06/04/2017 Question Time


06/04/2017

David Dimbleby chairs topical debate from Gillingham. On the panel are Suella Fernandes, shadow Diane Abbott, Tim Farron, Jonathan Bartley, Michelle Dewberry and Gerard Coyne.


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Transcript


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Welcome to Question Time, which tonight comes from Gillingham.

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And we have a full house tonight. co-leader of the Green

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Party Jonathan Bartley, Gerard Coyne, running for the

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leadership of the Unite union, and businesswoman and broadcaster

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Michelle Dewberry. APPLAUSE.

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Thank you, and of course you know this well from home, you can take

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part in the debate either on Facebook, Twitter or text, or push

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the red button. I have asked the panellists not to speak at too great

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length because I want you to have the opportunity to -- tonight. Our

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first question. Labour proposes tax -- taxing private school fees to

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fund school meals for all children, is this fair? I think this is an

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example of a half baked Labour gimmick and I think it is misjudged.

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The evidence behind it is very doubtful. It was piloted in two

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areas of deprivation, new and Durham, and the expert behind the

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research said it would be an overstatement to roll it out

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universally around the country because it would be very expensive.

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I also don't think it is fair to put VAT on independent schools because

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many of them will close. About half a million children go to these

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schools, if they close they will be going to state schools which puts

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pressure on state schools. I think the Labour Party need to go back to

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the drawing board, think about how this money can be better used, and

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getting more teachers and raising standards, and actually think about

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more effective uses of the money. APPLAUSE.

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When the Tory leadership campaign was on, you voted for Michael Gove,

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didn't you? I did. And it was his idea VAT should be put on school

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fees. Well, I do support Michael Gove in many ways but I do disagree

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with him on this. The independent sector does provide some good

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services and we want to encourage them to do more to support smaller

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schools and state schools, but I don't think imposing VAT on them is

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the right way to improve standards in all of our schools which is what

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we really want to see. Tim Farron. In terms of what the money will be

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spent on, free school meals for children throughout primary

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education, this is staggering news that the Labour Party had a good

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idea. I say that because the Liberal Democrats when we were in coalition

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made sure preschool children do have free school meals. Why are they a

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good idea? Firstly it increases educational attainment for young

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children, it also deals with the Tickner of being on free school

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meals for everybody, plenty of evidence also that coming off free

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school meals if you take a low-paid job means it is a benefit trap...

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The question is about putting VAT on private education. I don't think the

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Labour Party have done their homework. The danger is if you try

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to raise the money to pay for this from children going to private

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schools and the outcome is that fewer people go to private schools,

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there won't be as much money in the system. The real issue is there is 3

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billion being taken out of our schools and we are losing thousands

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of teachers in the next three years, that's the priority.

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APPLAUSE. Actually this idea was in the Green Party manifesto in 2010,

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and we would go further and remove the charitable status from private

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schools and make them pay corporation tax, and also a lovely

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because they are getting huge benefits from teachers in teacher

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training, then they go to the private schools and the private

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schools get those teachers for free. It's only right they pay a levy. It

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is fair, if you give universal free school meals to children you are

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providing that collective sense, it is important we see education in its

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broadest sense as communal togetherness, but it also means we

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can claw back the extra money we need through progressive taxation so

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the richest may be getting the free school meals but they also pay and

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it goes back into the system. Universality is an important point.

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I know some people that send their kids to private school, not many but

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I know they work really hard to get that money together to give their

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kids the best education. Diane knows how expensive it is. This means they

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won't be able to do it, but you work hard for your kids. It is well-known

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Diane sent her child to private school, what do you make of this? I

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think it is perfectly fair. And as you say I sent my son to private

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school and I would have been happy to pay more for the scheme like

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this. The first thing about universal free school meals is it

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helps working families, who are just getting by but they are not eligible

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for free school meals because they are not on benefit. The other thing

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no one mentions is there are important health benefits. If you go

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to Sweden, they have completely free school meals and they have much

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better public health outcomes than we do. Finally, as you have herd, it

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improves academic outcomes. It is completely fair, very good idea and

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I think it would prove to be very popular.

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APPLAUSE. Was it one you stole from the Green

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Party? Did you steal it from Michael Gove? No, we didn't steal it from

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anybody, it has been brought in in Islington and Southwark for many

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years now. We already have this in infant schools because when we were

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in Government we did it, the main difference is we want to be in

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power. What I don't understand is why we are having this discussion

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because surely it is the parents' responsibility to feed their

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children, not the state. Gerard Coyne. Yes, it is fair, and possibly

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as one of the few members of this panel that went to comprehensive

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school, I have never understood why private schools have charitable

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status. Many are operating like businesses and I think they should

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be taxed like businesses. The money should be reinvested in the state

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sector. As a teacher I'm extremely concerned about class sizes and as a

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parent as well, and I absolutely agree that if you are to tax and

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make private school education more expensive, unfortunately it is going

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to punish those parents perhaps unlike Diane who are just affording

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to send their children to those schools, and therefore they will go

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into state education. I'm lucky I am in a school that is committed to

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keeping class sizes low. And you think there would be a real problem?

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Yes, there's only so many places, people struggling to get their

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children into schools anyway, it will only increase the pressure. I

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think VAT on private schools is long overdue, it should have been put in

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place a long time ago. In terms of whether this is the right way of

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doing it, when Labour were asked what would be the capital

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expenditure needed to get all of these private schools with the

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proper catering facilities to do this, they had no idea of the cost

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of the capital expenditure so the policy needs a lot more thinking

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through. I think the real injustice is not taxing the private schools

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but the fact we have a government which is complacent with children

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going to school hungry because the parents are not being paid enough.

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There are plenty of families working maximum hours but they are not being

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paid enough to feed their children the appropriate amount.

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APPLAUSE. I am also a teacher, I have been

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teaching for 17 years now, I teach in the secondary sector. It can be

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very hard to teach children that have not eaten. The dynamics in the

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classroom can be seriously affected, you get students who are tired, they

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fall asleep, that then comes back onto the teacher in terms of us

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having to motivate the students and get them engaged. Sometimes you try

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your best to do that but because they have not had breakfast or

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lunch, it can go the other way and they can become hyperactive.

