14/03/2017 Daily Politics


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Hello and welcome to the Daily Politics.


The question is that the motion be agreed to. As many of that of the


opinion site content. Not content? The bill that gives Theresa May


the power to trigger Brexit passed its final Parliamentary


hurdles last night. How will the Prime Minister


wield that power and how Scotland's First Minister Nicola


Sturgeon has called for a fresh referendum on Scottish Independence


- but will Theresa May stop it happening before


Brexit is completed? Last week's budget confirmed plans


for a sharp increase in probate fees Some Tory MPs are calling


it a "stealth tax". Is another rebellion


brewing for the Chancellor? Well, at least I don't have to worry


about her running off All that in the next hour


and with us for the whole of the programme today


the comedy impresario, founder of "The Stand" comedy clubs,


turned SNP MP, Tommy Sheppard. So we're expecting


the "European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill"


to pass into law today. Last night parliament had,


what turned out to be, its final opportunity to debate and vote


on the bill. Here are some of the contributions


from MPs in the Commons. Over the last five weeks,


we have seen Parliament at its best. Honourable and Right Honourable


members and peers have spoken with passion,


sincerity and conviction. However, I was disappointed


that the House of Lords This bill is just the next step


in a long, democratic process surrounding our exit


from the European Union. Are we prepared to use one set


of people, those that are here, as a bargaining chip to get


the right set of... Parliament will find


a way to have a say, whether a deal is reached


or whether no deal is reached. If he recognised that,


would he agree with me that it would be better if the Government


officially recognise that position As I said last week,


because it is unnecessary. When a minister gives an undertaking


at this dispatch box in this House, If we pass this today,


we are passing this Government a blank cheque, a blank cheque


on one of the most crucial issues that this parliament has ever


discussed and one that will have an impact on each


and every one of us and each The simple truth is this,


deal or no deal, vote or no vote, positive vote or negative vote,


this process is irreversible, we are leaving the EU and that's


what the people want. Stubbornness can be


a sign of suspicion Rejecting the rightful conventional


role of the House of Commons and the Other Place to apply


democratic accountability to the actions and decisions


of the Executive can be a sign I shall vote against all


of the amendments... ..on the simple basis that this bill


has one purpose and one purpose only and it's to give legal effect


to the decision of the people Any amendments which go beyond that


are inappropriate for that bill. However, I would like to say


to the Secretary of State that I look to him to give the firm


assurances that he stop and that the first priority will be


the rights of EU citizens. Some of the debate in the commons


last night ending with MPs rejecting the two Lords' amendments


passed by peers last week. So the Bill then went back to


the Lords who had their final say. This evening is really not the time


nor the place to return to the fray and insert terms and conditions


to our negotiating condition, still less to force the Government


to make a unilateral move as regards the status of EU


nationals in the UK. We will also campaign for an early


resolution to the plight of those caught up in a legal Neverland not


of their making, and we will continue to press the Government


to move on this and to provide Albeit maybe by other,


perhaps I should say imaginative, It is a very dangerous step


towards the doctrine that the people's will


must always prevail. My Lords, this is the doctrine


which has always been favoured by Hitler, by Mussolini,


by Stalin, by Erdogan It is denial of the


essence of democracy. I hope the noble Lords


of all parties and none will, on this occasion, pay attention


to their conscience rather than their party whip and join us


in the division lobby. For the Liberal Democrats


to press this matter is, in Parliamentary terms,


I say nothing about any other consideration,


but in Parliamentary terms, it is a completely


pointless gesture. They have voted, content


is 135, not contents 274. They have voted, contents


135, not contents 274. Peers rejecting an attempt


to re-introduce an amendment which would have protected


the rights of EU Nationals Now Theresa May is due to trigger


Article 50 by the END of the month. END "In capitals", as the Number Ten


spokesman said yesterday. European Council president


Donald Tusk has said he would need just 48 hours to respond to the UK


with "draft guidelines Tusk has also said an extraordinary


meeting of the EU27, that's all the EU countries


minus Britain, will take place in April, or possibly May,


where European leaders will decide a guideline for the


negotiating mandate. Only once the mandate is agreed will


the official negotiations begin, probably sometime in June or July,


with citizen's rights and the Brexit divorce bill likely


to be top priorities. Meanwhile in the UK the government


must jump some domestic hurdles A 'great repeal bill' to revoke


the European Communities Act 1972 and incorporate EU law into domestic


law wherever possible, is expected Reports this morning suggests


government departments have reportedly requested a further 13


bills to cover areas that they believe some changes


cannot be wrapped in under the great repeal bill, including


on immigration, agriculture, Back in Brussels both sides need


to reach an agreement by October 2018, leaving enough time for the UK


and European Parliaments to sign off If parliaments don't agree


on the deal, or if the negotiating teams reach a stalemate


on the continent there is a chance that the UK


could crash out of the EU. We're joined now by the Conservative


MP, Theresa Villiers. Welcome pack to the Daily Politics.


