Jo Coburn is joined by the journalists Kevin Maguire and Camilla Tominey for the whole programme. They examine Council Tax and how most regions are planning to put it up.
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Hello and welcome to
the Daily Politics.
Council tax bills will soon be
hitting your door mat -
why do 95% of councils in England
say they'll be putting them up?
As the Brexit Secretary
accuses the European Union
of "discourteous language",
will the government get
the frictionless trade with Europe
that they want after Brexit if we're
not in the customs union?
The leader of the free world has
a hair-raising experience.
Why is being appropriately coiffured
so important to some politicians?
And has the European Parliament
voted to abolish summertime?
All that in the next hour,
and with me for the duration today -
two beautifully coiffuered guests -
the Mirror's associate
Editor, Kevin Maguire
and Camilla Tominey of the Express.
Welcome to the programme.
First today -
Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier
has been holding a news conference
at the end of a week
of technical talks in Brussels.
And Brexit Cabinet discussions have
been continuing in London
as Theresa May tries to find
a compromise amidst
divisions over what kind
of relationship the UK should have
with the EU after Brexit.
Here's what Mr Barnier had
to say a few minutes ago.
On Ireland, we focused on solutions
to avoid a hard border.
Any solution must be precise,
clear and unambiguous.
As you know, our joint report
provides for three options.
First, solving the issues
on the island of Ireland
through the future relationship.
And this future relationship
would need to avoid a hard border
and protect north-south cooperation
and the Good Friday Agreement.
Once again, ladies and gentlemen,
it is important to tell the truth.
A UK decision to leave
the single market and to leave
the customs union would make
border checks unavoidable.
Michel Barnier. He set it out very
clearly. Unless there is a UK
decision to stay in the single
market and Customs union, there will
be border checks.
And this comes
after, of course, the notion that at
the Brexit War Cabinet meetings
we've had this week, Northern
Ireland will be on the agenda and
then was taken off as it's proven to
contentious. The issue is
interesting in the fact that no
party at all seems to want to have a
hard border. The UK dogs, BET you
doesn't and neither do the Irish or
Northern Irish. At the same time,
this is a hot potato. There's a
wider narrative around this. David
Davis coming out strongly in the
papers this morning saying he thinks
Michel Barnier is being discourteous
in the way the EU want to handle the
transition talks. I think from the
general public point of view,
there's interesting polling in the
week leading, only 8% support Brexit
in name only. Generally people want
the government is to get on with it,
regardless of his massive thorny
issue about Ireland. There's a sense
of not making progress and being
blocked by Sony Michel Barnier
before we even set out into the next
stage of negotiations.
Visit on the
thorny issue of Northern Ireland? Of
course everyone says they don't want
a hardboard, but people say they
don't want it, and Britain would
like to come out of the customs
union. Will that be the issue that
breaks these negotiations?
well be. Particularly when you have
the role of the ten DUP MPs who give
Theresa May her majority in
Westminster. It matters more than
ever, but you cannot come out of the
customs union and the single market
and not have a border.
there could be technical solutions,
that there could be ways, once the
trade arrangements is finalised. We
don't know what that is at the
moment. Once the trade deal is
finalised, there could be ways
You could have honesty
boxes, drones, electronic beams.
They don't want to go back to border
posts because that becomes very
hard. There will be lots of creative
thinking but there's still going to
be a border. We will recreate the
border by coming out of the customs
union and the single market. There's
no question of that. The DUP and
Northern Ireland, and remember
Northern Ireland voted to stay in
the EU, the overall...
But the DUP
No, they were on the wrong
side of the argument. It's on the
Irish Sea, so you can't have a
specific deal for those counties and
say those six counties of Ireland
are in and the rest of the UK is
Do you think that, on that
issue, it may be that the Cabinet
and Theresa May will be forced to
concede some sort of customs union?
They may call it something
different, but it may be a customs
union in effect beyond transition.
The rhetoric from Downing Street
dampening all the speculation in the
papers at the weekend was saying, we
will not be in any customs union.
There was a nuance between the
customs union and remaining in it
and a customs union. They've been
unequivocal. That's the only chink
in the Lancaster house speech
armour. While she is adamant about
the union, the 12 point about the
customs union is open to
interpretation. That's why we've
been seeing Philip Hammond
freelancing on the subject in recent
weeks and an adverse opinion from
Ollie Robbins, we believe, from
The War Cabinet is
at war with itself. She doesn't have
agreement. How can you go to the
other 27 and Michel Barnier and say
what you want when your own site is
The meetings they've have
this week, there hasn't been
agreement, it hasn't been resolved
because Theresa May has decided
there will be an away day.
there must be. Four hours to decide
which's end-stage doesn't seem
enough time at all. It seems in
principle that they've only met for
this point of time, stuff have been
taken off the agenda. Meanwhile,
Jeremy Corbyn is tying himself in
knots over what he has or hasn't
said to Barnier about the customs
union. Let's make no mistake. Both
bottle parties are divided and an
awayday is probably not a bad idea,
although the notion of some of the
Cabinet is doing team-building
exercises, the mind boggles!
be amazed if you can get Philip
Hammond and Amber Rudd to agree with
Michael Gove and Boris Johnson.
