Jo Coburn is joined by Luciana Berger MP and Robert Halfon MP to discuss Brexit ahead of talks this week. Plus discussion around the future of the NHS and a look at the week ahead.
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Hello, and welcome
to The Daily Politics.
The EU's chief negotiator arrives
in London later today at the start
of a big week for the Brexit process
- so will we get any more clarity
on the shape of our future
relationship with the EU?
What will happen at the Borders
after Brexit? Downing Street rules
out any form of customs union with
the EU so what will our arrangements
A panel of health experts recommends
scrapping National Insurance
in favour of a new ring-fenced tax
to fund the NHS and social care.
So is this the answer to
the problems in the health service?
After Jacob Rees-Mogg is caught up
in a scuffle at a speaking event,
the Conservative Party launches
a petition to protect free speech
and says it will bring forward
new laws against intimidation
of political candidates.
Does history A-Level
have a pro-Tory bias?
One Labour MP thinks so and has
taken to her soapbox.
The Conservatives are quite
literally rewriting history.
All that in the next hour,
and with us for the whole
of the programme today the Labour MP
Luciana Berger and Conservative
MP Robert Halfon -
welcome to you both.
First today, after protesters
disrupted a speech by Conservative
MP Jacob Rees-Mogg at a student
event in Bristol over the weekend,
ways to combat the intimidation
and abuse of MPs is back
on the agenda.
On yesterday's Sunday Politics
Conservative Chairman Brandon Lewis
spoke to Sarah Smith about what more
could be done to protect our
We are going to change the law
to make it against the law
for people to intimidate people.
Part of that is allowing local
election candidates to not have
to put their home address.
As we saw in the last elections,
people having abuse in their homes.
But also, from the Conservative
Party point of view,
internally we are going to have,
as I launched a few weeks ago,
a respect pledge that
all our candidates will sign up to.
If they breach that code
we will suspend them,
and we will investigate it.
I'm disappointed that,
some four weeks in, the Labour
leadership still have not stepped up
to the plate to do
the right thing on this.
Luciana, why won't Jeremy Corbyn and
the Labour Party sign up to this new
code of conduct?
are bringing forward their own code
of conduct. If the Labour Party
brings one forward I would welcome
it. It would be a very positive step
forward. The proposals being put
forward today to ensure that council
candidates don't have to put their
addresses on the ballot paper is
very important, and also ensuring we
have measures in place to protect
all candidates. At the moment laws
protect voters which is important to
make sure they aren't intimidated
but as we've seen in recent
elections, intimidation takes place
and we should be doing everything to
mitigate against it.
But we do have
extensive laws that exist already to
protect people from abuse and
intimidation. Why do we need more
The laws aren't
working and the climate has got
incredibly bad. I've fought five
elections, I've been a candidate
since 1999. It's dramatically
different now. In my constituency
we've had people painting on walls
if volunteers put up posters,
painting on the house, not just
wrecking the poster.
come under the Public order act?
doesn't seem to be working. People
can write whatever they want on
social media, quite libellous stuff.
This isn't just about candidates or
electoral representatives, it's also
about the activities against
volunteers or members of parties
what exactly? Who would judge the
intimidating behaviour? Would it be
the recipient or people passing by?
Common sense. If someone is being
harassed, if someone paints
something on someone's house, if
someone threatens to have their
friends burnt down because they are
displaying a Conservative poster and
it is then burned down -- fence is
burnt down. Social media is
Luciana, you had an
online troll and he directed vicious
anti-Semitic threats against you
continually, and he was jailed. Did
the legislation not work in that
I've had three people that
have been jailed for online abuse,
sadly. The challenge with those
cases is that they took a really
long time to get to court. We are
talking about in one case, close to
two years. The challenge at election
time is what can be done to ensure
we protect all candidates and
everything in the election process
which happens in a much shorter time
than current legislation exists for.
If you are in a newspaper or book
and you publish something
defamatory, you can see the
publisher. Whereas with Facebook and
Twitter, they can have stuff on it
that can be trolling and bullying
and is very difficult to do
You would like the
publisher to be responsible?
Lets take the example
of Jacob Rees-Mogg. You will have
seen the pictures of the scuffle
that broke out protesting against
his presence and his speech. Would
you have regarded that as
intimidating behaviour that would be
prosecuted under a new law?
has said himself it was a tough
protest but protest should be
How did you view it before
he said anything?