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I think there are currently three years of schools that get free

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school meals and I think it is unfair that only half the school is.

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The idea behind putting VAT on school fees, which is the point,

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nobody thinks children should go to school hungry, but the idea is

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whether that on private education is the right way. I think it is. I

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think we should go on to another question and have a question from

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Natasha Khan. What action can we take to prevent the Assad regime

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executing another chemical attack on their own people?

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APPLAUSE. Suella Fernandes. I think the images we have seen this week of

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women and children being killed, shows this is a chemical attack by

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President Assad, they are unforgettable acts of monstrous

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brutality which are unforgivable. I'm very pleased the UK is taking a

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lead in trying to get the international community to take

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action. We have helped to convene an emergency session of the UN Security

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Council to talk about this, and we have also co-sponsored a UN Security

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Council resolution to condemn this. I think the international community

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coming together in this way will send a strong message that Assad has

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to go. What did you say? That's the microphone to the lady. You haven't

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answered my question, with all due respect. Statements of condemnation

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are all very nice, what action can we now take? These people have

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suffered long enough. APPLAUSE. There are options. Don't

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forget, in 2013 military action was considered by Parliament against

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President Assad, but I have to say members of this panel voted against

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that action and maybe we wouldn't be in this situation if Parliament have

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secured that action then so we are where we are. Diane Abbott.

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Of course we want to take action but I have to remind you that Western

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countries going into the Middle East and countries like Afghanistan

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trying to stop humanitarian outrages have not been a happy history, and

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in almost every case there has been more violence and more humanitarian

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outrages than before they went in. And that's why I wasn't willing to

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vote for other women's children to go to war in Syria. In the end the

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only people that Assad is going to listen to are the Russians, and

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internationally we must put pressure on the Russians to call their state

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to heal and stop this atrocity. We have had two American presidents,

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Obama in 2012 saying a red line was chemical weapons, nothing happened,

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we now have President Trump saying this chemical attack crosses many

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lines, many, many lines, repeated. It's not funny, it is the way he

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talks, but you have two presidents saying something should be done. If

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the UK Government won't take military action, do you think the

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Americans should? I can't speak for Donald Trump, as

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you can imagine. Yes, I can imagine. The European Union with Britain...

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America, people that understand about foreign policy in America know

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that in the end, only the Russians will pull Assad back and it would be

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deceiving this audience to say that putting British troops on the ground

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would have a good end. APPLAUSE.

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You, Sir? We all laugh at President Trump but maybe he could do some

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good. He can't be any more disastrous than Obama because it was

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Obama that withdrew all the troops from Iraq create ago vacuum of

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power. We have North Korea launching missiles into the ocean now. We have

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got Isis killing people across Western Europe and Assad

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slaughtering his own people. How much worse can it get? Militia Snell

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I don't want the UK to go to military war with Syria. I just

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don't want the consequences of that, I just don't want that to happen. So

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a couple of points on this. I think you cannot tell somebody there is a

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red line and if you cross it do absolutely nothing about it because

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when you do that, it means that people know that they can act with

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impunity which is the situation we are in now. So Syria, they're a

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member of the chemical weapons convention, they're a consequences

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-- there are consequences that should be happening. For example,

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the UN Security Council's imposed sanctions and Russia's blocked them

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seven times now which is absolutely outrageous. Action number one that

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we should be taking is, we should be following on with the sanctions,

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Russia have to stop blocking them. That's point one. Point two, we have

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got an opportunity with Donald Trump, we have a brand-new Trump

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administration, he can redefine his red lines and make it absolutely

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clear, this is our red lines and if you break them, there will be

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consequences, then what you do is follow up with the consequences, end

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of story. APPLAUSE.

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Tim Farron I'll come to you in a moment. The American Secretary of

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State tillerson said this evening that steps are under way to remove

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Assad, do you have any confidence that the Americans could actually

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remove? The Kremlin tonight has said that its support for Assad is not

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unconditional so that is interesting. But Natasha's question

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is, what will we actually do. Michelle's talked about something

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that we could and should do. Fundamentally the thing that we

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could do quickly a UN Resolution is to create a no-fly zone and

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humanitarian zone within Syria. You could use, included in that mission,

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UK planes that are already in the region because I absolutely accept,

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as Diane says, and as others I'm sure believe also, that a unilateral

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action here by Trump or by the UK and America together would very

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likely be counterproductive. However, doing nothing would be just

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as appalling. Is there a possibility that civilians could be killed? Is

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there an uncertainty about that? Is there an absolute certainty that

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Assad will continue to murder his own people? And gas children as we

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saw in the news this morning like the kids who I saw escape from Assad

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when I met them on Lesbos a few years ago, yes, absolutely that will

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happen. That's the certainty. The only thing that is unacceptable is

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that we do nothing. APPLAUSE.

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OK. You, Sir? Surely part of the rob is the fact that we have a UN which

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all the panel have mentioned, which is proved over time to be toothless,

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spineless and never actually achieve anything. We get UN peace-keeping

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forces, they don't do anything. We get UN Resolutions, we get word of

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condemnation spoken from the UN but nothing is actually ever... You

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would rather see what, the Americans answer and the... I'm not sure how

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exactly you would solve the problem, really, but there needs to be

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cooperation between international forces and overall, globally

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accepted international police force that is prepared to go in there and

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say, if you breach human rights, we will come and get you. All right.

