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Hello, and welcome
to the Daily Politics.
Theresa May is told to 'get
a grip' by her own MPs -
so is the Prime Minister's future
at risk, and what exactly
are her critics asking for?
While all of that's going on here,
the EU is meeting to agree
its opening gambit for the next
stage of the Brexit negotiations -
we'll have all the details.
Labour's councils say the party's
ruling body has no right
to intervene in local decisions
like those in Haringey,
north London, and says it's set
a "dangerous and
And we know the corridors of power
have seen better days -
so will MPs this week finally agree
to move out to let
the builders in to Parliament?
All that in the next hour,
and with us for the whole
of the programme today two MPs
who have temporarily located
to the slightly less delapidated
surroundings of the Daily Politics
studio - it's Cat Smith
from Labour and Bim Afolami
from the Conservatives.
Welcome to the programme.
First today, the former Education
Secretary Justine Greening,
who left the Cabinet in January,
has been setting out some
of her criticisms of the current
student finance model.
Here she is talking to the Today
The fact that there's a maintenance
loan that's now replaced the grant,
and that means, I think wrongly,
to be perfectly frank,
that young people from more
poorer backgrounds are coming out,
like for like, on the same course,
with more debt than
their better-off peers.
So you think, replace the
maintenance grant, go back to the
which is about a 2 billion...
it's not a small cost, it's
about a 2 billion annual cost,
a it's significant thing to do.
I think we have to have
a student finance system
Justine Greening, the former
Education Secretary. Do you agree
with her that they should be a
return to the maintenance grant,
I have sympathy with that view
but we need to look at tuition fees
in the round. I've heard that from
my constituencies, that issue, but
the level of the fees, and the whole
system has to be looked at together.
And when you say look at it in the
round, do you have a sympathy for a
return to the maintenance grant? Do
you believe students from poorer
backgrounds have suffered due to
changes to that loan?
If you look at
participation of those students, it
is higher than it was since before
the Conservative government came
into office in 2010. I don't agree
are seeing that in the evidence, in
terms of poorer students believing
that they do want to go to
university more and more.
think it has been a success, why do
you want to change it back to a
I said I have
sympathy with the idea, it needs to
be looked at in the round but we
need to look at improving the
system, there is no point in looking
at something statically, we can look
at how the system has been improved
in the future.
One way is bringing
down a relatively high interest rate
on loans. Do you support that? And,
personally, I do. It seems odd
speaking to constituents that we do
have this interest rate that is very
high. I do have a lot of sympathy
that but it needs to be looked at in
the round alongside the maintenance
grant, the level of tuition fees and
the system as a whole. How low
should interest rates be?
know, that needs to be looked at and
calculate it in accordance with the
Cat, is it Labour's policy
to abolish or tuition fees?
Absolutely, the manifesto we went
into the general election on is as
it stands. We do not know when the
next election will be an policy will
continue to develop. It's
interesting, those comments on
maintenance grants. I was at the
Lancaster University meeting of the
court, the senior management at the
university plus representatives and
students. What really came across
from the students union in terms of
their presentation is students
facing a cost of living crisis.
you accept numbers of students from
poorer backgrounds has not tailed
off in terms of going to university?
The facts are there but it is clear
that students who come from less
well-off backgrounds are graduating
with more debt. I do not think
anyone can argue that that is a fair
outcome from the system currently in
What is the solution and
Labour's policy to historic debt
During the election, we did not
have a pledge or commitment on that.
In an interview widely promoted by
certain conservatives about what
Jeremy Corbyn said, he acknowledged
it is a problem.
He said he would
deal with it, do Labour cabbie
solution on how to -- have a
We have an
intergenerational fairness issue
going on here. We have young people
going into higher education and that
is great but they are graduating
with huge amounts of debt and going
into a life where house prices have
increased but wages are kept low.
There is a real sense of unfairness
and that that holds people back.
Where would you like to see the
policy announced? It is a big issue,
as you say, and there are claims of
intergenerational unfairness. When
will Labour publicise its
will Labour publicise its policy on
how to deal with historic debt? The
next scheduled general election is
not for 4.5 years... We had to wait
I hope the next general
election is sooner and that then
they will be able to present a
All right, then.
The Prime Minister is chairing
a meeting of her cabinet
sub-committee on Brexit this
morning, where ministers
will discuss the UK's future
relationship with the EU.
But over in Brussels,
the foreign ministers
of the remaining 27 EU countries
are meeting to mark an important
point in the Brexit process,
as they finalise their negotiating
stance on the transition period
immediately after Brexit.
Also referred to as the
it's the period of a few years
after we leave in March next year.
So let's look at the key issues that
will be up for negotiation.
How long will the transition last?
The UK has said about two
years while the EU has
suggested December 2020...
The EU wants the UK to continue
honouring all treaties,
free-trade agreements and other
arrangements between the EU
and other countries.
It doesn't want the UK to sign any
deals of its own, although the UK
says it can negotiate and even
signed deals to come into effect
The EU wants freedom of movement
to continue as before,
but the government is planning
to introduce a registration system
for EU citizens coming to live
in the UK during the transition
The EU wants the UK to comply
with all EU laws and regulations
during transition, including any
changes made without UK approval...
But the government has said it wants
a new mechanism to vet any
disagreements over new rules brought
in during the transition.
