David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Boston, Lincolnshire. On the panel are Priti Patel MP, Richard Burgon MP, Steven Woolfe MEP, Bonnie Greer and Rod Liddle.
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Welcome to this week's Question Time,
which comes from Boston in Lincolnshire,
the town which recorded the highest Brexit vote in the UK.
On our panel tonight, we have
the Conservative International Development Secretary, Priti Patel,
Labour's Shadow Justice Secretary, Richard Burgon,
Ukip's MEP spokesman on migration, Steven Woolfe,
the playwright and novelist Bonnie Greer,
who once wrote an opera about being on Question Time,
and the columnist for the Sun and the Spectator, Rod Liddle.
Thank you very much. I'm delighted to have Richard Burgon here.
He replaces Emily Thornbury, the Shadow Foreign Secretary,
who was going to be here but has gone to Israel
for Shimon Peres's funeral.
Now, remember, as ever,
you can join in this debate
as it gets going
on Facebook and Twitter,
or you can text us...
Do get involved.
A question to start with
from Alex Law, please. Mr Law.
Is Jeremy Corbyn out of touch
with communities like Boston
on the subject
of unlimited immigration?
Jeremy Corbyn, who said famously,
we need to maintain free movement
across our borders.
Is he out of touch with communities like where we are here in Boston?
Well, yes, he is, of course.
I think it was 78.1% voted in Boston
to leave the European Union,
and immigration was
a substantial part of that reason.
And of course, 70% of the population,
we know from opinion polls, are opposed or want more controls
on immigration, and more than 50% want immigration stopped entirely.
So, yes, of course he is out of touch.
I mean, bless the bloke, he's not just out of touch on
immigration, if we are absolutely honest, and it's...
And it's not just Jeremy.
I mean, if you looked at the Labour Party conference this week,
and I watched it with despair,
as a mountain of hypocrisy and self-regard, Diane Abbott,
stood up and said that anyone who voted, the people who voted
for Brexit, were bigots and didn't like the look of foreign people.
You're meant to be reaching out to new voters!
That's 52% of the electorate, Diane,
who are not going to vote for you, all right?
52%, you've labelled bigots.
Then, Shami Chakrabarti gets up and says,
"Oh, don't leave me alone in this country with Essex Man."
And the snobbery and disdain and loathing
that the London left in the Labour Party has for ordinary,
working people is remarkable.
The party that was once the party of the working class.
Now, I'm on the left, I'm not
from London, I do...
I'm from Leeds.
I do believe it's really important
that people in Westminster
don't patronise people in Boston
or anywhere else,
so I am totally resistant to
any idea of the Westminster elite
trying to wriggle out of the message that the British people sent
in the European Union referendum.
On the subject of immigration, I think we have to understand
it's not as simple as sometimes some of the newspapers make out.
Immigration can be separated into asylum seekers, who we have
a duty to assist, fleeing death, torture and persecution,
immigrants who wish to stay here for the rest of their lives,
then the free movement of labour under the European Union.
Jeremy Corbyn, in his conference speech,
did address these issues,
and what some people forget is that when Jeremy Corbyn said in
his speech - and he said it before -
that he's very concerned about free movement of labour being used
by unscrupulous employers to undercut pay, terms and conditions,
Tony Blair didn't say much about that,
Gordon Brown didn't say much about that,
so he is alert to that.
And also, the Conservative Government abolished
the Migration Impact Fund, which is meant to help areas like Boston,
that have a large share of immigrants coming to it.
And Labour, as Jeremy said in his speech the other day,
will restore the Migration Impact Fund.
So I actually think Jeremy is more alert to this.
-And one last thing on this issue...
-You think he's in tune with Boston?
Well, that's for the people of Boston to decide
at the next general election, it's not for me to speak for Boston.
But I believe in the bread-and-butter issues
of needing more council houses, needing more affordable homes,
needing a real living wage that is meaningful,
needing a situation where your children and grandchildren go
to university without being saddled with £30,000 of debt and more.
I think he is in touch on those bread-and-butter issues.
I completely agree with what the gentleman on the right...
-Sorry, I don't know your name!
-Rod Liddle? This one?
-No, not the Labour one.
-The one on the right, over...
Yes, you. You mentioned about hypocrisy.
This is a common theme with leftists, very hypocritical people.
They'll espouse, "You've got to be tolerant,
"you've got to be very tolerant towards everyone
"and tolerant towards people's views."
But if they disagree with your views,
they are very intolerant towards your views.
I'm very interested in this, the psychology behind it,
with leftists, I would term it, under the diagnostic,
statistical manual of mental disorders,
I would include socialist delusional disorder...
Can I just...
I would put it in with mental disorders.
Because the hypocrisy is unbelievable,
from a lot of people, but on the left side.
-Socialist delusional disorder.
It does rather sound like a caricature of
the Stalinist Soviet Union,
where people with the wrong political beliefs are being
carted away and diagnosed as being politically or
medically suspect, so I do take objection to that.
Yeah, well, you will, because you're Labour, aren't you?
-Couldn't have expressed it any better myself.
The thing about Corbyn is,
I respect the man for having opinions or views of his own
and challenging those within
his own party to lead that party.
But on this particular issue,
all I can say about him is that he is reckless,
he is irresponsible and he is selfish.
It's selfish for a man to say that "I'm relaxed about the numbers
"of migrants in this country,
"and I'm not concerned about the numbers whatsoever."
It is easy to be relaxed if you live in a £1 million house
in a nice, comfortable zone in London.
It's easy to be relaxed
if you have a salary provided by you in this audience.
It's easy to be relaxed if you are going to have a pension
that most people in this country would dream about.