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Gerard Coyne? Natasha, I think anyone that saw that father putting

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his two sons and the rest of his family who had died choking to death

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on souring gas, could not help but want for some action, you know. That

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is absolutely what everybody in the British public with some of those

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images would be thinking. The real city that when we look back at 2013

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and have hindsight on that, there was equally at that time an outrage

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about the gas attack and an international consensus. There was a

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lost opportunity around that international consensus and filling

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that gap was Russia. After that, it happened. The fact that that gap was

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then taken over by Russia's intervention in support of Assad

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caused the situation to get worse. What we now have to do is build that

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international consensus again to make sure that nerve agents like

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Sarin are never, ever used again. And that is not... But how? That is

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not necessarily about troops on the ground. That is the point I'm

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making, lots of words but how? It's not about having troops on the

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ground but it is about the fact that the United Nations definitely has a

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role in this. Yes, but it's it'sless. The reality is, without

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the UN involvement in that, you are not going to get the consensus. Yes,

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but you need the UN to do something. Jonathan Bartley? I share your

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frustration and we are all in agreement that there is no easy

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magic wand we can wave. What is frustrating is that there is no

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long-term plan from this Government. We had votes in 2013 and 2015, we

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have known this has been going on for six yearings, what could we be

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doing? Freezing the assets of those with blood on their hands, the

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Russians and the banks, we could be doing that. We could be having an

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arms embargo on the Middle East. There aren't arms directly going

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into Syria. If we are bombing Daesh, as we are in that area, we should at

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least be taking our fair share of refugees.

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APPLAUSE. The man in the white shirt in the

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back row on the far side? Are you suggesting that we are going to risk

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going to war with Russia to intervene over Syria?

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I think that's what we are actually talking about. You are talking about

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troops on the ground, or, you know, no-fly zones. If you have a no-fly

:21:17.:21:24.

zone, American planes will be shooting down Russia's forces. I'm

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not sure that we are going to be willing to go to war with Russia.

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That is the problem with a no fly zone, people think it's an easy

:21:34.:21:38.

option. There are Russian planes above Syria. We'll be tangling with

:21:39.:21:42.

Russian aircraft. I think we have to realise that there's no simple

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answer but I think issues like freezing Russian assets, you know,

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London is a money-laundering centre. We have tried freezing Russia's

:21:54.:21:57.

assets or Ukraine, Crimea. We need to do it properly. You, Sir, in the

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checked shirt? Clearly Assad's regime has been abusing their

:22:05.:22:07.

citizens, similarly to Saddam Hussein did, but Isis are actually

:22:08.:22:11.

already on the ground there. So if we intervene, as we did in Iraq,

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everyone knows the mess that's been created. How on earth is it going to

:22:16.:22:20.

be any better than Syria, given that Isis are already there?

:22:21.:22:24.

OK. I would hate for us to do military action in Syria at the

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moment. I would personally be afraid of the ramifications, that would be

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my absolute last resort if I was ever to be in charge of those

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decisions which I hope never to be. There is an issue though, we are all

:22:37.:22:40.

of us, stung and affected by the Iraq war and the sense that there

:22:41.:22:46.

was an illegal and I would say counterproductive British

:22:47.:22:48.

involvement leadership of that war, and that's made us and politicians

:22:49.:22:53.

and maybe society as a whole squeamish about intervening when

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they jolly well should intervene. The reality is those people will be

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continued to be killed by Assad unless he thinks something is there

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to stop it. Your party voted against the war? Because it was illegal and

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counterproductive. We led the cause for intervention in Kosovo. So what

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are you saying about this one, let us be clear? We should be using the

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United nations to take action to make sure we police a no-fly zone.

:23:17.:23:23.

Who will police it? The reality is, on the ground, who knows what is

:23:24.:23:26.

possible but all credible options should be looked at because the

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message Assad has got so far is that he's got complete immunity. I've met

:23:34.:23:36.

refugees, whether in the Far East of the continent in Greece or indeed

:23:37.:23:41.

here around the corner in Gravesend. I can't look those kids in the eye

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and not want to do something about the cause of their misery.

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APPLAUSE. Right, we must go on and leave that

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extremely distressing question. Just before we go on, I should say about

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Question Time's plans so that you can make a note if you want to. We

:23:59.:24:03.

are not going to be on the air because of Easter in the next two

:24:04.:24:08.

weeks. We are in oaksed for on the 27th, the week after that we are in

:24:09.:24:11.

Wigan and there is the address on the screen. I'll give it again at

:24:12.:24:21.

the end. Oxford and Wigan thee and four weeks from now. Flick Foreman,

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please, your question? Why are we paying for brex it? We voted to

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leave so just leave. APPLAUSE.

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All right. Why are we paying for Brexit, we voted to leave so just

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leave? You voted to leave didn't you? I wanted us the take control

:24:55.:25:01.

over our own laws and boreders and to get out of the jurisdiction of

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the European Court of Justice. I'm really glad that the country also

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saw that... Yes, but what about the question? So, in terms of paying to

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leave, I don't think that there is any kind of paying to leave. We are

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going to be gaining by leaving. We've seen today that there are...

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You believe the boss? I'm very pleased that the... Hold on, hold

:25:27.:25:32.

on. Make your point? There is talk of boar rogue ?50 billion to leave

:25:33.:25:39.

to EU. The leaving fee? Yes, the leaving fee. There are better ideas

:25:40.:25:43.

to spend that money, the NHS, social care and me, I'm a was pill, I want

:25:44.:25:50.

my pension -- WASPI. The Government keeps saying there is no money for

:25:51.:25:53.

this country. We are desperate. Why should we go without our pensions so

:25:54.:25:59.

that we can give the European Union ?50 billion? Not on my watch.

:26:00.:26:13.

Have another go? It's been manufacturered, this, and it doesn't

:26:14.:26:21.

seem likely that there will be such a Bill for ?50 billion, it's part of

:26:22.:26:27.

project fear, health warning, don't believe it. You know, we pay into

:26:28.:26:32.

the European Investment Bank and so actually we are going to get a wind

:26:33.:26:37.

fall from leaving, so I think that the scaremongering about having to

:26:38.:26:40.

pay to leave is just not true. We have a lot to gain. Our best days

:26:41.:26:45.

lie ahead and we are going to be enjoying the freedoms and enjoying

:26:46.:26:48.

the benefits that we gain from leaving.

:26:49.:26:54.

APPLAUSE. Gerard Coyne, do you think we should

:26:55.:27:01.

pay to leave? The reality is that we are going to hear a lot of this over

:27:02.:27:06.

the next two years where, as a negotiator I recognise where once I

:27:07.:27:12.

one side puts something forward, another side puts something else

:27:13.:27:15.

forward. You are going to see negotiations for some time. My

:27:16.:27:18.

concern is the uncertainty around the Brexit process, which is an

:27:19.:27:22.

issue for my members and for industry in the country in general.

