In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark.
Browse content similar to 10/11/2017. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Well, we have a firm date,
but right now do we have deadlock,
especially over the question
of the Irish border?
We speak to the former
Taoiseach and an architect
of the Good Friday Agreement.
If you put a physical border back
across the island of Ireland,
you're certainly giving a huge
incentive to those
that want to cause mischief.
Tonight, after Boris' big mistake,
what is life like in prison
for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe?
Her husband speaks to
another woman who was
incarcerated in Evin Prison.
I was arrested twice. And both
times, I was put in solitary
confinement in Evin Prison.
Letters to a female Labour MP
which may spell even more trouble
for fellow MP Kelvin Hopkins,
already suspended from the party
for sexual harassment claims.
And, to discuss another torrid
week for the government,
I'm joined by our political panel.
Today we passed the halfway point in
In 504 days and
28 minutes, we will exit the EU.
There has been a definite ramping up
of the tension in the Brexit
negotiations and the stakes when it
comes to Ireland's future.
Yes, the EU is demanding that the UK
spell out what it will pay Brussels
when it leaves in 2019 in two weeks
or face more delay in talks
on future trade ties,
but it is the EU's insistance
on an "all island approach"
for Ireland where there appears
to be most friction tonight.
And that friction also extends
to relations between the Government
and their partners, the DUP.
So is this an intractable
problem that could scupper
the whole negotiations?
Here's Chris Cook.
The hardest question in the Brexit
talks is about Northern Ireland.
Money remains a major sticking point
in the negotiations, but we know how
we can fix that. There is no simple
way out of the Irish question. Let
us say Britain is no longer in a
customs union with the European
Union. That will let us strike trade
deals with third countries who have
no similar deal with the EU. But the
EU needs to be able to stop goods
from that third country flowing into
Northern Ireland and then into the
EU via the Republic. Further, what
if we decide to divert from EU
rules, so goods in our markets no
longer meet all EU standards?
Ireland need to be able to check
stuff and may be turned back before
it gets into the market. So they
need a border. Now, everyone says
they want to avoid that. A hard
border would be a major economic
burden, especially for farmers, and
could undermine the peace process.
The EU appears to be shifting
position. In September, they said
the onus to propose solutions which
overcome the challenges created on
the island of Ireland remains on the
United Kingdom. A solution was up to
us. There has been talk of answers
involving Customs technology and
clever application of EU rules. We
want to be smart border that no one
would notice. But a leaked document
from the European Commission has
shown a changing tack, saying it is
essential for the UK to commit to
ensuring no emergence of regulatory
divergence from those rules of the
internal market and the customs
union in Northern Ireland. That is
significant, a radical idea that has
been pressed by Dublin is now
seemingly the preferred plan of
Brussels. This would be a big deal.
Northern Ireland would in effect be
treated as part of the EU customs
union and single market to eliminate
the idea for a hard border, but that
would require four in effect customs
arrangements of goods travelling
between Great Britain and Northern
Ireland, something the UK says is
We respect the
European Union desire to protect the
legal order of the single market and
the customs union, but that cannot
come at a cost of the constitutional
and economic integrity of the United
So could a British
government reliant on DUP virtually
separate Northern Ireland from the
rest of the UK? If not, it needs to
find a plausible plan to make that
border as soft as possible. Dublin
has a veto on taking talks forward,
and on any final trade deal.
A short time ago, I spoke to
the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
He was one of the architects
of the Good Friday agreement
along with Tony Blair and served
as the head of the Irish Government
for over a decade.
I began by asking him
whether he thought a hard border
between the Republic of Ireland
and the North was now inevitable.
Well, I think the issue is fairly
clear that it's impossible
to have an invisible border,
or a border that is controlled
by technology, if you are not
in the single market.
The argument today is that the EU
have come to the conclusion,
after 12 months of looking at this,
that they believe that to stay
in the single market,
and to stay in the customs union
is the only way you can
avoid totally a border.