What price do you think the British public should accept for the


so-called divorce settlement Bill? The commission is saying 60 billion


pounds. What price would be acceptable? I don't think we will be


legally obliged to pay anything. There may be a case to make some


payments in relation to programmes we might want to take part in like


some of the scientific programmes and the Justice. But this is the


divorce settlement in terms of pensions and deficit payments, what


price do you think will be acceptable. There is no doubt the


chief negotiator is going to accept nothing? Arguably, they probably owe


us about 9 billion in relation to the European investment bank. We


need to be pragmatic and open to compromise. I don't believe paying


significant sums into the EU budget on an ongoing basis is defensible.


We need to see those big payments come to a halt. You are talking


about an ongoing basis looking to the future. The commission have a


stronger bargaining hand, the UK will need a divorce settlement in


order for the negotiation on trade to go ahead of the future


relationship between the UK and the EU can be decided. Let's park on


going payments, but look at what you would be happy to pay just to


extract the UK from the EU before negotiating trade relationship?


Normally when you leave the club, you don't pay a charge in relation


to its assets or liabilities. We could have an argument with them


that there are significant asset we are owed apart. I wouldn't be


comfortable with paying any significant sum on departure from


the EU. Do you agree, we shouldn't have to pay anything at all, in fact


they owe us some money? On the 23rd of June, there was nothing in the


ballot paper to say what the vote meant and nine months later we still


haven't got the first clue as to what Brexit means. The government


has refused every attempt to define what the post Brexit arrangements


should be and it is going into this, I don't know what. If it thinks it


is going to get a better trading relationship with the European Union


for less money than it costs at the minute, it is kidding itself. It is


pie in the sky and it will not happen. Do you agree we are no


clearer now than we were on the 23rd of June that what Brexit would look


like? I think we are much clearer now, it is clear we will be leaving


the single market because that is only how we regain control of making


our own laws and controlling our borders. We want an independent


sovereign working with its European partners. It is not clear that


leaving the single market is a disaster for the European kingdom.


But we do now know the government would like to leave the single


market and probably the same for the customs union, perhaps with some


exemptions? That is a clear position, you may not agree with it.


Even though that wasn't put before the people on the 23rd of June last


year. Many people campaigning to leave the EU said explicitly it did


not mean leaving the single market. But now there is a hard, right wing


extreme interpretation of what Brexit means. The only body that


stands between the government and that interpretation is Parliament.


Parliament has been dismissed at every attempt it has made to qualify


it, it has been voted down. I agreed with Nick Clegg, it is a sign of


government weakness and not strength. I don't think the


government knows where it is going and what the outcome will be. It is


true to say Parliament is being sidelined in so far as having any


meaningful vote. The voter will be on the deal put before them if there


is one, or no Deal at all. Between the period of now, that being put to


Parliament, there will be no role for Parliament in changing the


course of Brexit? There will be a huge role for Parliament with the


repeal bill. They different votes on different things? What Parliament


will have the opportunity to do is make our own decisions on huge areas


of policy because they were out of bounds before. These are the issues


our constituents care about. For the first time, we will regain control


over animal welfare rules, we may want to pass tougher rules than the


EU would permit it. Is that why you wanted to leave the EU so you cook


pasta for rules on animal welfare? It was part of why I wanted to leave


because I think it is in our interest to take decisions in our


own laws and our own Parliament on issues like animal welfare, where we


in this country care very greatly about these things. What other areas


are you interested in changing and, once EU law is changed to UK law,


there will be a process of deciding which one you want to keep, which


one will you get rid of? We need to reform the way agriculture is


regulated and the way we support farmers. We need to continue those


financial payments. In the EU, they have come with absolutely huge


amounts of regulation, some of which hasn't been helpful at all. I think


we need to reform the way we look at farming in this country.


How would you feel about the UK crashing out, to use the term, of


the EU without a deal? It would be a disaster, which is why, and I know


we are discussing it later, we have come to the view in Scotland we need


to go back to the Scottish people and ask their view. To take


agriculture and fishery, some people in Scotland voted to leave the


European Union, a big majority didn't, but some did because they


believe somehow it would return control of Scottish agriculture and


Scottish fisheries to Scotland. Despite many attempts to press the


British government for a commitment, none has been given and there is now


a suspicion that what it means is repatriation of powers from Brussels


will mean they go to Westminster, rather than


Scotland. This is an opportunity for decentralisation, I accept. Brexit


could be that. You would think by now they would have published a raft


of proposals of what new powers will be going to the Scottish Parliament


as a result of Brexit. So, yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon told


a press conference that, with the UK on the verge of Brexit,


she wants a second referendum on Scottish independence to take


place before the spring of 2019 - and she'll ask the


Scottish Parliament A new poll would need the approval


of MPs in Westminster too and therefore the support


of the Government. Let's talk to our political


correspondent, John Pienaar. What is the Prime Minister going to


do next, John? At the moment, it feels a bit like one of those tens


showdowns in a spaghetti western, you know there was a gunfight coming


but no one seems in any hurry to draw. Nicola Sturgeon once a


referendum, but not yet, she wants to have a clearer view of Britain's


future outside European Union. Theresa May will look at this


referendum but in her own good time. It was very clear from the


statements put out yesterday by Number Ten that they see a


referendum, if there has to be one, as best coming after Britain leaves


the European Union and in that way, presenting the Scottish voter with


the more, as they see it, an attractive choice of leaving the


United Kingdom at the same time as going away from the European Union.