:27:23.:27:27.

Actually, the sooner we put the suggestion around having to pay to

:27:28.:27:31.

leave or indeed whether we have assets in the rest of the EU that we

:27:32.:27:35.

can claim back, as soon as we get that out of the way and get on with

:27:36.:27:41.

the process of actually making sure that industry and the employment and

:27:42.:27:46.

economy of the UK gets on with the job, then that's the most important

:27:47.:27:50.

thing for me. We are going to see a lot more of this.

:27:51.:27:53.

You, Sir, in the second row from the back? The man with spectacles? I

:27:54.:28:00.

read that the European Union believed that they have

:28:01.:28:04.

international courts on their side to be able to force Britain to pay

:28:05.:28:09.

this leaving fee-type thing. Is this correct? Is Do you think we should

:28:10.:28:15.

ignore legal opinion on it? The UK legal courts are saying that we

:28:16.:28:18.

don't have to pay it, but international courts are saying we

:28:19.:28:28.

do have to pay it. Michelle Dewberry trained as a lawyer, who do you

:28:29.:28:33.

think? I didn't train as a lawyer but I did vote. We are far into the

:28:34.:28:37.

Brexit process and I want to almost just calm down a little bit and not

:28:38.:28:41.

get so hysterical about every single thing that'll come from either side

:28:42.:28:45.

of the fence because we are entering into a negotiation. We are about, I

:28:46.:28:50.

don't know, a couple of days into setting out our ideas of what the

:28:51.:28:54.

negotiation could look like. So far we have had stories about

:28:55.:28:57.

potentially going to war, we are talking about divorce bills and it's

:28:58.:29:01.

just like, calm down. So I think what we need to do is just, we are

:29:02.:29:05.

in a negotiation, lots of people are going to be asking for lots of

:29:06.:29:08.

different things, they probably are not going to get them. Terminology

:29:09.:29:12.

is quite important. We are not divorce billing or paying to leave,

:29:13.:29:16.

will we have some contractual commitments that we will have to

:29:17.:29:20.

pay? Possibly. Are they going to be ?50 billion? I don't know. And nor

:29:21.:29:24.

does anybody else. So don't get swept away with the kind of hysteria

:29:25.:29:29.

that's surrounding it. Keep calm and see what happens.

:29:30.:29:30.

APPLAUSE. The man in the grey. I can't help

:29:31.:29:43.

but feel that this topic of conversation only fans the flames in

:29:44.:29:49.

the sense of we have the far right, the National party in France at the

:29:50.:29:55.

moment, we had elections in most parts of Europe within the EU, they

:29:56.:30:00.

seemed to go towards the right-wing populism thing. The world is

:30:01.:30:03.

watching what we are doing at the moment and they will be saying, look

:30:04.:30:08.

what they are making the UK do paving this massive bill. They are

:30:09.:30:14.

trying to treat us like this, we need to get out of the EU, all they

:30:15.:30:20.

want is our money. I think it's important to raise the

:30:21.:30:23.

question why the Remain campaign didn't set up these issues in the

:30:24.:30:28.

referendum campaign. If they were set out more clearly and succinctly,

:30:29.:30:35.

the short-sighted decision that was made in terms of voting to leave

:30:36.:30:41.

would not be made. I would like to see a more positive EU campaign.

:30:42.:30:46.

Sorry, I didn't get your name. I think we have seen a right-wing coup

:30:47.:30:49.

in this country already with the Government pushing a right wing

:30:50.:31:00.

Brexit. The issues we have seen... It is not an extreme Brexit. The

:31:01.:31:06.

issue over Gibraltar I think will be a symbol of the problems with this

:31:07.:31:12.

process. Gibraltar either have to sacrifice their sovereignty, which

:31:13.:31:17.

they don't want, or they have to sacrifice the freedom of movement on

:31:18.:31:21.

which their economy depends. 12,000 people come into Gibraltar everyday

:31:22.:31:26.

to work and their economy depends on it. Think about Ireland and the

:31:27.:31:32.

issues around the border there, we are one week into Brexit and I think

:31:33.:31:37.

the wheels are already coming the Brexit bus. Tim, I'm coming to you,

:31:38.:31:46.

eat you say the wheels are coming off the bus, you know how the

:31:47.:31:50.

country voted, should that be ignored? They didn't vote for a

:31:51.:31:56.

country that was less prosperous. How do you know how prosperous the

:31:57.:32:05.

country will be? How do you know what people voted for? The

:32:06.:32:08.

Government has already said we will have to lose potentially a third of

:32:09.:32:14.

our environmental protections. You are assuming people voted the way

:32:15.:32:18.

they did, you don't like the way they voted so you are assuming the

:32:19.:32:23.

worst motives. Maybe they knew what they were doing. You cannot say they

:32:24.:32:28.

didn't know what they were doing. Both sides voted in good faith, and

:32:29.:32:33.

I think there was a terrible referendum campaign and people were

:32:34.:32:36.

misled, but we did have the option of staying in the single market and

:32:37.:32:42.

leaving. This version of Brexit which the Government are pushing

:32:43.:32:50.

forward... Stop talking down our country, stop patronising voters,

:32:51.:32:57.

let's be more positive. Tim Farron. Am I right in saying if we don't

:32:58.:33:02.

leave the European Union we don't have to pay ?50 billion? If so, I

:33:03.:33:07.

will hire a bus and stick it on the side of it. If you lose, you should

:33:08.:33:12.

accept the result with good grace and you don't give up. If you

:33:13.:33:19.

believe... Not my figures but the Conservative government's figures,

:33:20.:33:26.

of course I would resist a one-off ?50 billion payment, but the

:33:27.:33:31.

