11/03/2017 Dateline London


Foreign correspondents currently posted to London look at events in the UK through outsiders' eyes, and at how the issues of the week are being tackled around the world.

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Hello and welcome to Dateline London.


How much, if anything, should Britain pay to leave


How bad is the military situation facing the group calling


And is Wikileaks a good or a bad thing?


My guests today are Greg Katz of Associated Press.


Abdel Bari Atwan who is a writer and commentator on Arab affairs.


When Britain leaves the EU, we should be faced with a stiff


it is like leaving a golf club - we stop paying when we stop playing.


And how much is the Chancellor of the Exchequer trying


to save money to pay for what he knows will be


What should we pay? What is the tariff for leaving? Does anybody


have any idea? No, since we think she will do the triggering on


Tuesday, and therefore the big discussions, it seems likely, there


are things that have to be done before that. The Ides of March our


report us. Then the discussions happen about in principle about


these things. It was interesting listening to some of the Europeans


this week because it suddenly occurred to the media in Britain it


was time we found out what those people on the other side of the


consulate thought -- continent Thorton believed. They exist in


terms of the Council and the commission and in terms of the


parliament and in terms of 27 other nations, all of whom have to ratify


what deal is done. This question of how much Britain should pay as part


of the divorce is only one thing they have too discussed and it is in


with all the others and it seems obvious that we have incurred some


degree of liability and responsibility for whatever the


separation costs will be and ongoing costs of the EU. You do not just


walk away at this point will stop how much that ends up being, you


guess. Thank you. I am talking about 60 billion. The Foreign Secretary


Boris Johnson said we should not give them anything. You cannot have


a free divorce. If you decide to divorce you have to pay the price,


it is as simple as that. It will be painful in the beginning but after


that you have to realise you are exporting 50% of your exports to


Europe. It has to be a soft landing, it has to be flexibility from the


British side to keep good relations with the ex-wife, for examples.


There should be pavement. At the same time there should be soft exit


without problems because it is in the interests of Britain to keep


good relations with the EU. They are angry and upset and we should


understand that. I am not sure about the divorce metaphor, it is like


breaking up a business. We have been part of what Jeremy Clarkson has


called the biggest budget in the world, a huge budget. We made


promises to participate in projects ahead and we cannot just say, we


said we will do this but we are not going to now. We can say that. It


would not be right. As David said, the European Parliament 's have to


vote on the final deal and the commission and I agree, there has


been an atmosphere in the British press of fog in the channel,


continent cut off. We are not in charge. The other point underlined


what David said, you do not know how much of this is boxes squaring up


before a match, a lot of talk, and eventually it will get down to


boring detail about who owes what is what. It will get down to a long


discussion with difficult detail that civil servants will have to sit


there and crack out. The reality as far as the 60 billion, we will not


know the real figure. If she triggers Article 50 on Tuesday it


will be a year and 364 days and 23.5 hours before we know the figure and


we will have to have to years of the press pointing fingers about it but


it will be a hard negotiation. It will be an important part of it.


While we look at Crystal balls. With various degrees of incompetence! Do


you think there is a chance Theresa May will go for an early election?


Some people look at the state of the Labour Party and the question of


whether she has a mandate. We love this one. Turn once, it is a good


question, because if I were her, I would. This year? I would stop I am


the new Prime Minister, I do not have my own mandate and I am likely


to get a bigger majority than the awkward majority I have at the


moment made up of people who did not want to come out of the EU whereas


if I get a 100 seat majority over Jeremy Corbyn's pathetic and


hopeless Labour Party, I am away and swimming and can pretty much dictate


the terms. Two things would stop you, the first is complexities of


triggering the election, trigger being the word. The word of the


year. The difficulty because we have a fixed term parliament, but it can


be achieved. Then the question of the uncertainties. Is it just


possible that somewhere out there lies a new Ukip leader who can get


50% of the vote? The Lib Dems, a pro-European... None of these things


are likely. Jeremy Corbyn. Tony Blair. David Miliband comes back.


