17/02/2017 Newsnight


With Kirsty Wark. Can Trump deliver his campaign pledges amid all the chaos?; Blair's Brexit call to arms; winners and losers of weak sterling; and are mammoths on the way back?

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Tony Blair urged the population to rise up against Brexit -


One of his most trusted lieutenants says it was electrifying.


But a leading political commentator tells him to butt out.


This is the way the American mainstream media see


the leader of the free world - howling in the wind, out of control.


But today a different Donald Trump took the stage.


Focused, even disciplined, chanting the mantra that


America is going to start winning again.


Away from all the sound and fury, a month into the job, is he actually


Also - back from the wilderness, will a hybrid mammoth and elephant -


a mammaphant - soon roam the permafrost again?


Tony Blair today set himself up as the lightning rod


for anti-Brexiteers, exhorting them to action,


that we could end up with Brexit at any cost.


In a speech today the former Prime Minister said,


"This is not the time for retreat, indifference or despair,


but the time to rise up in defence of what we believe."


He also said that a hard Brexit gave more legitimacy to the argument


He did not specify the mechanism for resistance, nor whether he


would lead any campaign, but scorn came swiftly.


Nigel Farage called him yesterday's man, while the Foreign Secretary


urged the British people to rise up and turn off the TV the next


Well Tony Blair isn't here tonight, but his former political secretary


and sometime speechwriter John McTernan is, along


with the columnist Simon Jenkins - who says Blair should butt out.


I'll be speaking to them in a minute, but first here's


Yes, the British people voted to leave Europe and I agree the will


I accept right now there is no widespread appetite to rethink.


But the people voted without knowledge of the terms of Brexit.


As these terms become clear, it is their right


Our mission is to persuade them to do so.


Is he just feeling left out, a man without a mission, trying to


re-engage? No, Tony has stood back, and I think it was finally seeing


the three line whip getting Labour MPs to vote to invoke Article 50 two


lead him to say that Labour becoming a handmaidens of Brexit at any cost,


and some needs to speak up for nearly half the country that voted


to stay in the European Union, and many people that are worried, in


many sectors, but the consequence of Brexit. At one point he says that


Brexit was the will of the people, but the people have the right to


change their mind. That doesn't make sense? Why not? If you believe in


democracy, you believe that people, if they are mature enough and


intelligent enough to be consulted about leaving the European Union,


they are mature enough and intelligent enough to change their


minds. If it becomes clear there is no such thing as a frictionless


border, if you have gone to Turkey to look at the border, or a country


in the customs union, there is no such thing as a frictionless border.


Once the reality comes in, people are allowed to change their views.


You said he should butt out, but he is a former Prime Minister, he has


some skin in the game and it seems to be he is the only one that is


going to hold the government's fee to the fire? I found it


extraordinary. This is a man who made fame and fortune from being


elected on the wisdom of the population, he certainly doesn't


believe in that any more when it doesn't agree with him. It is


undignified, beyond anything else. It is clearly the case that there


was a referendum, they voted, it was a good debate, a tedious debate will


stop a 72% turnout, more than Tony Blair ever got. At the end of it,


they decided they wanted to come out of the EU. To say they are ignorant


or ill informed, with a ignorant or ill informed when they voted for


Tony Blair to not go into Iraq? Well, there was a manifesto, but it


didn't contain the war in Iraq. You could say that we didn't know the


nature Brexit. We had a Conservative manifesto saying we would be in the


single market? There is a totally different debate about what happens


at the end of negotiation. It could be that it is sensible to have a


referendum on the final deal. At the moment is, he is saying you have got


it wrong, I want you to change your mind. He doesn't say how he will


change your mind. Does he want to tear it up and start again? It is


daft. What is he actually wanted people to do? Saying rise up, did he


want people to take to the streets, what actually would be the


mechanism? It is genuinely not very complicated. He said a lot of people


like me, many people I know that voted to stay in the European Union,


we are intelligent people and have questions. I really don't understand


how you can, when every car company in Britain has a single factory


floor, across many territories, how can you have frictionless importing?


European parts are coming in. Those are the arguments, I'm asking you


what the mechanism is to rise up. The question is really


straightforward. We need to keep asking us questions. We got a white


paper from the government, which is a D/E in terms of effort, not in


terms of quality, it is a U in terms of quality. We have to ask them


questions. The Government say it will all be OK. What if it's not?