Will Theresa May make our plans plainer? You would imagine but when,


after the Scottish Parliament take their decision to push that the


referendum. Because the SNP will argue that if they are blocked in


any way, or if Westminster is seen to be blocking a second independence


referendum, if the Scottish Parliament passes it through, that


will pile up votes for independence. That will be the calculation.


Theresa May, as the Prime Minister here at the Westminster Parliament,


clearly know she has the constitutional, the legal by hand,


you need Parliament here to agree to the referendum but the politics is


more complicated than that and if Theresa May doesn't know that, she


only has to ask David Cameron. He didn't want a referendum but the


political reality was there had to be one. It is difficult to stand


against the will of the Scottish parliament and politically


impossible to stand against the will of the Scottish people in the weight


of opinion is for a referendum. That is not the case yet so we are still


in the position of tugging and pulling Scottish opinion, along tug


of war starting now, to shift the balance in favour of a referendum


and subsequently, if you are Nicola Sturgeon, to tilt those opinion


polls are you have a better chance of winning the referendum itself.


by the Scottish Labour Leader, Kezia Dugdale.


Welcome to the Daily Politics. Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that


one of the reasons she is calling this referendum is the collapse of


the Labour Party and the prospect of the Conservatives rule in Scotland


from Westminster until 2030. So do the current Labour leaders like you


and Jeremy Corbyn have to take some responsibility for the fact that


Scotland their faces the possibility of another referendum? It is


laughable that the idea of Nicola Sturgeon was scrambling around for


reasons for another referendum. This is all she wanted, it is what her


political life has been about. I understand there are people who are


angry at the Tories, angry at Brexit and think there is justification for


another independence referendum but what I would us people to focus on


is the sheer harsh economic realities of the case for


independence. There is no doubt that the case for independence, the


economic case, is weaker now than it was two and a half years ago. And it


was just two and a half years ago that we revisited this question, we


talked about it for two and a half years, 85% of the population voted


and they voted no largely because of those economic arguments around


currency. That hasn't changed and if anything, it has got worse. You only


have to look at the oil price for evidence. If the situation has got


but much worse in the way you describe, economically, why did


Jeremy Corbyn describe a second referendum on independence as


absolutely fine? He says he has been misreported but we can listen to


exactly what he did say. Well, a referendum is held and it's


absolutely fine, it should be held. I don't think it's the job


of Westminster or the Labour Party to prevent people holding


a referendum. I do think we should set it


in the context of the economic relationship with the rest


of the UK, and the question of evolution of EU powers to English


regions and to Scotland. What did you think when you have


bad? I thought it was quite clumsy with his language, he would accept


that insult but the reality is that later that day, he issued a very


clear and strong statement to say not only was he opposed a second


independence referendum but he was opposed to independence itself. When


it comes to vote in the Scottish Parliament next Tuesday, Scottish


Labour MSP is will do what the manifesto said we will do and oppose


that referendum. But the reality is, the SNP and green votes mean that


that is going to go through. When we look at the UK wide vote and the


process around the section 30 order, it is Ruth Davison, leader of the


Scottish Tories, who has been advising Theresa May for months that


she shouldn't do anything to frustrate or block a second


referendum. That is exactly what Jeremy was saying at the weekend and


what I said several months ago. It is clumsy to say absolutely fine but


let's be clear, Jeremy Corbyn is firmly against independence and the


reason is he recognises it would mean terrible austerities in


Scotland. We have Tory austerities at the moment but the gap between


what Scotland races in its taxes and spend some public services will be a


deficit of ?15 billion, that is less money for schools and hospitals and


you will never see Jeremy Corbyn advocate that. Do you agree with


Nicola Sturgeon that it would be wrong for the UK Parliament to block


this referendum from happening altogether? I said several months


ago that I don't think it is right for Westminster to frustrate the


process. That doesn't mean that I can't be angry that we are being


dragged back to a debate that many Scots want to leave behind. We are


so divided as a nation, it was an incredibly divisive experience to


add a half years ago and we are about to go through it all over


again. It is not what the vast majority want, that is the evidence


in the opinion polls. You can look at voting intentions and say it is


quite close between the leave and remain sides but if you ask Scott if


they want to go through this again, time and again you see a majority


opposed to that. So you will be joining hands with Ruth Davison, the


leader of the Conservative Party, and also Theresa May, because you


all agree you shouldn't block this referendum from happening


altogether, you can't change the vote in the Scottish parliament,


