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Theresa May returns from the EU summit in Brussels with European
leaders promising "a spirit of trust and unity" in the
Scotland's Finance Secretary confirms high earners north
of the border will pay more tax than in the rest of the UK.
The Department for Work and Pensions is 100 years old this week.
We take a look back at the country's changing
And Cub Scouts take over the Speaker's chambers as they
And with us for the first half of the programme today,
former top Lib Dem insider Miranda Green who now writes
Seems like only a few hours ago I met you? It was. I slept on the
floor. Stayed overnight in the studio, that is how dedicated she
is. Ever since the Scottish Parliament
was established in 1999, the Scottish government has had
the power to adjust In April this year
new tax-varying powers, to set the rates and bands
of income tax, were given to And yesterday, in his budget
statement, the Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced
that from April next year higher rate tax payers in scotland
will effectively pay more tax The measures I have announced today
mean that the total support from the Scottish Government
and through local taxation provides an increase in spending power
on local government services, not at 59.6 million,
but of 240.6 million or 2.3%. Which invests in education,
invests in social care Presiding Officer, this is a budget
for growth and public services for an environment
and our communities. It delivers increased
investment in education, record investment in the NHS,
protects low income households from tax hikes and supports
more and better jobs. Overall it delivers ?700 million
of additional spending This is a budget for Scotland
and I commend it to parliament. He had the choice to use these
new powers to support economic growth and to tackle
our underperforming economy. It is much to be regretted
that he has chosen instead, to hike taxes on families
and businesses in Scotland, risking choking off economic
recovery and depriving Scottish public services
of vital tax revenue. This will make Scotland
the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom and as it
stands, this is not This budget passes on Tory cuts
to the people of Scotland. It makes Derek Mackay,
no better than a Tory Chancellor. We have the powers to do things
differently, let's use them. Let's stop the cuts and ask
those with the broadest Let's protect local services,
let's grow the economy Presiding Officer, Labour cannot
support a budget with over ?300 million worth of cuts to local
services at its heart. That was a flavour of the debate in
Holyrood yesterday. We've been joined from Glasgow
by the Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Finance,
Derek Mackay. Welcome to the programme. The
Scottish Nationalists have been complaining about Tory austerity for
years. Now you have the power to raise taxes and end austerity, but
you are not doing it, why not? We don't want to pass on austerity to
households in Scotland. If we had raised taxes, that is what it would
have done, so we have taken a balance and have been freezing the
higher rate. What I am not following is the Tory tax cut for many of the
richest in terms of the higher rate thresholds. You think people on
?43,000 are rich? It is proportionate and that is one of the
points around income tax. Are they rich? People paying the higher rate
are at the richer end of the spectrum. You called them rich, Tory
tax cuts for the rich is what they said? The richest of our society
which is 43% of the taxpayers, which is the higher end of income. What we
are doing with income tax is take a balanced and proportionate view.
Your tax regime is no different than the Tories. Basic rate is 20%,
higher rate is 40%, additional rates is 45%. What is it in Westminster?
20, 40, 45. We are not following the Tories in the raising of the
threshold for the higher rate, that is a tax cut. We are not following
that, we will raise that threshold in line with inflation. In Scotland
it means that in Scotland the higher rates will start at 43,430. And the
rest of the UK get it will start at 40 5000. That's it, that's the
difference between you and the Tories, ?1500. That is your approach
to austerity? What we are able to do with the divergences tax and the
other decisions I have made is invest over ?700 million into the
NHS, education, policing and infrastructure. These are sound
investment and our tax proposition also focuses on social pledges as
well. Things like free education, no prescription charges in Scotland,
and a different approach to social care. We want to raise the necessary
investment and revenue to invest in quality public services and that is
the balanced approach we have in Scotland. We will raise the tax and
spend it on things people appreciate, including a ?300 million
increase for the NHS. How much tax by starting the higher rate a little
earlier, how much tax to you raise? It is estimated to be ?89 million.
