Jo Coburn is joined by Jack Straw to discuss the diplomatic row over the Russian spy poisoning, Jeremy Corbyn's response and child sexual exploitation in Telford.
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Hello and welcome to
the Daily Politics.
Tit for tat.
Russia has said it will expel UK
diplomats "soon" in retaliation
to Britain expelling 23
With Theresa May set to visit
Salisbury later today,
where the former Russian double
agent and his daughter were
poisoned, has she gone far enough?
Has Jeremy Corbyn
misjudged his response
to the attack, after failing
to back Theresa May's decision
to blame Russia?
The Labour leader upset
some of his backbenches
by appearing to echo
the Moscow line that more time
and more evidence was needed to
prove Putin really was responsible.
In the light of the allegations
of widespread child sexual
exploitation in the Shropshire town
of Telford, including cases
involving girls as young
as 11, we'll be speaking
to their MP about it.
And how did Vladimir Putin rise
from a lowly KGB colonel
to become one of the world's
most powerful leaders?
We'll be speaking to one
of the world's leading experts
about power and psychology.
All that in the next hour
and with me throughout is the former
Home and Foreign Secretary,
Welcome back to the programme.
First today, the Brexit Secretary
David Davis has indicated
he's willing to be flexible
on the length of the transition
period after the UK
leaves the EU next year.
The British government had argued it
wanted a two year implimentation
period where Britain follows similar
trading rules to now to give
businesses time to get
ready before we leave.
wants a shorter time.
Here he is talking to
Newsnight's Nick Watt last night.
I'm not bothered, too much
about the question of whether it's
Christmas 2020 or Easter 2021.
So, if it means Christmas 2020,
you'd live with that?
I would live with that.
But, this is...
We're still in the middle
of a negotiation but, frankly,
what I would not do is delay
the decision, as it were,
in order to get a month or two more.
David Davis, the Brexit secretary.
He seems pretty relaxed about the
timescale of the implementation
period. You can paint to remain in
As many Labour people
dead. The sky hasn't fallen in since
the referendum? It hasn't. -- as
many Labour people did.
dropped to the bottom of the Labour
G20, the major industrialised
countries in the world. We are at
the bottom of them in terms of
growth. Although the predictions
made at the time of the referendum
the immediate problems were not
fulfilled, that's true. We were in a
period of a kind of phoney situation
for about a year where things just
carried on. There isn't any doubt
about the fact now that Brexit is
having a significant impact on our
output. No question about that.
Despite that, people can point to
high levels of unemployment and low
levels of unemployment. But in terms
of growth, we had a trend for years
about 2% to 2.5%. That is down to
1.5%. That might be a small
percentage but it involves big
numbers. It means there is less tax
revenue for the government to spend.
Although tax receipts have been at.
But not as much as they would have
been. There is less money in
How much did
people care, people who voted to
leave about the big macro figures,
about whether growth is up or down
by a few percentage points? Despite
what you say, the Dow hasn't moved
that dramatically. Labour has moved
its position on the customs union,
saying it would now like to have one
with EU. Do you think they will move
any further when it comes to the
single market, they have said not?
doubt it. Keir Starmer, our shadow
Brexit secretary, he is somebody who
is very bright, good judgment and a
safe pair of hands. Yes, he has
moved the party's position to a
customs union. I doubt we will move
to the single market. The problem
that about the single market, if you
join it, I would like that, people
will say, why don't we rejoin the
EU? That is a very big question. On
your point about as the dial moved
on people's voting preferences, not
much by all accounts. No doubt that
for a lot of people who voted
Brexit, this was done out of a sense
that not so much about the economic
detail, but they wanted "To take
back control". That was very
powerful as a slogan, more than a
slogan. I think that tipped the
balance in the last week of the
campaign in favour of Brexit.
think backbench Labour MPs have
confidence in Jeremy Corbyn's view
on the EU?
His position has shifted,
they probably do. Keir Starmer is
the person leading that.
leave it there. -- we will leave it
Moscow says it's still
considering how to retaliate,
following Britain's decision
to expel 23 Russian diplomats.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said
measures would be implemented
as soon as possible.
This morning, the British Foreign
Secretary, Boris Johnson,
said international allies are key.
There's a global disgust
at what has happened.
And that's very important.
And we will continue to make
the case to our friends and
allies that, as a...
As a committee of nations,
we need to stand up to Russia.
As the Foreign Secretary said,
Britain is busy building
an international coalition to strike
back against Russia.
The Nato council will meet
in Brussels today to discuss
the Salisbury attack.
And last night, Donald Trump's
ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley,
gave a powerful denunciation
of Russia at a security
Let me make one thing clear,
from the very beginning.
The United States stands in absolute
solidarity with Great Britain.
The United States believes that
Russia is responsible for the attack
on two people in the United Kingdom,
using a military grade nerve agent.
Dozens of civilians and first
responders were also exposed.
Police officer Nick Bailey
was the first to arrive on the scene
and remains hospitalised
in serious condition.