People who turn up
in masks and stop any kind of debate
and discourse, and looks like it's
going to become violent, you have to
judge things on common sense. I
believe in protest and
demonstration, but it has to be
fair. You have to make sure all the
arguments are heard. These people
wanted to stop Jacob Rees-Mogg from
speaking out. What do you think
there is a danger that bringing in
new legislation is actually going to
stifle that sort of debate and
protest? There's intimidation but
there is also trying to drown
somebody out. If they were trying to
stop in speaking at all, I think
these things can be judged on a
case-by-case basis and I think
common sense can be applied. It's
pretty easy to see what has happened
on this occasion, but the law needs
to be tougher for the reasons we
I want to ensure that
anyone who's interested in taking
part in public life is able to do
so. I think people seeing some of
what has happened, particularly in
the wake of the referendum on
Brexit, but we do everything
possible to create environments
where people from every walk of life
feel able to put forward. When
speaking to a younger audience
recently, I can understand why they
might not want to and we should be
doing ever been possible to
encourage people to put themselves
What about at atmosphere
within your own party, how should
that be handled when Barack claims
made about sexist and anti-Semitic
behaviour -- how should that be
handled when claims are made?
is a number of serious high-profile
cases waiting to be heard and I
don't think that administration
should be impediment to taking
The problem is Jeremy Corbyn
and John McDonald gives the
appearance of turning a blind eye.
They never come out out rightly and
condemn political intimidation.
say they do, of course.
McDonald has called for zero
tolerance on anti-Semitism, and I
want to see that put into action and
the NEC addressing what is a serious
backlog of cases.
We'll leave it
Now it's time for our daily quiz.
The question for today
is what is the Labour Party planning
to launch this summer?
A - Their manifesto
for the next general election.
B - A policy paper
on manhole covers.
C - A Blairite rival
to campaign group Momentum.
D - Jeremy Corbyn music festival.
At the end of the show Luciana
and Robert will give
us the correct answer.
The government has categorically
ruled out staying in any form
of customs union with the EU.
This comes as Michel Barnier,
the EU's chief Brexit negotiator,
is expected to arrive
in Downing Street within the hour
for talks with the Brexit Secretary
David Davis and Theresa May.
Later this week, there
will be two meetings
of the so-called Brexit War Cabinet,
where senior ministers
will try to come to an agreement
on what our future relationship
with the EU should look like.
Last night, a Downing Street source
said: "We are categorically
leaving the customs union."
The EU's customs union
is an arrangement where goods can
move freely inside the union
but tariffs are applied on products
coming in from outside countries.
The Downing Street source further
clarified the government's position
by saying: "It is not our policy
to stay in a customs union."
But the Home Secretary Amber Rudd
told the BBC yesterday
that the government has an "open
mind" about entering "a customs
arrangement or a customs
partnership" with the EU.
And back in January last year,
Theresa May used her Lancaster House
speech to say: "I do want us
to have a customs
agreement with the EU."
But the government's
on the customs union comes
after pressure from Brexiteers.
Yesterday, the Conservative MP
Bernard Jenkin said that ministers
are "vague" and "divided" over
He also accused the Chancellor
Philip Hammond of failing
to advocate the government's policy
on the customs union.
And this morning, The Times
is reporting that the government
is considering "a time-limited
extension to elements
of the existing customs union".
Joining me now from Reading is
the Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan.
Welcome to The Daily Politics. The
government have ruled out staying in
the customs union or a customs
union, but they might want to be in
a customs partnership or a customs
agreement with the EU. It's about as
clear as mud, isn't it?
I think it's
clearer than mud. The reason we are
leaving the customs union is because
if we are in the customs union, we
give Brussels 100% control of our
trade policy without having any
input into it. That would leave us
worse off than staying where we are
as members. 90% of the growth of
this century is coming from outside
the EU. Britain needs to be where
those markets are. All along it was
clear, in the Lancaster House
speech, in the policy papers, and in
this new Department of International
trade, that we were doing our rain
trade policy. What does a customs
arrangement mean? That means
procedures that facilitate the
smooth and frictionless flow of
goods across borders. For example,
there is something little remarked
upon but critical called the common
Customs Convention, which covers all
EU countries as well as a lot of
Balkan countries and Turkey which
provides the goods to be transported
without having to show paperwork at
borders within the EU. That's the
kind of thing Britain should stay in
because we want to have a deal that
makes it as easy as possible to move
This doesn't exist,
this deal, this customs arrangement
that you have described. This would
be a special arrangement that the EU
would have to agree to an British
terms, but as you say would allow
them still to strike their own free
trade deals. But, have frictionless
trade with perhaps certain goods in
certain sectors. At the moment this
Be common customs
convention is in fourth now. It
covers relationships between the EU
and Switzerland. Over a million
people cross the Swiss border every
day. Because it's on a major haulage
Switzerland participates in
the single market and signed up to
roars of freedom of movement.
but it's clearly outside the customs
union. The single market is a
different question. Switzerland and
the Norway- Sweden border are
examples of how you can have fairly
frictionless borders even now. But
yes, we could go further. To be
frank, I think the residual 50 dual
physical checks you get even on
about 50% of...
Which doesn't exist
in Ireland at the moment.
those things are there is because
they were already there. You've got
a unionised customs workforce.
Starting from modern technology,
with what we have now, both our HMRC
and the Irish equivalent, both heads
of those organisations have made
very clear that an under any
situation there can be a customs
Is it really sensible
to leave the customs union right now
moment the EU makes up nearly half
of our trade. What solid evidence is
there that any trade we lose with
the EU can be made up quickly by
trade deals with countries like
America and China?
