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.
Browse content similar to 14/05/2017. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Now on BBC News, Dateline London.
Hello, welcome to Dateline London.
This week: a sacking in Washington, a timely election leak in the UK,
and Donald Trump's visits to the Middle East and the Vatican.
Debating all of that are Stephanie Baker,
from the international news agency Bloomberg News,
Janet Daley, political columnist with Britain's Sunday Telegraph
newspaper, Jonathan Sacredoti from i-24 News, an Israeli
international news channel and Mustapha Karkouti
from the Dubai-based newspaper, Gulf News.
Donald Trump sacked plenty of would-be business moguls
on the reality TV series "The Apprentice", barking "you're
fired" to their face.
James Comey received his dismissal as Director of the FBI in a note.
Getting rid of TV contestants doesn't have many consequences;
sacking the head of the country's key crime fighting agency when he's
investigating those around you, well that's proving harder to forget.
What was he thinking?
He did not handle this well.
He is not good at firing people.
The messaging was incredibly messy.
He tried it out and then various Trump surrogates argued that this
was prompted by a memo from the Deputy Attorney General
calling on his dismissal because of the handling
of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation.
No one was buying that because Trump had praised his handling of that
repeatedly as had Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General.
Then Trump contradicted his own staff, and said that he had been
planning on firing him anyway and he was thinking about the Russia
investigation when he decided to do it and actually the trigger had been
watching James Comey testify last Wednesday,
where he said that the notion of his intervention in the election
to tilt it towards Trump was absurd.
That enraged Trump.
The interesting and controversial thing is the involvement of Jeff
He excused himself from the Russia investigation because he was a key
figure in the Trump campaign and his involvement in the firing
of Comey has raised a lot of questions and criticism from
He got flack for saying he had met the Russian ambassador but had
not mentioned it.
Lastly, Trump dug himself into a bigger problem with a veiled
threat to James Comey that he might not leak
because there might be tapes.
That has set up a whole round of speculation about what kind
of taping system he has, could the comparisons with Nixon get
any more stark?
You have top Democrats in Congress calling on him to release whatever
tapes he may have.
I think that this is getting very troubling and I think,
his credibility is under question.
He has appeared to calm down a little bit in Washington.
It looked like the administration was getting into a rhythm
It is not just the inconsistencies and contradictions, inexperienced
White House administrators do often screw up and contradict themselves,
but it is the shamelessness of it, it is the preposterous
arrogance of it.
He contradicted his own earlier account of why he had sacked him
and turned it on its head and he did not seem
the slightest bit embarrassed.
What is this bravura, narcissism, how can that possibly be credible
in a President?
I am old enough to remember Nixon and Watergate and there was at least
a degree of shame and embarrassment and culpability and when those tapes
were released, the Watergate tapes, and he was caught red handed having
plotted the Watergate burglary and what was most shocking,
to the American public was the language that he used.
Everybody discovered that he spoke in the most obscene stream of four
letter words to his aides, they talked like gangsters,
now Trump talks like this in television interviews!
There is something very peculiar that has happened to the American
political consciousness, for this even to be
not instantly impeachable.
It gets to the whole issue of Nixon who went to great lengths to deny
that there were any tapes and now we have Trump advertising
that he has them.
Perhaps making it up.
I think what is interesting about this is that we are dealing
with a President who plays by different rules,
they are the rules of entertainment and television.
He seems well versed in those in ways that other politicians
are catching up on and while the media are on the whole
condemning him for these sorts of behaviours and absurd things
he is saying, it seems at odds of the way that the President
He is hiding the real issues.
The issues that he does not want discussed, like the investigation
into the alleged collusion with Russia is not what we have
I would also say that like him or not, we need to say there is very
little concrete evidence that that has happened and President Obama
was also caught in 2012 saying that he wanted a bit more time
to get through his next election...
These are not things that politicians have not done
in the past.
He is the master of distracting from them.
The word collusion is a very strong word, which implies
there was conscious conspiracy with a foreign power,
and an unfriendly foreign power, that is tantamount to treason.
The idea that you have to prove collusion makes
the case really hard.
You think the standard should be lower?
I do not think collusion is the right word.
I was in Washington, DC and I was talking to officials.
