Andrew Neil and Richard Moss are joined by shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth MP, former Conservative Party leader Lord Michael Howard and John Curtice.
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It's Sunday Morning and this is the Sunday Politics.
The Government has insisted that Gibraltar will not be bargained
But the territory's chief minister says the EU's proposal
After a momentous week, Britain's journey out
Can the Prime Minister satisfy her critics at home
We speak to the former Conservative leader, Michael Howard.
And we have the lowdown on next month's local elections -
what exactly is up for grabs, who's going up and who's going down?
Here, are northeast manufacturing jobs at risk from Brexit?
And it's the Government's big idea for benefits,
but these women say universal credits push them into debt.
changing their minds. MPs from opposing sides give the view from
there constituencies. And with me, as always,
the best and the brightest political panel in the business -
Steve Richards, Isabel Oakeshott and Tom Newton Dunn who'll be
tweeting throughout the programme. For the people of Gibraltar, Clause
22 of the EU's draft negotiating guidelines came as something
of a shock. The guidelines propose
that the Government in Spain be given a veto over any future trade
deal as it applies to The UK Government has reacted
strongly, saying Gibraltar will not be bargained away
in the Brexit talks. Here's the Defence Secretary,
Michael Fallon, speaking We are going to look
after Gibraltar. Gibraltar's going to be protected
all the way, all the way, because the sovereignty of Gibraltar
cannot be changed without the agreement of the people
of Gibraltar and they have made it very clear they do not
want to live under Spanish rule and it is interesting, I think,
in the draft guidelines from the EU that Spain is not saying
that the whole thing is subject Michael Fallon earlier. Steve, is
this a Spanish power grab or much ado about nothing? It could be both.
Clearly what is happening about this negotiation and will happen again
and again is that at different points individual countries can
start playing bargaining cards. They will say, if you want a deal, you
have to deliver this, UK. Spain is doing it early. It might turn out to
be nothing at all. It is an early example of how to delete recruit
after Article 50 is triggered, the dynamic -- how after Article 50 is
triggered, the dynamic changes. At certain points, any country can veto
it. It gives them much more power than we have clocked so far. Donald
Tusk, the head of the European Council, he went out of his way to
say Britain mustn't deal by laterally, with individual
countries, it has to deal with the EU as a block. Was it mischiefmaking
to add this bit in about Spain? Those two things do not tally. I
think on our part, when I say we, I mean the Foreign Office and Number
10, we dropped the ball. By excluding Gibraltar from the letter
of Article 50, they gave an opportunity to the Spanish to steal
the narrative. Why this is important, presentation, things
looked like they were going quite well for Theresa May when she handed
over the letter, for a few hours, and suddenly, you have this
incredible symbolism of Gibraltar. For Brexiteers, the idea that there
could be some kind of diminishment or failure in relation to Gibraltar,
it would be a very symbolic illustration of things not going
entirely to plan. Forget the detail, it does not look great. Gibraltar
got mentions in the white paper. They did not get a mention in the
Article 50 notification. Do you think the British Government did not
see this coming? To be honest, I do not think it would make a bit of
difference. Theresa May could have an entire chapter in her letter to
Donald Tusk and the Spanish and the EU would have still tried this on.
For me, it was as much a point of symbolism than it was for any power
grab. It was a good point to make. You need to know, Britain, you are
not in our club, we will not have your interests at heart. Officials
after the press conference, they went on to talk about it saying it
is a territorial dispute. It is not! Gibraltar is British. It is very
much a shot across the bow is. Whether it comes to pass, it is
still yet to be seen. I feel we will be chasing hares like this for the
next few years. There will be many other examples. They are greatly
empowered by the whole process. Britain has not really got... It has
got to wait and hear what their interpretation of Brexit is. They
will negotiate, we will negotiate accordingly. I have some sympathy
about the letter, the Article 50 letter. They agonised over it, so
much to get right in terms of balance and tone. It would have been
absurd to start mentioning Skegness and everything else. Why not!
Skegness, what did they do? It is a real example of how the dynamic now
changes. The Spanish royals are going to come here in a couple of
months, that could be interesting. It will be good feelings breaking
up, I am sure. -- breaking out. So, after a historic week,
the UK is now very much But will it be a smooth
journey to the exit door? Or can we expect
a bit of turbulence? Are you taking back
control, Prime Minister? Big days in politics usually
involve people shouting and the Prime Minister getting
in a car. It is only a few hundred metres
from Downing Street to Parliament. But the short journey is the start
of a much longer one and we do not know exactly
where we will all end up. This is a historic moment
from which there can Moments earlier, this Dear John,
sorry, Dear Don letter, was delivered by Britain's
ambassador in Brussels to the EU He seemed genuinely upset
to have been jilted. Back in Westminster,
hacks from around the world were trying to work out what it
all meant for the So, here it is, a copy
of the six-page letter The letter reaffirms the PM's
proposal to have talks on the exit deal and a future trade deal
at the same time. It also mentioned the word
"security" 11 times and stated a failure to reach agreement
would mean cooperation in the fight against crime
and terrorism would be weakened. Later, our very own Andrew got
to ask her what would happen if Britain left the European
policing agency, Europol. We would not be able to access
information in the same way as we would as a member,
so it is important, I think, we are able to negotiate
a continuing relationship that enables us to work together
in the way that we have. That night, the
Brexiteers were happy. We did not have a Mad
Hatter, but now we do. Down the street, even the Remainers,
having a Mad Hatters' tea party, I am not sure that is
actually Boris, though. The next morning, the papers
suggested Theresa May would use security as a bargaining tool
and threaten to withdraw the UK's cooperation in this area
if no deal was struck. Downing Street denied it,
as did the Brexit Secretary. We can both cope, but we
will both be worse off. That seems to be a statement
of fact, it is not a threat, David Davis had other
business that morning, introducing the Great Repeal Bill,
outling his plans to transfer all EU law into British
law to change later, It is not without its critics
but the Brexit Secretary said, among other benefits,
it would make trade talks easier As we exit the EU and seek
a new deep and special partnership with the European Union,
we are doing so from a position where we have the same
standards and rules. It will also ensure we deliver
on our promise to end the supremacy of European Union law
in the UK as we exit. There was, though, a small
issue with the name. The Government hit an early hurdle
with the Great Repeal Bill. Parliamentary draughtsmen said
they were not allowed Great(!)
