms of similar plicity


and shortness time. Even Theresa May said last month she didn't want a


cliff-edge if we came out after two years without a deal. The CBI said


that and we have had the report from the House of Lords, have they got it


wrong saying it would be impossible to do what you outlined and a free


trade with the EU would take five years? I think we can be more


ambitious and I think my model will work. There are a large number of


so-called professionals who want to slow this down and who want Britain


to negotiate with herself and what is damaging to the British position


is having lots of British voices saying this is a problem, that is a


difficulty. We now need to be a united team being optimistic and


friendly to our former partners in the EU, saying we love you, we want


to trade you, we're going to have lots of students and talented people


moving both ways across the channel, all those things will carry on and


we will offer them zero tariff trade because they would have to pay twice


as much tariff on their goods into Britain as we would pay on our goods


into the Continent. Are you one of these people who want to slow it


down? You may not be earning lots of professional fees, but would you


support a slower transitional process? That might be a solution to


what are real problems. One of the most damaging things that's


happening at the moment is that people, not perhaps John, but people


like John who campaigned for us to leave the European Union are now all


going about pretending that this will be easy, straightforward and


speedy, which it won't. One of the things that nobody ever says is that


nobody thought through how the Article 50 process would work


because nobody ever expected anyone to trigger it. It isn't just on the


British side there isn't any proper preparation, there isn't any proper


preparation. The notion it will be easy and straightforward and it will


be over and done with in 18 months is nonsense. I have had a lot of


involvement in a series of international negotiations, and it


ain't like that. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't accept John's


point entirely. If we can get certainty, where we can get


certainty, let's get it as fast as possible, but let's not kid


ourselves or pretend. What do you say to John Redwood's suggestion if


we just leave and we just offer zero tariffs, people will reciprocate and


there we will have our free trade deal? Unlikely is all I can say. On


the basis of? On the basis of negotiating in the European Union


inside and outside it. Maybe this isn't the word you would use naive


about the ease which we would get a free trade deal. Experts said it


would be more tricky... I have written lots of books and some of


the so-called experts have been mugging it up for months and they


haven't read the treaties. Peter Lilley said some transition


agreement would be absolutely normal. Is he wrong too? Well, Peter


Lilley this morning said that if you waste a lot of time negotiating your


transitional agreement it isn't necessarily easier than negotiating


the final agreement and he said let's spend our time negotiating the


final agreement. Let's make it easy for them and for us. This is not


their main preoccupation. They have huge issues they need to resolicitor


and we wish them well with that. We don't need to negotiate most things.


We send them a letter and we put through our domestic legislation


because we want to take back control of our borders and our money and our


laws and those are not negotiable with Mrs Merkel. The thing that is


negotiable with her, two things, one assets and liabilities, residual


from the European Union which fortunately don't amount to a huge


amount of money and secondly, the issue of how you trade in the future


and there are two models which are off-the-shelf. We can either do the


generous deal that I'm suggesting, carry on as we are. Which looks


unlikely at the moment? I disagree because no member state


government has said they want to impose tariffs. It doesn't sound


like Philip Hammond will follow your advice. We will wait and see. It


will be the end of March, we trust. It is important that nobody on the


continent is wanting tariffs, but the other option if they do want to


damage their trade is to go over to WTO, trade successfully with the EU


on those terms. Many hate the idea of falling off the cliff and onto


the WTO. They want free trade deals and you cannot do free trade deals


with the rest of the world of you are staying in the single market.


Can you address this point, Margaret Beckett. If we did move to World


Trade Organisation terms and tariffs, it is them not us that


would be out of pocket. But it may not be that simple. I know everybody


has been saying all the way through this... Part of what everyone should


understand is that every time you turn a corner somebody comes up with


something unforeseen which is a complication. Yesterday I was


talking to somebody who says, actually, WTO is a membership


organisation, it may not be as simple as us grandly saying we will


operate by their rules. The WTO may have something to say about that.


They probably will although I'm not sure they have rejected many


countries in their past. They welcome us as a voting member


because we will be a voice for free trade which is what they are all


about. That relationship is very good. If you just do things, quite


often you find out a lot of the fears are not grounded. But you


don't now and the WTO could react badly if they felt we were


reneging... There were far more potential problems in creating two


more countries than in leaving the EU. Liam Fox published a written


statement last week saying after we leave the EU we will try to


replicate our current obligations with countries outside the EU, does


that alarm you? Not at all. I thought it was about exciting new


deals. The purpose of the legislation we need to put through


the House of Commons is to transfer the current legislation into good


British law. Then at our leisure we can decide which of


those we want to change, for example I'm sure we want to change the


fishing rules because fishing doesn't work, whereas we all agree


we want to keep the employment protections so we will. It will be


our choice, our legislation. Right, we look forward to the months ahead.