But Scotland. If you go to the country and the Scots go to the


country at the same time and they as a result get a significant mandate


for the Westminster Parliament for the SNP, and over -- an overwhelming


one. They are strong, being pro-European. You are Scottish.


There is a Scottish problem but all sorts of other problems. Theresa May


said we do not need more instability. We have to make sure


the ship is going in the right direction. Up to now she is handling


things wisely and not taking a very strong stance against Europe, she is


trying to negotiate. I agree with David, she should go for it. She


should have a mandate, because it is a huge responsibility and I believe


the time is right to do this. Gordon Brown did it at a certain stage


after Tony Blair. She needs that. She needs a strong mandate from the


British people. Why not another referendum, with Brexit, for


example? Why not another Scottish referendum? That is the nub, whether


there is a British people or whether Scotland is going a different way


from England, Northern Ireland is going a different way. To keep them


in, you should give them a good example. A referendum. On Brexit?


Why not? And your Prime Minister... A strong mandate for the Prime


Minister. I don't think I can bear it! A referendum a year. If there


were an election, and this is the issue, is it about we have a Tory


party who will win without any opposition or will it be an election


on Brexit, in which maybe by some miracle the Lib Dems and the part of


Labour for remaining in the EU get-together. The other problem it


might solve is the House of Lords question and how much parliament


should be consulted about this, if Theresa May had a thumping majority,


she could say, the British people have spoken again, I am the right


person to negotiate, Parliament can decide what it likes, but my party


runs parliament. She adds to her majority if she calls an election.


She may do it but it does not solve anything in Scotland and may make it


worse. The idea that Labour and the Lib Dems come together as a saviour


act. We like to dream! I do not see anyone sitting in the party about to


leap to the fore, in either party. I think she would end up with a bigger


majority. In Syria and Iraq, the territory


held by Islamic State What difference will it make


if they are driven our What difference will it make


if they are driven out of towns and cities,


and how will that affect the chances of terrorist


attacks in the Middle East, They are under great difficulty and


pressure. In Mosul, Raqqa, and the catastrophe might get worse. We do


not know about the humanitarian catastrophe because there is a


blackout on what is happening in Mosul. There are 150,000 Iraqi


forces attacking Mosul, they liberated the eastern part and they


are facing difficulties with the western part because there are


narrow alleyways, the old city. It seems that Islamic State have


managed to dig a lot of tunnels and they are fighting. There are


difficulties and a lot of casualties. We do not know about the


people, do they have food, electricity, water? But definitely


the Islamic State is losing a lot of ground there and there are reports


that may be the leader of Islamic State managed to run away to another


part of Iraq. And that he is hiding. We don't know. The Americans say he


left Mosul. If you know that, why did you not kill him, for example,


if you have information about him and he is still alive and he managed


to run away. Who is going to liberate? And what will happen after


day liberate Mosul and Raqqa? Who will be the sovereign ruler. Raqqa


is part of Syria. There is a huge problem between the Russians and


Americans and between Turks and the Russians, when it comes to Syria.


The Americans would like the Kurds, the Syrian Democratic army, to do


the job because they trust them. But Turkey doesn't. They say we are


Sunni, they are Sunni, and we should do the job. Where is the United


States in this? We have seen Marines are part of this. Several hundred


marines. I do not think the mission has been clearly explained, it was


done quietly and I do not think the media has had a chance to ask


questions of the Trump administration on their role and it


is not clear to what degree they will cooperate. The American


position is in flux and not clear at this point. They wanted boots on the


ground and I expected more attention to be paid to that in the States.