80 million this year, so not great in the grand scheme of things. The
Scottish Nationalists have said for years, it is an unequal Tory
society, the rich have got to rich and the gap between the rich and
poor is too wide. Why didn't you raise the top rate of tax to 50p? We
are doing many things to tackle a corner -- inequality. Why didn't you
raise the top rate of tax? I can tell you what we are doing. And I am
asking you why you didn't raise the top rate of tax? We have raise the
necessary revenue to invest in quality public services and an extra
for my budget, as proposed to Parliament, next ?700 million for
public services Scotland. You are cutting funding in real terms to
local government? It has actually increased by over ?240 million. It
is an increase when you look at health and social care integration
and local services. Local government is being cut in real terms by over
?300 million. Those are your figures. You have taken the Labour
press release. I have your own figures here. You are not looking at
the total package to local government and local government
services which takes it to over 200 billion -- ?240 million, not a
reduction, but increased to services in Scotland. You are not looking at
the bigger picture. If in one hand local government is being cut by 327
but in another hand you are giving 240. Overall, simple arithmetic
tells me it is still a cut. The Institute, independent experts who
have said the increase for local government services is even higher
than the figures I gave you. What is wrong with the figures I have got.
The official government spending plans. You should know better, it is
only part of the settlement to local government and only part of the
picture in local government services. I am giving you an
accurate figure on the totality of the package to local government
services. If it was such a bad proposition why hasn't it been
rejected. It is a very fair and strong settlement. The partnership
had this to say, Derek Mackay has used smoke and mirrors to put the
SNP strategy. It is plain to see who will suffer most. You have clearly
not read the rest of the press release, which says it is recognised
we have moved on the package. You have to look at the wider package
for local government services. They haven't rejected the offer, if it
was so bad, they would have done. But the totality of resources given
to local government services, shows an increase of ?240 million and
independent experts are saying it is higher than that. Not that
independent. You mentioned the Institute... Hold on, you have said
that, you mentioned the Institute, which pointed out recently economic
growth in Scotland is now only a third of what it is in the rest of
the UK, why? Andrew, you will know the oil and gas sector has been
impacted by the price of oil. It has impacted on our economy. It is all
down to oil and gas? No, but it is a factor in our economy. We have had a
strong economic performance in Scotland over the period of
devolution and the term this government has been in office
productivity and employment. Unemployment is rising, growth has
faulted. Foreign direct investment is collapsing. Employment is in a
better situation before it was and it has a good record in Scotland. It
will vary, of course, but we have had a stronger position in terms of
employment and unemployment... Is rising. We will lift 100,000
businesses out of business rates altogether. From attacks you
originally introduced. Business rates wasn't attacks. It doesn't
relate to the 100,000 businesses that will benefit from the small
business bonus. You need to check the facts. Don't worry, I have
checked them, and we will check them even more. If you are not following
Tory austerity, why are you not cutting funding to universities and
the 1% cap Pompeii? We have to make sure there aren't any compulsory
redundancies. Compulsory redundancies is not a Tory approach.
We will offer a fair and balanced pay offer to our public sector
workers, delivery of a living wage and a different policy in terms of
low pay as well. We are raising extra resources to invest in public
services across Scotland. Yes, taking a different approach from the
Tories. It is the right thing to do and that is what the people of
Scotland expect. Thank you for joining us from Glasgow.
Earlier this week Jeremy Corbyn's media "grid"
Or, appearing as the Daily Politics Secret Santa?