What if we see the costs... Well, let's take Simon Jenkins's point,


that a second referendum might be legitimate in the future. It's


interesting, Tony Blair didn't even specify what the mechanism would be.


The next general election? 2020, some kind of cross-party campaign?


It could be as simple as the polls start to show that the Beau Sandland


do actually want to have a car industry in Sunderland. -- the


people in Sunderland want to have a car industry. But Nissan have


invested in Sunderland? On the basis of promises made by the Government


which are as weak as the ones they made to the Northern Ireland


Assembly. Do you recognise that maybe this is just an exhortation


for people to question their MPs? To take more of an interest in it than


they have been taking? Or do you think this has to be through a


referendum or general election? I voted Remain. Blair was saying you


got it wrong, I want you to do it again and change your mind. Go on


doing it again. He is basically saying you are stupid. Ever since


the vote, all of the Remainers, I and I am on their side, they have


gone on about how the people are somehow ill informed, stupid. They


weren't, they genuinely believed they wanted to take back control.


They might be naive, but they made a decision. It was clear what the


decision was, he should just get a life and realise it. Do you think it


is legitimate to raise the possibility that a hard Brexit will


give added legitimacy to Scottish independence? Yes. That is a


different discussion. He is raising a point about hard Brexit, which is


fair enough. But he's not saying that, he is saying you got it wrong.


I don't say how you can save you got it wrong after an election. His


point is that it gives legitimacy to Scottish independence, and the


likelihood has increased. Would you rather see Scotland independent in


Europe than out? There are no circumstances under which I would


like to see Scotland independent. For Scotland to leave, to leave a


fiscal union that transfers 10% of GDP every year, to join a customs


union were it would have to pay 2 billion a year, that is ridiculous.


They are playing with fire with the constitution. The Northern Ireland


question is not marginal, it is at the centre of this. Once Northern


Ireland goes, the whole of Great Britain falls apart. You have other


Remainers, leading Remainers, thinking it is the wrong person to


do this, he is asking the wrong questions and it is anti-democratic.


Well... Chuka Umunna, for one. When our voices being heard? If Gordon


Brown had spoken about this, we would not be an Newsnight talking


about it. Tony Blair still has a way of capturing the imagination of the


country. He made this speech and got us talking about it, that is a good


thing. The next step is to build the movement. Does he want a referendum?


He wants a chance for the public to have a second thought about this. A


referendum? It could be through a general election, it could be


through a referendum, it will not be through Jeremy Corbyn's Labour


Party. I am with Simon that there is a strong case for a vote on the


deal. That is not what he said! After the extraordinary verbal


fireworks of Donald Trump's White House press conference yesterday,


followed by the news that his pick to replace Michael Flynn as national


security adviser had declined the job, the US President


attended to business. He signed a measure to roll


back a coal mining rule of the previous administration -


a promise made in the campaign. Today he travelled to Charleston,


where he unveiled the latest Boeing Dreamliner,


the biggest to date. Donald Trump, accused of chaos,


insists that his administration is a well-oiled machine,


putting election So, four weeks in, away


from all the noise, is he actually getting anywhere with delivering


on his promises? For a man with a fresh election


victory, Donald Trump seems to have an urgent need to compare


himself with his predecessors, I don't think there's ever been


a President elected who, in this short period of time,


has done what we've done. Some of the President's posts


are easily disproved. I guess it was the biggest electoral


college win since Ronald Reagan. A quick glance at the facts


shows this is nonsense. This kind of howler,


Mr Trump's battles with the courts, and intelligence services and,


of course, the media, have rather But are we missing


significant progress I have to tell you,


I spent a lot of time Once you get out of the Washington,


DC bubble, there are a lot of people in the United States who are very


happy with Trump, happy with his style, happy


that he is really disrupting and doing what he said


he's going to do. So, it's something I would say don't


pay attention to all the media and all the polls, wait a little bit


longer to see what the American people have to say about his


presidency at this juncture. One month into his 48 month term,


Mr Trump already claims numerous In terms of changing Washington,


he has nominated a new Justice He's imposed a hiring freeze


on nonessential federal workers and a temporary halt


on new federal regulations. And he says he's negotiated


and saved money on US In trade policy, his withdrawn


from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and, he says, eliminated regulations


