17/03/2017 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with James O'Brien as George Osborne is announced as the new editor of the Evening Standard.

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Mr Osborne's new job makes it onto the front page of his new paper


although the main splash is reserved for a supposed mopeds maniac on the


11. Friends of Mr Osborne have told Newsnight he taken this job because


he felt that 45, he was too young to retire and that editing a paper like


the Evening Standard is exciting, new and challenging. But who will Mr


Osborne now be speaking for? I will speak for London and Londoners


through this paper, as its editor. We will judge whatever the


government does, what ever the mayor does against that simple test, is it


good for London or not? In his constituency, 130 miles away in


Cheshire, definitely not in London, the News of the MP's new job was


greeted by some with incredulity. What? He's going to be the editor of


the Evening Standard in London? We're asking people you think. I


don't think very much of it, to be quite honest. He's not a journalist,


is it? But he's going to be the paper's editor. That's what I mean,


not a journalist so how can he be an editor. Which brings us onto the


next problem. Will you stand down as an MP. Mr Osborne says he will work


as a newspaper editor for days a week but only until lunchtime. This


is edited primarily in the morning and parliament votes in the


afternoon. You can work as many hours as you like but to do the


Evening Standard properly, you have to work a lot of hours. And I think


you should be an outsider. George as the former Chancellor is the


ultimate insider, while still being a member of Parliament. You have not


willing pushed any of that. You are party to a whole heap of things.


Journalists are outsiders, that is what we do, we question things, we


challenge things. You can't be part of too many great institutions. It's


not like he has not got plenty of other jobs as well, since being


sacked by Theresa May last July, he earned ?771,000 for public speaking


although these engagements don't seem to take too much of the MP's


time. In November, he earned ?85,000 for a speech to Citibank which


according to the register of members interests, was three hours work. He


gets ?650,000 per year as an adviser to Blackrock investment in return


for just one day per week's work. He will also get an unspecified number


of shares at a later date. He also gets ?120,000 at Kissinger fella is


the McCain is a dude, making a total of ?1.54 million which does not


include his full-time job as MP for Tatton. Among George Osborne's


Conservative MPs, the reaction to his job has not been uniformly good.


One told us it makes us all like part-timers on the make. Another


asked whether he planned to use his new position to frustrate the


government's attempts to get a clean Brexit. Even MPs who are supportive


of Mr Osborne admits that they worry about what he might have to do to


prove his impartiality as a newspaper editor. I think if you are


a Conservative MP, far for me conserve -- conflict of interest


benefiting the Conservative Party, one would hope that George won't


over correct and actually perhaps be a bit more critical of the


Conservative Party than the Evening Standard has been. And also, the


politics journalists of the Evening Standard are well-known. They are


very strong minded people. I'm not sure they are going to allow George


Osborne to interfere, and nor would he want to do so in political


coverage. Labour have tonight written to the permanent Secretary


of the Cabinet Office asking for an investigation into whether Mr


Osborne has broken the rules on former ministers taking new jobs. Mr


Osborne shouldn't, perhaps, remove his hard hat just yet.


The editors' union will be green for days a week and half a day as well.


But come on editors have been bizarre people throughout history.


Before the war, they were politicians effectively. I don't


think it is a big problem in itself. He can organise his day, I'm


assuming he will be a sort of editor in chief and someone else will run


the paper but you can't run a paper for half a day. George Osborne is an


intelligent man, he appreciates that. Much more problematic for him


I think is really whether he can be a poacher in the morning and the


gamekeeper in the afternoon. Journalists have gone back and forth


but they have not done the same job at the same time. I think it is


difficult. He is aware of this, I'm sure. It is difficult to slam of


your friend in the morning and go and talk to them in the afternoon.


He is a party politician and you can do that, you know, one year and then


be in editor and a beer but to do it within the course of 24 hours, I


think he will find it very difficult and it's going to be interesting to


see. The conflict-of-interest of the top of my head, what happens if the


cheap reporter at the standard comes in with a scoop about the unfolding


Conservative expenses problems and says, "We have traced this one all


the way back to the then Chancellor, Boss". It's going to raise a big


question as to which is his day job, editing the standard or being a


loyal Tory backbencher? I suggest that he's probably gone it's


probably going to be the former. His constituency in Tatton is being


redrawn anyway. It interests me that he has not decided to dump the


voters of Tatton already. Evgeny Lebedev has described him as a


Londoner through and through which might be news to them. It just


strikes me that he feels he has more power running a newspaper, however


many hours in the day he does so, than he does as a backbencher when


all signs of dissent are stifled by the autocracy of the Tory right and


his passion for the Remain cause and Europe, he's not allowed to give


voice to that because he's called an enemy of the people and stamped on.