A little later in the show Miranda will, I'm sure,
Officials in Brussels have said they will maintain their position on no
negotiation without notification. That is Article 50. There were
snippets of what the negotiating framework might look like. Donald
Tusk said the UK's exit would be approached in a spirit of trust and
unity. He said the 27 other EU countries confirmed access to the
single market requires acceptance of all four freedoms, freedom of
movement, and people. European Parliament President Martin
Schulz threatened to negotiate directly with the UK
if the Parliament isn't He said during the short,
informal meeting the 27 other EU countries had confirmed that "access
to the Single Market requires acceptance of all four freedoms" -
that's the free movement of goods, We also learnt that Britain could be
presented with an exit bill of up Michel Barnier, the Commission's
lead negotiator, reportedly told colleagues that the UK must pay
"tens of billions" annually into the EU Budget until 2020
in order to pay for the UK's share of outstanding pensions liabilities,
loan guarantees and spending And we've been joined
from Southampton by What do you think we have learnt
about the EU's position regarding the negotiations? There are two
different schools of thought in Brussels. Most of the national
governments want this to be a cordial and a mutually advantageous
process, where we keep most of the aspect of free trade and security
and intelligence cooperation and so on. There are some Eurocrats, some
figures in the commission in the European Parliament, who are more
interested in making a point about European unity and they are about
the prosperity of Europe because they are not answerable to the
voters in any meaningful sense. It is much better for us to be talking
to the 27 governments who will want to maximise the advantages for their
own citizens and who will want to approach it in the spirit of mutual
benefit. When it is clear Britain has to continue paying into the EU
budget until we leave sometime in the first half of 2019, but this
talk that we continue to pay billions into it afterwards is
nonsense is it not? I do not know. Essentially there is potential for
all the positive sounds that came out last night about trust and unity
for enormous amounts of bitterness and rancour, in the phrase of Roy
Jenkins, because it is not just a question of whether Britain has to
continue to pay in, but also whether there will be equal rights for EU
citizens here and Brits in the rest of the EU. That does not cost
anything. There is a difference between membership of the single
market and access, so I am not sure about the trust and unity ideas.
They are simply words. I would say the point about the greater
willingness to negotiate in good faith and in a positive sense from
the other 27 nations may be so, but they have got to get this deal
through their parliaments and that will be incredibly difficult over
the next few years to come up with something they can all get through.
What do you make of these claims that Britain, even after we have
left the EU, would have to contribute billions. We have gone
from it barely costs anything, it is all a lie to being faced with this
bill for 50 billion. While we are members, while we are unravelling
the full membership, of course we will continue to pay ourselves and
we will continue to use the facilities while we are paying the
subs. When we leave we will make a decision as to which, if any,
continuing EU programmes we want to be part of. My own view is since it
was a close vote and since people feel strongly about remaining part
of Iraq must and Horizon, there is a strong case for Britain to continue
to be part of those programmes. I do not think anyone would argue that we
should not pay for our share of that. But things like agriculture,
foreign aid and cohesion funds, there is no way that will carry on.
We checked this, it is written down in a statement, why do you think
Donald Tusk said access to the single market requires acceptance of
the four freedoms? That is untrue. The European Union has a small
number of trade deals, but it has deals with Colombia, Peru, South
Korea, and they get complete access to the single market without having
to pay anything or to accept pre-movement of people. That is
wrong. If we want to go further than just access, if we want to remain
part of a mechanism for setting common rules and so on, any
institutions that we remain part of, of course we will pay our share of
it. Miranda, lots of criticism of the British Government leaving a
vacuum, not giving us a clear idea, not a running commentary, but a
strategic overview of what it hopes to achieve and we have not had that.
But on the European side, this statement by Mr Schultz of the
European Parliament, if I do not get a bigger role, Parliament will do
its own negotiations, that seems bizarre. Parliament does have to
have a say like the other 27 notions. The European Parliament
will have a vote on the deal. They have a bullish negotiator who is not
shy about wading into the debate, so they are already very involved. This
is a negotiation without precedent. Daniel Hammond was making this point
about the attitude in Brussels being less friendly than that in the other
nation states, but I think that is about right. We have this
spectacularly rude figure of Jean-Claude Juncker who seems to
make a lot of discord instead of harmony when he gets involved, and
there is jostling within Brussels to be part of this negotiation because
it is a historic moment. There is an interesting piece in the Economist
saying how this is handled is being viewed with some intellectual relish
in Brussels because it is so complex and it is such an interesting
problem for the EU to face, defending unity whilst allowing the
nation as large and as important as Britain to leave. Next year we have
elections in Austria, Italy, Holland, France and Germany and each
one of these elections could produce a result which results in another
crisis for the EU. Are we going to have difficulty even getting their
attention for Brexit? In a way that makes the point. The European Union
is going through testing times. Even the most extreme supporter of the
project accept that. That is why the last thing we want is to leave in a
way that will cause serious economic damage to our allies who are our
suppliers and customers. We do not want to leave and cause the euro to
trouble up again. We want to make this a mutually beneficial process.