so it is just the Repeal Bill. So far, it had been
a tale of two cities. By Friday, there was another,
Valletta in Malta, where EU leaders were having a meeting
and President Tusk, yes, him again, set out draft guidelines
for the EU Brexit strategy. Once, and only once,
we have achieved sufficient progress on the withdrawal can we discuss
the framework for our Starting parallel talks
on all issues at the same time, as suggested by some in the UK,
will not happen. The EU 27 does not and will not
pursue a punitive approach. Brexit in itself is
already punitive enough. The pressure on Theresa May to get
the Brexit process going has now gone and the stage is being set
elsewhere for the showdown But face-to-face discussions
are not likely to happen Before May or early June. No one is
celebrating just yet. We're joined now from Kent
by the former Conservative The EU says it will not talk about a
future relationship with the UK until there has been sufficient
progress on agreeing the divorce bill. Should the UK agree to this
phased approach? Well, I think you can make too much about the sequence
and timing of the negotiations. I assume that it will be a case of
nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and so any agreements that
might be reached on things talked about early on will be very
provisional, so I think you can make a big deal about the timing and the
sequence when I do not think it really matters as much as all that.
Don't people have a right in this country to be surprised of the talk
of a massive multi-billion pound divorce settlement? I do not
remember either side making much of this in the referendum, do you? No.
A select committee of the House of Lords recently reported and said
that there was no legal basis for any exit fee. We will have to see
how the negotiations go. I think some of the figures cited so far are
wildly out of kilter and wildly unrealistic. We will have to see
what happens in the negotiations. As one of your panel commented earlier,
there will be lots of hares to pursue over the next couple of years
and we should not get too excited about any of them. Would you accept
that we make... It may not be anything like the figures Brussels
is kicking around of 50, 60 billion euros, do you think we will have to
make a one-off settlement? If we get everything else we want, if we get a
really good trade deal and access for the City of London and so on,
speaking for myself, I would be prepared to make a modest payment.
But it all depends on the deal we get. What would modest be? Oh, I
cannot give you a figure. We are right at the start of the
negotiations. I do not think that would be agreed until near the end.
The EU says that if there is a transition period of several years
after the negotiations, and there is more talk of that, the UK must
remain subject to the free movement of peoples and the jurisdiction of
the European Court of Justice, would that be acceptable to you? It
depends on the nature of the transitional agreement. We are
getting well ahead of ourselves here. You cannot, I think, for any
judgment as to whether there should be a transitional stage until you
know what the final deal is. If there is to be a final deal. And
then you know how long it might take to implement that deal. That is
something I think that it is really rather futile to talk about at this
stage. It may become relevant, depending on the nature of the deal,
and that is the proper time to talk about it and decide what the answer
to the questions you pose might be. Except the EU has laid this out in
its negotiation mandate and it is reasonable to ask people like
yourself, should we accept that? It is reasonable for me to say, they
will raise all sorts of things in their negotiating mandate and we do
not need to form a view of all of them at this stage. Let me try
another one. The EU says if they do agree what you have called a
comprehensive free trade deal, we would have to accept EU constraints
on state aid and taxes like VAT and corporation tax. Would you accept
that? Again, I am not sure quite what they have in mind on that. We
will be an independent country when we leave and we will make our own
decisions about those matters. Not according to know that -- to the
negotiating mandate. As I have said, they can put all sorts of things in
the negotiating guidelines, it does not mean we have to agree with them.
No doubt that is something we can discuss in the context of a free
trade agreement. If we get a free trade agreement, that is very
important for them as well as for us, and we can talk about some of
the things you have just mentioned. Can you please leave a 20 without
having repatriated full control of migration, taxis and the law? I
think we will have repatriated all three of those things by the time of
the next general election. How high would you rate the chances of no
deal, and does that prospect worry you? I think the chances are we will
get the deal, and I think the chances are we will get a good deal,
because that is in the interests of both sides of this negotiation. But
it is not the end of the world if we do not get a deal. Most trade in the
world is carried out under World Trade Organisation rules. We would
be perfectly OK if we traded with the European Union, as with
everybody else, under World Trade Organisation rules. It is better to
get the deal, and I think we will get the deal, because it is in the
interests of both. Let me ask you about Gibraltar. You have campaigned
in Gibraltar when the sovereignty issue came up under the Tony Blair
government. The EU says that Spain should have a veto on whether any
free-trade deal should apply to the Rock. How should the British
government replied to that? As it has responded, by making it
absolutely clear that we will stand by Gibraltar. 35 years ago this
week, Andrew, another woman Prime Minister Centre task force is
halfway across the world to protect another small group of British
people against another Spanish-speaking country. I am
absolutely clear that our current woman Prime Minister will show the
same resolve in relation to Gibraltar as her predecessor did.
This is not about Spain invading Gibraltar, it is not even about
sovereignty, it is about Spain having a veto over whether any
free-trade deal that the UK makes with the EU should also apply to
Gibraltar. On that issue, how should the British government respond? The
British government should show resolve. It is not in the interests
of Spain, really, to interfere with free trade to Gibraltar. 10,000
people who live in Spain working Gibraltar. That is a very important
Spanish interest, so I am very confident that in the end, we will
be able to look after all the interests of Gibraltar, including
free trade. Michael Howard, thank you for joining us from Kent this
morning. Although sometimes it seems
like everyone has forgotten, there are things happening
other than Brexit. In less than five weeks' time,
there will be a round of important domestic elections and there's a lot
up for grabs. Local elections take place
on the 4th of May in England, In England, there are elections
in 34 councils, with 2,370 The majority are county councils,
usually areas of strength Large cities where Labour usually
fares better are not Six regions of England will also
hold elections for newly created combined authority mayors,
and there will be contests for directly elected mayors,
with voters in Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands
among those going to the polls. In Scotland, every seat in all 32
councils are being contested, many of them affected
by boundary changes. Since these seats were last
contested, Labour lost all but one Meanwhile, every seat in each
of Wales' 22 councils All but one was last elected
in 2012 in what was a very strong year for Labour,
though independent candidates currently hold
a quarter of council seats. According to the latest
calculations by Plymouth University Election Centre,
the Tories are predicted to increase their tally by 50 seats,
despite being in government, But the dramatic story in England
looks to be with the other parties, with the Lib-Dems possibly winning
100 seats, while Ukip could be seeing a fall,
predicted to lose 100 seats. Though the proportional system
usually makes big changes less likely in Scotland,
the SNP is predicted to increase both the number of seats
they hold, and the number In Wales, Labour is defending a high
water mark in support. Last year's Welsh Assembly elections
suggest the only way is down, with all the parties making modest
gains at Labour's expense. Joining me now is the BBC's
very own elections guru, Professor John Curtice
of the University of Strathclyde. Good to see you again. Let's start
with England. How bad are the selection is going to be for Labour?