Of course, he has had to leave Parliament in order to make these


points using a very effective platform of a big London daily


freesheet. Good for him. Good for him? Because it gives him the


freedom to say the things he does not have the freedom to say? From a


selfish perspective, he saying the things that I don't big enough


people are saying, and being quelled, look at the MPs who voted


to Remain who then had to vote for Article 50. Dissent is not permitted


in Parliament any more but luckily still in the press. For now! The


other question that springs to mind, Simon, is whether there is a bigger


game plan. Try to work out what he hopes to get out of this and you


Adam in most people, yourself included, achieving the editor 's


chair is in end of protests, but there's a suspicion this is the


beginning of a process but no one quite knows what that is. You are


dealing with an intelligent man who has a game plan of some sort but we


are not privy to it. I think editing a newspaper is more fun than being a


backbencher and he probably thinks that too. But where he is going, we


don't know. Is inherently not sustainable, it has to be said.


Writing to horses. These particular to horses, let's not underestimate


the sky, the fact of the matter is, he will be watched very closely for


the things that Rachel is mentioning. His own staff will be


watching him like a walk. They will be teasing him with stories about


his friend in the London's diary. It will be hell for him at times. But


it won't be dull. London's diary is the gossip column, for people


outside the capital, which has a political bent at the best of times


and will probably be more political now. What is good news for the


standard is he won't have taken this job without promises of investment


and jobs and so one because without that, you will be discredited. He's


got to have been given various understandings which will be good


for the newspaper. But that it self speaks of an understanding about how


newspapers were and I don't think it would be uncharitable to suggest


there's not a great deal of evidence to support the idea he has the


vaguest understanding of how newspapers work. You do an


editorship for half a day, you will not be the full-time editor of that


newspaper. He's got a good team there, very good people working with


him. He will effectively be the editor in chief, I think. It's


perfectly feasible. It's been done before. But as you mentioned,


resources and investment, he's not going to know where best to put the


money. People will. He will have a very close relationship with Evgeny


Lebedev, the proprietor, that is a given. That is the best security any


paper can have. What is in it for him? His long-term gain. For


Lebedev? He's got a star editor, access to people in power, things


that proprietors always love about only newspapers. Not that this is


necessarily the most popular angle to adopt but show some sympathy for


the ordinary journalist now. Forgive me if my years are slightly wrong


but how would you have felt when you are poised to resume the editorship


of the times and then it was announced Norman Lamont had got the


job? I would have been very annoyed! And someone like you, Rachel? You


might have thrown your hat into the ring for the job or similar and then


it turned out the former Chancellor can come out of nowhere? You're


right, if I'd known a few weeks ago that someone with


less experience than the messenger boy on the Brighton evening Argos


was going to take the helm of one of the largest circulation newspapers


in the country, I would have been in there like a bathtub drainpipe but


there we are. In the old days, journalist have aspired to be


politicians. In the New World order, the new, crazy world we live in,


politicians are aspiring to be journalists so what does that say


about the relative power bases of Parliament and the fourth estate? I


don't know but it is interesting that he clearly thinks he can have


more fun and more influence doing both. He's not having to dues at the


moment. It is the new politics. At risk of the list becoming endless,


he is also the chairperson of the Northern Powerhouse partnership. It


is an unpaid position but I think he is going to scrape by with some of


his other remunerations. We are all in this together. He's in his prime


job together. ?2700 per person in London spent on transport, ?201 in


Yorkshire and ?5 in the north-east. How can he represents the Northern


Powerhouse while also come as both Lebedev and he said today,


campaigning for the rights and pleasures of London?


He is now running the Southern powerhouse. And the North can


whistle. From his point of view. You had better ask him. I can sense he


has seen his future is in London. Whenever anyone says they are


passionate about anything in their state but you know they are talking


through their hat. Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested this could be a precursor


to a bid to be Mayor. I would believe anything at this stage. By


the end of this interview he will probably be the director-general of


the BBC. He could be presenting Newsnight on Monday! The 1922


committee is supposed to be out confidential conclave, it is not


supposed to have any outlets to the outside world and yet you will have


the editor of the daily newspaper sitting in it. Can you imagine he


will be under pressure to bring in scoops? We could have problems. They


should sack him if he does not! This has happened before. You have had


this close relationship between editor's chairs and politicians and


in the old days, the editor of the daily Herald was in and out of the


Labour Party office. Those with the old days. They are not overreact.


