17/05/2017 Newsnight


A special programme from Northern Ireland on the general election. And Liberal Democrat Vince Cable discusses a referendum on the final EU exit deal. Kirsty Wark presents.

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Tonight we're live in Northern Ireland where the general


election campaign is being dominated by the impending split


from the European Union, which in turn is hardening


You are in the Republic and I am in Northern Ireland,


or the UK or whatever you like to call it.


We'll be debating Northern Ireland's future at the edge of the EU,


with senior figures from the main political parties here.


And here in London, parts of the Conservative manifesto


are emerging tonight ahead of its launch tomorrow,


we'll hear about their new policy on social care.


And, we'll look at the Lib Dem manifesto too.


Vince Cable will tell us whether it is about more


The general election has come at a time for Northern Ireland


Northern Ireland's political scene is entirely different


from anywhere else in the UK, but right now devolution, Stormont,


is suspended after a bust-up between the DUP and Sinn Fein,


That in turn has huge implications for Northern Ireland's voice


in the Brexit negotiations and the role of the 18 Westminster


After Brexit, and Northern Ireland voted to remain, Northern Ireland


will be the UK's only land frontier with the EU.


There are few people here who believe a hard border


would be anything other than disastrous, and the EU's chief


negotiator Michel Barnier has said categorically that said the border


issue was one of three priorities to be resolved before Britain can


negotiate a trade deal, something disputed at the weekend


Sinn Fein have used Brexit to ramp up their call


for a referendum on unification, and the EU has agreed that


in the event of a vote to unify, Northern Ireland would automatically


be subsumed into the EU as part of Ireland.


The DUP say a border poll would destabilise Northern Ireland


Once again in Northern Ireland the divide comes down to unionists


Before we debate the issues with senior figures in the main


political parties here, the BBC's Ireland correspondent


Chris Buckler explores the key issues at play in the election,


against a divide that seems to be reasserting itself.


Invisible lines in this land will soon mark where one union


This will be the edge of both the EU and the UK.


Davy Crockett is a descendant of his namesake, the famous


His farm, which straddles the Irish border on the outskirts


of Londonderry, makes him the king of a new frontier.


This is the border, you are in the Republic and I am


in Northern Ireland, or the UK, or whatever


I can shake hands with you here, across the divide!


But if this border was to go sometime in the future,


the EU has made clear that Northern Ireland could be part


Do you think that being part of the European Union would be


an incentive for people to vote for a united Ireland?


Agriculture would be better in Europe, but the vast majority


of the people will be afraid of losing what they'd get


from the British taxpayer, not what they'd get from Europe.


But Republicans believe Brexit could strengthen their case,


and support for their ultimate aim, a united Ireland.


It's only three months since the last vote here,


a bitter Assembly election that left the parties deeply divided,


Sinn Fein say they won't go back into power-sharing with unionists


unless some of their demands are met, including legislation that


would give official status to the Irish language.


If you feed a crocodile, they're going to keep coming back


That was the Democratic Unionist leader's response to calls


It fired Republican anger and helped Sinn Fein


to its best election result, however, something they celebrated


But Arlene Foster now appears to be trying to reach out,


even speaking Irish when she visited this Catholic school in Newry.


Irish is the first language of just a 0.25% of the population here,


but it's important to the students who the DUP leader


Whether you see yourself as Irish, whether you see yourself


as Northern Irish, whether you see yourself as British,


You feel more Irish than Northern Irish?


Reinforcing an Irish identity is important in Sinn Fein's push


for what's known as a border poll, a referendum vote on Irish unity.


With the heart, it's the passion, it's the love of the Irish language,


culture, and the hope one day of the reunification of Ireland.


But I don't know if this is the time for it or not.


The peace walls that divide much of Belfast mark out what are broadly


seen as Catholic nationalist areas from Protestant unionist


But there are population changes taking place here that


could have an impact on any future border poll.


