In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Evan Davis.
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Mr Speaker, there is no
other than that
the Russian state was culpable
for the attempted murder of
Mr Skripal and his daughter.
Relations between Britain and Russia
are put into a deep freeze.
Russia responds by saying -
we are used to cold weather.
Rarely does Britain find itself
at the centre of such a major
We'll hear from the
And did Jeremy Corbyn judge it
right in his response?
Some of his own MPs don't think so.
The Shadow Security Minister
will explain Labour's position.
Brexit Secretary David Davis
has been travelling
the continent today -
and seeming to make Brexit
concessions to the Europeans,
exclusively to Nick Watt.
I'm not bothered too much about the
question of whether it's Christmas
2020 all Easter 2021.
So if it means
Christmas 2020, you'd go for that?
I'd go for that.
Also tonight, we're
with Stephen Hawking's
Sir Roger Penrose.
And Angela Merkel has
been sworn in for her
fourth term in office -
but Germany now has to contemplate
political life without her.
is in the Rhineland.
The British response came today -
ten days after Sergei Skripal,
his daughter and Detective Sergeant
Nick Bailey were so badly poisoned
by Novichok nerve agent.
23 Russian diplomats are to be
expelled, there's a vow to freeze
Russian assets that pose a threat
here, a suspension of high level
contacts, and a downgrading
of Britain's attendance
at the World Cup.
Britain has had some international
support this evening -
the US ambassador to the UN,
Nikki Haley, said it was
the Russians that did it.
The French have been
mildly more circumspect.
But the Russians themselves?
They said it's absolutely
unacceptable and unworthy
of the British to seek to aggravate
relations in pursuit
of "unseemly political ends".
At the UN tonight, they demanded
material proof of the allegedly
found Russian trace.
Lots to talk about -
let's hear from Mark Urban first,
on the British approach.
So the spy expulsions are on.
Nearly two dozen regarded
as intelligence operatives under
diplomatic cover have been told
to pack their bags and be out
within a week.
This is only one of a number
of measures the British
government is taking,
many of them likely not to be
announced publicly and many
of them likely to be
what President Eisenhower used
to call quiet military measures
that your adversary would see
and understand, but the public
wouldn't necessarily see.
Along with the decision to expel
23 Russian diplomats,
there will be more checks on private
flights, customs and freight.
There will be asset freezes
for Russians who've
threatened UK nationals.
British officials will
boycott the World Cup.
such as a planned visit
by the Russian Foreign Minister
will be suspended,
and there will be new laws
against hostile state activity.
A long list, but maybe
a little short on specifics.
And underlying a tentative approach
is some tentative language.
The Government is hesitant to pin
this unequivocally on Russia.
They have treated the use
of a military grade nerve agent
in Europe with sarcasm,
contempt and defiance.
So, Mr Speaker, there is no
alternative conclusion other
than that the Russian state
was culpable for
the attempted murder of Mr Skripal
and his daughter.
And even in its letter yesterday
to the international
chemical weapons body, the OPCW,
the UK has said of the Novichok
agents: "Russia has previously
produced this agent
and would still be
capable of doing so".
It does not say that
of the Salisbury
Novichok can be proven.
I think the dilemma probably
is that there is very strong
The Russians were given the chance
to respond and reacted dismissively.
But there is no suspect,
and therefore there wasn't
a criminal level of proof yet.
But the Government has been under
great pressure to come forward
with an initial set of measures.
They have now done that,
and this is the first stage
of what will, I guess,
now develop into a more general
discussion at the Security Council
in Nato and the EU about what is
behind it and how countries should
now regard Russia in terms of,
are they a responsible
and serious member f the
So the Government has not yet been
able to tie Russian-made Novichok
by its molecular fingerprint
to the Salisbury poisoning -
not publicly, anyway.
Its decision to involve the OPCW
watchdog in analysing samples
from the incident will
take the crisis onto an
I think that is both a
and also plays to one of our great
strengths in the West, right?
Our great contrasting
strengths to the Russians
are transparency, allies
and international institutions.
Russians on the panel?