Labourer not defending a great deal because this is for the most part
rural England. The only control three of the council they are
defending and they are only defending around 500 seats, I nearly
a quarter are in one county, Durham. Labour's position in the opinion
polls is weakened over the last 12 months and if you compare the
position in the opinion polls now with where they were in the spring
of 2013 when these seats in England were last fought, we are talking
about a 12 point swing from Labour to conservative. The estimate of 50
losses may be somewhat optimistic for Labour. Of the three council
areas they control, two of them, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire,
could be lost, leaving labourer with virtually a duck as far as council
control is concerned in these elections in England. In England,
what would a Liberal Democrat reserve urgently great? That is the
big question. We have had this picture since the EU referendum of
the Liberal Democrats doing extraordinarily well in some local
by-elections, gaining seats that they had not even fought before, and
in other areas, doing no more than treading water. We are expecting a
Liberal Democrat skin because the lost the lot -- the lost lots of
ground when they were in coalition with the Conservatives. It is
uncertain. A patchy performance may well be to their advantage. If they
do well in some places and gain seats, and elsewhere do not do
terribly well and do not waste votes, they may end up doing
relatively well in seats, even if the overall gaining votes is likely
to be modest. The elections for mayors, they are taking place in
the Labour will that be a hefty consolation prize for the Labour
Party? It ought to be, on Teesside, Merseyside, Greater Manchester. We
are looking at one content very closely, that is the contest for the
mayor of the West Midlands. If you look at what happened in the general
election in 2015, labourer work nine points ahead of the Conservatives in
the West Midlands. If you look at the swing since the general
election, if you add that swing to where we were two years ago, the
West Midlands now looks like a draw. Labour have to worry about a
headline grabbing loss, and the West Midlands contest. If they were to
lose, that wooden crate -- that would increase the pressure for
their own Jeremy Corbyn to convince people that they can turn his
party's fortunes around, and in truth at the moment, they are pretty
dire. The West Midlands has Birmingham as its heart.
Chock-a-block with marginal seats. It always has been. I always
remember election night and marginal seats in the West Midlands.
Scotland, the SNP is assaulting Labour's last remaining power base.
The biggest prizes Glasgow. Will it take it, the SNP? Whether the SNP
will gain control of Glasgow is uncertain. If you look at what is
happening in local government by-elections let alone the opinion
polls, in 2012, when these seats were last fought, Labour did
relatively well, only one percentage point behind the SNP who were rather
disappointed with the result compared to other elections. No sign
of that happening this time alone -- this time around. Polls put the SNP
ahead. By-elections have found the SNP advancing and Labour dropping by
double digits. Labour are going to lose everything they currently
control in Scotland, the SNP will become the dominant party, the
question is how well they do. In Scotland there is a Conservative
revival going on. The Conservatives did well in recent local government
by-elections. At the moment, Labour are expected to come third north of
the border in the local elections, repeating the third they suffered in
the Holyrood elections last year. In Wales, Labour is expecting to lose
control of a number of councils. They are the main party in 12 of 22
local authorities. How bad could it be? We're expecting Labour to lose
ground. In the opinion polls when these seats were last fought,
labourer in the high 40s. Now they are not much above 30%. Cardiff
could well join Glasgow was no longer being a Labour stronghold.
Look out for Newport. Some of the South Wales councils that Labour
control, Labour is probably too but occasionally, Plaid
Cymru surprises in this area. They managed to win the Rhondda seat in
the assembly elections. Jeremy Corbyn has said he wants to be
judged on proper elections, council elections as opposed to opinion
polls, but even if he does as badly as John has been suggesting, does it
affect his leadership? I think it does on two counts. It will affect
his own confidence. Anyone who is a human being will be affected by
this. He might go into his office and be told by John McDonnell and
others, stand firm, it is all right, but it will affect his confidence
and inevitably it contributes to a sense that this is moving to some
kind of denoument, at some point. In other words, while I understand the
argument that he has won twice in a leadership contest, well, within 12
months, I wonder whether this can carry on in a fixed term parliament,
up until 2020, if it were to do so. On two France, it will have some
impact. I am not seeing it will lead to his immediate departure, it will
mark, but if these things are as devastating as John suggests, it
will have an impact. Tom, I'll be looking at a Lib Dem fightback? That
is the $64,000 question. It would seem that we should be. One massive
reason we're not having a general election a time soon, apart from the
fact that Theresa May does not believe in these things, she
believes in pressing on, it is because Tory MPs in the South West
who took the Lib Dem seats, they were telling Number 10 they were
worried they were going to lose their seats back to the Lib Dems.
The Lib Dems never went away and local government. They have got
other campaigners and activists. It looks credible that they will be the
success story of the whole thing. Ukip leader, Paul Nuttall, he says
this will be the most difficult local elections his party will face
before 2020. A bit of management of expectations. It is unlikely to be a
good time for Ukip. They are right to manage expectations. The results
will be horrible for Ukip. I agree with Tom about the Lib Dem
threat to the Tories. Talking to some senior figures within the Tory
party earlier this week, I was picking up that they are worried
about 30-40 general election seeds being vulnerable to the Lib Dems
because of the Labour collapse. I would normally agree with Steve
about the resilience of politicians, the capability of withstanding
repeated blows, but Jeremy Corbyn is not in the normal category. I think
he is, in the sense that although he get solace from winning leadership
contest, anyone who leads a party into the kind of, it is not going to
be that vivid, because they are not defending the key seats. If they
were to win Birmingham, say, and get slaughtered by the SNP in Scotland,
it will undermine what is already a fairly ambiguous sense of
self-confidence. We need to leave it there. Thank you, John Curtice.