Our thoughts and prayers
go out to the victims
of this atrocious crime.
And beyond the United States,
leaders around the world have
been quick to react.
Germany's new Foreign Minister Heiko
"We take the assessment
of the British government
Moscow should be ready
to be transparent ...
And it is clear this cannot go
Canadian Prime Minister,
was clear who was responsible.
"The attack is despicable...
involvement in this is also
and needs to be condemned
in the strongest terms."
And, despite some innitial reticence
yesterday to blame Russia,
French President Emmanuel Macron
said this morning:
with the United Kingdom
that there is no other plausible
explanation and reiterates
its solidarity with its ally."
Joining us now is former
to Russia Sir Tony Brenton,
and Russian journalist
Welcome to both of you. Tony, you
were Russian ambassador in 2006,
that was when Alexander Litvinenko
was poisoned. After his death, there
were also expressions of support
from world leaders, European
leaders. Did they follow through
with any meaningful action?
had the privilege of working for him
for many years, can I greet him?
We got lots of warm words from
the Americans and our European
allies after the Alexander
Litvinenko murder. The Americans
were willing to follow through with
substantive action, we played with
the idea of throwing out a rush of
the G8. The Europeans were much more
disappointing, warm words but not
much else. -- throwing Russia out.
Will that be the case this time
round despite the declarations of
support that we had from the likes
of Germany and now France?
not. The political context is
different, Russia has sunk to the
bottom of the international league
table in terms of trust in
popularity. The EU already extensive
sanctions against Russia. I am sure
we are working very hard saying what
happened in Salisbury ten days ago
could easily happen in Frankfurt or
Avignon tomorrow. There are obvious
things EU Ken Duke, most notably
when you its own sanctions on Russia
-- can do, most notably. For an
extended period. We are working hard
to do that.
Is this what Vladimir
Putin wants? What is the motivation
behind what people call the level of
distrust, disruption and deflection
I regret to say that I
think that what is going on is the
best present for Vladimir Putin
before the elections on this Sunday
held in Moscow. Putin's campaign is
based on the theory that Russia is
surrounded by enemies and the
European countries and the United
States are in a situation where they
want to invade Russia and they
present a real threat to the country
and he is the only leader that can
do something with it. Before the
Salisbury accident, there was no
hint that anybody in the United
Kingdom or in France actually cares
about invading Russia. But now, when
we have ministers and all sorts of,
like, very high-profile defence
ministers and foreign leaders saying
that Russia should be punished or we
should reunite against Russia the
only thing the propaganda channel
needs to do is transcript it,
translated into Russian and show it
before election day.
That is the
problem, Tony. You said yourself the
political situation is different,
the level of mistrust is much
greater. But actually there is still
a massive leap between what Tonia is
said, Russia was being ignored
largely, there was no tough action
talk, bearing -- bearing in mind
their actions in Syria, the
annexation of Crimea and involvement
in the Ukraine but this attack in
Salisbury is a game change in your
Absolutely. Tonia is right.
Putin was always going to win those
elections even though this
reinforces his victory. She is also
right that in the west, we will have
to find ways of getting tensions
with Russia down. We are on the edge
of a new Cold War. We all remember
how dangerous and expensive the old
one was. That is expensive but long
term. Immediately, we need to
demonstrate the Russians that
outrageous attacks such as that that
took place in Salisbury ten days ago
cannot be permitted and the
international community will react.
It depends on what British
society and Pollard wants to
achieve. If you want to persuade
your people that Russia is bringing
a nerve threat to the citizens of
this country and no such kind of
attack on this soil can happen there
is one way to do it -- British
society and Parliament wants to
achieve. If the goal that you want
to achieve is to punish them and say
this cannot happen any time soon or
you can't do that, then there it is
different sorts of actions that
could be implemented. Obviously, as
a Russian citizen, I feel extremely
sorry for the British people, for
the fact that probably my country
did that to you. I feel really bad
about that and I feel ashamed of
that. But on the other hand, we are
dealing with the government, which
has some buttons which you should
push on. Why are you not doing that?
Instead, I am a mother of
three children, I don't want a new
war to happen. Why would we extend
the attention now?
Are we on the
edge of a new Cold War we already in
As Tony suggested, we are on the
edge. Tonia, no one is threatening
invasion of Russia. To point out, is
the only country that has been
invaded in Europe recently, Ukraine,
was invaded by Russia, not by the
west. I wanted to ask you, you are
suggesting that this poisoning in
Salisbury has played into Putin's
hands, do you think that was one of
the motives of those in the GR you
who organised it in order to help
Putin? -- in the GRU.
I can only
speculate. I don't have evidence or
clues but one of the explanations
I've find reasonable, we have to
bear in mind that the Kremlin
administration and GRU are parties
of the Russian government. They
don't like each other. GRU don't
like the Foreign Office. They think
of others, they don't speak to each
other. They can't possibly
coordinate things. I am absolutely
sure that probably Mr Lavrov, the
Foreign Secretary and even the head
of the Kremlin knew from the news
and the embassy that actually
something happened in Salisbury.
