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Morning everyone, I'm
Sarah Smith and and this
is the Sunday Politics...
Bringing you up to speed on all
the political comings and goings
in Westminster and beyond.
Coming up in today's programme:
Having knocked Cabinet heads
together Theresa May
prepares - finally -
to lay out her vision for Brexit.
But can she keep her
whole party on side?
We'll be speaking to
a former Tory leader.
Waiting in the wings is this man.
But can Jeremy Corbyn unite
the opposing forces in his own party
and convince the electorate he'd do
a better job of Brexit?
The forthcoming local elections
in England ought to give us
a clue about the fortunes
of the two main parties.
We'll be previewing these
crucial council contests.
In London, the Government blames
the Mayor, the Mayor
blames the Government...
As funding and police numbers
fall, can the police
really do more for less?
All that coming up in the programme.
And as usual, we've got three
Westminster insiders who will take
us behind the headlines and tell us
what's really going on.
Today I'm joined by Iain Dale,
Kate McCann and Steve Richards.
Next month, Theresa May
will begin formal negotiations
with her European counterparts
on what the future EU-UK
relationship should look like.
This week, she will lay
out her vision of life after Brexit
and she'll declare that our "best
days really do lie ahead of us".
EU leaders beg to differ though,
and have already taken
some pre-emptive swipes.
But, while the talk is likely
to get tough in Brussels,
the key battles could be
played out closer to home.
It's known as the Brexit war
committee, but the smiles suggested
an outbreak of peace among
the Cabinet's big beasts.
For now, at least.
They'd arrived at Chequers,
the Prime Minister's country
retreat, on Thursday afternoon,
to try and agree a common position
for the next round of Brexit talks.
Eight hours later, ministers
were apparently still smiling,
having agreed on something called
ambitious managed divergences
and future trade with the EU.
One of those present
said the Prime Minister
had played a blinder,
but will it be enough to hold
the whole party together?
Earlier in the week,
a letter from the pro-Brexit
European reform group found its way
into the newspapers,
politely reminding the Prime
Minister that when we leave,
nothing but full regulatory autonomy
will be good enough.
But it's Remain-minded Tories
who could throw a real
spanner in the works.
Conservative MP Anna Soubry
announced on Thursday she had...
"Tabled a new amendment to the trade
bill to force the government to form
a customs union with the EU".
27 other EU countries also
need to be won over.
Brexit Secretary David Davis
was in Vienna on Tuesday,
colourfully describing what Brexit
will not look like.
They fear that Brexit will lead
to an Anglo-Saxon race
to the bottom, with Britain plunged
into a Mad Max style world borrowed
from dystopian fiction.
These fears about a race
to the bottom are based on nothing.
But the EU are not convinced.
European Council President Donald
Tusk arguing that the UK
was still trying to
cherry pick its future
relationship with the EU.
I'm afraid that the UK position
today is based on pure illusion.
Until now, Jeremy Corbyn
has played his Brexit
cards close to his chest.
He may begin to reveal his hand
in a major speech tomorrow and this
week he unusually raised Brexit
at Prime Minister's Questions.
This government isn't on the road
to Brexit, Mr Speaker,
it's on the road to nowhere.
Can I congratulate the right
because normally he stands up
every week and asks me
to sign a blank cheque.
And I know he likes cheques, but,
really, that is terribly...
That was a reference to reports
that the Labour leader had held
meetings with the former
Czechoslovakian spy in the 1980s.
Mr Corbyn hit back at those reports
with a social media video,
in which he said rather cryptically,
"Change is coming to
the newspaper industry".
Publishing these ridiculous smears
that have been refuted by Czech
officials shows just how worried
the media bosses are at the prospect
of a Labour government.
They are right to be.
Tory MP Ben Bradley had to apologise
to Mr Corbyn over a tweet
about the allegations, saying...
But it wasn't all Brexit
and brush passes.
The Prime Minister began
the week announcing a review
into higher education.
We now have one of the most
expensive systems of university
tuition in the world.
Theresa May wants to demonstrate
her government isn't
simply defined by Brexit,
but navigating the complications
of leaving the EU is
an all consuming task.
If she can avoid it
consuming her career, that
could be her greatest achievement.
Steve, Kate and Iain
were watching that with me.
Let's chew over what has been
happening this week. People saying
that meeting at Chequers, the Prime
Minister played a blinder and got
the Cabinet to agree. Outside the
Cabinet, it looks like she is
assaulted on all sides by
pro-Brexit, pro had Brexit Tory MPs,
the EU, it's not as easy as all
It is never going to be easy
for a Prime Minister who hasn't got
a Parliamentary majority. She is
very resilient. Whenever she's
knocked down, she bounces back
again. I think she has had quite a
reasonable week this week, starting
off on the front foot and tuition
fees and ending the week with the
meeting at Chequers. I think a lot
of commentators thought it was going
to be a disaster, that they would
agree on the way board. The proof in
the pudding will be on what she says
in the speech on Friday. We have
Jeremy Corbyn mandates and
effectively she has to up with
probably quite a lot more detail
than she has done in the past. I
think they have the basis for that
Kate, we've talked a lot on
this programme about the arguments
within the Cabinet but now it looks
like the focus is now on the wider
Conservative Party. You have
probably remain MPs like Anna Soubry
saying they want to stay in the
customs union, a letter from pro
except MPs like Jacob Rees-Mogg
saying they want full regulatory
divergence. Which group is likely to
win the day?
I think what is most
interesting this week will be Jeremy
Corbyn's speech on Monday. That
comes before Theresa May's speech on
Friday. That will help tip those two
sites, as it were, and we will see
what will happen with the customs
union. Jeremy Corbyn is likely to
say he would like to stay in a
customs union that is likely to make
the Tory MPs on the Tories I'd like
Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan, who
want to back and push for a customs
union feel like they have more
control over that. Whether it is
likely not promote we are yet to
see. If Labour is shifting its
customs union position that much,
that gives Tory MPs a lot more
strength in the House of Commons
because the government has already
pushed back a vote on the customs
union because they are worried about
what is going happen.
remain Tories on the Labour Party
believe they have the Parliamentary
arithmetic to force a defeat on the
government over the customs union,
are they right about that?
in theory they are right. There are
enough Conservative MPs and if the
opposition vote for this, the
government faces a defeat with
profound consequences. We will not
know probably until the moment when
the vote takes place. It will be a
moment of one of these great
Parliamentary dramas, where there
will be huge pressure on Tory MPs
not to go along with this and say,
you are in alliance with Jeremy
Corbyn and so on. We won't know
until the vote but in theory they
have the numbers. It would be a game
changer if this amendment was
This is fascinating. It
means the power has gone to the
house of parliament and has left
number ten and the Cabinet, Hilary
Benn described this as a backbencher
's parliament because the government
doesn't have a majority. Is that
where the authority lies now?
some ideas. I'm not sure if I agree
about the Parliamentary arithmetic
because some will die with the
Conservatives, and we will hear from
one later, Frank Field. There are a
group of them. I wonder about the
numbers on the Tory benches, there
is a hard-core group of about ten or
a dozen that you think might well
support Anna Soubry's amendment but
I don't really see it going much
beyond that. But you are right, it
will be on a bit of a knife edge. If
it came to the government were
defeated on this, then we are in
uncharted waters, because the
government could actually make it a
vote of confidence. It would be very
unusual to do one on an amendment to
a bill but it is possible, or they
could call a vote of confidence that
would put Anna Soubry and all the
others in a bit a tricky position.