Well, with those elections on the horizon, is Labour where it
Former leader Ed Miliband was on the Andrew
Marr Show earlier and he explained the challenge Labour faces
It is easier for other parties, if you are the Greens or the
Liberal Democrats you're essentially fishing in the 48% pool.
If you are Ukip, you are fishing in the 52% pool.
Labour is trying to do something much harder,
which is to try and speak for the whole country,
and by the way, that is another part of
Our attack on Theresa May, part of it is she's
Ignoring the verdict going into this, saying,
let's overturn it, looks like ignoring the 52%.
By the way, there is more that unites Remainers
and Leavers than might first appear, because they share common
concerns about the way the country is run.
Joining me now is the Shadow Health Secretary, Jon Ashworth.
Welcome to the programme. Alastair Campbell told me on the BBC on
Thursday that he is fighting to reverse the referendum result. Ed
Miliband says that Remain needs to accept the result, come to terms
with it. Who is right? We have to accept the referendum result. I
campaigned passionately to remain in the European Union. The city I
represent, Leicester, voted narrowly to remain in the European Union.
Sadly the country did not. We cannot overturn that and be like kinky
nude, trying to demand the tide go back out. We have to accept this
democratic process. We all voted to have a referendum when the relevant
legislation came to Parliament. How bad will the local elections before
Labour? Let us see where we get to on election night when I am sure I
will be invited on to one of these types of programmes... The election
date, the following day. But it does look like you will lose seats across
the board in England, Scotland and Wales. What did you make of what
Steve Richards said about the impact on Jeremy Corbyn's leadership? We
have to win seats, we cannot fall back on the scales suggested. No,
your package was right, it tends to be Tory areas, but generally, we
have to be winning in Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, those
types of places because they contain a lot of the marginal constituencies
that decide general elections. The important places in the elections
are towns like Beeston, towns you have not heard of, but they are
marginal towns in marginal swing constituencies. We have to do well
in them. We will see where we are on election night but my pretty is to
campaign hard in these areas over the next few weeks. Even people who
voted Labour in 2015, they prefer Theresa May to Mr Corbyn as Prime
Minister, a recent poll said. Isn't that extraordinary? I have not seen
that. I will look it up. It was you Government. -- YouGov. It is
important we win the trust of people. You are not winning the
trust of people who voted for you in 2015. We have to hold onto people
who voted for us in 2015 and we have to persuade people who voted for
other parties to come to us. One of the criticisms I have of the debate
that goes on in the wider Labour Party, do not misunderstand me, I am
not making a criticism about an individual, but the debate you see
online suggests that if you want to get people who voted Conservative to
switch to Labour it is somehow a betrayal of our principles, it was
not. Justin Trudeau said Conservative voters are our
neighbours, our relatives. We have to persuade people to switch from
voting Conservative to voting Labour as well as increasing our vote among
nonvoters and Greens. It seems like you have a mountain to climb and the
mountain is Everest. Another poll, I am not sure if you have seen this,
in London, the Bastian of Labour, the Bastian of Remain, Mr Corbyn is
less popular than even Ukip's Paul Nuttall. That is beyond
extraordinary! I do not know about that. The most recent set of
elections in London was the mayoral election where the Labour candidate
city: won handsomely. He took the seat of a conservative. We took that
of a conservative. It was a year ago. We did well then. You had an
anti-Jeremy Corbyn candidate. I think he nominated Jeremy Corbyn,
from memory. We have not got elections in London but our
elections are in the county areas and the various mayoral elections...
What about the West Midlands? In any normal year, mid-term, as the
opposition, Labour should win the West Midlands. John Curtis says it
is nip and tuck. It has always been a swing region but we want to do
well, of course. We want to turn out a strong Labour vote in Dudley,
Northampton, those sorts of places. They are key constituencies in the
general election. Does Labour look like a government in waiting to you?
What I would say is contrast where we are to what the conservative
garment is doing. I asked you about Labour, you do not get to tell me
about the Conservatives. Does it look like a government in waiting to
you? Today we are exposing the Conservatives... Reminding people
the Conservatives are breaking the pledge on waiting times of 18 weeks
so lots of elderly people waiting longer in pain for hip replacements
and cataract replacements. Yesterday the Housing spokesperson John Healey
was exposing the shortcomings in the Help to Buy scheme. The education
spokesperson has been campaigning hard against the cuts to schools.
Tom Watson has been campaigning hard against some of the changes the
Government want to introduce in culture. The Shadow Cabinet are
working hard to hold the Government's feet to the fire. Does
it look like a government in waiting? Yes. It took you three
times! There is a social care crisis, schools funding issue, a
huge issue for lots of areas, the NHS has just got through the winter
and is abandoning many of its targets. You are 18 points behind in
the polls. We have to work harder. What can you do? The opinion polls
are challenging but we are a great Social Democratic Party of
government. On Twitter today, lots of Labour activists celebrating that
the national minimum wage has been in place for something like 16 years
because we were in government. Look of the sweeping progressive changes
this country has benefited from, the NHS, sure start centres, an assault
on child poverty, the Labour Party got itself in contention for
government. I entirely accept the polls do not make thrilling reading
for Labour politicians on Sunday morning, but it means people like me
have to work harder because we are part of something bigger than an
individual, we are in the business of changing things for the British
people and if we do not do that, if we do not focus on that, we are
letting people down. Is Labour preparing for an early election
question Billy burqa? Reports in the press of a war chest as macro for an
early election? The general election coordinator called for a general
election when Theresa May became Prime Minister. We are investing in
staff and the organisational capability we need. By the way, the
Labour Party staff do brilliant work. A bit of nonsense on Twitter
having a go at them. They do tremendous work. Whenever the
election comes, they will be ready. Jon Ashworth, thank you.
