In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Emily Maitlis.
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Thought you'd settle
in for a nice warm, cosy watch
with Newsnight this evening?
Well, we're reporting on:
Democracy in Russia...
Tonight, Gabriel Gatehouse follows
the Russian presidential race
with Opposition candidate Ksenia
It's a fake election.
It's a fake election?
Yes, I'm always telling that.
But is everything quite as it seems?
Could it be that Ksenia Sobchak
is doing the Kremlin's bidding?
Also tonight, John Major today
called for a free vote in Parliament
on Brexit, with the possibility
of a second referendum.
It's fair to say Brexiteers
are not impressed.
I think generally a good idea for
previous Prime Ministers, whatever
their views on either side of this
argument or any argument...
Normally, if you haven't got
anything positive to say,
probably best to keep quiet.
And did we used to be better
at dealing with this?
From Syria, to cyber warfare,
to the American Presidency,
to energy supply - if you think
the Russian Presidential election
doesn't have an impact
on our lives, think again.
Tonight, an extraordinary film ahead
of next month's vote.
Tomorrow, Vladimir Putin
delivers his annual address
to the Russian parliament and other
members of the Russian
The speech is likely to contain
a slew of spending promises,
but even if he feels the need to go
a-wooing, there's little
doubt that he'll be
the man delivering them
after the election.
The first round is in
less than three weeks,
and without some seismic
upset, Putin will win
his second consecutive
term, and fourth term overall.
In a race where at least one
leader Alexei Navalny has been
barred from participating,
why would anyone risk
all to challenge Vladimir Putin?
Ksenia Sobchak is a former
Russian socialite turned
She's now running for
the Russian presidency.
But many opposition supporters say
she's a fake candidate,
running a no-hope race to boost
She herself admits she has
no chance of winning.
But take a deeper look,
and her candidacy in fact reveals
much about contemporary Russia.
Gabriel Gatehouse joined
Ksenia Sobchak on the campaign trail
and found a twisted tale
of intrigue, power struggles
and family loyalties,
in a country where nothing
is as simple as it first appears.
In a Moscow nightclub,
the Opposition candidate
makes her pitch to the capital's
Russian democracy is a strange
and sometimes dangerous beast.
It's a fake election.
It's a fake election?
Yes, I'm always telling that.
Explain what you mean.
I mean that like in a casino,
where the winner's always the house,
in Russian elections,
the winner's always on Putin's side.
So I'm taking part in the elections
not to win, I have no
illusions about that.
I'm taking part to be heard.
Once upon a time, in the capital
of the Tsars, a girl was born
with a silver spoon in her mouth.
When the Communist empire collapsed,
the chaotic transition to capitalism
produced a sort of alchemy that
turned silver into gold - for some.
Ksenia Sobchak's family
was one of those few.
Her father, one of the founders
of Russia's new democracy,
became the mayor of St Petersburg.
He would later die in
while his former deputy,
a once unknown KGB officer,
would become the most
powerful man in Russia.
He was a person who gave
Putin his first job,
I was a little girl then.
But, by a strange twist of fate,
nearly two decades later,
the girl with the silver spoon
would challenge the new Tsar
for the highest office in the land.
350 miles south of Moscow,
the city of Kursk.
Ksenia Sobchak is on
the campaign trail.
Her task here is to show
that she can speak to
ordinary Russians too.
The biggest problem in Russia
is not freedom of speech,
unfortunately, for many people.
It's the poverty.
Out in the suburbs, residents
have been complaining
they can't get their children
into a local nursery.
Now she's haranguing
some local officials.
This is pretty much the kind
of thing that Putin does
when he goes around the regions.
How do you feel like people react
to you, coming - as you do -
from quite a privileged background?
You know, I don't try to be
like "I am like one of you",
because, well, it's not true.
If I wear red lipstick
in my everyday time,
why should I go without make
up to them?
It's not kind of true,
I'm not a populist.
So, yes, I come in a good car
and in good clothes,
but I earned this money,
I didn't steal that.
