18/01/2012 Newsnight


Plans for a new airport on a peninsula in the Thames Estuary will be included in a formal consultation on UK aviation. Is so-called 'Boris Island' actually going to happen?

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Gootd good evening, British planes helped secure the skies above Libya


in the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi. Were British forces deployed on the


ground as well. The air war we know about, but tonight we piece


together the cland desTyne missions of some of the country's most


secret soldiers. Our investigation reveals Britain


did have boots on the ground in Libya, with details of who they


were and what role they were meant to play.


The Conservative MP, Rory Stewart, and a writer are here to discuss.


This man tells us how British Secret Service agents came to call


on him while he was being held in one of Colonel Gaddafi's prisons.


Why, please explain to our tax- payers, should we pay a single


penny to clear up the mess left by Silvio Berlusconi?


Our economics editor ask the Italian President the question on


the nation's lips. And does the well being of a bunch


of birds justify beginning the Mayor of London's pet project, of a


new airport. This is where Boris wants to put


his island. But is this really about building a new hub airport


for the south-east of England, or building up the mayor's chances of


being re-elected? The British involvement in the


campaign to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi was a very public one, or


rather part of it. The use of RAF aircraft was very public. The


fighting on the ground was said to have been done by Libyans. But


Newsnight has learned that British soldiers were on the ground in


Libya, alongside the anti-Gaddafi forces. Our defence editor reports.


Britain's secret war in Libya evolved in fits and starts. But its


architects believe it helped finally to tip the balance in


favour of the Libyan revolutionaries, enabling them to


seize the country and capture Gaddafi.


Colonel Gaddafi said he would hunt you down like rats, but you showed


the courage of loins wae, slut your courage.


-- And we salute your courage. success, we learned, did involve


deploying the SAS on the ground to help. But the tale of how they got


there wasn't simple. The Libyan revolution started in


February last year. Very quickly the Libyan Armed Forces split, and


the leading rebels set themselves up in Benghazi.


The British Government soon decided to send a rescue mission to the


desert of southern Libya. It involved RAF Hercules aircraft, and


a dozen marines of the sea squadron Special Boat Service. Ministry of


Defence showed the mission, but not the commandos there to secure it.


On the 27th of February, they founted three flights to take 150 -


- mounted three flights to take 150 foreign oil workers, 20 British,


from southern Libya to Malta. we got on to the plane there was


two locals attacked the plane with large knives and machetes to try to


rip the tyres. The special forces challenged them told them to stop,


and fortunately somebody tackled them, brought the guys down and


took them back. In the footage of the taxiing


Hercules in halt at that, a clue appeared to the next phase of the


operation. A special forces Chinook helicopter awaiting its mission.


For in the chaos engulfing Libya, the Government decided to back the


National Transitional Council, or NTC, and work for the overthrow of


Gaddafi. There speaker, it is clear this is an illegitimate regime,


that has lost the consent of its people. Our message to Colonel


Gaddafi is simple, go now. The next phase of the operation involved a


highly sensitive unit of British special forces, made up jointly of


the SAS, and SBS, it is called E Squadron, and operates closely with


MI6. Early in March six members of E Squadron boarded a Chinook


helicopter, with two MI6 officers and flew to a place near Benghazi.


They were going to meet rebel leaders. Why do it that way when


there was a British friget in a harbour nearby. Apparently MI6


wanted to avoid going near any British symbol of power. But the


mission turned into a fiasco reported worldwide. A British


diplomatic team detained by rebels in Libya has been released. Despite


carrying everything needed for a covert mission, from civilian


clothes to a variety of passports, the British had been nabd by armed


local farmers. E Squadron had become unstuck almost immediately


the British ambassador was left to plead with the NTC to release them.