Whilst here, at the Pilgrims Hospital,
you're having to queue into the early hours to get seen,
while you've got 4,000 new houses having to be built
to command the number of people having to come here,
while you've got the rising crime in this area,
while people can't get into schools, all the same sort of things,
Richard, you and I agree need to be dealt with.
And you cannot deal with immigration in this country,
to create an ethical, fair migration policy,
without a visa system that controls
the numbers of people coming into this country,
because you will never know what services you have.
And you will never know...
You will never know how much money you will need to provide for
those services, and you will never know how much...the migration fund
that you require, if you can't get a grip of that first.
But without immigration, you can't maintain our NHS either.
Now, that is where you come to a very dignified point,
and I accept that.
Everybody in this audience, including our party,
and if you read my policy, I've made it clear,
migration into this country is necessary and important.
All we have ever simply said is we must not have
uncontrolled mass migration, because it pushes down wages.
Steven, thank you.
We'll hear from one or two more members of our audience,
then we'll move on. Yes?
The Labour MP said that Jeremy Corbyn wants to listen to
the British people.
But he's not actually listening to the PLP,
who are, in fact, elected by the British people.
Right now, he's talking about deselecting them,
or people who are supporting him are talking about deselecting them.
That doesn't sound to me like he's listening to anybody,
apart from himself and 330-odd people that are part
of the membership, I don't know.
So, the elected MPs are not ruling Labour's roost,
-is what you're really saying.
Hold that for a moment, let me just hear from one or two others.
You in the middle, with the spectacles on.
Mr Woolfe, you just asked about how Jeremy Corbyn finds it easy
to relax while he's sitting in a luxury house in London,
not worrying about immigration.
It's also easy for us to relax when we have immigrants here,
because of uncontrolled immigration,
who are doing the work in the fields that we don't want to do.
If we were to cut uncontrolled immigration, then those fields
would be empty and we wouldn't have the economy in Boston that we do.
-That's absolute nonsense, I'm sorry. That's nonsense.
No, that's not right, because the wages...
If you've seen the hideous exploitation which there
has been with these migrant workers coming over here...
There was a horrible case in the paper yesterday of people
being paid virtually nothing and living in appalling accommodation.
British workers will not put up with that and they shouldn't.
I heard a discussion on local radio recently,
where it was suggested that Lincolnshire councils are not
doing enough to help and re-home, etc, Syrian refugees.
What they also suggested, that we, the people of
Lincolnshire in this room, should take them into our houses.
You don't know who you're going to get.
I'm not saying they're all murderers or terrorists or whatever,
but you've no background checks on some of these people,
we just don't know who we're going to get, then to say,
"Well, take them into your houses", I wonder if the people
who are actually saying this and organising this...
You're not saying that you're being asked to, but to invite them in...
No, you don't have to do it, but they are saying you could do it.
-And it...it's unbelievable.
Well, look, I mean,
let me start by answering the question that was put first of all.
In terms of Jeremy Corbyn, I take the view pretty clearly that
he is not listening to the voices
of people here in Boston,
or the electorate that voted
very clearly to take back control
of our borders and our immigration policy,
and I think what we have seen recently,
even people in his own party,
there are Labour MPs who, during the referendum campaign,
were saying that the Labour Party needs to be more in tune with
people out and about, across the country.
And I think it's a terrible reflection, actually,
of Jeremy Corbyn that he still wants to espouse free movement,
but he's in denial in terms of what the British public have said
and have voted for, not just in the referendum,
but also, he will not acknowledge the failure of successive
Labour governments when it comes to free movement,
the lack of transitional controls when Eastern European countries
were joining the European Union,
when accession states were joining Europe, and the fact,
quite frankly, that when it came to access to public services,
they were in utter denial about the pressure
that uncontrolled immigration was putting on our public services...
But you don't have much of a record on it,
-you presided over the highest rise...
-Well, we do.
The Tory Government...
Net migration is currently at 327,000 a year, I think.
The highest it's ever been.
There are two points I'd like to make.
In the last six years, we have taken measures -
in fact, there's been legislation to stop people from Europe coming to
exploit, for example, the benefits system...
So, how come it's at the highest level...
-Third-highest, I think, on record?
-..and accessing housing benefit.
But they are not here to take benefits, they are here to work.
These are just measures that we've taken...
Then why have you abolished the Migration Impact Fund?
The other point to make, of course, is that, you know,
this is a complex issue and there is no silver bullet.
You're not going to control numbers overnight.
I think we should all be responsible here, as politicians,
and actually acknowledge that.
There is more that needs to be done, and of course,
the Government will continue to work to get numbers down.
And there is, of course,
the other issue - our focus is that we can commit
that once we have left the European Union,
we will be able to take control from the European Union
of the people that will be coming here,
and that is our focus now in government,
when it comes to immigration.
OK, you thought it would work, we'll see whether it does.
The woman there on the right, then I'll come to you, Bonnie.
Yeah, immigration in Boston - it's happened.
You know, Boston is a very, very big town now, we can't send people back,
we're breeding all the time from whatever...corner of the town.
What we need to do, we need to invest heavily
in the frontline services - A&E, EMAS, the police -
because we're struggling so much.
We really need to put some money into those services.
You know, it's happened, immigration,
you can count the numbers all over the place, it's happened.
So, from your point of view, is Jeremy Corbyn out of touch,
or are you saying that the things that Richard Burgon said
is the right reaction?
Yeah, completely out of touch, completely out of touch.
But it's the Conservative Government who are hellbent on making cuts
to public services in places like Boston and across the country,
and we do need an end to austerity cuts,
because that's causing real problems for working-class people
in Boston and everywhere else, too.
But Richard, it was your government who let people come in
without any provision for public services and didn't even
acknowledge the type of numbers that were coming in.
I'm not a politician
and I'm the only immigrant on this panel, so...
I'm not going to come up
with any policy stuff,
I don't know all of this.