Because they don't brief each other.
Thinking that GRU would be thinking
about the elections is quite
unlikely to happen. Because it's not
But they all
work in silos. We talked about
Sergey Lavrov having a certain
amount of influence but how far does
Sergey Lavrov is a very
distinguished and experienced
international diplomat but he's not
part of the so-called St Petersburg
Mafia. Tony knows about that. He is
not part of the inner clique.
Because of the intelligence agencies
in Russia, he would have had no
knowledge of all...
He has to react.
He is a spokesman for these
Looking ahead, Tony, we
had news that the Nato chief is
going to meet Boris Johnson again.
Part of Britain's attempts to build
some sort of coalition. Again,
beyond invoking article five, which
we have already heard from Nato that
it feels this is the right moment
for that, what else could there be?
I have said what the EU could be
doing in renewing and extending
sanctions. We will introduce
measures against Russian with
illicit money in London and I hope
the Americans and others will note
the names we have got and will act
similarly. There is a cluster of
things like that. The key target of
our actions has been and this comes
back to something Tonia was saying
has been the GRU. We have kicked out
23 people from the Russian Embassy
who were certainly agents of two key
Russian intelligence agencies. The
aim of that is to severely damage
their ability to operate in London
and I imagine that the extent of the
expulsions have come as a shock to
the Russians, the aim being to
discourage them from doing this
again. I'm sure we will be
communicating with the Americans and
the Europeans these names and
encouraging them to get tougher on
the Russian intelligence presences
in their countries.
Before I get
Tonia's response as to how hard that
will have hit Russia, people will
say, why did we have so many spies
here in the first place. Why weren't
they kicked out earlier?
is we don't let people we know to be
spies in, but patterns of behaviour
emerge that lead us to conclude
they're spies. If you kick them out,
they will then kick one of our
people out. Their kicking out
innocent diplomats from Moscow. So
in a sense you're stuck with them.
Are you surprised there hasn't been
a public retaliation, apart from the
scorn from Moscow and from Vladimir
Putin. They say there will be
retaliation. Should we be expecting
it iminnocently? Sni -- Imminently.
They'll retaliate a roughly similar
number of diplomats. I'm sure
they're working on the list. The
worrying thought is they're so angry
with the UK that they will go beyond
the steps that we have taken and we
are then in an escalating cycle of
mutual reprisals. I hope that is not
the situation. But that is what we
will have to watch.
I can't agree
Russia is angry with the UK, Russia
got what she wanted. There will be
no attendance at the World
Championship, but the UK didn't
impose any sanctions that would be
Like seizing property here
or saying to the elite close to
Vladimir Putin you can't come here,
would that hurt?
That would hurt.
The only thing that Vladimir Putin
cares about is his close cronies who
live here. For me it is like easy to
say that, they're all people with
illegal assets here and who just
take money from Russia and park them
here and buy properties here and I
know generally the British public is
not happy with that. When you say
Russia is angry with the British
reaction, it is not true. When
you're watching this on state TV and
they're produced for domestic use.
When you see somebody is insulting,
it shows how strong he is towards
his domestic audience. When I see
British... Politicians talking the
same way, I'm surprised, because I
don't want Russia to teach the world
how diplomacy should be like this.
Well in the United States in the
midsts of the reactions, we heard
the US Secretary of State, Rex
Tillerson had been dismissed. What
impact will that have on a different
bit of foreign policy, the Iran
It could have a serious
impact. President Trump mentioned
Iran as one of the points of
disagreement between him and Rex
Tillerson. I don't know Mr Pompeo,
but I have spoke to people who know
him and they say this is a man who
is very bright and interested in
foreign policy and he is open to
arguments. The problem about the
Iran deal is it... He claims
President Trump is a good deal for
Iran. It is. But a lot of benefits
have not been delivered by the west.
It is a very good deal for the west,
because it is a non-proliferation,
an arms control.
But Trump doesn't
We think he doesn't like it
for the reason that Obama agreed it
and not for any other reason. I hope
and pray that the rationale argument
that it is in America's interest
will work and that Russia, China,
France, Germany and the United
Kingdom are all very clear that the
deal has to stay. The United States
has got to take account of that.
are going to leave it there. Thank
you very much.
Has Jeremy Corbyn
misjudged his response
to the Salisbury attack?
The Labour leader received fierce
criticism from Conservatives
and some of his own MPs
after he failed to back
Theresa May's decision to directly
blame the Russian state.
Our response as a country must be
guided by the rule of law, support
for international agreements and
respect for human rights. So when it
comes to the use of chemical weapons
on British soil, it is essential
that the Government works with the
UN to strengthen its monitoring
system and involves the office of
the prohibition of chemical weapons.