Government 's own figures saying 100 billion extra per year in debt

:33:32.:33:35.

because of the choice of a hard Brexit. Theresa May is not enacting

:33:36.:33:40.

the will of the people. If you are being generous she is interpreting

:33:41.:33:44.

the will of the people. The single market was not on the ballot paper,

:33:45.:33:50.

maybe you wanted out of it, maybe not, we don't know because you

:33:51.:33:54.

weren't asked. That is why, if you want a Democrat you do not want to

:33:55.:33:59.

allow the politicians to rubber-stamp this stitch up in two

:34:00.:34:04.

years' time, you want the people to decide. I just wanted to ask, do you

:34:05.:34:12.

think Brexit will have an impact on the NHS workforce at all? Diane

:34:13.:34:20.

Abbot. Responding to that specifically, we have in the NHS and

:34:21.:34:25.

social care workforce I think it is 80,000 social care workers and

:34:26.:34:31.

40,000 doctors from the EU. If we had an end of free movement

:34:32.:34:35.

tomorrow, certainly social care in London and the south-east would

:34:36.:34:40.

collapse so it will have an effect. The problem is even before we have

:34:41.:34:46.

gone into negotiation, EU doctors and EU social care workers are

:34:47.:34:50.

leaving their jobs. Universities are finding people from Europe are not

:34:51.:34:54.

applying for jobs so it is having an effect now. Let me say this in

:34:55.:34:59.

response to the question about will we have to pay. The Labour Party

:35:00.:35:03.

voted to trigger Article 50 because we respect the result of the

:35:04.:35:07.

referendum. I am one of the few members of Parliament who voted

:35:08.:35:11.

against the Maastricht Treaty because there are elements of Europe

:35:12.:35:19.

I have always been sceptical about. Gerard said there is uncertainty,

:35:20.:35:24.

one thing that is certain is we have Treaty obligations to the EU. These

:35:25.:35:29.

are legal obligations, and I don't know how much money we are up for

:35:30.:35:36.

for having signed this treaty, but they are treaty obligations. The

:35:37.:35:40.

other thing that is certain is this, on the question of freedom of

:35:41.:35:44.

movement, and people have different views about freedom of movement

:35:45.:35:50.

because they see it as a euphemism for immigration and such, but on the

:35:51.:35:53.

question of freedom of movement, without it we will not have access

:35:54.:35:57.

to the single market and thousands of Gerard's members will lose their

:35:58.:36:01.

jobs in companies like euro Eurobus. There is a lot of fear and

:36:02.:36:17.

worry about this but some things are facts and the importance of access

:36:18.:36:24.

to the single market is a fact. Just to come back on the issue around

:36:25.:36:28.

freedom of movement, I have said that somebody who voted for Remain I

:36:29.:36:33.

have accepted the result of the referendum and said OK, we face up

:36:34.:36:37.

to the of that. One of the realities around that is you cannot have

:36:38.:36:43.

access to the single market without freedom of movement, and most

:36:44.:36:46.

people, certainly in the context of the discussion after the referendum,

:36:47.:36:51.

felt migration was an issue and that's why they voted. In terms of

:36:52.:36:56.

the specific issue around the NHS, I have argued the case we should

:36:57.:37:00.

ensure those European migrants who are here should stay, just as the

:37:01.:37:05.

same situation for UK nationals living in the EU. We have a golden

:37:06.:37:10.

opportunity in terms of its skills agenda for our nation. For too long,

:37:11.:37:26.

two decades, employers have had the opportunity to recruit outside of

:37:27.:37:29.

the UK, they have taken skills off-the-shelf from Europe instead of

:37:30.:37:31.

investing in the workforce and the long-term unemployed. We now have

:37:32.:37:32.

the chance to do that and we should not waste

:37:33.:37:35.

two years, we should start the process now. I would like to ask

:37:36.:37:39.

Diane Abbott, you say you respect the will of the people, but do you

:37:40.:37:45.

have any remorse or apology to make for the disgusting lie you made

:37:46.:37:49.

against me and millions of innocent people who voted Leave when you said

:37:50.:37:53.

that because they voted Leave they don't like the look of foreign

:37:54.:37:57.

people, they must be racist or xenophobe. I voted to leave not

:37:58.:38:03.

because of the colour of their skin, it was to leave the European Union.

:38:04.:38:09.

You have caused so much distress and hurt to me, it is a disgrace. One of

:38:10.:38:17.

the people I most admired in politics was Tony Benn and if he was

:38:18.:38:22.

alive today he would have voted to come out of the EU, so I would never

:38:23.:38:26.

say people would vote to come out because they were racist... The

:38:27.:38:31.

month after the accident vote we had a 41% rise in race hate, we saw the

:38:32.:38:38.

terrible killing of the Kurdish boy in Croydon. I'm not saying there

:38:39.:38:44.

weren't good reasons to come out, but let's be clear about the rise in

:38:45.:38:53.

hate crimes that we have seen since. It was very irresponsible of you to

:38:54.:38:57.

stir up this unfounded suggestion that people who voted to leave the

:38:58.:39:01.

European Union are somehow racist, and that the awful killing in

:39:02.:39:06.

Croydon was motivated by Brexit, there is no proof of that and it is

:39:07.:39:10.

irresponsible and disrespectful. APPLAUSE.

:39:11.:39:18.

Suella, you are not listening to me. I would never say people like Tony

:39:19.:39:23.

Benn were racist, and it is not me saying there was a 41% rise in hate

:39:24.:39:28.

crime, it was the Metropolitan Police. Do you think they asked

:39:29.:39:34.

erring up hatred? When we say hate crime, you have websites where

:39:35.:39:42.

people can press big red buttons and register a hate crime because people

:39:43.:39:50.

conceive they are getting logged, validated, and I am fed up with

:39:51.:39:54.

Brexit getting the blame for everything. I want to make a point

:39:55.:39:59.

and it is not about hate crime, I'm taking it back to something else. I

:40:00.:40:04.

have heard you talk about extreme Brexit, you talk about hard Brexit,

:40:05.:40:09.

and I am fed up with it. We were asked if we wanted to be in the

:40:10.:40:15.

European Union, yes or no. I voted out, it doesn't make me better or

:40:16.:40:20.

worse, more intelligent or less intelligent than anybody else, it

:40:21.:40:24.

makes me untitled is my opinion. Brexit for me means leaving the

:40:25.:40:32.