When do you think the number of Catholics will outnumber


Is there a danger in overplaying the number of Catholics actually


Well, the census figures might overplay that,


and here I'm just calling to mind evidence I remember seeing


from public surveys, where I saw evidence that a quarter


of Sinn Fein voters wouldn't vote for a united Ireland just then.


Years of peace have changed places like Belfast, and that's not


Many accept that the clash of cultures here is part


One in five say they see themselves as Northern Irish.


But Tina McKenzie, who was once part of a now defunct


cross-community party called NI21, says the last election showed


voters are motivated by conflict, not compromise.


We had the biggest turnout since the Good Friday Agreement,


ten percentage points up on last time.


That's because people actually felt threatened.


There was this call from Unionists to say we might get


It pulls at the strings of people's core identity.


Modern politics in Northern Ireland is still something of


And that's not surprising, when you consider that many


voters lived through years of horrendous violence.


I was going in and out of consciousness.


Jim Dixon was seriously injured in the Enniskillen bombing.


My skull was smashed like an eggshell.


I was split from here right up to here, and my jaw


The IRA attack on a Remembrance Day service in that town 30


years ago is an event that is impossible to forget.


People today are being told a lot of garbage about "these


Nobody's changed, to get to where they're going,


If they never had started, there would have been a united


Killing and murdering people doesn't unite people.


How people see and want that troubled past to be


remembered is something that divides communities.


Legacy and issues of identity polarise with every vote here,


and that will be true once again in this general election,


with unionists appealing to their core base and nationalists


theirs, all contributing to the many reasons why there's


no strong nor stable government at Stormont.


At election time, nationalists and unionists often seem to be


But away from the heat of that battle for votes,


they need to find ways of understanding each other,


otherwise the past will continue to haunt future generations,


be they British, Irish or Northern Irish.


I'm joined now by Claire Hanna from the SDLP, Jeffrey Donaldson


of the DUP, Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd, Naomi Long from the Alliance


Party, and the Ulster Unionists' Steve Aiken.


Thank you for joining us tonight. Jeffrey Donaldson, the implication


of Brexit being at the heart of this election is that it reinforces the


divide. The DUP was the only party that voted for Brexit. That's true


but 45% of the people of Northern Ireland voted for Brexit and we get


30% normally in an election. So we are fishing in a big pond as far as


we are concerned. I sense it when I'm out canvassing, I think support


for the DUP is going to increase as a result of Brexit, I think people


are voting DUP dizzy Brexit delivered. John O'Dowd, Sinn Fein


used the spectre of Brexit to push for unification but the figures


don't add up. An opinion poll said only 22% support a united Ireland.


Are you rolling back from the idea of a referendum on unification?


Brexit is the biggest constitutional change on the island of Ireland


since partition. The figures you quote are similar to the Scottish


independence polls a year before the Scottish independence referendum. We


do not fear a referendum on Irish unity, bring on the referendum. Do


you really believe in the SDLP that there is any appetite for a vote on


unification now? I think Brexit has undoubtedly put Irish unity further


up the political agenda. All of the challenges that existed on the 22nd


of June remain about reconciliation. If Brexit shows anything it's the


division and damage of a massive constitutional question boiled down


to a yes or no answer. And divisive it was, even in the UK. We think


while we deal with a massive challenge, economic and political


shocks of Brexit, polarising it and making it through a green and orange


lenses and constructive. Steve Aiken, the UUP voted remain and are


committed to making the best of Brexit... We are a Unionist party.


You are pushing for special designation status for Northern


Ireland, what is that? We are not looking for a special status. What


we want is the best deal for Northern Ireland. We want to have


Northern Ireland not being penalised by Brexit. More importantly, looking


at the opportunities. We keep talking about the issues around


borders. We shouldn't have any borders across these islands at all.


