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