I think most people in the other member states feel that way. There
is a minority who says we need to make an example of Britain and
showed that there is a cost in leaving, but that argument fails
even on its own terms. If the European Union has to be held
together by fear, then it is a protection racket and most of the
other member states will say we want no part of this. It is more likely
that we will have a process of disengagement driven by mutual self
interest. The other members will look to maximise their advantage as
we do, and we will retain our security and military links whilst
taking back power to make our own laws. We shall see, it hasn't even
started. We have just got the posturing at the moment.
This week the Department for Work and Pensions turns 100 years old.
It's had 14n name changes, 77 Secretaries and Ministers of State,
and opened more than 700 jobcentres throughout the country.
Ellie has been looking back at a century of the welfare state,
with some of the people who shaped it.
I got into the civil service in 1940.
There's a photograph of me at my desk.
A handsome young fellow there, look at that.
When I started I got a pound, a little copper coin.
He started working for what would become the Department of Work
and Pensions when he was moved from Whitehall to the safety
of Blackpool because of the Second World War.
When the war ended the people wanted more from life.
They realised there was more that they could have and they said,
"Well, we did our best, we have won the war,
The main problem was getting the people to claim.
If you are as old as him, you will have found a big increase
That is why they made films like this, so that
people would understand what they could claim for and how.
National insurance, contributions are going to build up a better
It had started with a report written by Sir William Beveridge in 1942.
Widely seen as the foundation of the modern welfare state,
it paved the way for a national system of benefits to
protect citizens from the cradle to the grave.
We shall take the first step to security with freedom
The department was responsible in 1973 for the rebranding of labour
But a new colour scheme and the fashion choices of those
who worked there wasn't enough to stop the trend of 3
million people unemployed by the early 1980s.
Get a national insurance application form...
The 20th century saw a gradual growth of the welfare state trying
to make sure the poor and vulnerable were protected.
But a century later successive governments accepted it was a system
that had trapped people on benefits and this incentivised
Universal Credit is meant to combat that, merging six
working age benefits into a single monthly payment.
But despite delays and setbacks, its architect insists it will work.
This is the most important programme that DWP or its predecessor
The most important thing in society in my view is getting the balance
right between incentivising people to live their own lives
Universal Credit allows us to get the balance right.
Fred is only a few years away from his own 100th birthday.
I was sad to leave but it was unpleasant leaving.
People haven't always been so nice about the Department
of Work and Pensions, but from boxes of folders on a shelf
in Blackpool the welfare state has come a long way.
Miranda, the interesting thing is that the welfare state really got
going in the aftermath of the Second World War and the Clement Attlee
government. The public attitude has changed over the years. It has, and
if you look at the younger age groups now there is a more harsh
attitude that has crept in. Not to people in real need, but to the idea
of lack of responsibility amongst some. It is very interesting seeing
its 100th anniversary because in the last few years the debate about
welfare has been dominated by competing ideas about fairness. Is
it unfair some people may be claiming too much? Is it unfair to
take away money from those genuinely in need? We need a much more quality
national debate about whether we are actually succeeding at the moment
and where we shall go next. Now, it's been 100 hundred years
since the Cubs were founded to allow younger boys to join
the Scouting movement. A century on it's changed a bit,
not least because it's now open to girls as well,
but they still have an arkala, the all important scarf and woggle,
and they promise to do their best. Well, this week the Cubs came
to Westminster to appeal to MPs to ask them to help tackle a lack
of adult volunteers. Mark Lobel has been off
practising his howl. Cub Scouts have taken over
the Speaker's quarters in Parliament I feel more confident because it
showed me how to be determined and carry on doing things
and be resilient. Do you think it could give
you the confidence to end up back in this building in a few years'
time as an MP? There are now 150,000 Cubs aged
eight to ten-and-a-half, but despite having years
of consecutive growth, there are still 45,000 kids
on the waiting list. That's because of a shortfall
in adult volunteers put off by red By the way, that wasn't
a wannabe volunteer, just the Labour MP Jo Stephens,
who was a Brownie in the 1970s. I asked this MP, a former patrol
leader at the Girl Guides It is about enabling
people to volunteer. Historically people have been put
off doing that because they have been worried about their liability,
about health and safety, How has that rubbed off
on a Cabinet minister? Does it help you get
prepared for Brexit? Well, we are actually all focused
on the great thing that the Cubs is and I am sure we will all be
prepared for the future ahead and it is that sense of young people
enjoying themselves, really finding themselves,
that was the experience I had The Cubs also played a special role
at the marriage of these former Cubs when this female Olympic gold medal
rower married this well known wildlife TV presenter
and Scout ambassador. Essentially our wedding was like one
big Cub Scout jamboree. Yes, all the guests camped out
the night before and the night We made a big bonfire
and it was amazing. Away from these grand surroundings
hundreds of Scout troops have recently popped up in areas
of deprivation so the packs' confidence-building skills can
be spread far and wide We've been joined by the Labour MP
Jo Stevens who you saw in Mark's film there,
falling off the tight-rope walk. I can confirm she walked into the
studio unaided. You are still in one piece? Just about. The Cub Scout
still important in British society? I think so. In the clip, I was a
brownie in the 1970s. It was a bit staid and I left after about 14
months. But it is more diverse, young people can learn fantastic
skills that will equip them for adult hood and work in the
21st-century. Interesting, opening more Cub Scouts, are they troops?