I hope to ask Mr Jalil if he might be able to intervene to help us


clear up this misunderstanding, if there is anything we can do to help


explain who they are and what they were doing. After this public


embarrassment, British special forces were closed out of the


picture for months, we have been told. But the visible commitment of


planes and ships was growing. A couple of weeks later, France, the


US and Britain started bombing Gaddafi's forces. And the stakes


were raised again for the Cameron Government.


It was time to send a properly accredited team to Benghazi to


liaise with the NTC. By April, half-a-dozen army officers in plain


clothes and intelligence people, were actively working in Benghazi


to build capacity. An embryo defence ministry and a command


structure. They operated in Benghazi, Misrata and near breing


ga. But they were unarmed, and -- Breg a, but they were unarmed, and


their main aim was getting Libyan units working to some sort of plan,


and save them from being hit by accident by NATO.


That happened a couple of times and we filmed these NTC units marking


their vehicles with identification symbols, as a response.


The poor record of these men led British liaison officers in


Benghazi to argue for people able to raise their performance.


The UN resolution that authorised NATO bombing specifically pro-hib


bitted ground troops anywhere in -- prohibited ground troops anywhere


in Libya. What about ground troops and special forces. We have learned


that the National Security Council, shortly after the bombing started,


tasked military chiefs to look at the feasiblilty of a train and


equiff mission to the Libyan rebels. Publicly, meanwhile, ministers


shyed away from talk of boots on the ground. This is not British


ground combat forces going in. That's what the people mean by


boots on the ground. We are very clear about the United Nations


resolutions. They forbid any foreign occupation of any part of


Libya, we will absolutely stick to that. The road to sending British


special forces back into Libya lay via Qatar. The emrate had taken a


strong stance against Gaddafi from the outset. Visits from British and


French military chiefs, led to a joint mission being established.


Special forces from all three countries would be sent to Libya,


to assist with training as well as co-ordinating their command, and


NATO air strikes. The French would go to the west, the British to the


east. By August 20 men from D- squadron were rating in small teams


in places like Breg a and Misrata, as well as training base in


southern Libya. The air strikes had gone on for months, many had


predicted doing it from the skies alone might not work. It has become


a much more difficult fight, much more difficult targets. As I have


observed in recent days, essentially it is very much


stalemate-like in the vicinity of Brega. Within days of the new teams


moving into action, the NTC was fighting its way into Tripoli,


assistance from Qatar and France seems to have been particularly


important here. But the Misrata units being helped by the British,


were soon forcing their way into Gaddafi's home town of Sirte. At


this point the British would not give weapons, but it did help the


Libyans with radios and other equipment to co-ordinate air


strikes. France and Qatar did send weapons, including, we have been


told, Milan anti-tank missiles like these. As the revolutionaries


fought into Sirte, NATO air strikes were pivitol, they were co-


ordinated by the British, including men on the ground. Were they


involved in the final drama as Muammar Gaddafi was taken and then


killed by the NTC? That's a subject that everyone


remains tight-lipped about. Though they do say that within weeks of


Gaddafi's death, the special forces' presence was being wound


down. The architects of the joint UK-French-Qatar operation insist it


graves coherence, organisation and drive to the revolutionary ground


forces. Integrating the Qataris and Jordanians in the operation was


also vital. Without them and their defence chiefs' leadership,


especially the huge understanding they brought to the campaign, it is


unlikely that the NTC's militias could have successfully acted as


the land element, without which the right outcome would have been


possible. The role of special fores and MI6 in this process is still


not publicly -- forces and MI6 in the process is still not public


knowledge. It extended the British involvement in the Libyan struggle,


to a greater degree than Government statements had suggested. In a


moment two people who spent some time in the Newsnight studio during


the Libyan war and in Libya during and after, the Conservative MP,


Rory Stewart and the writer and journalist, Nabila Ramdani. First,


Mark Urban is here, this is significantly different from what


we were told? William Hague was talking in the conflict about the


UK's desire to stay within the terms of res Luis. This is


something that exercise -- resolution. This is something that


exercised Whitehall for months. Lawyers from various departments


were sceptical it could be done. Eventually it was done. Finally the


troops that went in, the two dozen from the SAS from August on wards


were armed. Where as the earlier missions the mentoring, consultants,


went in plain clothes, unarmed. significant a contribution was it?