Maybe it should have been sorted out
before Article 50.
Or having been
opaque in the wake that some people
might see it, they've managed to get
the first phase agreed. There is
likely to be an agreement on
transition. And they'll get headline
agreement around a trade deal, so in
the end is it as disastrous as some
It looks troublesome.
There is a self interest on the UK
side. There is self interest on the
27. You're looking for mutual
self-interest where you can come
together. We've got where we are so
far. One, by agreeing to the 27's
timetabling. Two, paying off the £39
billion. On issues such as Ireland,
we gave the impression that there
wouldn't be that border to get the
DUP back onside. Now, that seems to
So much leads up to it
and it's all decided in the last few
hours, like phase one.
agreed until everything is agreed.
On that, we will move onto something
different. We will of course to
Now, could your household
bills soon be going up?
A new survey suggests nearly
all local authorities in England
are planning to increase
council tax from April
as the Local Government Association
says many councils are concerned
about balancing their books.
Of the third of councils that
responded to this year's
Local Government Finance Survey,
95% said they planned
to raise council tax.
Almost three quarters said
they planned to increase council
tax by more than 2.5%.
Council tax bills can rise
by up to 6% this year,
which includes a 3% levy,
or precept, to fund social care.
However, if bills were to increase
by more than 6% that
would trigger a local referendum.
93% of councils also said
they were planning to raise fees
for services they provide,
including parking and planning.
Councils are increasingly dependent
on money they raise locally,
rather than central grants,
a move the government says
will improve accountability.
But Lord Porter, chairman
of the Local Government Association,
has said some authorities
are "perilously close"
to financial collapse.
We can speak now to Ferris Cowper,
a district councillor
in East Hampshire, one of only six
councils who responded to the survey
who said they would not be
increasing council tax this year.
Also joining us is Shadow Local
Government Minister Jim McMahon.
We hope he will join us soon. He
will be in Salford.
You're not going to have to raise
council tax. So in your mind, who is
at fault for the situation that most
other authorities seem to find
themselves in? Is it counsels for
not showing initiative by the
Conservative government was lashing
I think there's a bit
of a shared responsibility here, to
be quite honest. The loss of
government grants did come as a bit
of a shock to many people. We were
planning for this many years ago. So
I think that also council leaders
and councillors generally have had
the opportunity to get ready for
this bit earlier than they have
What did you do?
The thing we
did was set out to do three main
things to deal with the loss of
those grants. We started on
efficiency programme, not a service
cutting programme, but keeping the
services and just running them
cheaper. Some people called
efficiency is losing services, we
don't. Manufacturing, a man found a
huge number of senior managers, so
we have halved the number of senior
managers. We've also started selling
services to other councils, and
we've improved our investment
portfolio to get better returns on
that as well.
Do you accept, though,
that you have got an easier time of
it than many other authorities
because you don't have to fund
Adult social care is
one of the biggest challenges. I
noticed that Jeremy Hunt's
portfolio, including adult social
It seems only in title only.
I think where hoping... I would hope
that if you're looking at a
restructuring of local government
finance, which has to be the agenda
here, a new way of doing all this,
the central government will have to
take some of these things which are
synergistic with the health agenda.
And you hope that's going to happen
at national level. You accept that
because you don't have responsible
at for financing adult social care,
you have an easier job.
I'd love the
That's not the
answer to the question.
Actually, the truth of
it is that even in your area,
although you're not putting up the
council tax bills, they could go
anyway because the county council
could choose to do so.
other presetting authorities are
very likely to put those up, but
we're doing our bit.
this and hearing some of the
efficiency savings that have been
made, do you think councils have
crossed their fingers and hope
something would come along with Siam
I suspect there isn't a single local
authority across the UK that hasn't
been looking for inefficiency
savings. The scale of the cuts in
central government grants have been
40% in some cases. You are
down to statute services and social
care is a huge red and I'm councils
because people are older, needing
more support, which is good. They've
been working hard and at the same
time haven't been allowed to put up
council tax, which is great if your
household but not great when you
don't get the service. You have to
pay for local government, I agree,
but where you get those
efficiencies, you make them. That is
why you have true blue sorry, very
wealthy. When you have
Northamptonshire County Council
close to bankruptcy the way they
have ruled out almost extra two all
What's the solution?
Do you support councils putting up
council tax to up to potentially 6%
in order to fund vital services?
think most people including our
readers will support councils
working more efficiently. Some are
better than others. At the council
tax has gone up by 53%. I think the
statistics from the taxpayers
They've done the
research. 530 council bosses are
earning more than the primaries do.
Is that right? Are you supportive of
council fat cats earning 6-figure
You'll get a couple of extra
bins with the billions taken out of
On a sustainable basis,
what do you think the answer is?
Should it be big central government
It should be the little
Don't be patronising.
actual residence rather than fat cat
bosses who are coining it in. Mrs
Meghan 's once had bins changed in
Blackpool and doesn't want to face a
doubling of council tax! Which is to
be 700 or £800, and is now 1500.