Of course, the difficulty for
that is that the British government
don't agree with that and the DUP
don't agree with that.
The Irish government do.
It is a difficult position and I'm
afraid nobody has worked out how
you can get the circle to work
and cover everybody's point of view.
But do you think the government
in Dublin is foursquare behind
the other European countries'
position on this?
Yes, there is no doubt about that.
I think throughout the negotiations
right throughout this year,
the EU position is one position
and the Irish government
are locked into that.
Are you telling me that the Republic
of Ireland would vote with other EU
countries for a deal that
included a hard border,
and all the implications of that?
No, I think it's just not feasible
for the Republic of Ireland to agree
to the reinstallation of a hard
border after 20 years.
The ramifications of it from trade
and business, from agriculture,
from all of our other sectors
of industry big and small,
are bad enough, but the difficulties
for the ongoing peace process,
we have enough problems with that,
but for the Irish government
to agree to putting back a border
is not something that
is likely to happen.
So in your view, then,
the only way to work this
is to have an internal border
in the UK to take in
ports and airports?
Well, you know, the one great
thing about Europe is,
it has always been good at finding
solutions to complex issues.
Sometimes people say
they fudge these issues,
but I think that's unfair.
I think over the last 40 years,
many difficult situations,
they have found ways
of formulating solutions.
And this issue of the Irish border
has been well and truly discussed.
You of all people, then,
might know what might
happen on a hard border,
you know, a former
Taoiseach and architect
of the Good Friday Agreement.
What would be the impact
on peace, a hard-won peace
in Ireland with a hard border?
I think it would be
a huge setback for us.
The idea of putting customs checks
up and security checks,
I don't think we will ever go back
to the watchtowers or the huge
security presence, I don't think
anyone is suggesting that
and I don't think that will happen.
But the idea of having anything,
at the moment, I can leave my house
in Dublin and be in Belfast
in an hour, 40 minutes.
You don't see a security
And you have traffic duty now
and again, but there are no
difficulties or problems.
To go back into putting the physical
border back in place in any way,
it will undermine, I think,
so much of what our successive
governments have done
from Tony Blair and my time.
Of course, the people
who have been drinking
the champagne will be dissidents,
because they will see
this as great for them,
it will give them a target again,
and it just would be so disastrous.
The amount of effort that has
been put in by so many
people to avoid that,
and to consider going back
to that is unbelievable.
I don't think anyone wants to do it.
You are saying that might lead
inevitably to a return to violence?
I don't think so.
I think 98 or 99% of people
on the island of Ireland
on all sides do not want to go back
to violence, but I have to say,
if you wanted to try and find a way
of giving those who want to do it,
and there is the 1%,
that 1% can be very dangerous,
we see it all over the world,
you don't need many people to cause
mayhem and destruction
and devastation, so you certainly,
if you put a physical border back
across the island of Ireland,
you're certainly giving the huge
incentives to those
who want to cause mischief.
Is there a scenario here
that is more likely to lead
to the reunification of Ireland?
I think that issue is now more
on the agenda than it was before.
As a result of Brexit?
Yes, from the result of Brexit.
And there are more people debating
it in college debates now.
I know, I've been asked
to several of them.
People are actively looking
at what shape would it be,
how would it happen?
My own view is that there will be
a time to discuss that.
It's not now, because we still have
the institutions not up and running.
We still have too much
of an unsettled climate
to be having votes on it,
but I think inevitably
in the Good Friday Agreement,
a border poll is part of the clauses
in it, and I think
Brexit brings it closer.
Closer but not too
close, in my view.
In a way, the Republic of Ireland
should understand the majority
decision in the UK to take back
what they see as
sovereignty from the EU.
Do you respect that decision?
Of course we respect that decision.
You are entitled, or the UK
were entitled to have the vote,
and they have made that decision.
