10/11/2017 Newsnight


10/11/2017

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


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Well, we have a firm date,

but right now do we have deadlock,

0:00:030:00:07

especially over the question

of the Irish border?

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We speak to the former

Taoiseach and an architect

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of the Good Friday Agreement.

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If you put a physical border back

across the island of Ireland,

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you're certainly giving a huge

incentive to those

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that want to cause mischief.

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Tonight, after Boris' big mistake,

what is life like in prison

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for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe?

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Her husband speaks to

another woman who was

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incarcerated in Evin Prison.

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I was arrested twice. And both

times, I was put in solitary

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confinement in Evin Prison.

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Letters to a female Labour MP

which may spell even more trouble

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for fellow MP Kelvin Hopkins,

already suspended from the party

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for sexual harassment claims.

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And, to discuss another torrid

week for the government,

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I'm joined by our political panel.

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Good evening.

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Today we passed the halfway point in

Brexit negotiations.

In 504 days and

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28 minutes, we will exit the EU.

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There has been a definite ramping up

of the tension in the Brexit

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negotiations and the stakes when it

comes to Ireland's future.

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Yes, the EU is demanding that the UK

spell out what it will pay Brussels

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when it leaves in 2019 in two weeks

or face more delay in talks

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on future trade ties,

but it is the EU's insistance

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on an "all island approach"

for Ireland where there appears

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to be most friction tonight.

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And that friction also extends

to relations between the Government

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and their partners, the DUP.

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So is this an intractable

problem that could scupper

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the whole negotiations?

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Here's Chris Cook.

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The hardest question in the Brexit

talks is about Northern Ireland.

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Money remains a major sticking point

in the negotiations, but we know how

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we can fix that. There is no simple

way out of the Irish question. Let

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us say Britain is no longer in a

customs union with the European

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Union. That will let us strike trade

deals with third countries who have

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no similar deal with the EU. But the

EU needs to be able to stop goods

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from that third country flowing into

Northern Ireland and then into the

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EU via the Republic. Further, what

if we decide to divert from EU

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rules, so goods in our markets no

longer meet all EU standards?

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Ireland need to be able to check

stuff and may be turned back before

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it gets into the market. So they

need a border. Now, everyone says

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they want to avoid that. A hard

border would be a major economic

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burden, especially for farmers, and

could undermine the peace process.

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The EU appears to be shifting

position. In September, they said

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the onus to propose solutions which

overcome the challenges created on

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the island of Ireland remains on the

United Kingdom. A solution was up to

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us. There has been talk of answers

involving Customs technology and

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clever application of EU rules. We

want to be smart border that no one

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would notice. But a leaked document

from the European Commission has

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shown a changing tack, saying it is

essential for the UK to commit to

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ensuring no emergence of regulatory

divergence from those rules of the

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internal market and the customs

union in Northern Ireland. That is

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significant, a radical idea that has

been pressed by Dublin is now

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seemingly the preferred plan of

Brussels. This would be a big deal.

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Northern Ireland would in effect be

treated as part of the EU customs

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union and single market to eliminate

the idea for a hard border, but that

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would require four in effect customs

arrangements of goods travelling

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between Great Britain and Northern

Ireland, something the UK says is

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unacceptable.

We respect the

European Union desire to protect the

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legal order of the single market and

the customs union, but that cannot

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come at a cost of the constitutional

and economic integrity of the United

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Kingdom.

So could a British

government reliant on DUP virtually

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separate Northern Ireland from the

rest of the UK? If not, it needs to

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find a plausible plan to make that

border as soft as possible. Dublin

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has a veto on taking talks forward,

and on any final trade deal.

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A short time ago, I spoke to

the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

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He was one of the architects

of the Good Friday agreement

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along with Tony Blair and served

as the head of the Irish Government

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for over a decade.

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I began by asking him

whether he thought a hard border

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between the Republic of Ireland

and the North was now inevitable.

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Well, I think the issue is fairly

clear that it's impossible

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to have an invisible border,

or a border that is controlled

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by technology, if you are not

in the single market.

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The argument today is that the EU

have come to the conclusion,

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after 12 months of looking at this,

that they believe that to stay

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in the single market,

and to stay in the customs union

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is the only way you can

avoid totally a border.