The main worry is about democracy, what is happening,
what is the impact, what will that leave of democracy itself?
Their main worry, is that society itself, it cannot guarantee to stop
that impact in a way.
He is very dangerous.
They are really scared and frightened by him.
This is really testing US institutions.
I think he is democratically elected as President even if people around
this table do not like him and he is following procedures,
other people have been fired in the same role.
He was accused of filling his expenses.
He went for a process that as President and he is somebody,
Comey is someone that the Democrats wanted to have fired.
They have looked awkward because they have gone from saying
that this man was responsible through the election,
one Democrat told me that James Comey is a bit of a Boy Scout.
It is difficult for the Democrats to agree.
They have said unfortunate things about him in the past.
In a sense, you could read, their interpretation of this
as having considerable integrity.
Even though they have got a grudge against him and they have grounds
for objecting to him, they do not like the way this
has been done.
That is a legitimate thing to say.
The issue is the timing, why is he doing it now?
If it was about Hillary Clinton, why was it not done the day
after the inauguration?
Comey was about to ask for more resources to pursue
the Russian connection.
After the week he's had, President Trump may be mightily
relieved to get out of Washington.
This is something much bigger and has much bigger consequences.
I wonder if people are viewing this as a serious attempt to move
the process forward in terms of the Israeli and the Palestinians
or whether it is just a bit of international diplomatic theatre.
It is extremely serious.
That is what I hear and also from the Americans themselves.
At the same time, being in that shaky position, I don't know how
much that will impact on his international
activities and policy.
He is very serious, he has been talking to the Palestinian President
and his people are saying that he is very optimistic,
apparently he did tell Abbas that he was serious
about the question of pressing Binjamin Netanyahu to come forward
and sort this out, because at the end of the day,
there is an agreement, there is an agreement
between the two sides on the agreement, but the Israelis
are hesitating in moving there.
Just on the question of the Israeli position,
Binjamin Netanyahu has been the dominant player in Israeli
politics for well over a decade but he is still only the head
of a Coalition government partly because the electoral system
in Israel, is...
Is he in a strong enough position to take some kind of initiative?
Historically, it has been right wing Israeli ministers who have managed
to make peace deals with Arab neighbours and I think
there is plenty of optimism around and I think Donald Trump really puts
forward a new window of opportunity for both sides.
It seems that both leaders have visited him in DC and both have come
out of that surprisingly saying that they got on very well with him,
including Abbas who said that there seems to be some area
for development and that is surprising because everyone assumes
that Donald Trump would be firmly on the side of Israel.
What Donald Trump has to do now is what we have been discussing
before, turn this from being a show and being all about him,
this is the man who prides himself on making deals,
this is the ultimate deal and turn it into concrete action.
He did the first step by making both sides like him,
something that Barack Obama failed to do, he put a lot of pressure
on Israel asking for preconditions that the Palestinians had asked for,
including onset of building...
If anything, it emboldened the extremists on the Palestinian
Trump has managed in 100 days to get both sides to be favourable
towards him and perhaps to consider new negotiations.
The issue has always been that talks had been hobbled by preconditions,
are there going to be preconditions, because we have been here before
so many times?
Preconditions are really used in order not to take action,
it is a tactful thing and it is really ridiculous
in a way, because the whole plan is quite clear,
there was Oslo about 20 years ago, both sides agreed and sat together
and agreed on peace plans, there were other meetings following that.
It is the right wing government in Israel which is really putting
these obstacles, the settlement question is very serious.
There is an argument...
The Palestinian authority is paying the murders of people
like the British student who was stabbed.
Soldiers who engaged in warfare.
People who stab Christian British students are not necessarily
It is not so little for the families who lost people
in terrorist attacks.
Not little for the Palestinians who lost people in military action.
They are wrongly used to create obstacles in front of peace.
If you remember the press conference that he gave,
it was quite absurd in the sense that he was saying, you guys sort it
out between yourself and whatever you agree on will be all right
with me and I will sit here and do...
It just shows the most appalling ignorance of the difficulties
and the complexities of the situation.
I don't think he has a clue.
He is not the points man, his son-in-law is.