But I think the UK have
to understand that by making that
decision, they have made a hell
of a mess for us, and they have
an obligation and responsibility
to help us find a solution,
and so far on the border issue,
they haven't done that.
Bertie Ahern, thank
you for joining us tonight.
The MP Kelvin Hopkins,
who was suspended from the Labour
over claims of sexual
harassment, tonight faces
this time from the Labour MP
She says she is speaking out
to support Ava Etemadzadeh,
who asserted that Hopkins
sent her an inappropriate text
and rubbed his crotch against her,
accusations that he denies.
Kerry McCarthy, who says Hopkins
began paying her unwanted attention
in 1994, and continued to do so less
than two years ago,
has produced a cache
of letters and cards from him.
Chris Cook is here.
What is this all about?
One of the
things Kerry McCarthy has said this
evening is that the problems with
Kelvin Hopkins, as she relates them,
were not very tangible. "If I told
anyone, it would just be gossip
instead of a complaint"
anyone, it would just be gossip
instead of a complaint". But it is
inappropriate, the way he has
behaved. She has come up with stuff
that she feels is germane to the
investigation into the conduct of Mr
Hopkins, now an independent MP since
Labour suspended him. We have one of
the letters here. Here is a quote
from it. He sent her a note while
she was a sitting MP. "I Dreamt
about you the following night, a
night dream -- nice dream. You
remain a very attractive woman". Mr
Hopkins himself has said that if Ms
McCarthy had raised a complaint with
the Labour Party in the normal and
fairway, he would of course
cooperate with any investigation.
But he appealed on behalf of himself
and other individuals and their
families that these matters should
be dealt with by proper due process
and not what he describes as an
unfair trial by media.
Boris Johnson has been
in the headlines and the heat
for his dreadful gaffe
about the British Iranian prisoner
opining that she was training
journalists in Iran
rather than on holiday
visiting her parents.
His words, no matter his retraction,
may result in an increase
in her five-year
sentence in Evin Prison.
But what about Nazanin
herself in all this?
How do we know what she is
going through just now?
John Sweeney has been talking
to other women who have been
imprisoned by the Iranian regime.
I last saw Nazanin when she
travelled in March 2016. This man's
wife is incarcerated inside one of
the worst prisons on earth.
This woman knows what it's
like, because she has spent time
there, twice. What was it like?
was not easy to go there when you
had not done anything wrong. I was
put in solitary confinement for a
few weeks. I was arrested twice.
Both of the times, I spent the whole
time in solitary confinement.
the hardest thing about being in
difficult thing is, you are left
alone there for days and for some
prisoners for months, by yourself.
The most striking thing is how to
spend the time.
wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was
visiting her mum and dad in Iran
with their little girl, Gabriella,
when they were seized by
Revolutionary guards last year. She
is serving five years for allegedly
trying to topple the regime. Then
the clown Prince of British politics
put his foot in it.
If we look at
what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was
doing, it was just, she was simply
teaching people journalism, as I
The regime has leapt
on Boris' mistake as proof of
Johnson's unplanned admission that
some Iranian journalists were taught
by Nazanin was a gaffe that the UK
Government could and cover-up.
may be in trouble, but what is life
like for Nazanin inside Evin Prison?
She has undergone solitary
confinement. It is usually made
worse by extreme sensory
deprivation, known in Iran as white
You put inside a cell so you are
given two blankets.
This woman knows
what it is like only too well.
is a light here up to the roof which
is a very bright light. It is on for
24 hours. So you have to get used to
sleep under a very, very bright
light. And you have to remain silent
all the time.
What was the longest
time you spent inside the cell
without talking to a human being?