It seems to me, looking at it,
that first of all, this town, and maybe this region,
has been left on its own.
-I don't understand why...
I don't understand why and I think it has to do with both parties,
or maybe three parties, I don't understand why this happened.
That's the first thing.
The second thing is that...
We all know that we all live in an ageing society.
Our country, this country -
and I'm a citizen of this country, so I say "our" -
is getting older and if we look at the example of Japan right now,
which has very little immigration,
the Japanese economy is in deep trouble
because they're not replacing human beings,
so there's an economic argument for immigration.
I don't know how you want to do it, how you want to make it work,
but you need folks in here,
because the country is getting older.
-That's unsustainable, Bonnie.
-No, no, it is...
You can't just keep bringing young people in every few years.
I didn't say... I didn't give an answer, I'm telling you a reality.
That is a reality.
Now, it would seem to me that any party in charge
has to look at the reality, the economic base
and future of the country,
and the fact that we're going to have an enormous amount
of pensioners who will not be able to be taken care of.
But the third thing I want to say -
and this is a harsh thing to say, but it's the truth -
we're a migratory species, we human beings, and we move.
We move to better ourselves, we move to go and find things we need,
we've always moved, we will continue to move.
This town of Boston is the second Boston I've been in.
The first one is in Massachusetts,
and people from your town founded that town,
and they founded it because
they wanted to have a better life and they moved.
Listen, I'm not being flippant about this.
I respect everything you're saying, but I think we need to move away
from these political...
Because the political parties, particularly the Conservative Party,
which has actually had a mano a mano within itself
for the last, maybe, 20 years, over Europe,
and now Ukip is eating their lunch,
basically, is a lot of what is happening here as well.
But your town and your concerns need to be addressed,
and we also have to understand the realities of human movement
and the fact that we're in the biggest surge of humanity
since the Second World War.
And just to go back to what Jeremy Corbyn said, that we need to
maintain free movement, do you agree with that?
Or do you think that, on that particular point,
Jeremy Corbyn is out of touch with the opinions of people who,
for instance, who voted Brexit,
a large number of whom are here in Boston?
Well, I think, you know, I'm a passionate Remainer,
but I believe in the people have spoken,
and, if the people have spoken, the people's will must be done.
..and I'm not a Corbynista, or whatever that is,
but I want to say that, it seems to me that a leader is also
someone who has an idea about something,
a vision about something.
This is Jeremy Corbyn's idea.
Now, if he's out of touch with you, that's another point,
that's work he has to do,
but he has the right and we demand that
he has an idea of this country and what it should do.
Freedom of movement, if we are going to have any sort of relationship
with the rest of the world,
particularly with Europe, has to be something that's thought about.
Thank you very much. You in the back, there.
I'd like to agree with the lady at the back, there, and Richard.
Jeremy Corbyn's Government would be the only Government
to invest in communities and put money into areas
where there has been high levels of migration -
he'd invest in that.
I can't see a Tory Government investing and putting money
into the public services that people need.
All right, and the woman in the front row here?
-The only people to blame for this is the Government.
Where did they expect, all these migrants coming over,
where were they going to put 'em?
I've got grown-up children.
They can't get a place, a council place.
My daughter was actually told,
"Come back and see us, 10, 15 years."
This went back well over ten years ago.
My daughter couldn't go to the local school,
cos there was a high influx of migrants,
so she had to go about 18 miles away.
I had to pay £5.60 a day for her to go to that school,
when a local school was two or three minutes round the corner,
And what I'm trying to say, ten years ago,
they knew about this, and ten years on...
Where do you put these people? They never did nothing.
I think this comes to the point that, over a period of time,
previous Governments simply failed to acknowledge,
and these were Labour Governments as well...
But these Governments, you all say the same,
no matter who gets in power,
-you're going to do this...
..you're going to do that, and then the next one in power,
they say, "Get us in. We'll do that, we'll do that."
You don't do nothing whatsoever.
Well, in terms of controlling immigration,
there was uncontrolled immigration under Labour and I think,
actually, Richard needs to acknowledge that.
There still is, Priti!
But also, in terms of transitional controls,
there were no transitional controls under Labour,
it was us Conservatives who put them in, but the reality is -
and you've just highlighted this yourself -
people came in, there were no controls,
and that amounted to successive pressure on public services,
and so the point is, politicians are now responding to,
quite rightly, the anxieties and the concerns
and the real strain and pressure that we are seeing
across the country,
and I was out during the referendum campaign every day,
travelling the country, and this was the number one issue
that came up in terms of pressures on public services
and how communities felt disenfranchised
from the political leaders in Westminster,
who they quite categorically said were doing
nothing about addressing these concerns,
so, going back to Labour, this just shows how out of touch Labour are,
how out of touch Jeremy Corbyn is, but also, the fact is,
we've had the referendum, we are committed now, in Government,
to get on and do the right thing and deliver Brexit
and get on with the immigration control that's needed.
We have to wait for yous to decide when we leave the EU.
We'll come to that question in just a second.
I want to go to the woman on the right.
No, you've spoken already.
We're going to the woman up there, in the third row from the back.
Eric Pickles axed the Migration Impact Fund in 2010
and the Tory Party has been complacent
about levels of immigration ever since
and, erm...they've just been completely complacent.
OK. Rod, do you want to come in
and then we'll move on to the next question?
My point was just addressing the original question,
is Jeremy out of touch?
He is at - and think of it -
26% Labour is in the opinion polls at the moment.
That's below Michael Foot in the 1983 general election,
meant to be the nadir of all Labour performances, when...
Well, "out of touch" doesn't mean he's wrong, Rod. This man...
Hang on, just let me finish.
When Labour was actually up against a woman,
a Prime Minister who'd won a popular war,
and a credible opposition in the SDP as well,
at 26% and with a popularity rating and an approval rating of -100.