We shouldn't have any hard borders. We should have free movement, we


should have the ability to move trade and services across. One of


the things we need to do is maintain the flow of over 1 billion euros a


week... How would that work? Let's bring in the Alliance Party. You are


a cross community party. How would there be no restrictions? That's not


going to happen if you are outside a customs union. That's one of the


real concerns. Despite the fact the country is quite divided over


Brexit, but Scotland and Northern Ireland are unhappy, we have a


government that seems to be hurtling towards the hardest of Brexit. We


would expect that they would moderate its approach to Brexit and


try and find a form of Brexit that would protect the best of what we


have in the EU while living up to the demands of a democratic vote. We


believe that we need to protect the freedom of movement we have in


Northern Ireland, not a economically and socially but it's important


politically in Northern Ireland. It's part of the expectation that


phrase from the Good Friday Agreement. Do you really believe


that the UUP's position is correct there will be no restrictions


anywhere? It's impossible. We are talking about two separate economic


units being forced on the people of the island of Ireland. And the north


to remain within the EU. When we putting together to economic units


pushed together against the will of the people bear is going to be


barriers in place. We will bring you back into the light as soon as


possible! Is a matter or LAUGHTER Coming back to you, Naomi, how do


you squeeze in here? It is a polarised position and you will drop


down a hole in the middle. Not at all. In the last election we polled


our best vote in 40 years. Politics polarises but it motivates those of


us who think that Brexit cannot be seen through an orange and green


lens. It is much of a more general issue. It affects those on the


national and Unionist sides. We need the best deal for Northern Ireland


as a whole, that is good for the UK and good for Ireland. Claire? Going


back on the special stat is, those of us that campaigned for Remainer


has repeatedly how you could marry up the hard Brexiter is with the


free movement that we need and enjoy, and we still have not had the


answer. There is already specific circumstances here and we will need


to be treated differently. One thing is for sure, the EU understands


Northern Ireland better than the UK. Do you believe that Claire is right


that there will have to be special designated status even though you


were voting for Brexit and that was what he wanted? First of all, the


idea that Brussels knows Northern Ireland better than London is just a


nonsense. Let's knock out on the head. London noses plays very well.


London funds this place. And has done for many years. The idea of a


united Ireland, and being economically viable, that is just


not sustainable. In terms of hard borders, no-one around this table is


arguing for a hard border. The only people I hear talking the idea is


not Steve and I, it is Sinn Fein. But what do you actually expect to


happen? It is like the old days, Sinn Fein talking about and Ireland


delete that united Ireland by blowing up the Dublin railway line.


That is nonsensical. But did you expect that you would vote for


Brexit and would be open borders and there would be no change, they would


be free movement of people and tariffs? We have a common travel


area on this Island, long before the EU existed. And we had a common


immigration policy. And common customs policies. We will be able to


work these issues through pragmatically. Elvis does not want a


hard border. And we need a government. -- Belfast does not want


a hard border. We need Belfast to function, to enable us to get a


special deal. Right now you are denying the people of Northern


Ireland a voice. Do you believe, without Stormont, that you will have


a lesser voice in the negotiations? Do you believe that? In relation to


the Brexit debate, the voice to listen to as the voice of the


constitutional research Council which paid the DUP almost ?500,000


to fund adverts, not here in the north but to influence your


listeners in London, through the metro. Where did that money come


from? Because it was a UK referendum, a referendum you did not


take part in. You can shout me down... The lowest turnout was in


nationalised west Belfast. Hang on, hang on. Let's not distract


ourselves with this at the moment. What we want to talk about now is


exactly what a border would look like and the impact for people on


the border, what that would be. I want to ask you this, do you agree


with Michel Barnier that without resolution on the border, they


cannot be a trade deal? Here we are, at the beginning of the


negotiations. There are all sorts of things to be negotiated. But do you


agree? Let's talk about some of the wider issues. I was down in Dublin


yesterday, listening to discussions about the Norway Sweden border,


looking at the French Swiss model, and the fact that we are on islands,


there are alternative approaches to make this happen. The UK has been a


trading nation for 1000 years and we can make it work. But the problem is


not going to be on the UK side of it, the problem is going to be the


border posts that will be imposed by the EU and the Republic of Ireland.