Thank you. Now to the second part of our series


looking at the issues faced by key Government departments


in the run-up to Brexit. For today's Brexit Tracker,


we've turned our attention to the Department for Environment,


Food and Rural Affairs, The current Environment Secretary,


Andrea Leadsom, campaigned for Britain to leave the EU,


but now faces questions about how leaving will impact farming


subsidies and air quality. Behind the doors of Defra,


the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,


one issue post-Brexit dominates - what to do about the common


agricultural policy. Equivalent funding has been


guaranteed until 2020, but politicians and their civil


servants need to decide what should They will be working


with the Home Office to decide how to best employ seasonal agricultural


from overseas, with ministers saying they are looking carefully at how


to ensure Britain's farms continue to get the necessary supply of


labour when crops need harvesting. As the UK looks to form new trade


deals across the world, others are eyeing up our market


for their agricultural produce. New Zealand, for example,


has said it wants a deal but wants access for its lamb and dairy


produce, currently protected Will Defra look to protect British


farmers from increased competition? Or work to ensure they can sell


their own produce in new markets? One area of reform could


be pesticide control. Farming Minister George Eustice has


said the EU's precautionary principle needs to be reformed


to allow faster authorisation. One potential clash could come over


bee-harming neonicotinoids. The UK opposed EU


restrictions three years ago. Another change under consideration


are new rules to regulate Only one GM product has


been licensed since 1998 A whole series of EU laws govern


the welfare of farm animals, including production,


transportation and slaughter. Brexit will give an opportunity


to go further on aspects of welfare blocked by the EU,


such as ending live exports. Will the UK go its own way


on air quality limits Therese Coffey said the UK


was seeking better air quality post-Brexit,


so will the Government use this These are just some of the issues


Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom and their team have on their plates


as the Government moves ever closer to triggering Article 50 and firing


the starting gun on our exit She was on the Remain


side of the argument, and joining us is another former


Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, who was


a Leave campaigner. The Government has pledged to


maintain farm subsidies until 2020, should it continue beyond that? Yes,


I was clear through the referendum campaign that the 2.9 billion we


spend could be targeted at our own industry and our own environment to


deliver much more effect. I also said where appropriate we will have


the freedom to go further so I see huge opportunities in designing a


farming and environmental policy tailored to our own environment. So


you would like to see those industries subsidies even further?


They currently make up 60% of farm income and you would like to


subsidise it more. I see that money as a reward for farmers for the


public good they provide in environmental benefits upon which


sits a 30 billion tourist industry, but once it's all sorts of public


benefits. Margaret Beckett, do you agree with that assessment by Owen


Paterson that the subsidies for the public good that farming doors, even


if the industries themselves are not profitable. I certainly agree you


need public support for the benefit farming brings. I'm not sure we


should agree -- we would agree about where the money should go but I


accept there is a need for public support. If I was Defra I would be


worried about this pledged to keep funding going until 2020. From a


government that cut taxes all over the place. But why should people


working in other sectors and other industries paid taxes to subsidise


farms which don't make money? We have got to get our food from


somewhere. Sure, we could get it from abroad. And successive


governments have accepted that but the more we can grow ourselves the


better. There is also a question about our landscape, environment,


protection of the environment and so on which is tied in with that work.