That's because councils have
aside... Putting aside the issue of
how much they're being paid, which
we take your point that you think
they are fat cats earning too much
money, but year on year, how should
and how do councils meet the gap
between what they used to get from
central government without putting
up council tax? What would be your
Perhaps in the case of
social care, if it isn't taken under
the remit of the NHS, should be
looking at more creative ways of
managing the cost of social care?
Social care affects one in six
households in places -- and in
places like Germany they have an
insurance system toward against the
fact you might need social care
costs. White that's a different
argument. I'm saying maybe we should
look at creatives. What will it pick
up on what Camilla said about fat
cat pay. What you pay your chief
cat pay. What you pay your chief
120,000 fans a year in the
Is that too much?
Less than the Prime Minister.
it too much?
Its £60,000 for the
District Council of East Hampshire.
As do you think that is good value
To have someone running
the £40 million enterprise and 60
per year is exceptional value.
sounds like good value. I like the
idea in principle and no one in the
public services gets paid more than
the Prime Minister. If you get a big
county council and you want a
top-notch finance director, you are
competing against financial
companies that are paying far more.
If you want some really really good,
it's the market that is dictating.
The cost of social care, 4.5 billion
has been taken out. You are coming
up with another way of paying
insurers. It might be cheaper for
your council tax to go up a bit and
you pay for it collectively and then
get cared, rather than going to a
rip-off company and insurance
company that's going to charge
higher premiums are.
This works well
in Germany and other European
Let me bring in our other
Jim McMahon. I am sure you
understand the issue of council tax
going up in some authorities. Would
the situation be that different
What we need to accept
is that council tax is very
important, but it has limitations.
Property values are out of date now,
by 27 years, but also there is
little relationship between the
property values in an area and the
ability of the person to pay the
bills. It is important but it has
its limitations. Today people are
being asked to pay more and more for
what they see as less and less
because the services everybody sees
like libraries and street cleaning
and parks and open spaces, are
reduced to fund adult social care.
Do you support broadly cancels
putting up council tax to pay for
In the current
context the councils have no choice.
The government was asked to go away
and find the money for social care
and they failed. The Secretary of
State failed to find any new money
when he came to the dispatch box
today. They are finding money from
the back of the couch and our social
care services are in crisis.
Councils have no choice but to put
up council tax because they need to
fund those services. Councils have
1200 statutory obligations on them
and they have to meet them and they
have no choice. It is a horrible
situation for them.
You say it would
be different under Labour because
they have a different tax system
related to property. The
conservative say and that tax system
that you set out in the manifesto
more people would pay more because
you would replace council tax with
land value tax. The average family
home could go up from £1185 to £3837
a year, an increase of 124%. Do you
accept there would be many more
people paying higher council tax in
We are looking at a
wider range of taxation and income
streams to fund local government.
You cannot continue to rely...
you accept and your new system in
order to guarantee that stream of
funding that more people in bigger
properties, rightly or wrongly,
would be paying more?
would need to be worked out. We need
to agree the right balance between
tax raised in a local context
through council tax or business
rates, what is the demand for
services? And then there is general
taxation. Most people say it should
not be the case that your ability to
get social care in old age, or your
ability to get children help are
dependent on the values in your
area. It will continue to put at
risk children and people in areas
where you have not got that value.
Would you support the redrawing of
council tax along a different sort
of property revaluation M I think we
have to think much wider.
To keep on
banging on about what kind of tax we
are going to levy and how it will be
structured, it is such old-fashioned
thinking. We have to think outside
the box. The whole method by which
the public sector is financed has to
be thought through. The capability
of the public sector to generate
income from other sources is
important, but with services like
adult social care and education we
keep looking at making it bigger and
bigger and some things work better
if you make them smaller. We talk
about devolution, I am not sure what
the Labour Party policies on that
are. But evolving it down to lower
levels so that we can execute
services like social and care with a
more precise focus on what is needed
and save money that way.
government has said funding will be
replaced by business rates income in
the future. Will that sort the
Even with that it is still
not enough. Even if we went for a
re-evaluation, you would see a huge
geographical displacement where
London and the south-east would see
rapid increases because the values
have gone up and stagnation in other
areas where you have not seen that
increase. Unless you have a new
method of redistribution, you will
not get that. In London there are
just over 10 million over
65-year-olds and it will be 17.3 by
20 35. People are living longer and
in old age they deserve the care
they need and that should be funded
based on need and not on property
values in a given area. You have to
have that balance right.
McMahon, thank you.
Jim McMahon, thank you.
Now, MPs are rarely houshold names
but is one conservative
backbencher managing to break
through from relative
obscurity of the backbenches?
Jacob Rees Mogg is rarely
off our tellies, often trending
on social media and is a hit
with the tory grassroots.
He also leads the influential
European Research Group
that is thought to number as many
as 70 Conservative MPs.
But what do the public make
of a man who is spoken
of as future Tory Leader?
Emma Vardy took that
of public opinion, the moodbox,
to west London.