Our man in Brussels Adam
Fleming joins us now...
Welcome back to the programme. What
should we expect?
What we should
expect in the next few minutes is
the European affairs ministers from
the remaining 27 EU countries
arriving on the red carpet.
I've seen the Austrian
representative, the Danish and the
Barbarian. They will stop, it's an
opportunity for us to ask them
questions about the Brexit process
and shenanigans there. They will sit
down for a meeting at 3:30pm, then
they will publish their negotiation
directives, a document setting out
their positions on this transition
period, which the artist government
prefers to call an implementation
phase. Michel Barnier, the chief
negotiator, we haven't heard from
him in a little while, then he has
the green light to talk formerly
with the British government about
getting details of this
implementation phase nailed down.
The British government would like
this to be a big political agreement
about transition terms, by the time
of the neck summit of EU leaders,
which will be on the 23rd of March.
Are there any signs of agreement
between the two sides broadly on
Well, the British
government's view and the view of
British officials is these
transition guidelines have been
drawn up as a result of a request
from the UK and a speech the Prime
Minister made in Florence, she said
that she wants access to other
markets to continue on current
terms. The UK Spain, if you like, is
that these are directives drawn up
with the UK in mind. The EU say that
this is what we are offering you and
is the only way it can be done, with
UK sticking to all of the rules and
obligations that basically come with
EU membership, without being a
member of the EU. The big thing that
will have to be agreed between the
two sides in the next few weeks is
this process for dealing with issues
of mutual interest. So, for example,
fishing quotas, which will have to
be set for the year 2020 at a
meeting of fisheries ministers here
in Brussels, in December 20 19. The
UK will be bound by those fishing
quotas. But they will not have a
seat at the table, technically. A
way will have to be found to have
them nearer to the door, or a stand
at the table, rather than a seat at
the table, whatever metaphor you
want to use, so that issue of
interest can be sorted by the two
Let's speak now to the Belgian
MEP Philippe Lamberts,
he's a member of the European
Parliament's Brexit Steering Group
and he's in Brussels...
In your mind, how long do you think
the transition period, or the
implementation phase, will be?
I know that both UK and the European
Union want this to be short. About
two years but frankly speaking, I
would not bet too much money on
this. Looking at the number of
things that have to be negotiated
during the transition period for a
deal to be finalised, in that
period, he would need a long time --
you would need a lot more time than
the two years. You cannot be too
ideological. Some resent the only
way for the UK to keep file access
to the European single market, in
the meantime, means abiding by
regulation. It is true, it means a
number of obligations for the UK but
also a number of rights. During the
transition period. Basically, the
United Kingdom would be in a
quasi-membership status during this
transition period. It would not set
at the table where decisions are
made. I understand that it is an
uncomfortable position but you need
time to finalise the future
quasi-status, as you say, does it
mean in terms of membership, would
you expect the UK to still
contribute to the budget, if it were
to be longer than two years, the
It is part of the
equation. In her Florence speech,
Theresa May conceded that during the
transition, the UK would contribute
in order to secure access to the
single market. My honest assessment
of the commitment made in December,
not made any bolder in the Irish
Sea, -- no border in Ireland. Of
course, that is what negotiations
will tell us.
In that negotiation,
would you accept the fact that a
freedom of movement would change,
even during the transition period,
if the UK is developing its own
registration system, that that would
be negotiated as part of
believe so, there is a large degree
of unity on the EU 27 side, that
while the UK remains fully in the
customs union, all of the
obligations that come with it,
including free circulation of
people, that stance. There isn't
really any wiggle room there. There
is a lot of wiggle room afterwards
for a future relationship but not
And in terms of
the rules that you say that Britain
would be under the jurisdiction of
the rules made, any new roles in
terms of a transition period, with
the UK, in your mind, should it be
allowed to have an input, still, in
those roles that would then over
Well, certainly, if Brexit
has happened at the end of March
2019, no Brits would sit in the
European Parliament in the European
Commission college, and at European
Council yet. I think it would make
sense, that we receive nonbinding
opinions by the British government.
Also, sometimes there are very good
ideas coming out of London and we
should heed them if they make sense.
I have rejoiced at the contributions
the British governance has been
making and I will not change my mind
afterwards. The key point is that it
can be advised and requested that
they cannot be binding on the 27th.
You speak for Parliament, obviously,
as an MEP. Your view is that you
have reflected, on a number of
issues, do you think that the view
of the leaders of the country are
represented by the council?
but on transition I am less adamant
than some on this. Some say we
cannot have a longer transition
because of the current multi-annual
budget framework expires in 2020 and
it would be cumbersome to draw the
next multi-annual budget without the
UK, but with it taking into account
a British contribution but to me, it
is a nonissue. If the transition has
to be longer, it has to be longer. A
cliff edge would be bad for the EU
27 and the UK. Therefore if we need
a longer transition period, fine by
me. But I know some have been more
ideological issue on that.
bring in a Tory MP guest in the
studio, Bim, I will come back to you
in a moment. What is your reaction
to a longer transition period, if
necessary. He says he thinks it will
be, no alternative immigration
registration system during the
transition and yes, we would have to
take all new rules that come into
play while we are still in this
I think the most interesting thing
that the gentlemen said was that he
was quite flexible and he thought
other EU states would be flexible...
Not on all of those issues.