Well, it is easy to argue this both ways. A lot of people would say


that even after the fall of Tripoli, and even Sirte, that those gangs of


men in their pick-up trucks and heavy machine guns and the rest of


it, were a wild, unco-ordinated and indisciplined lot. However, they


had achieved their objective, it was important, I think, for the


countries that backed them, that, if you like, they wanted to bank


some of the political influence that came from helping them achieve


their objective, the qar tar defence force chief claimed --


quart tar defence force chief claims hundreds of Qataris were


involved. The French want it known that they armed. The British hoped


by being involved in that way they would buy influence in that new


Libya. Do you think they want it made public? I can't say that is


what the Government wants. Rory Stewart and Nabila Ramdani, to what


extent do you think the revolution is tainted by this sort of


discovery? It is absolutely tainted by this sort of discovery. I think


Mark's report is fascinating, but sadly, not in the least bit


surprising. What the discussion should be all about is not so much


military intervention, but illegal military intervention. The use of


British special forces in Libya shows that the British completely


ignored the United Nations resolution 1973. In many ways. Not


just by sending special forces on the ground. But the resolution was


breached by sending arms to the rebels, by training them, by


equipping them with communications, and crucially, the breach of 1973


also resulted in Libyans dying on a daily basis.


Rory Stewart, do you think there was a breach of the UN resolution


in this? I don't believe it is a breach of the resolution. The


resolution is about occupation forces on the ground, not small


covert operations. It says no force of occupation? I disagree. What


1973 absolutely does not authorise is elite foreign troops from a


western democracy, interfering in the internal affairs of an


sovereign Arab country. Let's not forget that. Remember that


thousands of people died in Libya in spite of western intervention.


So the Libyan conflict was all about ousting an Arab regime which


had fallen out with the west, just a few years after dealing with the


west over everything from oil. don't think he was a tyrant?


course he was a tyrant. Fine. it is not up to elite troops from a


western democracy to oust him. you were in favour of the air


campaign? I was in favour of military intervention, when it was


abundantly clear Gaddafi was threatening a bloodbath in Benghazi.


What I was disagreeing with was the form and shape of the military


intervention. I'm all for legal intervention, when it is fair and


transparent, but illegal intervention is something that is


morally wrong. I think the other thing, to put it in proportion,


this is a very small intervention, you are talking about 20 people.


doesn't matter how small, we were misled about it. Public claims were


made that there were not British soldiers there, and there were?


Foreign Secretary is very clear, he said when boots on the ground are


talked about,'s talking about large forces. Britain has intelligence


agencies, we have special forces, we did, as we know, in Afghanistan,


and on a small scale in Lybia, and in a very cautious way. Unarmed


initially, very few people, no arming of the rebels. That is


perfectly within the resolution. arming of the rebels. The British


didn't. That was left to the French and Qataris. They were part of the


NATO coalition, they are responsible. We are not responsible


for France. For breaches of a fundamental UN revolution. We are


not responsible for France or Qatar. You are, I think UN resolutions are


designed for a specific purpose, to intervene when there is a specific


threat in real time. That was the case in Benghazi. What it doesn't


authorise is to settle scores with an Arab tyrant which had fallen out


with the west. What is all this talk about settling scores? Let me


be clear, Britain was, one day Britain was serving Gaddafi's


enemies on a plate for torture, and the case of Belhadj. We will talk


about that in a moment or two, we will be talking to him. But


settling of scores, you said? saying one day Britain was serving


Gaddafi's enemies on a plate to him for torture, and the next day it is


using its finest elite troops to support them and lead them to


victory. Do you agree it did at least change


the nature of the conflict. Clearly, once embarked upon, it was


unconceivable that Britain, France and those who supported them would


allow it to have anything other than the outcome they sought?


