31/03/2017 Daily Politics


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Hello and welcome to the Daily Politics.


The EU formally responds to Theresa May's Brexit letter,


promising to maintain strong ties and minimise disruption,


but rules out discussing a new free trade deal until divorce talks


The head of the NHS says patients in England will have to wait longer


for hospital operations such as knee and hip replacements


in a "trade-off" for improved care in other areas.


Donald Trump's Secretary of State affirms America's commitment


to Nato, but repeats the US demand for member states to


And what should our passports look like after Brexit?


This one treats Brexit as a blank canvas.


The whole idea is newness, cleanness, a fresh start.


You feel that is not going to happen, but we will see.


All that in the next hour, and with me for the duration,


the political journalist and commentator Isabel Oakeshott,


and Ben Chacko, editor of the Morning Star.


Let's kick off with the announcement this morning from the boss of NHS


England that the targets for waiting times for some operations


will no longer be enforced, meaning that patients face longer


waits for things like hip and knee operations.


Simon Stevens says his plan means that money can be freed up


for other areas of the NHS, such as cancer care and Accident


The changes come as the NHS faces tough targets for making billions of


Here he is, speaking in the last hour in a health


We've got to tackle the most urgent problems, or most


urgent opportunities, facing the NHS right now,


and I think everybody would agree that sorting out the pressures


Having done that, over the next several years,


we then absolutely want to make sure that we are expanding


the availability of non-urgent operations so that we can keep


There's an issue about the order in which we do it, and making sure


that we don't lose track of the other things we've got


That is the chief Executive of the NHS, trying to live with the budget


he has been given. Isabel, relaxing the 18 week target, 90% of


operations meant to take place within 18 weeks, that has got to be


relaxed. It has to be relaxed because they don't have enough money


to meet the target. That is right, this is a sharp wake-up call for


voters about what is really going on in the NHS and the scale of the


pressures it faces. This is an extraordinarily retrograde step.


Under the Labour Government, a huge amount of work went into reducing


waiting times, in the 90s we had people dying on waiting lists,


waiting up to a year, sometimes even longer, for operations, and that


went down to six months and, under Andy Burnham, to eight weeks. The


minute you take the pressure off the NHS on something like this, it opens


our valve and you are then into an indefinite situation for a lot of


people, and I just don't think this is ultimately going to save the NHS


money, because once you have people waiting indefinitely, their problems


get worse and it is more expensive to treat them. Although he is hoping


to save some money from extending the waiting period, he is also


wanting to put more into mental health, into GPs, GP surgeries in


A areas to take the pressure off A, more into Cancer and so on. He


is still struggling to make ends meet? Absolutely, this is about


cuts, the fact the NHS does not have enough money to fulfil its


obligations and therefore he is saying this is a trade-off, although


the Royal College of Surgeons used the phrase that it is waving the


white flag. That is their words, they said it is waving the white


flag. But of course he was the man, the chief executive, who agreed to a


funding formula of about 8 billion extra in return for 22 billion of


efficiency savings, that money being redeployed to the front-line sort of


thing. He agreed to it. It would seem now that he probably didn't


agreed to enough. I don't know whether he personally has regrets


about that, but the NHS has been warning, the British Medical


Association has been warning for years that the NHS is struggling to


cope with demand, and a number of his solutions, a number of the


things he said which are positive, care in the community, it is not


clear whether that is going to... No, that is a separate budget comedy


social care budget from local councils. The Chancellor did a bit,


2 billion, about that. I don't think the chief executive made any mention


of his 22 billion of efficiency savings this morning. Do you think


they are taking place? You would hope so. The thing is, nothing will


be resolved in terms of the NHS, even if you don't do what I


personally and I think a lot of Tories would secretly like to do,


which is completely revisit the way the NHS is funded, lets take on the


sacred cow, even if you are not prepared to do that, and there is no


political appetite for that at the moment... No sign Theresa May is


wanting to do that. She cannot, not when she is looking at Brexit. If


you tackle the issue of social care and incentivise local authorities to


treat older people in their homes, which they are not incentivised to


do at the moment, it is in their interest to push them to A, we


will have an ongoing problem which is only going to get worse. OK, we


will leave it there but of course we will return lots to the NHS in the


weeks and months ahead. This is the photo that was released


of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon signing her letter


to Theresa May calling for a second It is in the First Minister's


official residence in Edinburgh, I think.


But who has Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson likened


At the end of the show Isabel and Ben will give us


I'm sure they know already, but they will keep quiet for now.


When Theresa May sent her Article 50 letter to the European Union


on Wednesday, triggering two years of Brexit negotiations,


she said she saw no reason why talks on a future free trade deal


with the EU couldn't take place alongside the discussions


which will thrash out the terms of the UK's exit from the union.