Britain having a say on certain
rules which would apply to us during
the transition period. I think that
is important. But we shouldn't be
too ideological about this. We need
to make sure that as we leave the
European Union we get it right. If
that means that in the process of
those previous, we have to accept
things that we otherwise won't
accept after that period, then we
have to do so, because I think it's
important that when we leave we do
so on the right terms in the right
You would be happy to see
transition go beyond March 2021?
think that when you agree a time
period, we have got to stick to
that, is very important.
to says it will not be achievable?
lot of people have said a lot of
things are not achievable in this
process and they have been achieved.
We have got to work towards a date
and get it done by then.
Lamberts, it is now evident that the
UK would not be the only country to
vote to leave the EU in a
referendum, you have no doubt heard
the French president revealing that
he believes voters in France would
do the same if given the choice -
hardly a vote of confidence in the
European Union, is it?
I do not
share that view. What I witnessed on
the ground, and not just in my home
country, is that yes, there is
resentment about many policies
carried out at European level. But
that's resentment does not translate
into a will to leave. I think the
vast majority of our citizens want
to change the set of policies that
are carried out at European level,
look at the level of inequality that
we have, for instance, people resent
asp and the EU is often seen as a
vehicle of those inequality policies
- well, we need to change that. But
it is not by chance that Marine Le
Pen lost in the French campaign, it
is not by chance that the populists
across Europe are toning down there
Macron thought that even despite
that that French voters would vote
to leave if given a referendum?
opinion is the same as anyone else's
but I do not share that opinion.
it the case in your mind that the EU
does have to show it is being very
tough on Britain, to deter any other
member states deciding to hold an
No. I think that
is bad policy.
is bad policy. Keeping people
together by scaremongering is not a
good policy. So, we should be fair
in our dealings with the UK and
indeed with obligations. Lack of
membership comes with benefits and
with negatives as well. So, we do
not have to make the situation worse
than it is, because I do believe
that for the UK, being out of the
single market and customs union and
being out of many co-operations with
the European Union is not a good
place to be in any think people will
realise that, without us being
forced to darken the picture. I
think it is not good policy. We
should keep an open hand, an
extended hand, and again, on the
issue of the UK having a say, I want
to be very precise, that the UK can
contribute opinions, fine, but it
cannot have a voice in the decision.
The decision is for the 27 to make.
Philippe Lamberts, thank you very
much. So, they could have a voice at
the table but it wouldn't be
binding, they would not have a
decisive say on rules from the
European Court of Justice - would
you accept that?
I think we have got
to wait and see what the negotiation
turns up. He is making the point
from the EU's perspective. The
British Government's view will be
different and we will see where we
Do you agree with the
Eurosceptics in the Conservative
Party that Philip Hammond is a block
to Brexit and should be sacked?
don't agree with that, I think
that's wrong. I think Philip Hammond
along with the other Cabinet
ministers who have spoken to about,
other issues are working very hard
with the Prime Minister to get the
best deal they can.
Cat, on the idea
of a second referendum, Jeremy
Corbyn has said that isn't going to
happen. Do you agree with him when
the vast majority of Labour Party
members would like to see a second
I do agree with Jeremy
Paxman. I campaigned to remain but I
was clear when I was campaigning
that it was the referendum which
would decide and unfortunately for
me I was on the losing side but I
respect the outcome. And now we have
to deliver. But there should be
binding vote in parliament on the
final deal, and that was something
which the Labour called for.
what sort of customs union does
Labour want to see with the EU?
is obvious that the EU 27 are some
of our closest neighbours
geographically and we will want to
continue trading with them. It makes
sense to be in A customs union.
would that work?
This is a long way
off now and negotiations are to be
had on that. But it is important
that business in Britain can trade
with the EU 27 countries.
got the same position, then, with
the Conservative Party on that?
I think the direction of travel that
we are seeing from David Davis and
Theresa May is chaotic. Given that
it is now nearly two years since we
had this referendum, to have only
got this far, I think, is quite
irresponsible on the part of the
But we do not know your
position at the moment. You say it
is chaotic, and that might be but in
terms of what you're offering, to
voters, in terms of where you would
be with the Brexit negotiations,
what is the difference in terms of
the close alignment with the EU that
some are saying within the
government and what you're offering?
Well, we don't want to see a Brexit
deal that will damage jobs in the
British economy or reduce
environmental and is workers'
rights. I think the difference
between the two parties probably
rests mostly on that there a lot of
Tory Brexiteers who want to rip up
employment rights and shred
there any risk of that happening?
That just rubbish and wrong. In
relation to the Labour Party, their
position is chaotic. You have had
frontbenchers saying they're
definitely going to leave the
customs union, you've had Diane
Abbott saying they want a second
referendum, you have had others
staying that they should stay in the
customs union, we have had Cat now
saying that there should be A
But they are not the
government at the moment, so can you
reassure viewers that there would
not be any ripping up of workers'
rights or employment rights, that
jobs would not be under threat?
the government has never said, not
once, that we want to get rid of
employment rights or get rid of
environmental and, this is just
completely wrong and frankly it is
scaremongering from the Labour Party
for political reasons, and I don't
think that is helping this country
or anybody get the best deal with
the European Union.