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Of course, the difficulty for

that is that the British government

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don't agree with that and the DUP

don't agree with that.

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The Irish government do.

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It is a difficult position and I'm

afraid nobody has worked out how

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you can get the circle to work

and cover everybody's point of view.

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But do you think the government

in Dublin is foursquare behind

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the other European countries'

position on this?

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Yes, there is no doubt about that.

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I think throughout the negotiations

right throughout this year,

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the EU position is one position

and the Irish government

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are locked into that.

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Are you telling me that the Republic

of Ireland would vote with other EU

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countries for a deal that

included a hard border,

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and all the implications of that?

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No, I think it's just not feasible

for the Republic of Ireland to agree

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to the reinstallation of a hard

border after 20 years.

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The ramifications of it from trade

and business, from agriculture,

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from all of our other sectors

of industry big and small,

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are bad enough, but the difficulties

for the ongoing peace process,

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we have enough problems with that,

but for the Irish government

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to agree to putting back a border

is not something that

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is likely to happen.

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So in your view, then,

the only way to work this

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is to have an internal border

in the UK to take in

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ports and airports?

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Well, you know, the one great

thing about Europe is,

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it has always been good at finding

solutions to complex issues.

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Sometimes people say

they fudge these issues,

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but I think that's unfair.

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I think over the last 40 years,

many difficult situations,

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they have found ways

of formulating solutions.

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And this issue of the Irish border

has been well and truly discussed.

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You of all people, then,

might know what might

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happen on a hard border,

you know, a former

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Taoiseach and architect

of the Good Friday Agreement.

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What would be the impact

on peace, a hard-won peace

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in Ireland with a hard border?

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I think it would be

a huge setback for us.

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The idea of putting customs checks

up and security checks,

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I don't think we will ever go back

to the watchtowers or the huge

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security presence, I don't think

anyone is suggesting that

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and I don't think that will happen.

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But the idea of having anything,

at the moment, I can leave my house

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in Dublin and be in Belfast

in an hour, 40 minutes.

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You don't see a security

person anywhere.

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And you have traffic duty now

and again, but there are no

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difficulties or problems.

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To go back into putting the physical

border back in place in any way,

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it will undermine, I think,

so much of what our successive

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governments have done

from Tony Blair and my time.

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Of course, the people

who have been drinking

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the champagne will be dissidents,

because they will see

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this as great for them,

it will give them a target again,

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and it just would be so disastrous.

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The amount of effort that has

been put in by so many

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people to avoid that,

and to consider going back

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to that is unbelievable.

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I don't think anyone wants to do it.

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You are saying that might lead

inevitably to a return to violence?

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I don't think so.

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I think 98 or 99% of people

on the island of Ireland

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on all sides do not want to go back

to violence, but I have to say,

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if you wanted to try and find a way

of giving those who want to do it,

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and there is the 1%,

that 1% can be very dangerous,

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we see it all over the world,

you don't need many people to cause

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mayhem and destruction

and devastation, so you certainly,

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if you put a physical border back

across the island of Ireland,

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you're certainly giving the huge

incentives to those

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who want to cause mischief.

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Is there a scenario here

that is more likely to lead

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to the reunification of Ireland?

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I think that issue is now more

on the agenda than it was before.

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As a result of Brexit?

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Yes, from the result of Brexit.

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And there are more people debating

it in college debates now.

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I know, I've been asked

to several of them.

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People are actively looking

at what shape would it be,

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how would it happen?

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My own view is that there will be

a time to discuss that.

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It's not now, because we still have

the institutions not up and running.

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We still have too much

of an unsettled climate

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to be having votes on it,

but I think inevitably

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in the Good Friday Agreement,

a border poll is part of the clauses

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in it, and I think

Brexit brings it closer.

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Closer but not too

close, in my view.

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In a way, the Republic of Ireland

should understand the majority

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decision in the UK to take back

what they see as

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sovereignty from the EU.

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Do you respect that decision?

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Of course we respect that decision.

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You are entitled, or the UK

were entitled to have the vote,

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and they have made that decision.