The Cubs are packs. In the inner cities, more deprived areas? At
Cardiff Central, we have deprived areas, we have thousands of
students. The interesting thing is, it brings the student community and
the permanent community together so you have lots of students
participating as leaders in Cubs and scouts and they tend to stay on in
the movement after they have graduated. Will you in the Brownies
or the girl guides? I wanted to, but my mother wouldn't let me. The
uniform had a status symbol. I was seven. Also the after-school
activities, in a group solving problems together, healthy exercise
and they are not on screens. Fantastic. We'll allot of those kids
we saw there, go on be Scouts? Yes, they get into it, they stick at it.
I have two boys, one of them went on from Cubs to Scouts, one of them
didn't. They both enjoyed it. Not sure about healthy eating, they used
to have Chipi night. Are they finding it difficult to get
volunteers? They are, in Wales alone there is over 1000 children to go
into the Cubs. Across the UK it is 5000, I think. The 100th anniversary
is an opportunity to raise the profile and encourage people to get
involved. You need to have survival skills, to get the badge, first aid
treatment, construction of different kinds of shelter to build a fire at
use basic lighting techniques and maintain hygiene in a survival
situation. I think it is all worthwhile, in case there is another
big economic crash. It's time now to find out
the answer to our quiz. According to his leaked
media "grid" what was in or d) Appearing as the Daily
Politics Secret Santa. I am not actually sure. Was it movie
night? I think it was Christmas jumper day. Which is the correct
answer. He has been the Daily Politics secret Santa in the past.
He served us all with Christmas cakes. So there we go.
Coming up in a moment it's our regular look at what's been
For now it's time to say goodbye to Miranda.
So, for the next half an hour we're going to be focusing on Europe.
We'll be discussing the EU summit, the race to become the European
Parliament's next president, and we visit Sweden for our Meet
First though, here's our guide to the latest from Europe
European leaders met for a summit in Brussels this week discussing
the migration crisis and the conflict in Syria.
They also talked Brexit over dinner, but Theresa May was left out.
One new face at the talks was Italy's new Prime Minister.
Paolo Gentiloni took over on Monday from Matteo Renzi,
who resigned after losing a referendum on political reforms.
Greater European defence cooperation moved a step closer
after the European Parliament passed a motion calling for a permanent EU
The process for deciding who runs the railways is also set to change.
MEPs approved new rules to make competitive tendering compulsory
They're set to come into effect in 2023.
And MEPs will be banned from taking second jobs as paid lobbyists,
after they voted in proposals authored by the Labour
And with us for the next 30 minutes I've been joined
by UKIP's William Darmouth and Theresa Griffin for Labour.
Let's take a look at one of those stories in more detail.
The move to ban MEPs from taking paid lobbying jobs.
I think a lot of people watching will say, how was this ever allowed
to happen in the first place? It is mysterious. But this is completely
irrelevant, because MEPs are still allowed to have outside jobs. The
Brexit parliament negotiator, has got for outside jobs, one of which,
according to the financial disclosures, pay more than 10,000
euros a month. So this is meaningless. But the significance of
this report is this, there has been a series of devices rammed through
in order to impress dissent in the parliament. Let's stick to the
lobbying side. I am going to get another opinion, is it relevant? It
is, it is extraordinary and it has been our position all along, the job
of MEP is your only job so you can serve your constituents properly. It
is right that it has been made clear that MEPs cannot act as lobbyists.