This morning the EU formally responded.


Donald Tusk, president of the European Council,


said the remaining 27 EU countries wanted to ensure a smooth


divorce, but said the talks would be complex and,


He also insisted that discussion of the UK's future relationship


with the EU could only begin once some key issues were agreed.


If not the exact sum, the principles that determine the sum, that has to


happen first before they can talk about any future relationship.


Citizens from all over the EU live, work and study in the UK.


And as long as the UK remains a member, their rights


But we need to settle the status and situation


after the withdrawal with reciprocal, enforceable,


Second, we must prevent a legal vacuum for our companies that


stems from the fact that, after Brexit, EU laws will no


Third, we will also need to make sure that the UK honours


all financial commitments and liabilities it has


Fourth, we will seek flexible and creative solutions aiming


at avoiding a hard border between Northern


It is of crucial importance to support the peace process


These four issues are all part of the first phase of our negotiation.


Once and only once we have achieved sufficient progress


on the withdrawal can we discuss the framework of our


Starting parallel talks on all issues at the same time,


as suggested by some in the UK, will not happen.


Donald Tusk, the head of the Council of ministers that brings together


the 28 members, 27 in this case, minus Britain. It is the job of the


council to agree the broad negotiating strategy of the European


Union in the Brexit talks and then they handed over to the European


Commission in the shape of Michel Barnier and it is his job to carry


out the negotiating mandate. Our Europe correspondent


Damian Grammaticas is in Brussels. A number of people in London see


this as a constructive, considered retiring from the Council of


ministers. Is that how it is seen in Brussels, is that what it is meant


to be? -- constructive, conciliatory tone.


I think it is, but what it is also doing is laying out clear parameters


from this site about how things will proceed, and you heard Donald Tusk


say there that some in the UK have wanted this concurrent approach,


talks alongside each other on exit and future trade deal, that will not


happen, you said. Of course, for some who wanted that, it was in


Theresa May's letter to Donald Tusk, and he is clear, he said no, it is


not going to happen. This is the EU starting to lay out its parameters,


and it will insist on this, I think, so the UK will find this is what the


EU side ensures happens. We have just been to a briefing with the


very senior EU sources said that the reason they are insisting on this is


that they have to have clarity and certainty about what happens the day


after Brexit, for example he said the decision by the UK, and he said


this was all because of UK decisions to leave the single market, to leave


the customs union, means there will be two territories with two


different sets of laws and regulations that apply. So what


happens to citizens who moved between the sides, companies who


have contracts between the two things? What about warrants for


arrest that are enforced. In one who is sought across Europe? What


happens on the next day, they want immediate certainty.


Let's not get too granular this morning! There is a softening of the


position here, if you read Michel Barnier's article in the FT -- in


the FT and listen to others in Brussels, they were saying that a


divorce settlement sum had to be agreed before they would even talk


about free trade. The mandate for the Council of ministers is that all


we have to do is agree the parameters of what will determine


the sum, not the summit itself, and then we can start talking about free


trade, perhaps even by October of this year. That is more constructive


than we have heard before? To be perfectly frank, I think that


if you listen very carefully to what the EU had said before, all of the


pronouncements before had talked about the outlines, an outline


agreement on those areas, not the detail, and Michel Barnier himself,


we know that in him saying this to people before, he is looking for


outline agreement on the exit, the citizens, the account opening, the


Irish border, and, at that point, once you have outline agreements,


you can move on to start talking about the future relationship, and


that is what has been reconfirmed by Donald Tusk. I don't think this is a


change of opinion, I beat this is a clear reaffirmation of that which


now goes to the leaders who themselves have blue sign off on


this. This is only a guideline at the minute...


This is what I wanted to ask your next, this is the recommended


negotiating mandate from Mr Tusk, it has to go before all 27 leaders at


the end of April. Are they expected to rubber-stamp this? Do you think


they might still try to make changes?


I think it is unlikely they will make major changes because what was


made clear in our briefing is this has already been agreed in


discussions with those leaders, and what we see in this language is a


reflection of what the leaders have been saying. Angela Merkel said on


Wednesday, after the article 50 letter was delivered, very similar


thing to this, that there must be an outline agreement before


negotiations on a future trade deal can take place. So I think


there might be small changes but the expectation is the leaders will all


agree with this because many of them have already lobbied to have their


issues, the island issue, the Gibraltar issue, reflecting what the


leaders want. So we now know the broad outline,


negotiating positions of both sides as the Brexit talks get underway.


Whether that will happen, we have got until May, the end of June, when


they will actually sit down. We're joined now by the former


Conservative Cabinet And in our Cardiff newsroom by


the Labour backbencher Owen Smith. What is your reaction to the


bargaining position that Mr Tusk has outlined?