This is begging
the question, the EU accounts for
44% of our trade because we are in a
customs union at artificially
redirected our trade away from
What evidence do you
have that it will make up our volume
of trade that we currently have?
Where is the evidence to say that
those free-trade deals will match or
exceed what we currently have?
we want is to have continued
frictionless movement of goods and
services with the EU, but greater
opportunity to sign our trade deals
with the world's biggest economy the
US, the second-biggest economy
China, which the EU doesn't at the
George Osborne says the
figures don't add up. The analysis
that was leaked last week, the row
over the papers about how much
growth would decrease by under any
of these scenarios. On the one they
were talking about leaving the
customs union and going on to WTO
terms would increase growth by 8%
over 15 years. A trade deal would
only increase by 0.2%. That is a
The same officials
said that after a leave vote our GDP
would shrink, it has actually grown.
They said there would be more
unemployed people and there has been
a fall of half a million. For give
me if I'm a little sceptical about
the same people who blatantly have a
preferred outcome having an analysis
that supports their preference.
Britain is a global country. A world
trade. We have been artificially
penalised, more than any other
country by the customs union because
we are usually the only country in
the EU that trade more outside the
EU ban within it. When we have the
freedom to do that again, people
will see the price of goods fall,
and we are better off because we
have more money to spend to
stimulate the economy in other
When you talk about people
putting out the analysis, do you
agree with Jacob Rees-Mogg that
there is an in-built bias, that they
are fiddling the figures?
have a tendency to read figures in a
particular way. All of ours are
subject to confirmation bias and
these ascendancy is. That doesn't
stop being true because you work for
the Treasury. The trick in politics
I've learned is direct nice that in
yourself and correct it. I don't
think that has been going on in this
So you believe there is
in-built bias and they are fiddling
the figures and it is not a true
picture of what is going on?
have been totally wrong so far in
what has happened over the last two
years. An impartial assessment might
be let's go back and look at some of
the underlying assumptions made. The
fact that the British economy has
grown in defiance of what they have
said might lead them to challenge
prejudices. They haven't done that
and have come out with the same
flawed analysis but they did during
the referendum. I'm not saying this
is deliberately from fiddling the
figures. If you judge to get away
from predictions and look at fact,
if you judge what they have said
against what has happened it is very
difficult to take this new analysis
Robert Halfon, Amber Rudd
said that the government hasn't been
intimidated by Brexiteers, but they
have within hours of the weekend's
briefings capitulated on the customs
union. Are they running scared?
voted remain because I thought it
was right to be part of an alliance
of democracies. We didn't vote to be
in parts of it, we voted to leave
My question was are they
running scared of the Brexiteers and
putting pressure on Theresa May?
the Lancaster house speech, she said
that she was going to leave the
customs union. She said this before.
I don't believe it is some dramatic
change in position.
So why does
Jacob Rees-Mogg feel the need to
brief in a particular direction?
was talking about the forecasts not
just about the customs union.
there a need for him to brief in the
way he has against either the
Treasury or the civil service?
People have their own view about the
Treasury predictions, some of them
have been wrong in the past, no one
actually knows what is going to
happen once we leave the European
Union but we have to get on with it.
What the government needs to do, the
Prime Minister needs to do, is to
set out the policies, everybody
should speak with the same hymn
sheet and go out there and sell it
to the public who voted to leave.
Luciano, do you believe it is time
for Labour Party to take a firmer
line on the customs union? Vince
Cable said you are colluding with
Brexit by allowing this to happen?
have been to a front bench awayday
to discuss these issues, faced with
the prospect of ten years of
posterity as the leaked reports
indicate, I would anticipate that
our front bench will come out very
strongly in favour of a customs
union because anything else, as a
constituency MP, I think it is going
to be disastrous in terms of job and
Would you support that
line? Do you think they should be
doing it now?
Imminently, there is
going to be this awayday when they
go to look at the evidence. Keir
Starmer has said that he wants to
look closely at the evidence, it is
a result of a Labour motion that we
will be able to access and to see
that information and those reports.
That's critical to arrive at doing
what will be the very best for our
One of the risks of coming
out of any sort of customs union
with the EU is this hard border. The
issue of the hard border with
Ireland. Dan Hanlan said that there
should be ways to get around this
but do you accept that there
wouldn't be a majority of MPs that
would vote for a deal in that
meaningful vote of coming out of the
I don't know how
people are going to vote on the day.
We had a majority to leave the EU.
We had a majority to trigger Article
50. I passionately believe because
the country voted for it and even
though I voted against it, we should
get on with it and leave the EU.
Whether the consequences are good or
not. We have to have a clear message
to sell to the public?
May set out clearly what she has
I thought she has in terms of
the speeches made at forums and
Lancaster house and I believe there
is going to be another speech in the
near future. We need tablets of
stone from Mount Sinai and every
single Cabinet minister needs to
read from those tablets of stone.
The leaving the EU Commandments and
how we are going to do it so we all
speak in the same way and sell to
the public how exactly we are
The problem is getting an
agreement on what those tablets of
stone should be.