there will be a boat and at Westminster again that you won't


want to block going ahead, C must be joining forces with the


Conservatives to put for the prounion case. I will put forward a


very strong Labour case as to why we should remain part of the United


Kingdom and if I can offer you an example, I just mentioned that


deficit, that 15 billion pounds less that Scotland would have less for


its services. You have Tommy Sheppard in the studio, a friend of


mine and we represent a similar area, he represents Craigmillar, the


back of the late one of the poorest areas of Scotland and it is the


false people like Tommy the constituents that we will have a


better welfare system and more money for schools and hospitals when they


completely failed to address the reality that the case for


independence economically has fallen apart. It is a blatant lie to the


poorest in Scotland and it is time Tommy started to stop pushing it.


Are you lying to your constituents? Of course not. She is trying to


infer that Nicola Sturgeon will call a referendum every day of the week,


issue gets the chance. It is only two and a half years...


Once-in-a-lifetime, once in a generation! Let me just make this


point. We are not in a situation of our own making. The reason why this


is on the table is not because the people who lost the referendum in


2014 don't accept the result, we did, the reason it is on the table


is because the people who won the referendum had changed the deal.


People voted for something in 2014 which is not going to exist any


more. But there was UK wide referendum on EU membership. Not me,


not Kezia Dugdale, Nicola Sturgeon, but the Scottish people themselves


get a change in these -- wrote in the changed circumstances... Can you


answer Kezia Dugdale's question on the economics, do you accept they


are worse than they were this matter the late last time around? No, I


don't. The oil price has gone down but Shazier wants to depend that the


-- pretended that it was predicated last time on oil and gas. What was


the SNP case? The SNP case was that there was a compelling argument for


an independent Scotland to be a successful economic country and I


think Kezia should look at the figures and understand them. Oil and


gas would be a bonus. We are currently working, by the way, and


we will come later in the year and present to people a compelling


narrative as to how the economic case of Scotland stacks up. Kezia


Dugdale, what do you say? I find that totally incredulous. What Tommy


wasn't able to say was the white Paper was very clearly predicated on


oil and for this financial year, it predicted ?11.8 billion worth of


revenue coming from North Sea oil and gas. The reality is it is less


than 1 billion. That is the gap in one year between what the SNP said


we would get and the reality of what we would have. Tommy and I knocked


the same streets and Dawson Craigmillar and he cannot possibly


suggest that when he is knocking on those doors, the people behind them


are asking first and foremost how we stay in the European Union, how we


make sure we don't have the Euro or part of the Schengen Agreement.


People want to know how they will have a better start in life, how we


will eradicate the Child poverty that so many in the community he


represents suffer from and he is selling alive. We will be faced with


a ?15 billion deficit and he cannot escape that fact -- selling a lie.


Just briefly before you go, you say the Westminster Parliament shouldn't


block a second independence referendum going ahead. Should


Theresa May block the timing, being before the Brexit negotiations are


complete? That is very difficult to answer at this stage because I


listen to the First Minister very closely yesterday talk about the


need for clarity. That applies as much to her as it does to the Prime


Minister, so at the moment, Nicola Sturgeon is asserting that if we


were to have a referendum before we leave the European Union, Scotland


would be able to stay and somehow inherit the UK's membership of the


European Union. I have yet to see a single scrap of evidence that that


is possible. Should Theresa May stop the referendum happening before


Brexit negotiations are complete? I have said clearly on this programme


already I don't think it is for any Westminster politician to


frustrate... So the timing should be frustrated by Theresa May. Kezia


Dugdale, thank you very much. Also in Edinburgh now for us is the


Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins, who is the party's Constitution


Spokesman. Welcome to the Daily Politics. Good


to be here, thank you. Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday the Scottish


Government's mandate for another referendum is beyond doubt, that is


true, isn't it? I don't think it is remotely true. Our view is there is


no justification for a second independence referendum, there is no


need for a second referendum and there is no mandate for it either.


The SNP put some lines in their manifesto about a second


independence referendum for the last Holyrood elections in May and they


promptly lost their majority. They did say very clearly in their


manifesto that Scotland would hold another referendum in the event of


Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will. They won that


election so they have a mandate. You say they won the election, they lost


their majority. In 2011, Alex Salmond won an overall majority of


seats in Holyrood Parliament and in 2016, Nicola Sturgeon lost that. If


you are a Government that is not a majority, you have no cast-iron


mandate for anything, least of all a second secession referendum.


