16/03/2018 Daily Politics


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16/03/2018

Jo Coburn presents the latest political news, interviews and debate.


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Hello and welcome to

the Daily Politics.

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As Jeremy Corbyn casts doubt

on whether the poisoning of a former

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Russian double agent

and his daughter was carried out

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by the Kremlin, are the Labour party

split once again on matters

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of defence of the realm?

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Is Brexit going really rather well?

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After a tumultuous year

for Theresa May, does

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the Prime Minister have reasons

to be cheerful about the state

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of the Brexit negotiations?

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During the general election,

the Conservatives promised

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to abolish the cap on the number

of children from one religion

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attending Faith schools.

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The idea was to allow more children

of faith to take up the places.

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It hasn't happened yet.

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Will it?

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And will the Kremlin be trembling at

the first big speech from Defence

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Secretary Gavin Williamson? Judge

for yourself.

Frankly, Russia should

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go away and should shut up.

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More on that speech later in the

programme.

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All that in the next hour

and with us for the first half

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of the programme today

Rachel Sylvester from the Times

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and we hope, LBC's Iain Dale.

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First today, the Labour party

are split on Jeremy Corbyn's

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response to the Russia spy

poisoning in Salisbury.

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Yesterday the Labour

leader said "the evidence

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points towards Russia" -

but in the Guardian newspaper today

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he warns we should not "rush way

ahead of the evidence" and suggests

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the poisoning could have been down

to "russian mafia-like groups".

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He also questioned whether we should

trust international intelligence -

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stating, in his words -

"flawed intelligence and dodgy

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dossiers led to the calamity

of the Iraq invasion".

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Mr Corbyn was a vocal critic

of the Iraq war and the intelligence

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gathered at the time -

here he is speaking in 2003.

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Kia Starmer was asked about this on

question Time last night.

Wishes

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were after Russia earlier this week

based on investigations carried out

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by security and intelligence

services, and no answers have been

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given, no answers have been given,

and that led her to the conclusion

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that there was no alternative

explanation other than that

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responsibility lies with Russia. As

you will have seen, Germany, France

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and the US have joined her in that

conclusion, and that is the right

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conclusion will stop and for that

reason, I think it's very important

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that we support the action the Prime

Minister laid out on Wednesday.

Kia

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Starmer, the shadow Brexit

secretary.

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We're joined now by Nick

Thomas-Symonds who is

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Labour's Shadow Security Minister.

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Who do you think was responsible for

the nerve agent attack?

I agree with

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the assessment we have seen during

the week that the evidence

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absolutely is pointing towards

Russia. It seems that there are two

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possibilities within that - either

the Russian state deliberately

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ordered it, or it is that it

happened negligently, where the

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Russian state lost control in some

way of the nerve agent.

Either way,

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it is the Russian state, even if

they were negligent, as you say, in

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terms of losing hold of that gas. It

is they who are responsible?

It was

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made clear in Jeremy Corbyn's

article published yesterday in the

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Guardian, which sets out those two

possibilities. Of course, the second

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possibility, losing control, Jeremy

Wright east, and I think you pointed

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out, Jo, at the top of the programme

about the involvement of Russian

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Mafia and organisations -- other

organisations, which is consistent

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with the Prime Minister's with the

possibilities, and the evidence is

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pointing to Russia.

Why is Jeremy

Corbyn equivocating in his argument,

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saying we need to hold back before

we do categorically state it is the

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Russian state, despite the fact that

there is now a coordinated response

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from France, Germany, from Nato,

America, who all say the pattern is

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clear and there is no plausible

alternative to it being the Russian

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state?

First, in terms of the joint

statement, that is obviously very

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welcome and we want to build the

widest possible international

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coalition. The statement's language

is clear in terms of accepting the

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highly likely position that the

Prime Minister set out in the House

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of Commons on Monday. I don't accept

this characterisation of

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equivocation. I was there in the

House of Commons on Monday to hear

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Jeremy's statement, and he quoted

verbatim what the Prime Minister

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said, and then said afterwards that

we have to have a decisive,

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proportionate response based on the

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evidence. To me, that is an entirely

common sense way to proceed.

He

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highlighted flawed intelligence and

dodgy dossiers led to the calamity

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of the Iraqi invasion. Why is he

highlighting that at a time of

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national security when there has

been an attack with a Cold War nerve

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agent on British soil?

First, we

condemn the events in Salisbury. We

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back the work going on from security

services, counterterrorism and

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others, and it is important to do

so. If I may say so, all that is

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happening is, the Leader of the

Opposition is raising some

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reasonable questions. We always have

to look at the lessons of the past,

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and they are to be considered,

thoughtful in how we move forward,

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absolutely, and that is what we

should be giving as the evidence

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emerges. The evidence at the moment

supports the measures the Government

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has already taken. Let's see how the

investigation proceeds and act

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proportionately too. Nothing wrong

with a considered approach.

Is it a

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considered approach? Labour has said

it supports the sanctions and the

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expulsions. If you support the

expulsions and the sanctions, the

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punishment, and yet, you are not

completely clear as to who that is

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going to be directed at, or you

don't completely trust the evidence

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from the security services, why are

you supporting the sanctions and

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expulsions?

There is no suggestion

we do not support the position of

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the security services.

You are

bringing up the Iraq war in saying

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these things cannot be trusted

because it led to a calamity in

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foreign policy 15 years ago. He is

making the point, Jeremy Corbyn,

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that that might have happened in

this case.

There is a distinction

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between the evidence from the

security services, and we support

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them in doing that and they do an

excellent job, and help politicians

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seek to interpret and act upon them.

There is nothing wrong with being

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reasonable and consider. Of course,

we need to respond as the evidence

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emerges. It is a reasonable thing to

do.

Is there consistency in what

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Jeremy Corbyn wrote in the article

and what he said in the House in

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terms of shoving supporters Theresa

May?

There is. He is trying to say

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that we can't be sure the Russian

state is to blame. As you point out,

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he is also saying that we back

Theresa May in expelling the

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diplomats. The only way that we can

do that is if you support the idea

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that the Russian state is to blame.

It leaves the questions of whose

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side is he on, and there is a

history of association between the

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hard left and Russia, the Communist

Party. And I think these moments of

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big national security crises are

tests of leadership, and at the

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moment, Jeremy Corbyn is failing

that. A lot of his Labour MPs agree

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that he is failing that.

What do you

say to MPs who have questioned it?

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We have had a number on this

programme this week. There are MPs

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who feel he is not giving his full

support by some of the comments he

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has made, and that actually, people

like Keir Starmer, Emily Thornbury,

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near gritters, on the front bench,

have been much more explicit. Is

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there a divide now emerging in

labour?

I don't accept that

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characterisation. Of course,

politicians can use different

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language, but there is absolute

unity around the evidence pointing

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towards Russia. Secondly, let's

build the widest possible

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international coalition to deal with

this. Absolutely. Third, let's act

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proportionately on the evidence -

three entirely reasonable decisions.

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Did Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the US

President's support for Theresa

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May's position?

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May's position?

Is absolutely. It

accepts the position of the

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Government.

They do say there is no

plausible alternative, serve in

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other words, it must be the Russian

state.

Sorry to cut across, but

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certainly how the Russians have

responded is one of the things we

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absolutely have to take into

account. That is one of the reasons

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why it is proportionate at this

stage to be backing the steps the

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Government has taken.