Corruption is a big issue in this
election for all candidates.
After a slightly optimistic welcome
at local campaign headquarters,
Ksenia takes things
one step further.
In Russian politics,
there are certain red lines;
among them, Putin
and his inner circle.
Are you saying Putin is corrupt?
I say that Putin created a system
that allows those people to get
funds from the state.
Direct criticism of
Putin feels dangerous,
and out on the streets, many people
simply don't want to know.
As soon as you approach
people, they run away.
But Sobchak's journey to dissidents
has been an unusual one.
When money gets into my hands,
I spend everything.
Clothes is where my budget stays.
It's a lot, it's about
$3000-4000 a month.
I really like this sweater...
In the first decade of this century,
as millions of Russians struggled,
Ksenia Sobchak transformed
herself from society rich
kid to TV celebrity.
Feeding the masses a diet of reality
television and branding
herself simply Ksenia.
But then, the girl with the silver
spoon had another transformation.
In 2011, she joined opposition
protests and was promptly carted
off to a police cell.
Alexei Navalny -
the movement's leader -
has long been a thorn
in the Kremlin's side.
I was close with him all those
years, we shared many values,
and we are still sharing
those values, I hope.
But when Navalny was banned
from standing in this year's
elections, and Ksenia announced
she was running instead,
his supporters called her a traitor.
Ksenia, they said,
is a Kremlin agent -
her campaign just more reality TV.
Could that be true?
Could it be that Ksenia Sobchak
is doing the Kremlin's bidding?
I paid a visit to her campaign
headquarters, to meet one
of her top advisers,
a woman well versed in the dark arts
of Russian politics.
She should be, she used
to work for Putin himself.
Just to be clear, this is Sobchak's
own campaign adviser saying, "Yes,
we're playing the Kremlin's game",
but in Russia, there's always more
than one game going on.
And that's exactly what Sobchak
says she's trying to do.
If there's one thing
Ksenia understands, it's
the power of television.
She's using her candidacy to talk
about issues that are taboo.
To say this on state TV is heresy,
Shocked presenters have resorted
to surreal measures,
to try to drown her out.
But here is the conundrum,
the Kremlin controls everything.
Who gets to stand in elections,
and who gets to go on TV.
So, what is going on?
Ksenia treads a delicate path.
Before she set out on her journey,
the girl with the silver spoon
needed to get the approval
of the Tsar in the Kremlin.
She needed wise counsel.
Alexei Venediktov is one
of Russia's most famous
and well-connected journalists.
As it happens, Ksenia
is in the process of making
a film about her father,
the former mayor of St Petersburg.
Putin, who'd been his deputy,
had agreed to an interview.
So, in September, she went
to see him in the Kremlin.
And then in the end, I said this,
that I took this decision and I just
want you to know that I'm
going to challenge you,
and he was like silent
for a second and said,
"Well, it's your decision,
but it's also your responsibility".
What do you think you meant by that?
Well, I don't want even
to think about that,
I don't think anything nice.
And so, the Tsar decided
to accept his challenger,
but not everyone was happy.
Behind the facade of monolithic
power, different factions
struggled for control.
How did the girl who spoke out
against the Tsar get
permission to run against him?
The answer to this riddle
lies buried in the past,
when Putin worked for Ksenia's
father in St Petersburg.
Or perhaps it should more accurately
be titled the 'Museum of How Russian
Democracy Was Poisoned at Source'.
The name Anatoly Sobchak
stands alongside the likes
of Gorbachev and Yeltsin.
The story of how the anti-Soviet
reformer chosen an obscure KGB
officer as his deputy is also
the story of how factions
from the old Soviet security
establishment have come to be
running Russia today.
Anatoly Sobchak was voted
out of office in 1996,
amid allegations of corruption.
When investigators called him
in for questioning, Putin helped
spirit him out of the country.
But in Moscow, factions
Putin was being groomed
as Yeltsin's successor.
The battle was over who would have
sway over the new leader.