Amber Rudd says
there is much more unity than is
reported in the depressed.
be Brexit at any cost. The road we
are going down at the moment is that
the consequences will be absolutely
You have no evidence for
People are reducing production
because of Brexit.
people have a priori deigned
position in their mind regarding
Brexit. So Donnell has said that
Brexiteers are snake all salesman.
It proves the point about whether
people have a set point in their
Does it undermine the position
of the civil service?
It made clear
where he is coming from. I don't
think it is fair to most civil
servants. I don't think anyone would
deny that the majority of our
officials voted remain but most of
them are patriotic he doing their
Is he a snake oil salesman?
I don't think it's fair that we say
that. I think it is important that
we recognise it was a big narrow
vote and that has consequences of
replicating aspects of the single
market, an transition, on migration.
There is no argument whatever, none,
for allowing Brussels to control our
trade policy when we have no say
over what that should be. Even
worse, when Brussels controls our
trade policy, this is what a customs
union with Turkey means, the result
is Brussels can make you make
concessions without any obligations
on the other country to reciprocate.
It is the worst of all possible
worlds. It is incredible that people
are recommending it.
If the EU
rejects your scenario, what is more
important, being part of a customs
union to continue frictionless trade
or the freedom to strike free trade
agreements with other countries?
question, total freedom to strike
FTAs. Almost all the growth in the
world is coming outside of Europe.
There is no risk of a hard border.
All the people saying listen to the
experts are not listening to the
experts on why we don't need a hard
And for more reporting
and analysis of Brexit,
check out the BBC News
website, that's bbc.co.uk/brexit.
Would you be willing to pay
a separate ring-fenced tax that
would only be spent on the NHS
and social care?
That's one of the main suggestions
put forward by a panel
of experts commissioned
by the Liberal Democrats to look
into the future of health care.
They've just published their report
and some of the other
A real-terms funding increase
of £4 billion in 2018-19.
The creation of a new Office
for Budget Responsibility
for Health, and the introduction
of incentives to encourage people
to save towards social care.
With me now is one of the report
authors Clare Gerada -
she who used to be Chair
of the Royal College of GPs.
She is also now a Liberal
Welcome back to the daily politics.
Is this just a way to deceive
That was said a number of
years ago. As a layperson in this,
in terms of fiscal policy, I was
invited onto the committee to have a
look at all the options available to
have some more sustainable secure
and really even fund for the NHS.
Having looked at the reports from
various think tanks, one of the best
solutions that myself and the group
came to after deliberating for about
18 months was that a ring fenced tax
made up from general taxation, made
up from increase in national
insurance pay for those over 65 or
60 that are still working, seem to
be the fairest and best way of
having sustainable funding for the
One of the writ is as is from
the IFF and Paul Johnson is when we
are in good times there is increased
funding into the NHS. When we have a
financial crash, those receipts will
go down and so will funding for the
Yes. I've now worked for the
NHS for 40 years, we go from feast
or famine and every political cycle.
It's an impossible place to work.
It's an impossible situation to
working. There are advantages and
disadvantages from a bifurcated tax
but the BBC is funded from a
hypothecated tax. I can see whether
spending is going. I can take part
in the good and discussion.
got your support?
I wrote about this
with Nick Boles and Nick Soames in
the sun. I think it's important that
it should be accompanied by a
10-year plan so that people know
what the money is going to be spent
on. I think every ten years,
perhaps, we should look at ideas in
consultation with the British people
online or by a referendum, but with
a guarantee of a real terms increase
what ever happens, feast or famine.
The debate would be how much above
that real terms increase it would
be. I think it is something all
parties should support.
Treasury back it?
Jeremy Hunt has
talked about a 10-year plan for the
NHS. He's not the Chancellor. It's
been supported by many conservatives
and people in Parliament. We have to
have regular real terms annual
increases in the NHS, 10-year plan,
and a hypothecated tax that deals
with social care.
Are you convinced
by a hyper the gated tax?
having this because we haven't had
the investment since the coalition
government of 2010. We have a crisis
in the NHS which says only today we
are having to cancel urgent
operations even if they are on the
list. We haven't seen a 4% increase
that we saw under Labour go into the
NHS, of course the NHS should be put
on a sustainable footing.
government has announced a further
£10 billion funding. Even your own
hospital in Liverpool, doctors have
My mental health service
has been cut by 43%.
While we are
trading statistics, do you support
the idea of it being had by the
gated? That seems that everybody
seems that it is supporting an
I don't support a
hypothecated tax. I didn't trust
them to top it up.
Of course you
would say that as a Labour MP but
even those in the Conservatives,
Gavin Barwell, close adviser to
Theresa May said we have lost the
issue of the NHS.
wrong about that. I've said that
publicly. What I want is a 10-year
plan for the NHS, a hypothecated tax
and consultation with the British
people and an annual real term
increase. What you have done is
incredibly important. What we should
do is unite with all political
parties to find a common solution
for the NHS problem.