The Prime Minister said on Monday,
either was a direct act by the
Russian state or the Russian
Government lost control of their
damaging nerve agent and allowed it
to get into the hands of others. Our
response must be decisive and
proportionate and based on clear
Yvette Cooper, who chairs
the Home Affairs Select Committee,
was among those who spoke to condemn
Can I welcome the Prime Minister's
statement, her conclusion
about the culpability of the Russian
state is an immensely serious one?
And that, in addition
to their breaches of international
law, of the use of chemical weapons,
but also their continued
disregard for the rule of law
and for human rights must be met
with unequivocal condemnation.
A group of backbench MPs have put
down a Commons motion supporting
the Prime Minister's position,
praising her actions rather
than those of their party leader.
We're joined now by
Labour MP John Woodcock.
And a journalist.
Let's talk about
why were you so unhappy with what
Jeremy Corbyn said?
Well I think
what you saw yesterday was not a
group of MPs who were standing up
and criticising our leader, but we
thought it was important to put what
we thought was the right position to
be unequivocal in our support with
the Government against this threat
and accept the culpability of the
Russian state. What you had in the
statement and then after it in
briefing that was given by Jeremy
Corbyn's spokesman was a different
picture and so given what was said
after the statement, we thought it
was... It is important to be, for us
all to be clear at a time when the
UK has been attacked using chemical
weapons by a foreign state that
there should be no doubt what the
vast majority of Labour MPs think.
Did you want to hear Jeremy Corbyn
say and condemn the Russian state
for the Salisbury attack?
I want to see every single member of
Parliament doing that, because I
think it is our responsibility in
this circumstances to take that
action. I was heartened yesterday
that nearly every MP, including
every party leader, including
Caroline Lucas of Greens accepted
Russian culpability. So we have had
our shadow Defence Secretary being
clear on this today as well. Which
is also helpful.
is also helpful.
They seem to need
to clarify the position of Jeremy
Corbyn, because there was criticism
of Jeremy Corbyn's spokesman who
referred to the problematic history
of the use of UK intelligence. Why
do they want to focus on that,
rather than Russia.
I don't think
they did. Jeremy Corbyn repeated
what Theresa May said before. He has
been unequivocal in ensuring etch
knows as long as the evidence backs
this up, they will take action. What
is more interesting is there is a
clear outcome we need to see, not
just the expulsion of diplomats or
sanctions, but looking at the way
Russia will be hit, which is in the
City and money laundering. And that
is what we should be talking about.
Instead we are talking about the
exact wording of statements made in
Hang on, you can't avoid
the fact that Jeremy Corbyn's view
was equivocal and he was saying we
need the evidence. I don't know
whether you saw this. We have had a
Russian journalist plugged into
Moscow who completely accepted that
this was the responsibility of the
main Russian intelligence agency,
the GRU. There was no equivocation
from here and she said it worked in
the interests of Russia. I think
Jeremy Corbyn actually made an error
in suggesting we needed more
evidence. Listen, I have got the
scars about the intelligence failure
over Iraq. But that was... A very
different. Because there we knew
that Saddam had had the stuff and
the question was did he still have
it. Here is there no doubt this
nerve agent was yuzed and this this
nerve agent came from a Russian
laboratory. So Russia was given then
a period to say, well, did you use
it or has it come out of your
control? They failed to answer that.
I think Theresa May was right to
come to the conclusion that she did.
I think it was a generous to a fault
for the Prime Minister to leave open
the option that this was in some way
Russia losing track of its agents.
We have seen over the last ten years
an absolutely clear pattern and we
will, this is not the time to dwell
too much on this, but actually there
will be a time to look at the UK
Government's action in the last ten
years which has been really at times
to turn a blind eye to similar
But the question here was
whether you could make a definitive
judgment on who was to blame, Jeremy
Corbyn seemed to leave the door open
in the way zwrabg straw said and --
Jack Straw said and said we should
be cautious about making that
judgment. What other plausible
explanation could there be. What do
you think? There is in their minds a
possibility that it could have been
someone other than the Russian
state. What is that plausible
Jeremy Corbyn and the
Labour and colleagues have said as
long adds we as we have the evidence
we will take action. Jeremy Corbyn
said the same yesterday. But we have
international obligations to the
international community and Europe
and abroad to make sure we follow
certain procedures, not jumping to
So you don't want to
jump to the conclusion it was the
I think it was.
you think Jeremy Corbyn believes
I'm not the next Prime
Minister of this country and don't
have obligationses to follow
protocol. I feel uncomfortable being
lectured. Jack if you see the
Chilcot report was told he was
hiding certain documents.
Hang on a
second, I was responsible for one of
people responsible for the decision
to go to war in Iraq 15 years ago.
Chilcot said nothing that I hidden
documents. They disagreed with the
process we used, there was no
suggestion about my bad faith. Let
make that clear.
Do you think there
is a reason to be cautious until we
know and until we have the evidence,
if we could ever get that evidence?