Some of the reasons you get flooding is because of the way farming


impacts the land. Is Margaret Beckett right to be sceptical that


the Government will keep to its commitment of those subsidies until


2020. No, I was clear, I spoke to... But what about the current


government? And we are the rural party, and it is in our interest to


have a prosperous, thriving country. I think her government was a


mistake, believing there was limitless, cheap, safe food beyond


our shores. There is lots of cheap food but there's also a role for us


to have a thriving industry. The EU has an insane hostility to


technology, it is becoming the Museum of world farming. Last week I


was in a company in Germany that has stopped GM development. We will come


onto that in a moment. Won't cheap imports like lamb from New Zealand


perhaps, harm our agricultural sector? In the end it will undercut,


do farmers want that sort of free trade deal? There will be sectors


that will not be competitive but there can be government help because


there are issues you touched on, animal welfare, environmental


benefits in the hills, so I don't see the two as contradictory. George


Eustice also said we could lift EU restrictions on GM technology. Would


you support that? I wouldn't give anyone a blank cheque book for a


long time I have been impatient with the attitude to GM technology. It is


a way of doing faster in a laboratory and more efficiently what


agriculture has always done and I'm afraid within the European Union as


a whole, there is a certain kind of thing caught up with a mixture of


religious and superstitious approach to GM. I recall hearing people say


it is not natural. Agriculture is about interference with nature,


otherwise we would all be starving. Do you agree? Totally. The latest GM


is shifting genes around within a single species, accelerating


photosynthesis, which could get increased wheat yields of up to 30%.


That would be fantastic. We have seen the green revolution of growing


more food on less land, and there's still a billion people hungry on the


planet. What was shocking about my trip to Germany is they are not


developing products because it is pure witchcraft and superstition


that stops it. Very important, the bugs will carry on, there are fun


either attack wheat and we have to be ahead of them. -- there are


funguses. Now, just when you thought you'd had


enough of leadership elections, This one is in the union Unite,


the biggest and most powerful The current General Secretary,


Len McCluskey, is standing again, and this morning, Gerard Coyne,


the union's regional secretary in the West Midlands,


threw his hat into the ring. I'm really pleased to be


here and to have a number of stewards and reps who I've worked


with over the years I'm proud of the record that I've


had as the West Midlands regional secretary for the past 15 years


working alongside many of you here. But I think the time is right


for some change and I think the time It's not about the leadership that


we've had thus far although I do think that Unite has become too much


of a political commentator and not actually focussing on the direct


concerns of our membership. And our political editor


Laura Kuenssberg joins me now. What do you think of his chances of


defeating Len McCluskey? There is no question Len McCluskey is in a


strong position, he's been a huge figure in the Labour movement for


some time now and extremely loyal to Jeremy Corbyn. The scaffolding that


has propped him up at some of the toughest moments. People involved in


Jeremy Corbyn's campaign that if they can get turnout up, they have a


chance of taking him on. Turnout has been measly, in fact Len McCluskey


was elected on 20% of the 1.4 million, but they loyally turnout in


that political cork in terms of that union. So the challenge is about


turnout but we will see, it's also going to be a long fought election


and it will run officially between March and April, but here we are in


December with the contest already having begun. Len McCluskey is an


ally of Jeremy Corbyn and as a result Jeremy Corbyn has accused him


of dabbling in politics all the time, partly apparently because Len


McCluskey has been outflanked on his own left even within Unite. Could


this be a proxy for a bigger battle within the Labour Party? I think so,


and somebody said to me last night this isn't even a proxy, it is a


battle. It is important not to underestimate how important the


biggest union is, particularly in this environment when so MPs are


hostile towards the leader. In any time of trouble, Len McCluskey has


been there for Jeremy Corbyn. I remember the date Jeremy Corbyn won


the Labour leadership for the first time, round the corner in a packed


up in Westminster the first person on the stage to give him a bear hug


was Len McCluskey. It is clear from that image, but what we have seen


from the last 18 months is that Len McCluskey's sport has been vital.


