David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Poole, Dorset. On the panel are Elizabeth Truss, Diane Abbott, Julia Hartley-Brewer, Giles Fraser and Julian Fellowes.
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Tonight, we are in Poole in Dorset, and this is Question Time.
And of course, welcome to all of you and to people watching at home,
or listening on the radio,
and to our panel. Tonight, our panel is
the Conservative Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss,
Labour's Shadow International Development Secretary, Diane Abbott,
the columnist and broadcaster, Julia Hartley-Brewer,
the parish priest and Guardian columnist, Giles Fraser,
and the creator of Downton Abbey
who takes the Tory whip in the House of Lords, Julian Fellowes.
As always, a reminder you can join in this debate from home.
Facebook, Twitter, #bbcqt.
You can like us or not as you choose.
You can follow us - @BBCQuestionTime,
you can text comments to 83981, press the red button to see what
others are saying.
Before I take the first question, we are now into the
referendum campaign, I suppose.
We've got just 17 weeks to go before the vote.
So here on Question Time,
we're going to be trying to balance our panels
and our audiences to meet both sides of the argument.
Tonight, for instance, we have
two politicians who want Britain to remain and three
non-politicians, who I think we shall see, want to leave.
And we'll chop and change as the weeks go on.
And we'll expect everybody on either side to
speak up loudly in the audience,
so that we don't get accused of bias.
Darrel Kwong, please, has the first question.
323,000 net immigration. Surely we have to leave the EU
to get control?
OK. We have to leave the EU to get control of immigration.
Big point. Liz Truss.
It is certainly the case
that we have to do more to address immigration.
We have worked very hard on this.
We've put in a cap for migrants
from outside the EU.
And the deal that David Cameron has negotiated in Europe will mean
that we do reduce the pull factors in terms of welfare and benefits,
so that people can't start claiming the minute they arrive in Britain,
and they do have to look for a job straightaway.
And if they don't get a job, then they will have to leave.
That is what is really important to British people, that
the rules are fair and people...
Are you going to get down to the 100,000 that Cameron promised?
And people aren't getting something for nothing.
Are you going to get down to the 100,000? 300,000 at the moment.
That is still our aim, David, and we have seen the most recent
figures in quarterly returns have dipped slightly.
But we do need to make more progress.
But what I would say here is,
in terms of our debate about the European Union,
free movement of people is a very important
part of the single market. And the single market brings huge
benefits to Britain.
There is £150 billion worth of trade
we do with the single market every year.
We've got access to everything, unfettered access to selling our
services, selling our goods, selling our farmed products.
And I think it would be hugely damaging for us to leave
that single market.
But Darrel is talking about immigration. There are lots of
aspects to this vote. He's talking about immigration.
What I am saying is that free movement does go hand in hand
with being part of the single market,
so anybody who says that they want to get rid
of free movement also has to accept
that means getting out, in some way, of the single market.
It means not being able to sell our goods and services.
It means less growth here in Britain,
and it means people not being able to benefit from those
exports, which means jobs, it means businesses,
-it means people being able to buy their homes.
What I am saying is there is no utopia
where we can simply close the borders and say,
our economy will remain intact and remain the same.
-The question is about immigration.
If we left the EU, in your opinion would we be able to control
immigration and get it down to the kind of figures
the Tory Government promised?
Of course we could totally close our borders and close off trade with
the rest of the world, but we would be very, very poorly off
-and we would see economic stagnation.
And I don't think that's an option.
-We know also that we don't have enough
skills in this country and what we need to do is build up
the skills of our young people to be able to do those jobs like
engineering, where we do not have enough people to do those jobs.
-I think the element of immigration
that gets rather lost in the EU conversation is that a great
many of the immigrants who want to come to this country
are nothing to do with the EU.
And we don't seem to have a frightfully effective policy
there, even though we are not fettered by the EU laws
dealing with people outside.
We obviously need a better policy. But like everyone else here,
I am sure, I am very torn by this,
because people talk about, "They are only financial immigrants",
whatever the term is,
"They're not really persecuted, they just want a better life."
Well, why shouldn't they want a better life?
I don't understand that.
I think we obviously have to find a better balance,
we obviously have to find a policy, but we never
want to shut our doors completely. We're all agreed on that.
In your opinion, would one of the advantages of leaving the EU be
that you could get better control over immigration?
Is that something you'd think of as an advantage?
You could have obviously a better control of the EU area
because we would not be part of the freedom of movement.
Would you like to see that happen?
I'd like to be out, we'll get to that later,
but actually the immigration is not my reason.
Obviously you would control the borders better
but I think we need a better immigration policy across the board,
-and that is it.
-The woman there.
-I'm sorry, but I can't accept...
-Sorry, start... Yeah, go on.
Sorry. I was just saying I'm sorry, but I can't accept
Liz's argument that they are trying to remove the pull
factors for migrants, because what is increasing the living wage to
£9 in 2020 going to do?
Especially Eastern Europeans who have a minimum wage that's already
one tenth of what ours is.
Surely that's going to increase net migration.
So what would you do? Not touch the minimum wage,
or get out of the EU and control the borders?
I would get out of the EU so we could have a fair,
points based system, so we don't favour
people from outside the EU over people in the EU.
Because we can have someone unskilled within Europe
coming in without any questions, but a really talented doctor from
India has to go through a really intensive process.
-It doesn't make sense.
-OK. Diane Abbott. Will you answer that?
Pick up her point if you would.
My parents were immigrants.
So the audience will forgive me if I say
I worry about a narrative on immigration which only stresses
the negatives, which...
..which is riddled with myths,
that immigrants just come here to sit down and live off benefits,
and actually panders to people, and raises expectations that you can
clear the streets of anyone foreign looking,
when in 2016, in the globalised world, it's not going to happen.