Well, that would be
the OPCW's choice.
My sense is that the Russians ought
to be present to see
what is happening, but that neither
the Russians nor the British
should be on the panel.
The Government's tentative language
may reflect that they still haven't
identified the precise origin
of the nerve agent,
and they don't seem to have any
suspects in planting it.
But it may also be part
of a strategy to leave some
ambiguity to let the Russians
find an off-ramp.
In the coming days, though,
the language is likely to firm up.
Today's spy expulsion could be
the start of a long path of crisis,
move and countermove.
And all the while, the lives of two
desperately ill people in Salisbury
hang in the balance.
Earlier today, I spoke to
the security minister, Ben Wallace.
I began by asking him what measures
the Government had announced
following Moscow's refusal
to co-operate in the case.
We've taken a step today
that we think is proportionate,
and sends a message to the Russians
that this is not acceptable,
and that things need to change,
but also that downgrades
operationally their ability
of intelligence officers in London
to prosecute espionage against us,
both economically and
in the security space,
and at the same time we've talked
about progressing this
through starting the process
of internationalising the response,
and that's why the Prime Minister
talked about a UN...
A discussion at the UN
Security Council, and she has spoken
to world leaders such
as Donald Trump and
President Macron as well.
And one of the areas that has been
much talked about are financial
measures to sanction probably named
individuals who we suspect
are Putin cronies and friends,
and have significant
assets in London.
Should we be embarrassed, really,
that there are these people
in London, that we have allowed
ourselves to get into the position
where bad people have
felt London is a place,
a comfortable place,
to park money and do business?
I think we should all collectively,
in the body politics, have to take
responsibility for that.
That, you know, we have allowed
the City of London's reputation
as a centre for world finance to be
exploited by some pretty nasty
individuals, who have used illicit
money flows from around the world
to come here, either
to harbour it or to clean
it, or to just move it
around, or invest it.
Let's be clear.
If you are a foreign
oligarch or kleptocrat
bringing money to London,
the party is over.
That London industry
is now going to close.
That is what we want the message
to be, and we are going to do steps
to take the money off
you if we can't get
you as well, and only
last week, Evan, Britain
went up in the rankings
of least corrupt countries.
We are now eighth in the world.
I would like to see that go higher.
It does say, by the way,
the Chemical Weapons Convention,
it does back up one Russian point
on all of this - it is article nine,
paragraph two, for all it matters.
Where a complaint is made,
the country against whom it's made
has ten days to respond.
Should we have given
them the ten days?
Should we have stuck to the form
of the letter of the law,
just so no one can mock us
or laugh at us on the basis
that we haven't stuck to that?
I think we've already
gone a long way.
We took our time and we've done
a thorough job, and that is...
And the reason for that is,
you know, consequences flow from it.
I wanted the public to realise
that we are not cooking this up.
It's not some dodgy dossier.
This is a genuine appraisal
of the facts, the motives,
the responses of Russia,
and have taken the view
that we are certain the evidence
points to Russia deploying this.
You know, you say we could have
given them ten days.
I think within minutes out
of the trap, they said,
"We are not responding
to British demands."
So I think once they said that,
I think it's pretty certain
that we can be in a space that
Russia's denials - which are pretty
legendary in Litvinenko -
are going to remain,
and we are not going to tolerate it.
Removing 23 intelligence
officers from London is...
I think actually some of the public
will be wondering why
we didn't remove them before.
Why didn't you do it before,
given everything we've known
about Russia and Crimea
and Litvinenko and other
assassinations and all
sorts of things?
I think because when you decide
to assert yourself,
there's a cost for that.
There could be reprisals.
Could we contain the threat
they were posing and all that?
That would have been
an operational decision at time.
The Allies have given some
encouragement, haven't they?
The French, the Germans,
even President Trump has given
some encouragement -
"We are on your side, Britain,
we hear what's happened."
Do you fear that that's as far
as they're going to go?
No, no, I don't.
This is the time that
a government earns its money.
Ministers will be out
talking to ambassadors.