If they did vote against the
government on a vote of confidence,
they would have to be deselected.
will talk about that throughout the
Listening to all that is the former
and leading Brexit campaigner,
Iain Duncan Smith.
Welcome to the programme. Do you
accept there is a significant chance
the government could be defeated on
a customs union in the House of
Commons question when you don't have
a majority there is a chance to be
defeated on anything.
I love the way
the media looks at this cost would
take a pace back, it's a government
that won the election and didn't get
an overall majority so it means
almost anything anyone is upset
about could cause a problem for the
government, fact of life. Brexit is
just one, it's a very big issue but
one of those, there has been other
issues and there will be on the
issue is following through.
matters to you whether we are in a
customs union with the EU?
things deeply matter to me, beyond
Brexit. But yes. I think the key
thing is not what I believe but the
Prime Minister has been pretty clear
about this from the word go, way
before the election, during the
election importantly and even
subsequently she has made it very
clear we are taking back control,
leaving the customs union, single
market, and at the same time making
sure we get outside of the remit of
the court of justice. She has been
clear about this.
Let's pick a bit of that. In her
Lancaster House speech she said she
wanted us to have a customs
agreement with the EU, not a customs
union but customs agreement. This
controversial amendment Anna Soubry
another Superdome says they want an
agreement that enables the UK to be
able to participate in a customs
union with the EU, is there space
It depends what the detail
is. The government set it out quite
rightly on having a proper free
trade arrang ement. You can describe
a free-trade arrangement in all
different ways but a free-trade
arrangement is about us having a
clear ability to sell-out goods into
the European Union them to sell us
without artificial trade barriers
that will require arrangements that
out customs arrangements. The big
them to sell us without artificial
trade barriers and that will require
arrangements that out customs
arrangements. The behind having a
customs union and being outside a
free-trade arrangement is we are 90%
of the graces in the global economy
in the next two years, we will be
free to do that. If we are in a
customs union, you to make trade
arrangements with America,
Australia, India, where ever we want
to, where 90% of the growth is in
the global economy in the next two
years, we will be free to do that.
If we are in a customs union, you
agree do that and therefore we would
have to what the European Union to
what the European certainly be
outvoted endlessly. This is about
where does the power light and we
would almost certainly be outvoted
endlessly. This is about where does
the with the rest of the world in a
moment but exactly what you
describe, the free-trade arrangement
with no tariffs with the EU
freedom to make those deals, that is
what the EU called cherry picking?
What they really called cherry
picking is this arrangement we are
talking about now, a customs union.
They have been pretty clear about
this. They said it is not
acceptable. Let's look at it from
the European Union to make those
I want to get into the
detail on free-trade deals with the
rest of the world in a moment but
exactly what you describe, the
free-trade arrangement with no
tariffs with the EU and the freedom
to make those deals, that is what
the EU called cherry picking?
they really called cherry picking is
this arrangement we are talking
about now, a customs union. They
have been pretty clear about this.
They said it is not acceptable.
Let's look at it from the European
Union's standpoint. We constantly
look at what the UK once. You use is
certainly not going to agree going
into a customs union where we will
then have over any future agreement,
so we will outvote all 27 because we
that would depend on the agreement.
That would depend on the
agreement. The EU wants would have
enormous power against them, they an
agreement, we would have enormous
power against them, they won't agree
because it is not in their interests
to do I think what is more in
arrangement. There are lots of
countries that are already breaking
ranks with the commission about
this, Italy, Sweden, Holland said we
have to have a free-trade
They are not on that
yet, they are still on the
implementation phase. When it comes
to free trade, I am very, very
certain that they will want to make
an arrangement with us because it is
in their interests, arguably more
than us. , they want a free-trade
arrangement. There are lots of
countries that are already breaking
ranks with the commission about
this, Italy, Sweden, Holland said we
have to have a free-trade
arrangement. They are not on that
yet, they are still on the
implementation phase. When it comes
to free-trade, I am very, very
certain that they will want to make
an arrangement with us because it is
in their interests, arguably more
than us let's move on to trade with
the rest of the world. Why do so
absolutely convinced that the
ability to do with Australia, China,
the ones the EU has at the,
different from the ones the EU has
at increasing our trade with these
countries from inside the EU? Their
are so terribly important?
Why can't we be increasing our trade
with these countries from inside the
Their biggest free-trade we are
naturally, the UK, more than any
other country in the European
country, arguably more than most in
the world, a free-trade for free
trade the WTO has a ready said they
love the idea of us coming back as a
full voting member because we will
argue for free trade. By, global
free trade and services, which stop
because the European Union has not
wanted to push the site at all.
so much more trade with China than
us from within the EU?
That is to do
with what Germany says they want to
do and go and do it Germany do so
much more trade with China than us
from within the EU? That is to do
with what Germany says they want to
do and go and do it.
Being a member
of the EU has being a member of the
EU be outside the that so why do we
have to be outside you get rid of
that is not
parallel argument. By getting trade
arrangements you get rid of
artificial and delays at the borders
that allows you to increase your
trade. We want from where we are.
But at the same time, incoming stuff
is just as important. The people who
will benefit most from a free-trade
arrangement of the poorest in
society because the cost of food,
footwear and clothing will almost
certainly our trade from where we
are. But at the same time, incoming
stuff is just as important.
You might as much larger and more
important market. The skill is not
that important. The key thing is, do
you value a marketplace, is it worth
doing business with? Financial
services is an important are great
-- an important area you want to
strike agreements with. The UK's
dominant in financial services and
you cannot get a free-trade
agreement within the single market
at the moment. You cannot sell
insurance in Germany without having
a company in Germany to sell it.
They have never wanted to do
financial service is free trade. We
will be in a much better state
globally. You have seen the increase
in New Zealand's trade when they
went for free-trade and got rid of
their trade barriers.
increase in no global position. The
tragedy led to this and they reckon
a free-trade deal with America we
did 0.02% to the UK's GDP.
I have a
bone to pick with the BBC. There has
been a brilliant economic report are
independent, which has been given
very little coverage which is taken
apart the model that the Treasury
and the government put together. For
example, dealing with this. The
reason why you arrive at this, it
depends on what you assume to be the
actual savings on the border. The
government has only assumed a 4%
saving on getting rid of tariff
barriers. Almost every economist in
the world agrees it is nearer to 20%
This study has been covered
on the BBC it was on the Daily
Politics on Friday. It assumes zero
tariffs on absolutely everything. It
is an extremely optimistic forecast.
It assumes a 10% tariff at the end
of the day, it assumes tariffs
falling to an average of 10%, not
zero. If they went to zero it would
improve it even more. I have read
this report backwards.
One of the
officers says that while there will
be benefits from free-trade deals,
over time it would be likely we
would mostly eliminate manufacturing
in UK by the things that would be
worth it and it should not us.
was one of the original suggestions,
But he was one of the
authors of this report.
He was but
he has accepted this is not going to
be the case within this report.
They're assuming that the border
changes will mean less of a tariff
on the borders at average. That is
what happens in most other
free-trade arrangements. The point
I'm making is it has a massive
benefit to the UK for us to do this.