You are right to point it out, I think there will be a lot of trouble


in that area because people will be watching. On a personal level, what


about negative stories regarding David Cameron or some of his other


political allies? Can you foresee enormous tensions if the troops are


prevented from bringing their stories to the paper? They will be


encouraged to do so by the prospect of possibly embarrassing their


editor. The internal dynamics of a newspaper or a change with the


editor is in that position. I presume that George Osborne knows


what he is doing but there will be embarrassing things for them,


editors have it anyway. You speak so casually because you are immersed in


that world and he is not. If he is not, he has got a problem. We --


when will we be able to judge if it has been a success or not? It is


difficult with the standard because you do not have the normal Leavers.


If advertising craters or all the staff leave en masse... Watch this


space. You give the paper away. Many thanks.


Donald Trump has just met Angela Merkel in Washington.


shown himself an enthusiastic advocate of the handshake.


Sometimes they've appeared to go on painfully long.


But today was not one of those times.


He rejected the formal clinch with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,


and the two faced off in an awkward tension - to the shout


from press photographers - mirroring in their body language


what we know already of their political difference.


This - it was clear from the start - was never going to be a love-in.


And at the heart of it lay the question of America's broader


mean an isolationist approach to foreign policy?


Donald Trump has been deeply critical of foreign trade


and national security agreements, but the president suggested


that he was only trying to revise them to serve US interests,


not pull back from the world entirely.


His blueprint for a budget, released earlier this week,


suggested he would like a huge rise in defence spending and big cuts


to the State Department, which does all the diplomacy.


Diplomacy, as we know, not always his strongest suit.


When asked today whether he regretted any of his past


tweets about Merkel, he replied, "Very seldom".


When he was first elected, her support for Mr Trump


TRANSLATION: Germany and America are connected through shared values,


democracy, freedom, respect of the law and dignity of man,


independent of origin, the colour of skin,


religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views.


On the basis of these values, I am offering the


future US president Donald Trump close cooperation.


Chancellor Merkel, it is a great honour to


welcome you to the people's house, the White House.


What will that look like for the world?


Joining me now, Jeffrey Rathke, senior fellow and deputy director


of the Europe Programme at CSIS and Constanze Stelzenmueller,


It is lovely to have you here. Let's get this handshake or the


non-handshake out of the way. Do you think it was an arrangement or a


mistake? Who looks awkward and who looks stronger? If you look at the


greeting at the West Wing, they shook hands, came into the building,


it was an awkward moment in the Oval Office. I think that we will forget


over time. I think what they talked about and their press availability,


that leaves a lot to try and dissect. A certain coolness from


Angela Merkel does her nil disfavour at home. She knows full well that


the American President is deeply unpopular at home and she was


walking a thin line between being professional and seeking a working


relationship with Germany's most important transatlantic ally and not


making a fool of herself and I think she succeeded rather well in this


and she managed to plug in a bit of dry wit from time to time and if you


saw her bemused smile when he made that clap about wiretapping, you saw


she was relaxed as well. Where is this relationship going? Will they


do trade together? It was odd that there was no mention, almost a sort


of silence where the European Union would have been? If we peel away the


atmospherics and ask where is the transatlantic relationship today,


how was it different than it was yesterday, I think if you look at


security, and cooperation on fighting terrorism, you see some


progress. If you talk about trade, I think we are left with a lot of


questions. The President was not ready to say the words European


even, even though he heard about it from Angela Merkel and yesterday


from the Irish Taoiseach and from Theresa May who said a strong EU is


in the interests of Britain. The Taoiseach was keen to enforce how


critical that was for the Irish interest, so what is it that Donald


Trump does not want to face up to in the EU? Is it that he will not trade


with it as a body? We know from his advisers that they think the EU is


essentially a smoke screen for German domination of Europe and the


Germans are using the EU and the euro as a front for their own


national interest. I would say that portrays a certain lack of


understanding of how the EU actually works and that it works for other


countries and that Germany's options of manipulating the EU and the


currency are relatively limited. The European Central Bank has been doing


quantitative easing against the violent protests of the government.