The Republic does not want that. The Republic and the United Kingdom want


to work together to make it work and we can make it work. Do you believe


that? I have to say that Steve's colleague was saying this week that


Dublin should basically keep its nose out of Northern Ireland's


business and now he is arguing that London and Dublin should be working


closely together to make sure we get the best possible border. The


reality is that if you have a customs differentiation, a


differentiation in terms of duty, you will have to have some measure


of being able to take a of that on the border. That may not result in


the kind of borders that we had in the 1970s, which were there for


security reasons, but no one has been able to take us to any location


where there is a border between Europe and another nation and show


us a seamless border that we should expect. It is right that we should


be concerned about that. People are talking about a different kind of


border, that what you would do is put in place essentially a land


border, a border at the airports and ports. Is that impossible? Nothing


is impossible in this day and age. We have electronic surveillance,


and... But would you like that border? We have it already. We


already have arrangements between the United Kingdom and the Republic


of Ireland where there is a massive sharing of information. Every single


day, Kirsty, people who come into Dublin, they have information fed


through to London. That is happening already. Claire, do you fear the


spectre of that hard and horrible border? I think not just for the


economy but for the intangible benefits that came with the


agreement and peace and free movement and access, to the rest of


the Ireland, particularly for nationalists but also for the


economy as well. If that is under threat, as you have outlined, a


border around the island would be the only practical way that it would


be unreasonable to expect Ireland enforce that. But hard Brexit leads


to a hard border? I think the key question has to be, it is


particularly things to do with business. It is not to do


necessarily with tariffs, it is to do with regulation. Those are the


important thing is that we need to sort out. Explain to me what would


happen. If you have cross-border business is all the time,


essentially one economy and two countries, so if you have a third of


milk production from Northern Ireland existing in the Republic, is


that a problem or is it not? Is it reciprocal? We are missing the point


here, talking about soft or hard borders. It is an economic border


and one that currently does not exist. Businesses who currently


trade across the island of Ireland do not have to pay tariffs and


customs, and they are going to have to pay those. How do you know that,


John? The negotiations have not even begun. How do you know that will be


the outcome? How are you going to get unimpeded access to the single


market? We know what the current situation is. The DUP lead us down a


pathway with their dark money and everything else, towards Brexit, but


they could not answer those questions. They do not know what


sort of customs union would be getting. But the do know that we are


leaving the customs union. But we don't know that. We have no


government, now executive. These two parties collapsed dead without


getting any strategy in place, so at the moment nobody is shouting for


Northern Ireland. Let's now absolutely turn to that and talk


about Northern Ireland's influence in the negotiations. John O'Dowd, if


there is no Stormont, then a vote for Sinn Fein is surely totally


useless, when you do not take your seats at Westminster and you have no


way to influence things. No voice, it is a wasted vote. Let me use my


voice. We are proud Republicans. We will not take an oath of allegiance


to the queen of allegiance to lean back England. No disrespect to the


Queen but I am not taking an oath of allegiance. -- to the Queen of


England. You said the same with Stormont and the council. But what I


am saying at this situation, if you do not have a voice at Westminster,


as you do not have, and you do not have a voice at Stormont because it


does not exist and it does not look like it is coming back, where is


your voice heard? Well, I think you will find that Sinn Fein's voice is


heard loud and clear across the island of Ireland, it is heard loud


and clear in London. I sat on the council with the Welsh executive and


the Scottish executive in the British government, when we had an


executive and not only were our views ignored but the views of the


Welsh and the Scottish executive. I will put this challenge out to those


parties, tell me which vote you have overturned in Westminster in


relation to Brexit. Tell me which vote you overturned. I am a proud


nationalist as well. Does John think he is a better Irishman than


O'Connell and others who found it in them to represent their people. Are


you better as a nationalist than SNP or Plaid Cymru? Do you think that


Sinn Fein are letting down the people of Ireland by not...


