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 a very warm
welcome to Dateline London.
I'm Carrie Gracie.
This week we discuss a British plea
on European security,
South Africa after President Zuma,
and the continuing absence of
a government for Northern Ireland.
My guests this week are the Guardian
columnist Polly Toynbee,
Dr Vincent Magombe of
the Irish writer and
broadcaster Brian O'Connell,
and Thomas Kielinger
of Germany's Die Welt.
Welcome to you all.
The British Prime Minister,
Theresa May, has urged
the European Union to sign up
to a security treaty to ensure that
after Britain leaves.
Addressing the Munich
she warned that if the EU's aim
in the Brexit talks was to avoid
cooperation then the security
of all would be damaged.
If the EU's aim is to
Thomas Kielinger, is the EU's aim to
avoid co-operation and if so, why?
I have long given up to try to
figure out what goes on in the mind
of our leaders and this phrase is
totally puzzling. She seems to hold
hostage the British security
involvement in Europe to the outcome
of the Brexit talks, and she is in
no way to speak that language. She
must work for flexibility,
cooperation and so on. Any
intimation of trying to demand
something else is totally misplaced.
She is on a sticky wicket, as we
know, and there is no consensus. We
are still waiting, as was said
yesterday, for what the British
people really want, the British
Government rather. She is not
frustrated but curious. -- as Angela
Merkel said. Wells should be on the
huge of riding issue... We would
like a mutually agreeable agreement
on the Brexit conditions, until that
is sorted out there is no way for
Theresa May to threaten British
cooperation with Europe. Besides,
the whole speech about security is
beside the point.
So it is a distraction?
Absolutely a distraction.
And cart before the horse.
Very much so. The defence and
military issues are her first car
because Britain is deeply involved
in the defence of Europe and that is
uncontroversial. -- that is her
first card to play. When she is
talking about issues at the moment
do not believe our mind of what
needs to be done.
Let's open it out. Polly Toynbee,
the message that UK is a contributor
to defend in Europe and has
expertise uncovered on
Even extreme Brexiters want security
and Interpol relationship with the
rest of Europe. No doubt about that.
But even there she threw a spanner
into the works to think, ideological
league... They are so pragmatic
compared with us, the whole Brexit
conundrum is about British ideology.
To accuse particularly in the
context of security Angela Merkel
and the Europeans of this is an
absurdity and it bodes ill.
To be fair to her, she only said if
ideological... She did not say they
The question is, as G in this speech
said, which you may have done, that
she is willing to accept -- has she
said this is that she is willing to
accept the European Court of Justice
as an arbitrator on a treaty over
security? Across as one of her red
lines if she does not accept that,
it will not happen then. She must
accept with any treaty on any issue
whatever that there is always an
international adjudicator on any
trade deal wherever in the world. In
Europe it happens to be the ECJ. She
must swallow this.
And Brian O'Connell, as another
European looking in on this, do you
think the European arrest warrant
and Euro poll and all that can be
taken for granted, low hanging
We should be able to take it for
granted and people's security is
paramount above trade and everything
else, but the tone of the remarks
probably betrays the level to which
this relationship between Britain
and the EU counterparts in this
negotiation have reached, they are
really poor relationships. You must
have an independent arbitrator and
it will probably be the ECJ anything
crosses one of her red lines I think
she will have to suck it up in the
end because she will have no choice.
You cannot go into Brexit without
some form of deal on extradition and
basic things like that, and cyber
stuff and intelligence agencies will
talk to each other anyway whether or
not there is a deal. I think the
tone is very illustrative of where
things are at the moment.
Obviously, your specialism is a
different continent, a complex
patchwork security, economics,
politics, as an outsider looking at
I live in a European country today
though I am an outsider, so it
balances me what happens. I would
not be surprised and we will hear a
lot of this. What is happening is
mind games. I pity Theresa May
because she is like a tool that is
being used by both sides. One day
she says the bin to appease the
remainders and another date to
appease the Brexiters.
Not much to appease the remainders,
mostly people who voted Brexit are
Tim Tams that is the problem... The
lack of compromise. -- sometimes
that is the problem. For the country
getting out of Europe, they need to
be friendly and welcoming to Europe
afterwards. If one of these days she
can just over say things that can
end up giving Britain a bad deal.
Thomas Kielinger, another thing we
saw in the last week was Boris
Johnson the Foreign Secretary
beginning that series of speeches we
now expect from British Government
ministers. Did that go some way to
healing any of this?