I think it's
really clear that there are Tory
backbenchers who do want to see that
kind of Brexit, and what we're
seeing, and I hope we're not going
into another story here, but with
Theresa May as weak as she is as
Prime Minister, she is under immense
pressure from the backbenchers to do
these things like ripping up
employment rights and environmental
Do you see that Britain is
at risk of becoming a vassal state,
that this idea of remaining in the
European Union in all but name is
now a real prospect, suddenly during
the transition and possibly beyond?
We have talked about the transition,
I accept that we will have to accept
certain European rules that we will
not have to afterwards. But more
generally, the government has been
clear from the beginning that we're
going to leave the single market and
leave CUSTOMS union. I don't quite
know how that makes us a vassal
In terms of the modest
changes which Philip Hammond talked
about, were you worried about that?
I have to be honest I haven't seen
his speech so I should probably go
and check out what he said.
May is not short on advice...
Theresa May isn't short on advice
from members of her own party over
how to handle Brexit,
not to mention just about every
other major area of domestic policy.
Not all of it is exactly helpful.
Brexit continues to be the big
source of public disagreement.
The chair of the European Research
Group, Jacob Rees-Mogg,
said that he was "biting his tongue"
over Philip Hammond's future,
whom he accused of disagreeing
with government policy.
While former Northern Ireland
Secretary Theresa Villiers said
the government's policy on Brexit
was is in danger of "selling out
all the people who voted to leave".
But that's not the view
of everyone in the party -
Anna Soubry tweeted...
And climate change minister
Claire Perry is revealed to have
sent a message calling critics
of the government over the EU
divorce bill "swivel-eyed men".
And it's not just Brexit
that's been providing her
critics with ammunition.
Former minister Robert
Halfon told the BBC...
And Heidi Allen accused
the "old guard" of failing
to understand "why we need
to change", adding...
To help us make sense of all of this
we're joined now by Kate McCann
of the Telegraph and Tom McTague
of the website Politico...
Welcome to both of you. Kate McCann,
how dangerous is this moment for
Theresa May - is she any more likely
to confront a leadership challenge
now that she was a few months ago?
think that is the biggest question,
and the longer this goes on, the
longer Theresa May lurches in some
people's eyes from one crisis to
another, actually that becomes more
likely. At the heart of this is the
number of MPs who were willing to
write to Graham Bailey to ask for a
vote of no confidence in her. At the
end of last week there was talk that
that number was around 40 and the
Magic number is 48.
I believe a
couple of other letters went in at
At the question really
is, even if that vote happens, are
there enough MPs in the House of
Commons who would vote against
Theresa May as the Prime Minister?
And actually I don't believe that's
the case. I think what is going on
here is that MPs want to send a
message to the Prime Minister to
say, you really need to grasp this
issue, and this vote of confidence
is a good way of threatening her
without actually really doing very
It seems to me that there has
been a change in terms of the amount
of pressure being put on Theresa
May, because some of the Brexiteers,
some of the arch Eurosceptics, are
becoming increasingly nervous that
their vision of Brexit is now not
going to be delivered - how do you
It is exactly like that, it
is like a game of ping-pong, when
she veers slightly too far to the
Remain side then the Brexiteers get
up in arms and say, we need to drag
her back. And then when she goes too
far towards Boris Johnson or Jacobs
reads Mogg -- or Jacob Rees-Mogg,
then you see Anna Soubry as we have
just seen it on the TV.
makes it difficult to make a big
speech following on from Lancaster
House and Florence because you're
damned if you do and damned if you
It does and this morning it
appears that big speech might be
off. We were expecting it to happen
in February and it sounds now like
it might be about security issues
and not about the future of Brexit
and the limitation period, which is
what a lot of Tory MPs wanted to see
and feel like a party needs to do in
order to set out the direction of
travel in order to settle those
Brexiteers on the backbenches who
are chomping at the bit to see what
It is also rather
ominous when you have to send out
senior people in the party,
ministers like Matt Hancock and
David Lidington, to call for the
Tory family to come together?
Whenever you have to go for
something to come together, you know
it is not together in the first
place. This is fundamentally Theresa
May's problem and it stems back to
the election - she doesn't have a
majority in parliament to force the
issue. She can't be radical because
she has no mandate, so she has to
sit in the middle and try and
balance the two sides, and that's
Who should she fear most,
I think at the moment the
group of Jacob Rees-Mogg is in
control of the Brexiteers on the
backbenches. We have seen from last
week how much of the agenda he is
driving at the moment. Tom is right,
there have been interventions from
Cabinet ministers and, but actually
there is a sense in the Cabinet that
although people are frustrated they
want to try and keep a lid on this.
This week we have seen the bill
coming back in the Lords and the
question is whether Tory
backbenchers are more concerned
about their party or more concerned
about Brexit. I think for people
like Jacob Rees-Mogg Brexit has
become more important than the
future of the Conservative Party,
and when that becomes the case it is
problematic for a Prime Minister who
is relying on the fact that nobody
really is due to see a leadership
contest because of the confusion it
Let's have a listen now
to the Conservative backbencher,
speaking this morning at an event
discussing the future
of the Conservative Party.
I'm of the view that any sort
of change of leadership is not
helpful at the moment
and I don't support that.
But I do think the window
is closing, because politics can be
quite a brutal game.
The prime minister talked
about things that are brilliant,
you know, about inter-generational
unfairness, we've touched on,
as we've said, housing and so on.