for some US manufacturers. On immigration, his travel ban


on seven majority Muslim countries has come of course,


been spectacularly overturned, though he has introduced a four


month ban on new refugees. He is reaffirmed his commitment


on a wall on the Mexican border and brought in a crackdown


on so-called sanctuary cities who refuse to comply


with US federal law. There have, of course,


been spectacular upsets, too. Losing his national security


adviser, Michael Flynn, and a failure to answer straight


questions on his administration's - and before that his campaign's -


contact with Russia. There are elements of this


transition that have I don't think that's unusual for any


presidential transition. If you look back to 2008,


when President Obama was first elected, there were some bumps


in the road there. So, clearly, there have


been some challenges. On the other hand, I do think that


some of this is probably overblown, in the sense that the President


is still engaging in executive action, he does still


have a functional relationship, functional at the very least,


certainly, with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell,


the Republican leaders So, I would say that the overall


assessment is that, you know, things could be going better,


but they probably could The President was in


South Carolina today at Boeing, A technological marvel,


no doubt, but nothing to do Nevertheless, a neat


backdrop for him to restate I campaigned on the promise that


I will do everything in my power to bring those jobs


back into America. We wanted to make it much easier,


it has to be much easier to manufacture in our country,


and much harder to leave. I don't want companies


leaving our country. The details of exactly how


he's going to do that, just one of many key areas


where details are still sketchy. For example, repealing


and replacing Obamacare, the new infrastructure plan


and the new tax-cutting plan, are, as yet, still just


campaign promises. The infrastructure, I still think


that there's a lot of disharmony amongst House Republicans


regarding the size If you're going to look at what's


really going to come down the pipe next, I think it's immigration,


tax cuts and Obamacare. Mr President, you've been in office


for just four weeks... The people who've always laughed


at Donald Trump have certainly had But they are not who the President


needs to worry about, And for them, perhaps,


it's still early days. Does the American media give Donald


Trump due credit for what he means? We were hoping to be joined by a


member of Trump's administrative team but with me, we are delighted


to have the former executive editor of the New York Times, Jill


Abramson. Good evening. You have seen three administrations come in


with the complexity of that. How does this rate in terms of chaos?


It's disorderly. That's for sure. I'd put it on the upper end of the


scale, but there have been bumpy beginnings. I remember covering the


new Clinton administration, in the early 1990s, and he had to go


through two failed Attorney General nominee is. And finally he got his


appointee confirmed on the third try. So that isn't that unusual, but


yet, this amount of confusion and leaking and plotting against one


another already visible inside the White House this time, I would say,


is unusual and the tholin that matter, I think, is quite a serious


one. -- and the Flynn matter. As a former editor of the New York Times,


is it hard, does it stick in the crore, of the liberal media, to give


him any credit for what he has done? Is it easier to jeer from where they


sit? I think that that is really nonsense. I think that the New York


Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal have given extensive


coverage to everything from the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the


President's meeting with Wall Street bankers last Friday. To what has


happened at the State Department, to the trade treaties. I mean the


substance of what is happening is being covered by the media. And I


would argue that Trump himself is causing tremendous distraction with


these ceaseless attacks on the media, and I think those are


overblown. Isn't it the case that it has -- that it is because the media


finds what he's doing objectionable and makes that clear, and that is


out of touch with the many millions that voted for him, that there is


now a disconnect between the liberal media in the cities and what is


going on in the rest of the United States? Well, it is clear that many


people in the United States have a lack of trust in the news media,


that has been true for a long time. That is not something new with the


election of Donald Trump. But I certainly don't agree with you that


the coverage of the substance of what is happening in the White House


is being covered by the liberal media in an unfair way. I think the


facts are being told, as they should, and the news media, the best


part of it, including the New York Times, are doing what the first


Amendment asks the press to do, which is to hold power accountable.