I am afraid not. There is a basic
and religion in his speech where he
says, friendly, understanding people
who voted remain have legitimate
concerns about the place in Europe.
Before he came to that phrase he
said it would be a betrayal if we
reversed the Brexit decision and
there is no way we go anywhere else.
He was quite adamant that not to
give a single inch. His offer to be
nice to the people who voted remain
sounded false. Basically Brexiteers
are still in denial of the real
problems they face. Everyone is now
using a bit of words that eventually
will not prevail anyway, so we are
in a moment when as journalists we
have a hard time taking any of this
A lot of what she said in Munich is
probably for home consumption,
The outcome will be a bunch what
Boris Johnson had the political
opportunity of his lifetime if they
wanted to show he was leadership
that are real. He started off by
saying, I want to reach out and I
understand the grief and pain of the
48%. Nearly half the country... Can
only give them nothing. Hard Brexit
all the way to come out of the
single market and Customs union,
absolutely no ECJ and not a mention
of... No detail on anything.
We will come back to Ireland any
moment but first an entirely
different continent to look at the
issues of South Africa over the
After what seemed like days of
prevarication, Jacob Zuma resigned
as South Africa's president,
saying he still didn't understand
what he'd done wrong.
Cyril Ramaphosa now
takes over a country
with huge problems to solve.
Vincent, you watch
these events closely.
Can Mr Ramaphosa put
the country back on track?
Is he the man to do with the
enormous challenges South Africa
He is but he also may not be.
There are two things here. Of
course, for the question itself, I
think you need to see it in two
ways. In one way, what is it for
South Africa? The other, what are
the implications for Africa? In
South Africa, Ramaphosa could
succeed but he is somebody who came
from the workers' background and a
millionaire, who worked with Western
business capitalists and succeeded.
Now, he needs to radically reshape
his own attitudes towards what
development and economic growth is
in a country like South Africa.
Does he have a plan?
He has a country and an economy,
according to capitalist ideas, but
he does not at the moment have a
plan to share that wealth for the
90% or so of people in South Africa.
If he does not, South Africa is just
not going to work. The other side,
for me, I think another side is more
important. South Africa is
democracy. To sort out those
problems is the obligations for
Africa... Look, I come from Uganda
and I belong to a pro-democracy
group called Free Uganda and we are
struggling in my country. The leader
was in power for 35 years, changing
positions to be a life president. If
Uganda and Sudan and Rwanda and
Zaire and so many of these African
countries... Trump used a very
horrible word beginning with less to
describe them. If we can learn from
south Africa about how democracy can
help us resolve our problems, it
will be... -- Trump used a word
beginning with S. To step away so we
can build our country...
That example of South Africa must
succeed in order to provide
something for the rest of the
It needs to succeed and it does not
succeed, we as Ugandans and Africans
from other countries, we are
watching carefully and we are
telling people like the president
that look, next is you and if we
don't have a dramatic graphic --
democratic process in which we can
change things, and we are going back
to the Civil War of the battles of
I don't know what you have made
about South Africa over the past
week. We now have the ANC damaged,
legitimacy in question by going for
a two elections in two years' time.
I saw the TV pictures of Parliament
yesterday when he made his speech,
his State of the union address, and
there was a feeling of such support.
I thought that was incredible,
because I did not think that when
this final week or two began that he
was going to be able to shift Jacob
Ramaphosa, one thing is that he is a
negotiator and he was influential in
You know that game where you have a
pile of sticks and must pull one out
without the rest collapsing, it was
like that. And it is an amazing feat
to get to where he did, without a
drop of blood being spilled so far.
But he needs to now be a mediator
between, not between the political
classes and political leaders but
between the political classes, the
elites and the people. If he can
There is so much hope invested in
him. If you think that most of the
world will first have seen Cyril
Ramaphosa when he held the
microphone for Nelson Mandela as he
came out and made his first speeches
as he came out of jail. That is a
moment that anybody who was alive at
the time remembers. He is now
they're as the man carrying the
beacon for Mandela and his ideology.
It is whether he can rekindle that.
I must say it that... Remember the
mothers of the miners, he was one of
the directors of the company there.
He took the side of the employers.
He did apologise for that later.
He apologised but he is a political
leader and should have known better.
Now he is president of South Africa,
will he be on the side of the
workers and miners or will he be on
the side of business?