I was in the House of Commons this week,
and one of his own Conservative MPs asked David Cameron,
with his fiddling around with benefits, how many fewer migrants
will we see? He didn't answer.
Cameron's renegotiation is a con, it's a con,
it's about managing the Tory party.
It's all about his internal management of the Tory party.
There are reasons to stay in Europe,
there are reasons to stay out of Europe.
I personally am glad we're having a referendum.
It should be the people's referendum. It shouldn't be
dominated by the games they are playing in the Tory party,
Dave versus Boris.
I think we should look at the real issues, have a genuine debate.
It's a once-in-a-lifetime debate...
We know all that.
-Wait a minute. The question... I want to go back to the
question that Darrel asked, which was about immigration.
You know the Tory party had this plan at the last election in the
-manifesto to limit immigration to tens of thousands.
What's your opinion on the level of immigration
that this country should try to achieve,
or do you think it should be open to anybody?
We've never had...
This country's never had an open door on immigration.
No. What do you think?
-Where have you been...?
I've actually been in Hackney, dealing with thousands of people
every year trying to get their relatives
and their mothers and their children in.
That's where I've been. That's why I know we don't have
open door immigration.
I wouldn't want to give a figure.
I think the important thing is we have a fair immigration system,
an immigration system which works for our economy.
I don't think you can give a figure.
I think the Tories have got into trouble
putting out figures which they can't meet.
Julia... I'll come to you, Darrel, in a moment. Julia.
Before I get to the substance, can I question, Diane,
whether you did want us to have a referendum?
Because in 2011 you voted against having a referendum
because you don't think the British people should have a say.
-Is that not right?
-Are you sure?
The problem I have is we've got two politicians here, Diane Abbott
-Can I answer your question?
-Can I answer your question?
-You did ask it.
I have always argued, inside the party,
that we should come out for a referendum.
That's always been my position.
You voted against a referendum in 2011.
-I'm a loyal party member, what can I do?
-You voted against...
Anyway. OK, we've got two politicians, Diane Abbott,
who was a member of the Labour Party
which basically had an open immigration policy with
the rest of Europe without ever asking the British people
for consent, and Liz Truss,
who's clearly a fully paid up member of Project Fear.
I don't know about you, I'm waiting for the plagues of locusts.
No-one is suggesting the choice is between an open door
immigration policy and no-one coming here at all.
What we should have is a policy that virtually every
country in the world has, which is that we let in people
that we need and want and we don't let in other people.
It's not complicated. Hundreds of other countries manage to do it.
-And it's very simple.
-No. Can I...?
-No. Hold on a second.
To Darrel's question, do you think that can only
be achieved by leaving the EU?
Yeah, absolutely it can only be achieved by leaving the EU.
Certainly not the deal that David Cameron has got.
The idea that if we want to have free trade with Europe,
that we have to have an open door policy is absolute nonsense.
What Norway, Switzerland or other
smaller countries have negotiated is not the same as
a negotiation from the fifth biggest economy in the world.
The fact is, there is no other country that has
full access to the single market without having
free movement of people.
It was the way it was set up in the first place.
It was about free movement of goods, services, people and capital.
-That is the whole concept of the single market.
You're saying you can pick and choose between one element of it.
-Yes, you can.
And the fact is that Europe exports 7% of its products to Britain...
-We'll come to that.
-..and Britain exports 44% to Europe.
We'll come to that. You keep saying, "the fact is".
We'll come to what you think the facts are, but I want to go back to
the questioner before I come to Giles.
Darrel, what do you make of what you have heard so far?
I can only go from my own experiences.
I work in the private rented sector and I deal with letting agents.
One of the reason as to why rents are so high is
because of migration into places like Diane's Hackney,
where she complains about the cost of renting.
One of the reasons is that the demand is so high and we do not have
the resources to deal with it, so we need to be doing something
-And leaving the EU is your view?
It is one of the things that we can control, in addition to others
but I certainly believe that we should leave the EU.
-Giles Fraser, your turn.
-I want to disrupt the link that you've
made, because I'm in favour of leaving the EU.
I'm a keen Brexiter.
I would have us have more immigration into this country
and not less. And that is not a popular view.
And the reason is at the moment because there is a humanitarian
crisis in the Middle East.
And it's not just about whether we need doctors and
engineers and professional people and what would be
in our advantage, and whether rents would go up and go down.
There are people in
places like Aleppo and in Syria, who are having barrel bombs
dropped on them, they're fleeing for their lives.
You and your family, me and my family, I'd be fleeing for
my life, and I would want there to be
a country that had the humanitarian principles
that at a time like this would open their doors.
Yes, it might be difficult for us. It might be.
But for me, there is a basic Christian principle about
welcoming the stranger in need, and at this time
I would want us to be generous, and probably more
generous than we feel comfortable, in order to accept
people who are fleeing for their lives.
You make the point about Syria, but if you exclude Syria from
the argument, if you exclude the millions of people
who have left Syria for Turkey and wherever,
On the general point that Darrel's making about immigration
from the European countries, you say you want to get out of the EU.
They would then not have automatic access here
and you would approve of that?
The truth of the matter is, if we came out of the European Union
it would mean perhaps that we would have
greater control over our borders.
It does not mean we would close our borders, necessarily,
it means we have greater control over them.
It could be that we would be generous
with our immigration policy.
For me, the whole reason that I think it is right for us to
come out of the European Union is a basic principle of democracy,
is that we should be in charge of our own future.
And that we elect these politicians on our behalf,
and it is not for them to give that power away to someone else.
They must return it to us
when the election comes round again, undiminished.