That is why going for a free-trade
agreement with the European Union is
the right way to go. We forget what
Europe itself once.
Labour is in a
complete mess about this. We will
talk to this about -- we will talk
to them about that.
They were in
favour of leaving the customs union
and the single market and Barry
Gardner said it was making a vassal
state if you stayed in the customs
union. We will ask Labour themselves
about that. Theresa May has made it
clear where out of the single market
and Customs union and I say to my
colleagues who want to change some
of this, just be very careful on
this one, because being invited into
a Labour Party tactical game which
will end up in real damage the
Iain Duncan Smith,
thank you very much for talking to
So much for the Conservatives,
but what about Labour?
In 24 hours' time,
Jeremy Corbyn will give
a keynote speech on Brexit.
All the signs are that he will back
the UK staying permanently
in a customs union with the EU.
But over 80 senior Labour figures
have today urged Mr Corbyn to go
further and support staying
in the single market as well.
But how would that go down
with the millions of Labour
voters who backed Brexit?
Here's what the Shadow Brexit
Secretary, Keir Starmer,
said this morning.
Well, we have long championed
being in a customs union with the EU
and the benefits of that.
Obviously, it is the only way,
realistically, to get
tariff free access.
It is really important
for our manufacturing base
and nobody can answer the question
how you keep your commitment to no
hard border in Northern Ireland
without a customs union.
We have always said
that the benefits of the single
market must be there in the final
agreement and that is a really
because in the end, however
you arrive at that, in whatever
the instrument or agreement it is,
the benefits have got to be there.
Labour is agreed on that end state.
There is obviously an argument
about how we get there.
To discuss this I'm joined by two
Labour MPs who fall on opposing
sides of the Brexit argument.
Frank Field campaigned to leave
the EU and Stella Creasy
is a supporter of the pro-European
group Open Britain.
Thank you both for coming on the
programme. Stella Creasy, you have
signed this letter to Jeremy Corbyn
to be asking not only to stay in the
customs union but also the single
market. If you're in both of them, I
really delivering on the referendum
There are lots of
different combinations that still
see is leaving the European Union
but do what Labour people across
this country, and that is why there
is support across the country and
the party for this letter, which is
to protect the jobs and incomes. We
know that Brexit, any of the models,
I am horrified to your Iain Duncan
Smith dismissing the idea that
manufacturing may be at stake or the
numbers don't matter. It is a
massive hit on our economy. It is a
massive hit took peace in Northern
Ireland if we leave the customs
union. These are called labour
values and that is what we are
standing up for.
You're asking to
stay in the single market. The
problem with that is you thought an
election last year under a manifesto
which said that free movement will
You cannot do both. I am in the
migration committee on the Council
of Europe. Lots of people are
willing to talk about how we make
freedom of movement work. They
recognise politicians have not got
it right across the continent. If we
are not fighting to stay in the
single market we cannot have that
conversation about what the reformed
freedom of movement might look like.
I think freedom of movement is an
important right for people in this
country. I do not want to have to
see the kids in Walthamstow
Birkenhead that their ability to
work for a company that has a base
outside the UK will be hampered by
decisions we've made. That puts them
in an austerity Britain and I do not
want to do that.
Frank Field, does
this sound like a Brexit you could
sell to any leave photo?
No, and you
know perfectly well we cannot sell
it. I am looking forward to what
Jeremy Corbyn says tomorrow because
you have hyped it up. On every vote
we have had Onuora before he came --
before he became leader, Jeremy
Corbyn and I were deeply suspicious
of this organisation which is
corrupt, it has never got its
accounts audited, it is bankrupt.
Whatever he says tomorrow he will
not be arguing to stay in the EU, he
will be arguing for the customs
Please, let me finish. It is
deeply corrupt. It is bankrupt. It
has destabilised Europe with all
this pretence about it has brought
peace. Look what we have done to the
area around Russia. Given there are
number of states within Europe who
depend on our contribution, we
should be voting for a clear
decorate -- a clear declaration, we
want a free-trade area, and we have
money. What are you going to choose.
I think we should take the gloves
off in these negotiations and look
at the real power structure. They
need our money, and for reasons
which Stella Creasy has put forward,
we need access to a free-market
What is your problem
with Jeremy Corbyn saying that the
Labour policy will be too clearly
stay in a customs union?
One, it goes against what we said at
the election. It goes against all
the scare tactics during the
campaign, all the major figures were
saying, you know, if you vote here,
you're leaving the customs union,
you're leaving the free market.
There was no question about what the
referendum was deciding. And the
politics of this is, are we going to
be run by a London agenda? I know
Stella Creasy has got other issues
that she reaches out across the
country, but this is essentially a
London agenda against Labour voters,
particularly in the North.
THEY ALL SPEAK AT ONCE
You have got the mayor of Liverpool
who signed this letter, the leader
of Newcastle Council.
You and I
would in the lobby fighting together
against this government's welfare
£12 billion cuts.
nothing to do with this. It
absolutely is. Even the bare minimal
model we are talking about would be
ahead on our economy and the
communities we represent. How can we
vote Forestieri the? How can you do
that to the voters, the People who
work in the Vauxhall plants in the
Wirral who are frightened they are
about to lose their jobs. How can
you do that to the People in
Let me answer you,
please. We have been through the
courts. There is no problem about
the Good Friday Agreement being
challenged by this at all. We have
got time, I am happy to discuss it.
I think there are problems with the
Good Friday Agreement and a customs
No, it will remain. If we
have time, I would love to discuss
that with you. About austerity, can
I answer that? We are net
contributor. We will have money to
be brought back. While some people
have signed the order leaders even
there, when you look at the
parliamentary arithmetic, Mrs May
almost hollowed out our vote in the
seats were only kept by a handful of
votes. These are seats which voted
very clearly to leave. That is the
act of faith. I know there are
problems about how do you give the
electorate the sovereignty to decide
an issue and then bring it back into
a representative parliamentary
system, but the vote was cleared to
leave. The bill is about leaving and
whether we support that or not and
if we do not support that, I think
Labour voters will draw their own
messages in the North.
Please do not
drive Boris's bars for the People of
those communities. You're saying
that somehow we will get money back.
All the evidence shows is that any
money you get back will be dwarfed
by what we will lose. You're talking
about £1 billion coming back.
THEY ALL SPEAK AT ONCE
You can talk across me all you like,
the numbers are there in the
government's on analysis. That is
what we have to front up to the
communities we represent.
going to write on the People's
decision to leave?
You're coming out
with all these things, we will stay
in a customs union, we will stay in
a single market, the decision was
quite clear to leave. In the north,
Labour voters voted very, very
clearly. You going to rat on them or
not? Never mind about buses and all
the rest of it.
It does matter. Let her answer. It
is about the evidence that we now
have. Democracy did not stop the day
after the referendum.
People have a
right to see the detail.
they do. Do you accept that the
government figures show clearly that
if we stay in the European economic
arrangement, which is out of the EU,
we are still going to take a 16 pelt
-- a £16 billion hit on our economy?
That worse anything you get back.
This letter is not just signed from
people across the country but people
across the trade union movement
because they because they know the
hard Brexit the government is
pushing for and why it matters
Jeremy Corbyn is fighting for the
customs union and single market
It means jobs and wages.