One of the

things Jeremy Corbyn raised earlier

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in the week was money, and Russian

money and the fact that London and

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the south-east is being used as a

bit of a playground for the Russian

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navy. He was right to question that

even then, wasn't he, in the

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immediate aftermath of the poisoning

of Sergei Skripal and his daughter?

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There is an issue of dodgy money

coming into London and laundering

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going on, particularly through the

property market. It is right for

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that to be clamped down on. The

Government has said it will do that

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with amendments. Actually, that is

one thing that would hurt Vladimir

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Putin and his associates as much as

anything else.

Nick, thank you very

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much.

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Now, nearly 48 hours

after Theresa May announced

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retaliation against Russia -

by expelling 23 diplomats

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among other measures,

so far we've had no official

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reprisals from Putin,

but speaking yesterday the Russian

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Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

promised a swift response.

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TRANSLATION:

As we already

did some days ago,

0:10:300:10:32

we asked them to provide us

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with proof.

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They replied, proof is not needed.

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We asked them to send an official

request, as required by the

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procedures of the Chemical

Weapons Convention.

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They told us, you know

the official request is included

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within Theresa May's

speech in Parliament.

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So, you understand the level

of seriousness when

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communicating such things,

but the response will come very

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soon, I can assure you.

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That was Sergei lav wrath.

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Oksana Antonenko is an expert

on Russian foreign policy

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from the Institute of Global Affairs

- and she's with us now.

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Russia has threatened a response,

and yet we have is not had one -

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why?

It is convenient to have that

crisis playing out a day before

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elections, so we are likely to have

a response right after the election,

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probably Monday or Tuesday.

Really?

You don't think it will come before

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them? It sounds from a timing point

of view from Sergei Lavrov and

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others that it would come

immediately.

At the moment, I think

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if they wanted to respond

immediately, they would have

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responded yesterday. Clearly, I

think there if one looks at Russian

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politics today the key thing for the

elections is to have a turn up, and

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that will not increase if the more

liberal, middle-class Russians

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really feel that we are entering a

period of new isolation and a new

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crisis with the West, so I think

they want to downplay that for the

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time being. I think the response

will follow next week.

Do you think

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there are voices, then, around

Putin, trying to moderate him and

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what he does in terms of a response

to Britain?

It is very difficult to

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say who are the voices around Putin

now, because the Kremlin walls are

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high, and today it is very difficult

to really understand how the

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decision-making is being made, but

we really know that there are voices

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in Russian society, opinion polls

showing that in the last year alone,

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is a number of Russians will -- the

number of Russian supporting

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improvement in relations with the

West has increased. There is more

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demanding to normalise relations,

especially from young people. Any

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modernisation and technological

development needs relations with the

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most developed in democratic

countries of the world. These are

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the people Putin needs to mobilise

to get out to 70% of turnout.

What

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do you make of that claim that we

won't see any retaliation until

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after the election?

It is entirely

possible. We might hear it in the

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next five minutes as well, you can

tell? The key thing is the scale of

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the response. If the Russians, say,

expel five or ten British diplomat

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is...

I had been told they are going

to be expelling British diplomats.

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They have not said a number but the

news is breaking that they will

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expel British diplomats. We knew

that would happen.

If it is five or

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ten, that is different to 30 or 40.

Some of the language from Sergei

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Lavrov has been interesting, where

he is saying that Gavin Williamson

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is a young boy, insignificant,

swatting him away. It could be

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swatting him away. It could be that

it is not that serious, but as I

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understand it, Theresa May has a

second round of sanctions to

0:14:000:14:03

announce immediately after the

tit-for-tat now. I think that will

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depend on how serious the

tit-for-tat is.

There has been

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criticism of Theresa May, saying she

could have gone further with her

0:14:080:14:13

initial round of sanctions and

expulsions, and tougher on Russian

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money in London - do you agree?

I

don't at the moment see what being

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tough on Russian money in London

would do to actually put pressure on

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President Putin himself. He has been

working very hard to repatriate all

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the Russian money, and in fact, most

of his inner circle people already

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have their money back. The type of

oligarchs we are talking about, most

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of them either had been escaping

from Russia or they have a secondary

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association. If their money is

targeted, for Putin, it will be just

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a victory because it will make him

feel that he can have more

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influence, and the money is coming

back.

Tit-for-tat will just escalate

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tensions - is that really what

Britain wants to achieve?

I think it

0:15:010:15:04

has got to show that it is strong,

you cannot let yourself be pushed

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around by a bully and this is the

end of a long path which has

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included interference in, you know,

the American presidential elections,

0:15:120:15:15

the "Brexit" referendum, there has

been a low-level, under the wire

0:15:150:15:21

interference in western democracy

and I think that we have got to say

0:15:210:15:24

enough is enough.

All right, thank

you very much, and we have to say

0:15:240:15:28

enough is enough on this discussion,

thank you for joining us.

0:15:280:15:31

Now, is Brexit going

really rather well?

0:15:320:15:34

Theresa May's Mansion House speech

calling for compromise

0:15:340:15:36

between the EU and UK was viewed

broadly as a success at home

0:15:360:15:39

and abroad, EU leaders meet next

week to finalise the terms

0:15:390:15:42

of the transition period and there's

whispers that the UK will be allowed

0:15:420:15:45

to sign free trade deals

during that time.

0:15:450:15:47

So, is there a renewed

optimism around Brexit?

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Have you changed your mind?

I

haven't, no, and I think also the

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renewed optimism is slightly. Is an

idea, this

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renewed optimism is slightly. Is an

idea, this, because we are talking

0:16:060:16:07

only about the transition period,

there is a long way to go on this

0:16:070:16:11

tricky path, wrote to Brexit is full

of potholes and roundabouts.

What

0:16:110:16:16

about this victory as the government

will see it if they are allowed to

0:16:160:16:19

sign free trade deals during the

increment Asian period, this was

0:16:190:16:23

seen as another bone of contention

between the UK and the EU. -- during

0:16:230:16:28

the implementation period.

It would

be a good deal, but who with.

What

0:16:280:16:35

trade deals? Gloom and doom!

Gloom

and doom, or a reality check?

I

0:16:350:16:40

don't know if this is a victory,

they cannot be fermented until we

0:16:400:16:45

leave, these trade deals, that is

the point.

-- they cannot be

0:16:450:16:48

implemented.

Couldn't punishments be

levied? I cannot stop as having

0:16:480:16:54

negotiations, you can have a deal

ready to go, Day 1, and it would be

0:16:540:16:58

with all sorts of countries.

Who

would it be with?

Liam Fox said that

0:16:580:17:02

they are in discussion with 12 of

the major countries the EU does not

0:17:020:17:05

have a track free-trade deal with,

Australia, New Zealand, Singapore,

0:17:050:17:10

South Korea, etc, etc, that is a

good thing, why would anybody think

0:17:100:17:13

that is not a good thing? I think

the thought that, as the fifth or

0:17:130:17:18

sixth largest economy in the world,

people don't want to do free-trade

0:17:180:17:21

deals with us, is for the birds.

There maybe some people who would

0:17:210:17:25

argue they will not sign free-trade

deals until they know and see the

0:17:250:17:28

shape of the deal being done with

the EU, you access that?

That would

0:17:280:17:33

be by October, the free-trade deal

with the EU may take longer but in a

0:17:330:17:37

sense, that is really up to the EU,

to determine that, because we have

0:17:370:17:42

two also remember that we are their

second largest trading partner,

0:17:420:17:45

after the United States, so it is in

both our interests to come to a deal

0:17:450:17:49

and come to it quickly.