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But I think the UK have

to understand that by making that

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decision, they have made a hell

of a mess for us, and they have

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an obligation and responsibility

to help us find a solution,

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and so far on the border issue,

they haven't done that.

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Bertie Ahern, thank

you for joining us tonight.

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The MP Kelvin Hopkins,

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who was suspended from the Labour

Party

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over claims of sexual

harassment, tonight faces

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further allegations,

this time from the Labour MP

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Kerry McCarthy.

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She says she is speaking out

to support Ava Etemadzadeh,

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who asserted that Hopkins

sent her an inappropriate text

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and rubbed his crotch against her,

accusations that he denies.

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Kerry McCarthy, who says Hopkins

began paying her unwanted attention

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in 1994, and continued to do so less

than two years ago,

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has produced a cache

of letters and cards from him.

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Chris Cook is here.

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What is this all about?

One of the

things Kerry McCarthy has said this

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evening is that the problems with

Kelvin Hopkins, as she relates them,

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were not very tangible. "If I told

anyone, it would just be gossip

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instead of a complaint"

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anyone, it would just be gossip

instead of a complaint". But it is

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inappropriate, the way he has

behaved. She has come up with stuff

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that she feels is germane to the

investigation into the conduct of Mr

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Hopkins, now an independent MP since

Labour suspended him. We have one of

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the letters here. Here is a quote

from it. He sent her a note while

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she was a sitting MP. "I Dreamt

about you the following night, a

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night dream -- nice dream. You

remain a very attractive woman". Mr

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Hopkins himself has said that if Ms

McCarthy had raised a complaint with

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the Labour Party in the normal and

fairway, he would of course

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cooperate with any investigation.

But he appealed on behalf of himself

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and other individuals and their

families that these matters should

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be dealt with by proper due process

and not what he describes as an

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unfair trial by media.

Chris,

thanks.

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Boris Johnson has been

in the headlines and the heat

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for his dreadful gaffe

about the British Iranian prisoner

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe,

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opining that she was training

journalists in Iran

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rather than on holiday

visiting her parents.

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His words, no matter his retraction,

may result in an increase

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in her five-year

sentence in Evin Prison.

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But what about Nazanin

herself in all this?

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How do we know what she is

going through just now?

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John Sweeney has been talking

to other women who have been

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imprisoned by the Iranian regime.

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I last saw Nazanin when she

travelled in March 2016. This man's

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wife is incarcerated inside one of

the worst prisons on earth.

Nice to

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meet you.

This woman knows what it's

like, because she has spent time

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there, twice. What was it like?

It

was not easy to go there when you

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had not done anything wrong. I was

put in solitary confinement for a

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few weeks. I was arrested twice.

Both of the times, I spent the whole

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time in solitary confinement.

Was

the hardest thing about being in

0:14:250:14:30

solitary confinement?

The most

difficult thing is, you are left

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alone there for days and for some

prisoners for months, by yourself.

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The most striking thing is how to

spend the time.

Richard Ratcliffe's

0:14:450:14:52

wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was

visiting her mum and dad in Iran

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with their little girl, Gabriella,

when they were seized by

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Revolutionary guards last year. She

is serving five years for allegedly

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trying to topple the regime. Then

the clown Prince of British politics

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put his foot in it.

If we look at

what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was

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doing, it was just, she was simply

teaching people journalism, as I

0:15:160:15:20

understand it.

The regime has leapt

on Boris' mistake as proof of

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Nazanin's guilt.

TRANSLATION: Boris

Johnson's unplanned admission that

0:15:250:15:33

some Iranian journalists were taught

by Nazanin was a gaffe that the UK

0:15:330:15:39

Government could and cover-up.

Boris

may be in trouble, but what is life

0:15:390:15:45

like for Nazanin inside Evin Prison?

She has undergone solitary

0:15:450:15:47

confinement. It is usually made

worse by extreme sensory

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deprivation, known in Iran as white

torture.

0:15:510:16:01

You put inside a cell so you are

given two blankets.

This woman knows

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what it is like only too well.

There

is a light here up to the roof which

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is a very bright light. It is on for

24 hours. So you have to get used to

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sleep under a very, very bright

light. And you have to remain silent

0:16:210:16:30

all the time.