Were a lot of them doing it? No, no. Some did? We had to make it explicit
that they couldn't any more. And also ex-MEPs should be able to come
back and be able to lobby the institution. What about the outside
jobs? It was our position that we wanted to have one job only, but
because it is consensual we couldn't get to that position. Do you have
another job? Being PM EP to the region like the Northwest is a
full-time job. Do you have another job? No, but I am looking for one
because we will be out of it in two years. Also Richard Corbett, has
basically spent two years of his mandate pushing through this
complicated procedural package, which is all about suppressing
dissent. OK, that's not what I was asking you. I know, but it is an
important question. Yes, but I ask the questions and you answer them.
We have ran out of time on this now. It's not just Brexit preoccupying
Europe at the moment. Meeting in Brussels this week,
members of the European Council covered the gamut of big issues
in their end-of-year summit, cramming some meaty subjects
into just one day of talks. Following the talks,
EU leaders "strongly condemned" the targeting of civilians
and hospitals in Aleppo, criticising Russia and Iran
for supporting the Syrian regime. Existing economic sanctions
on Russia over her Crimean invasion were extended for six months
but a push for extra sanctions over her support for the Syrian
regime was rejected. Leaders also endorsed
plans for greater defence co-operation, including creating
a new mini-military HQ, battle-groups of troops from member
states, and joint procurement Leaders also discussed extending
a deal to pay some countries to limit the numbers of migrants
coming to Europe through Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt,
though a decision was put back Brexit only came up at the informal
dinner after Theresa May had left, where the remaining 27 states
discussed their negotiating Following the summit,
Council president Donald Tusk spoke about how the EU could not end
the Syria conflict by force. It's impossible to stop
this conflict by force. The EU has no intentions and no
capacities to use this kind But please stop blaming
the EU because for sure the European member states,
the Europeans, are not the reason why we witnessed today this tragedy
in Aleppo and other parts of Syria. So, we have carnage in Syria,
terrible things going on in Aleppo and the US president thinking the
Kremlin tried to interfere in the US elections this year. What did the
summit do? I think it should have gone further. We extended the
sanctions in terms of Ukraine the six months, but didn't toughen them.
I personally believe we should have. In terms of Syria we should have
imposed sanctions on Russia in terms of their action in Syria. And
Aleppo. We have seen intolerable suffering with people being bombed
out of their homes and their local communities. Those sanctions
shouldn't be against the Russian people, it should be against the
oligarchs, the oil companies, the people actually taking the decisions
in President Putin's government. What did this summit achieve? Very
little. In Syria, everybody shares the deep concern about the suffering
going on. But the EU is not the right structure to attempt to do
anything about it. It should be the United Nations, it should be between
the United States and Russia. Russia has a veto in the Security Council.
Absolutely. It is still a forum in which they can talk. EU was the
wrong structure and Donald Tusk was right. He was putting up a Nan Sally
saying don't blame the EU. No one was blaming the EU. Don't you need,
if you're going to have sanctions against Russia, and we have some and
you think they are inadequate, but to make sure everybody is in for
these, don't you need the EU? Absolutely, but we should negotiate
this further. We have been witness to intolerable suffering. We have to
have sanctions, not against the Russian people but against the
regime. But the EU has done no more than what it has been doing already.
It needs to do more. And with the UK remaining part of the EU, it is more
likely we will take people to do things against delivering sanctions
to Russia. We would be at the table, not stuck outside. Do you look at
the summit's decision to create a mini military headquarters will
cause concern in the Kremlin? No, but I would like to share that with
you, we were always told we were scaremongering, suggesting there
were plans for an EU army. And here they are. It makes no sense and it
would do nothing but undermine Nato. Our commitment should be to Nato and
not this EU fantasy army. Should the EU be developing a military
capability? No, the structures we have at the moment are adequate. We
need political solutions and we need to be working with the people of
Syria to reconstruct their society, education programmes. It is not
going to be easy, they are still at war and Bashar al-Assad is still in
power. It is meaningless, how would you do it? I have been advocating
strongly, that we should be having airdrops of aid into Syria. Over sky
is controlled by Russian jets? There are ways of doing it with drones.