European Union, it doesn't mean me moving house, it is not extreme, it

:40:33.:40:39.

is not hard, it is Rex it, we are just leaving the EU and its

:40:40.:40:41.

associated bodies. APPLAUSE.

:40:42.:40:49.

The last week should have proved to you that it is not that

:40:50.:40:53.

straightforward. The bottom line is this, when this point is proved is

:40:54.:40:59.

that Brexit has divided the country in a cultural way, in a nasty way,

:41:00.:41:05.

and it breaks my heart. I want Britain to be united in or out of

:41:06.:41:11.

Europe. Being in the single market is worth ?100 billion a year to the

:41:12.:41:16.

United Kingdom, the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that. If I was

:41:17.:41:20.

the Prime Minister of a country that had a score draw, people have voted

:41:21.:41:25.

Leave but narrowly, what would you do? Go for an extreme Brexit or try

:41:26.:41:30.

to bring the country together and have a modest approach towards

:41:31.:41:42.

having a membership of the single market? That is what you would do if

:41:43.:41:45.

you are trying to bring Britain together and not divided. Tim,

:41:46.:41:47.

regardless of you cannot go through Rex it kicking and screaming or not,

:41:48.:41:50.

we are leaving the EU, so it's a natural time to make us come

:41:51.:41:54.

together, not go against the Government, and we are leaving,

:41:55.:41:58.

regardless of the single market or not. Get over it. We had a

:41:59.:42:07.

discussion. I respect your view is different

:42:08.:42:13.

from mine, but what I would like you to do is, if you believe strongly in

:42:14.:42:17.

your view, put it in the manifesto, and we can decide, have another

:42:18.:42:24.

referendum and people will decide if they want to vote for it.

:42:25.:42:30.

For me, we should ask the European Union to justify their demand. I

:42:31.:42:40.

think there is a whole area of policy areas where we should

:42:41.:42:44.

negotiate, we cannot work on our own, but we should bear in mind that

:42:45.:42:49.

the European Union is only 7% of the world population. Diane Abbott, you

:42:50.:42:56.

deliberately, just like Nick Clegg two weeks ago, you are confusing

:42:57.:43:03.

access to the single market... The statement you made is factually

:43:04.:43:06.

incorrect. We must move on to another question. With benefits cuts

:43:07.:43:13.

on the sick, disabled and vulnerable, are we returning to

:43:14.:43:16.

Dickensian times? APPLAUSE.

:43:17.:43:23.

The benefits cuts that take effect today, affecting Windows and third

:43:24.:43:29.

children, all the rest of it. Gerard Coyne. Yes, we are, I think so. The

:43:30.:43:38.

reality is we are facing a situation where there are 13.5 million people,

:43:39.:43:45.

defined by the Rowntree foundation as being in poverty. 7 million of

:43:46.:43:50.

those in the UK are working at the moment so the reality that the

:43:51.:43:57.

attacks on tax credits that come through this week will have a direct

:43:58.:44:01.

impact on so many families in this country, added to which some of the

:44:02.:44:07.

measures brought in in relation to the two child limit, it has been

:44:08.:44:11.

reported in the news today that there is an eight page document that

:44:12.:44:18.

is required if you are going over the two child limit, if you have

:44:19.:44:25.

been a victim of rape or forced her worst sex. That is unbelievable, it

:44:26.:44:30.

is barbaric to suggest that somebody who has endured that has to justify

:44:31.:44:39.

claiming benefit over that two child limit, so yes we have gone

:44:40.:44:40.

backwards. Sewell? -- Sewell la? We need to

:44:41.:44:55.

make it fairer and distribute it amongst the people who genuinely

:44:56.:44:58.

need it but also help them on to working so that work pays in a

:44:59.:45:04.

fairer way -- Suella Hernandez. The changes we are seeing today do that.

:45:05.:45:09.

They try and resolve historic unfairness whereby those people

:45:10.:45:13.

who're in the middle, so we have got people who can't work, people who

:45:14.:45:17.

can, people who're disabled or ill but can do a bit and are on the

:45:18.:45:21.

route to working. This is about redistributing and making it fairer,

:45:22.:45:25.

a more sustainable way for providing for them so they can get back into

:45:26.:45:30.

work. We need to be reasonable with how we spend benefits and welfare

:45:31.:45:33.

because we need to make work pay. That is what gives people the

:45:34.:45:37.

dignity, making people more able to work even if they've got

:45:38.:45:42.

disabilities, even if they've got illness but also supporting those

:45:43.:45:45.

people who're vulnerable so they don't feel they are being abandoned.

:45:46.:45:49.

One of the changes you are bringing in today is about the employment

:45:50.:45:52.

support allowance, the work related activity group. These are people who

:45:53.:45:57.

this Government accepts are too sick or too ill or too disabled to work

:45:58.:46:02.

at this moment. And you are introducing a 33% cut in their

:46:03.:46:07.

benefit today. That is despicable, outrageous, that you would talk on

:46:08.:46:10.

the one hand about getting people into employment...

:46:11.:46:14.

APPLAUSE. If you told me 20 years ago that we

:46:15.:46:20.

would be living in a country where there are a million emergency food

:46:21.:46:24.

bank parcels given out a year, 100,000 people relying on food banks

:46:25.:46:29.

to get food for their families, I would not have believed you. How've

:46:30.:46:34.

we come to this state? These are people who're in work. I want to

:46:35.:46:38.

finish this, because these are people who're in work trying to work

:46:39.:46:43.

but who aren't being paid enough either through benefits or work,

:46:44.:46:45.

it's despicable. APPLAUSE.

:46:46.:46:50.

Actually, what we are doing is using the money more effectively. Personal

:46:51.:46:55.

support packages, costing ?330 million will be there for people

:46:56.:47:00.

who're disabled who want to work. We have introduced the taper on

:47:01.:47:06.

Universal Credit so people will be able to keep more of what they earn.

:47:07.:47:10.

You have got to look at it in the round. It's got to be reasonable and

:47:11.:47:14.

we have got to make it fair. Diane Abbott, what do you make of the

:47:15.:47:18.

changes, particularly to the third child, widows down from 20 years of

:47:19.:47:26.

support to 18 months. Is he right to point to the employment? The changes

:47:27.:47:34.

are the Tories are making are cruel and unfair. We are living in a

:47:35.:47:39.

society where people on welfare are being demonised and people forget

:47:40.:47:44.

actually that maybe 40% of people on welfare are old age pensioners, not

:47:45.:47:50.