it is very important to see the context there. Bribe should be


congratulated for showing restraint, not arming the rebels, not going


beyond of the terms of the resolution, it is hard to do. It


was successful because we didn't get carried away. One of the ways I


question Mark's report, there is suggestions that the military felt


their hands were tied too much. In this case it is correct to tie the


military's hands. Vietnam started with a few advisers, and ended up


with 500 though troops -- 500,000 troops, it was right we restrained


it. Any support would have been fine provided it wasn't too overt


or expensive? It is fine if it is within the terms of the resolution,


not committing atrocities, and in the end we have the Libyan support,


we got the balance right. Doesn't transparency matter? Enormously,


but I also think a nation should have a Secret Service, special


fores and isn't obliged to reveal on television everything it is


doing all the time. I don't think Britain would benefit from doing


that. Let me ask you this, do you think the outcome in the end


justified the means? Not at all. It is far too simplistic. You would


rather Gaddafi were there? Not at all, it was very important to


intervene militarily, to stop the fear of a bloodbath in Benghazi.


Once it was achieved, it was morally wrong to take sides in a


civil war, to lead a faction of the Libyan population to victory.


take up that point you raised a moment or two ago. The inquiry,


supposed to discover whether people working for the British Government,


might have colluded in torture might have been abandoned, or the


judge supposed to be carrying it out put it, it is not practical for


the inquiry to continue right now. The lawyers and civil liberties


activists representing the alleged victims are delighted, they said


the inquiry was inadequate from the start. The police investigations,


meanwhile, are continuing, into two cases, including that of Abdel


Hakim Belhadj. The Libyan commander who took Tripoli, but who spent six


years in Colonel Gaddafi's prisons, after, he claims, the British


helped capture him. Earlier I spoke to him in Tripoli and started by


asking him what he would like the British Government to do now.


TRANSLATION: First of all, we wanted the British Government to


apologise for what it did against us. And for the injustice against


us, and the mistakes made against us. Especially from the British


Intelligence Services. To apologise for the hidious crimes committed


against us. And now the case is taking its course, and we would


like those behind this crime to be brought to justice and put on trial.


Can you be certain that the British people you saw when you were in


prison, knew you were being tortured? TRANSLATION: The document


found at the Intelligence Service headquarters clearly points to the


implications of the British Intelligence Services. Those were


unjust people, they didn't respect human rights. What has been


revealed, and the documents clearly indicate the impli cakess of those


people. It exposes their actions, the crimes against myself and my


family. When you were being held in Libya under Colonel Gaddafi, did


any British people come to see you? TRANSLATION: It was a year-and-a-


half before I saw someone. people who came to see you, men or


women, what age were they? TRANSLATION: As far as I can


remember the team was led by a lady. She was accompanied by a man in his


50s. The two members from the British Intelligence Services came


to see me. Did you tell them you were being tortured? The room was


monitored, they eves dropped on our conversation. However, I gave them


the message that I was being tortured. They understood the


message. I clearly understood the message I was trying to give to


them. I was mistreated, I was psychalogically tortured. They gave


me signs that they goat the message. Were you physically tortured?


I was held was not fit for a human being. It was a sell, I was


deprived of daylight for a year- and-a-half. I couldn't see the sun.


I couldn't bathe. I couldn't have a shower. That carried on for over


two years, for two whole years. My wife was ill-streeted as well.


She's still suffering -- ill- treated as well, she's still


suffering psychological problems. Unfortunately the Libyan and


British Intelligence Services contributed towards this. Have the


British police been to talk to you in Libya since your country was


liberated? TRANSLATION: No, I have not met any British, any British


police personnel. Would you be willing to come to the UK to give


evidence? This matter is in the hands of my legal team, we are


discussing it, with regard to the location. I'm leaving this in the


hands of my legal team. After what happened to you, how do you feel


about Britain? First of all, regarding the British people, I hab


bour no ill feeling towards these people -- harbour no ill feeling


towards these people. Because relations between the people last.