No, we don't have a single cargo drone, the whole of Europe doesn't
have a single drone capable of carrying cargo. There are ways of
working with partners... Who has got the drones? We could work with
partners to achieve it. We're not getting anywhere, so I will move on.
The MEPs get to decide who will be the president of the European Union
and the lucky winner also gets to represent the parliament's views to
European leaders and acts as representative for foreign
dignitaries. It is nice work if you get it. As usual Joe Cockburn has
found out that the campaign has made a lot of MPs, or MEPs, very angry.
The city of Strasbourg, viewed by many as the home
But it is also known as the capital of Christmas with its famous market
A mile up the road the atmosphere at the European Parliament
This man, the socialist politician Martin Schultz, is stepping down
His decision has triggered a fierce leadership battle over
There has been something of a gentleman's agreement
between the two dominant players here at the Parliament.
The Socialists and the central right European People's party essentially
divide up the five-year presidency post between them
So by rights it should be the turn of a candidate
No, says Italy's Gianni Pittella, the current leader of
He wants to end the cosy arrangement of taking turns with the EPP
and he is putting himself forward for the presidency.
Well, you know, politics is politics.
Suddenly just because Martin Schulz has decided to go back to German
politics we would give up the fundamental political argument.
That has infuriated the EPP who had assumed their candidate,
another Italian, Antonio Gianni, would automatically get the top job.
We accepted the commitment, we allowed their candidate to be
President of the Parliament for the first two and a half years
of term and we did everything right and we respected our commitments
towards them for the whole of two-and-a-half years.
We are disappointed now that all of a sudden they say
we want to go to another direction and we are going to present our own
candidate and we are not going to support your candidate
as was agreed on paper and signed by them two-and-a-half years ago.
Others are also stepping into the frame.
Helga Stevens from the European Conservatives and Reformists group,
which includes British Conservative MEPs, says it is time
So you are standing representing the third biggest party
in the European Parliament for the job of presidency.
People have been very happy that I am taking a stand and have been
put forward in this way, they are excited to see
a different face, a new face, somebody who can bring some fresh
A sentiment echoed by the smaller Eurosceptic parties who want
to end what they see as an establishment stitch up.
What we can see is that people want something else,
they want something different and we concede that the numbers
of those are growing and we see more and more referendums to come
and people want to change the politics and the great coalition
of the social Democrats and the Christian Democrats do not
want to change anything and they want to stick to the idea
that they have, an ever closer union.
As MEPs leave for the Christmas break there is not much of a whiff
of political compromise in the air, but deals will have to be done
as none of the parties in the Parliament has an overall
majority and the winning candidate will need to get more than half
of the votes to be elected as president on January the 17th.
And we've been joined by the Green MEP Jean Lambert,
who is the European Greens' candidate for President
What do you hope to achieve by running? What we hope to achieve by
running as the Green Party is to open up this process. You heard
about the deals that always get done, we think it should be possible
that you look at people and you think they will bring something to
the presidency, that maybe they can change the view of the public
towards the European Parliament and have a greater connection. In terms
of the process, each of the political groupings put up one
candidate? They can, you do not have to. We were considering until very
early on this week not putting up a candidate at all, but then we saw
what was coming from the big groups and we thought, come on. For your
candidacy is it not right a disadvantage considering the way we
voted on the 23rd? People see this as much about solidarity. Theresa
May keeps telling us we are fully engaged until we actually leave. Are
you worried you might split what I might call the staunchly pro-EU vote
and make way for a more Eurosceptic camp? I do not think that is likely.
If you look at all of the candidates that are there, even the ones,
unless you are talking about the representative of the National Front
who will hopefully be out, that would be a real shock. That
particular group is running a candidate. Who are you going to
support? Gianni patella. The reason I am supporting him is as I said, we
need a fresh approach and we need to communicate with citizens right
across the EU and he is standing on a pro-jobs, progrowth,
anti-austerity agenda. It is the end of any coalition and it is going
with what we need for local communities right across the UK,
which is jobs and growth. European candidates have been standing on
that kind of platform for the last ten years and growth has been hard
to see and the use of the EU, or the eurozone, are enjoying mass
unemployment. Which is a fundamental problem and as you know we had
supported these jobs going to the UK. I gather your party voted
against it. We voted for another directive which we do not want to go
into. Who are you supporting? Our own candidate. Who is he? He is...