But we have to deliver them,
you can't just always talk
about the speech outside number 10
Downing Street, which
was very, very good.
Well, that was Johnny Mercer as best
do you agree with him that their
window is closing on Theresa May to
get a grip of her leadership?
don't. Look, it is obvious that the
lack of a strong Parliamentary
majority is making things difficult
for the Conservative Party at the
moment. That is true. But the way to
deal with that is not to lurch and
do something ill thought out. The
way to deal with it is to continue
delivering on what we have been
delivering. I was looking at some of
the economic statistics.
Unemployment down, inflation coming
down, we're actually doing a lot of
things. Good So what do you say to
your colleagues, there are reams of
them who have been either briefing
the newspapers or tweeting out on
all sides, saying that she hasn't
got a grip of the leadership and
that she needs to do something about
it, what do you say to them?
I say to them what I'm about to say
to you, that we work together to
deliver the things that Johnny was
talking about. I accept his point
that delivery is more important than
just saying something but are we
actually doing those things? Work
with the cabinet ministers and
departments and show the country
that we can deliver the changes this
Why are so many of
your colleagues are not convinced by
Theresa May's leadership?
have to ask them.
Is there something
that you are missing or that they
I think sometimes in politics,
I've only been an MP for seven
months but I've watched politics for
a long time, MPs will brief on Arran
-- will brief on an unobtrusive
nature the Sunday newspapers. If
vast majority of the Conservative
Party is still behind the Prime
Minister. That has not changed
We have both sides here
briefing. You have everybody from
Nicholas Soames, to Johnny Mercer,
to Heidi Alexander Jacob Rees-Mogg,
I could go on and on. They are from
across the spectrum, within the Tory
party. They are not afraid to put
their names to the criticisms that
they have. Robert Halfon has said
that she needs to go from being
eight orders to a lion. Are all
When you are a Conservative
member of Parliament, you have a
duty to talk about where you think
the party could improve and where
you think the government is going.
If I recall correctly, I do not
think any of those people have said
they are sending Graham Brady a
letter or any of that stuff...
we don't know.
we don't, and that
was by Kate was saying there have
been 40 letters... Nobody knows. I
would treat that with a large bit of
salt. What I can say is that very
few colleagues have said that they
have sent in a letter or even
intimated that that is what they are
going to do. What they seem to be
saying is that they have said look,
the government has laudable aims,
let's deliver on those and work
together as a family to deliver.
you despair, at the moment? As you
say, you only came in six or seven
It isn't what I expected
once I was selected before the
election, like many people, I
suspect like you, felt we would have
a lodgement Georgie and that isn't
the case. It's harder than I would
have thought that I worked with is
an immensely talented people and
throughout the party. I look forward
to doing that every single day.
He is a very nice
guy, he is a neighbour of mine in
What do you think
of his suggestion that reason they
should set an exit date, that she
will not fight a general election
whatever? Would that help?
No, I do
not think a Prime Minister should
ever do that, even if they want to
set 115 years in the future. I do
not think it works. She should do
what she is currently doing and
deliver the change the country
Should she deliver a big
speech in the next few weeks on
What I do think is important
is the government sets out more
clearly what its position is for the
trade talks, they will start after
the transition period.
listening to all of that, and having
no doubt read The Papers and the
numerous tweets about Theresa May's
leadership, why isn't the Labour
Party further ahead in the polls,
they are still neck and neck?
interesting conversation that you
just add there, it strikes me the
problem that Theresa May has is she
just had a parliamentary majority at
the general election but never had a
mandate within the Conservative
Party because there was never a
Why has Jeremy
Corbyn and the Labour Party, why
aren't they are miles ahead in the
polls? I think they are quite
good... It is neck and neck with the
Conservatives... Would you expect
them to be further ahead?
long ago that I remember Diane
Abbott and the programme saying that
she had closed the gap with the
Conservatives within the year, and
we did. It was laughed at at the
time but we have come forward in
leaps and bounds but the only poll
that really matters is a general
Let's leave it there.
Labour leader of 70 councils have
signed a joint letter criticising
the actions of the party's ruling
body, the National Executive
Committee, after it intervened
in a controversial housing scheme
in North London.
On Thursday, the NEC, as it is
known, advised Haringey council
to pause the project,
which has split the party
in the area and is opposed locally
by the pro-Corbyn group Momentum.
The letter published yesterday
described the actions of the NEC
as "dangerous and alarming",
and "an affront to the basic
principles of democracy".
Well earlier I spoke to the Labour
leader of Newcastle Nick Forbes,
one of the signatories,
and asked him what the
problem is with the NEC
intervening in this case.
My concern is that this would have
set, if the NEC decided to
intervene, it would have set a
dangerous precedent, that in all who
did not like what a labour council
did, we have Labour councils having
to make difficult decisions on the
basis of Tory cuts at the moment.
That would mean that that brokered
escalate straight up to the NEC and
effect take the matter out of local
hands. It's entirely appropriate
that Labour groups are allowed
within the confines of the party,
the rules and the law, to get on and
do what is in the best interests of
their local constituents.