There was a reason to be cautious,
is why Theresa May took her time. On
Sunday I was on the BBC and I said
the Government needs to be cautious
about this, not least because of
experience over Iraq. But the result
of that caution is there is now
evidence about the origin of this
nerve agent. At the time, the
evidence is there, it is good enough
for a Russian journalist as well as
politicians. Why not for the leader
The outcome will be
Russia will be held responsible.
are talking about the Labour
leader's reaction, do you think he
was explicit enough?
In my opinion,
we have people who have been proved
wrong on policy and Jeremy Corbyn
has been found right on Iraq and
Is the answer is yes you did
support his response?
I think reasons to be
confident is that the overwhelming
majority of MPs in this country are
behind the Government's stance. The
majority of countries beyond that.
I'm asking about Jeremy Corbyn.
know. I think it is important to set
it in context. I do, Jeremy Corbyn
is very influential and what he has
been able to do in gathering
hundreds of thousands of supporters,
they do listen to him and I think
that it was unfortunate that for
the, some of the last 24 hours there
seemed to be an alignment between
his spokesman and the disinformation
coming from the Kremlin. There is an
opportunity for him to follow the
lead of our shadow Defence Secretary
and make clear that we see Russia to
be unequivocally responsible for
this chemical weapons attack.
Isn't that where the focus should
be? We will look at pictures of
Theresa May in Salisbury at the
It is such a shame and
unforgivable that at a time where we
are at a crisis of international
diplomacy. Rather than trying to
hold the government accountable to
make sure they take affirmative and
quick action, John Isner Miliband
Jeremy Corbyn who has time and time
again been proven right. This
government is a shambles. Boris
Johnson is not taken seriously by
anyone around the world.
have a look at these pictures. The
Prime Minister Theresa May is in
Salisbury where the attack happened
against Sergei Skripal and his
daughter Julia who were found
slumped on a bench. She's meeting
local businesses and representatives
from Public Health England. The
advice came out to people who were
in the vicinity of where Sergei
Skripal and his daughter was found
slumped, wash their clothes and take
precautions although the risk was
very low. Answer Michael's comments.
At the privilege of being elected to
Parliament, as I don't know whether
one day you might wish to do, you
have to take a judgment on
everything. But most importantly on
matters of national security, what
do you think is the right thing to
protect your citizens? What is the
right thing to uphold international
law? All of us have not come in this
with, how does it fit into the
internal prism of a Labour dynamic.
We have thought that the Russian
state has, for many years, has been
culpable of attacks on our soil, of
flagrant violations. Therefore it is
the right thing to back the Prime
Minister. I want everybody else to
do that and I want Jeremy to do
that. That is our focus, doing what
we think is right.
If Jeremy Corbyn
were to become Prime Minister, do
you have confidence in his security?
It is valid but not one I will get
into at the moment. Rightly, the
focus is on the package of measures
that the UK Government is setting
forward and how should we respond.
Would you have faith in him being in
charge of national security?
needs to do some thinking before I
have that faith. That's the problem
is the Jeremy has sometimes been
right about his position on
international issues of conflict.
But sometimes, overwhelmingly wrong
because my recollection is, I could
be incorrect about this, he was
opposed to the invasion of
Afghanistan in the light of 9/11 and
he was wrong about that. He was
opposed to the first Gulf War and he
was wrong about that. He was opposed
to action in Kosovo and he was wrong
about that. You need to make
judgments rather than every case
where you are faced with a really
difficult decision and ask for more
information and more evidence.
Sometimes you have to make these
decisions on the basis of inadequate
evidence. But we are blessed by the
fact that the evidence is forensic
and very clear.
One of the ways Russia
could make life
difficult is supplying gas.
Or stopping the supply of gas.
So just how reliant is the UK -
and Europe - on Russian gas?
To discuss this, I'm
joined by energy expert,
Professor Jim Watson.
He's the Director of the UK
Energy Research Centre
and a Professor of Energy Policy
at the University of Sussex.
Welcome. How reliant are we on
Not very reliant at all
in the case of the UK. Roughly less
than 5% on average in a year of our
gas comes from Russia is mainly via
pipelines that connect the UK to
Belgium and the Netherlands.
In general it is much
higher and as you go closer to the
Russian border, from west to east,
countries like Germany and Poland
and other countries that use gas
will use more Russian gas and that
will tend to come via pipeline
systems. Some countries are almost
wholly dependent on Russian gas via
a single pipeline. The vulnerability
changes from west to east.
result of that, Germany approved a
multi-billion dollar gas pipeline to
Europe. When it comes to asking for
support from our allies, will they
have to think carefully before they
do anything that is too explicit in
terms of condemning Russia because
then they suffered themselves?
think that is right.
-- they may
It has been hard for the EU
to have a concerted and coordinate
response on energy and security
questions with respect to gas in
Russia because the member states
have different interests. The UK, we
have lots of other sources of gas
and flexibility compared to the
interests of Germany or some of the
new Eastern European states are very
different. Having that combined
agreement for strong action will be
The flip side, if we're not
that reliant on Russian gas, Theresa
May says will look to other
countries to provide gas will not
No, we already look to
other countries. About half of the
gas we get, perhaps a bit more, is
now imported. Our biggest source of
imports is Norway, which has been a
very reliable source of imports,
with some problems of undersea
pipelines occasionally and liquid
gas which mainly comes from Qatar.