And they shouldn't give away what is not theirs to give.
So it's a basic principle of democracy.
Can I just say one more thing?
This debate is going to be very narrow and very nasty
if we make the debate about Europe,
a once-in-a-lifetime debate, simply about immigration.
-That would be a huge mistake.
You, sir, at the back.
We're going to move on to another aspect of it because I'm aware
that everybody's minds are focused
at the moment, because of this June 23rd vote,
on all the aspects of the EU.
You, sir. We'll move on to the thing about trade in a moment. Yes.
I think Britain's been very generous towards immigration over the years.
For years and years and years. And I hope
we will be, to some extent.
But, the gentleman and Diane,
where are these people going to live?
You know. On the streets?
There's going to be more crime. There has to be another way.
We cannot keep getting flooded and flooded with immigrants.
Where's the infrastructure coming from? Where are they going to live?
-It will be like a ghetto.
-Oh! That is outrageous, look...
-I say that as the son of a Polish immigrant
and very proud of it, too.
Can I just say, this narrative, which suggests that immigrants
are a dead weight on the economy, that they contribute nothing, that
-they are just a huge problem...
-I didn't say that.
-No, let me...
The country cannot be swamped. It is logic.
Without immigration, from the Second World War onwards,
we wouldn't have the National Health Service we have today.
I know, I wouldn't be here!
I don't think anyone is suggesting no immigration...
-No, no, I'm talking about the narrative.
-We can't keep on...
It's a negative narrative and, in the end, it gets us nowhere.
What do you say to what Giles Fraser said about allowing many more people
in and being much more generous to people from Syria who are refugees,
who aren't people coming from Poland like his father,
but are people from the Middle East?
I visited, in the past few weeks, the refugee camp
at Calais and I visited Lesbos,
where Syrian refugees were also coming into,
and the conditions in Calais are disgusting.
-They are inhumane.
-..let them come over to the UK - you are
-just spreading the problem.
-It is all
very well saying, yes, we can have an open-door policy...
-Let her answer the question.
I don't think that we are taking our fair share of Syrian refugees.
These are people in desperate circumstances,
being exploited by people traffickers.
I think we should step up and take a fair share.
-That's the human argument.
It is much better to take the approach we are taking,
which is to have a comprehensive solution that helps people nearer
their home rather than attracting people to Europe into the arms of
the people traffickers who are killing people day after day.
I think it is a huge problem,
if we attract more migrants, refugees to Europe.
-What will you do about the people in Europe?
-We are the second
biggest bilateral donor in Syria.
We are helping sort out the problem at source, give people homes and
-make sure that they have a sustainable future...
-people homes? What homes are we giving people?
-We are giving them...
-..accommodation close to Syria,
close to their homes, rather than them taking
a perilous journey, falling into the arms of the people traffickers
and then failing to accommodate those people in Europe.
-We are taking 20,000 refugees but we are doing it in an
organised and systematic way so people are properly accommodated
here in the UK, and that is the right approach.
Can I say, if Diane wants to help the Syrian refugees, why didn't you
support military action against Assad and Syria...Isis?
Do you really think that bombing Syria would have helped anything?
I think bombing Assad's forces would help, yes.
The woman in the fifth row?
I think my view is that a group of my friends, who are all nurses, have
been raising money for a couple of weeks and they
will go over to Calais this weekend to the camps, where they will
take with them sleeping bags, torches, medical supplies,
and they have done that with their own money.
A lot of us have sponsored them to do it. It is not just a case of who
is coming in, it's the fact we are turning a blind eye to these people
in need and we are not going out to help anyone with the exception of
sending warplanes over to bomb Syria.
OK. You, in blue, the man in blue?
I think the argument has got a little bit more towards
immigration. I think we, the British public, are quite selfish.
We love all the benefits of the EU without any of the disadvantages.
Let's face it, it is more about - it is more than just immigration.
Let's not forget, any of us, at any time, can go to any of these
countries and live there. We have many UK nationals out...
What happens to all those people when we close our borders?
All right. We will go on to
the wider aspect of jobs and the economy. Margaret Malt has a
question. Let's stick with Europe for the moment, Margaret Malt.
If we leave the EU, would there be job losses
and would EU trading be affected?
-Well, we have heard talk
of three million job losses and a complete
closing down of all trade from the Project Fear brigade.
Absolute loads of codswallop. It...
I, genuinely, I was a political editor for many years,
and I have honestly never heard more nonsense talked about on any subject
ever in my time as a political journalist.
I very much agree with Giles on the issue of sovereignty and democracy,
but I know that when it comes to voting on June 23rd, most of us will
be concerned about security
and also the economy, and are our jobs safe,
is our trade going to be safe?
We had lots of nonsense coming out last week, with letters
from FTSE 100 Chief Executives, 36 signed a letter saying
the perils of leaving the EU.
Of course, two-thirds of FTSE 100 Chief Executives chose
not to sign the letter, and a small point,
15 of the 36 have received EU funding and eight of the 36
in 2003 warned of the perils of not joining the EU and
how our economy would collapse. How's that working out?
What do you think would happen, Julia, if the vote was Brexit?
How long would it take?
-You've seen the figures about sterling falling.
In the Financial Times today, it says it will be a difficult
-two-year period, do you agree with that?
-I think it will be a
difficult period, but no more difficult than any democracy when
they have a vote and make a decision to do something new.
The reality is we are not Norway, not Switzerland, not Canada,
we are the fifth biggest economy in the world. We will be
able to negotiate a deal.
If you seriously think that the French and the Germans will go,
"Right, you have knifed us in the back, we are off, we don't
"care any more," and Mercedes and BMW won't be in Angela Merkel's
office the next day saying,
"Are you insane? Britain is one of our biggest markets."