Not just because of money for the Labour Party, but crucially because


the unions also have places on the National executive committee, that


is the decision-making body for the Labour Party. To many of our viewers


and members of the public, this might sound obscure but to people


inside the Labour Party on both sides, this battle could hardly be


more important. Right, the loss of Len McCluskey


would be big for Jeremy Corbyn, wrestling control from some of his


supporters on Labour's NEC could have quite an impact? T-would


certainly make him much more vulnerable and Jeremy Corbyn's


allies, some of whom I was talking to last night about this, they see


this launch of a leadership from Jeremy Corbyn as a political attack


on them. They believe that attacks from the PLP have failed. They think


this is another way, people inside the Labour Party, who have never


reconciled themselves to his leadership of trying to have a go at


Jeremy Corbyn. Now, of course, Mr Coyne says himself, he said he feels


we have had no choice, but to stand, he wants to make Unite concentrate


on the interests of its member, cabin crew, defence workers, people


who work in the auto industry, people he believes that are being


let down by Len McCluskey playing Westminster snakes and ladders. You


know, there is no question, this is the dynamic here and if there were a


change at the top of Unite that would be a very big deal, indeed. Do


you agree it could change the balance of power within Labour? I


don't think it should be about the Labour Party. I disagree with


whoever said it is about Labour and all about Jeremy. I have been a


member of Unite for more than 50 years. I have known and been a


friend of Len and Gerrard for years. I am a friend of both of them. I


won't criticise either of them. If you look at the internal dynamic and


the battle that has been played out, the loss of Len McCluskey would be a


serious blow to Jeremy Corbyn? It undoubtedly would have major


implications for the Labour Party. Nobody is doubting that. Didn't the


unions play a vital role during the 1980s when the Labour Party was


having the similar sort of battles with militant tendency at the time


and it was the moderate unions that were credited with bringing the


Labour Party back to the centre? The unions have always played a vital


role, but it has always been the case where the unions are so


important, is in helping to keep the Labour Party's feet on the ground


and help to keep us in touch with the Concerns of their members and


the wider workforce across the country rather than any involvement


which I welcome, but the involvement that they have in the party, to my


mind has been second to that. Right, but the Labour Party has gone


through a lot of turmoil recently in the last year or so, you gave a


number of interviews over the summer, some of them quite emotional


when there was pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to stand down as Labour


leader, how do you feel now about your party's fortunes after his


re-election? Well, I think, there has been a general sort of settling


down. I think everybody is very conscious of the problems that the


party has and the problems that the country has and how vital it is that


we get ourselves into fighting condition to take on a Government


which is doing so mump damage and so much Is Jeremy Corbyn harm. Learning


the lessons from the report that you wrote on what Labour could learn


from losing the 2015 election? Is he taking those on board? I think the


one thing that was in that report and that is still very important,


because we haven't cracked it yet. I don't mean that Jeremy doesn't want


to crack it yet, but we haven't got a simple clear message expressed in


few words, I would hope, that tells people what the Labour Party stands


for and what having Labour in Government would mean. It was our


biggest weakness last time. It is a weakness we still have. I don't


blame that on Jeremy. None of us have sorted. But he is the leader?


Yes, I know. It is not just down to him. It is down to him to get that


answer, yes. You I don't expect him on his own to think it Does that


feed up. Into the latest polling figures 17 points behind the


Conservatives and coming fourth in Sleaford? We didn't win in 2015


because we didn't convince people that we could handle the economy.


Now, since then, more recently, it has become more and more clear that


George Osborne's long-term economic plan was, you know, the biggest


piece of fiction around and that the Conservatives have failed to deliver


on all the economic promises that they made. So in that sense, the


ground is a bit more favourable, but we haven't yet got our act together


sufficiently to get that message across to people. Awe agree with


Diane Abbott, the gap can be closed in a year? I hope so. Will it


happen, do you think? I have been around a long time. Sometimes these


things arlittle, take a little longerment the main thing is that we


do it. If it takes more than a year, it takes more than a year.


Now, is this how you enjoy your Boxing Day?


The Boxing Day sales have become a feature of Britain's yuletide


traditions with big discounts on offer for those prepared


to queue up before dawn, but could the bargain hunters


pleasure be to the detriment of shop workers whose Christmas break


Well, an online petition calling for shops to be banned from opening


on Boxing Day has attracted more than 100,000 signatures and so was


Any proposals would only affect England and Wales.


I have moved from indifference to anger and I have done


so because all the evidence shows that poorly paid retail workers


are being exploited to fuel a national obsession,


a debt-fuelled shopping binge that in the end does


One of the difficulties with her argument though,


however supportive I might be of it, is that actually if people can't go


physically to a high street shop or an out of town shop to shop,


they will do it online on Christmas Day, on Boxing Day,


and ultimately that will take business away from the very


shopworkers whose livelihoods we're seeking to protect.


We are joined by the Shadow Business Minister Bill Esterson,


and by the consumer journalist Harry Wallop.