The Russian gas element is quite
small. We have that diversification
already. We need to think about,
particularly in response to the cold
weather we have had recently, have
we got enough flexibility in our gas
system and gas storage? I would look
to that if we want to strengthen the
resilience of our gas system and
protect us from future shocks.
Strengthening our resources. What
about more broadly, energy security
in the future, is that a big threat
Gas is one of the areas where
people have traditionally worried.
There are things we can do about it
but oil or electricity, you have
very different discussions.
Electricity, the big issue is that
we have a much changing electricity
system. Renewable energy coming onto
the system and the need to run that
flexibility, more flexibly. Power
stations play a role. A different
conversation in respect of oil, we
have different places we rely on oil
from an international relations. I
always come back to making sure we
have flexibility and resilience
arrangements, enough storage, naff
arrangements with large industrial
countries to make sure that if we
have a really tight spot like we did
in the recent cold weather, they can
turn down demand in response to
things that we have.
Police in the Shropshire town
of Telford are working with several
dozen girls who are either victims
of child sexual exploitation, or
thought to be at risk of grooming.
The Sunday Mirror said it uncovered
Britain's "worst ever" child
grooming scandal at the weekend,
with up to 1,000 girls abused
by grooming gangs since the 1980s.
The town's MP Lucy Allan said
girls were being traded
for sex in a "routine way".
One victim, "Holly", spoke
anonymously to Victoria Derbyshire
about her abuse at the hand
of gangs in the town.
He started violently raping me.
He'd beat me with his
belt, and things,
if I didn't agree
to let him rape me.
And then he would try to make me
feel better, or make himself feel
better, I guess, by trying
to give me money or, yeah, top up my
phone, and things, again.
From that man, it
moved on to many men.
Like, it was about seven
abusers, in the end.
So you were passed around or they
would all turn up en masse?
would be whoever caught me first,
whoever saw me walking home from
school first or walking to my
Joining us now is the
Conservative MP for Telford,
Lucy Allan and from Cardiff,
the former chief prosecutor
for North West England Nazir Afzal.
Welcome. Lucy, the investigation by
the daily Mirror reveals, as far as
they are concerned, allegations on a
massive scale. The police are
disputing the scale, the numbers
involved, saying they are working
with several dozen girls and
officers, what is your belief?
know that many victims do not come
forward. Sometimes they feel it is
their fault, that they were somehow
to blame. They are afraid of
retaliation. The police numbers will
never reflect the full-scale of the
incidence of this crime.
This is a pattern that,
unfortunately and tragically, seems
to be repeating itself. Do you
recognise the pattern that has gone
on here in terms of the abuse and
abused children not being believed?
Good afternoon. Absolutely. I have
been talking about this for almost a
decade after Rochdale and leading
nationally for four or five years on
this issue. There is nowhere in this
country where this abuse isn't
taking place. Men are being
predators and picking on very abused
girls, chaotic and troubled in their
backgrounds who are somehow left
behind. Who are just not listened
to. They have a voice but not
listened to by authorities. In terms
of numbers, following on from what
Lucy said a moment ago, absolutely
right. They will rarely report, they
are difficult cases to prosecute
because very often Stockholm
syndrome sets in, they feel to
protect themselves they should not
talk to anybody about what they have
been through. We are talking about
hundreds if not thousands across the
country and pretty much in every
town and city in the United Kingdom
will have such a network.
One of the
claims in the investigation is that
the council 's labelling abused
children as prostitutes, for
example, they are not believing what
the victims, alleged victims, were
saying. What has been the council's
That is a historic
approach, I don't think people now
refer to victims of child sexual
exploitation as prostitutes, which
is a good step forward. But there is
an element of they may have indulged
in risky behaviour, they have made
-- they may have brought it on
themselves. A lot of the victims
feel that, "It was my fault, I did
get in a car with this man, I did
send him an image of myself, and he
has now used that to threaten me and
coerce me into sex with him and his
friends". There is an internalised
sense of shame. That stops victims
from coming forward.
Jack, do you
recognise, again, the pattern of
what has happened because of your
Is of course I
recognise it. Although no one has
mentioned it this morning, abuse of
young girls, typically, bind men has
no ethnic boundaries, but this
particular kind of gang abuse is
particular, I'm sorry to say but it
is just true, is particularly
prevalent amongst the Pakistani
heritage community. Not the Indian
heritage community, is or
Bangladeshi, there is a bit of that.
Something wrong inside the culture
of some Pakistanis and their groups.
We have had examples of this in my
former constituency where I am still
heavily involved in local matters.