It is a construct opening statement. That was a suggestion from some that


we could not start the negotiations on a new trade arrangement until we


completed the Article 50 negotiation. That always seemed


unrealistic to me, but I am pleased to see that Donald Tusk recognises


that, and I hope that we can start discussing both things quite soon,


but I understand that in the first few meetings, they want to


concentrate on the priorities he set out. Owen Smith, what is your


general reaction to watch other? Pleased that it is constructive but


not surprised. It confirms what we suspected: Theresa May was not going


to get what she wanted, which was for there to be instant discussions


of new trading arrangements alongside the discussion of the


divorce settlement. They've made it very clear that will not happen and


we need to broadly settle the divorce payment and broadly settle


the issues about Northern Ireland, and EU citizens in particular,


before we get any idea of future trading arrangements. We have more


prolonged uncertainty, I'm afraid. Donald Tusk does say it could be the


afraid trait -- that the free-trade business could start in October.


Will the British Government accept, although they say, no, we want to


talk about both things? We do want to get on with negating the new


arrangement -- negotiating the new arrangement as soon as possible. It


is a matter for David Davis. I think what Donald Tusk at this stage has


set out seems to me a reasonable approach. The fact that if it is in


October, October is not that far-away, and of course, one of the


things which Donald Tusk mentioned as being something he wanted to sort


out right up front was something we wanted to sort out before we even


began, which was the rights of EU nationals resident in the UK, so we


agree on that. And that can be done? I would like to see it done quickly.


Both sides say it is a priority. We wanted a formal agreement before


sitting down to the negotiations. That must be encouraging, Mr Smith?


Absolutely. It should be settled as soon as possible. We have argued


that our Government could of haste and that by offering a unilateral


view of what the deal would be on our side, but they chose not to take


that. We need to get it resolved quickly because we all want to get


on with getting rid of this uncertainty. Truthfully, what we


have seen in the last few days is the Government trying to say once


more that this will be relatively easy, just as she said there would


be a sector by sector deal, and that has been rebuffed a day once more by


the Europeans. It is going to be very difficult. There are going to


be a huge number of stumbling blocks, and the uncertainty is


unfortunately going to be prolonged. All the while, British businesses


are struggling and suffering. In what way is business struggling at


the moment? Our economy is one of the fastest-growing in the G7.


Interesting this week to see the numbers about the public offerings


in the UK. We have been one of the great markets for public offerings


over the last... Well, forever and ever, but we have seen a ?10 billion


reduction this year versus last. These things are highly cyclical and


all that would change the moment the Saudis put their state owned petrol


company up for sale, and they will be doing a lot of that through


London. Hopefully, but there is a debate right now. There was an


assumption that that company would be listed in London, and every is


now a debate about London or New York. It has... It probably will be


in bold. The primary listing was going to be in London but it now may


not. It is usually cyclical and we have seen rising numbers and


reductions in the UK. I am saying that we all know there is


uncertainty because of Brexit, and that will be longer. I follow these


things very carefully. IPOs in themselves are not a sign of


cyclical uncertainty. Back to something more important - you --


you represent Open Europe, is it your view that we should be a member


of the single market's I don't detect from Europe any desire now,


given we are leaving the EU, that we should remain members of the single


market. My view is crystal clear. We should be members of the single


market. The biggest fib that the Government is telling the country


right now is that we will be able to enjoy the exact same benefits. That


is the praise they have used. Outside the single market as we


currently enjoy within it. Today's statement from President Task makes


it clear that when we leave the single market, we will have a lesser


level of benefits than we -- benefits than we currently enjoy,...