The MP of this constituency, Boris
Johnson, is well known for making
his views clear on how he believes
we should be getting out of Europe.
But what do voters here
make of the new darling
of the Eurosceptics,
We're here to ask people if he's
a hero or a villain.
I just think he's a little
bit upper-class for us.
I actually quite like him
for being so outspoken and
about what he believes in.
I don't necessarily believe
in everything he says, but I
think you need somebody
like that to put an argument
across and actually stand up
for your convictions, so I
think he's quite a hero.
Why do you think he's so divisive?
I think it's probably
because of background and
I think he is quite
an intelligent man.
I think he's quite
open to discussing.
He's voting against everything!
people, their living.
Brexit, all that, as well.
# I need a hero!#
Who is it?
Maybe she needs to be, you know, a
little bit stronger.
Yeah, she needs to be,
a little bit stronger and,
her case to strengthen her up a bit,
that must be a good thing.
I don't agree with his views.
He - if I've got the right
man, I think he is
How dare he decide!
Wonderful man, you say.
Do you recognise the man
on the front of that box?
OK, I may have.
He doesn't exactly seem
to be a household name.
It's quite resonating, that.
He's not the type of
politician that I would...
I couldn't trust him.
I feel he's basically a villain
because he's a Tory.
That T-shirt's so last season.
He may be the man of the moment
for some Eurosceptics,
but here in Uxbridge, most people
told us Jacob Rees-Mogg is a
The villain of the peace for the
mood box. Has he cut through,
Definitely. If you take
yourself out of this bubble and
listen to the LBC on the radio,
people are literally phoning in
every five minutes and they want
Jacob Rees Mogg for leader. If that
translates on a wider UK level I do
not know, but he has gone from being
a rather eccentric backbencher to
someone who is influential in Brexit
because of being the chairman of the
European research group.
superseded Boris Johnson as the
darling of the grassroots Tories?
Absolutely. You saw that at the
Conservative Party conference in
Manchester. Ruth Davidson and he
seemed much more popular. In the way
he gets an easier ride because he is
not held to account where Boris
Johnson would be as Foreign
Secretary. Although he lost that
poll, the majority of people were
against, very few Leticia 's would
get more than 50%. In a general
election you can get 42% and win, so
he did quite well.
In terms of
people thinking he is a villain is
that because behind that all too
polite veneer there is a much steely
and less likeable character behind?
I know him relatively well. On
a personal level he is a lovely
But what about the views he
He is a catholic and a
staunch catholic and pro-life and
anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage.
That for the left is classed as
extremist views. But we can
apparently labelled Christian views
extremist but not anyone else's
views without being labelled racist.
The more people get to know him and
his views, the less they were like
him. He is a character, no question.
You can imagine him with a monocle
coming from the 18th century. On
abortion many people do not like
that. You do not have to be gay to
think gay marriage is a good thing.
If you do not believe in gay
marriage, do not marry a gay person.
Let's not characterise Christian
beliefs as ray bid.
That is wrong.
People do not like people
interfering in their own lives.
Shall we take the two MPs...
some people who do not agree with
him look at him and by the courage
of his convictions.
Anna Soubry and
Justine Greening said it would be a
stretch to stay in the party if he
became leader. Anna Soubry thinks he
should be flying out.
Anna Soubry is
rather marginalised. She has very
personally attacked Jacob Rees Mogg.
He is a good person and a committed
politician and people can see that.
Does he want to be leader?
this week he did not and used the
excuses of having six children. He
has got to be ambitious. He has not
got into politics to be a backbench
MP. He has taken on the role as the
voice of the Brexit backbenchers,
the European research group. He is
very ambitious. I met him before he
was an MP. I wrote a few things he
did not like anti-invited me to a
club to have dinner to pop me round.
He is ambitious. He became the head
of this European research group. How
influential is that group?
had a look into who is a member of
it and it is touted it only involves
about 35 MPs. I think it is more
We think 70.
interviewed him when he got the
chairmanship and asked if it was
right that it was 100 and he said it
was fair. Increasingly they are
putting pressure on Theresa May and
to be fair to Jacob Rees Mogg, he
has put more on them in the past few
weeks that anyone has done recently.
What about his authenticity? Does
that make him appeal to certain
sections in the Tory party and even
admired by those who do not like
That is right. He says what he
thinks, whether you like it or not.
He is on the backbenches and can do
People do like that, but that
does not mean when push comes to
shove, they are thinking about what
is best for them in the polling
booth and they might not vote for
somebody from the 18th century.
booth and they might not vote
for somebody from the 18th century.
Now, why is hair so important
to some politicians?
Donald Trump had a hair raising
experience the other day that
threatened to reveal the secrets
of his blonde mane as he
boarded Air Force One.
And President Trump isn't the first
and won't be the last politician
to attach rather a lot of importance
to his hairdo.
# Hey, girl, what you
doing over there?
# Can't you see, I'm
spraying my hair?
# Baby, baby.
# Well, Mamma told me
not to do this.
# Well, if I don't
I'm gonna lose it.
# Gimme, gimme control,
it's got to stand on its own.
# When the band is
playing loud and fast.