What we should be fighting forest
sector agreements with the European
Union. We want a free-trade area.
They have always opposed the
activities of the city. There is no
need to worry about the city. There
is a need to worry about
manufacturing and we will make
special arrangements with them. The
issue is clear, do we disguise the
fact by pretending we're going to
have a customs union or some other
arrangement which counters what the
clear declaration of northern Labour
voters actually said?
changed their side. A third of
Labour voters did vote for leave.
You risk them abandoning the party.
This is not about rerunning the
referendum. It is about what kind of
deal do we get and is it in the best
interests of Britain. I believe
voters across this country have the
right to know what is likely to
THEY ALL SPEAK AT ONCE
Of course they have a right.
to every bit of information going.
The key thing, we have had a
referendum and we rarely use
referendums for this reason, they
are difficult to implement. The
referendum decision was clear and
particularly clear in the North from
Labour voters. I want to keep faith
with them. I voted to come out. I
know it is harder for people who
voted to stay in. Are we going to
dress up a retreat, Agassi?
there is a complicated decision for
you to make. We've been talking
about the amendment put forward by
Anna Soubry and others, an amendment
to the trade bill that will be voted
on in a few time. There is a
potential to defeat the government
is Jeremy Corbyn comes out in favour
of a customs union and whips his MPs
to vote that way. If you had the
opportunity to win a vote against
the government and bring down
Theresa May, would you vote with her
to keep her in office or against?
That is not the choice and you know
that. That will be the choice on the
day. We will have a decision, do we
continue to implement the referendum
decision. I shall be voting for
Even if that is voting to prop
up the government?
It is not about
propping up the government it is
about implementing a decision of the
People. The government has a
majority on this. The idea that Anna
Soubry is going to lead all these
people into the labour lobbies is
just fairy tales. But we will see on
the night. The government will win
comfortably and double figures on
Frank Field, Stella
Creasy, we will have to leave it
there. Thank you very much.
The local elections in May will see
many seats in the big metropolitan
councils in England up for grabs,
and the Conservatives may need
to brace for a difficult night.
A YouGov poll predicts
Labour could seize several
Conservative councils in London,
including one the Tories
have never lost before.
Emma Vardy looks ahead.
Not since the swinging '60s has
anyone done better in local
elections than Labour
could be about to.
A recent YouGov poll is predicting
Labour will sweep London
with the best results for any
party since 1968.
One of the most enduring Tory
strongholds is here.
To this day, Westminster,
with its largely affluent
population of voters,
has never had a Labour-run
authority, but if the poll is to be
believed, that could now change.
This council has been
since the borough was created
in the 1960s.
But if the swing was big enough
to turn this council red,
that would top off a very good
night for Labour.
The Conservatives are at position
where they could potentially
be left with just one,
maybe two councils in all of London.
I think that would be a bad night
for the Conservatives,
but it is possible.
They are having to fight to hang
on almost everywhere
they still have representation.
But away from London,
it could be a different story.
Birmingham City Council has been
controlled by Labour since 2012.
They hold around two-thirds
of the seats here, but there
is anger over a bin dispute that
lasted for months and left tons
of rubbish on the streets
uncollected, and resentment over
budget cuts that are
affecting local services.
It does not matter who is in because
there is nothing between them,
that is the problem,
because Birmingham is basically
screwed by central government,
who have reduced all of our grants.
There has been a lot of problems
with the bin collections.
Yes, there have.
The Labour run council
got the blame for that?
Yes, I would say so.
The more it dragged
on, certainly, yes.
This will be the first all-out
election for Birmingham City Council
since boundary changes,
so there are 101 seats
here all up for grabs.
It is a place Labour should do well,
but could the party be
punished over those bins?
Back in the summer, of course,
we had the bin strike.
It was not the city's
greatest moment in time.
When I became leader of the council,
I pledged we would resolve that
dispute, which we have now done.
We, the Labour Party
here in Birmingham, are committed
to maintaining weekly bin
collections going forward
for the next four years,
a commitment I've yet to hear
from either of the
other two parties.
Here in Birmingham, the council tax
has gone up over 20% in seven years,
but services have gone down,
and people are seeing rubbish
left on their streets,
and they feel it is time
for a change.
There are plenty of other
places who survive
on fortnightly bin collections.
With council budgets
being constrained, is that
not a sensible option?
In Birmingham, we are absolutely
clear that weekly bin
collections need to remain.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats
and the Greens remain much
stronger in local government
than they are in Parliament,
and in May, they will be
fighting to increase
their local authority presence.
While Ukip are likely to continue
to struggle to reverse
the party's decline.
But if the story of the night
is the biggest Labour
success since the '60s,
any high-profile defeats in Tory
strongholds could start to make some
Conservative MPs worry
about their constituencies ahead
of the next general election.
Steve, Kate and Iain
are still with me.
Let's pick up on the local
elections. Kate, should Theresa May
be deeply worried about this, what
she expected a bad night and what
might the consequences be?
she will be worried but my favourite
thing is Everything is underlined by
the fact people care more about
things than other things that is
what politics comes down to, at the
end of the day. I think Theresa May
will be worried. -- it comes down
bins. It is a battle ground for
those parties. Places like Haringey,
if you see what has happened to
Labour in those areas, and how
powerful momentum and the left have
become in local politics, you see
how much it matters to Labour. I
think the Tories will be worried,
particularly about London. As the BT
said, Labour expect to do quite well
and that is not going to look very
good. Brandon Lewis, the new
chairman of the party, said last
week we expect big losses in London.
He is setting that already. I think
the Tory party is worried. In areas
like Birmingham and other areas
around the country, Brexit is likely
to be important and I think that's
why it comes back to labour being
modelled on Brexit. People vote with
their feet. If the Tories can win
back some seats like burning in
other places, it might not be a
massive all-out loss lost them on
already being Manoj
already being Manoj -- being
managed. Actual voters telling us
what they think. Did they have
consequences that Parliamentary
They could do this time.
It reminds me, Steve will remember
this, 1990 when the Tories did
disastrously in local elections.
Kenneth Baker went out on the
streets and exempted we kept once
loved. I don't think that will
happen this time. Kate is right,
Brandon Lewis, the Tory party
chairman has already started to
manage expectations. He generally
believe they are in for a drubbing,
particularly in London. These will
last up for grabs in 2014 when Ukip
are doing well. In the last year,
Ukip's vote has virtually
disappeared. So all three other
parties, their votes have gone up in
by-elections. It depends where that
vote goes, Wilbur Liberal Democrats
be able to hold onto the seats they
won in that year? -- Wilbur Liberal
Democrats be able to hold onto the
six? I think it will be a drumming
but I think it will be patchy. Andy
Street has been reasonably popular
in the West Midlands. If they do
that they will have a 1990 situation
and that is all they will talk
Even if they lose
is it for Labour to do well, do they
seem to be be -- do they need to be
seen making advances, to keep up
with the idea they are on the Tory's
I think it is important for
that whatever happens I don't think
it will have a huge impact on the
national picture because I think it
will confirm the dynamics as they
already are, in other words Jeremy
Corbyn has been in a strong position
since the general election and that
will be confirmed. Theresa May has
been in a fragile position since the
general election and that will be
confirmed. But by that point Brexit
will be reaching or coming close to
one of its several climactic son I
think that will shape the national
picture. The local elections will be
really important for local
government, who inherit the
nightmarish budget. It won't change
the national picture very much.
said Ukip's vote has been falling
and they have had their troubles
recently as well. Important to see
where their vote goes and confirms
we are moving back to two party
I think it does
nationally but locally it's a
different picture because the Ukip
vote tends to go on all kinds of
directions. It doesn't necessarily
go where you think it will. So the
Liberal Democrats and the Greens do
quite well at local elections,
whereas nationally they don't do
very well at all. I think sometimes
you do see people who would vote for
any other party going for any other
party and not necessarily the Tories
and Labour. I think it comes down to
how much this comes down to Brexit.