My point was that I don't detect a desire on the other side were asked


to be members of the single market closet complicates it. We could have


argued for that and we didn't. A point to John Whittingdale. We can


maybe, and I emphasise the word may be, do a strong free-trade agreement


with the EU, but it cannot deliver the exact same benefits as full


membership. That's just mission impossible. I think David Davis was


right to say that our ambition is to achieve the freest possible access


for trade in goods and services. But it wouldn't be the exact same


benefits. It may be free and a good deal, but it is not the same


benefits. That can only come by membership of the single market. We


cannot remain members of the single market. One Government priority is


to establish our own UK immigration policy, we can't do that and be in


the single market, so we have to leave. I'm not arguing with that,


but I would like to address that if you accept that, you cannot then say


that however good the freight free Dell, and it may be a bad one or a


good one, however God, it cannot deliver the exact same -- however


good, it cannot deliver the exact same benefits. I would like to start


by saying that is our ambition. Why would the EU get was all the


benefits of the single market without demanding any of the


conditions, the four major conditions? They might because we


buy more from them than we sell to them, so European companies who want


to achieve maximum access to the UK market will be arguing equally that


they should have that. Let me ask you this, John Whittingdale, then I


will go back to Owen Smith: The Donald Tusk statement recognises the


potential for a transitional arrangement after the two years of


the Brexit thought, not an implementation, but a transitional


arrangement. But it does say that the European Court's jurisdiction


would have to remain, and it also implies that free movement would


continue during that period too. Would you be up for that? At this


stage, I don't want a transitional period. I hope we can achieve an


agreement within the timescale the Prime Minister has set out, so to


start conceding things as part of a transitional agreement when we would


hopefully not even require that... The Prime Minister has talked about


what she calls an implementation period, so there is clearly a


recognition on both sides that it may not all be done within the two


years. They may use different words, but they probably amount to pretty


much the same thing. These things will have to be thrashed out in the


negotiation. We will abide by all our allegations and the European


Court of Justice judgments while we are still a member. What happens in


the meantime if there is a deal for an implementation period, we will


have to negotiate it. It is being called a transitional period, which


is different because implementation implies that you have agreed


everything but it takes a bit longer to implement. Transitional implies


that you leave some things, I would suggest, for that period. Is that


how you see it? Yes, it is inevitable almost that this will


take longer than two years and there will be some sort of interim,


transitional, call it what you want, period in which we pay into the EU


and abide by EU rules and regulations. In conclusion, I want


to say, one of the things that has been knocked down completely in the


statement from Donald Tusk and it needs to be acknowledged by John and


others, is that we will not have the same benefits as we enjoy in the


single market. They make it very clear, as you put it to him, that if


you're not a member of the club, why would you expect the same benefits


as those playing their subs -- paying their subs? The Government


need to be clear about that. We will have a lesser status and fewer


benefits when we leave, and that may well have economic consequences for


the country. Ben what do you make of it? While it's clear we won't have


the same benefits if we are not in the single market, there are


potential positives to that that the Labour Party are not making enough


of. There are elements of the Lisbon Treaty covering competition in state


aid. The Labour Party policy since Jeremy Corbyn has included a wave of


nationalisation, public ownership. They talk about an investment bank


to invest in areas of the economy and fund British industry, some of


which is prohibited by EU law. The Labour Party could be looking into


that. Mr Tusk said that we would need a level playing field and we


would have two love died by broadly the same state aid and tax regime as


the rest of Europe. -- we would have to abide broadly. He represents the


27. Poland is challenging the Val added -- the validity of his


presidency and are asking about these mechanisms. It will be


negotiated, but Mr Tusk is saying, if you want a good Trego, fine - you


have to stick broadly to our state subsidy and fiscal rules. Isabel,


what do you think? Millions of people who voted Brexit may be


pragmatic and realise that there may need to be some erosion in benefits


that we have in terms of the trade deal that struck, and they will feel


that is a reasonable price pay for the advantages... Including


transitional arrangements during which EU rules would continue to


apply? There would be a lot of nerves about a drawn-out


transitional period, because it is not the pub business. One other


point: What is going on broadly is the EU feels it needs an early win


for its people, so they want to come back saying, look, we will charge


the UK X amount. We won't have to deliver that money until the entire


deal is done, so maybe we need to give them a bit of space. There will


be plenty to talk about in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you for


joining us this morning, or this afternoon, as it is now.


Today Defence Secretary Michael Fallon is meeting his US


counterpart, General James Mattis, on his first visit to the UK


On matters of defence and security, the US and UK already


work closely together, mainly through NATO,


an alliance of 28 countries which serves as a bulwark


However, the new US administration has been less than enthusiastic


Just before he took office, Donald Trump told reporters


he thought Nato was "obsolete", a statement that caused


However, when Theresa May visited the White House


at the end of January, she insisted the new president


While the UK has committed to the Nato requirement of spending


2% of GDP on defence, it's one of only five


countries in the 28-member alliance paying its way.


After Angela Merkel visited Washington earlier this month,


Trump again rattled the alliance by tweeting that Germany owed "vast


sums of money" to Nato and was in the US's debt.


That surprised people in Berlin and London too.


HQ in Brussels this week, where he'll repeat Trump's


demand that allies ramp up their military spending.


Meanwhile, just short of 1000 UK army personnel are joining Nato's


deployment in Eastern Europe this spring - the majority


Well, just a few minutes ago, the Defence Secretaries held a joint


Let's hear what James Mattis had to say.


Russia's violations of international law are now a matter of record, from


what happened in Crimea to other aspects of their behaviour, mucking


around inside other people's elections, that sort of thing, so I


think the point I would make is that Nato stands united, the


transatlantic bond is united. We are going to maintain Article five as


the absolute bedrock of the Nato alliance, and we will, as you see


with the European reassurance initiative, act accordingly if


Russia decides to be a strategic competitor.