They need to trade with us as much as we need to trade with them.
They are not going to do us over. One final point...
David Cameron's argument seems to be that they will knife us in the back,
they will turn us over if we do that.
That's the same argument you give to a battered wife
in a domestic abusive relationship.
Go back to your violent husband, or he might hurt you even more.
If they are our friend, they will want to trade with us.
Actually, what the Foreign Secretary
said was that a Leave vote would be seen as two fingers to Europe
and they would give two fingers back to us and therefore...
And they don't want to sell us any cars, they don't want to
sell anything to us? 16% of goods and services sold by the EU are sold
-to the British people.
-Ask Liz Truss.
I think Britain is a great country, a fantastic country.
Of course we could do well if we were outside the EU. I think the
question is, how much better can we do by staying in the EU
and continuing to take advantage of full access
to the single market? No other country has full access to goods and
services without being part of free movement,
without accepting those regulations and making sure that we
share the rules and the system of Europe.
Now, if people do want to leave, and I think it is a perfectly
respectable point of view, I think they have to say what
the alternative would look like and what the model would look like.
The fact is, there is a process, a two-year process,
where we will be in limbo as a country, we will be in a
twilight zone, where we are looking
at what the future options might look like,
-That is not very long.
-It could be longer than two years.
We know how long it does take to reach decisions in the EU.
-That is an argument for the EU, is it?
-It is not just...
It's not just the EU...
So, let me give you one example from Defra.
We are still negotiating to open up the US market to British beef,
20 years after that market was closed due to BSE.
That is how long trade negotiations take.
So, what do you think would happen?
We have 53 agreements with different countries around the world through
the EU. Those would have to be renegotiated, the single
-market access would have to be renegotiated.
-People know that
because you've said that and everybody has said that. What do you
think the damage of that would be? That's what's interesting.
How much will unemployment go up by? How much would trade fall by?
How much would sterling fall by? Have you done an assessment of
that when you come to defence of the government position?
The Government will be producing an assessment...
You haven't got it yet?
Not yet. There will be an economic analysis.
But not only will we spend our time trying to disentangle ourselves
from these arrangements with the EU, think of
all the stuff we could be doing instead. Think of what is
really important in terms of improving our country, raising our
productivity, reforming our welfare system, making sure our schools
are better, thinking about the Health Service. We will have the
entire Government machine tied up with disentangling ourselves from
-Europe, possibly never to get a better solution anyway.
If you think four months is long to talk about this, imagine what five
-or ten years talking about this...
-So we shouldn't have had
-a referendum at all?
-I think it is
right that people decide, but I know what I think is right for Britain.
So, people say economically, it will be a leap into the dark.
We pay 50 million a day to the EU.
We get some of it back, of course, when they let us, in the way
they want, but in effect...
Sorry. Let's hit this thing on the head of 50 million. The National
-Audit Office figure is £15 million net of what is given back.
-I'm coming on to that.
-Yes, but this quote of 50 million, it is
easy on the ear, but it is not accurate, is it?
So... We are down £11 billion a year for being in
-It doesn't help your case to quote £50 billion when
-it is not the right figure.
-It's 7 billion.
So we give it out and we get some back, which is
exactly what I said to start with.
But the point I'm trying to make is, that I think we would be,
we would be a net beneficiary financially of coming out and that
in itself is not a leap into the dark, that seems to be a leap into
what I understand to be - I won't bandy figures -
£11 billion-plus. That seems to be a pretty good leap into the dark...
-Hang on. I'm happy to accept, let me concede the point,
I'm happy to accept I might be wrong about the figures.
I'm not bandying figures about, that's boring.
-You were bandying them around.
That's what you were doing!
So, even if we are poorer, I think
democracy is not for sale. That is a fundamental point. Even if we
are a bit poorer, and the economic stuff that is going on in Europe,
for me the crucial stuff, how the Greek people were treated in their
financial crisis by the Europeans, how...
Shamelessly. How trade deals are being negotiated - TTIP -
in our name without us knowing
a single thing about what is going on.
This is the problem economically.
I don't want to nickel and dime over whether we will be a bit
poorer or richer, personally,
I don't think democracy is for sale, we should come out.
OK. Let's hear from the audience. You, sir, in the front row?
Unemployment is at a record low and the economy is one of
the best performing in Europe.
-Is that because of Europe or despite Europe?
One of the... It is partly because of Europe.
One of the strongest arguments for
voting to stay in the EU is what coming out of
the EU would do to jobs and the economy.
That's why the Labour Party and all of the trade unions
are in favour of staying in. Julia...
Not all of the trade unions.
ASLEF and RMT are not in favour.
They are not manufacturing unions. My point is this.
They will continue to sell to us,
but our ability to sell to Europe could be
fatally hampered by tariffs and a tariff war.
The other point is this. There is a great deal of manufacturing
in this country, car manufacturers to begin with.
Those manufacturers from Japan and so on are only here
because we are within the EU. There are financial services
companies that are only in London because we are within the EU.
I think there are two problems.
One - our goods would face a tariff fall,
and the other - that bit by bit, the headquarters of firms that have
only come here because we're in the EU would relocate to the Continent.
Julian, I'm going to come to you,
but I'd like to hear from some members of the audience before I do.
The woman over there, and then
I'll come to you, sir, in the pink shirt. Yes?
It's OK with the EU market,
but surely our biggest price we have to pay is our safety.
We've been letting in terrorists willy-nilly
without actually checking them through,
so what's the excuse? That's what I want to know.
-So, terrorism is what do you think is the major issue?
-Yeah, it is.
Because our safety... It's all right staying in the EU market,
but how many are we letting through through the EU?