Ten days. I remember when my
interrogator called me, he told me
that it's been quite a long time
that you have not been interrogated,
isn't it? And I said, yes. He said
that's why I'm now calling you
because he said I know that your
concentration is not good. You would
need someone to talk, and he was
Another Evin white torture
veteran is a journalist. His memoir
inspired John Stewart's film Ros
I'm not sure what they want
for Nazanin's release but I'm sure
they want something in return. The
worst kind of psychological torture
for Nazanin is being away from her
daughter, who's in the same city as
her, but she cannot see her. Just to
imagine for a mother not to be able
to see her young daughter, that must
Labour cannot cry
shame too loud. Jeremy Corbyn took
£20,000 from Iran press TV,
appearing on the channel. But
incredibly, after more than a year
in the job, Britain's Foreign
Secretary has yet to meet Richard
Ratcliffe. Why hasn't he met you?
It's a good question. I think the
Foreign Office is always trying to
downplay Nazanin's case. They have
said behind closed doors keeping
quiet is the best thing and we have
always had tension where I have said
listen, I think putting it out in
the media, this is an injustice, the
clearly this is stated to a wider
audience, the more that will win
Boris Johnson can do well to
politics is not just about who's in,
who's out, who will climb the greasy
pole. It is also about ordinary
people who may find themselves in a
dark place, and if you use the wrong
words, then their lives may be
Boris Johnson's poor choice of words
is one problem this week.
I am joined now by Tom Newton Dunn,
the political editor at the Sun,
Polly Mackenzie, Nick Clegg's former
advisor and Stephen Bush,
the New Statemans's special
Good evening to you all. First of
all, let's begin with Bertie Ahern
and the words of warning tonight on
a hard border, and that idea that
there is 1% who could make this very
difficult. Is it your hunch that
like Bertie Ahern, something will
give in the next month on Ireland?
Think this is the worst crisis which
could hit the Brexit talks. This is
between a rock and a hard place now.
There is no way the British
government could succeed two state
system and no reason that Lee over a
car can go back. Leo Varadkar is
under his own political threat from
Sinn Fein. New Irish elections could
come round the corner any minute and
he will lose seats to Sinn Fein who
will beat him up unless he goes
If he goes hard and the EU
decides to push for this hard border
which she doesn't want, we end up
with their hard border in Northern
Ireland. Will this ever happen?
problem is the policy aims can only
be achieved with a hard border. If
you leave the customs union, you
have to have a border check. The
fact that at some point there will
be an election means it is never in
the override car's interest to turn
around to the government and go...
You could have predicted in a way
that this would happen because it
was never going to fly?
predict. And ever since the
referendum people have been
explaining it is not possible
without putting a hard border in the
Irish Sea or between Northern
Ireland and Ireland and that is
politically unstable. Theresa May is
reliant on the DUP for her majority
and they have a fixed position.
the beginning there was no sense
when Theresa May called an election
there was no sense that she would
end up in thrall to the DUP?
not just about the DUP. There is a
strong majority of about 50 or 60
Tory MPs who could not allow a two
state system, it is not about the
DUP. It is unconscionable for a
British Prime Minister to halve the
Northern Ireland under control...
But they come up with wacky ideas
suggesting that block chain will fix
Ultimately, the success
of peace in Northern Ireland was
about parking the issue and allowing
people in Northern Ireland to have
an identity and they could be as
British as they liked or as Irish as
they liked. The second we voted to
leave, that was torn apart forever.
And then we have as Polly said,
these essentially science-fiction
solutions have been coming out.
have obviously had another issue
tonight with allegations about
Kelvin Hopkins, is there a sense now
at Westminster, and particularly for
the younger generation, that they
are per to speak out and have
courage and are getting courage from
Yes, I think
particularly there is a sense among
the younger generation. People feel
that now was the moment that things
might actually be changing. We are
seeing how things are changing in
Hollywood, and this is the moment
when the opportunity to change the
structures and Westminster can be
There is a particular
problem for Theresa May because we
are awaiting the investigation into
Damian Green which brings us onto
her hold over Cabinet if indeed she
does have a hold over Cabinet?
she doesn't and this week has proved
that beyond doubt. It is easy for
political hacks like us to draw
grand sweeping conclusions and
linking themes like the poor run of
luck Theresa May is having. But
there is quite simply a catastrophic
collapse of authority. If you have a
Prime Minister that no one scared
off, nobody gives two stuffs, you
will do your anything, you will be
freelance on your policy on Israel,
you will not read your brief before
you go in front of the select
committee like Boris Johnson and the
real question is how many tank mines
are left unexploded?
