10/03/2018 Dateline London


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10/03/2018

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.

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Welcome.

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This is Dateline London,

the programme which brings together

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international correspondents based

here with British columnists

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who write about the world beyond.

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It's been a week in which the old

Cold War powers appear to be

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flexing their muscles, and Europeans

fear what it may mean for them.

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Donald Trump - trade

warrior and peace maker?

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Was someone in Russia responsible

for the poisoning on an English

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street of a double-agent?

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And, after Italians deliver

the political mainstream another

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drubbing, are Europe's leaders

capable of fighting back?

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With me: Yasmin Alibhai Brown,

who came to the UK as a refugee

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from a hostile country and is now

a political commentator.

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Agnes Poirier of the

French news magazine

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Marianne.

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Stephanie Baker, US

journalist writing from here

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for Bloomberg Markets.

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Ian Birrell, columnist

with the British newspaper

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The Mail on Sunday.

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A warm welcome to you all, good to

have you with us again.

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The news that Donald Trump

is to meet Kim Jong-Un,

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the North Korean leader,

to discuss reducing the nuclear

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threat surprised many.

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Only hours earlier he'd been

posing as a warrior,

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at least in trade terms -

signing into law tariffs aimed

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at repelling imports

of steel and aluminium.

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"Trade wars are good and easy

to win", President Trump tweeted.

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Six months ago, the President warned

he could unleash "fire, fury and,

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frankly, power" against Pyongyang.

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Perhaps the summit with Kim suggest

that's a war Mr Trump

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doesn't think he can win.

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Ian, is it evident that his

combination of mockery and threats

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has delivered?

No, I think obviously

the positive and optimistic hope of

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this is that two mavericks might

make a deal. But I think it's highly

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unlikely. I think the truth is,

Trump has a habit of being boastful

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and bragging and and and e-fit very

different things are happening. Here

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he has gone out on a limb, we are

seeing him grow back a bit in

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America, he has gone out on a limb

and promised this, giving away with

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one of his cards, just like with

recognition of Jerusalem. The truth

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is, they are talking about very

different things. Trump wants to see

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nuclear weapon is removed from

Pyongyang. Qian Yan will not do

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that, it is a vile state run by a

very small elite and they depend on

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the nuclear weapons for safety.

You

have been to both North and South

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Korea?

I spent a long time with

dissidents, somebody in the special

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forces with North Korea, he said

that during the sunshine policy,

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which won a Nobel Prize, they were

ramping up ideas of how to attack

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cities in the south, how to use

nerve agents, building up stockpiles

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of nuclear and biological weapons.

They are talking about very

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different things. North Korea are

talking about things such as

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demilitarisation, denuclearisation

of the Korean peninsular and a

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removal of the threat. What they are

releasing, they don't want America

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and American weapons on the

peninsula. It is a very different

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thing. People always talk, they want

to hear talks, they want to see

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people getting around the table

together. But nobody comes up with,

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where is the deal? There is no deal,

because Pyongyang will not remove

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its weaponry and can't be trusted.

And the world can't give anything to

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help.

Is Kim Jong-un playing Donald

Trump?

I think that is the fear.

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Sceptics have said that he could be

walking into a clap. And Trump,

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because he is very confident, thinks

that this is a sales job and he can

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market his way out of it. It is

consistent with the reality TV show

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formats of the presidency. That, you

know, he loves to surprise, he loves

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the unconventional, he loves to be

first to do something. In this case,

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the first time a sitting US

president meets with a North Korean

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leader. There has been speculation

in the US that this was an attempt

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to distract from a more damaging

story, this alleged hush money paid

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to this pornography star, headlines

about Stormy Daniels were dominating

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and this is a way to push those

down.

This is an actress who claims

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that she had a relationship with

Trump, but he has denied a.

His

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lawyer paid her off before the US

election. Some people are saying, if

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he can't do an airtight deal with a

pornography star, how is he going to

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do a deal with North Korea?! The

White House has suffered

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unprecedented departures in

turnover, the State Department is

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not operating at full capacity, we

don't have an ambassador to South

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Korea or an Assistant Secretary of

State for Asia. The person on point

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for North Korea stepped down in

frustration. Rex Tillerson was

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blindsided by this and not

consulted. If you are going to do a

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deal with North Korea, you do need

to prepare. Of course, diplomacy is

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better than the sort of schoolyard

taunts on Twitter, but this is a

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high risk gamble that may not pay

off.