-Even I struggle to get that!
-What this town is asking...
-Let me bring Labour in on this.
-He is wildly out of touch
and the bubble gets smaller and smaller and they wrap
themselves in it and they don't give a monkey's what people
outside that bubble think.
Richard Burgon, you are... APPLAUSE
I'm going to go... When we've had an answer from him,
I'm going to go on, cos we want to talk about Brexit,
but just on Corbyn and what Rod Liddle has said.
Well, in Jeremy Corbyn's speech at the party conference
in Liverpool the other day,
he did say that we have an electoral mountain to climb,
and the opinion polls that Rod has outlined
show that that's the case,
but I think one of the main reasons for those opinion polls
are the last three months
of an unnecessary leadership election.
It's time for Labour to look outward,
take the fight to the Conservatives.
It's also time, on this whole issue of austerity,
this whole issue of cuts and lack of houses,
lack of services, to hold the Government to account
for their political choice of making everyone in this audience
pay the price for a bankers' crisis in 2008 that they didn't cause.
It's always someone else's fault, it's always someone else's fault
than the Government's that there isn't enough council housing.
It's always someone else's fault than the Government's
that there aren't enough jobs.
Perhaps it's the Government's fault, perhaps it's their fault,
for making you all pay the price for a crisis that you didn't cause.
All right. Thank you. APPLAUSE
Now, we're going to go on to another question, but just before we do,
Neath in South Wales is going to have a visitation from
Question Time next week, and Hendon in North London the week after that.
I'll give the details of how to apply
at the end of the programme again,
but if you have a look on the screen there,
if you'd like to come to Neath or Hendon and have your say,
that's how to do it.
I want a question, please, from Martin Bontoft. Martin Bontoft.
Isn't it time that this Government stopped dithering over Brexit?
Which is what you feel they're doing, presumably.
Yes, I mean, I think we're at a stage where we need some
very strong leadership, as much so in my lifetime as any other time.
The Government has to move rapidly, effectively,
to ensure that the will of the people is complete,
and what the will of the people was, is that we leave Brexit.
I hear these arguments that the 48% versus the 52%.
Well, here in Boston,
you were the 76.5%
and in many of the towns that I campaigned
across the North of England, from Stoke to Lichfield,
to Blackpool to Bury, all of those towns voted in huge numbers
for a decisive action that we take back control of our laws completely,
that we take back control of our borders completely,
that we get control of our fisheries
and that we stop spending the money that we have week in, week out,
which will continue to be spent
until we leave this sclerotic project.
And that is why we need to move exceedingly rapidly.
Exceedingly rapidly is one thing -
do you think the Government is actually dithering?
Is your view that it could have done more sooner?
-Look, I've opened my mind to this a little bit.
-What does that mean?
What I meant by it is that all of our parties,
including our own, have had these election processes going on.
I've seen that Theresa May has put in Liam Fox and David Davis into
significant positions, and people do have to listen to the arguments
about how we achieve the ultimate goal of ensuring that we get Brexit.
There's no hard Brexit. There's no soft Brexit.
It's just simple - it's Brexit,
and we're here to make sure it happens.
That's what the Prime Minister says.
There's no difference between soft and hard in your view?
No, there isn't, because, quite clearly,
the arguments were that those four points that I talked about -
control of our money, control of our borders,
control of our fisheries
and ensuring that we stop spending our money - and make sure,
as we talked about, Richard,
that that money comes back into the coffers of the UK, the billions
that are currently being spent on projects across Europe to
ensure that we do have the funds, because when we do talk about
the economics of the Labour Party, it's in fantasy world.
When you have nearly 4,000,000 people coming to this country
in 10 to 11 years, when you have, as we've looked here in Boston,
the costs are in their hundreds of billions, not the 50 or 100 million
that are proposed, and when we leave the European Union,
when we leave, that is the time that we'll be able to take that
money back, controlled, into our pocket and spent on the services
that this town and hundreds of towns and cities across this country need.
..we know what the various parties' policies are,
but the question Martin's asking
is about whether the Government's dithering and, Priti Patel,
I put to you what Ken Clarke said today -
"Nobody in this Government has the first idea
-"of what they're going to do next on the Brexit front."
That's Ken Clarke, much admired - I know he was a Remainer -
but much admired for his observations on politics.
What do you say to that?
Well, I have pure respect for Ken, but we have a plan,
and our plan is to make a success of Brexit.
This is a unique opportunity for us,
it is a golden opportunity for us now,
when it comes to looking to the future,
leaning out in terms of our place in the world.
Steven's already highlighted some of the key things
in terms of money and what we will get back,
but I think it's important to say a couple of things about
negotiations and it's wrong to say nothing is happening.
You know, Theresa May has shown very, very clear leadership.
She's set up two new Government departments
focused on leaving the European Union.
This is not going to be a straightforward negotiation.
We are in that process, she is leading on that,
she's already started to speak to European Union leaders,
and that is the right thing to do, and of course we have
the machinery of Government working on the details of her plan.
When will she decide when to implement Article 50?
Or has she decided when to do it?
She will, in due course, she will announce the details of that,
but I think, quite rightly so...
You know, I've worked in business before and when I've been out there
negotiating, whether it's business deals and things of that nature,
I'm not going to go and put my cards on the table,
and so we're not going to give a running commentary on this.
Martin, are you happy with this answer?
Well, the problem I have with this
is that it was put to the electorate quite simply - remain or leave -
and it was as black and white as that.
There were no grey areas at that time.
It's only since then, since they got the answer
that they probably didn't want and didn't expect,
that the grey areas have come up and it seems now that everybody's
going to have lots of hot dinners negotiating round tables and,
you know, it's going to be endless, an endless process,
and I think we need to be incisive.