I harbour ill feeling towards those implicated in my ill treatment, in


my suffering, in my operation. Those who contributed towards this


act, years of suffering and the treatment of my wife that was


pregnant at the time. Those people who harmed me also harmed their


people. I hope that relations between our two countries will


improve, will be consolidated and will be based on mutual interest


and mutual trust. I harbour no hatred and all I hope for is that


justice will take its course and the law will prevail. Mark Rory


Stewart and Nabila Ramdani are still with us. These are murky


waters? They are, the case underlines the danger to Britain to


its reputation international, to its Secret Services, all of rest of


it. Of these extraordinary changes, these advertise of - the forces


were -- after 9/11 they became enemies, according to his


allegations the UK helped Gaddafi get his hands on Mr Belhadj. Now we


find the situation...Even According to documents unearthed in Libya.


The British said as much? They aimed to cliem claim credit for


doing so. Now we have another situation, that is a danger with


backing the NTC, in way we have. If there is a further change in


direction, or the country descends into lawlessness, once again, the


UK could be held responsible for that. How embarrassing do you think


the revelations are? Hugely, it brings into sharp focus the extra


ordinary hypocritical and ambiguous Britain had with libia. Meanwhile


the intervention in Libya was wrapped in positive PR, we were


sold the military intervention as if they were offering humanitarian


reasons, and for the promotion of human rights. That is very cynical.


You wouldn't dissent from the fact it is highly embarrassing, would


you? If these allegations are true it is worse than that. It is


disgraceful. It illustrate that is our whole policy was short-term,


chaotic, ethically questionable, over a period of nearly 20 years.


Earlier you were saying it is right every nation has Secret Service and


special forces and everything not disclosed on television, this is


what happens? If you have a Secret Service, you have to watch them


very carefully, and special forces, it is not a license to do whatever


you want. The ethical rules need to be clear. Why are you shake your


head? I want to pick up on an important point by Mark, if a


western approved democracy doesn't take off in Libya, by which I mean


giant corporations ex exploiting oil and gas to vast profits, I'm


sure covert operations will continue in Libya, and western


Governments will select another Government. They seem happy with


the National Transitional Council, as we saw with Gaddafi


relationships can change very quickly indeed. You are shaking


your head? I disagree with it. We are not involved in some grand oil


and gas conspiracy. The problem with British policy over the years


it has been short-term, and crossing ethical lines. It is not a


grand global conspiracy. We have heard the Trade Secretary saying to


British businessmen specifically, pack your suitcases, we have heard


the same from the French Foreign Minister. The NTC made it


abundantly clear it was willing to reward the western Governments


involved in the conflict. The oil and gas argument is perfectly


viable. Supposing things don't work out


with the NTC for whatever reason, then it would be absolutely right


would, it not, according to your analysis, that this country pursues


its own vital interests? I think we have vital interests. We have also


to respect international law and not go around torturing people.


That is a sensible conclusion. Thank you very much.


British tax-payers will not be spending large amounts of money


keeping the euro afloat, we know this because the Government has


told us so. Yet today it emerged that the


International Monetary Fund is scrabling around to find another


$600 billion or so. Britain will be asked for a health kwhree whack of


it. This will not be -- healthy whack of it, this will not be for


anything as pretentious as propping up the euro. Paul Mason asked the


Italian Prime Minister. The Italians seem amused to have in


charge of your country, who is seen everywhere else, as a buffoon,


explain to our tax-payers why we should pay a single penny to clear


up the mess, left by Silvio Berlusconi. To my knowledge, my


country has not cost a penny to the UK so far. Nor visa versa as I'm


aware of. At least in the present historical phase. I believe both


Italy and the UK are huge beneficiaries from the single


market and European integration. You make some personal observations


that I respect. That was about a recent Italian Prime Minister. I,


however, fail to see the connection between your characterisation of


his personality, and the international burden for the UK


tax-payers. Paul Mason is here. How much are we on the hook for? Today,


the IMF has come to the international community and said we


want to more than double our lending power to a trillion dollars.