Then, in February 2000,
Anatoly Sobchak died
suddenly at the age of 62.
At the funeral, Russia's
new president was distraught.
That was the first and last time
everyone saw him crying in Russia.
This day I still remember it,
and one of the shocks
I had was his reaction,
he was totally killed by this.
But what killed Sobchak?
To this day, that remains a mystery.
The original autopsy
was inconclusive, and many
were suspicious, including Sobchak's
widow, Ksenia's mother.
Narusova had her own autopsy
performed, but instead
of making the results public,
she keeps locked in a safe
of making the results public,
she keeps them locked in a safe
in a secret location.
The Kremlin today is still
a place of rival factions,
to threaten their power is to take
a terrible risk.
The girl with the silver spoon
is not a girl any more.
Her family history may protect her,
but only up to a point.
Meanwhile, back on the Sobchak
From public transport
to pensions, to childcare -
Ksenia listens to people's everyday
problems as if she were a real
candidate in a real election.
The passengers on the Kursk trolley
bus know all about Ksenia's
family ties, and yet...
What then is the purpose
of all this elaborate theatre?
If Ksenia is a threat to the regime,
why let her run at all?
I've spoken to a senior
on condition that I couldn't
quote them by name.
I said, "What's the point of having
an election when everyone
acknowledges that only
one person can win?"
They said, look, this is a western
invention that you have.
We don't have a classical
democracy in Russia.
We have what they called
a 'developing democracy'.
The truth is, Russian democracy
has stopped developing.
It is frozen, paralysed by two
Just as surely as Putin
will win the next election,
he will also not be around forever.
Behind the walls of the Kremlin,
powerful people are playing games.
Ksenia Sobchak is a pawn.
Some factions are pushing
others want to hold her back.
The girl with the silver
spoon knows all this,
but she thinks the pawn might just
become a queen.
That's my chess game.
I played this option
of going to elections,
because I was thinking that
I have a chance to go through,
because of my name,
because they underestimate me,
because I have a past
which they can always punch at me,
because they're not afraid of me
as much as Navalny,
so these are my chances.
Who's a better chess
player, you or Putin?
I don't know, we will
see in the end.
But the end is not near,
because I'm only starting.
And you can see a longer version
of Gabriel Gatehouse's film
on Our World on the BBC
News Channel and on
iPlayer this weekend.
We asked the Russian embassy
whether they'd like to comment
on the Russian elections,
and they told us that they weren't
in a position to do so.
But they did say that they invited
all Russian citizens in the UK
to vote in the March 18th
presidential elections at polling
booths in London and Edinburgh.
There's no sign of a ceasefire
in the Tory party over Brexit.
Today, Sir John Major made that very
clear with his depth charge
of a speech calling for a free vote
in Parliament on the final Brexit
deal with the option
of a second referendum,
and hence the possibility
of remaining within the EU.
Always a passionate Remainer,
the former Prime minister has denied
he's trying to undermine Theresa
But one of the "ultra Brexiteers"
he was taking aim at,
Jacob Rees-Mogg, said that Major
was "all cheap comments
Timing is all, and of course today's
EU draft legal agreement has
particular resonance for Sir John,
whose dogged work on the Northern
Ireland peace process led finally
to the Good Friday Agreement.
The idea of a "common regulatory
area" for Ireland was rejected
immediately by the Prime Minister.
So, is the man who as Prime Minister
in 1993 faced his own hell
at the hands of the Maastricht
rebels, now in full
One of those Maastrict rebels
is here, but first, Nick Watt.
Europe, a storm that has consumed
successive Conservative prime
ministers. When this one was bundled
out of office, she promised to keep
an eye on this one. When he exited
the stage, he promised to be more
friendly and was supportive of this
one. But today, he cast his own
Thank you very much and good
mild-mannered former Prime Minister,
usually punctilious and polite to a
fault, if this are Theresa May on
For the moment, our
self-imposed redlines have Ochs to
be government into a corner. -- have
boxed. They are so tilted to
ultra-Brexit opinion, that even the
Cabinet cannot agree them. And a
majority in both houses of
parliament oppose them. If
maintained in full, it will be
impossible to reach a favourable
The intervention by
the former Prime Minister echoed the
private fears of many remain members
of the Cabinet who have been
fighting their lips. An old foe who
clashed with the former Prime
Minister on Europe was surprised to
hear him call for a free vote in
parliament on Brexit.