Trickett, a leading member of the
Labour Party and close to the
leadership said on the BBC Sunday
politics yesterday that the row was
a storm in a teacup. Is this all an
I think quite a lot of
this has become a little out of
hand. I think anyone at the NEC
would recognise, and the letter that
was signed by more than 120 group
leaders was designed to reinforce,
that local Labour groups are
accountable to their local
communities in the NEC has no
business in interfering in the
running of those Labour groups. It
was a helpful reminder, I think, on
those rules at a time when fevers
are running a little high in some
parts of the country but it is
really important that some of the
North London politics that we see
happening do not get played out in
the rest of the party, and do not
become a totem for interference in
wider Labour group policies. Because
ultimately, it's important that
local Labour groups have the
sovereignty to do what is right for
the locals constituents.
ever play your hand when you said in
the letter that it was dangerous and
alarming, and a front to democracy
and not very comradely?
have been the situation if the NEC
decided to instruct Haringey Labour
group but they did not decide to do
that. They voted unanimously to
enter a period of mediation and
Andrew Quinn and myself were asked
to lead on that process. There has
been quite a lot of misreporting of
the situation. I do think, this is
where I agree with Jon Trickett, it
has become a storm in a teacup and
what we need to do is get on and do
what is in the interests of our
communities. When we have a Tory
government it will always be more
difficult and that means Labour
councils will be faced with
difficult and in some cases
unpopular things to do. That's what
we have to do in order to comply
with the law. That's what we have to
do in order to deliver the best
possible housing jobs, education and
You started this interview
saying that it set a dangerous
precedent, that Labour councils have
to take unpopular decisions and it
should not open the door to the
ruling executive overriding or
interfering with politics. If you
feel so strongly about it that you
wrote a letter stating that, why are
you now saying that yes, you also
agreed it was a storm in a teacup
and the development is being paused
and everything is OK. Which is it?
It is a helpful reminder to members
of the committee about the executive
of Labour groups and it's an
important reminder of how these
things can quickly get out of hand
if we are not careful. Therefore, it
is really important that we all
remember that we are one party and
working together, working to achieve
good things in difficult
circumstances and the Labour local
government, I speak on behalf of
them from around the country, they
are very concerned that any kind of
decision that they face at a local
level which is perceived as
unpopular may be escalated right at
the top of the party very quickly.
It is no way to run the party and
will log jam the NEC with all sorts
of local issues.
That was Nick Forbes in Newcastle.
Cap Smith, in the letter that he and
69 other leaders wrote, that the
ruling executive has no right to
legitimise the actions of locally
elected representatives, do you
They wouldn't have the power
to override a decision made by local
councillors, that's my understanding
of the situation. I do not live in
Haringey, I'm a Lancashire lass but
my understanding is that they were
Haringey councillors who asked the
NEC and ask for support on the
matter. There was discussion being
had within the Labour group and the
NEC obviously took the boat that it
took that it instructed the council
to do that...
to do that...
It's said to the
council in Haringey that it should
pause developing plans and that they
had to go through a mediation
process. I say to you again, has the
NEC, the ruling executive,
overstepped the mark an affront to
democracy, said Nick Forbes and
others, by interfering in local
politics in this way.
He also said
it was turning into a storm in a
teacup and I would be inclined to
agree with him...
You've not answer
the question, should they interfere
in any local issue or decision. As
he said, it sets a dangerous and
alarming precedent and they want
assurances that such circumstances
will not arise again.
I think the
NEC is entitled to express an
opinion if it should wish to. I
would not like it to be a habit in
doing that but this local
development will be made by
councillors in Haringey.
number of people who have signed
this letter, it is the vast
majority, if not pretty much all, of
Labour's council leaders. I hope
with the shadows a coterie of State
for local government, that the NEC
and group counsel leaders can get
together -- Secretary of State for
I think he wants
to put this behind...
He did not say
that he wants to put it behind him,
he said it was a useful reminder
that the ruling executive in the
Labour Party should not impose
itself on decisions made by local
councils. Do you think local Labour
councils should be able to determine
their own policies?
Absolutely, I do
not think the NEC were imposing
They did, they asked for a
pause... It has, they have called
for a pause in the mediation process
as if they do not bring about a
resolution. Would you not see that
You can call for
anything. There are many
organisations that call for a
government to do things. The
government really does them. They
could call for Haringey to post the
development but that is a decision
for Haringey Council.
should ignore what the NEC does or
advisers? Let's say they were to
start interfering and involving
themselves in local decisions up and
down the country, would you support
The council can ignore what
the NEC has said, of course they
can. But I don't think it is helpful
too. It is always helpful if you can
have a conversation. Clearly there
are two schools of opinion here...
Which do you believe in? We are
talking about a principle here.
not seek to have an opinion on this.
I will busy myself with representing
the constituents I have in Fleetwood
But if they were to
interfere with a decision in your
area or a neighbouring area, would
you support that?
Is important to
have a conversation, I hope we can
come out of that with one. Some
members of the Labour grip on
Haringey have an opinion, some
leaders sending in this letter as
well but I hope that we can come out
of this having had a healthy
In future would you like
Nick Forbes and other signatories to
the letter, would you like the NEC
to step back from this sort of level
of involvement in local councils?
do not think the NEC has previously
made a habit of commenting on
decisions by local councils, I'm not
familiar with it, if they have. I
think the NEC should really be there
to manage the Labour Party, we are a
growing party with an increasing
membership and there's a lot of work
to be done to ensure that we are
ready to fight the next general
And yesterday, when the
Labour leader was asked about
capitalism and its benefits, let's
listen to what he had to say...