Well, it won't be. And I think it's important to say
that the Prime Minister, and rightly so, and the Government,
are focused on getting the best deal and the right deal for Britain.
We are putting Britain's national interest first.
That is the right thing to do
following the result of the European Union.
She's unequivocal when she has said Brexit means Brexit.
There's no faffing about - we will deliver on that,
and we will deliver the right deal for our country.
And is there any deadline on when Article 50 might be invoked,
ie, we say we're leaving and have the two years to negotiate?
I've already said we're not going to give a running commentary.
I know, but I mean, next year? The year after? The year after that?
We are working on this.
-That's not acceptable.
-We will work to do this
and this isn't about how quickly, because you have to...
Well, it is for him, because he wants action!
He's not going to live long enough!
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
That's a bit harsh!
You look perfectly well to me.
This audience, and the rest of the people in this country,
are clever enough to know what was promised to them
and what was implied in the vote - that this was going to happen.
Now, the deal is, and I don't think
you have to be in politics to understand this or know this,
Matteo Renzi, who is Prime Minister of Italy, laid it out today.
The fact is that Brexit is the result of the mano a mano
that's been going on in the Conservative Party
and the old Referendum Party that Priti used to belong to
for 20 years.
David Cameron decided to put the referendum out here
in order to outflank his right wing.
And as that gentleman said, he got the wrong answer,
and that's why he resigned.
you have a situation where you have people in court
who are...who are at the High Court to ask this question
which this government never dealt with.
Does the Prime Minister have the right to use the Royal Prerogative
to trigger Article 50?
Now, the fact that the, uh, the past prime minister didn't do that,
didn't find out if she was able to do that.
We don't even know. There's tonnes of things.
We've got 2,000 pages of legislation.
There's 40 years of legislation.
You'll need 365 civil servants alone to administer this,
but they didn't think of that.
-Because you guys weren't supposed to do this.
No, no, you've had your...
I'll come to you. Richard Burgon.
Well, firstly, to make it clear,
Britain needs to leave the European Union
because the British people decided to leave the European Union.
No ifs, no buts. But what we need is a clear vision
of what a Britain post-Brexit looks like.
-And I want to raise two issues.
-Hang on. Do you need that
before you invoke Article 50?
Well, we want to hear from the Government,
and we haven't heard so far
what kind of post-Brexit Britain they're proposing.
To be precise, you would like the Government to say,
"This is what we're aiming at, and we will now invoke Article 50"?
That's what the Government should do. The Government
should make clear the post-Brexit Britain they're negotiating.
Even though people won't talk to them before they've done it?
There are two important areas that I want to raise.
I don't know what employment law is going to look like
post-European Union exit.
I want the Government to say they're going to keep the workers' rights
that people in this country benefit from.
And I have to say, I don't trust the Conservatives on employment rights,
partly because Priti, and I have to mention this, did say,
once they enter the workplace,
the British are amongst the worst idlers in the world.
-I did not say that.
-She said that in 2012.
-What's your second point?
-My second point...
It's in a book that you co-authored, Britannia Unchained.
My second point is on human rights.
On this very show five years ago,
Priti revealed her enthusiasm for bringing back the death penalty
even if it mean innocent people dying.
So is it any wonder that people like myself don't trust the Conservatives
either with employment rights or with your human rights?
I think we're slightly off the point, aren't we?
ALL TALK AT ONCE
I think it's very important indeed.
Employment rights and human rights...
Rod Liddle. ALL TALK AT ONCE
-Rod Liddle, please.
-Your party doesn't believe that Britain
-would be successful outside the EU.
-I think we can be.
Rod Liddle, and then we'll come to members of the audience.
I think Bonnie was a little bit naughty,
-if I may say so, Bonnie...
-That's all right.
..that having said yes, we had this vote,
and it was a vote to leave, and therefore we must leave.
And then to start bringing up this bizarre court action
whereby these remaining sulking Remainers...
Totally unable to get over the fact that they...
-Rod, stop playing to the gallery.
-It's not playing to the gallery.
It is playing to the gallery, because we are a nation
-under the rule of law, all right?
-I'm aware we're a nation.
Hang on. If somebody wants to go to law to ask a question...
-We voted to leave...
-Bonnie, this is my point.
..the European Union. It is absolutely clear.
So they can't go to law?
Hang on a minute, let me speak for a second.
It's increasingly clear to the Remainers,
who are increasingly of the view
that we should never have another vote
and that Article 50 should be triggered...
Now, as it happens, I don't agree with this gentleman.
I think that, er, the Government
isn't doing a bad job on Article 50 at the moment.
I want the Government to work
so that Britain gets the best possible deal out of leaving the EU.
And if that takes a few years, I don't mind that.
And imagine how much better our position would be
if, for example, France votes to leave the EU,
-which is entirely possible...
-For heaven's sake.
-..within a year or two.
-ALL TALK AT ONCE
You don't seriously believe that a vote of the people of this country
who decided to leave the European Union
-should be decided by a judge in chambers?
-Over the people of this country?
Hang on, hang on, hang on.
Unelected body of the House of Lords.
He's not asked to decide it.
-No, I don't. Thank you, David.
-He's being asked,
as I understand it, to say whether Parliament...
Ken Clarke, to go back to Ken Clarke,
I think his words were,
-"I'm not going to be told how to vote by an opinion poll."
-Meaning the referendum.
-Ken Clarke is seeking to get
the Legion of Honour of France by keeping us in the European Union.
-Let me go back...
-He's been such a Remainer for so long.
I am not somebody who thinks there should be a second referendum.
That's wrong, that's wrong.
But we are a nation of laws. It is OK to go to law
to ask a question - do we make a decision like this by plebiscite
or do we go back to our representative democracy?
It is a question, and to imply or even to state
that it's wrong for someone to want to go to court
to ask the question of our nationality...
