17/03/2017 Newsnight


17/03/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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is edited primarily in the morning and parliament votes in the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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coverage. Labour have tonight written to the permanent Secretary

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of the Cabinet Office asking for an investigation into whether Mr

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

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

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

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But come on editors have been bizarre people throughout history.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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gamekeeper in the afternoon. Journalists have gone back and forth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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points using a very effective platform of a big London daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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got to have been given various understandings which will be good

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

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

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

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vaguest understanding of how newspapers work. You do an

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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less experience than the messenger boy on the Brighton evening Argos

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

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

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

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

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politicians are aspiring to be journalists so what does that say

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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campaigning for the rights and pleasures of London?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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this close relationship between editor's chairs and politicians and

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

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

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

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

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about negative stories regarding David Cameron or some of his other

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

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

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encouraged to do so by the prospect of possibly embarrassing their

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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space. You give the paper away. Many thanks.

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Donald Trump has just met Angela Merkel in Washington.

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shown himself an enthusiastic advocate of the handshake.

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Sometimes they've appeared to go on painfully long.

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But today was not one of those times.

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He rejected the formal clinch with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,

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

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from press photographers - mirroring in their body language

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what we know already of their political difference.

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

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

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mean an isolationist approach to foreign policy?

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Donald Trump has been deeply critical of foreign trade

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and national security agreements, but the president suggested

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

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not pull back from the world entirely.

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His blueprint for a budget, released earlier this week,

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

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to the State Department, which does all the diplomacy.

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

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When asked today whether he regretted any of his past

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

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When he was first elected, her support for Mr Trump

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TRANSLATION: Germany and America are connected through shared values,

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

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independent of origin, the colour of skin,

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religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views.

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On the basis of these values, I am offering the

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future US president Donald Trump close cooperation.

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Chancellor Merkel, it is a great honour to

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

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What will that look like for the world?

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

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of the Europe Programme at CSIS and Constanze Stelzenmueller,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the American President is deeply unpopular at home and she was

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walking a thin line between being professional and seeking a working

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relationship with Germany's most important transatlantic ally and not

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

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

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

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

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

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

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atmospherics and ask where is the transatlantic relationship today,

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

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security, and cooperation on fighting terrorism, you see some

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

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

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

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

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

:21:57.:21:59.

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

:22:00.:22:05.

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

:22:06.:22:09.

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

:22:10.:22:13.

essentially a smoke screen for German domination of Europe and the

:22:14.:22:19.

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

:22:20.:22:21.

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

:22:22.:22:24.

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

:22:25.:22:30.

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

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

:22:35.:22:38.

quantitative easing against the violent protests of the government.

:22:39.:22:43.

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

:22:44.:22:46.

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

:22:47.:22:51.

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

:22:52.:22:55.

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

:22:56.:23:02.

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

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

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

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German investment and jobs created in America and she mentioned and

:23:16.:23:21.

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

:23:22.:23:26.

What was interesting was that he definitely was emphatic about the

:23:27.:23:30.

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

:23:31.:23:35.

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

:23:36.:23:41.

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

:23:42.:23:46.

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

:23:47.:23:50.

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

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

:23:58.:24:02.

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

:24:03.:24:07.

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

:24:08.:24:12.

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

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

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

:24:25.:24:40.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:25:05.:25:10.

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

:25:11.:25:15.

persuasive point that they have been increasing their defence budget is

:25:16.:25:19.

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

:25:20.:25:23.

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

:25:24.:25:25.

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

:25:26.:25:28.

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

:25:29.:25:35.

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

:25:36.:25:43.

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

:25:44.:25:45.

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

:25:46.:25:53.

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

:25:54.:25:57.

are other ways. The US administration could ask countries

:25:58.:26:00.

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

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

:26:05.:26:09.

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

:26:10.:26:15.

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

:26:16.:26:25.

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

:26:26.:26:27.

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

:26:28.:26:29.

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

:26:30.:26:32.

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

:26:33.:26:35.

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

:26:36.:26:40.

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

:26:41.:26:44.

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

:26:45.:26:47.

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

:26:48.:26:55.

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

:26:56.:26:58.

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

:26:59.:27:01.

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

:27:02.:27:06.

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

:27:07.:27:12.

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

:27:13.:27:16.

international prices, we are talking about a largely theoretical

:27:17.:27:22.

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

:27:23.:27:26.

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

:27:27.:27:29.

the contribution that diplomats make because they do things that you

:27:30.:27:33.

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

:27:34.:27:38.

cases or it is civilian security assistance, working with law

:27:39.:27:41.

enforcement, working with the officials who can help fight

:27:42.:27:45.

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

:27:46.:27:50.

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

:27:51.:27:54.

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

:27:55.:28:00.

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

:28:01.:28:03.

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

:28:04.:28:05.

idea. That's all from Washington for now,

:28:06.:28:05.

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

:28:06.:28:08.

those in his own party to agree to his reforms

:28:09.:28:11.

for America's healthcare. the poet and playwright

:28:12.:28:21.

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

:28:22.:28:29.

in poor health for some time. Linguistically fearless

:28:30.:28:33.

and thematically epic in scope, the Nobel Laureate and winner

:28:34.:28:35.

of most major international poetry prizes nevertheless saw himself

:28:36.:28:37.

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

:28:38.:28:40.

that the Jamaican British poet Linton Kwesi Johnson should close

:28:41.:28:42.

proceedings tonight with a recital The time will come

:28:43.:28:45.

when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving

:28:46.:28:55.

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

:28:56.:29:01.

at the other's welcome, You will love again

:29:02.:29:05.

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

:29:06.:29:11.

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

:29:12.:29:23.

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

:29:24.:29:27.

from the book shelf, the photographs,

:29:28.:29:29.

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

:29:30.:30:10.

Scotland and one will not

:30:11.:30:11.

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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