Happily, in Blackburn, because there
have been very good coordination
between the police and social
services, we didn't have any
cover-ups of what was going on. We
were able to nip it in the bud but
in an adjacent town, including
Rochdale, and across the Pennines in
Rotherham, you have had these
terrible examples. Where the social
services and the police really
covered their eyes at what was going
on with disastrous consequences.
you see that happening here in
Telford? This racial element that,
again, mainly involving Asian men or
Pakistani heritage. Do you recognise
We grooming gangs are, without
doubt, of Pakistani heritage in
Telford. There have been two cases
that were prosecuted where gangs of
Pakistani men were sentenced for
long periods of time for abuse of
white, working-class girls, who came
from difficult backgrounds, who were
not sympathetic victims in many
respects. And very difficult, as
your guest said, to prosecute.
Nazir, how do we have an honest
conversation about this, if this is
the pattern that has repeated itself
in terms of grooming gangs? Whether
it is Rochdale, Rotherham, Newcastle
and in Telford. How do you deal with
We contextualise it. 80% of sex
offenders are British, white men.
But this type of abuse it is
disproportionately British Pakistani
men, you can't be shy about saying
these things. Ten years ago Jack
mentioned it and he got a tremendous
amount of abuse for saying so.
amount of abuse for saying so. The
reality is, this is the problem we
have to deal with and the
communities themselves recognise it.
There is some phenomenal vocal work
going on to try to identify
perpetrators and those who are being
abused. We also have to recognise
that there are Asian victims who are
really reluctant to come forward.
The answer is education, calling out
where you see it. Putting money into
all the good work happening at NGO
level. Ultimately, it is providing
support to victims to come forward
to ensure that the perpetrators are
brought to justice. Those who are
tasked with doing this, police and
prosecutors, should not be shy about
taking this forward.
What are the
causes? Nazir, you answer and then
will I -- I will ask Jack.
Criminality. When I prosecuted one
gang in the north of England, not in
Rochdale, the drug trade went down
by 50% whilst they were in custody.
It is tackling other areas of
criminality that these men are
Pakistani men are involved in
the night-time economy, at an
astonishing rate. They're involved
in selling in takeaways or in the
taxi trade. That is part of the
night-time economy. But there is a
bigger issue about the culture of
Pakistani men and Nazir is right to
say when I mentioned this in 2011,
said it was a Pakistani problem, the
balloon went up. But then it
deflated. Some said, didn't you say
Asian. I said listen, pal, the
reason is I'm not talking about
Asians, I'm talking about Pakistani.
You have been knowing what has going
on and you have got to confront it.
It goes back to some of the nature
of Pakistani society in the villages
from which these people come. It is
complicated. Some people attribute
it to Islam. That is not the case.
It is a cultural problem. About the
way in which this particular segment
of Pakistani men happen to regard
white girls. They see them as easy
meat. And they come from difficult
backgrounds, where they're unlikely
to report accept after a lot of
Were you dismayed
when the Labour Rotherham MP was
criticised for saying that by the
I gave every support
She said British Pakistani
men are raping and exploiting white
She was right.
politicians not facing up to it, it
is too difficult to have the
It is about social and
cultural attitudes towards white
working class girls. There is no
doubt about that and we cannot bury
our heads in the sand. We have to
accept that. If the local police
chief says, yes, child abuse happens
with white males, of course it does.
Let's not conflate it with grooming,
gang-type behaviour. That is
Finally, how do we break
We bring offenders to
justice, provide support to victims,
we may to NGOs who are doing work in
identifying victim and perpetrators
and community intelligence needs to
improve. When I first talked about
it, we said do we want a nation of
grasses, no, we want a nation of
good neighbours. We need to listen
to people and use the information
and bring these people to justice.
Thank you. The pm Prime Minister is
visiting Salisbury. She will receive
a briefing from public health
England. She said this recently.
pleased come to Salisbury to speak
to people and announced yesterday
the action that we are taking, we do
hold Russia cup pabl for this brazen
act that has taken place on the
streets of what is such a remarkable
city, where people come and visit
and enjoy and I've come here also to
say thank you to our emergency
services, to our police, our health
services, to everybody at Porton
Down and elsewhere where who have
been working to investigating to get
to the bottom of those responsible
and also to ensure that the public
are reassured and it has been great
to meet some tourists here, people
coming to Salisbury, still enjoying
Theresa May there in
Salisbury giving an interview.
So could we be looking at a return
to a Cold War with Russia?
Over recent years, relations
between "us" and "them" have been
going from bad to worse,
as our reporter Greg Dawson
has been finding out.
In the late nineties post-Soviet
Russia was in turmoil. President's
Yeltsin's health was deteriorating.
But in 1999 Yeltsin named Vladimir
Putin as Prime Minister and soon he
was acting President and in 2000 he
was elected President of Russia.
Anglo Russians relations grew tense
with the Kremlin pursuing a more
Litvinenko who, died last night has
accused the Kremlin of murdering
In 2006, former Russian agent,
Alexander Litvinenko, acritic of the
Kremlin died of polonium poisoning.
The British asked the extradition of
a Russian agent and Russia refused.