What about Ian's point about

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mavericks, mavericks can we the

rules" we have got these two

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gorillas, really,

who are really

shaping up for a fight or a victory.

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But I disagree with what he and has

just said. We were thinking of how

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we might disagree exact but I do

disagree, over 60 years, the Korean

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Bird's Hill has been in this

situation. What was really moving

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was to see how the people on both

sides came together. They wanted to

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come together over the Winter

Olympic Games. And I think one has

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to think of a way to demilitarise

the entire zone. The US has no

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business being there anyway. And

Japan now has two rethink its own

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policies on defence. But I certainly

think that this doesn't come out of

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anything sensible like that, it

comes out of these two men, who are

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arguably the least rational and most

macho men upon the planet.

Two meant

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Yasmine is not going to invite

around 40!

I think, you know, you

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save a North Korean leader is

rational, I have the feeling he is

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pretty rational, he's ruthless --

Jasmine is not going to invite them

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around 40. I don't think Rocket

Man... I don't think he is

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ridiculous at all. The idea actually

comes from him. I like his father

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and grandfather, he's going to be

treated as an equal. You know, his

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strange family has been ruling. And

years. And the Korean -- for 70

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years. The war hasn't officially

ended. I agree with you when you

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save or is room for massive

misunderstanding. I think the

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sanctions are beginning to bite and

this is the reason why came once you

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have some time. -- Y Kim Jong-un

wants to have some time. It happened

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by former Jimmy Carter and Madeleine

Albright, it's been going on for

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decades. Each time North Korea says,

OK, we're not going to suspend...

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But I'm saying it's nothing to do

with him or Trump in that sense,

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they are playing games with each

other. They want to be whatever they

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think they can be. You are right

about the first, you know, I'm on

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telly, and always the start of my

own drama, what goes on. Ian has

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done programmes on it, and other

journalists do, what goes on in

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North Korea is just so shocking, and

we don't know half of it, really.

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I'm not defending the country, but I

do think the people of these two

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careers need a break. But we don't

talk about

China and Japan. China

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doesn't want to see the US have more

say than China. But China has been

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retreating. Usually it was the

choice, you know, the first choice

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for North Korea. So this is really,

you know, the Asian countries, how

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they going to react? They have got

something to play that.

Also, we

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must not fall for the PR of North

Korea. The reality is, it is such a

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tightly restricted country, you have

to be part of the elite even to live

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in Pyongyang, you need paperwork to

go anywhere in the country. The only

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people to come out are members of

the elite. The elite are doing very

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well there. The rest of society is

being crossed. At the core of it, it

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is the world's worst regime. It is

not just hype and propaganda. This

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is a country which runs death camps

and have been accused by the UN of

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breaking also also rules.

But the

people on both sides are desperate.

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Divided countries help nobody in the

end. Long-term, 100 years from now,

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one wishes to see a united Korea.

I'm going to be ruthless now and

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we're going to move on.

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A week ago, perhaps

as you were watching this programme,

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a man and his daughter collapsed

onto a bench in an English cathedral

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city.

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Sergei Skripal was a Russian

former double agent,

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jailed by Moscow and then

freed in a spy swap.

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He's lived quietly

in the UK ever since.

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The use of nerve agent prompted

suspicion of state-sponsored

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poisoning, not exactly discouraged

by the presenter on state television

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who warned Russian traitors -

"don't go to England, something

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is not right there".

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Yasmin, what's wrong?

Well, I think

it is... This is not a surprise. We

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don't know. I keep hearing, we don't

have the full facts. I don't even

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know if we ever will have the kind

of evidence that people need to

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prove whether it came from, who did

what. We still don't know what

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happened to Litvinenko, we don't

know what properly happened that.

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This man was killed in 2006 because

of polonium, nobody can actually say

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for certain who killed him.

The son

of the man who's just been killed by

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in mysterious circumstances last

year in Saint Petersburg. We don't

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know. But what we do know is that

Putin asked for the law to be

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changed at one point so that

traitors who had fled abroad could

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be cut down. So, I see connections

between those kind of ambitions and

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what we see. And why did they move

to Salisbury? This really is a

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question!

LAUGHTER

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It is near Porton Down, the research

establishment for chemical and

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biological weapons.

Britain is

really a magnet for all spy stories.

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There is something in the British

psyche that attracts that, but

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that's another programme. What is

striking is that you could have

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thought that this man was safe. You

know, he was a double agent, he

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admitted to his crime, he had been

sentenced and officially pardoned

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and been the object of a swap, so

everything is fine. So now they are

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digging up his wife's two -- grave

and his son.