OK, and you, sir, in the pink shirt.
There are many people that trade
with the EU that are not in the EU. Countries like China.
-Yes. Funnily enough.
-They pay tariffs.
We don't have to be in the EU to trade with the EU.
But they have to pay tariffs.
But you would have to pay a higher tariff.
And they don't have access to the services market,
which is really important.
Two thirds of our economy is services,
and they don't have access to that.
Isn't it amazing that only four of the G20 countries are in the EU,
and yet somehow manage to survive. I wonder how they do that?
The man there. Yes, you, sir, with the brown pullover on.
You all keep saying that the referendum...
There needs to be a referendum because the people need to decide.
But I was just wondering,
with everyone throwing these facts around like 50 billion figure
for political point scoring,
how are the British people supposed to decide
when they haven't got the right information?
Well, and it goes to the heart of it,
because a lot of people say give us the facts,
tell us what the consequences of one thing or the other would be.
Julian Fellowes, how do you think people should survive?
I'll come to you later.
I don't really think whether
we should stay in or get out is a financial argument.
I agree that it is a complete fantasy to think that
the car manufacturers of Germany
and the wine growers of France are suddenly going to
turn their back on one of their best markets
because we're supposed to have made a V sign at them.
I've worked all my life in a business
where everyone makes a V sign at you every morning
and you then get on with the business at hand.
It is just nonsense to think that.
We also will have unfettered access to all sorts of other world markets
and expand in different ways.
I would be very surprised if there was really
much difference in it at all.
I love being European. I love Europe.
I think it's great, and I think if we do come out,
the first thing we should do is try to make as good arrangements
with everyone, be pals with everyone, set up everything.
I've been told, "We'll pay almost as much money
"if we want to go on trading."
Well, let's do the sums, and if they work let's pay it. That's all fine.
But we won't have to live under rules
-we have not wanted or asked for or voted for.
Yes. The woman in the very back there.
Yeah, I'm as confused as anybody here.
I agree with the young girl over there.
I just can't make my mind up whether we stay in Europe or whether we go.
Where's this assessment coming from, Liz?
When are we going to see it so that we can make this informed decision?
Is it going to be a week before the referendum?
-A week after?
-The week after?
There is going to be an assessment produced
and also a look at the alternative models.
And that will be produced fairly shortly.
But I think it is clear that if you look at the exit process,
there will be two years of uncertainty,
and if you look at the access to the European single market,
including services, which represents two thirds of the UK economy,
no other country has access to that market without having to
follow the rules, and we are part of making rules.
I know some of the rules are frustrating.
I couldn't agree with you more, Julian.
As Defra Secretary, I have to deal with them every day.
But the fact is, if we want export our lamb to Europe,
and we export 38% of all the lamb we produce to Europe,
we will have to follow those rules anyway. And that is the problem.
You know, the question is, do we be part of it
and help come up with the rules,
or do we have to follow the rules anyway because it is our closest
market to us, we are geographically located next to Europe?
Just come back to this assessment thing you keep talking about
that's going to come out, for some reason isn't ready yet.
But it is going to come out.
Given that the Government has said that civil servants can't
brief people who are against staying in the EU,
can only brief ministers who are in favour,
is anybody going to trust this assessment?
The Government is parti pris. The Prime Minister has said
they are going to stay in. APPLAUSE
David, we have an impartial civil service, which is responsible...
Why aren't they allowed to advise the people who want to exit?
They are able to provide facts,
they are able to provide facts to all ministers,
regardless of whether those ministers have taken the decision
that they want to leave the official Government position and leave.
-No, they are not.
-They are able to provide facts.
But Heywood specifically forbade giving information to people
who were in favour of coming out.
I mean, that is what we are told in the papers, anyway.
I can assure you, Julian,
in Defra we have ministers of both sets of opinions,
and all ministers are provided with the facts by the civil servants,
and civil servants are impartial.
They are not allowed to take sides in this debate.
Does that include the civil servant who wrote to
the FTSE 100 companies asking them
to sign that letter supporting staying in?
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
My major concern here is we've got two politicians on the panel
and we've got our politicians...
We voted for them,
and yet they want to be subservient to the European Union.
And I'm just concerned that they are second-rate politicians
being lorded over by the European Parliament.
-That's a bit harsh!
-Can I say - we live in an interconnected world.
We are members of Nato, we are members of the WTO, we are
members of the European Union.
We have to work with other countries to get things done.
We do not invite second-rate politicians
onto the Question Time panel.
-We only invite...
-We only invite the first rank.
You're being dictated to by the European Parliament.
You may disagree with them,
but they are the first rank of politicians that are on offer.
LAUGHTER I put that caveat in.
Why aren't they fighting for us, then,
against the European Parliament?
But the question is, do we stay in Europe
and fight for the rules that we want, or do we leave it...
But you are not! You're not doing it.
..and end up having to follow those rules
because we want to do trade with that market?
You can still trade with it.
We're members of organisations like Nato, the WTO -
we have to work with other countries to get things done.
That's what politics is about.
I must say, my favourite part of Project Fear is that we should all
vote to stay in because otherwise we won't get cheap flights.
The idea that whether or not you can fly on Queasy Jet should
decide the future of this country is rather extraordinary to me.
The woman in blue, there. You.
Am I the only person here who has
a member of the economic Parliament... European Parliament?
Cos we do have people who represent us in Europe.
They haven't just made decisions about us.
We have actually voted for people who represent us in Europe.
Those powers have been given away by our politicians to other
politicians in other countries and unelected bureaucrats.
Are you telling me they don't represent our views from Britain?
Are you telling me that the people that we pay for
to represent us in Europe,
that they are not representing our views?