Amid rumours the murder was ordered
by Vladimir Putin.
Britain should understand its action
will not remain without an answer
and will have severe consequences.
In 2014 relations soured following
Russia's intervention in Ukraine and
the downing of a Malaysian plane in
a suspected missile strike by rebels
using Russian weapons. The British
Government and the US and the EU
imposed sanctions on Russia and
suspended military co-operation.
Russia responded by cutting off food
imports from the UK. Last year,
Boris Johnson became the first UK
Foreign Secretary to visit Russia in
five years, but faced a chilly
reception after suggesting Russian
involvement in Syria may amount to
war crimes. Theresa May accused
Russia of meddling in elections and
planting fake news. Ichlgts
I have a
simple message we know what you're
doing and you will not succeed.
poisoning came when Moscow described
Anglo Russian relations at an
all-time low. The expulsion of
diplomats the latest stage.
Vladimir Putin faces almost certain
re-election as president
of Russia at the weekend.
But how difficult is it to live
and work in Russia if you're
a critic of Mr Putin?
Opposition activists have
long accused the Kremlin
of using the security services
TV to attack them.
And when Panorama went
to investigate, they found
the same tactics were used
against their reporter John Sweeney.
It soon becomes clear why we've been
followed and filmed.
One of the main TV
channels in Russia runs
a special report about me.
As well as repeating
the vandalism claim,
it accuses me of making up stories
about students and soldiers
I haven't even met.
My police statement and passport
also leaked the media.
This is how things work
in Putin's Russia.
And Panorama reporter
John Sweeney joins us
in the studio and from Dublin,
Professor Ian Robertson,
one of the world's leading
experts on neuropsychology
and an authority on power.
Was Vladimir Putin always as
dangerous as he is now?
like this are made largely, albeit
there is a certain personality there
and he was a man who grew up in
tough times in St Petersburg. He was
a fight, a physically courageous
man, but an aggressive man and
nationalistic. He held off the
crowds this Dresden when they were
besieging the KGB post he was n't
always like this. Power is a change
agent and if you have unfetterred
power it causes a remarkably
consistent set of behaviours and
changes which Vladimir Putin shows.
Of course it looks as if he is going
to win again. So he will become more
I'm afraid so. Because
what happens when you have
unfetterred power for so long, you
develop a grand yosty and a feeling
of identification of your own
interests and those of the state and
so you... Your risk perception is
dulled and your self-awareness is
John Sweeney you have
operated there, I saw the film last
night, do you feel the effects of
that in terms of the control by the
police, by the Security Services in
a sense that you can't fully operate
in Russia the way you would like to?
Absolutely. We were tailed the whole
time, 24/7. It was so cold it was
easy, you would wake up and before
breakfast you would check out the
cars, two men sitting with the
engines running. But it was in your
face. And the harassment, the two
doorsteps, how did they know where I
was, being followed all the time,
being lied about. There was a moment
when you get all of this together
and you think this is like the
mafia, the horse's head in the bed
Is it worse?
I have been to
Russia since the nineties when
people were being killed big time.
This is the worst trip I have had,
the surveillance in the face, the
two or three items on pro-Kremlin TV
and the feeling that... Vladimir
Putin's risk analysis has been
dulled. That is now in a position.
So the opposition, two men, people
say he was afraid of. Boris
Berezovsky shot dead and another has
been barred from standing two months
in prison or police cells.
critic you filmed being strong
armed. They're not hiding this. Have
you met Vladimir Putin?
Of course he
came in 2003 and I met him on other
occasions. The professor is right
about him in Lord Acton's phrase,
all power corrupts, but absolute
power corrupts absolutely. I spent
13 years in government...
corrupt the Labour Party
Are you a
You would say that.
was going to make a serious point.
You're accountable, more than in the
Russian system. But towards the end
of that 13 years I got used to power
and to being whisked around in a
police vehicle, trappings of power,
and my kids and my wife used to sort
of as it were stick the needle in
and say hang on, because happily in
this country, you have to lose
power, it took a bit of a while to
decompress. If you're assured of
power forever, I think it is right
you feel the changes taking place.
What about that Russia and Vladimir
Putin is acting from a position of
weakness and that is what makes him
I do think that is a
point, with great power, you make so
many enemies by having to exert
control that you also have a lot of
anxieties. The greatest fear that
goes with the power is the fear of
loss of control. Particularly when
you have a small, an economy that is
not thriving, the risk is that he
will take... Be inclined to do
radical things of kind he h done
We're going to have to
leave it there. Will you go back,
Yes if they will let me in. My
job is to report difficult places.
I'm back in the USSR. That is what
it feels like.
Leaders of the
France, Germany and the UK say the
Russians should reveal details of
novichok to the organisation for
chemical weapons. Thank you I'm back
Jo Coburn is joined by former Labour cabinet minister Jack Straw to discuss the diplomatic row over the Russian spy poisoning, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's response and child sexual exploitation in Telford.