Once-in-a-lifetime, once in a generation was going to be the last


independence referendum. You lost the overall majority, there are not


clear polls indicating the majority of Scottish people consistently


would like a second referendum. Where is the mandate? Adam is wrong


on the question of mandate, the SNP was elected on a manifesto is that


said in circumstances such as these, we would have a second referendum or


put opposition to the Scottish parliament. The SNP was elected with


47% of the constituency vote, and increased vote share, and an


increased number of votes and we know form a minority Government,


just. There is clearly a majority position inside the Scottish


parliament to have a second independence referendum unless the


British Government refuses to respect the wishes of the Scottish


people, differential Brexit arrangements in Scotland. This is


something you and your Government has created and I think also,


viewers outside Scotland ought to be aware that Adam's party the


Conservatives and Kezia's party Labour combined represent about one


third of the Scottish electorate. Let me put to Adam Tomkins the idea


that there hasn't been any respect for the Scottish Government. On that


idea of respecting the wishes of the Scottish Government and the timing


of a second independence referendum, should Theresa May decide the timing


of that poll? First of all on the question of respect, what has


happened is the Scottish Government published a pretty complex paper in


December in which it set out a variety of views about how it


thought the Scottish Government thought Brexit should unfold going


forward and what has happened to that paper is it has been discussed


by the Prime Minister, discussed by the Cabinet, discussed by the joint


ministerial committee, and, you know, the idea that Brexit is


something which is being taken forward by the UK Government without


involving the devolved administrations, not only in


Scotland but also Wales and Northern Ireland, is simply untrue. Should


Theresa May decide the timing? Should it be when the Prime Minister


decides it should be, which would be after the negotiations are complete,


possibly late 2019? Or should Nicola Sturgeon be allowed to choose it in


the autumn of The starting point on this, there is


no justification or mandate for a second independence referendum.


Unless this reckless plan is endorsed, that is where things lie.


What happened in the making of the 2014 referendum was there was a


bilateral agreement, a formal agreement between the Scottish


Government and the UK Government that agreed a number of the


parameters for the independence referendum in 2014, including the


question of timing. So the lesson to draw from that, the lesson of timing


should not be in the unilateral demand in either the First Minister


of Scotland or the Scottish Parliament, it needs to be agreed


between both governments and both parliaments if we are to have a


second independence referendum. Theresa May has gone into the


chamber of the House of Commons. We are expecting her to give a


statement which is about last week's European Council meeting. It is also


her first appearance in the Commons since the Brexit bill passed its


Parliamentary stages last night. We will go over there as soon as she


stands up. But Tommy Sheppard, you are trying to win this referendum on


the issue of Brexit and he wanted to happen before the UK leaves the EU.


But if Scotland leaves the UK, it also leaves the EU, doesn't it? It


is a choice of leaving one union or leaving Jo unions? We are trying to


win this referendum on the question of respect. Adam is wrong in his


description. You are holding a referendum on the issue of respect?


We were told if we voted to stay with the European Union, we were


told we would be part of the EU. A document was published called


Scotland's place in Europe. It was produced by a government that


believes in an independent Scotland and believes it should be part of


the European Union, which argued for neither. A respected the Brexit


decision. My question is, do you accept, if the referendum... Can I


just be clear, in your mind if you hold a referendum before the Brexit


negotiations are complete, you would be taking Scotland out of the UK,


out of the union, but you would also be, in effect, leaving the EU.


Nobody in the EU has said Scotland could remain part of the EU wants


she leaves the UK? If Scotland were independent, we would want to


negotiate membership of the European Union and that would involve looking


at all of the arrangements. But it is crystal clear that if we wanted


to do that, then we should signal our intention to do that before the


Brexit negotiations are complete. Has anybody said Scotland could


leave the UK and definitely stay in the EU? If you look at the range of


political opinion in other European countries, you will find a different


attitude than what we had in 2014. Which EU leader has said, yes, we


would leave Scotland within the EU even if she leaves the UK? Quite a


number. Who? A lot of politicians... Watt say does he have? I have tried


to indicate the range of political opinion in Europe is changing


towards this proposition. If you look at the European press this


morning you will find a different description of what has just


happened than you will get in the London press. Attitudes are changing


and people realise in a post-Brexit scenario, the idea of an independent


Scotland being part of the EU, is an attractive one. He has a point, why


wouldn't the EU in the end, of course they will say no at the


moment, particularly Spain because they have issues themselves are part


of the country who would like to go independent, but EU leaders were


also opposed the Brexit. The Scotland minus the UK would be a


good thing? Yesterday the First Minister couldn't confirm an


independent Scotland could seek full membership of the EU. She knows the


people who voted to leave the European Union, including 400,000


SNP supporters. The idea of an independent Scotland is necessary in


order to preserve Scotland's current place in the European Union, which


seems to be what Tommy Sheppard was just saying, is legally incorrect,


it is constitutionally incoherent and is different to what his own


leader and bass was saying yesterday. Would Scotland then apply


to be a full member of the EU? If Scotland were independently would


commence negotiations on that basis. Adopting the euro? It is important


to signal we would want to do that and moving towards independence


before Article 50 negotiations are complete. The longer we wait, the


harder the process would be. Can I just make it clear to Adam, a lot of


people in Scotland voted to leave the European Union. The vast


majority voted to stay, but some voted to leave because they were


concerned about the European Union and concerned over agricultural


stuff and fisheries. The Reges ship an independent Scotland have with...