People are wearing

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hazmat suit in case there is any

contamination.

Whoever did it, I

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think the connections are pretty

right, I mean, it's extremely

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frightening. You know, they say we

can out strike whenever we want and

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whoever we want, and there's nothing

much you can do. I have the feeling

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that if in 2006, almost 12 years

ago, if the British Government had

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reacted more forcefully, perhaps

they wouldn't have considered it

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twice before doing what they did in

Salisbury. But it's going to take

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another ten years, you know, we're

starting the major and long-lasting

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inquiry. We will know more in ten

years' time.

But we can just shut

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down their bank accounts.

This is

the point. London, the UK, has more

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power than many Western countries

because of the amount of Russian

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money that flows through London. And

so if they want to make the Russians

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pay, they've got the ability to.

And

the local MP who is a government

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minister and also happens to be in

the British Treasury, the British

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finance ministry, but something on

social media to say, there are

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financial measures, this is one of

the weapons that could be used.

They

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haven't implemented the legislation

to make the Litvinenko law take

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effect.

To seize assets even before

proof?

This would allow them to

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blacklist Russian individuals with

ties to human rights abuses or

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Russian government officials that

they have traced to nefarious

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activities. So they could push ahead

with that, and they really need to.

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And if they do, you know, narrow

down the cause of this and who was

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responsible, there should be much

stronger response, I agree with

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that. The response to Litvinenko was

not strong enough. They should

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consider a boycott of the World Cup,

which is an incredibly important...

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It is due to open this summer in

Russia.

It is an incredibly

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important event for Putin, is a his

moment on the international stage.

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That is a way to make him pay.

One

of the Government Security ministers

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were saying on Saturday morning,

someone has come onto our soil who

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has recklessly and brazenly

committed -- in nasty crime using a

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nerve agent, you have to act in

those circumstances?

There are three

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certainties. President Putin wiggles

away and finds cracks in Western

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societies and is pushing his

right-wing malevolent creed, in

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Syria he is warming and killing

thousands of people. He did the

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first annexation on European soil

and shot down a civilian airliner,

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he kills lots of his enemies. The

second certainty is that Britain

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will continue to talk tough and do

nothing. We did nothing over

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Ukraine, really, few sanctions here

and there. The third thing is very

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clear, Britain is the capital of

dirty money in the world. All of the

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money is washed here by British

lawyers, estate agents and bankers

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and sanctioned by British

politicians. If Britain wants to

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take tough action instead of

registering state-controlled Mafia

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is basically companies that are

operating here instead of allowing

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all of this money to washed through

here, Britain will do nothing and

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carry on taking the money. And it is

to our shame.

All we are about is

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money now.

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Italy's national election may not

have delivered a government yet,

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but there was a clear

winner - populism.

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Between them, 69% of voters

supported parties that have

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challenged the political mainstream.

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It isn't just Italy.

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From Germany to Greece,

from the Netherlands to Hungary,

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a consensus that held

since the collapse of

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the Eastern Bloc 30 years

appears to be breaking up.

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Angela Merkel, now that Germany

has a government again,

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albeit one from a shrunken political

centre, says she'll roll

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up her sleeves to begin reform

of the European Union.

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France's Emmanuel Macron, a rare

mainstream winner of the last year,

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even suggested post-Brexit Britain

would soon be hammering on the EU's

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door, pleading to be let back in.

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Is that a case of hubris?

Can I

unpick that narrative of doom and

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gloom and populism in golfing Europe

that you find mainly in the British

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media. I'm not saying it doesn't

exist, but if you go back since

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Brexit, since Britain shot itself in

the foot, there's this element of

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schadenfreude. They want, you know,

some part of the British media, the

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conservative part, they want

everybody else act as unreasonably.

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There was not a day passed without

an article before the French

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presidential election saying Marine

Le Pen is going to win. We want her

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to win, probably. No, she didn't,

and she was never going to be

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elected. Then Angela Merkel can't

form that coalition in September.

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Then you have all of these articles,

oh, Germany is unstable, Germany is

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unfinished, Merkel is going to go.

Of course she wasn't going to go. It

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was going to be difficult, she did

it as expected. As for the Italian

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elections. I mean, I wouldn't say it

is 70% that voted for popular --

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populism.

If they voted for 5-star

and the Northern league coalition.

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They were pro-European and very and

-- until very recently. Look at the

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electoral system in Italy, it's been

like this since the Second World

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War. I'm not surprised at all by

what's happening there, and it's not

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going to make much difference.