Article 5 is the principle that an attack on one Nato member is an


attack on the whole of Nato. To discuss all that we're joined


by Professor Michael Clarke, who's a senior fellow


at the Royal United We have heard conflicting voices


from the Tramp administration, including from the president


himself. Do you have a clear review now, is there any major change in


the US' attitude to Nato? No, the things Mr Trump said he said on the


campaign trail, mainly, and some pretty dramatic things. Somebody


asked him, if the Russians were to attack Europe, would America


automatically come to Europe's aid, and he said, it depends, it is


conditional. Since then, Mr Tillerson, the Secretary of State,


and James matters, have made the sort of statement you would expect


them to make, article five, the defence article is solid, that


Nato's 's validity is there, but behind all those statements, of


course, nobody really knows what Mr Trump is going to think, as


president, and he comes to Nato in about eight weeks' time so one of


the things Michael Fallon and Jim Mattis will be talking about today


is, how are we going to handle this? I think Jim Mattis will be saying,


when the boss comes over, this is what you will have to tell him. I


think that will be part of the agenda on the talks. For the Trump


administration, the real issue when it comes to spending is Germany,


because they spent nowhere near 2%, the strongest economy in Europe,


they spend nowhere near 2% of GDP, it is about 1.2, 1.3, and a lot of


what they spend it on is equipment that doesn't work very well. Angela


Merkel said that although she accepts it has to rise to 2%, she is


talking about 2024. The Americans say, hold on, you run a budget


surplus, we run both as deficits, you have to do more. That will be a


big issue. Yes, the Germans won the biggest balance of trade surplus in


the world, it is astonishing, and they are on what is now big Nato


European average of spending, 1.2, 1.3%, which is very poor, and the


Germans have said, of course, we have put a floor under that, it will


rise but it will take too long for the Americans. The difference with


the Trump administration compared with others, who have said the same


thing, is that the belief is that if Nato doesn't deliver quickly,


certainly in the first three or four years of the Trump administration,


that Donald Trump himself will moderate his commitment, that he


will do something about it, whereas previous presidents have just nagged


and nagged and not much about it, so in a sense he has frightened the


Europeans into taking his demands more seriously. He had beer and


predictability on his side, which previous presidents not have.


Another big issue, it seems pretty clear that Russia is trying to wean


Turkey away from Nato. This it a bit, if not entirely. President


Erdogan may be minded to go down that route, he seems pretty out of


sorts with Europe these days, particularly after what happened in


Holland with his ministers, and it is not clear that the US


administration is going to go in and fight for that, I mean not


militarily but fight to keep Turkey in Nato. It is no coincidence that


Rex Tillerson, who is in Brussels today for his meeting, is on his way


back from Ankara. The US is trying to take seriously the idea that we


have to persuade Turkey to think again about some other positions it


has taken but you are right, President Erdogan is flirting with


the idea of real friendship with Russia and this is, remember, an


important Nato member, Turkey is important to what happened in the


Middle East, in Iraq, very important to what happened in the


Mediterranean and President Erdogan is playing off both sides. He is fed


up with the European Union, pretty fed up with Nato and there is a


temporary alliance, I think it is temporarily, it may last a while,


but temporarily between Turkey, Russia and Iran to deal with the


Isis crisis and, as Erdogan sees it, the Kurdish crisis, and rather late


in the day the US seems to have woken up to the importance of that.


Nobody has a voice like the US in persuading Turkey just to think


again about this rather wild card diplomacy that Erdogan is following.


There is a big issue therefore Europe and Nato, particularly for


the EU, when we leave the EU, because once we leave, 80% of Nato


spending and Nato is fundamentally there to protect the EU and


countries around it, 80% of the spending will be from countries


outside the EU. That is surely unsustainable? It will be an


interesting situation for sure, and more than that, the countries that


can create frameworks, that organise Nato forces, our America, Canada,


Britain and Germany, so in a few years only one of those countries,


Germany, is in the EU, so we need to think differently about European


defence. The idea that Nato and EU form complementary activities, work


together and so on, that has been the narrative for 20 odd years. We


have do start looking differently because Nato certainly needs new


leadership, Britain is trying to provide some of that leadership, but


I have to say that until we know what the American attitude is, more


clearly, it is not obvious to us how we can work that three. Isabel,


should we be concerned about Nato? Absolutely, it is something I am


looking into with Lord Ashcroft at the moment, writing a book on the


state of the Armed Forces and the strength of our alliances. I think


there are many fractures within Nato that are not necessarily widely


appreciated, different factions with different agendas. I think these


exercises that we have, Nato deployments, are quite tokenistic,


there is no supply line, no readiness there to take on a Russian


aggression in the Baltics, and obviously this issue with Turkey is


extremely worrying. Then, the Morning Star has traditionally been


more interested in the defence of Russia than Nato, you have always


been against Nato, so you must be quite happy that Nato is we? I would


not phrases like that, Andrew. We would certainly say Nato is an


aggressive alliance, we heard the term sphere and unpredictability


used about President Trump earlier, I think those would equally apply to


President Erdogan who is fighting a vicious war against his own


population... He's not doing that under the umbrella of Nato. Article


five ties Britain to the decisions of Government who are Nato members.