Let's go straight over to the House of Commons today,


where Theresa May is making statement - it's ostensibly


The summit began by re-electing Donald Tusk as president of the


European Council. I welcomed this because we have a close working


relationship with him and recognise the strong contribution he has made


in office. In the main business of the Council we discuss the challenge


of managing mass migration, the threat from organised crime and


instability in the Western Balkans, and the measures needed to boost


your's growth and competitiveness which remain important to us as we


build a new relationship between the EU and the self-governing global


Britain. In each case, we were able to show how Britain will continue to


play a leading role in Europe, long after we have left the European


Union. First, on migration, I welcomed the progress in


implementing the action plan we agreed at the informal EU summit


last month. This included Italy strengthening asylum processes and


increasing returns and Greece are working to implement the EU Turkey


deal where the UK is providing additional staff to start


interviewing Iraqi, Afghan and Eritrea nationals. We argued we must


do more to dismantle the people smuggling rings who profit from the


migrant's misery. Mr Speaker, with coordinated and committed action, we


can make a distance. Last month, an operation between our national crime


agency and the Hellenic Coastguard led to the arrest of 19 members of


an organised immigration crime group in Greece. As I have argued, we need


a managed, controlled and global approach and that is exactly what


this council agreed. We need to help ensure refugees claim asylum in the


first safe country they reach and help those countries support the


refugees so they don't have to make the perilous journey to Europe. We


need a better approach to managing economic migration, one which


recognises all countries have the right to control their borders.


Engaging our African partners in this global approach will be crucial


and this will be an important part of the discussions at the Somalia


conference, which the UK will be hosting in London in May. Turning to


the deteriorating situation in the Western Balkans, I made clear, my


concerns about the risks this presents to the region and our wider


collective security. Organised criminals and criminals are ready to


exploit these vulnerabilities and we are seeing brazen interference by


Russia and others. In light of the Montenegrin coup plot, I called on


the council to do more to counter destabilising Russian campaigns and


raise the visibility of the Western commitment to this region. The UK


will lead the way. The Foreign Secretary will be visiting Russia in


the coming weeks, where I expect him to set out our concerns about


reports of Russian interference in the affairs of the government of


Montenegro. We will provide strategic communications expertise


to the EU institutions to counter this information campaigns in the


region, and we will host the 2018 Western Balkans summit and in the


run-up to that summit, we will enhance our security cooperation


with Western Balkan partners on serious and organised crime,


anti-corruption and cyber security. More broadly, I re-emphasised the


importance the UK places are Nato as the bedrock of our collective


defence. And I urged other member states to start investing more in


line with Nato's target, so every country plays its part in sharing


the burden. It is only by investing properly in our defence, we can


ensure we are properly equipped to keep our people say. Turning to


growth and competitiveness, I want to build a new relationship with the


EU that will give our company is the maximum freedom to trade with and


operate in the European market and allow European businesses to do the


same here. So successful and competitive European market in the


future will remain in our national interest. At this council I call for


further steps to complete the single market and the digital single


market. I also welcomed... I also welcomed the completion of the free


trade agreement between the EU and Canada and pressed for an agreement


with Japan in the coming months. For these agreements... Yes, these


agreements will lay the foundation for our continued trading


relationships with these countries as we leave the EU. At the same


time, we will also seize the opportunity to forge our own trade


deals and reach out beyond the borders of Europe to build


relationships with old friends and new allies alike. This weekend


renounced a two-day conference with the largest delegation to visit the


UK, building on the ?5 billion of trade we already do with Qatar every


year. We will also strengthen the unique and proud global


relationships we have forged with the diverse and vibrant alliance of


the Commonwealth, which is celebrated on Commonwealth Day


yesterday. Finally, last night the bill on Article 50 successfully


completed its passage through both houses are unchanged. It will now


proceed to Royal assent in the coming days, so we remain on track


with the timetable I set out six months ago. I will return to this


House before the end of this month to notify when I have formally


triggered Article 50 and begun the process through which the United


Kingdom will leave the European Union. This will be a defining


moment for our country, as we begin to forge a new relationship with


Europe and a new role for ourselves in the world. We will be a strong,


self-governing, global Britain with control once again over our borders


and our laws. We will use this moment of opportunity to build a


stronger economy and a fairer society, so we secure both the right


deal for Britain and abroad and a better deal for ordinary working


people at home. And, Mr Speaker, the new relationship with the EU that we


negotiate, will work for the whole of the United Kingdom. That is why


we have been working closely with the devolved administrations...