Maastricht there was such a strict
whip imposed that there were a whole
bunch of Conservative MPs who lost
the whip for voting against the
whip. That means being kicked out of
the party and parliament. They were
stateless, as it were. And people
were shipped in by ambulance and all
sorts of things, to comply with the
vote, such was the benign and kind
nature of the then regime, which I
do believe at that stage was led by
John Major's intervention.
into a negotiation knowing he will
have to make some concessions in
return for gaining some. The quite
rightly pointed out that every time
we create a red line, Europe in turn
removes options from the table for
Sir John chose a significant
moment to issue his warning. A few
hours earlier, the EU's chief
negotiator upped the ante. By
tabling a series of demands that
trampled all over the UK's Brexit
redlines. A new European Commission
draft of the UK and EU withdrawal
treaty calls for "A common
regulatory area between Northern
Ireland and the Irish Republic if
the UK and EU failed to negotiate a
comprehensive free trade deal"
the UK and EU failed to negotiate a
comprehensive free trade deal". A
definitive role for the European
Court of Justice in policing the
withdrawal agreement. Theresa May
rejected the EU's proposals, which
could place a border within the UK
between Northern Ireland and Great
The draft legal text the
commission have published would, if
implement it, undermine the UK,
market and threaten constitutional
integrity of the UK by creating a
customs and regulatory border down
the Irish Sea. And no UK Prime
Minister could ever agree to it. I
will be making it crystal clear to
President Juncker and others that we
will never do so.
In Downing Street
officials acknowledge Brexit
negotiations are entering a crunch
phase ahead of a showdown summit in
three weeks' time. Ministers leading
to the Brexit side believes the EU
is turning the screws to improve its
negotiating position. -- ministers
leaning. Other ministers fear that
the long drawn-out process to reach
a Cabinet consensus on the future
trading relationship has provided an
opening that the EU is exploiting.
Even a Prime Minister cocooned in
their security bubble cannot escape
the UK's Chile visitor from the
east. When the elements turn, it can
feel like the world is closing in.
Nick is here now.
Simulate a reaction tonight? I was
just talking to Lord Howard about
that John Major speech. He says it
is very sad the former Prime
Minister cannot come to terms with
the results of the British people.
You will remember Michael Howard had
run-ins with John Major when he was
a member of his Cabinet in 1990s
ovate Europe. He was labelled by
John major as a bustard. I asked
about feud was going and this is
what he said.
He wasn't keen on free
votes at that time, no questions
about that. Indeed, this speech was
full of rich ironies. I seem to
remember that when he was Prime
Minister, he was quite upset about
the interventions of one of his
predecessors. I think he was called
back-seat driving in those days.
Cabinet will meet tomorrow to
approve the decision by the Cabinet
subcommittee, Brexit subcommittee,
to have the end state negotiations
pursuing an ambitious managed
divergences. That really is going to
set the countdown, a three-week
countdown to the opening council at
the end of March, where hopefully
guidelines will be agreed on the
future, the nature of the future
trading relationship. I asked
Michael Howard what he thinks of
that Cabinet decision we are likely
to get tomorrow and this is what he
had to say.
I do think it's realistic. It's
realistic because the European
Union, at the end of the day, wants
a deal, it wants a deal on goods and
services because it sells more goods
to us than we do to them. It uses
London not because they love us but
because it's the most efficient
capital market in the world and they
want the deal because they want our
money, and without a deal, they
won't get it.
Michael Howard, thank
I'm now joined by one of those
Maastricht rebels who made
John Major's life
in office a misery,
Sir Bill Cash.