So you don't want a second referendum,
you just want to say, "Let's not do it."
-Let's get back, let's leave the law courts for the moment
and go for the woman up there, assuming you're not
part of the legal profession. LAUGHTER
I just wanted to come back to something that Priti said.
Er, I appreciate negotiation is really important
and getting your ducks in a row - I negotiate day in, day out -
but what I really want to know is when the Government are going to
stop negotiating with people's lives and futures
and guarantee the right to remain
for those that have been here a long time and have lives and families.
The guarantee of the right to remain.
-We've been clear, the Prime Minister has been clear,
that of course, nothing changes until we leave the European Union,
and she's working to give that guarantee.
And she has said that categorically.
There are some things you don't negotiate on.
The man at the very back there. You, sir, in the middle.
I'd say "making a success of Brexit"
isn't really a policy position, is it?
I agree with the member for Ukip
that the money we send to Europe
would be better spent on the likes of the NHS and that,
but it still doesn't really solve the problems we have.
Why doesn't anyone from any party
really look at the likes of Bernie Sanders,
who suggested taxing a fraction of 1% in speculative trading?
It'd raise hundreds of billions a year.
OK. Um, I think we might...
I think we've done a fair half-hour or more about Brexit
and about immigration.
I'm going to go on to another question.
-AUDIENCE MEMBER SHOUTS
-No, I'm going to another question.
Hold on. You've had a big say already, I'm just moving on.
I know you've got a lot to say,
but a lot of people have a lot to say.
Mainly round this panel. All right.
AUDIENCE MEMBER KEEPS SHOUTING I'm going to take a question...
I'm going to take a question from Sue Selby, please.
Will football ever be free of corruption and greed
and return to being a true sport?
When will football be free of corruption and greed
and return to being a true sport?
Bonnie Greer, you know all about that.
I know all about it.
It's, uh, as someone born in America,
it is quite amazing how much money is in football.
And I'm learning about it,
I'm learning about the sport.
I don't know when it's going to happen,
but I tell you one thing - the amount of money
that supporters pay and what they get in return,
I think, is scandalous.
-I don't know how...
I don't know, you know... Somebody getting 350 grand a week,
I don't get that. And I don't quite understand why the supporters...
And, you know, I'm saying this with respect,
but I don't understand why the supporters
-haven't had some sort of revolt about this.
Because it's outrageous.
Let's be brief, I've got another question to come to. Priti Patel.
Well, I think what we've seen this week is...
You know, it's shameful, shameful beyond all belief, it really is.
So obviously whoever now comes in
as the new England manager in particular,
they're going to have to really raise their standards.
I think the FA in particular need to look to themselves,
look to their practices and actually say, you know, "Enough is enough".
I think it's just atrocious, what we've seen,
but clearly there's a long way to go,
because of the excessive pay that exists in football,
because of the excessive fees that are associated
with the transfer of footballers, with players,
and quite frankly, it's a sport that is dominated by money.
And nothing's going to change that overnight, it really isn't.
So this will now be about ethics and standards
and making sure that those that are at the top of the game in football
are transparent and are good, strong role models.
OK. Richard Burgon.
Back when football was cleaner than clean and whiter than white,
Leeds United was the best team in Britain.
In the '60s and '70s...
But on a serious...
On a serious... On a serious note...
On a serious note,
I agree with Priti on this issue.
I think that football has been ruined by big money.
I was born in 1980. I remember the time before the Premier League,
and I think football has been ruined by big business, market forces,
and fans being ripped off
and working-class loyalties being taken for granted
and exploited by big business.
And actually, it mirrors, doesn't it,
other aspects of our society.
Irresponsibility at the top,
where people are bending the rules for an extra buck,
when they're the people who don't need any more money whatsoever.
OK. You, sir.
APPLAUSE Yeah, go on, then.
It's reassuring to hear politicians talking that way
because they've never, ever taken money, have they?
Or taken things they shouldn't have taken, you know.
I think it's rather patronising, again.
And where would they rather the money went? Into the boardroom?
-Should that sponsorship and that income...
I think football fans should be paying less for a season ticket
and less to get into a match and shouldn't be subsidising people
to accumulate half a million pounds in wages per week.
I think it's obscene.
In the last 15 years, the fans have
been edged out of the game in the Premier League.
I mean, it's now impossible, if you're a working-class bloke,
to afford a season ticket at Arsenal, take your kids...
You can't do it. The whole thing has been ruined.
As Bonnie says, absolutely right, it's ruined by greed,
and Priti said the same thing.
Did you know that the taxpayer gives the Football Association
£30 million a year?
It's just... I found that out recently,
and this is bizarre!
It's like the taxpayer giving £30 million to Philip Green.
I mean, it's just absurd.
And it is... It is an appalling sight.
The England team...
Not that anyone gives a monkey's who manages the England team any more,
I'd probably go for Anjem Chaudary, frankly.
Er, I just...
You know, it is a grotesque example.
Will it ever be free, was the question, of corruption?
At the top level, it won't be free, and more of this will happen.
But if you want to see good football,
go down a few divisions.
The prices are better, and there's more fun,
and you can mix with other fans.
Steven Woolfe. APPLAUSE
Steven Woolfe, and then we move on.
I love football. I played semi-professionally till I was 35.
I've got the bow legs, you know,
that you can probably put a football right through.
Last time I was on Question Time we were at Bolton,
where my brother, Nathan Woolfe,
had actually played for the club there
and he was brought in by Sam Allardyce.
But I never saw anything, nor did he, in terms of this at all.
What has happened in this scandal
has shown what is ultimately wrong about the modern game of football,
and it is a time that we should look at this extensively
and say, "Enough is enough".
The fans have been pushed out.
The teams have become multimillionaires
surrounded by themselves.
And I am actually sickened...