The reason that both sides may be feeling optimistic
is because they think there is a vacuum in the White House
and if they both played their cards cleverly enough they might be
able to get...
Isn't that what both sides really needed?
Even though his method of saying it is absurd,
what he is actually saying is he will not impose things
from outside, he wants to facilitate, he has a ridiculous
way of saying things...
What he said was, you figure out a deal that satisfies both of you,
there is no deal that satisfies both of them,
that is the whole point and someone has to arbitrate
and if he is saying, I am not interested in arbitration...
I think he is keen to arbitrate but he is saying he will not impose
preconditions and vote for unilateral moves at the UN.
I suspect that what we are dealing with is a President and we do not
understand how to read his surface appearance.
I am hoping.
Maybe that is all there is!
I was in Washington, the Americans are worried
about the whole situation, because the entire region
is in turmoil and it is flaring up.
This might transpire to the Palestine and Israel situation.
Imagine if that happened there, what is going to happen?
He is going first to Saudi Arabia which is an interesting first trip?
The first trip of a US President is loaded with symbolism.
Going to Saudi Arabia, he is expected to get a warm
welcome, ironically, despite him pursuing this Muslim
ban, Saudi Arabia escaped that ban.
I think leaders in Saudi Arabia who are keen to reset relations,
and were disheartened by the pursuit by Barack Obama of the Iran nuclear
deal, we reported this week that actually the Saudi Arabians
are prepared to invest in US infrastructure and that could be
unveiled at the same time.
You could sell it as a domestic thing.
Making America great again.
The fact that he is warmly regarded in Saudi Arabia could change
the balance of power.
I do think largely speaking he is going on to the Vatican
where ironically he might perceive the roughest reception.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall!
Pope Francis has criticised him, his immigration policies and then
he goes on to the G-7 where we heard finance ministers expressing concern
about the threat that his policies pose to multilateral trade
and the possibility that his moves could harm global growth.
In addition to the economic aspect, don't forget Iran is going
to be the main...
He is building a Coalition that can deal with Iran and Isis
and for the first time those three are in relatively good terms
with each other and with America, something which you might not like,
but it is not gratuitous.
It could be a moment that needs to be seized.
It's less than a month now until Britain goes to the polls.
The oppposition Labour Party had its manifesto leaked,
whilst in a joint TV appearance, Prime Minister May and her husband
lifted the - bin - lid on their marriage.
Last time, the pundits predicted a hung parliament and got
a Tory majority.
This time, the talk is of a landslide.
Janet, you and I were sitting next to each other only two years ago,
when you were proud to have been pretty much the only person
who predicted that the Tories were going to win and that it was not
going to be a hung Parliament.
Will you make a prediction?
Everyone will make the same prediction, so I will not be unique.
I had not met anyone who said they would vote for Ed Miliband
and that is why I made that prediction and I have met less
people who said they would vote for Jeremy Corbyn.
Considering that it is a foregone conclusion, this election,
it is surprisingly not boring.
Partly because the Labour thing is such a Marx Brothers production,
it has become so shambolic, so for pure entertainment value,
it keeps you riveted.
Everyone is also speculating about what happens after,
what happens to Labour and the Tories afterwards,
what does Theresa May really believe in terms of political principles.
If she is actually a Tory or is she trying to occupy
the centre-left left empty by Tony Blair.
The big question, will Jeremy Corbyn stay on as leader?
It looks now as if he is intending to and there is a lot
of subterranean gossip about the leak of the manifesto,
was that intended to undermine him or was it intended to rally
the militant faithful to make sure he is allowed to stay on afterwards?
What will happen to that space that used to be occupied by soft left
opposition in this country?
That is the most serious question.
How are you describing this election if you are touching it
at all to your readers?
It is very difficult, in a way, extremely difficult,
because the way we see it happening, the election system here,
based on constituency, in a way, is not presidential.
Jeremy Corbyn may have a better chance if that was a presidential
system, because of his populism policies and all of that,
but we see it as extremely difficult for Labour
to increase their seats in Parliament.
They may lose a lot more this time around.
It is totally difficult to explain to our readers this
situation in Britain.
There is no leadership of quality on both sides,
I must say, not only on Labour, the Conservative leadership
is not that impressive.