Well, then, let's put them up to account,
cos if I was a teacher not doing my job, I'd be out of a job.
-The point is that we have only a tiny say of what
happens in the European Parliament and a tiny say of what
happens in the European Council and European Commission.
-And we are repeatedly voted down. I think 70 cases...
-72 since 2010 where David Cameron has...
-We lost 72.
Yes, we lost all 72. The reality is...
Of course we have to compromise, of course we have to do deals,
and we do that in Nato, we do that with the World Trade Organisation,
we do that with lots of bodies.
We don't give away our sovereignty to do so.
Can I just...? Can I ask whether...?
Can I just ask a question? I know this is a political audience,
but I'd love to know how many people here know the name of their MEP.
How many people here know the name of their MEP?
-If they don't know... I'm not going to test them all.
That's actually rather important.
-You don't know, David. You don't know their names.
Just hands up if you know the name of your MEP.
-You do, sir. Who is he or she?
-Right, what area is that?
-MEP for the South West.
We've got about 20 hands up in the whole big audience.
-That really says something.
-Let's go onto another question.
We won't leave the EU for the moment.
But just before we go to it, since we've been 40 minutes on this,
a reminder about where we're going to be next week.
We are in Liverpool. And the week after that, we are in Dundee.
And you can apply either by telephone or to our website.
Let's go to the harsh politics of this,
and have this question from Harrison Taylor, please.
Will Boris Johnson be a vote winner in the EU referendum?
Will Boris Johnson, who has come out as an Out,
will he... Is he persuasive? Giles Fraser?
I did actually think when the Prime Minister
was having a go at Jeremy Corbyn
for doing up his tie and putting his jacket on,
I half thought for a minute he was actually having
a go at Boris about that, and not just Jeremy Corbyn.
I imagine Boris sings the national anthem,
-which was the last part of the barb against Corbyn.
-Here's the thing.
I quite like the fact we are having a debate about this,
that the Tories are having a debate about this.
I quite like the fact that you're having unusual alliances
and that actually, there's a proper debate going on.
I actually wish there was more
of a debate in the Labour Party about this going on.
I think the Labour Party are slightly absent from the field.
And I wish they would get stuck in more.
And I quite like the fact that you have a Boris
and the others arguing with each other.
I think that is just what we want in our democracy,
having a proper debate where there aren't any obvious sides any more.
This is too important an issue
for it to become one of those tribal playpen issues.
So really, really good that we have all different people arguing
with each other, a kaleidoscope which is being shaken up,
and I think we should all think afresh and anew about this subject.
And it is really good to see
politicians breaking the mould about where they stand.
Why do you think Labour is not arguing about it
in the way that you would like?
The Labour Party used to have a good tradition of Euroscepticism,
with heroes of mine like Tony Benn, and I think probably through
the Tony Blair period onwards that got squashed out of them.
And now I suspect Mr Corbyn, in his heart of hearts,
is very ambivalent about Europe.
I suspect Diane is secretly pretty ambivalent about Europe, really.
But they are not really allowed to say so.
She is smiling a very saturnine kind of smile here beside you.
And I wish they'd say so more.
Can we just unleash the Labour Party to have a proper debate on this?
You have the freedom of the airwaves offered you by Giles
to unleash your inner self.
That's very tempting, Giles, but not this minute.
I sincerely hope this referendum isn't decided as to whether
people like Boris or not,
just as I hope that we don't confuse the issue of Europe with
the issue of the immigration,
because Julian made a very good point that some of the people that
many people regard as immigrants are not from Europe at all.
Just as I hope...
Somebody said, a couple of people said, and they were right,
figures, going backwards and forwards...
I think we need a debate on first principles.
And one of the principles is that this is 2015...
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
-One of the principles is...
-Typical Labour, stuck in the past.
Only a year.
But my point is a real one.
There are so many things that are issues to us now
in the 21st century that are better addressed working with
other European countries, whether it is climate change,
whether it is this whole refugee crisis we are facing in Europe.
The idea that we're going to retreat into ourselves, you know,
in the 21st century, must be wrong.
You talked about where the Labour Party is.
The point to stress is the Labour Party has
a very different vision of Europe.
Jeremy Corbyn has a very different vision from David Cameron.
David Cameron went and was battling to preserve bankers' bonuses.
He was negotiating this totally fraudulent stuff
about benefits and immigration.
We want a Europe that is a social Europe,
that will protect workers, protect workers' rights,
that will fight climate change. We want a social Europe,
but we believe that in the 21st century it must make
more sense to come together
with our European neighbours than to retreat into some sort of bastion.
-Have you changed your view on this in your time in politics?
-I've always been a sceptic about the eurozone.
-And I think I've been proved right. The problem...
-About the EU.
I've always been pro-Europe.
But I was always sceptical about the economic aspects of it
cos there wasn't genuine convergence between the economies,
and we've seen what happened to Greece.
The woman there on the left.
Yes, I was a little concerned about Julia saying something
related to we will choose who we want and what we need,
and I think that is a little bit dangerous, choosing people that way.
But the issue with the referendum, I think it's a disgrace
to have the Prime Minister forcing this,
going to Brussels, demanding something that I think
Ukip forced him into when it's not really about that.
It's fine to have the discussion about something like this,
but there are so many different facets of this,
and really it is not even going to address the issue.
And I think having a referendum costing
so much for people to go and vote and do all the polling,
I think it is a disgrace to spend
so much money on an issue that really isn't a real issue.
Why is it not a real issue?
-It's about the Tory party!
-Because it's not really about
what he's pushing. Everyone is saying something different.
Is it really about staying
in Europe, or is it about being part of
a party that believes in the same thing?