That means it needs another $600 billion. That is huge. And most of


it, or a lot of it, will be earmarked to save Mr De Montfort's


country, Italy and also -- Mr Mario Monti's country, Italy and also


Spain. We will be on the hook for $ 150 billion We're being warned


there is negative growth figures for the lest of this year. Last


time they tried to get an IMF increase through parliament was bad


news, they had a rebellion. It would be quite difficult for them


to do it this time. The Americans are saying they are not


participating and giving anything to the IMF, as a result of today's


call. The Greeks say they are on the


verge of writing off their debt? Rembering the middle of last year


and standing amid all the teargas. One was being phoned up by people


in the European Union saying if Greece writes off its debt, partial


default, it will be a Lehman-style moment. Six to nine months, we have


got to a position where there is enough resilience to try it out N


the 48 hours we will see a -- in the next 48 hours we will see a


deal. If we get to Friday and it has happened, and the French


banking system hasn't gone up in smoke, and a huge credit event


triggering all kinds of activities in the insurance markets, that will


be a good thing. It has been the thing that we have been fearing for


the best part of six months, we are on the eve of it. That is another


part of it. The step towards resolution for the eurocrisis.


won't be good news if you have Greek debt? It is going to be


halved, that is what they are haggling about. The market is


acause tomorrowing itself to that happen. Most Greek debt is held by


Greeks and Greek banks. The hope and fear in Greece is it won't


solve anything. It might solve the ticking timebomb we were told about


last year. Someone is taking Boris Johnson seriously, according to


London, he's seriously interested in the scheme he has been


supporting, for a massive new airport in Kent. He hopes to say


like Christopher Wren of St Paul's, "if you want my memorial, look


about you". This being Britain nothing will happen imminently.


There is a better than even chance, if it will happen at all.


1234 He started slow and small with the Boris bike, not a bit bigger


and quicker with the Boris bus. But now the Mayor of London wants to go


global and at jet speed. A new airport in the Thames Estuary. It


is not here yet, but this is propossessioned site of Boris


Island. That is the -- proposed site of Boris Island. That is the


Medway there, the proposed island in Kent. First things first, don't


call it an island. Don't take my word for it, here is the mayor's


description of his shining vision. I'm more of a peninsula. This is


what it could look like, 150 million passengers a year.


According to the aviation industry, we do need to think big, if we want


to attract flyers from new emerging markets, like China and Brazil?


Heathrow is at 99%, Gatwick is a similar figure. If you look at


Amsterdam or Frankfurt or Paris, they have four runways, Amsterdam


has six. Those airports with four runways, run at 5% capacity. That


means when there is -- 75% capacity, that means when there is disruption


the whole system doesn't collapse. There is catch-up. You can't have


a% runway utilise laigs, that is why the hub is constrained.


There is a few problems with the Thames Estuary, there is the wreck


of the HSS Richard Montgomery, it sanction with tonnes of explosives


on board. That would have to be moved, as, presumably will all the


boards. According to the RS PCB, this is a wetland of rare birds.


200,000 birds coming here to winter. Would you really want to be sitting


on an aircraft, taking off at the end of the runway, where we are


standing now, through thousands and thousands of birds, it is not safe.


It is not in line with the Government saying it wants to be


the greenest Government ever. development needs, it has always


been a balance between development and conservation needs. Sometimes


you have to pay a price. Why not here? Where do you draw the line.