Hello, and a very warm welcome to your local part of the show.
And this week, a warning that the north-east and Cumbria
could pay the price for Brexit in thousands of lost
Of course we have heard all of those warnings before
These women on Tyneside say problems with the Government's new benefits
With me to discuss that, the week's seismic political events as well,
are City of Durham Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods,
Ukip's Melanie Hurst, and Stockton Conservative
First though, to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn,
He visited a new business in Blyth with local MP Ronnie Campbell,
before addressing a meeting of Labour Party members in Stockton.
I asked him about Labour's approach to Brexit, and what he saw
The importance of having a tariff-free access
to the European market is absolutely essential.
If for example there is a tariff put on all car exports
or all parts exported, then in the long-term,
are those big companies going to maintain their investment
in the north-east or indeed anywhere else in the country?
And so the priority we have put in the whole Brexit process
is tariff-free access to the European market.
So how will the Labour Party ensure that a region
Because a lot of people here voted for Brexit,
it would be ironic if they end up being poorer because of it.
Well, indeed people voted to leave the European Union,
we respect that decision, we carried it through in the sense
They didn't vote, however, to make themselves unemployed,
they didn't vote to damage their own public services.
We have forced the Government to ensure there is going to be
a vote in Parliament at the end of it.
We will make sure there is a scrutinising process
all the way through this in which we, if necessary,
on all the related bills to the Great Repeal Bill
because I want to be absolutely sure that the industries in this
country and the skills that are here in the north-east
can be fully utilised and we can make those trains,
make those cars and all the other things and export them to Europe
Jeremy Corbyn, talking to me in Blyth on Thursday.
Roberta Blackman-Woods, I know you abstained on at least one
Are you happy Labour is doing all it can to protect the north-east?
I think we've used every opportunity that we've had in Westminster
and beyond to argue the case, particularly for our industries
We want to ensure that Brexit and after Brexit that we do
have tariff-free access to European markets.
That's absolutely essential for our businesses, not only
for them to exist but to continue to expand, and we want Nissan
and Hitachi and other manufacturing companies to prosper in the region
and to achieve that, we have to ensure that access
to markets continue not only in Europe but actually
The Liberal Democrats would say actually you made that less likely
because what you did is vote, largely -I know you abstained -
but with the Government to trigger Article 50
I abstained because my constituents wanted to remain, but as a party
we recognise that the country as a whole had voted for Brexit.
We thought that the result of that referendum should be respected,
and what the job of the opposition was,
is to get the best deal possible for the country post Brexit.
We have put six tests in place that we are saying the Government
the Government have to adhere to, and that ensures for
cooperation on security, all regions will be covered,
but we have really tested the Government on this.
We will see whether they get achieved.
Matthew Vickers, a momentous week obviously, a huge week
Do you see this as an exciting time or are there dangers ahead?
I think there are obviously people who are going to be nervous,
It's a very exciting time, we will be opening up the door
Instead of being confined to trading with Europe,
we are going to be able to get out there in the wider world
and deal with some of the biggest economies...
We haven't been confined to trading with Europe, have we?
Well, as the Prime Minister said, we are going to be looking
for a comprehensive free trade agreement with Europe.
That's what we will be looking for but beyond that we will look
We will be able to hook in, and put our own free trade
agreements in place, trade agreements of all shapes
and sizes with other economies in the world,
bigger economies, the fastest growing economies in the world.
OK, well we will come back to a lot of those issues in a moment.
Melanie Hurst, a letter has been signed, Brexit is done.
Absolutely not. Just beginning.
We have got to hold the Government to account, we have got to make sure
Brexit is delivered and we have got to make sure our tests that
are in place are met to ensure that what we get is the real thing
and not a watered-down version of the membership.
Have you seen anything to suggest you are not
I have reservations on where the red lines are for the Government.
The European Union with free trade agreements with the rest
of the world do have some stipulations in there
that I would like to see the Government say no,
For example, allowing the markets to compete
I think that really needs protection or we are going to find ourselves
OK, all of these issues we are going to talk
about because, according to the think tank Demos,
of the most vulnerable regions in England to the economic rest
of Brexit with a manufacturing sector that could be damaged.
That sounds a gloomy outlook but how true is it?
We went to meet three north-east firms to see what preparations
they have been making for life outside the EU.
Based on Teeside, this German-owned factory makes car engine components
and it's part of the production process that spans Europe.
Its materials come from the rest of the EU while its products
end up in vehicles exported back to the continent.
The boss warns any Brexit deal involving tariffs or other trade
barriers could be bad news for staff here.
Our major customers in this country export the majority of the products
that we supply ultimately, and so anything that's
going to create uncertainty, anything that's going to create
delays, anything that will change people's minds
about what they are doing in the longer term is
going to have a direct impact on this business.
Automotive is one of the industries that have made the north-east
particularly dependent on EU exports.
That's brought concern about what happens if Brexit
But this is also a region where most areas voted Leave.
The Government promises an ambitious free-trade agreement,
but in the week Britain fired the starting gun on EU negotiation,
new research says any disruption to exports poses a risk
The big factor for the north-east is obviously the automotive sector.
Nissan is obviously a massive car plant that is also be supply chain
40% of the north-east exports are associated with the car
and automotive sector, but apart from that
Potential obstacles to the movement of workers
This Tyneside software developer has doubled its staff
numbers in just one year, and says recruitment
of qualified programmers from the rest of the EU is vital.
If we are not able to recruit these highly skilled people coming
from those markets in a fairly simplistic way, which it is right
now for Europe, then we might have to set up places in Europe
where we have to employ staff which means those jobs are not
coming into Newcastle, that output is not
going into the Newcastle and north-east economy.
But for other employers, a future outside the EU looks bright.
This Northumberland plant supplies specialist piping for industry,
it already does a lot of business outside the EU and
I think coming out of Europe is going to be a catalyst for us
to look at other markets, I would say in the European Union.
As well as still concentrating on Europe, I can't see any
It's demand supply, we are a service industry as well as supplying
Is that your message, that if industry and business
is good enough, it can thrive in this new world?
I'm certain of that, absolutely certain.