Even his frontbenchers don't even agree or support him.
What do you think it is about?
I don't think it's about... I think Ukip forced him into a decision...
The British people demanded it. Democracy costs money.
We can have a totalitarian state and not bother.
The British people demanded it or the Conservative Party?
-The British people demanded it.
-What was the evidence?
It was quite clear at the time, the polling, again and again,
the British people at the election before had been promised a referendum and were not given it.
The British people demanded it, and it was clear that yes,
of course, the Tories would haemorrhage votes to Ukip
if they did not give it. That is democracy in action.
We can have a totalitarian state and not have these expensive elections
if you prefer, but some of us quite like the chance to vote.
All right. Julian.
..to go back to the actual question about Boris,
the one thing I hate about this,
I really dislike it, is being at odds with
the Prime Minister, a man I admire very, very much.
I don't agree with Diane that he was footling around in his negotiations.
I think he did extremely well and I doubt anyone could have done better.
It is the organisation he was wrestling with
that I have my doubts about, not about him.
And I think, where it is helpful
for Michael Gove, and for Boris Johnson, and so on,
to come on to the Out team, is it allows us
to see, this is a genuine thing where all sorts of
people can be split, where we all have all
political beliefs on one side and the other,
where this is a different question to the ones normally.
And, after it is done, after the referendum
is finished, we must then re-bond, we must bring
ourselves back together,
and I think it helpful, just as
I would find it very helpful if any of
the Labour heavyweights would come into the Out campaign,
then you would have a real sense of the fact
that this is a sort of almost equal discussion
that we have to have, so I think it is helpful.
Whether Boris himself persuades people to join it,
you know, obviously I hope he does because
that's my team, but we will have to see.
I think it makes the Out argument and the In argument feel fairly
equally balanced, which can only be a good thing.
-But, Julian, do you really think...
..do you really think, that when this is over,
-the Conservative Party will be able to re-bond?
-Because I know that all political parties have
had to go through these very difficult schisms,
and then you have to get over it.
It's like a family. "I will never speak to you again,"
you say as you flounce out and slam the door,
and, sure enough, by Christmas, there you are.
You know. And that'll be that.
You don't even have to wait till Christmas,
you wait for the next episode on the following Sunday!
Liz Truss, let's just come to sovereignty,
which Julian has been talking about.
Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary,
who we know thinks the thing won't hang together legally anyway,
said that every single day, every single minister is told,
"Yes, Minister," you are a minister,
"Yes, I understand that, I am afraid it is against EU rules."
"I know, my colleagues in Government know, it happens all the time."
When he wants sovereignty restored,
isn't he right to say you are suffering all the time in your
position at Defra, from rules that you don't have any...
We have talked about whether the European Parliament has anything....
things that you have no direct effect over?
It does vary from government department to government department,
so, at Education, I never experienced that.
In my two years there, there was never a moment where EU rules
affected what we do.
And, actually, I think education is incredibly important
and we have got to think about
all the things that we do have total say over
that would get neglected if we spent five years
renegotiating or negotiating our exit
from the EU. I think that is very important.
Now, at Defra, I do have a lot more involvement with the EU...
Just go back to education, Gove was your superior minister at Education.
-He was, yes.
-Was he right or wrong to say what he said?
You said the opposite of what he says.
In the particular role that I did, which was on schools and childcare,
I didn't come across the EU in what I did.
Did you hear Michael Gove complaining at that time
about the way the EU interfered?
Well, he is somebody who is very passionate about the EU,
so of course he talks about the issue a lot.
I think, what I would say is that when you look at
our key domestic policies,
what we need to do to improve productivity,
whether it is reforming our welfare system,
reforming our education system, our fiscal policy,
and David Cameron has made sure we are protected
from the eurozone in terms of our monetary policy.
Gordon Brown did that.
-When you look at all...
-Gordon Brown was the person
that kept us out of the eurozone.
I do agree with Diane, that Gordon Brown did contribute to
staying out of the euro, which was a very good thing.
Come back to Defra, the bit you know and are working in now.
So, Defra does have a lot of rules from the EU,
and we are part of those discussions and negotiations...
Irritating to you, difficult to you?
They are irritating, and they are difficult...
You would rather be Out, then, and have your own...
..and we have those discussions.
My view is, that the cost of doing that,
the cost of being part of those regulations
and having those discussions,
is worth the huge benefits we have from being in that market.
If you look at food and farming alone,
we are getting £11 billion worth of
business from being part of those rules.
If you don't follow those rules, you can't trade.
The man in the white T-shirt, there.
While I think it is important that we have an open discussion
concerning Britain's membership of the EU,
I think it is equally important
that the Government should focus on issues
at hand in our own country,
and I'm concerned that, perhaps, the Government might be
-spending too much time and resources on this EU campaign.
Liz, can you reassure me
the Government will be focusing on issues over here?
-OK. You don't have to.
-I am focused on issues,
but I am concerned about the national energy and effort
that we will take five years or more
disentangling ourselves from the European Union.
It was only two at the start of the programme!
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
-Julian, it was at least two.
If we're any longer, it will go to ten!
At least two, that's my latest estimate.
We have got only five or six minutes left.
I want to take one other question.
-We had the news...
-I wanted to talk about Boris.
You want to say something about Boris?
-Could I answer about Boris?
-OK, very quickly.
I just think that Boris is supposed
to give a boost to the Leave campaign,
but I think, mostly, he is giving a boost to the Boris campaign,
because I think most things that Boris does
are about Boris more than anything else!
The junior doctors announced
they are going to have three 48-hour strikes in March and April.
And the question comes from Jim Green, please.
The BMA has always enjoyed widespread public support.
Will this continue if the doctors carry out further strikes?