We have lost 50% of the wetlands in the wild in the last century. This


is one of the last best pieces of wetland habitat in the country.


some the most significant fact in this is 2012 is an election year in


London. Boris Johnson wants to be elected mayor again. He knows the


people out here, who would be affected by a new hub airport,


don't vote in the elections. Over there there are millions of people


in west London, affected by the noise of Heathrow, and worried


about its expansion. Well they do vote. The trouble with Heathrow is


it is a great airport, but you can't indefinitely keep expanding,


it is in the wrong place. 25% of all people in Europe who suffer


from aviation noise pollution, live around Heathrow. So if you are


going to expand your capacity, and business is making that case very


powerfully to Government. George Osborne is off in China, he


understands very clearly the need to communicate with the big growth


economies of Asia and Latin America. If you are going to do that, then


you have to look elsewhere. Last month's Feltham and Heston by-


election, right on Heathrow's doorstep, through up interesting


results, which Boris can't fail to Conservative strategists think a


policy of shifting the airport could be decisive.


When do you expect it all to be under way? This does look a little


bit more like electioneering, when you talk to the Lib Dems. Any


announcement this side of the election would need their approval.


This is Norman Baker, a Lib Dem and transport minister. See if you


think Boris is going to win him over? We do not support the


building of a new airport and will do our best to stop it. There may


be powerful arguments in favour of a new airport, it is true the


Government is about to hold a consultation on the UK's airport


capacity, looking at all of the options. However, the flurry of


interest today in Boris Island. More of a peninsula. Sorry, Boris


Peninsula", seems to have more to do with the London election


timetable than anything else. We are joined by the Lib Dem L Ron


Hubbard, and Jon Moulton, a venture capitalist. Are we really deciding


on an airport because Boris wants to be re-elected? Yes. That is not


a good thing? No. There is an unequivocal case to be made for it,


leaving aside to whether Boris Johnson is up for election? It is a


pretty tough case to run easily. Other than a rather special


circumstances that Boris is in. It is hard to see this being


politically wise. There is an awful lot of opposition and very little


for this idea. You are in favour of it? I'm not. I think there are


better alternatives. The third runway at Heathrow is not good, but


it is better. Linking up Gatwick and Heathrow has lots of problems.


That is better than the idea. the Government says it won't do the


third runway at Heathrow, what could they do? They could change


their minds t has been done before. As long as you are part of the


coalition l this happen? I don't think it will happen. -- Coalition,


will this happen? I don't think it will happen. This is very much a


Boris election gimmick. I have been talking to lots of Conservatives


today, who think the idea is as daft as the rest of us. It is about


Boris but the need for more airport capacity? If it was about, that you


would see the department for transport being involved in this,


having done some work. You are against it full stop, against the


idea of any further airport capacity? I'm against expansion in


the south-east of Britain, I don't think it makes a lot of sense, from


an environmental perfective. basics are we are maxed out at


Heathrow, unless we deprive the locals of sleep, which is pushing


it a bit far. We are losing our strength as an international hub I


think there is three destinations for Heathrow in China, there are 15


in France. We are losing our share of flights because we don't have


any xas fee at Heathrow. We need a -- capacity at Heathrow. We need a


greater capacity at the hub airport. The only way to do it, extend


Heathrow, quicker, painful for people in the airia. Link up


Gatwick and Heathrow, that has spare capacity. That costs money,


nothing like the amount of money that is needed to build the estuary


airport. You think we need greater capacity? It would be good for the


economy, and probably outweigh the significant downsides that come


with it. Whiels you are in Government, however -- whiels you


are in Government, however long it lasts, there will be no expansion


of capacity? We will be clear, The coalition agreement is clear,


welling not move away from that. John has an accurate decribing all


the problems with possible solutions. In my view they outweigh


the benefits. We have to reach climate change targets, that means


not investing in damaging projects like these. The problem with you is,


we can't believe a thing you say. This was in your manifesto, no


third runway, and similar commitments, as was a commitment


not to increase student fees? have been very clear that we will


stick with it. This is one you will abide by? Speaking as someone who


voted against fees. Bully for you, has Nick Clegg given you an


assurance that he means what he says? The Department of Transport


doesn't seem to be backing it. If you look at what they are saying.