He won't not trade with Germany or the body? He does not really have a


choice. I think Angela Merkel was quite right not to push them on this


because you are not going to have a seminar on European Union here in


front of the President and the world press. I think she will leave that


on the table as a learning process to be had. There is a G20 meeting


and the G seven meeting in the spring and I think the important


thing is that she said, do not forget that there are a lot of


German investment and jobs created in America and she mentioned and


very thinly veiled threat that if you do punitive taxes, so come way.


What was interesting was that he definitely was emphatic about the


fact he was not rolling back from an involvement in the world, that this


America first, was not an isolationist policy and he said it


quite like Nato. It is all sort of relative, but he was talking at one


stage, about arrears, is that this idea that you would get those


countries who have not paid their dues to actually pay back tax. This


idea has come up a couple of times and he does not seem to be backing


away from it. If you look at what he said, he said two quite positive


things, I am a supporter of Nato, he recognised Germany's efforts to


spend 2% of their GDP in line with what Nato has agreed, starting in


Wales in 2014 and then he said, that there are nations that all vast sums


of money for past years. That is not something that Nato leaders have


ever agreed to. There is no concept of arrears. Where this comes from is


unclear but it is certainly not going to fly. If this remains part


of the US agenda before the Nato summit... I know it goes against


everything you think. If you fail to pay your dues, they do not pile up


in Nato, it does not work that way. Could he withhold the mutual


defence... He has threatened that and he will find it does not work


and the other member states including Canada will say we do not


do it this way. Nobody is going to boot the US out of Nato! It is not


going to happen. The Germans and other Europeans can make a very


persuasive point that they have been increasing their defence budget is


since 2014, the aggression of the Russians in Crimea and Ukraine and


that they are gorged having a much higher defence budgets and the


Russians in Crimea and Ukraine and that they are gorged having a much


higher defence budgets and they can make military and it resides in the


political realm as well the board in propaganda warfare in the EU. What


you also have here is a growing political consensus that the forward


defence of Europe is defence of America. I think that is also a


changing element here that is important to keep in mind and there


are other ways. The US administration could ask countries


to raise their spending faster and there are other ways to try and move


this along. If we look at where we are now, two months into the Trump


administration, what this tells us about his foreign policy, one thing


that has become clear is that in a sense, he does not really put a vast


value on diplomacy. His skinny budget as it is called talks about


cutting the State Department, you know the State Department well, you


were there and putting more money into defence and whether or not he


gets his budget through is a different thing but for him the


State Department and that diplomacy is not very valuable, right? I think


his generals would beg to disagree. Knowing the American military, they


would be the first to say, we would always like more money for defence


but if you cut the development budget and you cut the state


department budget like this, we will be left holding babies that we do


not want to hold and we will be asked by you to solve problems that


we cannot solve. Whether it works or does not, he does with a phone call


and a tweet. There are entrenched forces of resistance. Let's keep in


mind, we are at a point where we are not yet dealing with an


international prices, we are talking about a largely theoretical


discussion where Congress is lining up in a different place. I think,


the Department of defence, including the secretary of defence, they value


the contribution that diplomats make because they do things that you


cannot ask the military to do, whether that is development in some


cases or it is civilian security assistance, working with law


enforcement, working with the officials who can help fight


terrorism and share information with the United States, things that our


military, as good as it is, things they are not trained to do. And do


not want to do. They know full well that others are better at doing it


and should be doing it. I would expect significant resistance that


and I do not expect the President have a lot of success with this


idea. That's all from Washington for now,


we'll be back on Monday as President Trump fights to get


those in his own party to agree to his reforms


for America's healthcare. the poet and playwright


Derek Walcott died this morning He was 87 years old and had been


in poor health for some time. Linguistically fearless


and thematically epic in scope, the Nobel Laureate and winner


of most major international poetry prizes nevertheless saw himself


as an avowedly Caribbean writer. It is fitting, then,


that the Jamaican British poet Linton Kwesi Johnson should close


proceedings tonight with a recital The time will come


when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving


at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile


at the other's welcome, You will love again


the stranger who was yourself. Give back your heart to itself,


to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored


for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters


from the book shelf, the photographs,


the desperate notes, Good evening. Away from the North of


Scotland and one will not


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with James O'Brien as George Osborne is announced as the new editor of the Evening Standard and Donald Trump meets Angela Merkel. Plus an SNP spokesman on the referendum row, and Linton Kwesi Johnson's tribute to Derek Walcott.

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