Welcome to both of you. What is your policy, Bill? Jo, well, on Christmas


Eve people are working later and later into the evening. People are


starting earlier and earlier on Boxing Day as well. We heard about


one person who has to be at work for 3am on Boxing Day for 5am opening


yesterday in the debate. They don't get any kind of Christmas. They have


got family commitments. Some people with children. They're putting the


stockings together when they get home late on Christmas Eve and doing


the food on Christmas Day, no Christmas and we don't think that's


good enough and there should either be an enforcement with the situation


where only those who want to work, have to work in large stores or if


that doesn't work, large stores shouldn't be allowed to happen just


as happens on Christmas Day. What's wrong with that? There are all sorts


of people who work on Boxing Day and on Christmas Day. Journalists,


railway engineers, indeed, the leisure industry which is taking


greater proportion of our disposal income than retail, so all the pubs


are open on Christmas Day... Boxing Day? Indeed, many are open on


Christmas Day. Especially when the high street is under pressure from


online. This is an important day for them. Look at the crowds of people


cueing up. Why should retail have an exception? Lots of people work on


Christmas Day and Boxing Day in the emergency services, in the NHS,s


care sector and hospitality as we just heard, but retail workers are


working hard all the way through December and they are contributing


massively to people enjoying their Christmas. It is one sector where we


can make a difference that's why it is different. Why shouldn't they


spend time with their families? It is a time of year when people would


like to be at home. At least for one day and just delay the sales, the


big rush to the 27th? Some shops don't open on Boxing Day, the market


controls this. So... It is a bit difficult to allow workers to stay


at home unless there was some intervention, surely? We have a


false idea of this being a special moment, Boxing Day and Christmas


Day. If we go back to the golder era of a Christmas Carol. There used to


be football matches. Do you have a false nostalgia? It is unfortunately


nat to use the Christmas Carol, we used to send children up chimneys as


well! This is where we should be drawing the line. What about the


petition and the response, there seems to be a lot of people in


favour of it? Of course, it is popular to legislate for people to


have an extra holiday, I don't want to go shopping on Boxing Day, I


can't think of anything worse to be in the cue at 5am to rush into an


Oxford Street store, just because it is popular, doesn't mean it is


right. I don't think it is the place of the Government to enforce a


holiday for plenty of people who want to work. Yes, many don't want


to work and if we closed shops on Boxing Day, people will still shop


and go online, who will still be working, warehouse workers for


Amazon. Thank you.


Now, in the last hour Donald Trump has confirmed his choice


He is the current Chief Executive of oil firm Exxon Mobil.


We can talk now to Sohrab Ahmari of the Wall Street Journal


What's he like? Well, I don't know him. I have met him. He is an


extremely impressive and capable executive and he managed the largest


company in the world with 160,000 employees operating in 55 countries.


So there will be a lot of objections and questions about his nomination


and I have some of those, but a lot of the anxiety in Washington and


elsewhere about the fact that he has a business background is irrelevant,


a person with a business background such as is well poised to oversea


this vast bureaucracy of the State Department and help execute


president-elect Trump's policies. But the concerns are that he has too


cosy a relationship with Vladimir Putin and his business deals are


tied up there. Surely that's not the right person then to have a healthy


global reputation as Secretary of State? That's where I have most of


my concerns. Where I'm willing to be persuaded is first of all, as a


starting point, that he needs to divest from his businesses


completely so this that there is no question of conflict of interest.


Senators, the US Senate should press him to make sure that the world view


that he represented when he was CEO of ex--on which he opposed sanctions


after Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. That's the key question, but


it doesn't, I wouldn't just say, that because of that background and


what he has had to say as CEO of ex--on, it means that he will be a


Putin stupbleg when he is Secretary of State. There will be a battle,


isn't there, politically for Mr Trump to get this accepted, by


partisan objections to this, is that right? Senator McCain and senior


Republican have objected or raised questions at least about his ability


to do the job. I would say as far as the Democrats go and the Obama


administration, which is now in the, having had the vapours about Russian


hacking and Russia's role in the world, I just think it is a bit rich


OK because this is the same administration that A, didn't arm


Ukraine so it could deter Russian aggression. Initially refused to


install missile defence sites in Poland. It is the same


administration that has overseen this withdrawal from the Middle East


that has seen Russia take America's place as the outside power. It is


rich that they are becoming such Russia hawks. Margaret Beckett, what


do you think of this appointment? Well, conflicts of interest


potential and perhaps actual are enormous, but the thing that


actually does somewhat bother me, we have had a track record sometimes in


this country of having people brought in from business to politics


and to say it doesn't always work is to put it mildly and because America


is such an enormous player with so much influence, one must hope, pray,


if you like, that Mr Trump is braver than the rest of us and that he's


going to get away it and it will work, but it seems to me to be


fraught with peril. He seems to think if you have been in business


and you know how to do a deal in your financial and personal


interest, that equips you to do everything else in life. Fingers and


everything else crossed. The One O'Clock News is starting


over on BBC One now. I'll be back at 11.30am tomorrow


with Andrew for live coverage Do join us then.




Download Subtitles