Entirely, particularly because they are making us all at sensualist from


Stormont at the moment. The SNP desk they are making us all abstain from


Stormont at the moment. But do you know what, we're going to have five


years of press releases. Wait a minute. I would like to be clear


that you actually think Stormont is useless. I am asking about


Westminster. Which Brexit vote did they overturn. John believes that


six MPs in Westminster could have no impact but four MEPs could change


the world? We have one councillor, should they bother. I would like to


bring the alliance in on this. Do you say a plague on both your


houses, DUP and Sinn Fein, for not sorting out this business over


Stormont? Because if this continues, if the negotiations at the end of


June fail, then you are looking at direct rule again. We are and that


is absolutely the worst thing that could happen in the context of


Northern Ireland. If John believes that the current government is


insensitive to Northern Ireland's needs and does not show respect,


what better way to place an offer to the people that he represents and


London than to have devolution operational. I have to say, I spent


five years at Westminster and it is quite possible to change people's


mines through persuasion and argument and voting. I changed the


law as a single member of Parliament. You cannot do that by


walking around talking to people in Westminster, by hiring rooms and


tweeting and sending out press releases. But you can do it if you


turn up and work with others on a cross-party basis. I changed the law


about donations. One law. I influenced more law than your party


has changed in all that time. The UUP position now on a return to


Stormont. We want Stormont back up and running. And here is the


interesting thing, in the talks that were going on just before, we were


getting close to consensus of all the parties together on Brexit. We


were working very closely. You were their job, clear was there, now only


was there. We were getting very close to actually having a document


and a policy that we could take forward. We need to get the Northern


Ireland assembly back up and running as soon as this election is out of


the way and get the executive up and running. You think that the glory


days of Stormont might be over because when you had Martin


McGuinness and Ian Paisley, who could command their communities, it


was a completely different matter, and actually it worked. There was a


magnet going like that, and it worked, but without them none of you


here has the power to reinstate Stormont properly. I do not agree


with that at all. I think four of the parties represented run this


table are ready to get Stormont up and running today. There is only one


party saying they are not prepared to go into government and are


holding the whole of Northern Ireland to ransom. That party is


Sinn Fein. Sorry, clear, let me be absolutely clear. The DUP has now,


zero preconditions for going back into government. But he refused to


make the progress required, by refusing to make the progress


required to make it difficult. We are prepared to go into government


tomorrow without any preconditions. Sinn Fein are blocking bad. And you


are letting them off the hook. Do you think we are about to get a


period of instability in Ireland? I hope we're not because if we are


going into direct rule, we need strong voices in Westminster. But we


have solved the bigger problems than this with the right attitude. Thank


you all very much. Before we go back to London, I would like to apologise


for the strange lighting. Thank you very much.


Now this evening, various parts of the Tory manifesto


The full document itself will come tomorrow, but we know


the social care policy, among other things.


Including significant changes for the winter fuel allowance. The


papers are leading on its tomorrow and they are divided as to whether


it is a middle class attack or a saving of people, as the mayor


rooted, to stop you having to sell your home for your care.


Our policy editor Chris Cook is with me.


A man who always gives us consistent light. Tell us about the care


proposals. The reason why the papers are split is because there are


already two buckets of measures here. Some giveaways, some take


aways. On the takeaway side, first of all, they are means testing the


individual allowance, and some of that money will go into social care.


Richer pensioners will not get that any more. The thing they are doing


on the takeaway side, they are saying that if you currently receive


care in your house, when you are means tested, to work out whether


you should contribute or not, your house will not count towards your


means testing, whereas previously did not because it was an asset you


were using at the time. They have also given a guarantee that if you


are living in your house or your partner is living in your house, you


will not have to sell your house to pay for the social care, they will


effectively do that by billing your estate when you or your partner


dies. If you have not been living in your house, if you were living in a


care home, the house has always counted as part of your assets and


so it counts towards the means testing, if you are very rich or you


have an expensive house. But now if you were living in that house, that


counts. Quite. But there are limits. So importantly, at the moment the


social care system can whittle away your possessions to ?23,000, that is


where the means testing stops. Now that will be lifted up to around


?100,000. The way to think of it, they want you to have ?100,000 to


pass on to your family, that is the classical way of explaining that.