And that is what they are doing. I wonder, in the end, if you look at


these White House briefings and press conferences, whether actually


plays to Trump's on agenda, actually, as you were saying,


because the media is unpopular anyway, to go on the attack, and


then what happens is the media plays into that? I totally agree with


that. I think what the media has to stop doing is covering itself, and


the battle between the new president and itself, and it needs to just do


its work, follow the news, get behind the news and inform the


public. Stop being self-referential and self obsessed. Thank you very


much indeed. Since the EU referendum,


news about the economy has been seen through the prism of Brexit -


and on the whole, so far, it has Unemployment is down


and the FTSE is still strong. But inflation is up and the retail


sales figures are pretty sluggish. But the biggest change


to the British economy since Brexit The lower value of the pound


has winners and losers, Many believed that Brexit


would wreck the UK economy. But, so far, it's held up better


than the Remain camp warned. Not so for one of the more


tangible measures. Sterling has tumbled, at one point


by a fifth of its value. It sounds like a negative,


but it isn't for everyone. At the luxury end, like this boat


manufacturer, a lower pound is attracting foreign consumers


whose dollars and euros are now People have taken advantage


of the exchange rate, our boats have been cheaper,


relatively, than our Italian About 30% of our material costs,


we buy in foreign currency. So our costs, in that respect,


have gone up, and we have had to price as a result of that,


to offset it. But it's been nowhere near as much


as the devaluation of the pound, so we still remain very competitive


against our foreign competitors. The value of the pound


against the US dollar has dropped by around 17%


since the EU referendum. Currency markets don't


like uncertainty. And politics has played the most


part in sterling's movement. In early October, the Prime Minister


announced at a party conference that Article 50 would be triggered


by the end of March. There was some brief respite


when the High Court ruled in early November that a parliamentary vote


was needed to trigger Article 50, bolstering hopes in a nervous market


that a soft Brexit could be pursued. Miss May's speech at Lancaster house


in January made clear that she intends to undertake a hard


Brexit. Some speculate that the


triggering of Article 50 Top end businesses


are powering ahead. But they're also very mindful


of a lower pound feeding into higher raw material costs and,


of course, the great uncertainty surrounding a Brexit deal


that is yet to be struck. So they are still very much


dependent on high-end, luxury and discretionary spending


continuing. A day I will never forget,


the 24th of June. Straightaway, from that day, we have


noticed an increase in traffic. There was no doubt that some people


were ahead of the understanding And because of the currency that has


changed, we have seen a massive It has been a very great


and interesting story, I think you can use the analogy


of perhaps the swan. Clearly, with London luxury you have


lots of very positive noises above the surface in terms of public


realm investment, in terms of tourism, tourism continuing,


spend continuing, footfall rising. But underneath the surface they are


going to have to paddle harder. From a consumer credit perspective,


interest rates is the key thing that I think we are predicting 2.7%


inflation for this year. I think it could go


higher than that. That is going to impact


the domestic shopper in the UK. Most likely to affect our spending


habits - food prices. Suppliers and retailers are trying


to figure out how to pass on rising We're seeing already a number


of suppliers in trouble as a result of this,


unable to pass on the extra costs. So, eventually, I think


we are going to see a number but also I think we're going to see


prices in shops going up even more. It's something that businesses


all sizes are grappling with. Since June, this company has seen


the price of cocoa rise 3%, peanuts move 8% higher


and sugar is up 21%. Price rises for the key


ingredient of this business Corn prices, so far,


have been hedged. Our prices certainly


won't be going down. For us, a lot of our contracts


for raw materials come In our situation, and many


other companies like us, we're very nervous about passing


on any form of price increase. The fall in the value


of the pound has affected both And, yes, Brexit has played


a significant part in this. Pretty much the week


after the referendum we started getting the famous letters


from suppliers and Some suppliers did sort of a big


hit at the beginning. Some have kind of continued


to review every few months and send us another letter saying,


your prices are going up This week's rising inflation numbers


are unlikely to be matched So the fear is that the once buoyant


consumer is going to shy Today's retail sales show


that the pinch is being felt. So the economy can no longer rely


on the shopper to keep it growing. Finally tonight, scientists


from Harvard believe they're just two years away from bringing


the woolly mammoth The great beasts died out 4,000


years ago but they're only bodily extinct -


they're not genetically extinct. The Harvard team hopes to use


a powerful gene editing tool to splice together elephant DNA