How much would
you spend if you don't trust the
hypothecated tax being run by the
Conservatives? How much of our GDP
as a percentage should be spent on
The one proposal I support
is having an independent body to
independently assess and appraise
how much our NHS needs in the same
way as we have the budget
responsibility board. I think that's
really important to make sure that
the NHS and social care together
have enough funding on a sustainable
footing. That's what we don't have
at the moment. We've seen cuts to
our health services and our
communities as well which sees more
people present with community and
health care needs.
Do you accept radical reform has to
go hand-in-hand with any increase in
funding, because otherwise there
won't ever be enough money.
radical reform in 2012 and it's
created many of the problems we see
today. I think we need reform of the
1911 insurance act because in 1911
-year-old at 50. Now you're all that
85. At 60 I will pay to reduce
contributions for National Insurance
and that 605I will pay none, despite
the fact I'm working, is ridiculous
and an insult to those of my
Would you support
It would be something we could
look at. These are things which we
need all get together to work out
different solutions to. I don't
think we can give an answer today in
terms of how we reform the NHS. It's
incredibly complex. What we don't
want is organisational restructure
is. What about Sarah Wollaston, who
chairs the health select committee
and suggested people over 40
earnings that incomes should pay
When we work out how that
hypothecated tax works, we have to
answer all these questions. I want
to make sure it's fair. Young people
also need the help service.
should be paying a social care tax
and I think is that kicks in at
around the age of 40. We also need
to be looking at how we glean ideas
for what the NHS should fund. At the
moment it goes from feast to famine.
I agree with Luciana, I think we
need an independent body, clearly
made up of politicians because you
are our elected representatives, but
with others. This idea that the NHS
as a GP gets kicked around as a
political football, it must stop.
we are going to have a hypothecated
tax, we also need to consult with
the British people.
They will have
to pay for their health care in some
way so we might as well pay for it
through taxation which is the
fairest way to pay.
We only have to
look at the people who took to the
streets this weekend to the NHS is
in crisis. This is an important
conversation about the medium and
long-term health of the NHS. We are
in a crisis and we urgently need the
government to address it, and they
aren't doing that.
Now, as I said, it's a busy week
in Westminster with Brexit likely
to be the main focus.
Here's a rundown of the main stories
over the next few days.
Tomorrow morning the work
and pensions select committee
will give the former bosses
at the construction giant
Carillion a grilling.
The company, which holds a large
number of government contracts,
went into liquidation last month.
Wednesday sees Theresa May
and Jeremy Corbyn have their weekly
dual at PMQs, and also as we've been
hearing the Brexit Cabinet sub
committee, set up to decide
the government's negotiation
strategy, meets to try
to thrash out what they want
the final deal to look like.
It's such an important
issue the committee meets
again on the Thursday
where the Prime Minister will hope
an agreement can finally be reached
and then on Friday MPs get
a well-earned half-term break
with the House rising for recess.
We're joined now by Anushka Asthana
of The Guardian and Sam
Coates of The Times.
You are braving the freezing cold
weather. First of all, Anushka, what
do you make of the reports saying
that Brexiteers are close to
challenging Theresa May for the
I think they are trying
to remind the Prime Minister that
while there may not be a
Parliamentary majority for the type
of Brexit they are seeking, there
are clearly enough Brexiteers on her
backbenchers to topple her. You only
need 48 to send letters to start a
Tory leadership election. They don't
want to do that but they are quite
annoyed at the moment. If you things
have got them really annoyed, one is
Philip Hammond talking about modest
changes after Brexit. The other is
government legislation going through
at the moment that they think leaves
open the idea we could stay in a
customs union. That is why they are
starting to create a lot of noise,
ahead of those two big war cabinets
later in the week.
announcement from Number 10 or a
source, say that the UK will
categorically be outside a customs
union, will that cause Brexiteers to
I'm not sure it's a
massive advance on what we thought
was happening anyway. I think you
can see the outline of some kind of
compromise on customs that could be
agreed as early as this week. You've
got a concession from the Remainers.
Philip Hammond would say I accept
the need for Britain to strike
free-trade deals in the future and
to be enough out of the customs
union to do that. But we ask the
Brexiteers and the war Cabinet has
an thing too. We want them to make
sure we don't do things
precipitously that might cause an
economic shock in the meantime. He
wants to make sure we don't pull out
of the customs union arrangements to
seem. I think you are seeing the
outline of a compromise that will
see us staying in some of the
structures of the customs union for
a little while longer and then
Philip Hammond conceding in the end
we have to come out of them but not
for quite a while. The debate you
saw last night is a bit of a
sideshow. Everyone thought they
understood it but it's what lies
beneath that is important. Both
sides will be focused on that.
Anushka, Amber Rudd said yesterday
the government won't be intimidated
by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and
other Brexiteers. In the end she
could find a path through the
warring sides and hold onto being
I think if you look
back to what she said in her
Lancaster House speech which was
quite significant, as Sam said, it
wasn't quite black or white. She
talked about the possibility of some
sort of associate membership of
parts of the customs union. The key,
and this really is key and is what
the Brexiteers want to hold onto, is
that the Prime Minister said there
won't be any external tariff that we
accept. We went to be part of the
common commercial policy which means
we will be able to strike trade
deals with other countries. The
government's public position on that
hasn't actually changed but there's
a lot of scepticism around whether
Treasury officials want to go
further than that. If she sticks to
what she said in the Lancaster House
speech, perhaps they could get
towards the sort of compromise plan
is talking about.