You'd

considerations on the economics and

0:17:490:17:54

politics, on the politics, do you

think there has been an achievement

0:17:540:17:57

in terms of holding the party

together? -- huge consideration. The

0:17:570:18:03

Tory party, reaching the end of the

first phase, getting a headline

0:18:030:18:06

agreement, even though there are

discussions about Ireland, and

0:18:060:18:09

possibly getting the transition

deal, is that not success?

They have

0:18:090:18:13

held the party together but by

blurring the lines, and as soon as

0:18:130:18:17

you put more detail on to the table

and it becomes clearer and clearer

0:18:170:18:22

what exactly the negotiation is

agreeing, you will get more

0:18:220:18:25

differences between the Brexiteers

and the former Remainers, and I have

0:18:250:18:30

spoken with a cabinet minister

recently who said, on the Brexit

0:18:300:18:33

side, there is a spit between

pragmatists and the idealists.

0:18:330:18:38

Saying we must lot the perfect be

the enemy of the good, but quite a

0:18:380:18:44

lot of Brexiteers on backbenchers

who want to go in all guns blazing,

0:18:440:18:48

for a hard Brexit. And I think it is

going to be incredible hard for

0:18:480:18:52

Theresa May to get a deal on that

basis?

It is true that it has not

0:18:520:18:58

been resolved, the differences have

not been resolved. And do you agree

0:18:580:19:01

that it needs to be resolved? The

priority is what we call the Tory

0:19:010:19:06

rebels, siding with Labour, for the

customs union, or whether it is the

0:19:060:19:10

Brexiteers who do not feel it is

going far enough?

This sound like a

0:19:100:19:14

discussion from three months ago.

Are we in the same position? The

0:19:140:19:23

prime Mr Speaker, people wrote in

behind that, I accept...

It was

0:19:230:19:28

conditional support from Jacob

Rees-Mogg.

I interviewed him, he

0:19:280:19:34

could not have been more

enthusiastic, you come from the

0:19:340:19:37

remain side of the argument, you are

always going to try to find

0:19:370:19:41

different, and there are

differences, of course, the

0:19:410:19:43

Conservative Party has the

coalition, I think we have got past

0:19:430:19:48

the danger point with Theresa May,

if Theresa May suddenly turns on the

0:19:480:19:53

customs union single, believe me,

Jacob Rees-Mogg would pull the

0:19:530:19:58

trigger and she would be toppled,

I'm absolutely sure of that.

0:19:580:20:06

I'm absolutely sure of that. But I

think the events of the last seven

0:20:060:20:09

days, they have cemented her

position over Brexit, she has shown

0:20:090:20:14

true leadership, possibly a

leadership people did not think she

0:20:140:20:17

was capable of.

It has strengthened

her position, for sure, but what is

0:20:170:20:21

still unresolved is how the racing

chip with the EU should be in the

0:20:210:20:25

longer term, how closely we should

be aligned to the regulations, how

0:20:250:20:28

much we should diverged...

She has

put much more detail on it. That

0:20:280:20:32

speech, and at Chequers, the

agreement, it was likely over

0:20:320:20:37

reported, if you like.

I think the

cabinet may be signed up, I'm not

0:20:370:20:41

sure the Tory party as a whole is

signed up to that.

What about the

0:20:410:20:45

issue of the Northern Ireland

border, you say that this is a

0:20:450:20:48

discussion that we could have had

three months ago, these things have

0:20:480:20:52

not been completely resolved, and

your point about the customs union,

0:20:520:20:55

slightly hangs on this idea of what

happens between Northern Ireland and

0:20:550:21:00

Ireland.

Well, it does, and people

on the remain side of the argument

0:21:000:21:05

are clearly looking at Northern

Ireland, the Northern Ireland deal

0:21:050:21:08

to scupper the whole thing and

reverse Brexit, I am absolutely

0:21:080:21:11

convinced of that. The Dublin

government, the EU, and ourselves

0:21:110:21:15

saying that we want a frictionless

border. If all sides agree with

0:21:150:21:19

that, that is what will happen in

the end, it doesn't matter that

0:21:190:21:22

there is no precedent for that and

the rest of the world. -- in the

0:21:220:21:26

rest of the world. There will be

some agreement even if it is at the

0:21:260:21:29

last minute.

0:21:290:21:34

Since 2010 new faith schools have

had to abide by an admissions cap

0:21:340:21:39

which prevents them selecting more

than 50% of their pupils

0:21:390:21:41

on the basis of faith.

0:21:410:21:43

Last week a group of senior

religious and humanist figures

0:21:430:21:45

published an open letter encouraging

the government not to drop the cap,

0:21:450:21:48

as was promised in the 2017

Conservative manifesto.

0:21:480:21:50

But has the 50% limit worked

to integrate children

0:21:500:21:52

of different faiths,

0:21:520:21:53

or does it lead to discrimination

of a different kind?

0:21:530:21:55

Our Ellie's gone back to school

to find out just how one Catholic

0:21:550:21:58

community has been affected.

0:21:580:22:01

Year 6 are learning about jazz

0:22:090:22:10

at St Albans Catholic primary

School in Cambridge.

0:22:100:22:12

Blissfully unaware of the noise

being made about faith schools,

0:22:120:22:14

although massively oversubscribed

in East Anglia in particular,

0:22:140:22:18

the Catholic church won't open any

more schools

0:22:180:22:22

until the Government removes the cap

0:22:220:22:25

which stops them selecting more

than half their pupils by religion.

0:22:250:22:28

For the church, it's a key

religious principle.

0:22:280:22:36

We want to ensure

that every Catholic,

0:22:360:22:38

canon law says every Catholic should

be entitled to a Catholic place.

0:22:380:22:43

The 50% cap could possibly put us

in a dilemma where we would be

0:22:430:22:46

turning away Catholics,

and that is not acceptable.

0:22:460:22:52

In place of non-Catholics?

0:22:520:22:56

In place of non-Catholics,

and that is not acceptable.

0:22:560:22:58

St Albans doesn't need

to adhere to the cap,

0:22:580:23:00

that only applies to

new faith schools.

0:23:000:23:02

But with only two Catholic Schools

out of 210 primaries

0:23:020:23:04

in Cambridgeshire, it means a lot

of Catholics being turned away.

0:23:040:23:07

Much to the frustration

of Angela Bennett,

0:23:070:23:13

a devout Catholic whose first four

kids went to St Albans,

0:23:130:23:15

but the youngest couldn't get in.

0:23:150:23:17

So what does it mean to you to not

be able to send your remaining two

0:23:170:23:20

children to a Catholic school?

0:23:200:23:22

Well, it is disappointing

because I feel like our

0:23:220:23:24

choices being taken away.

0:23:240:23:25

It's not just for Sunday mornings,

it's about living it.

0:23:250:23:27

So, you know, I think

about my faith when I'm at work.

0:23:270:23:30

The children, I think,

would benefit from thinking

0:23:300:23:32

about their faith when they're

at school, and talking about it

0:23:320:23:35

with their friends, learning

about it from their teachers

0:23:350:23:37

as well as just from me.

0:23:370:23:42

Catholic schools make up almost

10% of all primaries.

0:23:420:23:46

They educate 416,000 pupils.

0:23:460:23:47

The Catholic education service says

a third are non-Catholic.

0:23:470:23:51

We have almost 30 parents

who want to come to our school

0:23:510:23:54

who are not Catholic,

so that speaks volumes as well,

0:23:540:23:56

and we would like to meet

their needs as well.