Leaders will be ringing leaders,
and we will be developing
and helping design a response that
deters Russia, and also downgrades
their operational ability.
Let's remember, Russia doesn't just
spy on Britain, it spies
on lots of our friends and allies.
It prosecutes cyber crime
against our allies.
We've already named,
helped identify and name,
an number of cyber attacks
by Russia on European allies
and other countries, so we...
You know, they're not stupid.
They know what's going on,
and I think I'm optimistic
we are going to get a good response.
Well, here with me now to discuss
the international reaction
to all this is Nina Schick.
She's from the think
tank Rasmussen Global
and joins me now from Brussels.
A very good evening to you. Nina,
you heard what the security minister
said. He is optimistic there will be
more than rhetoric in support of the
UK. Is that your expectation,
particularly from the Europeans?
first thing to point out is that
this attack on the UK is an attack
on all Western European democracies.
I work at Rasmussen Global, and
Rasmussen was the former general
secretary of Nato. We believe there
should be a strong Western response
to this, because this is just the
latest in Russia's hybrid war
against the West. Theresa May has
done all she can do domestically,
but to send Russia a tough message,
she needs to get a coalition behind
her. Ironically, Theresa May has
more records via the EU right now
than perhaps via the US or Nato, and
what she can hope for is... She will
be raising it at the European
Council summit on Friday, and what
she will be hoping for is to ask the
EU to extend sanctions which are
already in place since 2014's
invasion of Ukraine on Russia. That
will be difficult because some
members of the EU are dragging their
feet on that. But because of the
nature of this attack, a very
serious one, she will have a lot of
sympathetic leaders listening to her
in the EU. We have already seen as
very strong response from European
It's interesting you say
that. The French were slightly
circumspect. They say they want firm
proof. Last time, after Litvinenko,
the British ambassador to Moscow at
the time said he was talking to EU
leaders at that time about getting
support, this is Tony Brenton, and
he said they were pretty hopeless
and nowhere to be seen.
it isn't going to be easy. Further
complicated by the fact that the UK
is out of the EU. There are many
Baltic states who will be
sympathetic to the UK's position,
because of their own experiences
with Russia. The best we can hope
for is an extension of those
sanctions which were due to be
extended in June for a period of 12
months rather than six, but still
that is doing something that is the
most effective body of sanctions on
Russia right now. Long-term, to
address the question of Russian
meddling in the western
transatlantic alliance, there has to
be a more robust effort across the
transatlantic, with the EDS, -- with
the US, the EU and Britain. The UK
faces a very difficult challenge
because it's two traditional pillars
of foreign security, one being
Europe and one being the US, are
tenuous at the moment.
very much indeed.
Now - after the Prime
Minister's statement today,
Jeremy Corbyn gave a response.
This has turned into quite
a big issue: many
- including Labour MPs -
felt it was too easy
on the Russians, and
too harsh on the UK.
Here's a taste.
The attack in Salisbury
was an appalling act of violence.
How has she responded to the Russian
government's request for a sample
of the agent used in the Salisbury
attack to run its own tests?
Has high resolution trace analysis
been run on a sample of the nerve
agent, and has that revealed any
evidence as to the location
of its production or the identity
of its perpetrators?
Now, a subsequent press briefing
in defence of Jeremy Corbyn
by his spokesman Seamus Milne seemed
to compound things.
He's reported to have
said: "There is a history
between WMDs and intelligence
which is problematic
to put it mildly -
drawing comparison to the flawed
intelligence in the run
up to the Iraq war".
I'm joined by Nick Thomas-Symonds,
Labour's shadow security minister.
Do you think there is any comparison
to be drawn between the flawed
intelligence in the run-up to Iraq
and we have here?