He rebelled the party whip 48 times
during the period and is now Chair
of the European Scrutiny Committee.
Good evening. . I want to start with
a tweet by George Osborne. Why this
synthetic Brexiteer anger over the
EU tax and Irish border. Number ten
made key concessions in December,
they made a deal in which you all
cheered, in the absence of agreed
solutions UK will maintain full
alignment with the EU and Customs
Look, basically what they
said in this draft legal text, and
my European scrutiny committee are
looking at it right now, the bottom
line is what they are trying to do
is to create a constitutional crisis
in the UK. This is basically the EU
which is seeking to achieve this
hardboard, where actually they have
said they don't want it. We have
also said we don't want it and the
Irish government has said they don't
want it. Nothing synthetic about
this. Have actually created, trying
to create a constitutional crisis.
The truth is, the question of the
Irish border is a key issue in
Brexit. It's not some kind of fake
argument. You have a situation here
now where you have either got a
customs union or you get a border.
If you take for example that we've
got the Euro row at one end of
Ireland and the pound at the other,
you have different fiscal
arrangements, you've got different
corporation tax, there are
differences already within Ireland
north and south.
Do you believe it
can be something like Boris a --
Johnson said, congestion charge?
Nobody is prepared
to say what would be in place from
the British side just now, we are
I don't agree with
that, we put forward proposals on
those proposals are based on the
fact there are technical ways of
dealing with it. Bertie Ahern
actually said you can turn a blind
eye to a lot of the local trade and
that most of this stuff...
There is a Swedish expert and
Customs who says it is perfectly
feasible to do it. Real experts were
saying that. The EU are trying to
dig in and over this, in order to
create maximum trouble for the
It's very, very obvious.
Also the concern with the
government, with the goodwill of the
DUP, do you think what you are
fighting for is worth threatening
the Good Friday Agreement?
It is not
threatening the Good Friday
Agreement. The Prime Minister today
said we are going to stand by the
Good Friday Agreement, everybody
will stand by it. The bottom line is
this is the synthetic argument, as
you said from George Osborne, author
of Project Fear, this is the
synthetic part of the argument which
is coming from the EU. There is no
need for them to do this but they
are doing it in order to create
maximum trouble for our
By John Major's speech
today it is very clear there is no
harmony in the Conservative Party,
never mind conservative membership,
all about the kind of Brexit there
should be. He famously called you
one knows the bastards in the
I thought I was
watching another edition of spitting
image when I saw the speech he gave
today. I actually think the real
problem here is that he can't come
to terms with the fact he has lost
the debate. Actually, it much worse
than that because when you examine
what he says, he talks about
conscience voting for study talks
about a second referendum. I do
remember a thing called the
Maastricht referendum campaign,
which I organised with some friends.
Give a free vote now.
was neither an Maastricht or in
relation to the Lisbon Treaty have
ever been any free votes on this
Bill Cash, thanks very
On the eve of meteorological
It was the bleak midwinter today
for millions of people in the UK.
We've all had our fun with the Beast
from the East but tonight it is set
to evolve into the much more
menacing Storm Emma.
The mercury could sink
to minus 15 where there's snow
on the ground, and the blizzards,
gales and sleet just keep coming.
Worst affected is Scotland,
with a red warning.
Earlier, I spoke to Lorna Gordon,
who's in Glasgow.
I asked her whether there were any
signs of supplies running low.
I did a quick run through
a couple of shops in some
of the areas I have been today.
So far, so good.
I think Scots are pretty stoic.
We are used to the bad weather.
It takes quite a bit
to rattle people up here.
So the shops, I think,
are doing OK so far.
But this is an extended
period of bad weather.
We're talking about that
red warning in place
until tomorrow morning thus far.
But the bad weather will
continue beyond that.
But, yes, a big impact on public
transport here in Glasgow
and in fact over this large red
warning area that affects
3.5 million people.
No trains running.
Here in Glasgow, no buses running.