It's all about
getting the Cabinet on board. Where
is the biggest dividing line in
terms of personalities within the
Cabinet on bringing them together to
have this public statement on where
the UK's position should be?
division within the War Cabinet is
where it's always been. Michael
Gove, Boris Johnson on one side,
Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd on the
other. Michael Gove is thought by
some in Downing Street to be a bit
more emollient than Boris Johnson.
Can I dispute the main point of the
question. I'm not sure that where
the Cabinet is is actually the
biggest question we face. The
Cabinet could come up with an
agreement. We could hear cheering
from all around us and then Europe
says no. The problem with a fudge is
I'm not sure it passes muster in
Brussels. Whatever agreement they
come to this week must then hit the
cold hard reality of the
negotiation. If you get rejected,
that's where things get difficult.
Are you expecting an announcement
from Labour to clearly state that
they would like the country to stay
in a customs union with the EU to
continue frictionless trade and
avoid a hard border in Ireland?
very clear that Labour needs to get
their position on this set in stone
as well. There are some
disagreements. They have an away day
planned that which some of these
issues will be discussed. People
around the leadership insist there's
not going to be an absolute hard and
fast decision coming out of that.
Others in that other Cabinet say
this is an issue they will need to
get right. Part of the reason they
need to get it right is a lot of
legislation going through Parliament
in which parties will have to put
forward what is their position on
exactly this issue. Although I do
think the idea of a customs union or
the customs union is a bit too
simplistic from where the country
will be eventually negotiating.
Where Theresa May gets away with it
so far is some might argue that she
is saying she wants this close as
possible arrangement but she also
says we aren't going to meet the
obligations the EU might demand in
order to get that arrangement. As
some have put it, a cake and eating
it scenario. The question is, what
happens if you had to come down one
way or the other?
I will let you
both get warm.
Let's pick up on some of those
points with my guests.
Luciana, it's clear where you stand
on the issue of Brexit and you would
like the Labour Party to pronounce a
clear policy of staying in the
customs union, or a customs union.
If they don't, what will you and
your colleagues do?
I understand the
awayday that Anushka referred to is
coming up soon.
If they don't, and
there's no evidence they will
necessarily up with a clear policy,
what will you do with Chuka Umunna,
I want everyone to
look closely at the evidence. In the
wake of the vote we had in
Parliament last week that means
evidence is presented to the select
committee, Keir Starmer wants to
look at that evidence. I would
anticipate looking at that evidence,
that faced with what I expect to be
ten years of austerity, that we will
see some decisions made from the
front bench. There are different
views. Amongst the front bench
they've got to come to a decision.
It is for them to arrive at that
decision. I think faced with the
evidence Sir Keir Starmer wanted to
see, that that's the decision they
will arrive that.
When it comes to
the meaningful vote later this year,
Labour MPs like yourself vote down a
deal that includes Britain remaining
in the customs union, what happens
then? If the vote is lost by the
government, what do you think
We've got obviously a
number of months to go before that
fateful take place. There's a number
of different steps to go through.
There's the committee stage which
will be an opportunity for many MPs
to contribute to. That is a long way
off. There's an opportunity as both
the opposition and the government to
ensure we are doing the best for the
country. That's what I'll be looking
Would you expect Labour
to be pulling ahead in the polls by
We know that politics is very
fluid. We only have to look at the
polls at the last general
They've been on level
pegging for quite a long time.
look at the polls for the 2017
general election, the result that
came out of that was different to
what the polls told us. I don't
believe anything I read in the
Do you still feel that issues
that are important to voters, the
NHS, housing, education, are being
stifled by Brexit?
I think Brexit
takes over everything and our small
majority doesn't help, but I think
it's vital we get onto those issues
of the NHS, skills, to social
justice, the cost of living and of
course housing and social housing.
The government confirmed a few weeks
ago that funding for 16-18
-year-olds in colleges and sixth
forms won't increase, which is a
growing concern amongst Conservative
MPs like yourself. Is it another
time for the party, for the
government, to be bowled on policy
areas or is it too much of a risk?
We need to be dramatic, radical,
incredibly bold. We need to have a
brand-new skills policy.
brand-new skills policy. One.
Automation means roughly 30% of jobs
currently done by 16-24 -year-olds
are under threat. We face the march
of the robots. It's good the
government have given an extra £500
million for technical skills but we
need to completely reform the
offering and our higher education
offering as well.
Is there any
evidence Theresa May is going to
meet those challenges?
She said so
on the steps of Downing Street.
was a long time ago.