No. I don't think
it's about flawed intelligence. We
have great confidence in the work of
the security services. It is
obviously a distinction between the
interpretations politicians make of
the intelligence and the
But this isn't
an intelligence case, it is a
forensic laboratory result that
found a chemical weapon which the
world knows was developed in the
soviet Union by the Russians. So it
was a stupid comparison, would you
I am not going to accept that
interpretation. We need to shift
from what may or may not have been
said to the actual position. There
has been a very serious incident on
British soil. The evidence points
towards Russia and there are two
possible explanation is that the
Prime Minister gave, either that
Russia was primarily and
deliberately responsible, or it is
negligently responsible in the sense
that it lost control of its nerve
agent. That is the way the evidence
is pointing. And given the failure
to respond from the Russians this
week, the measures the Prime
Minister has proposed are
I was trying to get
you to be harsh on Seamus Milne, but
you don't want to do that. Do you
agree at least that his briefing was
a distraction from the message that
the Labour Party is trying to put
Evan, in terms of the
relationship between what the press
say whether things are taken out of
Michael I don't think he
was taken out of context. I have
your transcript of it with the
comparison to WMD, which seems
strange. There was no WMD and there
obviously is a toxic poison.
is obviously an issue as to how
politicians interpret intelligence,
but my point is that we have a very
serious situation and in these
circumstances, we are looking at the
evidence, backing the work that has
been done on the ground, whether it
is the Army, the security services
or the police. Detective Sergeant
Nick Bailey is of course ill and we
are the king of him and Mr Skripal,
his daughter and others who have
been affected by this and we condemn
the actions taken.
In terms of who
you think did it, the Russians is
your most likely culprit?
evidence is certainly pointing in
that direction. We see this from the
point that has been made by the
spokesperson for the French
government in recent days. We want
to build the widest possible
international coalition to be able
to tackle this issue and to seek to
ensure, as Jeremy Corbyn said
clearly in the Commons today, that
we do not want this kind of incident
happening on British soil again. To
do that, the better the standard of
proof we can have is surely better
in building an international
Jeremy Corbyn didn't
condemn the Russians for the
chemical weapon use on British soil
today. Did he not condemn them
because he thought it was too soon
to condemn them, because he doesn't
think it is them, or just because he
had other things to say?
don't accept that interpretation of
Jeremy. I was sat on the common
spent as I heard it. He quoted the
Prime Minister verbatim on the two
explanations, and afterwards made
clear that we should have a decisive
and proportional response based on
No one would argue
That is a reasonable
position for the Leader of the
Opposition to take.
But in a funny
way, in order to have the license to
make those points, a lot of the
public will want to know that he
feels the same kind of outrage over
this happening on our soil that a
lot of other people think, and he
didn't express that outrage. He
said, we must speak out against the
abuse of human rights by the Putin
government and their supporters, but
he didn't seem to show the anger at
what we think the Russians have done
in Salisbury. I wonder whether in
retrospect, that was the wrong way
I don't accept that. What he
said as a matter of interpretation
for the listener. At the start of
the speech, he made clear his
abhorrent that the use of a nerve
agent like this on a civilian
population in the way that it has
been. Towards the end of the speech,
he also set out his abhorrent is
from Russia's human rights record,
which we unequivocally condemn.
If it sometimes feels
as if the Brexit negotiation
is Britain making one concession
after another, it seems we've
made another one today.
We'd wanted a transition
or implementation phase of around
two years; the EU had said 21 months
- not a big difference,
but Brexit secretary David Davis has
told Newsnight today that he's
willing to yield to the EU view -
although he's also extracted
an agreement that a special
committee will be established
to guarantee a "duty of good
faith" by both sides
during that transition.
David Davis was talking
to our political editor Nick Watt
while on a trip to Prague
and Copenhagen today.
Nick hitched a ride.
In the air, on the road and yes,
into another European chancellery.
For months, David Davis has embarked
on an odyssey around our
neighbouring continent to build
support for his vision of Brexit.
It's Wednesday, so that must mean a
morning RAF plane to shuttle the
Brexit Secretary to two EU capitals
encompassing what was once dubbed
old and new Europe. First up is
So you are used to
exercising real power?
is now settling in for the first
meeting of the day with an
Samuelsen, the Danish Foreign
Minister. He will be hoping for a
reasonably friendly reception.