Our history, our economy has long revolved around making things
Much now depends on keeping that international conveyor belt moving.
Matthew Vickers, we obviously want business there that
shares your optimism about the future post-Brexit
but the vast majority of businesses are concerned.
It's just going to make life much more difficult for them.
It's a huge change, people are going to be nervous about it,
but the reality is we are pulling a chair up at the global trade table
and we will be dealing with lots of other partners.
I think it is in Europe's interest to find the best possible deal,
it's in our interest to find the best possible deal and that's
There's very few indications that we won't.
It's not necessarily in Europe's interest to offer us tariff free
access to the single market though, is it, which is what a lot
of those companies want, and equally all those trade deals
you are talking about, the negotiations with Europe
could drag on beyond two years, the negotiations with the rest
of the world could take years upon years, in which case
the uncertainty goes and jobs might go with it.
There's lots of scaremongering, lots of Doomsday...
We thought the sky was going to fall in after the referendum.
These are businesses that presumably you trust a lot of the time to know
what they are doing, and they are saying,
We can bring all sorts of different businesses, you know.
We've got Nissan, we've got Toyota, we've got Facebook, we've got
In Britain this year, moving forward, they are obviously pretty
There's a fantastic opportunity here for business.
Yes, it is challenging and scary but there's
The worst thing that can happen is people going round down-talking
what this region is going to look like after Brexit.
Actually we need to be a bit more positive and look for opportunities.
Melanie Hurst, will tariffs for some of our exporters, in your view,
if we have to come to that, be a price worth paying
We won't be paying the contributions that we pay to the European Union
now, we won't be beholding to the rules and regulations,
particularly around trade which the Labour Party are very
The current rules with the European Union and the single
market are deeply damaging for the public sector.
They leave it at risk of being outsourced elsewhere.
You know, those companies will look at the prospect of tariffs and OK
that might not happen, I accept that, but they will look
at that and think, well that will only mean we can sell less
That's really a price worth paying for getting out of the EU?
There is no way we are not going to get some kind of deal
We buy much more from the European Union, they are not
They are also not going to give us an advantageous deal when we have
We are not seeking an advantageous deal, we are seeking a mutually
beneficial deal that doesn't involve overpayments to part of the club
OK, Roberta Blackman-Woods, businesses want certainty of course
and they are going to be nervous about this because it does introduce
some degree of instability, but all of the evidence to date
is that the economy isn't collapsing despite the dire
warnings we had during the referendum and post-referendum.
Yes, well what companies are saying indeed the reason
they are in this region, Hitachi, Nissan, is to get access
to those European markets so what we have all got to argue
for, and I think actually go into these negotiations positively,
is to get a deal that secures tariff-free access to those markets.
That's what businesses right across the region
I think we all do have to now be positive and to talk up business
in the region and to try and secure those European markets for future,
but also look more globally and I think we have to do that
But would you accept that we will have to make a choice
then between controlling immigration and that tariff-free access?
Because European Union partners are not going to offer us a deal
without freedom of movement of labour, are they?
They are not going to say, you control your own immigration
and have access to our market, we will have to make a choice.
There is certainly going to be difficult negotiations ahead
and one of the things I thought your programme earlier
showed was that we do need movement of labour to continue to a degree
That's a difficult message for a lot of the Labour
voters in the referendum, they must have thought
I'm not suggesting for a minute that it will be the same
as it is now but we do need to have access to those skills on a global
basis, and indeed people who want to compete globally
Matthew Vickers, Demos suggestion that we are the most vulnerable
English region because we are such a big exporter.
Theresa May is not going to be able to get single market access
for our exporters because she has prioritised control
What we are looking for is a comprehensive
I'm quite optimistic that is what we are going to get.
Let's get her in there, see what she comes out with.
I think the reason we are such big exporters to Europe
is because the people of the northeast do a damn good
job in manufacturing, they do a damn good job for Nissan
and that's why regardless of what the setup is, we will do well.
OK, Melanie Hurst, you have made it clear that it wants a deal done
on what they say we owe them before they will talk about trade.
Should we be prepared to pay the EU more money?
If you withdraw your membership to the gym, you don't continue
to make contributions towards the running of the gym.
You do if you use the gym for a bit for your own benefit,
which is what the EU will be asking for.
If you are a member, but then if you withdraw your membership
I'm quite happy for the UK to pay what it is due,
but to pay some ridiculous exiting the, you know, totally unreasonable.
but to pay some ridiculous exiting fee, you know, totally unreasonable.
OK, that depends if you think it is worth it or not.
Away from Brexit, it has been a busy week with a public inquiry announced
into plans to develop Northumberland County
And some positive news about hospitals in Cumbria.
There is more on those stories and more in our snappy and currently
The body that runs hospitals in Carlisle and Whitehaven has come
The North Cumbria NHS Trust had spent four years under extra
supervision after it was found to have high death rates.
People with mental health conditions should not be forced
into face-to-face benefits assessments against doctors'
advice according to Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman.
I had an e-mail this morning from one of my constituents
saying her husband had taken his life on Friday.
He first came to us in 2016 when his award of ESA was under review.
Despite his doctor's protest, he was made
Controversial plans to build hundreds of new homes and a retail
park on the site of County Hall in Morpeth will be looked
Northumberland County Council approved the plans but the final
decision will be made by the Local Government Secretary.
Finally, North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon is calling for milk
to be available to all children in their first year of school.
Now to the Government's big idea to streamline the benefits system
Universal credit has been dogged by delays
but it is finally being rolled out across all of Newcastle.
One of the first areas in the country where that has happened.
Ministers say it will make life easier for those looking for work
but one Tyneside MP says the system is not working and delays are
Friends and neighbours, Tracy and Hayley, both share
a worry about universal credit, the Government's new method
Tracy first claimed universal credit after leaving a job last year,
but waiting for a first payment took months, and continuing
problems with her claim have left her facing financial hardship.
I've gone into arrears with my rent, I owe people money,
I owe my family money, and I can't give them money back
because I have got no money to give them but now they have
It's so degrading, especially when you've worked all your life,
Hayley has been told she will have to move from her current benefit
to universal credit and she's worried about what that could mean.
If I have to go on this, I could end up being homeless.