WASPI women as the lady mentioned there, but they are pensioner,

:47:51.:47:55.

another 10-20% are taking in-work benefits but bit by bit with

:47:56.:48:02.

programmes like Benefits Street and the way politicians are talking, we

:48:03.:48:06.

are encouraged to demonise people. As for the idea that we want work to

:48:07.:48:11.

pay, work is not paying. That's why thousands of people, working people,

:48:12.:48:17.

every week have to go to food banks. We have got more people in work, the

:48:18.:48:21.

national living wage has gone up and that's because of the strong economy

:48:22.:48:24.

that the Conservatives have overseen. What sort of work, Suella?

:48:25.:48:32.

Under Labour, unemployment rose. Michelle Dewberry? I support your

:48:33.:48:36.

view in terms of getting people into work and the rest of it and I'm a

:48:37.:48:40.

fan of that, that is brilliant, but you have to also understand there

:48:41.:48:43.

are some people for whatever reason who're not able to work and it makes

:48:44.:48:48.

me feel really uncomfortable actually that we would tackle those

:48:49.:48:52.

people that for whatever reason need that welfare to support themselves,

:48:53.:48:58.

support their family, going after disabled people while simultaneously

:48:59.:49:01.

not investing the same amount of time and energy, the lad corporates

:49:02.:49:05.

who're avoiding tax and evading tax. APPLAUSE.

:49:06.:49:13.

Tim Farron It's really important to remember who it is that gets hit by

:49:14.:49:19.

this, this is people with Alzheimer's, young people,

:49:20.:49:22.

18-21-year-olds who without Housing Benefit all the housing charities

:49:23.:49:25.

say there'll be a rise in street homelessness as a consequence of all

:49:26.:49:30.

of this and people who've lost their husband, wife, father or mother of

:49:31.:49:33.

their child losing vast amounts of support. This says something really

:49:34.:49:40.

horrible about Britain, Cruel Britannia. We should be ashamed of

:49:41.:49:42.

this. APPLAUSE.

:49:43.:49:48.

I am somebody who wants a strong economy and all the evidence around

:49:49.:49:52.

the world is that the countries with strong welfare safety nets allow

:49:53.:49:55.

business people, entrepreneurs, to take bigger risks because they know

:49:56.:50:01.

they won't fall too far. If you have an ever-shrinking state, an

:50:02.:50:03.

undermined welfare state which unpicks all the things that were put

:50:04.:50:07.

together after the war, then you make a harder environment for

:50:08.:50:09.

business people to do well. This is bad for our morality as a country

:50:10.:50:13.

and our success as a country. APPLAUSE.

:50:14.:50:17.

Some points from the audience then we'll move on. You in blue? You will

:50:18.:50:23.

be saving over ?500 million with these tax cuts, where will that

:50:24.:50:31.

money be spent? ?5 billion a year. I think it was directed at Suella.

:50:32.:50:38.

Sorry. If we are talking about cuts in corporation tax, that's been

:50:39.:50:44.

spent over and over by Labour. We have got to reduce public spending

:50:45.:50:47.

and I'm glad that under this Conservative Government we have

:50:48.:50:50.

managed to cut the deficit by two thirds and get our house back in

:50:51.:50:53.

order. A strong economy underlines everything that we do when it comes

:50:54.:51:00.

to Public Services. By tackling the weakest members of society...

:51:01.:51:01.

APPLAUSE. No. We are providing packages for

:51:02.:51:06.

people who're disabled and who want to get back into work, we are

:51:07.:51:09.

investing in our NHS and our schools. That's all because we've

:51:10.:51:14.

got a strong economy. Trust any of these parties and I trust you, I

:51:15.:51:19.

tell you, we'll see the economy tag and it will be job losses that will

:51:20.:51:22.

suffer at the end of the day. The man in the white shirt at the back?

:51:23.:51:29.

The simple solution showerly is to spend our overseas aid money on our

:51:30.:51:38.

own people -- the solution surely. You think that would... It would

:51:39.:51:43.

alleviate a lot. You are meant not to disagree with the public but I

:51:44.:51:49.

disagree. My sense is, who are the people we should at least target to

:51:50.:51:52.

save money, the poorest people in the world, I don't think so. What

:51:53.:51:55.

does that say about Britain, just as much as targeting the bereaved,

:51:56.:52:00.

those with Alzheimer's and those that need Housing Benefit. If we

:52:01.:52:04.

contract our economy, we should tax those who've got the most, not the

:52:05.:52:06.

least. APPLAUSE.

:52:07.:52:11.

We've got four or five minutes left. Jennifer's question, please? Should

:52:12.:52:15.

Ken Livingstone be expelled from the Labour Party? Ah! Should Ken

:52:16.:52:19.

Livingstone be expelled? I wonder who we should go to on this first?

:52:20.:52:24.

Diane Abbott! LAUGHTER.

:52:25.:52:33.

There is an argument... Yes or no! ? There is an argument about talking

:52:34.:52:37.

less about Ken Livingstone because he actually enjoys it. OK. But what

:52:38.:52:46.

I would say is this - Ken's insistence on making totally

:52:47.:52:52.

spurious and hurtful and hate-mongering links between Hitler

:52:53.:52:55.

and Zionism has appalled most of us in the Labour Party. What's worse,

:52:56.:53:00.

he keeps on repeating it. He keeps on repeating it. I do not have a say

:53:01.:53:08.

of whether he gets expelled but he's coming up once again before our NCC

:53:09.:53:15.

who are the Labour Party body which decides on these things... Why

:53:16.:53:18.

weren't they able to decide this time? Why do they have to do it all

:53:19.:53:24.

over again, the third time he's been up? It says a lot about the Labour

:53:25.:53:29.

Party. No, it says a lot about Ken Livingstone. Diane, just explain

:53:30.:53:35.

that the NCC makes the decision. Nay take the decision? Yes. Why did they

:53:36.:53:40.

take the decision they did? I didn't see the evidence in front of them. ?