But it shows a
disregard for the electorate as that
is it another form of the
Westminster arrogance not to read
your brief and not to care enough?
think it is extraordinary. While
there were criticisms that the bar
was set too low and people were
resigning over sexual harassment
which was just a hand on a knee, but
now it has shot up. And predict
Hell, day after revelations have got
worse and worse, only days later
that she do the honourable thing and
resign -- and Priti Patel.
moment she cannot afford in the
middle of Brexit to start moving
many chess pieces around?
she has more power than she thinks.
The one thing she has got going for
her is the fear of Corbyn in the
Conservative Party. There may be
more accusations of sleaze out
And she knows her new Defence
Secretary Gavin Williamson may know
more from becoming from Chief Whip.
There is just a nightmare for her.
She has been captured by her own
timidity in a way.
What has happened
in the last week or two is the
balance has thrown from timidity to
they have nothing to lose.
turn to Boris. Endless stories about
Boris' demise have gone on for so
long, but there was a complete
disregard this week, it was not just
a slip, not even bothering to read
the brief. Would Theresa May like to
get rid of Boris if she could, or
actually, is there a funny way that
she can contain him more inside than
He's better inside the tent
still. Although he is annoying in
his brief, he can't start saying I
think Universal Credit is bad...
There is Cabinet responsibility sort
of. Fun sort of is better than
nothing at all. He does not have
much of a following so he could not
upset the apple cart but he is
someone who would start saying
things that new statements readers
would agree with -- New Statesman
readers would agree with.
How is he regarded by the party now?
I think a lot of the shine has come
off the figure of fun, someone who
would be the witty standard-bearer
for conservatism. A lot of people
have now shifted to Jacob Rees-Mogg
is that have I got News for you
The times splash is
about a Canadian who was inside Evin
prison as well and she and her child
were both hooded. The more you hear
about this the more you realise how
dangerous Boris pottery words were?
Yes and no. I don't think this will
get Boris. I will put my hat on the
table and be prepared to eat it when
it is made of marzipan at a later
stage. Boris screwed up but it is
still the Iranians who are hooding
three rolled children when they go
and meet their mother who is also
hooded. As time has elapsed people
are using Boris's idiocy for their
own disgrace the lens.
Is he safe?
think he is safe. You cannot have a
Foreign Secretary whose idiocy makes
it easier for the Iranians or any
other nation to endanger British
citizens. It is surely in the job
description not to do that.
New Year do think Theresa May will
still be in position, Polly?
depends on the Budget.
I think she will.
Budget and then
she has got to move onto trade
talks. Then she has to do with a
reshuffle. If you does it all by
January the 10th, she will live on.
Time now for Viewsnight -
when we give original thinkers
the space to challenge and push
the boundaries of orthodox thinking.
Professor Niall Ferguson ,
with his take on who should get
to decide what we can read
Just before we go, this
has been equal pay day.
But we've a long way to go,
so by rights for many women,
this should be the last day
they work this year.
But lest we forget, here's
a reminder of where we've come from.
MUSIC: Just A Girl by No Doubt.
# Take this pink ribbon off my eyes.
# I'm exposed and it's
no big surprise.
# Don't you think I know
exactly where I stand...
How far are you prepared to go?
As far as it takes.
# Cos I'm just a girl,
little ol' me...
A few years ago, it was a joke.
People laughed at us.
They don't laugh at us any more.
# Oh, I'm just a girl,
all pretty and petite
# So don't let me have any rights...
It is International Women's Day
and you've sent a male
to interview me
and a male cameraman.
Where are your women
cameramen at the BBC?