Who has Nato attacked in Europe? Nato has not attacked countries in


Europe but it was heavily involved in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia


in the 90s, the destruction of Namibia, which is outside Europe,


but this alliance unites us to those objectives and I think Britain would


be safer + Nato. That is a pretty big position! Explain how we would


be safer without the protection of the Nato alliance. It risks dragging


us into conflicts such as Syria by the Turkish Government is... It is


your friend is the Russians who are in Syria. The Russians have


interviewed, but the Turks have also intervened. We have not got troops


in Syria. My point was that we risk being dragged into a war by end Nato


ally. So you think Nato has played no part in keeping the western


Europe democratic and free during the years of the Soviet threat? I


would say Nato was founded before the Warsaw Pact and was a threat to


eastern Europe and not the other way round. It was formed in response to


Soviet tanks taking control of all of Eastern Europe. It was formed


before the Warsaw Pact as an aggressive alliance. The Warsaw Pact


was formed after the Soviets had taken over all of Eastern Europe!


The Warsaw Pact was an Eastern Alliance, the equivalent of Nato. I


think everyone will be relieved that you are not running the country.


Professor Clark, I would like your reaction to the story we are moving


onto, stay with us. Hundreds of British Muslims


have travelled to join But what about those


fighting on the other side? A bit like joining the Foreign


Legion, increasingly we've seen So, how should those fighters be


treated when they return? Kurdish military groups in Syria


and Iraq are engaged in a bitter They are widely recognised


as the most effective fighting force But this is also considered to be


a Socialist movement, establishing a system of democracy


in this troubled region. And, thanks to social media,


would-be fighters from the UK have been able to make contact


and join them. My name is Zaidan Azlin,


Kurdish name is Rezat Rojava. Those who've left the comfort


of Britain to take up arms here in Syria include a former chef,


an IT worker and a care assistant. Some of those who return


after fighting against IS are now being arrested by counterterror


police when they arrive So, is fighting abroad for anyone


apart from the British Army I've come to meet John Harding,


who has fought in Syria twice. He became the commander


of a medical unit helping I'm not there to kill people,


I'm there to liberate. Everybody has the right


to live freely. Daesh have taken that


right away from people. I, along with some other people,


are protecting that right. You don't get any


pleasure from this. When John returned a few weeks ago,


he was detained at the airport and says he's been told he is under


investigation by I was asked to speak to a couple


of officers from special branch, who questioned me under suspicion


of preparing for acts of terrorism. I think they have to make sure,


but I don't think it There would be no need for this


waste of public funds The YPG, a military


unit formed to defend It's difficult to verify numbers,


but the YPG says hundreds of western volunteers from many different


countries have fought with them. The YPG is not a proscribed


terror group in the UK, but it is considered a terror


organisation by Turkey. The difficulty from the point of


view of MI5 and the counterterrorist police is that the YPG has links


to a similar organisation, called the PKK, which is classed


by the European Union, the United States and ourselves


as a terrorist organisation. Before 2013, David Cameron


himself was not sure It's become OK to support


the Kurds, very brave people, but you kind of break a taboo,


a barrier to kill other people, The first time I went home,


the British police, they arrested me and accused me of terrorism


for fighting against Daesh. When this man from Nottinghamshire


spent months on bail after his return last year,


his local Conservative MP, Robert Jenrick, called him


brave and urged police If this is something that I believe


in, then I need to do it. And Kimi Taylor, the first British


woman fighting with the Kurds, says her family have now been told


they could be prosecuted. There's clear warnings


from the Government that British fighters in Syria risk breaking


counterterror laws, But evidence shows that's unlikely


to put off those who continue Whatever measure you take,


as long as there is a problem there, as long as there is a war there,


as long as there is injustice being done, there are a lot


of humanitarian people And John Harding is already


planning to head back. There are other ways


to help - why do this? If fighting alongside the Kurds


is breaking UK terror laws, They've publicly said that the Kurds


are our biggest allies in the fight against Isis,


and it's the right thing to do. And Michael Clarke from


Rusi is still with us. Professor Clark, we have been most


concerned about British citizen to have gone to fight for Isis and how


we handle them as they return to this country and how big a terror


threat they could represent. How do we handle those who, if I can put it


this way, went to fight for the other side? It is more of a


difficult one. Actually there are very few cases, their only seem to


be a dozen or couple of dozen people in this category, whereas seven or


800 people have gone to fight for Isis or al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda


related group. So it is a small group of people who have gone to the


Y PGP today are difficult cases. Technically they have not broken the


law, the Y PGE is not a terrorist organisation according to Europe,


the United Nations or the United States, but sebum -- some people


might claim to be working with the YPG when they have been working with


someone else, and also as your report said the YPG does relate to


the PKK, which is a proscribed terrorist organisation, so anyone


who goes to fight for the YPG has to accept they will be a person of


interest when they come back and the onus is on them to show they did


work with the YPG and did not engage with terrorism in any other respect.