0:23:560:23:59

Earlier this month, 70 politicians,

academics and faith leaders,

0:23:590:24:01

including a former Archbishop

of Canterbury,

0:24:010:24:02

wrote an open letter warning

that lifting the cap

0:24:020:24:04

would have a damaging effect

on social cohesion.

0:24:040:24:11

It's going to create almost

an educational apartheid system.

0:24:110:24:13

We wouldn't dream of dividing

the children by colour of skin.

0:24:130:24:16

It would be laughable, illegal.

0:24:160:24:17

And yet, we're doing it by religion.

0:24:170:24:18

But this does disproportionately

affect Catholic schools, doesn't it?

0:24:180:24:21

You know, I'm arguing from a faith

perspective against faith

0:24:210:24:24

schools because I believe,

0:24:240:24:26

as do others, love your

neighbour as yourself.

0:24:260:24:28

And you can't love your neighbour

unless you know him.

0:24:280:24:36

The Conservative manifesto in last

year's election

0:24:360:24:40

pledged to repeal what it called

0:24:400:24:43

the unfair and ineffective 50% rule.

0:24:430:24:45

But this week, the Department

for Education tell us there's

0:24:450:24:47

no date in the diary.

0:24:470:24:48

That's presumably because they are

expecting a ding-dong either way.

0:24:480:24:56

We are joined by the director of the

Catholic education service. Do you

0:25:030:25:07

accept what the rabbi said, that

lifting the cap will affect social

0:25:070:25:11

cohesion?

No, this is not about

segregation, this is about choice,

0:25:110:25:17

and as we know from the primaries

call, they have enough places to

0:25:170:25:22

supply the demand... -- they don't

have enough places to supply the

0:25:220:25:27

demand not just from Catholic

parents but others as well, a third

0:25:270:25:30

of pupils from outside the Catholic

faith and in most parts of the

0:25:300:25:33

country we are able to respond to

that demand.

You say it is not about

0:25:330:25:37

segregation but it will lead to more

segregation, to increase numbers, if

0:25:370:25:42

one third are not Catholic, lifting

the cap will ensure that number goes

0:25:420:25:45

down.

No, it will not, that is in

existing schools, where the cap does

0:25:450:25:50

not operate, the problem we have is

in areas where there is pressure on

0:25:500:25:53

places, and we need new places, we

cannot do it by expanding existing

0:25:530:25:58

schools. What is happening in those

places is those schools are coming

0:25:580:26:01

sadly less diverse because we are

not able to open new schools to

0:26:010:26:06

cater to all the parental demand.

I

take your point about existing new

0:26:060:26:10

schools but there is a fundamental

principle raised in that film, that

0:26:100:26:13

you are wanting to extend the right

to divide children up on the basis

0:26:130:26:19

of religion and label them that way.

It is not about that, it is about

0:26:190:26:23

the ability to cope with parental

choice, we only want to build

0:26:230:26:26

schools where there is a demand from

parents for places, that comes from

0:26:260:26:31

the Catholic community and come from

outside the Catholic community, we

0:26:310:26:33

want to be able to respond to the

demand. The 50% cap would mean we

0:26:330:26:38

have two build a school which we

would then turn away the very

0:26:380:26:42

children that the school was founded

to serve, that does not seem to make

0:26:420:26:45

any logical sense.

Does it make

sense to you, that actually, lifting

0:26:450:26:50

this cap will then give parents

particularly in this case Catholic

0:26:500:26:53

parents the chance to get the school

that they would

0:26:530:26:56

like for their child, a school of

faith? I think it is a false

0:26:560:27:02

argument, you should not have

parental choice to allow an

0:27:020:27:05

apartheid system to develop.

One of

the biggest problems in society at

0:27:050:27:08

the moment is a growing segregation

between faiths, rowing sense of

0:27:080:27:13

volition, it seems completely crazy,

in that case, to separate children

0:27:130:27:16

out on the basis of their faith.

This is not just about Catholic

0:27:160:27:21

schools, it is about Muslim schools,

Church of England schools, Hindu

0:27:210:27:25

schools, as soon as you divide on

the basis of faith, you are bound to

0:27:250:27:29

increase division. You want to

increase a cohesive society, we are

0:27:290:27:37

blowing it by dividing children, we

want children to mix.

Would you say

0:27:370:27:43

ban any further faith schools?

I

think you cannot ban the existing

0:27:430:27:46

ones, as you say, but you should

have a moratorium on new faith

0:27:460:27:50

schools, I did a piece a couple of

months ago based on Ofsted

0:27:500:27:54

inspections of Muslim schools,

absolutely appalling literature in

0:27:540:27:57

the libraries, being taught to

children, women go to hell... This

0:27:570:28:02

included women with tall ambitions,

showing in gratitude to their

0:28:020:28:06

husbands, they were told that those

were the women that go to hell!

0:28:060:28:09

These values are not being

inculcated in schools at the moment,

0:28:090:28:12

we should not have any more until

that is enforced.

Do you recognise

0:28:120:28:17

the risk of dog of a particular

religion being foisted on children,

0:28:170:28:21

in the way that has just been

described by Rachel?

Let's be clear,

0:28:210:28:25

a third of the schools in this

country are schools with a religious

0:28:250:28:30

character, 99% of those are checked

schools, almost all of them provided

0:28:300:28:33

by us and the Church of England,

when you talk about how to tackle a

0:28:330:28:36

problem, you need to identify what

is the problem. There is a problem

0:28:360:28:43

with monocultural school but that is

not a problem we have in our sector.

0:28:430:28:46

I know that you are at the

beginning, but won't it become more

0:28:460:28:49

like that if there is not a cap?

No,

in some areas, the cap is preventing

0:28:490:28:54

us from keeping the diversity that

is already in the system.

Can I

0:28:540:28:57

just...

Our schools are among the

most diverse in the educational

0:28:570:29:03

system.

When you say schools

provided by us, who is paying for

0:29:030:29:07

these schools, who is paying for the

upkeep, the education, taxpayer or

0:29:070:29:11

the Catholic Church?

It is a

partnership with the state, whereby

0:29:110:29:16

the church makes a contribution...

How much?

Well, it depends, most of

0:29:160:29:22

the schools...

10%? 80%?

It depends,

most of the schools were divided

0:29:220:29:28

with land and buildings by...

Day

today, 10%, 80%.

In terms of revenue

0:29:280:29:33

funding, it is funded by the

taxpayer.

Exactly, exactly!

0:29:330:29:38

Catholics are taxpayers.

Why should

taxpayers who cannot send their

0:29:380:29:42

children to certain schools, why

should they be funding Catholic

0:29:420:29:44

schools or any faith schools?

It

seems reasonable that taxpayers

0:29:440:29:47

should fund a range of schools, to

allow taxpayers to choose from a

0:29:470:29:53

range of schools.

I range of

schools, not dominated by one

0:29:530:29:56

religion...

0:29:560:30:02

I agree with everything Rachel said,

so you won't get much of a debate

0:30:020:30:05

between us. In this day and age, to

say that we should have religious

0:30:050:30:09

schools which are funded by the

taxpayer, I don't see how we can

0:30:090:30:13

sustain that any longer. I'm not in

favour of closing down good schools.

0:30:130:30:17

I'm quite in favour of closing down

bad schools that have the kind of

0:30:170:30:22

things that Rachel has told us

about.

Many faith schools are very

0:30:220:30:26

good.

I am not saying they should be

shut down, but I think we have to in

0:30:260:30:30

the future minimise them.

Do you

think the lifting of the cap will

0:30:300:30:33

happen? It looks like the Department

may be more lukewarm than they have

0:30:330:30:37

been.