It was, and I
was inspired by what she said. Many
people were. She needs to get back
to that. There has
to that. There has been a
distraction of the majority in
parliament and Brexit. We have to
get back to the NHS skills, housing,
the cost of living.
will it be if she doesn't?
be significantly damaging. On some
things the government are doing very
well, particularly on cutting
unemployment. We now have over 2.5
million apprentices. There are some
very good things going on but we
need to show the electorate that we
have a vision, that we have a
narrative about what the
Conservative Party is for, and that
we are there offer this ladder of
How optimistic are you
she can change her leadership style
to be bold, radical and dramatic and
do the things you've set out?
don't want her to change. I want her
to go back to the Theresa May on the
steps of Downing Street.
She set out a serious
agenda and I wanted to implement
that. Use that speech as a road map
for Britain and come out with some
radical solutions. It doesn't matter
if we lose votes in parliament. This
is always the fear. If the public
see we are doing the right thing on
social housing for example, and
don't win a vote, it doesn't matter.
We can then put those things in the
manifesto at an election.
compared her policy-making style to
that of a tort is, has anything
That was only a week ago.
-- tort tortoise.
I wanted to do
things that are counterintuitive, to
transform our Conservative Party and
focus on those issues I mentioned.
The speech where the Prime Minister
spoke about those burning injustices
she wanted to address, the gaps have
only got wider since then. There's
been so little action on those
Which Robert Halfon
has conceded. Could a leadership
contest clear this up?
against opposing a sitting Prime
Minister. I've also described her as
like Zebedee from the Magic
roundabout because she's incredibly
resilient. I admire that and I think
the public admire that.
the public admire that. I think she
deserves loyalty and support but I
would urge her to be more radical.
In 2013, when Michael Gove
the then-Education Secretary drafted
the new history A-Level,
it was intended to provide a more
rounded world view of the subject.
But not everyone is convinced.
In today's Soapbox, Rupa Huq,
MP for Ealing and Central Acton,
explains why she thinks history
is being rewritten.
Although my schooldays
long ended back in 1990,
I have been back to school since.
First as a parent, and now as an MP.
I frequently do assemblies
in my constituency.
It was at one of these
last week, that I discovered
that the Conservatives are
quite literally rewriting history.
I discovered that, alarmingly,
the current A-level modern British
history curriculum is blatantly
biased, bending over
backwards to paint
the Conservatives in a good light.
No mention is made of
the Blair Brown governments,
starting with the 1997 landslide,
which bequeathed us the minimum wage
and ended child poverty and youth
unemployment for a generation.
But even if excluding that period
can be explained away as being too
recent to be history,
there's the inexcusable,
glaring blind spot of the great 1945
Labour government under
which the welfare state
and the NHS were both born.
To understand our present
and future, one must
understand our past,
and that includes the 1944
Butler Education Act,
the advent of the NHS in 1948,
and even the expansion
of John Major's PFI under
New Labour, which all resonate
with current debates
on the school funding formula,
the NHS winter crisis,
and the collapse of Carillion.
This is not about unduly bigging up
labour, but surely credit should
be given where credit is due,
and it is dangerous to deny
that these things ever happened.
All major historical
tides should be included,
rather than selectively
and going through cherry picked bits
to present a partial picture,
which will only result
in brainwashing our kids.
And Rupa Huq joins me
now from Cardiff.
Do you regard this as censure ship
by the Conservative government?
seems that there are lots of bits
missing from this new timeline
that's been put in place since 2014,
suspiciously. I've had loads of
teachers e-mailing me since I ask
that question a week ago. They said
there is no mention of the miners
strike, Orgreave is not there, the
poll tax which brought down Thatcher
merits only a small paragraph in the
main textbook. Nothing about women,
LGBT rights, apparently did number
of women compared to men in the
syllabus is one to 100.
your claim, the Department has said
that the curriculum requires
students to build on their
understanding of the past and build
a broad and balanced course of study
which means opposing views are
considered which couldn't be
achieved by ignoring a specific
party from that period.
that's true. History is so broad
that you have to be selective in any
curriculum that they have done a
syllabus which is 1930-51 and there
is 51-97. It is all through the
prism of Churchill. This
hagiography. If you latch onto
characters it can make it more
interesting but this hagiography, in
the words of a leading public school
teacher from the south-west, is very
It cannot be the case
that if the Conservatives were
trying to rewrite history, wouldn't
they be doing it all across the exam
There are now only three
boards. Not like when you and I were
at school. There is age you ate,
Pearson, and OCR, OCR has the lion's
share of the market. The Pearson has
a general strike module, that one of
the teachers wrote to me, teachers
are saying they are going to down
tools, they are so disillusioned.
have the chair of the education
select committee. You must be
horrified if there is a conspiracy
that is fed into A-level history
dates 1951-97 where the
Conservatives dominate, is actually
going to be the subject of...
was at school I learned about the
We are talking about now.
think this is a bit of an
exaggeration. Some of the greatest
events of the century were shaped by
Conservatives, Winston Churchill,
Margaret Thatcher, the first woman
Prime Minister. You learned about
why Churchill lost the election and
was re-elected afterwards. We can't
help it if some of the greatest
events in the 20th century were
shaped by Conservatives.