This is quite a big package but we've also got some immigration News


from the Conservative manifesto. It's a best of the last ten years in


a sense. It's tens of thousands, under 100,000 again. Also there are


a couple of specific measures on reducing immigration, one of which


is a charge on employers of skilled migrants from outside the EU. They


are effectively raising taxes on people who employ immigrants.


It was the Lib Dems' turn to be centre of attention today,


with their manifesto released this morning.


A pitch explicitly aimed at not making the Lib Dems


the governing party, but the opposition instead.


They concede in the second paragraph that Theresa May will win.


But the party is the centre of attention in another way too,


because it is arguably the surprise of this campaign.


One might have thought the clarity of their position on Brexit


would have allowed them to suck up Remainer votes in large


numbers, but not much sign of that in the polls.


Maybe they can pick up particular seats, maybe the promise of a second


Before we reflect on that with Vince Cable, David Grossman has


been in Wells, in the south west, which was Lib Dem country.


This is one of the wells that gives England's smallest city its name.


The West Country was also the wellspring of much Lib Dem


success in recent years, but the waters of


Tim Farron desperately needs today's manifesto launch to get


some of the magic back in places like this.


The manifesto launch was in a nightclub in east London,


Mr Farron promised that his dream of overturning Brexit


In June last year, we voted for a departure but we did not


So I want you to have your choice over your future.


But the forecasts for his party are not sunny.


Like this part of the Bishop's Palace in Wells, there's not much


left now of the Lib Dems' once magnificent country edifice.


In 2010, they won five of the six seats in Somerset and then


the little yellow Lib Dem bird was sucked into the vacuum cleaner


Tessa Munt was the Lib Dems' MP here up until 2015.


Today, she's meeting clients at the Wells food bank.


In this month's council elections, she bucked the national trend,


winning a council seat from the Tories.


Now she's standing on the party's national offer.


The Lib Dems' manifesto promises a referendum on the final Brexit


deal with an option to stay in the EU.


There is help for home-buyers with a rent to own scheme,


a promise to reverse ?9.7 billion worth of benefit cuts, and


But what status does this manifesto have,


given even the Lib Dems say they won't win the election?


You absolutely need people like my colleagues and me to stand


there and ask the sensible questions in what is a period where we have no


idea what Brexit is going to look like on the May agenda.


We're definitely going to have Mrs May as Prime Minister,


I'm convinced, but it depends on the size of her majority.


This is Penniless Porch in Wells where beggars would hold


out their hands to worshippers on the way to the cathedral.


For Labour, Wells is a distant prospect but they claim to be making


Well, I'm out campaigning and I literally choose


deliberately places, houses that have got


And I go and challenge - why do you have a Lib Dem poster?


And I have a stack of Labour ones to replace those once I've had that


conversation and I have managed to persuade them that actually


James Heappey is the Conservative candidate who deposed


If he's looking relaxed, it may be because Ukip,


who polled 5500 votes in Wells at the last election,


are not fielding a candidate this time around.


I'm not sure we've yet found anything that people are sort


of uniting behind as a reason to switch across to vote Lib Dem.


Their offer seems to be that they want to be in opposition


and people seem to think that the general election


And I agree with them and I'm not sure that their message


is being particularly inspiring on the doorstep.


Local support doesn't always show through in a national election.


Roger Wilkins has spent 50 years perfecting the art


He likes it like he likes his government - strong.


I know Tessa very well and I said to her one day, I said, "Tessa,


the only trouble is you are one of the best MPs we've


ever had but," I said, "you want to get a new boss,"


Does the fact that the Lib Dems are saying that we should have


another chance to reconsider the Brexit vote...?


As far as I'm concerned, we voted to come out,


You can't have a vote and then go back.


So, if you want loyalty in Wells, meet Bryn and Wyn,


Voters, it seems, are somewhat more promiscuous.