I was one of those, I used to go to the paddock at Manchester United,
up against the...
And if you think that Leeds were a clean club in the '70s...
The tackles that used to go in there were extensive...
Let's not reminisce too much.
What I am saying here...
What is even sickening about this is the fact that the man
has brought our country into disrepute is given a million pounds,
can go on holiday to think about his future.
How many of us would receive that money if we brought our country...?
What I would say to him is bring that million pounds back
and put it into some sort of scheme that helps bring children together.
That's where your million pounds should be.
Andrew... Andrew Sherwin, let's have your question, please.
The Prime Minister as the leader of the opposition both benefited
from a grammar school education,
particularly in terms of social mobility.
Why can't more low-income children with ability also benefit?
-Well, I'm against the Conservatives' plan on this,
so it may be I disagree with Andrew
on this particular question.
I don't think we want to go back
to a 1950s-style world of education
and segregation where young children
are called failures or successes at the age of 11.
It does scar some people for life.
And the evidence shows that grammar schools actually don't increase
social mobility whatsoever.
I think we really need an education policy
so that everyone gets a good quality of education
and so we're not separating our young people off.
What kind of message would it send to your children if you're saying,
"You're not allowed to go to the school with your friends
"because you didn't pass this exam"?
I think it's deeply, deeply divisive
and I don't think it's that popular amongst Conservative MPs either
so I think it's a real failure of judgment
on the Prime Minister's part to bring this policy forward.
Andrew? Do you want to reply to that?
Right, I think arguing about grammar schools in terms of what
happened in the 1950s is a bit like arguing about what happened
in the football in this country in the 1950s and '60s.
I think that's rather irrelevant.
If you look at what grammar schools can offer now in terms of, erm...
access into higher education, social mobility, it is there.
The problem is that not enough children
from lower economic backgrounds get access into grammar schools.
That's why there isn't the social mobility that you're talking about.
-One of the reasons there's not social mobility
is because it bankrupts people to go to university
and so we need to bring back student grants, for example.
No, come back to grammar schools. Stick with that. Priti Patel.
I think we need to look at this in the wider context of schools and,
you know, much of what we've been
doing over the last six years,
getting more children into good
and outstanding schools.
That is the right thing to do.
That's been a big focus for our Government and as a result,
there are now 1.4 million more children
in good or outstanding schools.
But the reality is there are something like 1.25 million children
that don't have access to a good or outstanding school place
and rightly so, we are saying that the selective school system,
grammar schools or faith schools,
should actually be part of that provision.
They should have the opportunity now to work with other schools
that are underperforming to create more good and outstanding
school places and that's across the country and that means new,
diverse ways of working, new partnerships and,
to Richard's point, this isn't about going back to the 1950s.
We are not going back to a binary system that existed
previously of, you know,
failure or selection in that sort of very crude term,
this is about a new approach to education,
one that gives more parental choice,
one that also puts headteachers back into control
where they can actually work with neighbouring schools
and I say this as someone that has been a governor of a grammar school
in Essex where we have a very proud tradition of grammar schools
but also grammar schools that work within the community
and actually work with other local schools to create exactly that -
good and outstanding school places
-for children of disadvantaged backgrounds.
And I think that is commendable and we should have more of that.
The man on the left there at the back. Yes.
I've, erm... I've been a governor of both a grammar school
and a secondary school here in Lincolnshire.
We have this system, we have the 11 Plus.
I think it's a very successful system.
My children have been through it.
And the one issue that worries me about...
When you say your children have been through it,
-do they come out all right the other side?
I think so. I think so. I hope they do as well, but I think so.
The one issue which concerns me about this
is the whole issue of the 11 Plus and how it is positioned
as a pass and fail and we need to sort that out.
If we go back to the 1960s and '70s,
it was much more that you were academically qualified
or you were vocationally qualified
and I would like to see that as more of a fork in the road
as opposed to a pass and fail.
I think I'd agree with that 100%.
I'm in favour of selection
in some form.
I'd rather have a comprehensive school
which was rigorously streamed,
if I'm absolutely honest,
but I don't trust the comprehensive schools at the moment the way
that they're being run to do that rigorous streaming
and to value the very top.
I do feel a bit misted, not by nostalgia about
the '50s and '60s because it was a time of social mobility and
grammar schools did play into that even though many working-class kids
got stuck in a secondary modern which wasn't a very good school,
some got through. More than they do now.
However, I also live in a county
where there are grammar schools and I am in absolute agreement
with Richard that it does not facilitate social mobility now.
It makes it much, much worse.
There is no question there are more private schools as a consequence.
It tends to be the most affluent kids who get into those
grammar schools because the parents have the money to get the tutors
to get them into private schools before that.
Absolutely no question about it, so I am in favour of selection,
but I don't agree with the 11 Plus at all, by the way.
-The woman up there and then I'll come to you. Yes.
I went to a grammar school and my husband works at the grammar school,
the boys' grammar school here in Boston
and I'm very pro-grammar school.
But I want to know what are the Conservative Party going to do
for those who aren't as academically minded?
-Where's the provision for them?
Varied used to be provision. The technical schools as well,
it used to be a tripartite system and that was a better idea.
Because there is no provision now,
so if bringing in extra grammar schools,
if there's no provision now, there's certainly not going
to be any provision if we start dividing them up, is there?
Just briefly, Priti.
Well, this is the point about having more of a diverse education system.
This isn't just about having grammar schools,
this is about growing the places, the number of good and outstanding
school places, but importantly, giving children new opportunities.
So vocational education has grown and grown over the last six years.
You know, we have something like just under three million more people
in apprenticeships as well and that's what this is about.
You know, having an education system that is diverse and actually
that supports everyone of every ability
so that they can get on in life and I think that's incredibly important.
This is my point. We're not going back to the 1950s.