In a strongly-worded submission to an ongoing work and pensions
select committee inquiry, Newcastle City Council said that
universal credit risks putting some vulnerable residents at risk
The submission also condemns the waiting period for making a claim to
receiving payments, which is usually around six weeks but often more, the
fundamental problem. The council at its housing provider has found that
85% of people claiming work in rent arrears. Sometimes it can be longer
than six weeks to claim, so people are coming to us for food parcels or
crisis support so that has an impact on what we do as an organisation. It
has been a disaster in Newcastle and they cannot possibly roll it out
across the rest of the country knowing these fundamental flaws in
the system exist. The Government says universal credit helps people
moving to work faster and stay in work longer
than the old system, adding its offering support to those who find
themselves in rent arrears. It will make the system far more simple, it
is over complex, people don't understand what benefits they are
entitled to, it will also encourage people back to work. A lot of people
in the old system were afraid they would lose benefits they were
entitled to if they went back to work. It will roll out over the
coming months and years across other parts of the region and the country,
but what happens in Newcastle as a litmus test for how the new benefits
system may function elsewhere. Matthew Vickers, we saw two women
there under considerable stress over this. This benefit was supposed to
make life easier for people claiming it, instead it is causing
unacceptable levels of stress and debt. It is heartbreaking to see
people in financial hardship that. There is an advance payment you can
claim for if you are in hardship, there is an option there but this
change simplifies a huge mess of benefits that were all different. It
is fair to people paying it and claiming it, it's not about how well
you know your way around the system, it will reduce fraud, reduce
fair system that will not penalise fair system that will not penalise
people for getting off benefits. There are crisis payments available
to people in these situations, there will always be problems with any
major changes, the principle is right isn't it? Yes, the problem is
the Government massively underfunded this whole system and didn't leave
enough time to get proper systems in place so we wouldn't have for
example the huge delays in processing claims. Not only are
people having to wait six weeks, often three months and ending up in
huge debt. A lot of people in the huge debt. A lot of people in the
rented private sector are losing their homes so this whole system
that was supposed to support the most full report is actually
attacking them and making large numbers of people homeless. The
Government is showing some signs of listening to that because this week
they have said they will consider not putting families who could be
made homeless into universal credit so they are recognising there are
issues. They are tinkering and doing far too little, too late. Some of
the people on the lowest incomes who are in work are suffering because of
the changes in this benefit. The Chancellor, who is now earning mega
millions, cut money from some of the lowest paid workers in this country
and that is outrageous. The Government need to reverse those
cuts as well as slowing down the roll-out until they can get a proper
system in place. Melanie Hurst, I would ask for the view of Ukip but
as of this week you have no MPs laughed so no want to fight it in
Parliament. If someone for instance comes to you with a problem, what
can you could do about it? I personally work with individuals who
are in receipt of welfare, and in the former life I worked in the
old-fashioned dole office. What is your view of the way the system is?
I think the austerity measures went too far. For me I don't think the
argument is the welfare system is too generous, I think the cost of
living is too high and wages are too low. Having spent 12 months trying
to live on welfare personally, it is not generous at all. If you are used
yourself in that position, the time yourself in that position, the time
delays add unnecessary stress and you spend the rest of your time
trying to play catch up. It is not fair and it has been badly
out elsewhere in the country with out elsewhere in the country with
the problems there have been in Newcastle. The grass is always
greener. In a former life I used to manage shops for living and I had
somebody who worked for me, a single mum who worked very hard, one of the
most energetic people I had ever employed. I wanted her to a
that supervisor because it would that supervisor because it would
have undermined her benefits. This have undermined her benefits. This
system is fair, helping people to go to work. I have got to get out of
the programme I'm afraid, that's about it for this week. We are off
So, what will be the effect of new tax and benefit changes
Will the Government's grand trade tour reap benefits?
And are the Lib Dems really going to replace Labour,
To answer that last question, I'm joined by from Salford
by the Lib Dem MP, Alistair Carmichael.
Michael Fallon sirs the Lib Dems will replace Labour. How long will
it take? We will have to wait and see. Anyone who thinks you can
predict the future is engaged in a dodgy game. I have been campaigning
with the Liberal Democrats in Manchester... You must not
mention... You know the by-election rules. It is only an illustration.
Across false ways of the country, the Liberal Democrats are back in
business -- across whole swathes of the country. Part of the reason why
we are getting a good response is because the Labour Party under
Jeremy Corbyn has taken such a self-destructive path. Even if you
do pretty well in the local elections, it you have to make up
lost ground from the time you did very well in previous times, you
used to have 4700 councillors. It will take you a long while to get
back to that. You will get no argument from me that we have a
mountain to climb. What I'm telling you is, and if this is not just in
this round of elections, it is in the other by-elections in places
like Richmond, and in by-elections write the length and breadth of the
country since last June, the Liberal Democrats are taking seats from the
Labour Party under Conservative Party, and not just in Brexit phobic
areas. Not just in Remain areas. But in places like Sunderland as well
which voted very heavily for Brexit. In fact, that vote was in large part
as well a protest against the way in which the Labour Party really has
taken these areas for granted over the years. That is why the ground is
fertile for us. In the local elections which is what we are
discussing today, why would anybody vote for the Liberal Democrats if
they believed in Brexit? Mr Farren has said he wants to reverse works.