Presumably, at least in the short-term, given the humanitarian


problems everybody expects outside Mosul. We might expect more migrants


as well. The refugee crisis is still with us and we'll get worse. In the


long run, what is there to hold this loose and difficult situation


together? What is there for people in the Arab world to look to for


hope? Islamic State has a plan B, but, there are opponents, enemies,


they do not have a plan B. To retreat to the desert? OK, they will


go underground. They start causing a lot of terrorism attacks in the


Middle East, and outside, because they will be relieved from running


big cities like Mosul and Raqqa but what is the plan B for the coalition


's? There are 60, 70 countries fighting Islamic State. -- 16, 17.


We have seen bloodcurdling reports there could be 800, 900 fighters who


wish to come back to this country. By thing we have a good handle on


who those people are likely to be. I am not saying I am not worried about


it, but I think the point is that he takes Raqqa? You can see the Iraqi


government will end up in control of Mosul and the question is whether


the Iraqi government can behave in such a way it can deal with the


Sunni population, majority population, and come to an


agreement, which is a big question that involves the Kurds. Raqqa is


more of a problem. You can take it, but he keeps it? There you go back


to the fact you are in the middle of the Syrian civil war. I tend to


believe from what I have heard that Isis, whose unique selling


proposition is the caliphate, will be weakened and although it has a


great deal of propaganda capacity which is mobile, it can take it with


it, and on the whole there are other groups. You should look at the


Al-Qaeda affiliate 's bands successor organisations. Who hold


territory. It's of territory, and they have capacity and they have not


at the moment as IS will, the reputation of being defeated. They


are extant in Syria. As you raise the question of people coming back.


Terrorist events in the west. I tend to think that will carry on as it


did before. I do not think it will be significantly worse as a result


of the end. Most of the big questions about Isis are in the


region. You have written about the digital caliphate, the idea and


means of communication will continue. It is much cheaper for


them to go underground. It is less problematic. They do not need to run


a bigger state or cities like Mosul and Raqqa. If you say you want to


have a caliphate and we have declared it and here we are and you


are not there any more, it is... You cannot invite people any more. The


problem is look at Al-Qaeda now. Why we are busy with Islamic State. Now


Al-Qaeda is gaining strength in different parts of the Middle East


and now they are very strong in Yemen, in parts of Africa. They


start to gather strength and recruit people. The same thing, Islamic


State will do. They have branches. In Sinai, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan.


I just came back from India. They are worried about terrorist attacks


by Islamic State, especially among the Muslim community. We are seeing


this terrible famine. How that will play together I do not know. I


wonder whether Al-Qaeda will be almost like a successor


organisation, like a more sensible Islamist force.


Donald Trump claimed - based on no evidence, apparently -


that predecessor Barack Obama wanted to wiretap him.


The language seems quaint, given that we learned this week -


courtesy of Wikileaks - that the CIA can not only


bug your phone, but your TV and, for all I know, your toaster


Is Wikileaks doing a public service, or is it a danger


How do you think Wikileaks is seen by the Trump administration? They go


back and forth. Trump I think was happy when Wikileaks was releasing


e-mails from the Democratic national committee and was kind of thrilled


all those embarrassing e-mails were coming out. Now he is in the White


House he is annoyed the CIA's secret weapons, online weapons, revealed


online, so now he wants them to please be quiet and can play a


different game. Basically, this release is embarrassing to the CIA


and has a lot of practical overtones. Nobody is surprised they


are trying to get into your phones and TVs. Releasing thousands of


pages of no high and detailed coding is not something... And nobody


knows. Where it came from. That is my problem with Wikileaks. I need to


know where it comes from. It can sometimes be illegal to publish


material that has been stolen as long as you did not steal it. That


does not satisfy my own ethical concerns. That is the point. Edward


Snowden, somebody an insider, discontented, saying people in


America need to know this. If that is the case here. Perhaps one takes


a moral judgment, if it came from Russian intelligence you might take


another judgment. If our friend Julian Assange, if his goal was to


damage Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, which he has implied,


that is meddling into domestic politics. I am not crazy about the


idea of him trying to shape elections. Wikileaks, good or bad?