At the moment, counterterrorism forces seem to deal with this on a


case-by-case basis, as you said the numbers are not huge, but fewer


people than went to fight for Islamic State. If that's the correct


way to proceed at the moment, on a case-by-case basis? I guess it will


be because we are only dealing with a handful of people and all of the


cases are different, people go for different reasons and who knows


where they will end up? If they stay for six months, a year, if they stay


alive, they may end up working with all sorts of groups, there are so


many groups operating at the moment that it is logical services will be


interested in any British nationals who, for whatever reason, find


themselves in Syria or Iraq in the middle of the fighting. Professor


Clark, thanks for joining us on these topics.


The Green Party's Spring Conference is getting under way


The party's co-leaders, Jonathan Bartley and Caroline Lucas,


will be getting to the stage in just over an hour's time.


In their joint address, they'll say that the Government's Brexit


strategy is "extreme" and that it amounts to a "right-wing coup".


Joining me now is the party's deputy leader, Amelia Womack.


Amelia Womack, you're are against Brexit, and many people are, and


some people call it a hard Brexit, but you call it extreme - why? Good


afternoon, Andrew, and thank you for having me today. It is extreme


because, frankly, nobody voted for this type of Brexit, taking us out


of the single market, out of the customs union come a potentially


turning the UK into a tax haven. We have people saying there is going to


be a bonfire of red tape, and we know that that red tape is our human


rights and workers' rights and environmental protections. We need


to be ensuring we do not allow Ukip and the Conservatives, some of the


right-wing press, to destroy those rights that protect people. If any


of that was true, and I would suggest all of it is contentious,


but if any of it was true, why has the European Union reaction been so


conciliatory? Could you repeat that? If any of what you have said is


true, why is the European Union reaction so conciliar Tore, saying,


yes, we can do a deal on this? It is about -- so conciliatory. It is


about having a Great Repeal Bill that is transparent, not one that


has holes in it. I will attempt to get you to answer this. My question


was, if it is so extreme, why does the European Union in its response


think it can do business with us? We can have trade deals, but that is


not the same as being in a single market and protecting those rights.


It is not the same position to be in, and we can be talking about


deals, but we do not know what is on the table. That is why we are also


talking about a ratification referendum, making sure the EU


referendum was just the beginning of the process. It is this word


extreme. You bandy about words like extreme and right-wing coup. Where


is the right wing to? I missed that bit. Who meant that? When we talk


about a right-wing coup, it is about something that people didn't vote


for, that the Leave campaign did not say we believe the single market.


Guess they did. Bright white -- the Conservative Party was elected


without having these policies in its manifesto. An extreme Brexit, hard


Brexit, soft Brexit, it was not on the ballot paper am not something


people specifically voted for. The Prime Minister said, I want the


United Kingdom to be merged stronger, fairer, more united, more


outward looking than ever before. I want us to be secure, prosperous and


tolerant - what is the extreme bit in that? It also feels like they


have a blank cheque to do what they like, to push through certain


policies as a result of the vehicle of Brexit. On the Prime Minister's


words, the words that she said there, which bit was extreme? It is


like she has a blank cheque, because even though those words might be


taken lightly, reducing tax, for instance, where does that end when


we need those taxes for those services that deliver the way this


country works. Potentially, we're turning the UK into a tax haven.