It is not high-quality.
I think that is very unfair on Theresa May,
she has played a blinder, she has managed to unite a party
that has always been divided over Europe.
Is that temporary?
Look how well she is doing, compared with other leaders and then
we look at Jeremy Corbyn who on the other hand has been
trying desperately to appeal to voters at the far left
and the middle ground, offering things like extra bank
holidays and free tuition, it is a miracle he has not offered
everyone a free puppy or a unicorn.
Then he said he was not a pacifist, we knew that, he has had no problem
with the IRA or organisations like Hamas and Hezbollah
who specialise in killing civilians.
He would say that they were in situations they were forced
into where they had no choice.
He is certainly no pacifist.
He is not saying now that he would necessarily accept those situations
in current circumstances.
He said he would invite Hamas and Hezbollah for tea.
When someone was not leader of the party,
that is when we see their true colours.
Are we seeing enough of Theresa May, what does this leadership means?
She's talks about strong and stable leadership but that is almost
all we have got so far.
Has she done very well for a Remainer?
She is now coming out as Mrs Brexit, people are accusing her of wanting
some sort of extreme Brexit, I would dispute this distinction
between the two.
It is such a false dichotomy and I think Theresa May
is proving fairly consistent.
She has been reliable and perhaps a little bit boring for her whole
career, she is the first prime minister who has not tried to play
it cool and she is continuing with the vicar's daughter act,
I think it is not an act, that is the point.
I think it is really her.
We have this manifesto leak and we might have expected more
hostility to it than we actually got, has something changed
in the political mood, when renationalising the railways
and restricting energy competition is something that even
the Prime Minister wants to do.
I think most people wrote off that leak of the manifesto as of no
consequence because he has no chance of winning.
In a sense, the policies do not matter.
That is part of the reason why I find this to be one of the most
boring elections I have witnessed in this country.
At the same time, one of the most important,
I think, in decades, because of the impact
on the country long term.
With the terms of Brexit being negotiated.
She has called the election just as Britain is teetering on the brink
of an economic slowdown, we do not know how severe it
could be, why the Eurozone is just taking off.
In that sense, this is the shrewd politics, get it out of the way
before things get messy.
Absolutely and it is shrewd of her to have pushed ahead
with it now.
I do wonder...
The reason why it is boring, it just confirmed the status quo
and it is a question of how big a majority she will get.
I wonder if she will get as big a majority as people are expecting
because the expectations are that it is a slam dunk
for the Tories, why even bother voting and there is a certain degree
of weariness with elections that we have had the 2015 general
election, 2016 referendum and that the turnout could be very
difficult to predict.
I would be inclined to agree under other circumstances
but the referendum politicised the country in a peculiar
sort of way.
People are politically hyperactive and they are not bored
with this, actually.
They might be bored with this particular election debate
but they are not bored with the idea of who might lead
the Brexit negotiations.
That is a matter that many people regard as a matter of life and death
and the idea that there could be any remote chance that they could be let
into the Brexit negotiations by Jeremy Corbyn, I think that
will galvanise them.
This is an extremely exciting political moment for British people,
for the first time in at least one generation they had been given
a direct say in the future of the country, the constitutional
direction it will take and they know that they will need a leader who's
going to carry them through that.
It is incredibly risky and that is why many people
who did not like the EU voted remain.
On that argument, they have that lead already, she was there
and they could have won.
She said she was planning that.
I am worried a little bit, we should not ignore
the younger generation.
I have three children and they all think differently.
And they are pro-Jeremy Corbyn.
They actually go out and vote?
They will, no doubt, I will myself.
These are three kids, they represent, I think,
a good part of the society itself.
That is an interesting change in the way voters vote,
the breakdown of the traditional alliances.
Instead of having class as the defining characteristic
of who votes for which party, it is now generations.
I was at Cambridge the other week and I will not say which college
and I was talking to a considerable number of students and almost
to a man they were saying they voted to support Jeremy Corbyn
in the leadership contest and they were ruing the day
and they regretted it.
We will all know the outcome in just under one month.
Thank you all very much for being with us.
That's it for Dateline London for this week -
we're back next week at the same time.
You can of course comment on the programme on Twitter