It was a manifesto commitment.

Others have been dropped.

We very

0:30:370:30:42

much hope that is one the Government

will stick to.

Thank you for joining

0:30:420:30:45

us.

0:30:450:30:47

It was billed as Gavin Williamson's

first major speech

0:30:470:30:50

as Defence Secretary,

0:30:500:30:51

and the stakes were high,

0:30:510:30:52

given the government's

stand-off with the Kremlin.

0:30:520:30:54

Was it a chance to show

a Churchillian spirit?

0:30:540:30:56

A show of strength to

Britain's global enemies?

0:30:560:30:58

So how did he do?

0:30:580:30:59

Let's take a look.

0:30:590:31:01

What we will do is,

we will look at what Russia...

0:31:010:31:05

How Russia response

to what we have done.

0:31:050:31:09

It is absolutely

atrocious and outrageous

0:31:090:31:13

what Russia did in Salisbury.

0:31:130:31:15

We have responded to that.

0:31:150:31:16

Frankly, Russia should

go away, should shut

0:31:160:31:21

up, but if they do

respond to what we...

0:31:210:31:24

The action we have taken,

we will consider it carefully, and

0:31:240:31:27

we'll look at our options.

0:31:270:31:28

But it would be wrong

to prejudge their

0:31:280:31:30

response.

0:31:300:31:35

Welcomer joining us now is Patrick

Kidd, political sketch writer for

0:31:350:31:38

the times. What did you make of it,

Patrick is Mike

I was surprised that

0:31:380:31:42

school has broken up this early.

It

is a few more weeks. -- Patrick?

I

0:31:420:31:52

put a tenner on Gavin Williamson to

be Prime Minister last summer before

0:31:520:31:55

I had seen him in action. There was

all this talk of him being Frances

0:31:550:32:00

Burkert, the Chief Whip knifing his

rivals. This wasn't good, it wasn't

0:32:000:32:04

diplomacy. They talk about Winston

Churchill marshalling the English

0:32:040:32:08

language and sending it out into

battle, but this was Gavin Williams

0:32:080:32:11

asking for a fight behind the bike

sheds.

Your colleagues are Britain

0:32:110:32:16

excoriating articles and sketches

about Tim - do you think that is

0:32:160:32:19

fair? One person said he sounded

like a not very bright sixth form

0:32:190:32:24

student being asked to read out his

unfinished history essay in front of

0:32:240:32:28

the class.

It is there. You need

gravitas, and at times of national

0:32:280:32:33

crisis, you have to give a sensual

in command of the situation. It was

0:32:330:32:39

worrying, and it was delivered in

that squeaky Alan Bennett voice, and

0:32:390:32:43

he looks like a young Albert Steptoe

as well, not a reassuring...

Don't

0:32:430:32:48

hold back, Patrick!

The response

from the Russian embassy was to call

0:32:480:32:55

him a vulgar old tart.

A fishwife.

Maybe there was a whole list.

He's a

0:32:550:33:02

good-looking young man.

Good old

Gavin Williamson, obviously in

0:33:020:33:06

favour with Sergei Lavrov, who also

said all, the Foreign Ministry said,

0:33:060:33:12

it was political impotence. How does

this look?

Gavin Williamson since he

0:33:120:33:18

has been Defence Secretary has a

talent for attracting headlines, not

0:33:180:33:21

all of them positive, it has to be

said. I think this has been jumped

0:33:210:33:24

on by people for obvious reasons,

because it wasn't a very

0:33:240:33:28

statesman-like thing to say. You are

right, it wasn't part of the speech

0:33:280:33:31

but was an answer to a question, but

when you look at what he said, he

0:33:310:33:35

did not have the say it. He could

have stopped at the end of the

0:33:350:33:39

previous sentence, and I think a lot

of his colleagues will have had

0:33:390:33:42

their heads in their hands.

Nerves,

inexperienced? And perhaps we're

0:33:420:33:46

looking at it through a particular

prism.

To make Boris Johnson look

0:33:460:33:53

statesman-like is quite...

Do you

think there was a strategy behind

0:33:530:33:56

it?

For the Defence Secretary, at a

time of tension with Russia, he has

0:33:560:34:01

to look serious and like a grown-up.

He has been a bit of a man in a

0:34:010:34:06

hurry, has had his ambition is on

his sleeve, as it were. All that

0:34:060:34:15

business... He played on his own

political genius, if you like, and

0:34:150:34:19

played that up. He is like becoming

a cropper under the pressure of a

0:34:190:34:24

big, important job.

Do you think he

will see the funny side of it?

I

0:34:240:34:29

hope so. I think you need to if you

are going to survive in politics,

0:34:290:34:33

but I just wonder... We are all

saying this isn't Churchill, but we

0:34:330:34:37

live in the age of Donald Trump,

where politicians do well if they

0:34:370:34:40

don't play by the rules, may be

people will say he sell stuff. He

0:34:400:34:46

doesn't look tough.

He does take the

Mickey out of himself from time to

0:34:460:34:51

time, so I'm sure we will see some

references in the future.

We all

0:34:510:34:54

need a sense of humour, don't we?

For the next half an

0:34:540:35:00

hour, we will focus on Europe,

discussing the EU reaction to the

0:35:000:35:03

Russian double double agent

poisoning.

0:35:030:35:13

- social media,

0:35:130:35:14

and we'll talk about the man

0:35:140:35:16

they call 'rasputin'

in the European Commission.

0:35:160:35:17

First though here's our guide

to the latest from Europe -

0:35:170:35:20

in just sixty seconds.

0:35:200:35:21

This week, MEPs voted in favour

of setting up recommendations

0:35:210:35:23

for a future relationship

with the UK, the draft text has now

0:35:230:35:26

been sent to London.

0:35:260:35:33

Meanwhile, European Commission

president Jean-Claude Juncker told

0:35:330:35:35

parliament that the UK would regret

Brexit, to the amusement

0:35:350:35:37

of Eurosceptics.

0:35:370:35:39

You will regret the decision.

0:35:390:35:41

LAUGHTER

0:35:410:35:42

It's emerged a European Parliament

delegation has been conducting

0:35:420:35:44

secret talks with North Korea

to try to persuade

0:35:440:35:46

them to end their nuclear programme.

0:35:460:35:49

Elsewhere, Slovak PM Robert Fico

resigned after weeks of turmoil

0:35:490:35:52

sparked by the murder

of an investigative journalist

0:35:520:35:55

who had raised questions about his

judgment after it was alleged

0:35:550:36:03

a close aide had links to the Mafia.

0:36:050:36:07

And millions of Europeans may have

been running late since mid-January

0:36:070:36:10

following an electrical dispute

between Kosovo and Serbia,

0:36:100:36:12

causing clocks to lag behind by up

to six minutes across 25 countries.

0:36:120:36:20

Let's picked up after that. Ian,

Jean-Claude Juncker says we will

0:36:210:36:26

regret Brexit. What do you say?

Yellow McKee has to say that because

0:36:260:36:29

the EU has now we do otherwise there

might be other member states that

0:36:290:36:33

might want to follow suit, so of

course he will say that. Some of the

0:36:330:36:37

reaction has been slightly over the

top.

He has to say that because...

0:36:370:36:44

We would expect him to say that.

Should he not give that line a rest?

0:36:440:36:49

It is true, we do expect it to some

extent, and this idea that we don't

0:36:490:36:56

want to see others go the way of

Britain, as the European Commission

0:36:560:37:00

would put it, but otherwise we

should drop it?