That was very poor,
it was Duncan Smith's hair.
# What a gas.
# I got an inspiration
doing that hairspray,
the love of the nation.
# When the band is
playing loud and fast...
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant
Michael Fabricant there.
And we're joined now
by the one of the nation's top
hairdressers, Nicky Clarke.
It's almost like origami! Clearly,
he has an issue with the loss of
some hair. He's worked out this kind
of very elaborate comb over that
isn't like the usual comb over that
I used to see where someone has sort
of gone from year to year. His is
all quiffs and whatever.
Yeah, is held down with
an awful lot of hairspray, which is
why we've seen the gust of wind
Wing is an impediment, I have
to say. Even though I don't
necessarily have an origami style
hairdo, outside, reporting, it's
difficult to control. What do you
suggest in these moments for public
exposure if you have a hairdo like
Where possible, work out
the wind direction! It literally is
like having a wind machine coming
from the wrong way. We've seen it
with other presenters, as well.
to politicians is important, isn't
It is but not necessarily in the
way one would think because the
whole idea of this power hairdo is
not necessary. In order to be really
kind of perceived as quite honest
and real, you almost need to look
like you haven't tried too hard. I
think that's probably works with
hair and works with the way one
Back in the day we
used to call it a Bobby Charlton
comb over. If you had him in your
chair, what would you say? Would you
say could it short?
interesting thing. If there isn't
that much hair, it's very easy for
people to say, you're losing it,
let's put it all off. But it would
change dramatically the way he
looks. I think that's quite a hard
thing for somebody to actually do.
Also, people have to feel
comfortable and politicians have to
feel comfortable with the hairstyle.
It can be that way. We've seen it
with Prince William where he's
embraced the idea.
He had a number-1
He did, but it wasn't too
different in terms of what people
were seeing already.
But there is an
obsession with covering up any sort
of thinning of the hair. David was
accused of those shots during Prime
Minister's Questions in the House of
Commons, where you might have been
able to see a thinning. Does that
How would the public react
if he had gone off and had one of
the many really, really great
treatments now that you would never
know? You would never know, trust
It's interesting that if he were
a woman, we wouldn't be talking like
this. If a woman had thinning hair.
Women are really sympathetic with
men losing their hair. I remember
reading a startling survey
suggesting women would rather lose a
breast than lose their hair because
it's so integral. I think people
look at men who lose their hair.
Someone like Wayne Rooney, there was
huge sympathy for him at such a
young age to have lost all his hair.
He went for the transplant.
Obviously the Donald is a figure of
ridicule but I found it interesting
in the Piers Morgan interview, where
he's poked fun at himself and say he
was hanging on in there and took a
bit of mockery about it because
clearly it's such a talking point.
He has done that before, he's
actually said that maybe when he got
into office that he would shave it
off, maybe one of those he hasn't
quite fulfilled! But, you know, and
I think recently we saw the fact
that he was on medication in terms
of the scalp. It's clearly very
What about a bold Prime
Minister? Mail, probably! Do you
think that's could ever be possible?
I don't think it has anything to do
with it. You're right they would be
mocked in the beginning, but I think
once you see those... Green
Churchill didn't do too badly.
that, we're going to finish. Thank
you, Nicky Clarke.
For the next half an hour we're
going to be focusing on Europe.
We'll be discussing Brexit of course
and, as winter bites
across the continent,
a proposal to abolish summer time.
First, though, here's our guide
to the latest from Europe
in just 60 seconds.
Turns out it's not just the Brits
who like to talk about the weather.
Much of Europe has faced
with Parisians even skiing down
Montmartre and snowfall shutting
down the Eiffel Tower.
Frosty relations seem to have thawed
in Germany as the country looks set
to emerge from months of political
deepfreeze with Angela Merkel's
agreeing a coalition deal
with the centre-left Social
The European Parliament
voted against proposals
to create a batch of pan-European
MEPs that would have allowed a vote
to create a batch of pan-European
MEPs that would have allowed a voter
in, say, Finland or Spain to be
represented by the same MEP,
delivering a blow to Emmanuel
Macron's plans to transform EU
The European Parliament also voted
to remove one of its vice
Ryszard Czarnecki, after he sparked
outrage by comparing a
fellow Polish MEP to
a Nazi collaborator.
European Commission bigwig
Jean-Claude Juncker on the other
hand was clearly feeling chummy
when he ruffled the hair
of his chief Brexit negotiator
ahead of a Strasbourg debate
on the future of Europe.
Right, let's talk about Germany and
the coalition that may or may not be
secured. What do you think will
I think it will be but she's
given a lot of ground. The SPD to do
particularly well in the election
and are extracting their prize. She
wasn't what she was. She still
Chancellor but not as commanding.
All political careers have to end in
failure at some time and you're
shuffled off and you can feel she's
in a much later stage. I wouldn't
say write her off, she's still...