:53:41.:53:43.

You have just described the evidence. No, no, no, no, no, I

:53:44.:53:48.

didn't see the entire evidence. Ken is prepared to go to court. They

:53:49.:53:53.

clearly didn't feel they had a strong enough case. But it's going

:53:54.:53:58.

to come back in front of the committee. But let's be clear, the

:53:59.:54:04.

Labour Party is appalled by - not just what Ken's said, but he's kept

:54:05.:54:10.

repeating it. Yes or no? If he is expelled from the party, and, you

:54:11.:54:17.

know, let's be clear, the Should he be expelled? If Ken is I don't think

:54:18.:54:22.

you are going to get the answer yes or no. Should I answer the question.

:54:23.:54:28.

What is your view? Yes he should go. OK. Why do you think he should go?

:54:29.:54:36.

It's an affront to the six million Jews that lost their lives and their

:54:37.:54:41.

families in the Holocaust. What is going wrong? There is an issue about

:54:42.:54:47.

anti-Semitism. During my campaign to stand for General Secretary of

:54:48.:54:52.

Unite, I've been subjected to hate crime as a result of speaking to a

:54:53.:54:56.

Jewish newspaper. Now, that is a real issue and if we don't deal with

:54:57.:55:01.

it, and we don't send a clear message as was said by the member of

:55:02.:55:06.

the audience, he has to go and we should show him the door and Diane,

:55:07.:55:09.

we have to kick him out. OK.

:55:10.:55:16.

All right. Tim Farron briefly? Yes, he should go. It's very clear that

:55:17.:55:21.

whether Ken is an anti-Semitic person or not, his rhetoric

:55:22.:55:25.

undoubtedly breeds exactly the kind of thing Gerard is talking about and

:55:26.:55:29.

gives people on the far right too succour to believe it's OK to say

:55:30.:55:34.

this kind of stuff. It's quite sad. Whatever you think of his politics,

:55:35.:55:39.

he was a pretty good Mayor of London, this was a relatively

:55:40.:55:41.

serious man who 'll now be remembered as somebody who's some

:55:42.:55:45.

kind of borderline racist, what a massive tragedy. Has he changed

:55:46.:55:50.

since you worked for him? Or worked with him? No, Ken was a great Mayor

:55:51.:55:55.

of London, he really was. And it's very sad for those that have known

:55:56.:56:00.

him for decades to see what has happened. But when Gerard says that

:56:01.:56:05.

the Labour Party has a problem with institutional racism, I'm sorry that

:56:06.:56:10.

you feel... I said anti-Semitism. One and the same. When you say that,

:56:11.:56:15.

I'm sorry you feel the need to attack your party. I'm proud of the

:56:16.:56:19.

Labour Party's record on fighting racism and anti-Semitism. That's why

:56:20.:56:22.

I feel Ken Livingstone needs to be dealt with hopefully with a little

:56:23.:56:29.

less talking. I would prefer if he dealt with this issue properly.

:56:30.:56:34.

Suella briefly? A Labour Party issue? It's bigger than Ken

:56:35.:56:39.

Livingstone, he should apologise and should be expelled. They have had a

:56:40.:56:44.

problem with it, Shami Chakrabarti wrote a report about anti-Semitism,

:56:45.:56:49.

it's renowned by a whitewash by the Jews and she was awarded with a

:56:50.:56:53.

peerage. That sends a toxic message that it's OK. Have you read it? Have

:56:54.:57:00.

you read it? Jeremy Corbyn says he's friends with Hamas and Hezbollah,

:57:01.:57:05.

he's got a liberal lack of moral leadership, that's the cause of it.

:57:06.:57:10.

He needs to develop a backbone and take action so show that zero

:57:11.:57:14.

tolerance is a reaction, not an illusion. You wanted to speak on

:57:15.:57:22.

this point? Do do think he should be expelled. I won't make political

:57:23.:57:25.

points but there is an issue we have to address as a country around

:57:26.:57:28.

anti-Semitism and the rise in hate and we have to face up to. I don't

:57:29.:57:32.

believe the referendum, going back to that, I don't believe that was

:57:33.:57:37.

the cause of hate crime. It's like the geneny came out of the bottle

:57:38.:57:41.

and it's about decades of this whipping up and not challenging it

:57:42.:57:45.

hard enough and we are reaping what we have sown. There is a broader

:57:46.:57:48.

question we must address as a country. Michelle?

:57:49.:57:51.

APPLAUSE. I think that the Labour Party is

:57:52.:57:56.

letting people down so much now in so many different ways and this is

:57:57.:58:01.

just another example of it. I think that if you think that somebody's

:58:02.:58:07.

done something wrong, and they're deemed to have done something

:58:08.:58:13.

wrong... Are you saying Ken is an anti-Semitism person? It doesn't

:58:14.:58:17.

matter, he's bringing your party into disrepute. Your party is a joke

:58:18.:58:21.

for numerous different reasons. This is just one of them and you have got

:58:22.:58:24.

to get some credibility, some backbone. He shouldn't be there and

:58:25.:58:28.

I'm sure you know that as well as I do. I'm going to have to stop this

:58:29.:58:32.

because our time is up. I'm sorry about that. Apologies to those who

:58:33.:58:42.

have your hands up. Question Time will be back after Easter. We take a

:58:43.:58:49.

two-week break now. We are in Oxford on April 27th and Wigan on 4th May.

:58:50.:58:55.

The website address is on the screen and the telephone number if you want

:58:56.:59:00.

to get in touch to take part. Question Time extra time goes on.

:59:01.:59:04.

Here in Gillingham, the debate ends, so thanks to the panelists, and all

:59:05.:59:10.

of you who came here and, until 27th April, good night.

:59:11.:59:19.

David Dimbleby chairs topical debate from Gillingham. On the panel are Conservative MP Suella Fernandes, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, co-leader of the Green Party Jonathan Bartley, businesswoman and broadcaster Michelle Dewberry, and Gerard Coyne, the West Midlands secretary of the Unite union who is a candidate in the election for general secretary.


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