And you can see from the road here,
very few cars out on the streets
as well, at least in
the urban city centre areas.
One of the most obvious effects
of the snow is the closure
of hundreds of schools.
Hundreds of thousands of children in
Scotland lobby off tomorrow. -- will
be off tomorrow.
With me in the studio
is Geoff Barton, General Secretary
of the Association of School
and College Leaders.
Good evening. Is it an easier
decision to close a school than keep
It is always a difficult
decision. I think today maybe a
slightly easier decision, given the
scale of what is happening. I have
had people contacting me today, some
of whom are new headteachers, really
anxious about whether they have made
the right call and some veterans
also. Ultimately the decision we're
making is about looking after
children and making sure we can
protect them and get the staff in to
You could get the staff in, the
appearance of one teacher would mean
that the families of 30 kids could
be out of work supporting the
What is distinctive about a
school is in my case, 1500 students.
What you had to do is make sure if
you had 1500 students going to
school, did you have sufficient
staff to supervise a man for the
quality of teaching? All I knew is
with 85 teaching staff, there was
about 30 of those who lived more
than 20 miles away from the school.
So the decision was, can I safely
supervise those students and bring
staffing to do it? Every member of
the leadership teams in all schools
will be making that decision before
seven o'clock, in order to inform
parents of the decision.
now, here, the safety of the
children but also in attendance,
record of attendance. If you leave
school open and children can't get
there, then the attendance record
gets completely shot.
There is a
scale of different considerations.
The number one, which parents would
want to hear as saying, which is the
most important, is good week
supervise their child safely, that
is most important. And I'll be able
to give some kind of educational
quality to what we're doing. I know
there was a day when I decided to
close the school, in my 15 years of
being head, there were three times.
One diagnostic, by 11 o'clock it
cleared I felt humiliated. It will
always be a difficult call.
difficult thing to leave the school
open to see who comes on the kids
who don't come then get marks on
their attendance record which the
school order to avoid that, you
close the school?
That is such a
small issue. What you would do if
their school is close, you would
authorise the attendance of the
children who are not there because
you are in extreme circumstances. If
parents were unhappy about the
decision, the governing body hold
you accountable. It is the chair's
decision that you report to the
governing body and you are
accountable for that. Leadership is
about making a decision. That
followed the people today have done
in the of mourning.
Is the primary
consideration health and safety?
Health and safety but not that
caricature of health and safety, are
we worried lots of children will
slip on the Pegram? They could slip
on the street. That is not to say
you wouldn't want to be concerned
about that but the number one is,
can I supervise the number of
students in school by bringing staff
who can do it?
Why is this so
different, briefly, from 1963 when
schools did stay open on this didn't
Just like lots of things are
different from 1963. Parental choice
means more children will be
travelling further, more children
travelling on parental cars they
were before. I don't think we can do
like for like comparison of 1963.
Thank you very much indeed.
That's almost all for this evening.
A quick well done to the Newsnight
team which picked up
two RTS awards tonight
for the programme's coverage
of Grenfell and our film
on the Rohingya massacre.
Tomorrow, I'll be talking to
Brett Anderson, frontman of Suede -
and he doesn't hold
back on Britpop...
I think it kind of became...
It mutated from a Mike Leigh film
into a Carry On film.
More from that tomorrow.
But, before we go, Civilisations,
a new nine part series
on the history of art,
starts tomorrow on BBC Two.
It follows from the legendary
presented by Kenneth Clark in 1969.
We thought we'd leave you where that
original series left off,
with Clark musing
on a poem by WB Yeats.
"Things fall apart;
the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed
upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide
is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of
innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction,
while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
Well, that was certainly true
between the wars, and it
damn nearly destroyed us.
Is it true today?
Not quite, because good people have
rather too many of them.
The trouble is that there
is still no centre.
The moral and intellectual
failure of Marxism
has left us with no alternative
to heroic materialism.
And that isn't enough.
One may be optimistic,
but one can't exactly be joyful
at the prospect before us.