The polls say she's in a relatively
Rather head-on the
party, but she's not as strong as
she was. It will still be Macron in
France and her in Germany calling
the main shots. We'll know that when
they doing the negotiations over
If the coalition does go
ahead and the members have to vote
on it, where does it leave the
alternative for direction and -- the
AFD, that secured many seats in the
It leaves them knocking
on the door and Angela Merkel has
had a wake-up call that some of her
policies have not been popular. It's
a massive concession that they've
lost the finance ministry to the
coalition partners. Looking forward
to Brexit, I was thinking
psychologically, will Angela Merkel,
having gone through this enormous
trouble to try to secure an
agreement, that she is compromised
so much that she's going to get
tough on the UK when it comes to the
EU? Who knows what her state of mind
is. There was irony at her having to
go at Theresa May for not making her
mind when she herself is in this
hugely precarious position.
often goes through months of
decision-making. It is unusual to go
on for this long. And also to
struggle in the way that she has in
order to try to secure a coalition.
As it weakened Germany's position
more broadly in the EU?
I'm not sure
it has. Germany is such an
industrial economic powerhouse, such
a large country. Their electoral
system, the additional member
system, they are one of the
countries imposed it after the
Second World War and it works
towards coalitions. It's just who is
in the coalition. It's taken longer
than before. It took some time then
anyway. The Germans work these
things through, but you feel that
she herself isn't a commanding
figure, but I think compared to
Theresa May, Theresa May would love
to be in Merkel's position.
both from Conservative background,
both have religious fervour about
them. About the same sort of figure
in terms of being isolated on the
world stage. It's interesting. Maybe
they should get together over a
On that, we'll move on!
So, the second stage of Brexit
negotiations with the EU have
begun with talks moving
onto the transition stage.
On Sunday the government confirmed
that "we are categorically
leaving the customs union"
and "it is not our policy to stay
in a customs union."
On Monday Chief EU negotiator,
Michel Barnier, responded by saying
that "barriers to trade and goods
and services are unavoidable".
Adding that "the time has
come to make a choice".
It's unclear whether
the UK will stay
in the customs union and the single
market during any transition period.
A leaked EU draft of
the Withdrawal Agreement suggested
that UK's access to the single
market would be restricted
during the transition phase
if there is a dispute after Brexit.
Brexit Secretary David Davis accused
the EU of using "discourteous
language" in the document
and Brexiteers claim that continued
membership of the customs union
and Single Market would render
Britain a "vassal state".
Remainers and some business groups
have called for urgent action
from government to address
the uncertainty with
the British Chambers
of Commerce saying this week
that their "patience
is wearing thin".
We're joined now from Amsterdam
by the Dutch MEP Paul Tang,
who earlier this week described
Theresa May's brexit strategy
as "stupidity", and from Brussels
by the Cosnervative MEP Dan Dalton.
Welcome to both of you. Paul Tang
first of all, do you regret calling
Theresa May's strategy on Brexit
Well, no. I still think
it's stupid. There are huge problems
with exiting not the EU but the
customs union. The customs union
will lead to a hard border. A hard
border between Northern Ireland and
Ireland and that has been an issue
before. Moreover, it will hamper the
trade and transport of goods will
stop it will take a big swing at the
factories in England. It will hit
the blue-collar workers that still
work in factories. They are the ones
that pay and I think it's stupid
that they are the ones to pay for
these ideological choices.
your response to hearing that
language being used about the
strategy? And do you think the
Conservative government should keep
some sort of customs union
relationship on the table?
I think there's a misunderstanding
about the customs union because it
is often portrayed as if staying in
the customs union when you leave the
EU is the status quo. It's not. It
would mean that the date we left the
EU but stayed in the customs union,
we would lose trade access to all
that the EU has done trade with
around the world, in addition to not
been given to do trade deals
ourselves. Staying in the customs
union means and EU only trade
policy. We would have no
preferential agreement with any
other country and wouldn't be able
to get one. The only option for the
UK, frankly, is to leave the customs
union. Despite the fact there are
troubles about it it really is the
Do you agree with that,
Paul Tang, that we would lose access
to any third country agreements made
with the EU? We would be a vassal
No, because I think the new
trade agreements are not about the
trade and transporting goods. They
are about services. Much more
important in growing part of the
economy. This is what is at stake
for the future relationship. I think
Great Britain, after exiting the EU,
can make trade agreements especially
on services. Coming back one moment,
we think that Turkey and the EU are
not best friends, right? But Turkey
is still part of the customs union
and that's an economic reason for
that. Because this is a way to trade
and transport goods.
Dan, is it your
understanding that Britain remains
in the customs union during the
It hasn't been
fully discussed. The government has
certainly said it needs to address
the issue I just talked about,
losing access to third country for
Ayew is also saying,
like the International Trade
Minister, that the government still
doesn't have a position on whether
Britain stays in the customs union,
despite the fact that David Davis
has said we will remain on the same
terms during that implementation
I figured sort of answer the
Can you say it
for us? Will we stay in the customs
union with cyan we will stay on the
same terms as currently, but need to
address this issue
which is the
issue we lose access to our markets
with third countries which have done
deals with the EU. That is the issue
David Davies is trying to address
and needs to be addressed in
negotiations. If we get that, I
suspect we will stay in for the
So the position... I
take your point that this is a
negotiation. It hasn't been cleared
as to whether Britain will have
access to those countries with
agreements that have been made with
the EU, but is it your
understanding, just to clarify, that
the British government's position
during the transition is that
Britain would remain in the customs
I'm not a spokesman for the
British government. My understanding
is, if we can address this issue
with regard to those third countries
and the ability to do our own trade
deals, as well, as I understand it,
the government is open to staying in
for that period, providing those
provisos are met.