Labour has accused the Government of that. The Government has never used


these words. You used the word extreme, but let us look at the


position of the Government on a number of things at the moment. It


wants to close as possible relationship with the EU. It is in


favour of continued participation in Nato, in favour of free trade, and


it wants to manage migration but not stop it. Your party is against Nato,


against defence spending, in favour of no controls and immigration, and


now largely against free trade - I wonder who the extreme party really


is. I would suggest it is you. You said that Prime Minister is talking


about tolerance, but she is also talking about using migrants as a


bargaining chip. Every time I ask a question, you answer one I have not


asked. I am saying to you that your party's policies, against


globalisation and free trade, defence spending, against Nato and


any control on immigration whatsoever, that is the extreme


policies. We're not not against migration, it is about a more human


form of migration that makes sure families are not separated, that we


can have nurses in the NHS who are not deported. How much control on


immigration would you have? Making sure we are reuniting families, not


deporting people who don't earn enough, people in our NHS,


delivering fundamental services. Great games, but they are not


controls. It is still not an open borders policy, and I think that at


the moment, having an arbitrary tick box exercise for migrants isn't


working. It is ignoring the fact that many of the problems we have in


the UK are as a result of failure of Government policy. We have not built


in a housing, for instance. We don't have a proper living wage. You would


have the border open, but as many people say, we should build more


homes, more schools, have better public services for the people


coming to this country, but you would not control the numbers, would


you? We would make sure that families were reunited. It is a


long-term ambition. As a long-term ambition... It is not what we're


talking about at the moment. We're talking about making sure we're not


stopping people coming as a result of arbitrary reasons. You might have


seen that at our conference a woman who was turned away for a visa


because she was single. Because she was single? Because she wasn't in a


relationship was the reason given by the Home Office, making her unable


to attend a conference in the UK. The Government says we are open for


business, but it is a conference like this that would show we were


open for business. Amelia Womack, I will have to stop you. Enjoy the


rest of your conference. Thank you for being with us.


What will be the most obvious sign that the UK has left the EU?


For some people, it'll be the front cover of our passports,


which will no longer have to bear the words "European Union".


There have been calls to go back to the dark-blue cover of old,


but an online design magazine is running a competition


to see if there are any other ideas out there.


Adam's been to hang out with the north London


The uber-trendy offices of website Dezeen, where they've been inundated


with pictures for a Brexit passport for professionals and amateurs from


-- with pictures for a Brexit passport by


professionals and amateurs from


This one reinvents the whole idea of a passport, which is usually


This is designed to be worn with pride and


to start conversations with our friends overseas.


This one just reinvents what the colour of a


This is very colourful, but actually, all of


these patterns are based on geological survey drawings of


Another slightly subversive one, this one


represents the 52% who voted out, and the 48% who voted in.


This one treats Brexit as a blank canvas, so


..very, calm, quiet passport with a white cover on it,


And a faded-out Union Jack, but the whole idea, it's, like,


This one is very optimistic, because it does actually show Loch Ness.


Sifting through the short list, an esteemed panel of


designers, an academic, a journalist, and the boss of the


Design Museum, where the winner will go on display next month.


What do you think about our current passport?


It's been carefully jollied up with scenes


of English, Scottish, Welsh


and Irish landscapes, and with charming cottages and flowers.


You compare it with the Americans, who


have astronauts, pioneers and people with pitchforks.


It's all just a bit of fun, because it will be up to the


Home Office to choose the look of any future passport, but there's


good news if you want to bring back the old dark-blue one - the


international rules say a country can choose any colour or material


they like for the front cover, as long as it is a standard size.


I used to have one of these passports, but it wouldn't fit into


the electronic machines today, would it? We can't go back to the blue


ones. I don't want one and never had one. How about gold or silver,


something that shows how our future is looking? Golden and bright.


Orange or something. I would be happy with red. Should be change it?


The European Union bit has to come off if we're out of the EU, but is


that all we should do? I think the current passport is quite nice. It


has nice scenes from around Britain in it. Has it? Faded on the inside


pages. Yours has too many stamps! We will see if we change the passport.


Not the highest priority at the moment, but it is symbolic to some


people, I can understand that. Time now for our round-up


of the political week. Here's Ellie Price with the top


stories, in just sixty seconds. Forget Dear John, this


was the Dear Don letter that Britain's Brussels ambassador


handed Theresa May's missive to EU Council


President Donald Tusk. Can I add to this,


we already miss you. The Prime Minister legged it up


to Glasgow to meet the First The next day, the Scottish


Parliament approved Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second


referendum on independence. Amber Rudd demanded a crackdown


on terrorists using social media and was ridiculed for her


grasp of techno speak. The best people who understand


the technology, who understand the necessary hashtags


to stop this stuff even being put up, not just taking it down,


but stopping it getting up The boss of NHS England says


patients face longer waits for operations in a trade-off


for improved care in other areas. And today, the Chancellor


authorised the sale of the Bradford Bingley


mortgages it took on during the financial crisis, earning


the taxpayer nearly ?12 billion. There's just time before we go


to find out the answer to our quiz. This is the photo that was released


of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon signing the letter


to Theresa May calling for a second But who has Scottish Conservative


leader Ruth Davidson Is it: a) Theresa May,


b) Margaret Thatcher, c) Angela Merkel, or d) Melania


Trump. Thatcher. It is. Let us show you the


picture for the similarities. That is the picture we are looking for.


She is on the sofa, like Nicola Sturgeon. I'm sure we can agree they


were both highly post pictures. Thank you to Ben and Isabel. I will


be back on the Sunday Politics this Sunday on BBC One at 11am. Hope you


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