Denmark is traditionally on the more
Eurosceptic side in the EU, rather
than the Federalist side. And of
course, Denmark joined the EEC on
the same day as the UK in 1973.
talked about some of the issues
where we agree and somewhere they
are not so sure, what we do about
product standards, what we do about
customs. They were interested in
Northern Ireland and all that sort
of thing. And that is part for the
course. This is probably country
number 17 or 18 of this tour, and
that is what we are getting
everywhere. What is it exactly we
are going to do?
are going to do?
Said it has been
David Davis' life for the last few
months, spurning the chance of a
comfy pad in Brussels, he has been
touring EU capitals to try and find
a chink in the surprisingly united
EU front on Brexit. Britain believes
that the final Brexit deal will be
done in the last hours and minutes
of the Brexit negotiations, and
while it will be done in Brussels,
at that point the UK will need
allies and friends amongst EU
leaders who will ultimately call the
We have now swapped the 1970s
functionalism of Copenhagen for the
early baroque splendour of the Czech
Foreign Ministry. The Czech
Republic's membership of the EU
realise their dream of David Davis'
great heroine, Margaret Thatcher,
spread the EU East and diluted
federalism. He is now meeting the
Czech Foreign Minister, no doubt
hoping for a reward.
The role of
Great Britain is far as foreign
security is concerned is crucial for
Europe. As I said to your minister,
by Brexit, the British Channel is
So here we are in Prague,
not in Brussels. Your friend Michel
Barnier has been complaining that
you are not in Brussels. Are you
going to answer his call and turn up
On all of these, we started
discussions with the commission and
kicked things off in Downing Street
about four weeks ago. We talked
through it all. Since then, my team
have been working flat out,
principally in Brussels, and they
have continued through this weekend
and I shall join them on Sunday and
we will have another meeting with
him on Monday. But that is just one
strand. It is the council that make
the decision on what our future
partnership will be. The council is
made up of the member states. I will
be talking to them all and listening
to their concerns, explaining what
we have in mind, what we aim to do,
understanding their interests and
concerns so that we can incorporate
them and make sure we get the right
decision next week.
One of the big
crunch issues on the implementation
period is that the EU says it should
end of the end of December 2020. The
UK says it should be two years,
which would be March 2021. Are you
going to compromise on that?
important that that is that we get
the implementation period agreed in
March. It will not be legally signed
until the autumn, but agreed in
March. That is more important to me
than a few months either way. I am
not bothered too much of the
question of whether it is Christmas
2020 or Easter 2021.
So if it means
Chris was 2020, you could live with
I would live with that. We are
still in the middle of negotiation,
but frankly, I would not delay the
decision in order to get a month or
So on the implementation
period, can you reassure some of
your colleagues at Westminster who
are concerned that the UK will just
be a -- will not just be a vassal
state? Will the UK be able to stick
up for itself?
We want to have in
place a joint committee which will
oversee any issues like this that
come up, and a duty of good faith on
both sides, so neither side is
disadvantaged. We will not fall
under Mr Rees Mogg's interesting
definition of our position!
this European odyssey is winding
down as David Davis turned his
attention back to Brussels.
Nick Watt and David Davis on the
"We are just an advanced breed
of monkeys on a minor planet
of a very average star.
But we can understand the universe.
That makes us something
So said Stephen Hawking,
who died in the early
hours of this morning.
He certainly understood
the universe better than anyone.
An undisputed national treasure,
he was not just a great physicist,
he was a man who could frame
the most brilliant and pithiest
of quotes - a quality perhaps born
of the necessity to be
economical with words.
We'll talk to his great
Sir Roger Penrose, in a moment.
But first, we thought we'd
get our technology editor
David Grossman to explain
the physics for which Stephen
Hawking will be remembered.
The world's smartest man!
Stephen Hawking's place in popular
culture is unrivalled.
I think you are being pedantic.
To think the Lord created
all this in just seven days!
It took 13.8 billion years.
Like Einstein, on whose birthday
he died, he came to epitomise
the public's idea of a scientist.
But how did the scientist
Stephen Hawking measure up
to the popular icon?
How far did he push forward
the boundaries of human knowledge?
Where should we place him
in the pantheon of great scientists?