Including the Scottish Government, listening to their proposals and


recognising the many areas of common ground we have, such as protecting


workers' rights and our security from crime and terrorism. So this is


not a moment to play politics or create uncertainty... It is a moment


to bring our country together, to honour the will of the British


people and to shape for them, are better, brighter future and a better


Britain and I commend this statement to the House. Jeremy Corbyn. I would


like to thank the Prime Minister for an advanced copy of this statement.


The passing into law of the EU notification of withdrawal act marks


an historic step. Later this month, the triggering of Article 50, a


process that will ship this country's future. There is no doubt,


that if the wrong decisions are made, we will pay the price for


decades to come. So, now more than ever, Britain needs an inclusive


government that listens and acts accordingly. However, all the signs


are we have a complacent government, complacent with our economy,


complacent with people's writes and complacent about the future of this


country. I urged the Prime Minister to listen to the collective wisdom


of this Parliament and to give this House the full opportunity to


scrutinise the Article 50 deal with meaningful vote. The people's


representative... and if we are to protect jobs and living standards


and the future prosperity of this country... The Government needs to


secure tariff free access to the European single market. The Prime


Minister has already made the threat to our negotiating partners to turn


Britain into a deregulated tax haven. Is that what she means by


global Britain? When the Foreign Secretary says no deal with the EU


would be perfectly OK, it simply isn't good enough. And far from


taking back control, leaving Britain to World Trade Organisation rules


would mean losing control, jobs and, frankly, losing out. So when the


Prime Minister says a bad deal is better than no deal, led the be


clear, no deal is a bad deal. -- let me be clear. Such a complacent


strategy would punish business, hit jobs and devastate public services


on which people rely. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn they're


responding to Theresa May, the Prime Minister, who has reported back to


the House of Commons on her EU summit last week. She also


underlined the fact that the EU notification of withdrawal bill,


which passed through both houses of Parliament last night, will get the


royal assent, in other words passed into law in the coming days and at


that point, she will then fired the starting gun on starting two years


of negotiations. In other words, she will trigger Article 50, certainly


before the end of the month, which was the deadline she set herself.


Tucked into the Budget documents last week was confirmation


that the Government is pushing ahead with planned rises to the cost


of applying for probate - the legal process of giving


authority to distribute someone's estate after their death.


But the sizable increases have caused an outcry amongst


Conservative backbenchers, who labelled the changes


a "stealth tax" during last week's Budget debates.


Probate fees are currently capped at ?215 for estates worth over


?5,000, unless there is no property involved.


That is paid to the Probate Registry.


But from May, a sliding scale of fees is being introduced,


starting at ?300 for estates worth between ?50,000-?300,000.


And rising to ?20,000 for estates worth over ?2million.


And rising to ?20,000 for estates worth over ?2 million.


Budget documents estimate that the changes will raise


I'm joined now by the former Minister of State for Pensions,


Is this a stealth tax, in your mind? It is a stealth tax and a death tax,


they have rolled the two into one. The death tax was originally put


forward, suggested under Gordon Brown's Government but criticised by


the Conservatives at the time. We have had a number of death tax is


being proposed, particularly to raise money for example the social


care. Suddenly we are finding that this one has been snuck in by the


back door and there is no question that this is a tax revenue raising


measure, because the Ministry of Justice has said that the probate


registry is self funding, so the current fees cover the costs of


finding probate. What they are trying to do is raise an extra ?300


million to subsidise other parts of the court system. The Government


argues that this sliding scale makes payments fairer and no state will


pay more than 1% of its value. Why isn't that better? -- no estate. We


only fixed the costs of probate in 2015 and suddenly we are coming


along with this massive increase in taxes. Who gets the massive increase


in taxes? 58% of all estates in England and Wales will pay nothing.


Yes, that those who do pay and particularly people in the


south-east, who have any kind of property, if you have any property


there you will have do face this potential tax, but in terms of the


way it works, with probate, you have to pay the money upfront. So if you


have an executor of your well, maybe a friend or someone who isn't a


beneficiary of the will, they will have to find money in their own


pocket to pay perhaps ?20,000 before they can release the assets. So if


you haven't got cash, if you have got property and shares in your


estate, and a lot of people do, where is the money going to come


from? Choosing those sort of increases are there? They are very


high, admittedly, on the better of Estates, do you think it is fair?


They don't apply in Scotland but personally I don't have a problem


with it. I think the people really clobbered by it will be people with


estates more than ?1 million and those are the very people who will


benefit from George Osborne's changes to inheritance tax, which


made the 26,000 richest households in the country even richer. So I am


guessing the Government is doing this as a way to compensate the


difficult as it will have by not getting inheritance tax it had


planned for. I think if we are going to do something like this, it should


be done fairly and properly. The sudden Draconian increases in the


level of tax, and from a practical perspective, expecting executors to


find the money when there is no money to use, they may have to take


out a personal loan or they can't get the probate. Jee think there


will be a backlash? I suspect so, to maybe phase it in. I think it makes


sense to have some kind of tax on estates but it has to be done


fairly, with proper consultation. 97% of people who responded to this


consultation were against it. We did ask the Ministry of Justice for an


interview that no minister was available.