This reminds me of when he held the
microphone for Mandela, as Polly
said. The future of South Africa
rests as much as what happens with
the ANC that they can resuscitate
their reputation and what happens to
South Africa it self. The two are
essentially linked and we must see
whether there is a possibility of
the emergence of a new opposition
Power corrupts and absolute power
corrupts and you need a significant
opposition to make democracy.
You do and the ANC will try its best
to clean up the Aegean stables, as
it were, but we need a second
political force in the country and
it is difficult in South Africa's
case because so much rests on the
mythological charisma of ANC and it
is hard to replace that.
If the ANC messes up this one,
within ten years we will get a shift
of power. It may not be strong
enough to take power. But the voters
could opportunistically combined our
forces to fight the ANC and they
would be in a different position
Well that happen? It would
strategically make sense.
Depends what Ramaphosa does. If he
develops South Africa the way he
does business to succeed
economically but then radically
share that wealth with the rest of
the country, South Africa will be
better than Britain.
With the economy going, and it is
shocking that the growth rate is
only 1%, of a country that was seen
as one of the great powerhouses...
It is upon him to get the economy
You say, unless he does that, there
is a division between whether he
helps workers or capitalism. He must
do both and kick-start capitalism to
generate wealth and redistribute as
In the state of the union message
yesterday, it was about
accountability. If he is as good as
his words, he will be accountable to
the people, to the international
watchers and to political elites in
this country. It is important,
accountability is everything in a
democracy and we will see appears as
good as his word.
We shall leave South Africa now but
take that word accountability into
our next story.
Northern Ireland has been
without its devolved government
for 13 months now.
Does this matter?
Talks between the two largest
parties, the Democratic Unionist
Party and Sinn Fein,
to restore the status quo
have broken down,
and Westminster is reluctant
to bring back direct rule.
So, what happens next?
Brian, how serious is this political
mess, and how much does it impact
on Mrs May's Government,
who rely on the support of the DUP?
I think it is very serious and I
think it is more serious than the
press attention it has received in
British media anyway. It could not
have happened at a worse time, given
what we were talking about earlier
coming down the pipeline as regards
to Brexit. But where do they go from
here in the next...
First tell us what happened. What
was the problem? They got so
They did get close. What the talks
fell to pieces over was an Irish
language act, which Sinn Fein had
been asking for three years, and it
goes way back --. Years and years.
It goes way back to an agreement and
it is not about who speaks Irish but
about recognition of the Irish
language and the same level as
English in Northern Ireland.
When you think about some of the
enormous challenges that these two
parties have overcome in the last 20
years to get to where we are today,
it is astonishing in a way to those
who don't follow a daily to think
that we could fall down over an
issue of language.
It is not bought my people have been
comparing it to, well, they have a
language act in Scotland and one in
Wales but Northern Ireland is
different. It goes back to the Good
Friday Agreement in 1998 when they
talk about parity of esteem, and one
of the things about that is the
recognition of the Irish language
and Scots Gaelic, the problem is
that there was a deal on the table
between the DUP and Sinn Fein and
ultimately Arlene Foster the DUP
leader could not sell it to the
grassroots because they were afraid
of things like road signs in two
languages and quarters for civil
servants seeking Irish... Which
Michelle O'Neill, her counterpart in
Sinn Fein and the other side of the
table, said, well, the draft
agreement does not even have that in
It is a question of trust and
misunderstanding. But will they get
They will come back to this and they
will have to come back to this
because they cannot move forward,
Sinn Fein will not allow
power-sharing to move forward until
It is a problem of personalities in
a way? Because you look at these
I think not, the problem is that it
is not clear it is in either of
their interests to actually run the
place. In a time of extreme
austerity, why do they want to be
responsible for schools and
hospitals and all the everyday
drudgery which aid is to run a
devolved Government under
Westminster, where Westminster has
screws to such extent you get
nothing but blame? There is not
really an incentive to either of
them to them to want to govern?
Who is to blame for the breakdown of
negotiations? Whose fault is it? Is
it the DUP's Fuld or Sinn Fein's?
You could say it is the DUP's fault
because it raises questions about
Arlene Foster's inability to lead
her party. You can also say Sinn
Fein should not maybe make such a
thing of it and everything else, but
it is important that the Irish
language act be important... But he
was the thing, to go back to what
you say, the DUP one direct rule
because they can then tell the Tory
Government at Westminster what to do
because they have direct rule. Sinn
Fein I think C in Brexit the best
chance they have had in a generation
to push the United Ireland agenda.