If you look, for example, at one
measure, winners of Nobel prizes,
Hawking doesn't feature.
It's very hard to rank
scientists and put them one
after the other in a list,
but he would certainly number
amongst the very top
scientists that we've seen
in the last few decades.
I think it's particularly
hard if you're a pure
which is what Stephen Hawking was,
where you are working right
at the forefront of what we know,
on ideas that are going to be very
hard to test for the foreseeable
future, and I think there's
a danger, when you choose to do
that, that it's much harder
for people to actually identify,
yes, there's a particular
prediction that we can test
right now, and check
that your ideas are correct.
Stephen Hawking's most significant
work was on the black holes.
He suggested that since
they collapse matter
into an infinitely dense point,
a singularity, they act
like a big bang in reverse,
and therefore may hold clues
to the origins of the universe.
And he also proved that one
of the previously accepted defining
characteristics of a black hole may
in fact be false.
I discovered that black holes
are not that black after all.
They give off what has been
called Hawking radiation.
Because of this emission,
black holes will lose mass
and eventually evaporate completely.
Hawking's theories were fiercely
contested among his peers.
I think at first there is always
resistance to new ideas,
and these were really new.
In fact, even the very first time
Stephen Hawking wrote about some
of his ideas about black holes,
he called the paper
Black Hole Explosions?,
with a question mark at the end,
suggesting that even he was a little
bit concerned about
the really radical
ideas he was coming up with.
No one can accuse Stephen Hawking
of not being ambitious.
In trying to unify the seemingly
of physics into one,
unified, grand theory,
he was working at the very edges
of human understanding.
The fact that he did so in a way
that excited and inspired those
who know nothing about physics
is a measure of an
David Grossman there.
Joining me now in the studio
is Sir Roger Penrose.
He worked with Stephen Hawking
for over 40 years, co-authoring
the bestselling book "The Nature
of Space and Time".
Back in 1988 he and Hawking won
the Wolf Prize for their work
in "greatly enlarging our
understanding of the origin
and possible fate of the universe".
Good evening to you. So your main
collaboration was around 1970. How
different were things at that time
in his condition and his ability to
He was a lot more able, and he
could talk. When I first met him I
didn't notice anything wrong at all.
It was very early stages. And I
could see gradually over the years
getting successively worse. But the
work we did together was largely
before that. The paper we roped
together in the royals fight on the
singularity question was something
which he had difficulty in speaking,
at that time. Most of the
collaboration, curiously enough, was
done over the telephone. There was
only one meeting when he came to
where I was working.
him once. I had no idea how much
harder it was to communicate than
had been let on by the media. When
it was broadcast at the interview,
it was a fluent interview, I asked
the question and there came an
answer. But the answers took a long
time to prepare.
Yes. And the
curious thing, when I conversed with
him when he could talk, I could get
on quite well as long as it was an
science or mathematics. Then there
was the odd point when he would say
something I couldn't understand at
all. It was either a joke or an
invitation to dinner. It was quite
curious than... That the scientific
communication was much easier.
collaborated for ages, but then you
We did. The main
difference was to do with quantum
mechanics. Although there was a
slight moment, to do with his
discoveries about the black hole if
evaporation and all that, and the
implications of that, and the
questions of whether black holes
actually swallow information, which
is what he said originally, and I
agree with. But later on, he came to
the conclusion that because of the
general principles of quantum
mechanics, it can't swallow
information. So he went over to a
He went over to the
other side! The early Stephen
Hawking with your collaborator.
still got on very well.
Help us out
on how great a physicist he was, and
how he will be remembered by
physicists. We know that the public
are very taken with the man and the
We have to separate the
remarkable fact of what he did with
the physical condition he had. It is
astounding, no doubt about that. You
cannot compare him with Einstein,
who created theories which
encompassed huge areas of physics,
which were different to theories
that existed before. He didn't do
that. He worked within theories that
were accepted at the time, and then
he combined work with general
activity on quantum mechanics with
the one major thing that nobody
disputes was due to him, which was
this black hole evaporation.
told me earlier that you did see him
a couple of months ago at a lecture.