Now, our guest of the day Tommy Sheppard is almost as famous


for being a politician as he is for founding The Stand


comedy clubs in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle.


But has the impresario recognised any comic talent on the benches


Let's have a look at some of his political colleagues


attempting to make us laugh, starting with Tony Blair making


light of his wife Cherie's spat with Gordon Brown.


And - just by way of warning - there's some flash photography.


Well, at least I don't have to worry


about her running off with the bloke next door.


The Shadow Chancellor literally stood at the dispatch box and read


Oh, look, it's his personal signed copy.


The problem is, half the Shadow Cabinet have been


If you are a passionate Yes Campaigner, by definition


therefore you are also very intelligent, in my view...


I am the Minister of State for Children and Families


Now that's a bit of a mouthful, but I want to assure you that


however much he begs, neither Lynne Featherstone


or myself will let George Osborne call us Louise.


Do you know, you guys are really slow.


His Shadow Chancellor was asked on the television,


could he think of one single business leader?


Do you know what he said, Mr Speaker?


Mr Speaker, Bill somebody is not a person, "bill


We are producing more varieties of cheese than the French.


"My Government will make it easier for people


It must be the first instance of something being put


in the Queen's Speech entirely as a joke.


But if he's finding it so difficult,


Why doesn't he split the job of Mayor of London?


The former Health Secretary can run as his day mayor


and the Honourable Member for Brent East


I'm joined now in the studio by Gyles Brandreth,


who has spent time on the green benches as a Conservative MP,


but is now more likely to be found in the green room of a TV studio.


Or indeed at the stand in Edinburgh, where I go quite regularly. To


perform, or to watch? To perform. You allow him to perform? Of course,


we have Eddie is next week. William Hague is there one of the


highest-paid speakers on the circuit because Hezbollah. David Cameron two


is still very amusing. I came across the other day and asked him the all


that has been happening whether he sleeps at night out and he replied,


immediately, "Yes, I sleep like a baby. Every hour, I wake up crying


mummy, mummy!" Maybe shouldn't have shared that. You should definitely


share everything. It works when it is well timed and when it rings a


bell. Vince Cable's wonderful line to Gordon Brown, within three days


he has gone from Stalin to Mr Bean was a joy to listen to. Why did that


work? Because it was of the moment and it rang true. When it feels


real, it works. But you have to realise why these guys do it in


Parliament. It is on to appeal to us viewers. It is to boost the morale


within the House, to show you are confident and competent. What


happens when it falls flat and the jokes don't work? It is awful, that


moment, the Tumbleweed moment. I had one, almost the first question I


asked, I was set up for it by the whips. The whips give what they


think of funny questions to obliging backbench MPs and the present Brexit


secretary, David Davis, who was a very frightening person in those


days in the whips office, I nicknamed him DD of the SS, he gave


me this question which I duly performed and it died on its feet, I


died on my feet. It is terrifying. Better not to do it than to get it


wrong. Theresa May this morning could have, there was a moment when


she should have done a put down to the opposition and she chose not to


because she isn't very good at them. She couldn't think of them. She's


not... How do you find the chamber parliament, is it a funny place? I


don't been funny strange. I have never once tried to make a joke. Why


not? You are the comedian. No, I hire comedians to entertain other


people. One reason I do that is because I have never been any good


jokes. I think when it works it can be brilliant but when it is forced


and scripted, quite often it falls flat. If people are doing it


off-the-cuff and in an improvised way, it can work and be of the


moment. It is risky and I think Mrs May is wise to pull back. She has


made jokes, one unfortunate one at the expense of an MP named Mr bone


that didn't quite come off. I think people are trying to be funny and


usually they end up not being. What about the Tony Blair joke about not


running off with the bloke next door. It was forced. Did you not


think it was funny? Speaking I thought it was funny. It rang true.


And it is a matter of confidence of doing it, as sometimes Theresa May


get away with somewhat lame lines, because the people behind wanted to


work. Is it about timing? You saw that in the clips. It is also about


perspective. I have been rereading the speeches of George W. Bush, who


I thought was appalling. Why are you reading them? While I was very


interested in a man who said, the French don't have a word for


entrepreneur. In retrospect, Bush was Cicero combined with Martin


Luther King and a touch of Jack Benny. What a concoction. But a


great time for satire. Indeed, and thankfully, satire is coming back in


a big way, which is good entertainment. Is Nicola Sturgeon


good jokes? I don't think she's a natural comedian, she takes itself


seriously. Ruth Davidson is stronger on the jokes. I am not good on the


jokes but will say goodbye at this point, thank you to the guests. The


one o'clock News is starting on BBC One and I will be back tomorrow for


Prime Minister's Questions. Goodbye. It took us once to get through


the novel Anna Karenina. It was used to help my friend


with depression,


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