Forget about Matteo Renzi, once

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elected with 40% only a few back.

Things change in Italy, and that's

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not going to change. Merkel is

there, Macron was elected

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not going to change. Merkel is

there, Macron was elected, yes,

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Macron is very pro-European and 40

and like most young Europeans and

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British young people, they offer

more integration. And it's going to

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happen. It doesn't mean that, you

know, the complacency and lack of

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democracy in the European

institutions shouldn't be addressed.

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And I think there's a recognition of

that. And Brexit was a shock.

I

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think there's a real question mark

over this, you know, Franco German

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plan for closer integration now as a

result of this election. You know,

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more than 50% of Italian voters

voted for anti-EU parties. You know,

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Italy is now dominated by

politicians who have promised deep

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tax cuts, lavish spending

programmes, and who while anti-EU.

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You know, look at for instance the

plan for a banking union in Europe.

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Do you really think that German

banks are going to sign up to a

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banking union to stop Italian banks

when Italy is dominated by

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politicians that have decided to

just below budget spending open? You

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know, I think that is...

You are

taking a longer view, talking about

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50 years' time.

Right, in the

broader context you have seen the

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collapse of the centre-left across

Europe, which is really down to the

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fact that the social Democratic

parties have not defended the

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welfare state as they had

previously, and they squeezed it as

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a way of paying for, you know, the

outcome of the 2008 financial

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crisis. And this is the price.

They've allowed these Populist

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parties to come up with a similar

type of, you know, platform off, you

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know, we're going to give you, we're

going to give you a social spending

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programmes that, you know, harks

back to a decade ago, even though we

0:19:180:19:21

can't afford it. I mean, look at

Italy now. It's got the second

0:19:210:19:25

highest debt to GDP ratio in the

Eurozone. 130% to GDP. So the idea

0:19:250:19:33

that they can put shared with those

spending programmes is very

0:19:330:19:36

unrealistic.

They have to have

another election, it's not clear.

0:19:360:19:40

I'm so pleased you said what you

did, I really needed somebody to say

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that, because I'm sick and tired

of... I mean, Ukip, including this

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institution. Big up Ukip in the most

shameful way. Whereas you could

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debate?

But if you are talking about

those continental results and --

0:19:540:19:59

where is Ukip today. We saw the

collapse of the Greek left. A lot of

0:19:590:20:02

people thought that was down to

corruption and denying true

0:20:020:20:06

statistics. Dutch Labour has fallen

too, less than 6%, used to be the

0:20:060:20:11

main party of the left. The French

Socialists, 7.5%.

And the extreme

0:20:110:20:17

right as well.

The German SDP, worst

result in some two years, something

0:20:170:20:22

is going on, isn't it?

The Brexit

thing has kicked up a dust storm and

0:20:220:20:27

there is a crisis. But in the end,

good sense will prevail. I think the

0:20:270:20:33

European Commission and European

parliaments need more power. I think

0:20:330:20:36

to have a kind of, you know, a

parliament which doesn't have any

0:20:360:20:41

power, that has been part of the

problem. Reform is absolutely

0:20:410:20:46

needed. I think the European project

is much bigger than these individual

0:20:460:20:49

kind of rather spoiled people

reactions. The narrative we needed

0:20:490:20:55

to change, when this crash happened,

we needed people to say, it's these

0:20:550:21:02

bankers, these capitalists, the

worst kind of capitalists, who

0:21:020:21:04

brought us here. Instead the

populist people bring -- lane three

0:21:040:21:11

immigrants and the EU, we didn't

capture the narrative. I'm really

0:21:110:21:14

pleased you've captured that

narrative.

I think you are both been

0:21:140:21:17

very complacent. I agree on the

narrative, I think all the wrong

0:21:170:21:21

people were blamed and I don't

disagree on that at all. But let's

0:21:210:21:24

look at Europe and Eastern Europe as

well, look at Poland, Hungary,

0:21:240:21:28

Italy, Spain. You say that France

was fine because the far right

0:21:280:21:31

didn't win, but the far right where

the second choice in the election.

0:21:310:21:35

But Marine Le Pen is on the way out.

Ukip has disappeared, but of course

0:21:350:21:40

it has, it has achieved its aims and

the Tory Party has switched hard to

0:21:400:21:43

the right. The idea is that populism

has disappeared, we are living in

0:21:430:21:48

interesting times. I know it is

breaking the rule, but none of us

0:21:480:21:52

really have a clue where it's going.