So there are much bigger forces in
play than the question of the Irish
Also a big issue of Ireland because
Ireland and Brexit... If the Irish
do not get what they need to get,
from these things in Northern
Ireland, they can just...
I just want to pick up with the
point from Polly, because you
said... Maybe neither side wants to
be ruling right now in this devolved
assembly. But where does that leave
the British Government? Karen
Bradley, the Northern Ireland
Secretary, says she considered
options this weekend and what are
Options are she will have to take
control and there is other option.
They must do what the DUP says
because the DUP is propping up the
main Government. We must remember
about the DUP that two thirds of its
members are these extreme free
Presbyterians, the Paisley founded
Cult is a bit strong language.
I tend to refer to religions in
general as cults.
It is the largest party in Northern
It is the largest party that only
0.6% of people in Northern Ireland
are actually free Presbyterians, so
they do represent something very
extreme. In the same sense that Sinn
Fein does not really represent
nationalist views either. We have
ended up with the two most extreme
parties who do not represent in all
polls what people actually feel and
where they stand. It is a
misrepresentation of the real state
of being in Northern Ireland.
Interesting, and what is
interesting, Vincent, in the African
angle, is that Cyril Ramaphosa and
we were talking about a month ago
first played a role in bringing
sides together and inspecting IRA
arms dumps. So is there a role for
outsiders at this point?
No, I don't think he will have any
I'm not looking at him because he is
busy, but is a role for any outsider
in the Irish question?
I'm sure the European Union, but in
terms of Britain and on... I think
the role of Ireland will be
something that matters a lot. As an
African, I will say something more
antagonistic. And this is a fact. In
Africa, since independence, and
before independence, the whole idea
of our survival has been fighting
for independence. And whether we had
this peace process in Northern
Ireland, which somehow brought
people mechanically together to be
run together still within the United
Kingdom, many Africans always have,
whenever we talk about Northern
Ireland, they ask me, but why
doesn't written just leave Northern
Ireland to go back to Ireland and
become an independent country as
well? An answer to why not? Because
that is a question of history...
That history is what rules...
The rule is democracy in that if
they voted to join the rest of
Ireland we would be out in a flash.
It is a majority in Northern Ireland
But their condition and defined by
It is not defined by history.
I'm not quite sure the South of
Ireland would be happy with that
idea of being stuck with the DUP. We
have been there and I'm glad we have
won there but now that is not a
viewpoint which will solve the
current situation, I guess, not a
viewpoint which is one of those of
the current players.
Alas I am much mistaken.
It is very much a viewpoint held by
Sinn Fein. They are saying, we
stopped the fight but we have not
stopped our struggle for
One of the most important part of
the Good Friday Agreement was the
South of Ireland gave up in its
constitution its demand an
expectation that the North should
join with the South. That was a very
important making of the peace that
both sides understood.
Around this table, we will all agree
that it is a democratic process.
It is and it has kept a piece, but
we must remind people we must only
think about future.
But going back to the paralysis of
the democratic process now, Thomas?
I think if you hand back direct rule
to Westminster, that is the end of
devolution. What is devolution
about? It is about self-government
and if the parties concerned are to
be in Northern Ireland unable to do
that, what is the future of
devolution in Northern Ireland?
I think the British Government will
be very reluctant to go back to
direct rule, and they would come
under huge pressure from the Irish
Government, massive pressure from
the Irish Government. At the moment,
relations between the British and
Irish governments are affixed on the
whole issue of the border and the
revelatory alignment and all that
kind of thing and the customs union.
And I don't think they will want to
put direct rule in on top of all of
There are enough, but what is the
end of it? No direct rule...
They will go back to... They will
leave it for some weeks and come
back to the talks again and see if
they can get some kind of agreement
and go back to that...
What about the border?
It has made it worse and hasn't
helped but exacerbated up my
whole thing hanging over the
break-up of these doctors the issue
of the border.
That is coming down the pipe so fast
that one wonders whether they can
get agreement before the Brexit
thing happens. At the moment the
Irish Government is absolutely
adamant that the deal they came to
last December about regulatory
alignment, you know, if Britain
wants to leave the customs union and
wants to leave the EU they will
still have to have some form of
keeping the border open and they are
adamant about that. That is the
number-1 priority for Dublin.
That takes us back to the beginning,
which is actually where must end.
That's all we have
time for this week.
Do join us again next week
same time same place.
But for now,
thank you for watching and goodbye.