He is probably

0:37:000:37:04

right.

0:37:040:37:09

right. It is already proving much

more complicated. The economic

0:37:090:37:12

implications are becoming clear, all

of that, but I think he is the worst

0:37:120:37:15

possible person to say it. It sounds

so arrogant, exactly what everyone

0:37:150:37:21

voted against is being told what to

do by the EU and some bureaucrat.

0:37:210:37:28

Maybe he is right, but he should

shut up, as Gavin Williamson might

0:37:280:37:33

say.

And go away, to finish the

phrase. The think it stiffens the

0:37:330:37:38

resolve every time he said something

like that, or do you think people

0:37:380:37:41

have priced it in?

I think people

factor in. I think that guy the

0:37:410:37:48

hostel at -- diva horse that is...

Some of his statements over the past

0:37:480:37:55

few weeks are different to what he

was saying six months ago. Much more

0:37:550:37:58

interested in getting the right

deal, more positive, more

0:37:580:38:03

constructive than he has been he was

one of the first people to come to

0:38:030:38:09

Britain's support over Russia as

well. I think the people on my side

0:38:090:38:12

of the argument need to recognise

that there is a bit of a change

0:38:120:38:15

among some people in this, and I

think we should also be very open in

0:38:150:38:20

thanking European countries for

their support over Russia, because

0:38:200:38:25

that wasn't necessarily a given. If

France and Germany had not come out

0:38:250:38:29

so strongly, and Denmark there was

another one, then of course, Rachel

0:38:290:38:32

would be writing very learned

columns

0:38:320:38:38

on it.

Let's discuss the EU reaction

to Russia and UK's relations with

0:38:380:38:42

them. There has only been one big

story in town this week, that of the

0:38:420:38:48

poisoning...

0:38:480:38:51

of Sergei Skirpal in Salisbury.

0:38:510:38:52

The British government has responded

by expelling diplomats and we await

0:38:520:38:55

the Russian retaliation.

0:38:550:38:56

But, what will the EU do?

0:38:560:39:04

What do you make of the EU response

to the Sergei Skripal poisoning?

We

0:39:080:39:17

are going to see very different

approaches, because some of the

0:39:170:39:22

countries would be criticising

Russia very severely, and at the

0:39:220:39:29

same time, I think almost a clear

majority will feel themselves very

0:39:290:39:36

much pushed in a direction where

they have to stand up for the values

0:39:360:39:44

and four member states, even if it

is a member state who is about to

0:39:440:39:47

leave. So I think we are going to

discuss this in the Parliament in

0:39:470:39:51

the next session, and I think the

verdict will be pretty harsh.

Pretty

0:39:510:39:58

harsh in terms of the stance against

Russia?

0:39:580:40:07

Russia?

Well, we have a lot of

indications in this case. Russian

0:40:070:40:13

security agencies have killed their

former agents earlier. That's almost

0:40:130:40:25

a question of honour for them. So

the only one who could actually be

0:40:250:40:31

interested in getting rid of Skripal

is the Russians. We won't find a

0:40:310:40:37

person with a smoking gun going in

or out from the Russian Embassy in

0:40:370:40:41

London. We would find that, I'm

pretty sure. When you kill persons

0:40:410:40:49

like this, this is a very cynical

killing, because they didn't even

0:40:490:40:54

care about Sergei's daughter. My

guess would be that there will be

0:40:540:40:59

middlemen, and there can be a lot of

them, in between. From my point of

0:40:590:41:04

view, I think Russia should be very

interested in clearing this,

0:41:040:41:18

interested in clearing this, because

the Novichok poison, the only source

0:41:180:41:21

for it could be Russia. In the 90s,

there were weapons depots in Russia

0:41:210:41:28

that were taken apart because the

state could not pay the wages, and

0:41:280:41:33

the military to what they could,

almost all the AK-47s in Europe come

0:41:330:41:39

from these depots. There is a

possibility that this also had this

0:41:390:41:47

background.

Because of your

proximity to Russia in Finland, are

0:41:470:41:53

you afraid of Russia and Russian

retaliation in general?

0:41:530:42:01

retaliation in general?

No, we're

probably the only country in Europe

0:42:010:42:07

having had a war with Russia and

still staying an independent nation,

0:42:070:42:12

so I think we have... Our

credentials in this respect are

0:42:120:42:17

pretty good, and I don't think we

are afraid of them. What we should

0:42:170:42:23

be slightly scared of in Europe in

general is not very rational

0:42:230:42:28

behaviour in Russia, because it's an

unstable system for the moment. You

0:42:280:42:34

have somebody up there, Vladimir

Putin, and you don't actually have a

0:42:340:42:39

machinery on which you can put any

much trust. The system as such is

0:42:390:42:48

unstable, and that's the problem.

What about concrete help from the

0:42:480:42:52

European Union? What concrete help

can Britain expect?

0:42:520:42:59

can Britain expect?

It depends what

you need. As I said, we have a lot

0:43:020:43:05

of indications about the source of

this murder, but as I also said, we

0:43:050:43:12

won't find a smoking gun, so what

would Great Britain need in these

0:43:120:43:18

times from us? I think, if you go

back to what we could offer, we

0:43:180:43:24

could offer all the knowledge that

our services could find. And if

0:43:240:43:35

Russia is retaliating even more in

regard of Great Britain, then of

0:43:350:43:41

course, we have to follow suit. We

have to do something just to show

0:43:410:43:45

our solidarity. This might go

further.

Do you think that there

0:43:450:43:51

would have been any difference...

Nils, I will come back to you in a

0:43:510:43:57

moment. Do you think there would be

any different in the EU response if

0:43:570:44:01

Brexit wasn't happening?

No, I don't

know what other response that could

0:44:010:44:05

have been. They have been as

supportive as they can be. The fact

0:44:050:44:09

that France, Germany and the US

signed this strong letter, this

0:44:090:44:15

strong statement, I imagine that a

lot of the other countries would be

0:44:150:44:18

happy to sign up to it too, so I

don't know what else we could

0:44:180:44:22

expect.

Tony Britton said after the

lip in Janko incident, Europe showed

0:44:220:44:30

solidarity but there wasn't much in

terms of concrete members. Are we

0:44:300:44:35

expecting EU nations to expel

Russian diplomats and put further

0:44:350:44:38

sanctions in place? Should we expect

these things from the EU and the

0:44:380:44:42

United States?

I think there could

be more economic sanctions, but I

0:44:420:44:46

think the show of solidarity and

strength is in itself very

0:44:460:44:48

important. That is a statement that

a multilateral approach is important

0:44:480:44:53

and does work. Even as Brexit is

going along, we are not ever going

0:44:530:44:58

to be able to live and operate in

splendid isolation. We will always

0:44:580:45:02

have to rely on allies in Europe, in

America, and I think that's

0:45:020:45:08

incredibly important as a reminder

at this very critical moment in the

0:45:080:45:12

negotiations to both sides. Read hi

and this is a big story in European

0:45:120:45:16

countries. I did an interview on

Danish television yesterday, and it

0:45:160:45:20

is the number one story week. Some

people are thinking this is a story

0:45:200:45:24

in a small town in England, but it's

not.

Finally, the Neils, it is a big

0:45:240:45:30

story in European countries?

countries, is at the case, and is it

0:45:300:45:34

a big story in the European

Parliament?