Paul Tang, isn't
that the point? This is a
negotiation. Whatever has been said
by Michel Barnier when he says the
decision that the UK's going to
leave the EU single market and it
will mean border checks at the Irish
frontier, it's his negotiating
position. It doesn't mean it back.
No, I would say it is logic.
not seen the alternative for the
border between Ireland and Northern
Ireland. I am not sure if you have
heard it, I have not heard it. The
customs union is the option on the
table and I would not throw that
option awake if I was Great Britain.
It is not just a matter of
negotiation, it is a matter of
logic. By the way just take a look
at the map. You can try to agree new
trade agreements, but let's face it
UK and the EU are pretty close
geographically and we are logical
trading partners. The first priority
should be to find a trade agreement
with the EU to protect jobs.
said that you are not a spokesperson
for the British Government. Are you
happy with the government's
has been clear from the word go.
Your answer leads me to believe that
the government has not been clear
because you are not sure what the
I am very clear what
the position is, I am not
representing the British Government,
I am a Conservative MEP. I am not
privy to the negotiations. The
government's position has been we
would leave the single market and
the customs union and negotiate
frictionless trade if possible for
the future with the EU.
Is it right
to use language that looks as if
Britain will be punished if the UK
does not stick to the letter of the
transition agreement, that somehow
restrictions will be placed on
Britain in terms of access to the
single market? Does that help smooth
the way to successful negotiations?
Know, normally it does not. I know
how words from Michel Barnier are
perceived in the UK. That is
unfortunate. It is also in the
perception I would say. I do not
think the EU is threatening, but it
is pointing out the options that are
on the table. I do not think the
British Government has been clear on
that, I would love it to be clear.
It never ceases to amaze me that the
British Government seems more
divided than the 27 other states.
You say that but does Michel Barnier
now speak for the entire European
Union? We have got you back. Can you
still hear me? Yes, I can hear you.
We lost you momentarily. You say
Britain is more divided than the EU
27, but does Michel Barnier speak
for the Netherlands in terms of the
draft EU text? Can we really imagine
a state where the Netherlands would
want to put up barriers to trade
with the UK? They do not want to
make it more difficult, do they?
Know, and I think there will be
differences but they have not been
exploited by the British Government.
I expect there to be differences.
Where you do not see the difference
is you cannot cherry pick. That is
the fear that keeps the EU 27
together. But when there are real
choices on the table I expect there
will be some sort of division
between the EU 27.
listening to Dan Dalton, what is
your impression of this seeming
confusion over Britain remaining in
the customs union during the
House speech and Florence
subsequently made it clear that we
were going to leave the single
market and the customs union. At the
moment they are thrashing at the end
state. Is she going to start
briefing against what others said
before she has got a cabinet
consensus only to face more counter
We have heard David Davis
say it is on the same terms in the
confusing. You are asking me as if I
am responsible. There is a claim
that David Davis has lost control to
Ollie Robbins who seems to be
briefing we want to stay in the
customs union. There is a problem
with the admin of this process.
it was only just about admin. Is
this a political move by the EU,
trying to crank up the pressure?
Cancelling meetings they were going
to have with David Davis, using the
sort of language that David Davis
said was discourteous, punishing
Britain, trying to exert pressure?
Of course, the 27 are looking after
their interests like the UK is
supposed to be looking after their
own interests. It is as clear now as
a drunken mass brawl in a bar after
midnight what is happening. Theresa
May has got a warring Cabinet, a
warring party. She might think she
knows what she wants but she cannot
get it and that is why we are in
this ridiculous row over what we are
asking for in the transition period.
If we do not know what we are asking
for, how can we ever get it?
find out. Thank you all very much.
Thank you all very much.
Now, the Spitzenkandidat process.
What do you mean you
haven't heard of it?
It's a word that rolls off
the tongues of MEPs almost
as readily as Brexit.
It's all about choosing
Brussels' top eurocrat.
Here's Adam Fleming to explain.
When Jean-Claude Juncker comes
to Strasbourg, he sits here.
He got his job through
or lead candidate system,
which says that the European
Commission president should be
the person put forward
by the political grouping that does
best in the European
In 2014, that was
the centre-right EPP.
Juncker was their man, and that's
why this is now his chair.
It was opposed at the time
by David Cameron, who said
the choice should belong
to leaders alone.
Now, MEPs say they'd reject anyone
who wasn't a Spitzenkandidat.
The EPP group will not accept any
candidate for the future commission
president who was not presented
during the campaign as lead
candidate of a democratic party
and can bring together a qualified
majority in the new elected
In Strasbourg this week,
the Liberals tried to go further.