Do people care more about Brexit or
bins question mark in areas like
London, I think Brexit and bigger
national issues will have a bearing.
Brexit one way or another will help
with your bins?
London has become a
Labour city. Huge capital city with
millions and millions has become a
Labour stronghold. That is
significant for all kinds of
reasons. It has also become as
strong as it used to be in Scotland.
Even in 2010 in the general
election, London voted Labour by a
wide margin. That is quite a
We need to
leave it there just now, coming back
to you later in the programme.
It's coming up to 11.40,
you're watching the Sunday Politics.
Still to come...
We speak to Former Northern Ireland
Secretary James Brokenshire
about returning to Parliament
after major surgery for cancer.
First though, its time for
the Sunday Politics where you are.
Hello and welcome to the London part
of the show - I'm Jo Coburn.
Joining me for the duration,
Karen Buck, Labour MP
for Westminster North,
and Andrew Rosindell,
Conservative MP for Romford.
Welcome to you both.
Now I want to start with the speech
the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gave
this week, in which he said that
if he became Prime Minister
he would take on the City of London,
saying finance should be
"the servant of industry,
not the masters of us all".
Karen Buck, is it wise for Labour
to use such provocative language
towards a sector that employees
350,000 people in London?
I think that absolutely we,
and I feel very strongly
that the banking industry,
the finance industry, is essential
to London's economy and essential
to the national economy.
So I very much support the need,
and the need in EU negotiations,
to have a healthy finance industry.
But I don't think it's
to say that the British economy has
been too heavily balanced
towards the finance sector
and we need to rebalance that.
And even now, when we are finally
beginning to emerge ten years
after the banking crisis,
there's still a number of issues
in the banking industry that
need to be resolved.
But Jeremy Corbyn claimed the city
had undue influence over
over politics which was
pernicious and undemocratic.
Is he right?
Well, I wouldn't use those words.
I mean, I don't always have
to use all of those words,
but I think it's absolutely right
that the finance industry doesn't
always, hasn't always had
the long-term investment interests
of the wider British economy,
particularly in manufacturing,
that we need to see.
That's something that
George Osborne and David Cameron
were saying as well,
so what ever the words,
I think the issue about the British
economy and making sure finance
is a servant of that is
Andrew Rosindell, the Tories now can
hardly claim to be a friend
of the city because of the fears
over passporting rights being lost
in the City of London
and some bankers have said
that they will move staff
and operations if there are any
risks to that in the future.
Well, we've heard all this
for a long time and no real evidence
that there is any substantial move
away from the city.
Can you guarantee things
like passporting rights?
There's no guarantee of anything,
because the negotiations
haven't been completed.
The reality is, though,
that the European countries
need the City of London
for their own purposes as well.
So I don't see they're
going to somehow punish
the City of London.
I think the City of London
is actually getting more
worried about the prospect
of a Jeremy Corbyn government,
and how that would undermine our
financial services industry.
Right, but would you say that
actually there's too much
deregulation in the past,
supported by your government and
also the previous Labour government?
I think both governments have
deregulated, certainly the eye
was taken off the ball,
which led to some of the problems
we faced ten years ago.
And you backed that?
Well, no party can say
they are innocent when it comes
to ensuring that that situation
was dealt with at the time.
There's no doubt about that.
But let's be honest about it,
without the City of London,
the income that brings
into our economy is huge.
The jobs it creates,
and the City of London effectively
funds the entire National Health
So any policies that undermine
the strength of the City of London
will be cutting off our nose
to spite our face.
Now, there's going to be a major
reform of local policing in London.
The main change will see the merger
of 32 borough commands
into 12 larger units.
Police officer numbers will likely
also drop to 30,000 by April.
So what will all this mean for day
to day policing in London?
Bhavani Vadde reports.
These two young men were stabbed
to death in Camden within the space
of hours on Tuesday night.
Rising knife crime is something
the Metropolitan Police has
to tackle in the face
of severe financial pressures.
70% of the Force's funding
is from central government,
with City Hall responsible
for about 20%.
The Home Office grant
has remained the same,
at around £1.9 billion
in the past few years.
The mayor says that represents
funding cuts in real terms,
so to help plug the shortfall,
the Met is making major
changes to local policing.
The current 32 borough commands,
where each council area
has its own police team,
will be merged to 12 command units,
meaning a loss of 1500 jobs.
And Londoners will see even
fewer police officers.
The Met expects numbers to drop
below 30,000 by April,
and that's the first time that's
happened since 2003.
Officer numbers could fall even
further, to around 27,000, by 2021.
So what impact will all this have
on policing the capital?
I think we're not at breaking point
yet, but if we carry in the way that
they're talking about,
I think within the next 18-20 months
the problems will be that we can't
cope with incidents that are put
in front of us.
If we had, for instance,
what we had last year,
with London Bridge,
Grenfell Tower, Finsbury Park -
all these incidents happening one
after the other throughout
the course of the year,
at some stage my colleagues are just
going to be drained and not be
able to deal with it.
On the same day as those murders
in Camden, we were with officers
searching for hidden knives
in the neighbouring
borough of Islington.
The policing operations of Camden
and Islington were brought
together to test the idea
of merging borough commands.
Jessica Learmond-Criqui is the chair
of a safer neighbourhood
panel in that pilot area.
The impact of the merger
has been quite stark.
Those who suffer anti-social
crime, low-level crime
know they are not safe.
Those are areas where the Met of not
bothering to investigate,
they are not bothering to mount
investigations, they just simply
don't have the manpower,
and that is a direct result
of the pressure that they have
through the cost cuts they have
to make, because of the underfunding
by government and by the mayor.
It's a disaster for London.
The Force needs to save £325 million
by 2022 and has already cut
£600 million from budgets in recent
years, resulting in the loss
of police officers and stations.
This is highly challenging.
The reduction in numbers,
the change in the pattern of demand,
the current risk around terror
and so on is undoubtably,
it's a huge challenge
for the Met at the moment,
and coupled with the financial
challenge, it means we have to think
about doing some things differently.
Our job is to make sure we are best
able to protect London,
both from the large-scale events
and from the local needs,
and that's what we're doing
with this reorganisation.
This week, Sadiq Khan committed
an extra £110 million for the Met
in the next financial year.
He claims this means
City Hall is paying a greater
percentage of the Met's budget
than ever before.
We hope that this will future proof
the Metropolitan Police Service
for the coming years,
to enable them to deliver a better
service, with less resources.
In a statement,
the Home Office said...
The mergers will be rolled out
across London over the next year,
so will the Met be able
to do more with less?