It is a big story, yes,

0:45:340:45:42

indeed! White, well, because it is a

very cynical murder, and, all the

0:45:420:45:46

indications we have are pointing at

Russia. We should demand of them

0:45:460:45:53

some very honest and some very clear

answers, and if they are not able to

0:45:530:45:58

deliver those answers, then we have

to think about further measures, and

0:45:580:46:02

those measures should be European

measures, not just UK measures,

0:46:020:46:11

Finnish measures, Belgian measures,

they should be European measures.

He

0:46:110:46:15

has described it as a murder, Nils,

but we should say that they are

0:46:150:46:21

critically ill in hospital, Sergei

and Yulia Skripal., they are not

0:46:210:46:28

dead.

0:46:280:46:29

It's been described as a coup

and the European Union's

0:46:320:46:34

very own House of Cards.

0:46:340:46:35

Brussels beaurocrat Marton Selmayr,

who used to be Jean Claude

0:46:350:46:38

Juncker's Chief of Staff,

has been promoted to be the head

0:46:380:46:40

of the EU's civil service.

0:46:400:46:41

The EU Commission has argued

Mr Selmayr's appointment

0:46:410:46:43

as Secretary General

was all above board

0:46:430:46:45

but some MEPs are furious.

0:46:450:46:46

Here's Adam Fleming with more.

0:46:460:46:54

There's something about Martin. He

has found himself in the front row,

0:46:560:47:02

either for his slightly scary

reputation or accused of leaking

0:47:020:47:05

details of a "Brexit" dinner in

Downing Street, now, it is because

0:47:050:47:08

of his promotion. Martin Selmayr has

been going up in the world, he

0:47:080:47:13

applied for and got the job of

Deputy Secretary-General, then, in

0:47:130:47:16

the same meeting, Secretary-General

announced he was replying --

0:47:160:47:20

retiring, and Martin Selmayr I was

transferred into his job. Summoned

0:47:200:47:26

by M EPs to blame, the Commissioner

for HR, Gunther Oettinger, said it

0:47:260:47:31

was all above board.

0:47:310:47:37

was all above board. -- MEPs.

0:47:370:47:39

TRANSLATION:

Martin Selmayr

has all the necessary

0:47:400:47:42

altercation to take on the task

of Secretary-General

0:47:420:47:50

of the commission, he has lengthy

experience in key positions

0:47:520:47:55

within the commission,

he is an excellent legal expert,

0:47:550:47:57

he is excellent at communication

and 100% suitable for this position.

0:47:570:47:59

But, members from across

the political spectrum lined up

0:47:590:48:02

to criticise the appointment.

0:48:020:48:07

Selmayr-gate denies

all the credibility

0:48:070:48:09

of the European Union as a champion

of integrity and transparency

0:48:090:48:11

in public administration, at times,

when public trust in the European

0:48:110:48:14

is low, this is devastating,

Mr Oettinger, and the fact

0:48:140:48:16

that the commission remains deaf

until the day of today

0:48:160:48:19

to criticism shows just how

disconnected it is from reality.

0:48:190:48:21

You should do your best to come out

with something which is trustworthy,

0:48:210:48:24

and you should avoid any feeling

or any impression that

0:48:240:48:26

it was a preprepared,

allegedly motivated nomination,

0:48:260:48:28

and unfortunately, I don't

think that in this case

0:48:280:48:30

you did your job perfectly.

0:48:300:48:32

You can see the defeat

etched in their faces,

0:48:320:48:34

this is the morning after,

0:48:340:48:35

and these were the European

Union's commissioners.

0:48:350:48:40

TRANSLATION:

To some,

0:48:400:48:43

it brings back memories of 1999,

0:48:430:48:51

when a report accused

one of Jacques Santer's

0:48:520:48:54

commission of cronyism

and they all resigned en masse.

0:48:540:48:58

Back

0:48:580:49:05

I arrived here just after the fall

of that commission,

0:49:090:49:12

and I would say this to you,

Ukip would never have won any seats

0:49:120:49:15

in the European Parliament had it

not been for the nepotism

0:49:150:49:18

of the Santer Commission

and so I've always been very

0:49:180:49:20

grateful to Jacques Santer.

0:49:200:49:22

Does this at all feel

like that period?

0:49:220:49:23

Could this be the start

of that sort of thing.

0:49:230:49:25

Nearly.

0:49:250:49:27

What's interesting is,

you would have thought

0:49:270:49:28

the appointment of an official

to a big job would be a story that

0:49:280:49:32

would have stayed within Brussels

and Strasbourg but actually,

0:49:320:49:34

it is out there, it has been talked

about in the French media,

0:49:340:49:37

it is trending on Twitter.

0:49:370:49:38

There's a lot going on in this

Martin Selmayr story,

0:49:380:49:40

some score settling,

some anti-German sentiment, some

0:49:400:49:42

opportunism, some genuine concern.

0:49:420:49:43

And now his promotion will be

the subject of a Parliamentary

0:49:430:49:46

enquiry, with the vote in Strasbourg

at some point in the future.

0:49:460:49:49

Good luck in the new job, Martin!

0:49:490:49:57

Alex Barker, all this fuss about

Martin Selmayr, is it overplayed,

0:50:010:50:07

this is politics, so, Celts appraise

Saga is a

what makes it special is

0:50:070:50:13

that he was a political appointment

and politics is moving against him

0:50:130:50:17

and so, it has brought him into the

limelight in a way that for once,

0:50:170:50:22

he's not particularly comfortable

with.

-- quelle surprise. EU

0:50:220:50:26

Jean-Claude Junker's man, how

powerful is see in this new role?

I

0:50:260:50:30

don't think his new role makes much

difference, is it ordinary powerful

0:50:300:50:34

in terms of the Chief of staff or

top aide to a European Commission

0:50:340:50:43

president, you have to go back to

the days of the law and his team to

0:50:430:50:46

have anything equivalent to this. --

De Lors. And he micromanage is, his

0:50:460:50:54

cursive is over every document that

emerges from this place, what Sting

0:50:540:51:00

wishes him is his willingness to

take on a public profile, I asked

0:51:000:51:03

him once his method was so tough on

things, he said, I cannot run the

0:51:030:51:10

commission like a Montessori school

and his methods, is micromanagement,

0:51:100:51:15

his energy, has really made him

stand out in terms of a bureaucrat

0:51:150:51:18

here.

You have met him, what is he

like?

Is good company, news quite

0:51:180:51:26

funny, is absolutely determined, he

can turn against you quite easily,

0:51:260:51:30

and, he runs the place like a tight

ship, he surrounds himself by people

0:51:300:51:36

who are loyal to him. His top

appointments in the commission have

0:51:360:51:41

been people who are loyal to him. I

think the pressure he is facing is

0:51:410:51:46

partly a function of unease about

his boss, really, Jean-Claude

0:51:460:51:51

Juncker hasn't got the energy that

some MEPs would hope European

0:51:510:51:55

Commission president would have, and

yet the commission is powerful at

0:51:550:52:00

the same time so attention is

turning to his aid, and he is

0:52:000:52:06

absorbing some of the criticism.

Described as anything from a monster

0:52:060:52:11

to Rasputin, in the UK press, their

discussions?

I ask them that, he

0:52:110:52:16

said, Jean-Claude Juncker is the

good guy, and I am the bad guy, he

0:52:160:52:20

is in., and for some member states,

they are pleased he is paying the

0:52:200:52:25

role, this is a big unwieldy place,

30,000 bureaucrats here, and he

0:52:250:52:31

delivers for them, at times, when

they have a special favour to ask

0:52:310:52:36

when they are in a particularly

politically difficult problem, but

0:52:360:52:39

it also means that he upsets a lot

of people, and so, there are people

0:52:390:52:44

upset that there are too many

Germans into top positions, the

0:52:440:52:47

Germans are upset that Martin is not

German enough!