Capitalism is a system that has
evolved, it is a system that is
there and can provide regulatory
It is there but does it
have anything right?
mainly for its own benefit but of
course they get challenged. Isn't
that what social movement is about
and trade unions are about? Isn't
that what our democracy is about.
Jeremy Corbyn there.
Do you have
anything nice to say on capitalism
or has it only benefited themselves
or those at the top?
I've lived by
32 years so far under capitalism and
it hasn't all been bad! As a student
of politics come I never studied
academically, that was the kind of
question being thrown at Jeremy
there. But it is clear that
capitalism, if not controlled, it
can create a widening gap between
rich and poor and that is obviously
In terms of what it has
done for society, is it a good thing
or a bad thing in your mind?
say neither, it is what it is.
does that mean?
It is a system I've
lived under, and my parents
generation have. There's that
unhealthy relationship, as Jeremy
was saying in that interview,
between how civil society, trade
unions and people can challenge it
but that's not to say that I'm
wedded to those terms in general.
You get on based on your abilities
rather than the finance that you are
born into. That is the sort of side
You cannot do that
It is increasingly
difficult to. Social mobility has
grown to a halt in this country and
that is a concern.
failed in this generation, this
No, it hasn't failed. Across the
world more and more people are being
brought out of poverty.
being brought just a little bit out
of poverty, may be a few inches
above the bottom line, as Jeremy
No. My parents come
from Nigeria and if you go to a
country like Nigeria today, it is
much better off than it was 30 years
ago, and I think a lot of that is
because of the capitalist system. At
the broader point is, is it working
as well now for everybody in this
country as it has always? And I
think that's part of what we need to
do as a government, which is dealing
with the problems around housing,
which the government has talked
about a lot, education and social
mobility and other issues, to make
sure that for this next generation,
the generation of which we are part,
we can make sure that the system we
have works for everybody, and every
part of our society.
On Friday, David Davis
visited Teesport, one
of the UK's busiest ports.
He was there to talk
about the UK government's
plan for the transition,
or implementation period, after
Brexit, as we've been discussing.
And while he was the there
he was asked to support a local
campaign for the port to be
designated as something called
a "free port" once we leave the EU.
Here's the Conservative
mayor of Tees Valley,
Ben Houchen, with his soapbox.
There's grit, and there's a real
optimism in my area.
the first industrial
revolution, and it has
aspirations to do it again.
We created and we export
of the very best, including
the fabrication of the Sydney
Harbour Bridge, and in places like
Middlesbrough and Hartlepool,
we want to embrace the opportunities
of the future to make sure
that we can
make the most of them.
So I've written to
the Chancellor with
support of more than 50 major
businesses to call on the government
to pilot a free port in Teesside,
and that has the support of
businesses like Hitachi Rail,
Sirius Minerals, Liberty Steel and
I'm calling on the powers that be
to support this plan.
Free ports are inside of
the geographical boundary of the
country, but they are considered
outside the country for customs
That means for a car
manufacturer, they could import
and manufacture them,
and then export them
having to go through customs.
Today, the EU customs
union and the EU
state aid laws make
this almost impossible.
Brexit means Britain can
capitalise on free port
That means jobs,
investments and domestic
It would enable great maritime
centres like Teesport to
I represent almost 700,000
people in the Tees Valley
and there are areas
here that voted leave
almost as much as anywhere
in the country.
This is an area that felt left
behind by the Blair and
Brown years, and it felt left behind
by the economic boom of London and
It's time we rebalance
the economy in
And Ben Houchen is here in the
studio. You say the EU makes it
impossible for us to have three
ports, but there are several free
ports, or free zones, as they are
referred to, dotted around the EU.
So what is stopping the government
from doing the same and setting up
What we are trying to
get is something much more
fundamental. Free ports in the
European Union I believe our free
zones in name only. You've got three
different programmes, you've got the
inward processing relief, Alco
processing relief and customs
warehouse relief. So it is just a
glorified customs warehouse.
government could go ahead and pursue
free zones, whether you think they
are in name only, they could do it?
There have been these pseudo- free
zones in the UK but a lot of the
decided in 2012 because we decided
not to renew the licenses on the
basis that they were too complex.
it is the government's decision -
what would be the real benefit to
people in these areas?
Freeport is not the Freeport status
that you can get in the European
Union. It is about tax relief and
tax incentives for things like
research and development, things
like process manufacturing, so we
can get proper manufacturing jobs
back to the UK, rather than a
pseudo- customs warehouse.
David Davis visited Devoy on Friday
and he said he was open-minded about
the idea but he fell short of
backing it - why do you think
they're not supporting your plan?
don't think they're not supporting
it us look we have been speaking
about a draft deal for the Tees
Valley and in that is a pilot for a
Freeport at Teesport.
We have been
negotiating, and ultimately because
it requires money, or at least some
tax relief in that geographical
area, it has to go to the Treasury.
And also there is the political
dimension, if the EU doesn't want
the UK to have free zones now, or
free ports, why would they want us
to have them in any trade
relationship when we leave?
reason I am here today is that we
need to get ahead of that game. It
might be that in the trade
discussions, we give up that right
or we align ourselves with EU to
such an extent that we can't do
this, but actually I think we should
prepare now because whenever we
leave, we will be able to activate
this on day one.