Well, I'm joined by Liberal Democrat
peer Lord Brian Paddick, a former
Deputy Assistant Commissioner
at the Met, who was once responsible
for territorial policing
across London's boroughs.
Welcome to the programme.
Brian, as a former borough
commander, how would you have felt
taking over more than one borough
under your control?
Well, it's extremely challenging.
So, for example, they're
going to merge Sutton,
Bromley and Croydon.
Sutton is Liberal Democrat, Bromley
is Conservative, Croydon is Labour.
Potentially different priorities
at each different local authority.
How as one borough commander can
you manage those different demands?
But the politics aside, could you do
it physically and practically?
Well, when I was the borough
commander for Lambeth,
I struggled to be visible and to be
an effective leader just with one
borough, let alone over that
enormous geographic area.
Right, but for the people
who are being served
by the Metropolitan Police,
how will merging commands
affect your ability to do your job?
Well, I think officers,
because they are closing police
stations, they are closing places
from which officers deployed,
stations, they are closing places
from which officers are deployed,
officers are going to have to travel
longer distances to get
to the places where
they do their policing,
whether it is reporting
a crime or patrolling.
So they're going to waste an awful
amount, a lot of time travelling
from one place to another.
Time which they should be spending
either visible on the street
or investigating crime
or caring for victims.
Andrew Rosindell, do you accept that
police will no longer be as visible
as they have been if you merge
different are commands?
It's a catastrophe.
What Sadiq Khan is doing to boroughs
like Havering, for instance,
he's taking police off the streets
in my constituency and
sending them to Barking
and Dagenham, into Redbridge.
The police don't know those
areas from Havering,
they are higher crime,
so boroughs like Havering
are going to really suffer
through this policy.
But is that central
City Hall says since 2010-11
the Met's general grant funding
from the government has fallen
by more than £700 billion,
or nearly 40% in real terms.
Why aren't you making
Theresa May's government?
There's more funding needed
across-the-board, I accept that.
But the Mayor of London has
the power to increase the precept.
He's got reserves that he could use
that he's refusing to use.
But he has given extra
money, hasn't he?
And the government are giving him
more money this year,
so he has to be held to account
for what he's doing to boroughs
like Havering, which are hugely
harmed by his policies.
Do you support the idea
of merging borough commands?
I would rather not be
faced with any of these
pressures that we are dealing
with as a consequence of the cuts
in government grants.
It is up to Sadiq Khan how
he spends his money?
Yes, and what the mayor is doing,
and I have considerable sympathy
with this, is looking at ways
in which he can be sure that
when you have massive cuts
to the amount that you're able
to spend, that you would have it
spent on frontline policing,
rather than the management command
structures and indeed some
of the police stations.
In an ideal world we would not be
dealing with the fact that we have
lost £700 million and another
£350 million to come,
but that is the world we are in.
Who do you think is responsible
for funding cuts facing the Met?
70% of the budget for the Met comes
from central government.
Central government is not increasing
the amount given to the Met
in line with inflation,
therefore there is a real terms
cut in terms of funding
from central government.
It is not right to blame Sadiq Khan
for the merger of these boroughs.
That is an operational decision that
has been made by senior officers
in the Metropolitan Police Service
in response to this significant cut
in budget from central government.
Right, but actually the mayor has
said that the changes
will offer better and more
integrated local policing.
On the one hand he is blaming
central government in the way
that you have just done,
for reducing funding,
and on the other hand,
he saying that by merging these
borough commands there
will be a more integrated
local police service,
is that not correct?
If you think you have got one
borough commander now in charge
of three boroughs instead
of in charge of one,
you can say there's going to be
but the fact is, there are not
enough police officers
to be able to do the job,
they will be spread more thinly,
they will have to travel longer
distances, the public will see less
police officers, there will be less
time to investigate crime.
What would your solution be?
There has to be an increase
in the amount of money provided
by central government which is why
the Liberal Democrats at the last
general election pledged an extra
£1.2 billion for policing,
more than any other party.
Right, and you were hurt on this
issue, the Conservatives,
in the general election.
Do you accept that more money has
to be found or do you think this
is a case of the police always
asking for funds?
I do, I agree with Brian,
there does need to be more funding
from central government
but the mayor needs to do a lot
more than he is doing,
and it needs to be fairly resourced,
so outer London boroughs simply get
a raw deal from this.
You know as well as I do that outer
London is effectively funding inner
London and areas like Havering
are not getting the resources
we need to fight crime.
We are seeing a massive increase
in crime but we do not
have the resources to deal with it.
It is not really a competition.
We all need additional resources.
But in Westminster, we have lost
a third of our police since 2011
so there is a real pressure on inner
London, and what we need is to make
sure that whatever scarce
resources are available,
they are going on the frontline,
to the safer neighbourhood police
and the response team so we can give
some visible policing to people,
rather than spending more
on command structures.
I would rather not have those
choices but if that is the choice,
let's put money on the frontline.
Do you accept as a result of this
move to merge borough commands
and because of the reduction
in funding, the deputy assistant
commissioner in that film implied
something has to give.
Do you think it will happen at that
low level, burglary,
they just will not be investigated.
The truth is, under Sadiq,
crime has risen dramatically,
especially violent crime
and that is really
That was not my question.
Is something going to have to give
in terms of what the police
service is able to do?
You're right, to deal
with the violent crime,
which is what people are worried
about, what will have to give
is the low-level crime,
but we all know that low-level crime
leads to worse crime.
What we have seen, for example,
in Norfolk, at one stage,
was that police officers tend
to gravitate towards the cities,
to Norwich, leaving the rural areas
denuded of police officers
to the extent that government had
to step in and give more
money for rural policing.
There is a real danger,
Bromley, Croydon, Sutton...
The outer boroughs.
That officers will gravitate
towards Croydon because that is
where the highest crime rate is.
And Havering towards
Redbridge and Barking.
Do you think Londoners
are being put at risk by this
policy of Sadiq Khan?
If the money available
is going on to frontline policing,
I do not see why that should
be the case.
What we have seen is that
in the pilot combined areas,
there was an increase in response
times, response times improved.
In that respect, absolutely
it should not do it.
If there has been an increase
in response times, surely that has
been a positive out of this,
even though you say it should not be
a decision that had to be made
as a result of funding?
I think people are worried
about whether these command
structures should merge.
There is an argument that says,
we would really much rather
have localised command,
but what the police are saying to us
is that they will get some advantage
out of being able to pool
the resources that are available
in terms of resource policing.
I have got to correct you again.
It is not Sadiq Khan's
policy to merge boroughs.
It is the Metropolitan Police
Service's response to reduction
in the amount of money
they are getting.
That is what Sadiq Khan
says, that is what the
Metropolitan Police says.
But he supports it?
He has no choice.
He has no operational
control of policing.
It is an operational policing
decision to merge boroughs,
that is what the commissioner has
decided to do, Sadiq Khan
has to accept that.
Brian Paddick, thank you.
The NHS is something
of a battleground in the Brexit
debate, with Leavers promising more
money for the NHS, while Remainers
say Brexit threatens skilled
workers the NHS depends on.
That applies especially
to nurses in London,
as 10% of the capital's nurses
are from the EU, double
the proportion in the
rest of the country.
This week the chair
of the London Assembly's health
committee called on the mayor
and the government to offer them
a "cast-iron guarantee".