with mammoth genes they've found The Harvard team itself are keeping


pretty schtum until they've actually But joining me now from Salford


is Matthew Cobb, Professor of Zoology from Manchester


University. Good evening. What is it that these


scientists are actually trying to achieve? They are trying to do a


number of things. They are using this incredibly powerful technique


which George church, one of the key research is involved, has been


involved in developing. This enables you to change single letters in the


DNA code to alter it in any organism at will. This is going to change


biological discovery and medicine. It is already having massive


effects. They want to introduce into the elephant genome, the Asian


elephant, some of the genes which they think help the man is to


survive in colder climate. Make them hairy, for example, or have greater


subcutaneous fat. But they only claim that they will be able to


create an embryo with these genes. At the moment, they have no timeline


on when they would actually have an elephant with proper manner genes in


it wandering around the steps. We're not going to see herds of mammoths


wandering along the Siberian Alps any time soon. But the claim that


has been made, having what they are calling a mammaphant, because it


will not actually be in an effort if it ever gets out there onto the


permafrost. What it would actually do would help counter global


warming. What did you make of that case? There are far better ways of


countering global warming. Who knows what they are going to do, Professor


Church thinks they will dig into the soil and that will help bring called


a to slow down the melting of the permafrost. I think we would be


better off dealing with the release of carbon dioxide which is


increasing temperature. That is the key issue. This is incredibly


exciting work at some level because it shows the power of this


technique, but really the ultimate thing, an elephant or a mammoth, it


is not just a bag of. It is an animal with a history under social


life than this thing would be completely separate from anything


else like it. -- bag of genes. Nothing else like it would have ever


existed. But scientists like that challenge. Yes, but ethicists and


bottle community, this is just one example of the questions that this


gene editing technique will pose us, major ethical issues we will have to


come to terms with. What are those ethical issues? For a start, an


elephant and a mammoth, it is a social organism. At the moment they


are suggesting that they will not be doing IVF on an Asian elephant. That


is possible but they are clearly concerned that if they manipulate


the embryo and implanted into the elephant, something might go


horribly wrong, it might grow too large. So they are planning, and


this is where I think it gets into the realms of science fiction, they


are planning to have an artificial womb in which they will grow this


elephant for 22 months, up to a weight of 100 kilos. I think we are


a long way off that. The problem will be that even if you are able to


do that, and Church is a pretty clever guy. Anyone who has been a


mother, or who has been close to someone who is a mother, knows that


a baby is not just a thing that is being fed. It is alive and


interacting with the mother, learning things in the win. The same


is true of an elephant or a mammoth baby. So you would end up producing


this isolated and strange organism which would have no social


connection with its kind. It would have no other kind. If you tried to


introduce it into a herd of Asian elephants, they might reject it


because it's not funny, because it behaved funny. I think given that


these are elephants and not mice or rats, there is a major ethical issue


as to whether this is the right thing to do. Thank you, Professor.


Tomorrow morning's front pages, Tony Blair gets the front page of the


Guardian. Blair's Brexit speech sparks Labour fury. And the suspect


in the Korean killing, thought it was a prank, on the right-hand side.


In the Telegraph, Blair's EU campaign is insulting, says Boris.


The former PM calls for a new movement to make the case against


Brexit. Angela Merkel defies Trump over defence budget, is also at the


bottom of the Telegraph. And then on to the Daily Express. Get us out of


the EU. As arrogant Tony Blair tries to lock Brexit, a new poll reveals


an increasing number of voters demanding to get out. And arrogant


speech sparked outrage and even some Remain supporters were aghast at his


bid to reverse the historic decision to leave the European Union. Well,


before we go ?750,000 for a stag? That's how much the national


galleries of Scotland need to raise to buy Landseer's Monarch


of the Glen and put it on display. To raise awareness for their appeal,


they brought the Monarch to life and projected him onto the outside


of their gallery. They've got until the 17th of March


to meet their target. Hello. In a moment we will look at


some other European city forecasts for this weekend. Here is a look at


how Saturday develops across the UK. A wet started Northern Ireland, the


rain clearing and into


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark.

Can Trump deliver his campaign pledges amid all the chaos?; Blair's Brexit call to arms; winners and losers of weak sterling; and are mammoths on the way back?

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