What do you care about what the department of transport thinks,


isn't it matter of principle for you? In this case it seems the


department for transport isn't supporting it, the local MPs aren't


supporting it. John said there are very few people supporting it, we


will stick to that. How worried are you about


politicians not investing in infrastructure in this country?


Quite serious. The cost of this airport, lowest amount in the press


is �30 billion. Moraleity is probably nearer �80. The Government


is planning to spend �8 billion on all the traffic infrastructure,


that is the amount in the last budget. We need to spend more,


improving our infrastructure is one thing that works for the future. We


have to choose the right things, we have to do things that we can done


fairly quickly Boris says this one six years, it is the same


likelihood of me getting an her receiptry peerage. It is a 20-year


project if it is a day. Is there something about the way we run


these things, the way politicians look after their interest, that is


integral to infrastructure planning? This is a 20-yor project


and we have five year elections. If you are -- 20-year elections. --


this is a 20-year project and we have five-year elections. Many of


the other things they are suggesting is sensible, increasing


the investment. Extra rail to link up ports properly, that would be


good. That would be faster and cheaper than this. I think it would


provide more benefit. The problem is the same, you guys are living


from election to election, and these things take years and years


to put in place? Indeed, that is something we have to resolve. The


interaction of the media with politicians shortens the time scale


with 24-hour cycles. The fact you guys haven't the guts to make a


decision is some how the media's fault? We are increasing, for


example, on rail investment, the Autumn Statement announced �1.4


million in rail investment. That is more than the Victorian era.


Politicians are beginning to take those decisions, we will continue


to do so. I hope we will be able to have more.


Has Nick Clegg given you an assurance? That there will be no


expansion of airports in the south- east? That is the clear manifesto


commitment, there is nothing to suggest anything else. There is


further work. An air strategy coming out. I don't believe that


will be an outcome in the south- east. Boris's antics today, with


his flights of fancy, have made it harder for his case. There is a lot


of issues about whatever we do. One of the problems building any of


these enhanced capacity in the south-east, is it will further


increase the regional divide. Lots of issues here, this idea is just


being flouted for electoral purposes nothing else.


Cynicism in one so young! The That's more than enough for now. I


will be back tomorrow with among other things a discussion on


whether maxim has anything to offer the world. Good night.


Good evening, mild but cloudy across southern areas with


outbreaks of rain. Further wet weather in the morning. Some


sunshine for a time, a scattering of hours, becoming more frequent


during the second half of the day. Wintry in the top, to the Fells,


the Pennines, gusty winds attached, but dry and bright weather. For the


Midlands, East Anglia and southern England. After the clouty and wet


standard we have here, by the afternoon most will be dry. Sunny


spells. The winds coming from west or north-westerly direction. It


will be gradually bringing in colder air t won't feel as mild as


it did in the morning. A few showers flowing into north and west


Wales. Continuing to see hours on and off during the day. Brightness


between, a little bit wintry on the tops of the hills. More significant


amounts of snow for Scotland, higher and central ground of


Scotland. Good covering in places, still some gaps in the snow showers,


continuing into Thursday night. As you look on Friday to the northern


Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman leads on the news that controversial plans for a new airport on a peninsula in the Thames Estuary will be included in a formal consultation on UK aviation. Is so-called 'Boris Island' actually going to happen? Why do we need more capacity? Newsnight asks if the news has more to do with this summer's mayoral elections than the future of UK's airports.

Also, Mark Urban has the untold story of how British efforts to help topple Gaddafi were not limited to air strikes. On the ground - and on the quiet - Special Forces soldiers were blending in with rebel fighters.

And on the day that Mario Monti paid a visit to Number 10, Paul Mason has the latest on the Eurozone.

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