There are 5,000 nurses
from the European Union
working in London.
We know that they are very concerned
about what is happening, and I know
that because of the impact
of Brexit, less nurses are applying.
For example, last year,
we had 90% less residents of the EU
applying to work in this
country than beforehand.
We have written to the mayor,
this is the fourth time we've
written to the mayor about this,
that the mayor should put
pressure on the government,
that all those nurses,
particularly in the NHS,
who are working, should be given
a guarantee that their future
is safe here.
What they have said so far
is that they have an agreement
in principle that people working
in this country should be all right
up to 29th March 2019.
That is not good enough.
In principle is not
the same as a robust
guarantee of their future
and people need certainty.
Here in the studio, I'm
joined by Bernell Bussue
from the Royal College of Nursing,
and Alessandro Borca who is a nurse,
originally from Italy.
Welcome to both of you.
First of all, what do
you think is causing this
nursing shortage in London?
We have a general shortage
across London, over 7,000 vacancies,
of EU nationals, and we have got
14,000 vacancies across all
of London, so one in six
of our nursing posts
are vacant in London.
And that is not helped
by the uncertainties
for our EU colleagues
as to whether they are going
to have a long-term future
in the NHS in the UK.
You say it is not helped
by that uncertainty.
What is the underlying reason,
the other broader reason
for this nursing shortage?
It is a complex issue
and something that has been
going on over a number of years.
I think that we are facing
the results of poor
planning over a long period
of time around workforce.
We have also got the situation
that there has been resources
taken out of the NHS,
and on top of that, we have got
reducing numbers of people who can
come into the NHS from outside.
You're someone who came
from Italy to work here,
from the EU, as a nurse.
What are your concerns now,
bearing in mind the government has
said that the rights of EU citizens
who have settled and are working
in this country will be maintained?
Yes, of course, but the situation
now is getting worse than it
has and I have already seen some
changes in my job.
As a result of Brexit coming down,
or a result of general government
policy towards the NHS?
As a result of Brexit
and a vote in the referendum.
Why, what changes?
Because obviously people
that came from...
I am not surprised that
lots of my colleagues,
they want to come back
to their previous original country.
They came here to have a better
future, to have a better life,
and to contribute to this country,
and now with this uncertainty,
obviously, there is something
that the government
should be addressing.
And are you considering
going back to Italy?
Well, I think that is something that
I do not know, because obviously,
I want to be entitled
to remain, next year.
Andrew, can the country really
afford to lose nurses who have come
from the EU originally?
No, but nobody is suggesting
that we want to lose any NHS workers
who come from the EU or any other
country, there is no reason why
anyone should be afraid of that.
Can you give a cast iron guarantee?
Any EU citizen who is here
will have guaranteed rights,
the right to remain,
there is no issue.
All that will happen
is in the future, if there
are new NHS workers wanting to work
in the UK, whether they are from
the EU or the Caribbean,
or the Philippines or India,
it does not matter where they come
from, they will be great workers
and they will get a work permit
and be welcomed.
Does that reassure you,
if you have got that
promise from a politician,
from the governing party
that your rights will be guaranteed,
will that make you consider staying?
Well, there is a lot
of discussion about Brexit
and what will be in the future,
but it is something we will see.
It has made you nervous?
Is the problem, Andrew Rosindell,
the rhetoric, some of the language?
You are right to say that those
rights are being guaranteed,
that is what the government has said
and Labour supports that
but in the end, people do not trust
what politicians are saying
about it, because of everything that
has been said during the campaign?
We have to work with reality
and I say to Alessandro,
you do fantastic work for everybody
in the National Health Service.
We want everyone to stay,
there are jobs here for you,
and you have guaranteed rights.
So whatever you read in the media,
whatever politicians may say,
in the NHS, we value the work that
foreign workers bring
to our National Health Service,
and that will continue,
whoever is in power,
and your rights will be guaranteed.
It is not just about
Brexit and uncertainty,
because as we have stated,
people's rights are guaranteed,
certainly those up to March 2019.
What about the broader issues
affecting nursing that is it is just
no longer as attractive a profession
to go into because of a lack
of funding and training?
I think that is right
and it is important to stress that
however much there is a guarantee
for the pre-March 2019 people,
there is a lot of background
scepticism about the process
and the background noise
in which people are making that
decision and we are seeing this very
clearly, not just in nursing,
but in the recent figures that show
what is happening to EU nationals
coming to this country
to work more generally.
Then there is, as you say,
the wider issue, the pressure
on the health service,
which is in the middle
of its biggest financial squeeze
since it was set up,
but crucially, the failure
to plan for the workforce,
and the introduction
of the nurse bursaries.
We were promised when the nursing
bursary system was abolished
that there would be
10,000 more applicants.
In fact, there has been
a 23% fall in applicants.
Briefly, would that make
a big difference in terms
of nursing bursaries?
Absolutely, it is a 33%
drop-off that we've seen
since the bursary was withdrawn.
We have real concerns
about the future of nursing,
because anything that impacts
and creates a reduction in nursing
creates problems around safe
and effective delivery of care,
and so we are really concerned
about some of the issues around pay,
and the consequences of Brexit etc.
All right, thank you both very much.
That's all we have time for, and
thank you to my politicians, too.
With that, back to Sarah.
Now, he was the Northern Ireland
Secretary at a crucial time
in UK-Ireland relations.
But late last year,
James Brokenshire realised
he had a health problem,
when he began coughing up blood
whilst on a break with his family.
Tests revealed a cancerous lesion
on his lung and at the start
of the year he announced his
resignation from the Cabinet
to undergo major surgery.
His operation was a success and,
a few short weeks after being
discharged from hospital,
he has returned to Parliament
and I'm delighted to say
he's also joined us now.
Welcome to the programme.
Thank you very much, good to be
How are you feeling?
Remarkably well, very strong. First
week back in Parliament, which was
quite emotional, people coming up
and giving you hugs. It's
interesting how something like this,
from across the comparative party, a
unifying issue, Jacob Rees-Mogg,
Nicky Morgan, coming and welcoming
you back. And Labour MPs, SNP MPs
and the Lib Dems, real warmth. It is
a rarity, as we know at times, where
some of the political bait is very
intense, to have that very warm
reception. So I was very moved.
look very vigorous, it is only about
About six weeks. The care
and support I received from the NHS
was absolutely outstanding. I just
could not fault the hospital
treatment that I received. I suppose
being disciplined about getting
back, getting myself fit, forcing
myself to do lots of exercise, do
lots of walks, having Cassiem my
children, strong family support
behind me as well, it has just been
amazing. The number of people that
are written in, e-mailed, wishing me
and, whether they support my own
party or not, just wanting me to do
well. So yes, positive. The
prognosis is good. I think I was
lucky that I was able to pick it up
early enough. But it has I think
underlying to me a number of issues
about lung cancer, as I had a small
cancerous Schumer, where there is
some stigma Ramis. Around 15% of
cases of lung cancer have no link to
smoking. I think people try and form
some judgments, that is someone's
fault. People shouldn't do that at
all about cancer. It is about early
intervention, picking it up early,
following it through. There are many
moments where I could have said, too
busy, can't actually do this, but
following that through, getting the
treatment I needed, I am so
delighted to be here feeling as
strong as I am.