What was the longest

time you spent inside the cell

0:16:300:16:36

without talking to a human being?

Ten days. I remember when my

0:16:360:16:42

interrogator called me, he told me

that it's been quite a long time

0:16:420:16:47

that you have not been interrogated,

isn't it? And I said, yes. He said

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that's why I'm now calling you

because he said I know that your

0:16:510:16:58

concentration is not good. You would

need someone to talk, and he was

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right.

Another Evin white torture

veteran is a journalist. His memoir

0:17:030:17:15

inspired John Stewart's film Ros

Water.

I'm not sure what they want

0:17:150:17:23

for Nazanin's release but I'm sure

they want something in return. The

0:17:230:17:27

worst kind of psychological torture

for Nazanin is being away from her

0:17:270:17:33

daughter, who's in the same city as

her, but she cannot see her. Just to

0:17:330:17:39

imagine for a mother not to be able

to see her young daughter, that must

0:17:390:17:44

be intolerable.

Labour cannot cry

shame too loud. Jeremy Corbyn took

0:17:440:17:51

£20,000 from Iran press TV,

appearing on the channel. But

0:17:510:18:01

incredibly, after more than a year

in the job, Britain's Foreign

0:18:010:18:07

Secretary has yet to meet Richard

Ratcliffe. Why hasn't he met you?

0:18:070:18:11

It's a good question. I think the

Foreign Office is always trying to

0:18:110:18:16

downplay Nazanin's case. They have

said behind closed doors keeping

0:18:160:18:20

quiet is the best thing and we have

always had tension where I have said

0:18:200:18:24

listen, I think putting it out in

the media, this is an injustice, the

0:18:240:18:28

clearly this is stated to a wider

audience, the more that will win

0:18:280:18:33

out.

Boris Johnson can do well to

remember that

0:18:330:18:46

politics is not just about who's in,

who's out, who will climb the greasy

0:18:510:18:54

pole. It is also about ordinary

people who may find themselves in a

0:18:540:18:56

dark place, and if you use the wrong

words, then their lives may be

0:18:560:18:59

crushed.

Boris Johnson's poor choice of words

0:18:590:19:00

is one problem this week.

0:19:000:19:04

I am joined now by Tom Newton Dunn,

the political editor at the Sun,

0:19:040:19:07

Polly Mackenzie, Nick Clegg's former

advisor and Stephen Bush,

0:19:070:19:10

the New Statemans's special

correspondent.

0:19:100:19:11

Good evening to you all. First of

all, let's begin with Bertie Ahern

0:19:110:19:15

and the words of warning tonight on

a hard border, and that idea that

0:19:150:19:21

there is 1% who could make this very

difficult. Is it your hunch that

0:19:210:19:27

like Bertie Ahern, something will

give in the next month on Ireland?

0:19:270:19:31

Think this is the worst crisis which

could hit the Brexit talks. This is

0:19:310:19:35

between a rock and a hard place now.

There is no way the British

0:19:350:19:42

government could succeed two state

system and no reason that Lee over a

0:19:420:19:51

car can go back. Leo Varadkar is

under his own political threat from

0:19:510:19:56

Sinn Fein. New Irish elections could

come round the corner any minute and

0:19:560:20:02

he will lose seats to Sinn Fein who

will beat him up unless he goes

0:20:020:20:06

hard.

If he goes hard and the EU

decides to push for this hard border

0:20:060:20:12

which she doesn't want, we end up

with their hard border in Northern

0:20:120:20:16

Ireland. Will this ever happen?

The

problem is the policy aims can only

0:20:160:20:22

be achieved with a hard border. If

you leave the customs union, you

0:20:220:20:27

have to have a border check. The

fact that at some point there will

0:20:270:20:30

be an election means it is never in

the override car's interest to turn

0:20:300:20:37

around to the government and go...

You could have predicted in a way

0:20:370:20:41

that this would happen because it

was never going to fly?

People did

0:20:410:20:48

predict. And ever since the

referendum people have been

0:20:480:20:52

explaining it is not possible

without putting a hard border in the

0:20:520:20:58

Irish Sea or between Northern

Ireland and Ireland and that is

0:20:580:21:01

politically unstable. Theresa May is

reliant on the DUP for her majority

0:21:010:21:06

and they have a fixed position.