And here is a list of all the candidates running


Sir Vince Cable was the Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham


until 2015 and the secretary of state for business as part


He's now fighting to regain his seat at this general election.


Good evening. Can I ask about the Tory plans on social care which are


causing quite a lot of excitement. Do you think they are going to work?


They are a more generous means test, you'd be keeping up to ?100,000 of


your house or other possessions. It doesn't deal with the immediate


problem of social care, because of the cutback in local authority


funding. That's why we've come up with our proposal of 1p on income


tax. There's an immediate crisis and it doesn't address that. They are


dealing with the long-term problem and is your analysis for some people


they are going to lose out badly. Some people are taking care in their


own home. I don't understand the basic thrust of their policy because


they've held up for eight years in an attempt to get a cross-party


agreement on the ground they were opposed to taking money from the


property when people die. It seems to be a bit of a U-turn. Does it


seem to you to be a death tax? It's your money, they are going to help


you pay your bills by lending new money against that death tax...


Lending new money against the health? You support it? We have done


in the past. What their current policy seems to be missing is the


element of personal insurance which was part of the original attempt to


get a cross-party agreement under Andrew Dill not. That seems to be


missing. They are means testing the winter fuel allowance and they will


put that money into care. You are a party supporting the triple lock. In


the past you, Nick Clegg and others have suggested it was an anomaly


that it was there when pensioners were poor, and maybe it needs to be


reviewed. Why are you sticking by the triple lock? Since the financial


crisis, elderly people have done relatively well. I don't think you


solve that problem by pushing pensioners back into poverty. Until


the triple lock was introduced we had a problem that large numbers of


people on the state pension were falling below the basic poverty


line, getting into means tested benefits, were not claiming. We've


dealt with that now because we put the pension up. You don't have to


keep it up for ever and ever, do you? I don't quite see the problem


with the triple lock. One element has been controversial which is the


commitment to 2% minimum increase. Potentially that was a problem, if


you have a world of no inflation. But we are moving away from that


world now and inflation is expected to be above the Bank of England


level. The idea of a pension guarantee seems to be civilised and


sensible. One of the issues you have is that you are trying to face into


slightly different directions to these south-western seats, quite


elderly populations in some cases, and to a slightly younger


democratic, more metropolitan and different kind of voters in other


seats. Is that why you've got the triple locked in there, to make sure


you've got something to pitch to the older voters? They are both


legitimate interests and we have a large elderly population who in the


past experienced significant problems of pensioner poverty. That


problem was alleviated substantially by a reform that the Liberal


Democrats pressed for in the coalition and we want to keep it.


Let's talk about Brexit. I want to be clear. If I'm in favour of


Brexit, and pretty strongly in favour, I shouldn't vote for the Lib


Dems, should I? There are many other issues and there are many people who


support Brexit but may not be happy with the Ukip style Brexit that the


Prime Minister has committed us to. In other words, withdrawing from the


single market and customs union. You can't have it both ways. You can't


say you should vote for us if you for remain but also if you are for


Brexit, it make sense. It's a different issue. People have had


that vote, we've had the referendum. A decision has been made to leave


and we respect that. We are now dealing with a separate problem


which is what happens in two years' time. Why are you putting remain on


the ballot when you have your second referendum on it? It doesn't sound


like you've accepted it. It does. Tony Blair had a very nice metaphor.


He said, look, we've made a decision collectively as a country by a


narrow majority to move house but we don't know where we are going. We


don't know what the new house looks like. If at the end of the day we


are left with a dwelling which is appalling and full of dry rot and


rising damp and uninhabitable, the option surely has to be of going


back to where we started. We need to leave it there. Thank you.


That's all we have time for this evening.


Tomorrow it's the Conservatives' manifesto to look forward to.


It's been a busy time in Washington too. It's being reported that former


FBI director Robert Mueller has been appointed a special prosecuted to


take over the investigation into alleged Russian influence on last


year 's election. Good night. After soaking rain across a large


part of England today, tomorrow will be drier and sunnier. These places