You are having these
tests at a fairly crucial time in
the Brexit negotiations. You where
Northern Ireland Secretary and at
the very point when the Prime
Minister was having to put together
a deal acceptable to the EU and DUP
about what was going to happen to
prevent a hard border across Ireland
at the end of last year, when you
are still Northern Ireland
Secretary, I am sure you have kept
up with this even though you are now
on the backbenches. We have been
speaking on the programme about the
possibility of a customs union with
the EU. Is it necessary to have one
in order to avoid a hard border on
the island of Ireland?
Last time I
was here we were touching on that
issue and the first phase
negotiations that had concluded. In
essence, the three elements we look
at, in essence the negotiations on
the trade arrangement with the EU,
if that does provide the issues
around the border, then specific
proposals the UK Government would
then make and that Ms backstop of
alignment to deal with the
That was a
remarkable thing, because you've
promised full alignment with the
rules of the internal market and
Customs union, basically keeping, in
essence, the UK in the single market
and Customs union if some other
solution is found.
It is also
looking at the equivalence issues,
of how you can create the same
outcomes without having full
alignment. I think that is
important. This whole debate around
the customs union actually comes
down to, what is our future
relationship with the EU? Do we
need, as I believe we do, to be able
to negotiate agreements externally,
do we ensure we are not simply a
rule taker, that we just abide by
the rules and almost we voted to
leave the EU but we are now even in
a worse situation of actually being
subject to everything but without a
say at all. I just don't see that as
Yet that is exactly the
situation we find ourselves in is
another solution to the Irish border
isn't found, isn't it? That is what
the Prime Minister signed up to,
full alignment with the single
market and customs union unless
there is another agreement, which we
haven't seen emerge?
I believe we
can agree with the EU, this free
trade agreement, deals for goods and
services, because it is the services
element that is really crucial to
this as well. Whilst also ensuring
yes, we don't have that hard border
emerging on the island of Ireland
with everything that goes with it.
The regulatory issues, yes, there
are differences that already exist
between Northern Ireland and Great
Britain, particularly around some
animal health and animal welfare
issues. There is experience we can
point to and there is a way forward,
as to how we negotiate this in the
weeks I had to get that right
It needs to be started on.
Michel Barnier wants an agreement
about the Irish border before we
move on to talking about the future
The first phase,
it's a tiered basis approach that we
take on how it is about the broad
issues first and how I believe we
can negotiate an outcome that deals
with the very sensitive issues of
the Good Friday Agreement, the
Belfast agreement, and also the
broader issues and North-South
co-operation on the island of
Ireland. So it actually it's about
going to back to those first phase
negotiations, following it through
and getting the right outcome for
the island of Ireland, Northern
Ireland and the UK as a whole.
of your colleagues who want to make
out the Irish border is something of
a side issue we shouldn't get too
worried about say things like the
Good Friday Agreement is out of
date. You must be worried when you
hear them say things like that? You
understand how sensitive it is?
I return to Parliament and made my
first interventionist league, I was
very clear on how the Belfast
agreement, Good Friday Agreement
underpins the situation, the whole
freedoms and arrangements on the
island of Ireland, how it remains as
relevant now as it has ever done. I
know some people picked up on does
this define Brexit? I think actually
there is a ground of commonality and
realising how important this is.
Yes, over time it maybe there are
certain issues in slower time, once
we get devolved government backed up
and running that you could review,
could look at this in a sensible
fashion. There are certain things
that perhaps people have pointed to,
mandatory coalitions of devolved
government in Northern Ireland,
questioned if that is still the
right way forward. That is a
separate issue, that is in slower
time. The Good Friday and Belfast
agreement continues to underpin and
needs to define how we look to the
James Brokenshire, stay with
us. We will bring in some of the
rest of the panel. As you see it, is
essentially the question of the
border with Ireland always going to
underline the Brexit talks and
always be a problem, something
difficult for hard Brexiteers who
want nothing to do with the customs
union to get around?
It will always
be a problem until there is a
solution. The Irish government
doesn't want to border, the British
government doesn't want border,
European union doesn't want a
border. You have everybody trying to
go to the point. There was a speech
last September in Belfast, you were
probably there, where it was
suggested there should be a customs
arrangement between Britain and the
European Union, between Britain and
the Republic of Ireland. He
suggested that himself. From the
Torquay, talks is giving at the
moment you would think he had never
said that. I don't know what form
that would take but surely if you
have all three parties to these
agreements wanting the same outcome,
there ought to be a way of doing
A lot of other things people
in the EU have said means the means
of getting to that outcome is
The outcome is easy,
everyone agrees. Like the war in
Iraq, everyone agreed, they wanted
peace in the Middle East, how do you
get there? The fact they all agree
on the end is not that significant.
Indeed, the first phase negotiation
which you were nobly involved with,
and of going tests on Don, reminds
me of that first UN resolution in
the build-up to the war in Iraq.
Everyone could sign up to it because
it meant different things to
different people. This is the
problem, as you know. The Irish
government viewed it differently to
the British government, who viewed
it differently from the rest of the
EU. Now we come to the crunch. I can
see no way forward beyond some
continued membership of the customs
union. You can't have a separate
arrangement for Northern Ireland,
the DUP wouldn't buy it for a start.
I gather that is one of the main
reasons why Jeremy Corbyn, was a
sceptic about all of this, is
signing up to it, because he sees
now this is the only way of keeping
the open border.
Talking of Jeremy
Corbyn, one issue we haven't touched
on is a story that has been running
all week about Corbyn's contacts
with so-called Czechoslovakian
agent. It was interesting, the way
it is played out, he attacked the
newspapers for running the stories,
really strong attacks from some Tory
MPs against him which looks like
they may have rebounded a bit?
thing looking back over this week
which has become clear that has come
out of this Jeremy Corbyn question
is Labour know exactly what they are
doing when it comes to social media
and the Conservatives still probably
don't. If you look at the way Jeremy
Corbyn handled this issue, he made
his Nvidia and put it out on YouTube
and Twitter and it got thousands and
thousands and thousands of hits.
Rush might he made his own video. He
didn't need to speak to newspapers
or television to do it. It allows
free rein to attack a story like
this, where Jeremy Corbyn does
actually have real questions to
answer. Whether you think it is
right or wrong or right or wrong he
was giving state secrets, he still
met this person and that is a
question he has to answer. Brendan
Bradley has had to apologise for the
Tweety made. I think one point about
this that we should all take away is
his apology has been re-tweeted and
is now an attack line and is vicious
and picked -- vindictive or so
people need to be kinder to each
There was no evidence he was
selling state secrets or knew any
state secrets to give away for free,
which is why you have this sense
that actually the Tories went a
little too far in describing him as
a traitor, saying he betrayed the
country and they were the ones...
Hang on a minute, it was one MP that
got taken to task for that.
been forced to apologise. The
Defence Secretary said he betrayed
You said the whole Tory
party, yes there were attacks on
Jeremy Corbyn and there still are in
the media. The Sunday time -- Sunday
Times today has a 2-page spread
today. Anyone under the age of 40
just discount this sort of thing. It
is like in the general section, the
stories had no effect on people
under the age of 40.
We have to
leave it there, thank you all for
Join me again, next Sunday
at 11, here on BBC One.
Until then, bye-bye.