It is about to be determined. You do not know who it is. It is about to
be determined. I have to say. You have not got a candidate yet. Who do
you want to be your candidate? I have not decided. You do not know? I
will know when the candidates are presented. What is the choice? There
is a process that will be gone through. What about British
solidarity and Jean Lambert? Jean Lambert will be my second choice.
What has happened is the socialist group have double-crossed the E P P.
We are watching this with great interest. I do not know what that
means, explained that. I do not know what it means either. The EDP
candidate... Is that the mainstream conservative group, a Christian
Democrat type group? Tianni is an acolyte and a supporter of
Berlusconi. We cannot have an establishment figure close to
Berlusconi being president of the European Parliament. It would be a
disaster. Whoever wins will have a role to play in Brexit. Absolutely
they will and part of their job is to make sure Parliament is fully
representative and involved in the discussions and we have a boat at
the end of the process. Will the Green group vote for you en masse?
They will certainly support me en masse, they have said that. Then it
is a question of who else we can pull in from other political groups.
It is important to make it a presidency that works for the
parliament as well, it is not just marooned in one group. If you were
to win and become president of the European Parliament, would you try
to stop Brexit? It is not our role to stop Brexit as the European
Parliament. That is the decision of the British people. Our role is to
make sure that the European Parliament is engaged in this and
our views and knowledge is fully taken into account. When do we get
the result? The 17th of January. I will put it in my diary.
Now, with a Christmassy-edition of our Meet the Neighbours series,
Adam Fleming reports from the snowy north of Sweden.
I'm in Kiruna in Swedish Lapland, 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
They are enjoying a few hours of light before the sun goes down
and does not come up again until next year.
And of course all the way out here you meet an Italian.
But if you love it, if you get used to this lifestyle and environment,
it is hard to go back to any other lifestyle.
It is not all dog sledding and the Northern lights.
Kiruna is also home to the world's largest underground iron ore mine.
So the entire city centre is going to be torn down
3000 flats will be demolished, along with 2000 square metres
3000 flats will be demolished, along with 200,000 square metres
of public and commercial property, including the wooden church
once voted the country's favourite historic building.
Deputy Mayor Stefan is going to need a bigger map.
If you imagine it going out like this.
As a politician is this a blessing for your town or a curse?
It is both because the blessing is that we can do something
new and we are getting paid to do it.
We can focus on all the new technology that we have around
in the world today and doing the new, proper, environmental
friendly thing to do when creating a new city centre.
But the curse is that of course about 40% of the city's
Down the road the new City Hall is taking shape,
although the builders are sent home when the temperature
First will come infrastructure like roads and water.
In 2019 residents will have to decide whether to move
here or take the money for their old home.
It is costing an undisclosed sum, mostly paid for
When it comes to other things happening here,
Sweden was one of the top three destination countries for asylum
And when it comes to the economy, Sweden is one of the few countries
in the world experimenting with negative interest rates.
And what about all those Swedish cliches?
High taxes, loads of welfare, lots of leave for when you have
Here are some more pictures of cute puppies, a Christmas gift
And very much appreciated. When you look at the mood music coming out of
Stockholm, both by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary,
both social Democrats, certainly the Prime Minister, they could be, if we
have got any allies, it could be the Swedes. Yes, and there is a big
slice of public opinion in Sweden which is in favour of leaving.
Really? That is news to me. It is news to me and I am married to a
Swede. They do not want to join the euro, but they do not want to leave
Europe. They are big supporters of Britain, they are not in the
eurozone. I was talking to a Swedish colleagues yesterday who said it is
a shame because a lot of mutual support came from the UK, especially
on things like environmental standards, preventing the emissions
scandal, etc. Our Swedish colleagues definitely want to remain. We will
see. We will keep an eye out. That is it for now. Thank you for joining
us. Goodbye. Oh, Walt. You got to call me Walt.
Mr Disney was my old man.