If there is
the wealth of evidence that Rupa
Hook has set out, should your
committee be looking into this?
always happy to look at things but I
think there are bigger priority to
worry about in terms of difficulties
in school, in terms of education, in
terms of alternative provision.
you accept that? There are bigger
I think it's not mutually
exclusive, a binary either raw. The
1945 election is given as an example
of Churchill's wartime leadership.
had to write essays about why
Churchill lost that election and
about the Labour government and the
introduction of the welfare state. I
remember it very well.
Is this a
serious allegation? Do you have
confidence in the syllabus of
A-level history if it is being
written in a biased way to look at
the Conservatives over Labour
I don't think the
periods of history where we had a
Labour government should be omitted.
I was there when Rupa asked her
question. I listened very closely to
Nick Gibbon's response. He made no
apology and that knowledge that
essentially the curriculum is where
it is and said it was a result of a
consultation. Many consultations
take place in government where
people don't listen to all the
contributors and therefore perhaps
this is something that should be
looked at again.
Rupert, you have
said that when they looked at the
1945 at league Labour government
they skewed it to look at the
achievements of Churchill as a war
leader. Individual courses are
decided by exam boards, are they
complicit in this?
The direction is
set from the top. Candidates are as
to identify Conservative strength
and Labour weaknesses, that looks so
I'd like to see this but
it's a bit of a mountain out of a
You might say that from
events in the 20th century were
shaped by conservative bright
ministers, the first Prime Minister
as a woman, Churchill, the wartime
leader, there's a fantastic film at
the moment. It's inevitable that
these things will have problems.
you seem to be conceding that there
is going to be a predominance of
focus in an academic subject like
modern British history on the
Conservative achievements of the
I was saying that
conservatives had such air impact on
public life that it's inevitable
that people are going to study them
in a big way for stuff I do not
Labour leaders and
governments made a massive
contribution and should be included.
Are you going to look at asking
Robert Halfon's committee to look at
He's a nice chap. I think we
And we will look at it. I
will look at it. I can't have formal
enquiry but I will look at it
They laugh. Have a look
and see what you find out.
There's just time before we go
to find out the answer to our quiz.
The question for today
was what is the Labour Party
planning to launch this summer?
Was it Their manifesto for the next
A policy paper
on manhole covers
A Blairite rival
to campaign group Momentum
or Jeremy Corbyn music festival
So Luciana and Robert.
the correct answer?
Is it the festival.
Who can forget the chants of "Oh,
Jeremy Corbyn" ringing out
across Glastonbury last year.
As the Labour leader took
to the Pyramid stage and addressed
thousands of muddy festival goers?
Well as the festival isn't on this
year, Labour Party bosses are set
to stage their own "JezFest"
in North London in June.
They're expecting 10,000 people
to attend the "Labour Live" event.
But what use are festivals
to politicians or
politicians to festivals?
To help me answer that
question is the Labour
activist Crispin Flintoff,
founder of Stand Up for Labour,
which has organised a series
of comedy gigs across the country
to campaign for Labour.
Welcome to the Daily Politics. What
is the aim of this festival?
know anything about this festival.
Are you the right person?
of those BBC blunders.
the taxi driver from outside that
has come in?
I put on comedy events
for the Labour Party. It's important
that we engage people in politics
because there are so few people
There are a lot of
people getting involved in Labour
I still don't think
there are not enough. We should have
a million members. We should have as
many Tories as they are happy with.
How many Tories would you be happy
with? Generally, in terms of
We need a lot more of
We need a lot more of
We need a lot more of
To these events translate
into votes for Jeremy Corbyn at a
motivated. People coming together is
a very good way to get spirits up
and people start thinking about they
can stand for election, for office,
that mushrooms out to their family
and friends and communities.
Is it a
case of just preaching to the
converted? Don't the people who come
along to anything that is geared
towards a political party just echo
what you already feel and believe
It's about raising their spirits
and making them strong enough to
talk to people who are not so sure
about politics. You have to find
events that people want to get
involved with. The
involved with. The had political
system is very dry for people who
are not involved in politics
already. You have to put on
alternatives. There are a lot of
people out there who are despairing
at what is happening with the
country and don't feel there is any
hope. If they got into politics,
they might feel there is a way out
Are the Conservatives
catching up in this sort of way of
becoming accessible to young voters?
George Freeman was talking about his
big tent ideas festival but it
doesn't seem to be nearly as
successful as Jeremy Corbyn events.
We need to do a lot more things like
this. Most people will be looking at
Love Island when Jezfest is on. I
think it is OK as long as it doesn't
become cult worship of Jeremy
Corbyn. We need to reach out to our
Do you think you are
going to get new voters by doing the
sort of things or are they
reinforcing members already?
had members and nonmembers coming
together because of shared Labour
values. We don't know the exact
details of what this festival might
be but if it is going to be a thing,
I think it should get across the
country and not just north London.
Thanks much for coming on the
That's all for today.
I'll be here again at noon
tomorrow with all the big
political stories of the day.
Do join me then.