It could be going in any direction.

0:21:520:21:55

The idea that we can just...

Week

and be fatalistic.

I'm not

0:21:550:22:01

fatalistic. I'd just fighting for

what I believe in, tolerance and

0:22:010:22:08

borders which are fluid. The idea

that populism isn't a threat is...

0:22:080:22:10

The truth is that we are in very

turbulent times which could go

0:22:100:22:14

anywhere, there is such distrust of

institutions, politicians, banks,

0:22:140:22:19

the church, everything. So many

illusions have been shattered.

0:22:190:22:21

That's why this is both an

interesting and a scary time.

We

0:22:210:22:25

need to fight back. We can't just

say...

We can't be complacent.

We

0:22:250:22:32

are saying, fight! This rolling over

before popular resin with the

0:22:320:22:36

history of Europe. Can't afford that

-- rolling over before populism with

0:22:360:22:40

the history of Europe.

Why the

institution is not able to grasp

0:22:400:22:45

that, and what is that, however you

want to describe it, that broad set

0:22:450:22:50

of politicians from the Christian

Democrats to the social Democrats in

0:22:500:22:54

so many continental European

countries have appeared to be

0:22:540:22:57

superfine, weak, or unable to keep

--, but answers in the way that

0:22:570:23:03

Stephanie was talking about?

I don't

think they have been supine or

0:23:030:23:07

complacent. I think, you know, when

you go around the world can actually

0:23:070:23:10

when you go around the world, people

say to you, I've just been in

0:23:100:23:14

Africa, in India, they say, isn't it

extraordinary what has been achieved

0:23:140:23:19

by the EU? Here, thousands of years

of war. It's been kind of put to

0:23:190:23:24

bed, actually. And, tough though it

is, how nationalism and pan

0:23:240:23:28

nationalism play out, this is

admired. In Africa they admired. We

0:23:280:23:35

are a bit spoiled. Because we don't

get the kind of that we see.

I've

0:23:350:23:40

been to 60 countries in the last

five years and I've never once heard

0:23:400:23:44

anyone say, I wish we had the EU!

They may like a lot of things about

0:23:440:23:48

Europe... And we are so sceptical of

democracy at a time when people are

0:23:480:23:54

fighting and dying for it around the

world, and Trump is actually also

0:23:540:23:58

being so cavalier with it and

backing autocrats and everything,

0:23:580:24:01

that is part of the problem. We

don't realise how precious democracy

0:24:010:24:05

is.

It is a generational point. You

are optimistic about younger people

0:24:050:24:10

being pro-European and wanting more

integration. There is a lot of

0:24:100:24:15

evidence from the very respected

attitude studies that they do every

0:24:150:24:18

year, the pew studies, last autumn.

It said 29% of the people that they

0:24:180:24:24

survey approved of a government in

which a strong leader can make

0:24:240:24:29

decisions without interference from

Parliament or courts. People are not

0:24:290:24:33

that bothered about democracy,

that's quite worrying, we have

0:24:330:24:35

become too complacent.

There is a

dissatisfaction within young people.

0:24:350:24:43

On the other hand, they didn't

bother to go and vote for Brexit.

0:24:430:24:46

And then they bothered to vote in

favour of Jeremy Corbyn just a sort

0:24:460:24:53

of Camilo, do something.

They did

vote. A lot more voted than they

0:24:530:24:57

were given credit by. Like I will

give you another statistic

from the

0:24:570:25:03

foundation. The least happy places

in the world and Europe and North

0:25:030:25:09

America. Where is the happiest

country in the world? Nigeria.

It

0:25:090:25:15

shows that the idealism that has

existed in lots of likely places,

0:25:150:25:19

there is optimism in lots of part is

in the world. But in Europe and

0:25:190:25:23

North America we are struggling to

see it when we have things that

0:25:230:25:26

others are fighting.

0:25:260:25:30

Thank

others are fighting.

0:25:300:25:30

Thank you

others are fighting.

0:25:300:25:30

Thank you all

others are fighting.

0:25:300:25:30

Thank you all very

others are fighting.

0:25:300:25:30

Thank you all very much.

others are fighting.

0:25:300:25:34

That's it for Dateline

London for this week.

0:25:340:25:36

We're back at the same

time a week from now.

0:25:360:25:39

You can tweet us with your comments

on the programme - @bbcshaunley.

0:25:390:25:42

Goodbye.

0:25:420:25:46