At

the beginning there was no sense

0:21:060:21:11

when Theresa May called an election

there was no sense that she would

0:21:110:21:16

end up in thrall to the DUP?

It is

not just about the DUP. There is a

0:21:160:21:21

strong majority of about 50 or 60

Tory MPs who could not allow a two

0:21:210:21:27

state system, it is not about the

DUP. It is unconscionable for a

0:21:270:21:35

British Prime Minister to halve the

Northern Ireland under control...

0:21:350:21:38

But they come up with wacky ideas

suggesting that block chain will fix

0:21:380:21:44

the problem.

Ultimately, the success

of peace in Northern Ireland was

0:21:440:21:49

about parking the issue and allowing

people in Northern Ireland to have

0:21:490:21:53

an identity and they could be as

British as they liked or as Irish as

0:21:530:21:56

they liked. The second we voted to

leave, that was torn apart forever.

0:21:560:22:01

And then we have as Polly said,

these essentially science-fiction

0:22:010:22:05

solutions have been coming out.

We

have obviously had another issue

0:22:050:22:12

tonight with allegations about

Kelvin Hopkins, is there a sense now

0:22:120:22:16

at Westminster, and particularly for

the younger generation, that they

0:22:160:22:20

are per to speak out and have

courage and are getting courage from

0:22:200:22:24

other people?

Yes, I think

particularly there is a sense among

0:22:240:22:28

the younger generation. People feel

that now was the moment that things

0:22:280:22:34

might actually be changing. We are

seeing how things are changing in

0:22:340:22:37

Hollywood, and this is the moment

when the opportunity to change the

0:22:370:22:42

structures and Westminster can be

seized.

There is a particular

0:22:420:22:46

problem for Theresa May because we

are awaiting the investigation into

0:22:460:22:50

Damian Green which brings us onto

her hold over Cabinet if indeed she

0:22:500:22:55

does have a hold over Cabinet?

No,

she doesn't and this week has proved

0:22:550:22:59

that beyond doubt. It is easy for

political hacks like us to draw

0:22:590:23:05

grand sweeping conclusions and

linking themes like the poor run of

0:23:050:23:08

luck Theresa May is having. But

there is quite simply a catastrophic

0:23:080:23:14

collapse of authority. If you have a

Prime Minister that no one scared

0:23:140:23:19

off, nobody gives two stuffs, you

will do your anything, you will be

0:23:190:23:23

freelance on your policy on Israel,

you will not read your brief before

0:23:230:23:28

you go in front of the select

committee like Boris Johnson and the

0:23:280:23:32

real question is how many tank mines

are left unexploded?

But it shows a

0:23:320:23:38

disregard for the electorate as that

is it another form of the

0:23:380:23:41

Westminster arrogance not to read

your brief and not to care enough?

I

0:23:410:23:46

think it is extraordinary. While

there were criticisms that the bar

0:23:460:23:49

was set too low and people were

resigning over sexual harassment

0:23:490:23:53

which was just a hand on a knee, but

now it has shot up. And predict

0:23:530:23:58

Hell, day after revelations have got

worse and worse, only days later

0:23:580:24:05

that she do the honourable thing and

resign -- and Priti Patel.

At the

0:24:050:24:13

moment she cannot afford in the

middle of Brexit to start moving

0:24:130:24:16

many chess pieces around?

I think

she has more power than she thinks.

0:24:160:24:20

The one thing she has got going for

her is the fear of Corbyn in the

0:24:200:24:28

Conservative Party. There may be

more accusations of sleaze out

0:24:280:24:32

there.

And she knows her new Defence

Secretary Gavin Williamson may know

0:24:320:24:39

more from becoming from Chief Whip.

There is just a nightmare for her.

0:24:390:24:46

She has been captured by her own

timidity in a way.

What has happened

0:24:460:24:50

in the last week or two is the

balance has thrown from timidity to

0:24:500:24:56

they have nothing to lose.