Do you think there
should be preparations made for
options like this, same as the
infrastructure at ports, for
example, depending on what is agreed
about the customs union - should the
government be investing in some of
these if a structure projects now in
I think we should,
actually, and not just because of
leaving the EU, I just think it's a
very, very good idea. And we should
be doing everything radical and
innovative to bring the sort of jobs
and investment that you've been
talking about this country.
has been set aside, of course,
planning for Brexit, have you spoken
to the Chancellor about some of that
money being used in this way?
campaign has only just been
launched, we've been working
behind-the-scenes for many months
and we have now got 50 major
businesses, UK and international,
supporting the campaign, and there
is now a meeting to be set up in the
near future with the Treasury to
talk about that second devolution
deal, which has Freeport status
On jobs, you cited 86,000
- where did you get the figure from?
There are those who are campaigning
for the UK to stay within the
customs union and single market who
cast doubt on that figure?
working on the position that we
leave the single market and the
customs union, because you cannot do
this otherwise just the figure of
86,000 comes from the report...
is a Tory MP?
That is a total across
the board so in Teesport it would
not be that number but it would be
many thousands of jobs.
convinced, Cat Smith, by the idea,
the local Labour MP for Redcar
supports the free port model?
is interesting is that this is one
of the outcomes of devolution. If
you allow local people to start
coming up with ideas for their own
area, I find that very exciting. I
would like to see more powers given
to local communities to make
decisions, it is something I would
like to see in my area as well. Just
the idea that actually we do have
the answers outside of London, and
we should be given that opportunity.
But if Jeremy Corbyn, as he is,
suggests that Labour could form a
customs union with the European
Union, would there be a need for
I think that is
something which would be thrashed
out in the negotiations. In terms of
what we get out of Brexit in the
end, I would like to see a fairer,
more equal country, where wealth is
shared outside of the 25 as well as
Isn't there a problem with
competition, isn't that one of the
reasons that you haven't yet had
political support in any major way,
does actually we would have
competing areas, free ports across
I think Teesport has a
unique opportunity. We have got the
development corporation, the first
male role developing corporation
outside of London. It was launched
in August and we got more than £100
million from the Chancellor in the
budget. It is actually government
policy now to support that
development corporation around
And what about funding? We
have had discussions about farming
subsidies, and the government would
give a certain amount of money that
would be lost from some of the
European Union funds - should it be
in the same here, Ben Houchen wants
the government to guarantee the
replacement of funds to the team
Valley after Brexit - should it?
don't know, it is very complex. We
will see where the chips fall down.
What I think is important is that we
make sure we invest property in
areas like the Tees Valley. I don't
know about the exact numbers but I
do think that what Ben Houchen has
been saying is very powerful.
MPs including my two guests
of the day will this week
have the chance to vote
on whether they should
move out of Parliament,
after warnings that the building
is at risk of a serious fire
if restoration works
are not carried out.
Here's Elizabeth Glinka
with as a reminder about
where they might end up.
We all know how stressful moving can
be, but when it involves 650 MPs,
800 peers and thousands of support
staff, it's even more complicated.
Keeping everybody happy -
well, that's nigh-on impossible,
but let's take a look at some
of the options.
First up sort of not really
moving at all, well,
just into another room
in the same house.
In this case one of the oldest
parts of the palace,
the 900-year-old Westminster Hall.
Less upheaval, certainly,
but period properties can be
a drain on resources.
Or if you fancy something a little
more modern and open-plan,
then how about Portcullis House?
It's the big black
building opposite Big Ben.
Completed in 2001, it houses
the offices of around 200 MPs,
and has a nice big atrium,
which might fit the bill.
Then there's the moving
in with friends option.
There are suggestions
that the Commons could sleep
on the sofa at the Department
of Health, while the Lords might be
able to borrow the spare room
at the Queen Elizabeth
Some of the more imaginative
options, including this design
for a temporary floating parliament,
by the architects Gensler,
have already been ruled out.
But there are still many calls,
including from the SNP,
for Parliament to relocate
to another part of the country.
Suggestions include Glasgow,
Cat Smith, what would you go for,
the floating parliament or moving
out permanently or what?
We need to
remember that the Houses of
Parliament is a UNESCO World
Heritage Site, it is a popular
tourist attraction and right now
it's falling apart, and it would be
irresponsible to delay this any
longer. We need to go for the most
value for money option edit that is
going to be moving out of
Parliament, relocating, and letting
the work people move in and restore
the Houses of Parliament to the
glory that they once had.
what you're going to vote for this
week - what about you, you've only
just arrived, and you're going to be
voting to kick yourself out?
Actually I've got an open mind on
this, I will be sitting in the
debate and listening to the
arguments. I can see both sides of
it. Some of my colleagues don't want
to leave because they feel that
somehow, a future government may
prevent us from coming back. There
are colleagues like Andrea Leadsom,
the Secretary of State who has been
leading this, who are very keen that
we go for a full decant option but I
will be listening to the arguments.
Because actually, can you delay any
decision any more?
No, I think we do
need to get on with it.
-- thank you very much.
That's all for today.
Thanks to our guests.
The one o'clock news is starting
over on BBC One now.
I'll be here at noon tomorrow
with all the big political stories
of the day.
Do join me then.