OK, we have talked about the issues often,
but the strike action is the thing that is at issue here.
Well, the thing I don't really understand about
these strikes is, obviously, when it was
discovered that you had a far greater chance of
dying if you went into hospital over the weekend...
..clearly, someone had to do something about it.
I don't understand, if the junior doctors
actually thought the Secretary of State should not address it.
It's now gone from 6,000 extra deaths, we were told yesterday,
to 11,000 extra deaths.
That is not true!
So, that is what I don't understand.
But the thing I mostly don't understand,
is that 99% of people in this country want exactly
the same thing, a good, happy, clean, modern
Health Service which looks after the people
who work there and looks after the patients.
That is free at the point of use.
We all want it. Why is it not possible for all parties to
co-operate in solving the difficulties of the NHS,
and just for once, couldn't we be grown-up enough
to be able to collaborate instead of
turning everything into a political football?
All right. Giles Fraser, do you agree with that?
-Do you agree with him?
-I don't agree with him.
I wouldn't want my mum
to go into hospital when there was a strike on,
and I would be worried about it, and I don't think
that... I don't think that junior doctors want to strike,
I really don't think they want to strike. But...
But, listen, but, listen, here's the thing.
What happens if you are in a situation
where you, as a junior doctor, sincerely believe -
and a great many of them do -
that this new contract,
this new situation being imposed upon them,
will actually put people's lives at risk?
-What happens if you think that?
What do you do if you think this is what...
And this is what they are saying, if you are so exhausted
that you actually can't deal with the patients properly,
they are right to say something, and if all they can do is strike,
I don't like it, but I understand it.
I expect you are a doctor. I am going to have to be brutal,
we've only three minutes of this programme left
because we talked a lot about Europe. Julia.
Look, it's very simple.
11,000 more people do die over the weekends in hospitals.
The reason... Let me finish!
The reason they do die is because they arrive at
hospital sicker than the people who arrive Monday to Friday.
They are almost all emergency cases.
It is absolutely clear, the editor of the BMJ has said Jeremy Hunt
is publicly misrepresenting the study that he keeps quoting
about 11,000, and he is misusing the data to
mislead the public. The reality is, we are talking basic maths here.
It is not brain surgery or rocket science, it is basic maths.
Jeremy Hunt says the new deal for junior doctors...
It IS brain surgery!
..more pay for fewer hours for the same number of doctors
to cover more shifts. That is simply not mathematically possible.
Someone is lying.
The stats are wrong, and I agree with your point,
11,000 people more do not die at the weekend.
The stats cover Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.
They do not die at the weekend.
If junior doctors' staffing at the weekend was the problem,
they would be dying at the weekend. They do not.
The highest death rate in hospitals is on a Wednesday.
-You have more doctors on a Wednesday than a Saturday and Sunday.
It is not a weekend effect.
It is misrepresented by Mr Hunt,
who is misrepresenting and lying, frankly,
because when you are told something is wrong and continually repeat it,
it becomes a lie. He is lying about what is happening in hospital.
-We as doctors...
I'm the doctor on call for the next two strikes.
I'm the surgical registrar, the junior doctor who will be
looking after each and every one of you when you come in.
I will be making sure you are safe. I am the man below the consultant
who will operate on you if you are sick.
I will be there. No-one will be put at risk. I will make sure of it.
We will have to be very brief.
Junior doctors do an incredible job.
They are the backbone of our Health Service,
but in response to what Giles has said,
we are reducing the maximum number of hours doctors can work.
-In the current contract...
-Let me finish...
-..reducing the maximum long shift, you're not reducing the number of hours!
In the current contract, the maximum number of hours is 91 hours a week.
-Sorry, the question...
-We think that is unsafe...
-It's the same number of hours!
-..and it needs to be reduced.
-You have made your point, sir.
-I am so sorry.
-Thank you very much.
Wait a moment, Jim Green's point, and we have 60 seconds or so left,
was will further strikes alienate public support?
In your view?
I think the contract is now fair. And I think...
You are not answering the question.
..it would be wrong if doctors did go on strike.
despite the possible strike action,
that doctors will continue to have the support of the public
because people know junior doctors do not want to strike.
They also know...
There's been this quite dishonest misuse of
figures to suggest that doctors aren't already
working a seven-day week, and people are dying
because they won't.
Doctors will continue...
The public will have faith in its doctors
long after it's lost faith in this Tory Government.
You can - the woman in white there, smiling, smiling so winningly,
you can have ten seconds.
-You, yes, but be very quick.
I just want to pop something into the general conversation,
because I'm a probate lawyer,
and I can tell you that the vast majority
of new probate cases come in on a Monday.
-This is for those who have died, sadly.
-Deaths at the weekend.
All right. I don't know whether that adds anything at all.
You got away with it. Our time's up.
We are going to be in Liverpool next week, and we have
John McDonnell, Labour Shadow Chancellor,
among those on the panel in Liverpool.
The week after that we will be in Dundee, so if you want to come to
Liverpool or Dundee, you will be extremely welcome
to come and take part in these lively discussions,
Go to our website and apply there,
or the telephone number, which is on the screen.
If you are listening on Five Live, Radio Five Live, as I know
many people do now, you can continue the debate
on Question Time Extra Time,
but here, my thanks to our very first-rate panel...
LAUGHTER ..and our very first-rate audience.
From Poole, until next Thursday, goodnight.
David Dimbleby presents Question Time from Poole, Dorset. On the panel: Conservative environment secretary Elizabeth Truss MP, Labour's shadow international development secretary Diane Abbott MP, broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer, parish priest and Guardian columnist Giles Fraser and the creator of Downton Abbey Julian Fellowes.