This is not the binary system that we had in the past.
So you're not going back to what David Cameron criticised
-when he was leading the opposition?
-This is not...
When he said, "There's a kind of hopelessness
"about bringing back grammar schools."
-No, this is not about recreating the old system.
Bonnie Greer, then I'll come to you.
Can I just make an immigrant's observation if I may?
I'm... It always fascinates me,
it seems that the country
is obsessed with selection.
I don't understand it.
Why can't everybody - everybody - have access to top level education
in the most important language on the face of the Earth, English?
Why can't they have the best education possible in mathematics?
Why can't everybody have that?
Why can't it be...?
Why can't we make...?
Why can't we also make teaching,
which is one of the noblest things a human being can do, let's face it,
put it at such a rank
that not only we support the teachers who are there,
but we bring in the best people who want to teach?
I think we need to build schools that everybody can go to
and then if you want to... have to have selection,
at some point, please not 11 years old.
But at some point down the line,
people can make a decision about what they want to do,
but right now, we need people,
we need children to learn to speak English.
Everybody, not just immigrant children, but people born here.
You, sir, in the second row.
I am a former secondary maths school teacher.
Erm... From what I observed in education from teaching...
..each Government decides to change it
because they're on a sort of bandwagon.
It doesn't matter whether it's a grammar school
or the academy schools,
are you achieving standards?
Now, Rod mentioned something very important earlier -
I've taught in such schools.
Well, it was called banding.
And I have seen pupils...
Basically, what happens is,
if you take the average-sized school you've got, say, six sets in a year.
You basically swap the top two sets around
so you've got mixed ability in pairs, if you're with me.
And the weaker pupils are improved, achieve very good grades,
by the peer pressure.
Mixed ability teaching literally across the year,
from what I could see, was a nightmare to try and teach.
It does work.
I don't believe in grammar schools.
I went to a public school. Did it make a lot of difference to me?
-I don't think it did.
I'd rather have gone to a good comprehensive school.
For many families, particularly those on low incomes,
poverty is a grinding chore that you have to go through,
when you're working long hours
to provide for your family,
pay the bills.
One of the things
that keeps yourself hopeful
is when you look at your children and say to them
that you can actually give them a better life ahead of them.
The hope that you can give them education
so that they can come here and sit on this platform like
so many of us, or get a good job as a teacher like you, sir.
But for many in our country, as Rod has said,
who have come off the council estates as I've done,
the social mobility has declined dramatically.
Not just because I said it.
Organisations like the OECD or the ONS.
There was huge amounts of social mobility in the 1950s and '60s
and the grammar school system at that time wasn't perfect.
And I made it clear that in Ukip's policies,
we had to ensure that we'd got social mobility to move once more,
and that's why I've been a huge backer
of the grammar schools. It helped me.
I got out of my council estate.
I became a lawyer. I was able to go to university.
I sit here today very proud of my nation and very proud of the
people who have made this nation and the ability,
but what I have seen is social mobility declining here and
I'm heartened by Theresa May's view
that we don't go back to an education system
of the '50s with segregation,
that there is chances for people to come in at later stages,
but more importantly, the funding is going across the whole country
to many more schools to give them many more opportunities.
One final point?
There is nothing wrong with selection.
We've just had an amazing Olympics
where our sports people are selected and taken off to train...
-It's not education.
-We shouldn't have survival of the fittest in education.
-It's not survival of the fittest.
When you talked about segregation in the 1950s,
the only segregation in education in this country at the moment
is you get into the best schools if you can afford
-to get into the best areas with the best...
And your Government but that policy in place.
And what I will say finally is we have to encourage other people
who don't believe, that don't want to go to university.
There are great talents in this country.
Why is it that we can look at Germany and they have great
technical colleges and believe in the engineers?
If we're going to have this policy of grammar schools,
we've got to have the technical colleges that go with it.
We've got to have the colleges that work for sport.
We've got to have those that work for engineers.
We've got to make sure our education is for all, not those,
and leave no-one behind.
You, sir, with the spectacles and the blue shirt. Yes.
I'd have to agree with Stephen and Rod on this.
It's almost like there's some kind of stigma against segregation.
Obviously, that sounds quite bad in a sense, but it's like,
if you're going to a grammar school like I do, for example,
I think some kids have different aspirations for life
and I think the state school system, at least from what I've seen,
it's more focused on getting the Ds to the Cs rather than the
-Bs to the As or the A*s and it's like people...
I think it works more efficiently if you specialise it in that manner.
-Very briefly, Rod, you agree with him?
-I agree entirely.
I think it's a huge problem.
I mean, I do have a problem with the idea of the 11 Plus.
I think it's an iniquitous and very stressful exam and cruel, frankly.
But the 11 Plus, the 12 Plus, the 13 Plus?
Yeah, yeah, I mean... Yes. I would...
Or you can do it through SATs tests, of course. Which you can do.
I'm sorry, our time's up.
All the hands go down again.
It's an hour we have, and we've used it.
Next week, we're going to be
in Neath in South Wales.
The only person I know
who is coming so far
is Chuka Umunna.
But maybe that will be enough
to bring in our audience.
And the week after,
we're going to be at Hendon
in the... In the air museum
I think, in North London.
So come to Neath, come to Hendon.
Go to the website,
you can call the number...
If you're hearing this on 5 Live,
the debate, as you know, goes on
on Question Time Extra Time.
But here, it's my job to thank our panel very much indeed
and to thank all of you who came to Boston to take part.
Until next week, next Thursday, from Question Time, goodnight.
David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Boston, Lincolnshire. On the panel are Conservative international development secretary Priti Patel MP, Labour's shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon MP, Ukip's Steven Woolfe MEP, playwright and novelist Bonnie Greer and Sun and Spectator columnist Rod Liddle.