Wikileaks used to provide a useful service and I remember the release


of the Guantanamo operation annual and lists of membership of the


American far right groups. The toxic dump on the Ivory Coast. Something


else has happened since, and Julian Assange is locked up in the embassy


and has taken complete control of the organisation and got rid of


people he used to trust. He is paranoid, like kids sitting in their


mother's basements, posting. I don't think he has an agenda, political


agenda in the way you suggest, I think his agenda is his own


aggrandise mint. He can be used by almost anybody and we do not know


who is using him. Wikileaks is doing a good job. We must expose these


intelligence services, the CIA, why not? They are plotting here,


plotting their, let us expose them and let them be aware there are


people vetting their operations and knowing what they are doing. I had a


look at Wikileaks because I was mentioned several times when it


comes to the bodies it was a great job, doing a great job against


brutal dictatorships in that part of the world and how they function, how


they pay dirty money, financing walls, in our part of the world,


dealing with superpowers like the US. It is nice to know what is


behind. I think Wikileaks is doing a great job. It is selected releases.


We hear about Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Give us the truth about


Russia. Chinese... One of the difficulties, one of the mysteries,


why are there no Russian and Chinese whistle-blowers? I cannot imagine!


You can expect a face white in an airport, that is why, or somebody


will saunter across Waterloo Bridge with a knob roller and stick it in


your foot! The problems for whistle-blowers, one of the great


benefits of these open societies is our whistle-blowers, they don't


generally face being offed by the state any more. Journalists want to


know everything but as citizens we don't necessarily want everything to


be no. There are a lot of things our spooks are doing that I want them to


do. Let's say the proposition was, could you Bagh a jihadis televisions


so when they are having a conversation about who to bomb you


could pick it up, I am in favour. I would be in general not in favour of


that being known so the jihadis could stop it happening, so we would


share that. Insofar as that is what is being explored, I am antsy about


other people discovering it will stop we are conflicted. The big


question in a democratic society is what oversight you have about what


spooks are doing so you can be relatively sure they are doing the


things he would approve of. A lot of this I want them to do. I want them


to stop people blowing up our schools and so on. This would be


news to us but not to Russian or Chinese intelligence that you can


get a Samsung television and bucket. As citizens we might not know this.


-- bug it. Look at the American election and what happened. There


are good cyber attackers out there. Allegedly, yes. They are welcome to


sue in the British courts. Wikileaks, good or bad? Is it for


you the question of provenance, where does it come from? Who is


doing it for whose benefit? Discrimination. I don't regard to


data dumping as whistle-blowing. It is not whistle-blowing.


Whistle-blowing is you think something is wrong and you bring


attention to that thing. Taking every bit of data and dumping it in


the open without care about what it is or where it comes from... And


failing to redact personal information. They are now doing


that. Not all of the time. They are spying on us. We do not have any


privacy. They always spied on us. My parents were spied on with


telephones tapped because they were communists. The question is whether


there is a proper degree of oversight. There are enemies of


society within society you might want this stunting. Democracy has


become the establishment of, and Twilight Son wants to dismantle the


establishment. The Julian Assange's -- wants to dismantle it.


Dismantling democratic institutions becomes a part of that. How as


journalist should we treat this? Previous leaks, journalists have


redacted it themselves and information has become available to


British newspapers and they say they will not publish that because it


puts lives at risk. That seems to have changed. Wikileaks has been


good at manipulating the media and the first response in most cases is


let's publish everything and the documents may be not fit for the


public to see because it contains names of agents or personal


information about people who have not done anything wrong. I am more


sceptical about what they release them my colleagues and... You do not


think it is as important as they suggest? Julian is very good at


making what he is to do sounding very important. I would like to know


if the Swedish are going to charge him with any sexual offences, and I


would like to know whether the US does or does not have an indictment


against him. These things are important for understanding who he


is where he stands. I would like to know why Nigel Farage went to see


him. I think he wanted an interview, nothing more. We see.


That's it for Dateline London this week.


You can comment on the programme on Twitter @gavinesler


We're back next week at the same time.