I did indeed.
Thank you so much for
The German general election seems
like an age ago now,
it was back on the 24th
September last year.
And today, almost six months later,
Angela Merkel was sworn in for her
fourth term as Chancellor.
It was the obvious outcome
of that election, but boy,
it took a long time coming.
The German President,
formally appointed Merkel's
new Cabinet and said
"It is good that the time
of uncertainty is over,
"these are testing
years for democracy".
He was talking about
the world in general -
and we know what he means.
But it's certainly been a testing
few months for Germany,
as it has confronted the idea that
Merkel may not be forever.
Gabriel Gatehouse has been
to a small town in south west
Germany to test the mood there.
Here's his report.
Welcome to Hassloch -
the most average town in Germany.
In fact, this little place,
population 21,400, is so ordinary
that market researchers use it
to test out products.
But are they buying their new
In terms of democratics
and political leanings,
Hassloch is a mirror
of Germany as a whole,
and under the surface,
all is not well.
Hassloch's main attraction
is its holiday park,
closed now for the winter.
During the warmer months, residents
have free access to the rides.
It's something that brings
the townsfolk together.
They collect their passes
from Rosa Tischenko at the citizens'
office, who's worked
here for nearly two decades.
In truth, no one in Hassloch seemed
by Angela Merkel's reannointment
as Chancellor this morning.
She's got her fourth term thanks
to another coalition deal
between her Conservatives
and the centre-left SPD.
Angela Merkel's new coalition
promises a new dynamism,
a new cohesion for Germany.
In reality, though, these
are the same two parties that have
run this country for eight out
of the past 12 years,
and now Germans can look
forward to four more years
of the same old faces.
The SPD initially resisted another
coalition, but the pull of Merkel
and the logic of Germany's consensus
politics led inexorably
back to the status quo.
As in the rest of Germany,
so in Hassloch, at the last
election, the two main traditional
parties won their smallest share
of the vote since the war,
losing out to the right
wing, nationalist AfD.
It's the development
of the refugees in Germany.
That's the main reason?
It's the main reason, I think,
and you have to find these answers.
Did Angela Merkel mishandle
the refugee crisis?
I don't think...
From the human side,
she has to do this.
You don't see many refugees
on the streets of Hassloch,
but it's not hard to find people
who are worried about them.
We were invited into the home
of a local policeman.
He once voted CDU, but the refugee
crisis prompted him to join the AfD.
His book shelf, at first
glance, looks alarming.
Oh, bloody hell!
I thought this was
banned in Germany.
This only commentary.
It turns out to be the legally
sanctioned, academically annotated
version of Mein Kampf.
The policeman says he has no time
for Nazis, but he's also lost
patience with mainstream politics.
A few streets away,
but on the opposite end
of the political spectrum,
we meet a local pastor.
In his spare time, he fixes
old bicycles to give
away to refugees who,
he says, are welcome in Germany.
But on one subject he and
the policeman agree.
Under Merkel, politics is stagnated.
Yes, because it's the same,
the same people.
The same people?
The same people.
It's Merkel, it's SPD,
and I have no hope that
anything changes with her.
Germany has to wait
for a new government after her.
Like Manchester United!
But in Hassloch that an average
town, political differences are very
much alive and kicking.
In the evening, Peter
the policeman invites us
to his local football club.
How are you?
What's going on?
It's not a friend of AfD.
You want not to remain?
You make decision...
We go in.
Thank you very much.
disagreement, I think.
In this time we have problem.
In the club.
Because 50% want not AfD.
And the other want AfD.
So are you losing friends?
And this is you here, is it?
Looking at your phone?
Looking at the wrong place?
Peter split with Merkel
over the refugee crisis,
but his views on this subject
are in fact less radical
than you might expect.
Right, so you think you should let
in people from Syria,
from Iraq, from Afghanistan?
The issue of refugees has become
a totemic dividing line.
To many Germans, yet another
coalition government feels
like going round in circles.
And here's the paradox.
The more the mainstream
the more society seems polarised.
That's all we have
time for - good night.