A directly elected commission
President rather than someone
selected by party bosses
like last time.
They were never elected
by citizens of Europe.
I mean, they were just appointed.
In this case we have Juncker,
who was appointed by the EPP.
EPP was the biggest party.
So we would get away from that
and people would stop blaming us
for democratic deficiencies,
if they can actually pick up
the list and vote for a person.
Others think it should
be junked altogether.
The European Union, its...
Well, it's a union of member states.
And it's taking away some
member states, well,
we have to say power in this case,
and integrate more power in Europe
and therefore Parliament.
And this, I think it sends the wrong
message and it's actually our group
who are concerned with it.
From its last legislative in 2014,
we avoided the system
completely and we didn't
Spitzenkandidat on the campaign.
Now the debate moves
from Parliament's corridors
to a meeting of EU leaders
at the end of the month,
where there's a split
between opponents and supporters,
like the Croatian Prime Minister,
who I chanced doing
a bit of gladhanding.
I've witnessed this exercise already
in 2014, when I was leading the list
of my political party
and my political family in Croatia.
I think it was a cohesive element
for the elections and I feel
that we should continue with this
concept also in these elections.
Jan, how are you?
Good to see you.
So I supported it again today.
And who's this?
Someone rumoured to fancy
being the Spitzenkandidat
for the centre-right.
Can I ask a totally
What do you think
Brexit, Brexit, Brexit.
Hmm - sticking to
the day job for now.
Adam Fleming reporting.
Adam Fleming reporting.
We're joined now from Brussels by
Politico Europe's Maia de la Baume.
I hope you can hear me. How much
backing has this got, this idea of
the parliament or the biggest party
in the Parliament are having much
more say over the candidates for the
new commission president?
European Parliament clearly supports
the idea because it basically is
behind the idea and the commission
also stands behind that idea because
it is a way to strengthen democracy
in the EU. The main challenge is for
European countries because a lot of
them think it would reduce their
power and small member states also
think it would favour big countries.
So the process has drawn a lot of
criticism in the EU. Some leaders
still think it is not very necessary
and it is also far from EU citizens'
concerns about the EU.
was famously quite unhappy about the
idea of Jean-Claude Juncker becoming
commission president, he did not
want to lose the power that nation
states have in terms of influencing
that decision. When you say people
are against it, who else is against
the idea of the Parliament having
more influence on this?
surprising country against the
Spitzenkandidat is France. It is
surprising because Emanuel Macron
has always declared and supported an
election process that would be more
democratic and he has always been
very keen to make Europe much more
transparent and democratic.
Basically it is surprising from him
and his position is that the
Spitzenkandidat would clearly favour
the party in the European Parliament
that has won the most seats, which
means the EDP. It is the
Conservative Party and not Emanuel
Macron's party. We know he has not
said it publicly, but we know he
does not like it because it is not
Funny that, politicians
always like an idea unless it does
not go the way they would like it
too in terms of support. What about
directly electing a president? Will
that idea ever catch on?
happen someday but clearly not now.
It would not be popular at all?
Know, the Spitzenkandidat is already
an improvement. For so many years it
was decided among EU leaders in
backroom deals and intense
negotiations and the Parliament was
not involved, so it is already a big
step forward that the Parliament now
could have the right to elect a
candidate. Maybe in a few years they
will have an elected president of
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much.
Now, Yesterday MEPs voted
to abolish summertime,
or to ask the European Commission
to consult on stopping
the practice of changing
the clocks between the summer
and winter months.
Currently the EU decides
when the clocks should go
forward and fall back.
One Italian MEP wasn't
happy with the proposal.
Here we are talking
about, should we abolish or not
abolish summertime arrangements?
Perhaps I can make a proposal to
colleagues here within the European
Parliament and that is that we move
the fingers of the clock an
hour back and that would mean
a saving for European citizens -
for Italian citizens -
of 250,000 euros that we
could then give back to citizens.
Right, your thoughts? I would love
to do it. Then the clock on my
boiler would not be wrong for half
of the year. We discussed this every
now and then. I can see the argument
for more sunlight in the morning,
but it is a pain.
What do you think?
My children, three under nine, are
already wired in the system and they
are gradually getting up a bit
earlier at the moment. We need the
clocks to go forward to keep them in
bed a bit longer. We are wired to
the system and I do not think people
take kindly to being dictated to by
I have heard Tory MPs say
that they think, just do it. It
would make it a lot simpler.
the way you both got in your little
calling cards. Do you think the
consultation would ever happen?
I will not let you
consult, that is the end. Thank you
to all of my guests and thank you to
Camilla and Kevin for being the
guests of the day. From all of us
Jo Coburn is joined by the journalists Kevin Maguire and Camilla Tominey for the whole programme. They examine Council Tax and how most regions are planning to put it up and how this may affect local elections in May. The Daily Politics moodbox has been out in Boris Johnson's constituency of Uxbridge, asking whether the Conservative MP Jacob Rees Mogg is a political hero or villain. The second half of the programme is devoted to European politics where the Conservative's Dan Dalton and Dutch MEP Paul Tang discuss what the transition period might look like.