LAUGHTER

0:52:470:52:51

There are those that would prefer

this to be a civil service, and not

0:52:510:52:58

run by, effectively, a political

appointees. The coalition of the

0:52:580:53:02

upset(!) is growing, and he is under

pressure.

You cannot please all

0:53:020:53:06

people all of the time, or even any

of the time, Alex Barker, thank you

0:53:060:53:10

very much for joining us.

0:53:100:53:12

While Russian-British

relations have fallen

0:53:150:53:17

to their lowest level in decades,

a very new type of diplomacy has

0:53:170:53:20

been playing out on Twitter.

0:53:200:53:21

The official account of the Russian

embassy in London have frequently

0:53:210:53:24

goaded the British government,

so much so that they've been called

0:53:240:53:26

professional trolls by some.

0:53:260:53:27

When Theresa May called Russia's

reaction to the Skripal

0:53:270:53:29

affair one of "sarcasm,

contempt, and defiance,"

0:53:290:53:31

she could well have had their social

media output in mind.

0:53:310:53:34

After the expulsion of 23

of their own diplomats this week

0:53:340:53:36

they posted:

0:53:360:53:41

"the temperature of

Russian-British relations drops

0:53:410:53:47

to minus 23 but we are not

afraid of cold weather."

0:53:470:53:52

On Tuesday they said:

0:53:520:53:56

"Any threat to take 'punitive'

measures against Russia

0:53:560:53:58

will meet with a response.

0:53:580:53:59

The British side should

be aware of that."

0:53:590:54:01

With a handy diagram

to explain their point.

0:54:010:54:06

This post asked,

0:54:060:54:09

a week after Sergei Skripal

and his daughter were poisoned,

0:54:090:54:11

"Does Russia's dialing code 007 make

James Bond a "Russian spy"?

0:54:110:54:14

And last month when the UK

was battling the beast

0:54:140:54:16

from the east, their poll asked,

0:54:160:54:18

"What Russian customs should Brits

adopt with this snow blizzard?"

0:54:180:54:23

The most popular answer:

Drink more vodka.

0:54:230:54:26

And joining us now is journalist

and Twitter meme expert

0:54:260:54:28

Mollie Goodfellow and Russian

comedian Konstantin Kisin.

0:54:280:54:33

Welcome to the both of you, to a

British audience, these tweets are

0:54:330:54:37

pretty bizarre, even offensive,

given the current context, are we

0:54:370:54:42

missing the joke?

I don't think so,

these are cheesy and slightly

0:54:420:54:46

unoriginal, I would say, but that is

where Russia finds itself, trying to

0:54:460:54:52

fight a war of words, and one of the

interesting things in terms of

0:54:520:54:56

difference, we don't have the

concept of banter, in Russia, the

0:54:560:54:59

idea that you would say horrible

things to your friends as a sign of

0:54:590:55:02

affection does not exist, so when

you see these attempts, they are an

0:55:020:55:05

attempt to undermine the West's

message, that Russia is doing this

0:55:050:55:10

through humour. How effective this

is, I don't think we really know,

0:55:100:55:14

but that is what is happening.

You

think it represents a Russian sense

0:55:140:55:17

of humour, even if it is not very

good and clumsily done.

These are

0:55:170:55:21

the kind of jokes that you write

when you have not heard jokes

0:55:210:55:24

before.

LAUGHTER

He says, crushingly! Are they funny?

0:55:240:55:29

I think some people find humour in

them, look at the Job tweets they

0:55:290:55:33

do, against the straight

ambassadorial tweets they do, I

0:55:330:55:36

think you get far more sense of

engagement. -- look at the joke

0:55:360:55:42

tweets. So people are finding it

funny, and that kind of disconnect

0:55:420:55:45

between this is a very serious

political unit, against, being like

0:55:450:55:53

a troll, and they are tweeting in

the way that tweeters tweet, which

0:55:530:55:57

is, looking at a political account

is quite rare!

Using the medium and

0:55:570:56:01

the current context, very serious,

but actually, the king at what has

0:56:010:56:06

been written, they are not bad, in

an attempt to dare I say, break the

0:56:060:56:12

ice... -- looking at what has been

written. But, really...

0:56:120:56:18

Unbelievably, unbelievably, that

came off the top of my head(!) I

0:56:180:56:21

think it is such a serious

situation, three people in hospital

0:56:210:56:25

having been poisoned with a nerve

agent.

It is not a time for silly

0:56:250:56:29

jokes on Twitter, and again, this

is, there has also been Russian bots

0:56:290:56:35

interfering in western democracy

around the world, I think it is not

0:56:350:56:41

a laughing matter.

Tasteless and

inappropriate?

No, it is a

0:56:410:56:45

deflection tactic, that is what it

is, I think they are quite funny in

0:56:450:56:48

some ways, but we all pay attention

to them, we are discussing them here

0:56:480:56:51

now, we would not be doing that if

they had not done that, it's like

0:56:510:56:55

when the Liberal Democrats press

office did similar tweets, we all

0:56:550:56:58

followed the press office, which we

would never have done before!

What

0:56:580:57:02

with the Russian reaction be to

these kind of tweets from an

0:57:020:57:06

official British account? Well, I

wouldn't know, but in terms of the

0:57:060:57:10

Russian reaction to these tweets.

The Russians will be quite enjoying

0:57:100:57:14

this trolling, and in terms of

seriousness, Russian people tend to

0:57:140:57:19

be a lot less squeamish and a less

politically correct on these issues,

0:57:190:57:23

so when most Russian people see

these tweets, they would be enjoying

0:57:230:57:26

it and saying, well...

We should

offer them your services!

I think

0:57:260:57:31

this works in their favour, because,

it is that dichotomy between the

0:57:310:57:36

strict parent, telling Russia to

stop it, and the child pointing

0:57:360:57:40

their tongue out and blowing

raspberries. It works in their

0:57:400:57:44

favour.

0:57:440:57:54

favour.

Plane to cultural norms,

like the Russia, and the Russian

0:57:540:57:58

weather, and vodka, is that an

attempt to reach out?

It is a stable

0:57:580:58:03

of my comedy, absolutely(!) you have

to play with this but it is a

0:58:030:58:06

question of what you are trying to

achieve, and in this case, in terms

0:58:060:58:10

of rushing humour, we are not quite

as self-deprecating as British

0:58:100:58:13

people, when we make fun of someone

else, it is to undermine and

0:58:130:58:18

question what they are saying to

make a point, this is a continuation

0:58:180:58:22

of politics by other means.

One-upmanship, then?

Yes.

So British

0:58:220:58:28

and Russian comedy differs

completely, there is no meeting of

0:58:280:58:31

minds?

I do think that there is.

You

are the meeting of the minds!

0:58:310:58:34

LAUGHTER

Isn't this what Twitter is for, to

0:58:340:58:38

do this sort of thing?

Absolutely,

yes, absolutely, and politically,

0:58:380:58:43

the Russian Embassy is probably the

account that is doing the best in

0:58:430:58:46

terms of in terms of understanding

the Twitter trolling hive mind.

The

0:58:460:58:53

Minister of defence Twitter account,

when it starts doing that, then it

0:58:530:58:56

really does become a war of words!

On that, we will have a different

0:58:560:59:00

war of words.

0:59:000:59:02