If you are Brexit supporter and you are considering how to cast your
vote, first of all, I think you will be looking at the quality of
representation you can get for your local area and you are right, we
have a lot of ground to recoup from previous elections, we lost 124
seats, communities have now had a few years to reflect on the quality
of service they have been able to get and they have missed the very
effective liberal Democrat councillors they have had. This is
not just about whether you are a believer or remainer, ultimately,
that is an issue we are going to have to settle and we will settle it
not in the way the Government is having by dictating the terms of the
debate, but by bringing the whole country together. I think that is
something you can only do if, as we have suggested, you give the people
the opportunity to have a say on the deal when Theresa May eventually
produces it. The only way you could really replace Labour in the
foreseeable future would be if a big chunk of the centre and right of the
Labour Party came over and join due in some kind of new social
democratic alliance. -- joined you. There is no sign that will happen? I
do not see whether common purpose is anymore holding the Labour Party
together. That is for people in the Labour Party to make their own
decisions. Use what happened to the Labour Party in Scotland. -- you
saw. Politics moved on and left them behind and they were decimated as a
consequence of that. So was your party. It is possible the same thing
could happen to the Labour Party and the rest of the UK. Politics is
moving on and they are coming up with 1970s solutions to problems in
2017. Alistair Carmichael, thanks for joining us. Let us have a look
at some of the tax and benefit changes coming up this week. The tax
changes first of all. The personal allowance is going to rise to
?11,500, the level at which you start to pay tax. The higher rate
threshold, where you start to play at 40%, that will rise from
currently ?43,400, rising up to 40 5000. -- pay. Benefit changes,
freeze on working age benefits, removal of the family element of tax
credits and universal credit, that is a technical change but quite an
impact. The child element of tax credit is going to be limited to two
children on any new claims. The Resolution Foundation has crunched
the numbers and they discovered that when you take the tax and benefit
changes together, 80% go to better off households and the poorest third
or worse. What help -- what happened to help the just about managing? The
Resolution Foundation exists to find the worst possible statistics... It
is not clear the figures are wrong? They are fairly recent figures and I
have not seen analysis by other organisations. The Adam Smith
Institute will probably have some question marks over it. Nobody
should be surprised a Tory government is trying to make the
state smaller... And the poor poorer. The system is propped up by
better off people and so it will be those people who will be slightly
less heavily taxed as you make the state smaller. Theresa May will have
to stop just talking about the just about managing. And some of her
other language and the role of the government and the state when she
sounded quite positive... She sounded like a big government
conservative not small government. In every set piece occasion, she
says, it is time to look at the good the government can do. That is not
what you heard from Mrs Thatcher. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown would
not have dared to say it either even if they believed it. It raises a
much bigger question which is, as well as whether this is a set of
progressive measures, the Resolution Foundation constantly argued when
George Osborne announced his budget measures as progressive when they
were regressive when they checked out the figures, but also how this
government was going to meet the demand for public services when it
has ruled out virtually any tax rises that you would normally do
now, including National Insurance. There are a whole range of nightmare
issues on Philip Hammond's in-tray in relation to tax. The Resolution
Foundation figures do not include the rise in the minimum wage which
has just gone under way. They do not include the tax free childcare from
the end of April, the extra 15 hours of free childcare from September.
Even when you include these, it does not look like it would offset the
losses of the poorest households. Doesn't that have to be a problem
for Theresa May? It really is a problem especially when her
narrative and indeed entire purpose in government is for that just about
managing. What Mrs May still has which is exactly a problem they have
at the budget and the Autumn Statement is that they are still
saddled with George Osborne's massive ring fences on tax cuts and
spending. They have to go through with the tax cut for the middle
classes by pushing up the higher rate threshold which is absolutely
going to do nothing for the just about managing. When they try to
mitigate that, for example, in the Autumn Statement, Philip Hammond was
told to come up with more money to ease the cuts in tax credits, came
up with 350 million, an absolute... It is billions and billions
involved. Marginal adjustment. A huge problem with the actual tax and
benefit changes going on with what Mrs May as saying. The only way to
fix it is coming up with more money to alleviate that. Where will you
find it? Philip Hammond tried in the Budget with the National Insurance
rises but it lasted six and a half days. I was told that it was one of
the reasons why the Chancellor looked kindly on the idea of an
early election because he wanted to get rid of what he regards as an
albatross around his neck, the Tory manifesto 2015, no increase in
income tax, no increase in VAT, no increase in National Insurance, fuel
duty was not cut when fuel prices were falling so it is hardly going
to rise now when they are rising again. This is why, I suggest, they
end up in these incredibly complicated what we used to call
stealth taxes as ways of trying to raise money and invariably a blow up
in your face. Stealth taxes never end up being stealthy. It is part of
the narrative that budget begins to fall apart within hours. You have to
have sympathy, as Tom says, with Philip Hammond. No wonder he would
like to be liberated. The early election will not happen. The best
argument I have heard for an early election. The tax and spend about at
the last election was a disaster partly because the Conservatives
feared they would lose. Maybe they could be a bit more candid about the
need to put up some taxes to pay for public services and it is very
interesting what you picked up on Philip Hammond because he is
trapped. So constrained about... You can also reopen the Ring fencing and
spending and the obvious place to go is the triple lock, OAP spending.
Another case for an election. He cannot undo the promise to that
demographic. We will not get to 2020 without something breaking. The
Prime Minister, the trade secretary and Mr Hammond, they are off to
India, the Far East, talking up trade with these countries, I do not
know if any of you are going? Sadly not. Will it produce dividends? The
prime Minster is going somewhere too. No, it will not, the honest
answer. No one will do a trade deal with us because we cannot do one
because we are still in the EU and they need to know what our terms
will be with the EU first before they can work out how they want to
trade with us. This is vital preparatory work. Ministers always
go somewhere in recess, it is what they do. We will not see anything in
a hurry, we will not see anything for two years. They have to do it.
Whatever side of the joint you are on, Brexit, remain, we need to get
out there. -- the argument. We should have been doing this the day
after the referendum result. It is now several months down the line and
they need to step it up, not the opposite. You can make some informal
talks, I guess. You can say, Britain is open for business. There is a
symbolism to it. What a lot of energy sucked up into this.
Parliament is not sitting so they might as well start talking. We have
run out of energy and time. That is it for today. We are off for the
Easter recess, back in two weeks' time. If it is Sunday, it is the
Sunday Politics. Unless it is that used to recess! -- Easter recess.
Marine Le Pen has her eyes on the French presidency.
As she tries to distance herself from her party's controversial past,
we follow the money and ask, "Who's funding her campaign?"
I think I've died and gone to heaven. Saluti. Chin-chin.
So, can anybody speak Italian? No. Non parlo italiano.
Andrew Neil and Richard Moss are joined by shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth MP, former Conservative Party leader Lord Michael Howard and John Curtice. The Political Panel consists of Tom Newton Dunn of the Sun, Isabel Oakeshott and Steve Richards.