Let's

turn to Boris. Endless stories about

0:24:560:25:01

Boris' demise have gone on for so

long, but there was a complete

0:25:010:25:05

disregard this week, it was not just

a slip, not even bothering to read

0:25:050:25:12

the brief. Would Theresa May like to

get rid of Boris if she could, or

0:25:120:25:15

actually, is there a funny way that

she can contain him more inside than

0:25:150:25:20

out?

He's better inside the tent

still. Although he is annoying in

0:25:200:25:26

his brief, he can't start saying I

think Universal Credit is bad...

0:25:260:25:36

There is Cabinet responsibility sort

of. Fun sort of is better than

0:25:360:25:39

nothing at all. He does not have

much of a following so he could not

0:25:390:25:44

upset the apple cart but he is

someone who would start saying

0:25:440:25:48

things that new statements readers

would agree with -- New Statesman

0:25:480:25:52

readers would agree with.

How is he regarded by the party now?

0:25:520:25:59

I think a lot of the shine has come

off the figure of fun, someone who

0:25:590:26:06

would be the witty standard-bearer

for conservatism. A lot of people

0:26:060:26:13

have now shifted to Jacob Rees-Mogg

is that have I got News for you

0:26:130:26:17

friendly Tory.

The times splash is

about a Canadian who was inside Evin

0:26:170:26:24

prison as well and she and her child

were both hooded. The more you hear

0:26:240:26:31

about this the more you realise how

dangerous Boris pottery words were?

0:26:310:26:36

Yes and no. I don't think this will

get Boris. I will put my hat on the

0:26:360:26:41

table and be prepared to eat it when

it is made of marzipan at a later

0:26:410:26:46

stage. Boris screwed up but it is

still the Iranians who are hooding

0:26:460:26:50

three rolled children when they go

and meet their mother who is also

0:26:500:26:52

hooded. As time has elapsed people

are using Boris's idiocy for their

0:26:520:27:04

own disgrace the lens.

Is he safe?

I

think he is safe. You cannot have a

0:27:040:27:10

Foreign Secretary whose idiocy makes

it easier for the Iranians or any

0:27:100:27:14

other nation to endanger British

citizens. It is surely in the job

0:27:140:27:18

description not to do that.

In the

New Year do think Theresa May will

0:27:180:27:23

still be in position, Polly?

It all

depends on the Budget.

Stephen?

Yes,

0:27:230:27:30

I think she will.

Budget and then

she has got to move onto trade

0:27:300:27:35

talks. Then she has to do with a

reshuffle. If you does it all by

0:27:350:27:40

January the 10th, she will live on.

Thank you.

0:27:400:27:46

Time now for Viewsnight -

when we give original thinkers

0:27:460:27:48

the space to challenge and push

the boundaries of orthodox thinking.

0:27:480:27:51

Tonight, Stanford

Professor Niall Ferguson ,

0:27:510:27:52

with his take on who should get

to decide what we can read

0:27:520:27:54

Niall Ferguson.

0:29:570:30:00

Just before we go, this

has been equal pay day.

0:30:000:30:03

But we've a long way to go,

so by rights for many women,

0:30:030:30:06

this should be the last day

they work this year.

0:30:060:30:08

But lest we forget, here's

a reminder of where we've come from.

0:30:080:30:11

MUSIC: Just A Girl by No Doubt.

0:30:110:30:13

# Take this pink ribbon off my eyes.

0:30:170:30:21

# I'm exposed and it's

no big surprise.

0:30:210:30:25

# Don't you think I know

exactly where I stand...

0:30:250:30:30

How far are you prepared to go?

0:30:300:30:32

As far as it takes.

0:30:320:30:35

# Cos I'm just a girl,

little ol' me...

0:30:350:30:38

A few years ago, it was a joke.

0:30:380:30:41

People laughed at us.

0:30:410:30:42

They don't laugh at us any more.

0:30:420:30:44

# Oh, I'm just a girl,

all pretty and petite

0:30:440:30:47

# So don't let me have any rights...

0:30:470:30:53

It is International Women's Day

today,

0:30:530:30:55

and you've sent a male

to interview me

0:30:550:30:58

and a male cameraman.

0:30:580:30:59

Where are your women

cameramen at the BBC?

0:30:590:31:02

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