02/04/2017 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


Mark Carruthers with the latest political news, interviews and debate.

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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 -


Coming up here... who's going up and who's going down?


The talks process at Stormont is to be ramped up this


week with the promise of round-table discussions.


So what will the three former Executive parties want out of it?


Join me in half an hour. 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 welcome to Sunday Politics


in Northern Ireland. After a string of criticism,


the Secretary of State is intensifying the political


talks this week. I'll be asking the SDLP,


Ulster Unionists and Alliance what their expectations


are for the discussions. And with their thoughts on it all,


my guests of the day So, James Brokenshire,


the Secretary of State, is to intensify talks at Stormont


between the five main parties. It follows some stinging


criticism of his approach to the discussions so far,


but on Friday, he issued an invitation saying both


governments want an agreed agenda So what do the SDLP,


Ulster Unionists and Alliance want With me now are Colin McGrath


from the SDLP, the Ulster Unionist Party's Doug Beattie


and Stephen Farry from Welcome. Thank you for joining us.


Colin McGrath, is the fact that round table talks are now happening


a sign of actual process Almac progress? It is a move forward. We


did not have them in the past. The bilaterals and trilaterals


unimportant. Until you get round the table and understand what page


everyone is on, you can't make progress. We have asked for this for


about 2-3 weeks. We're glad to see them. They had an opportunity but it


will not resolve issues. Although it will help us work out where we are


and try to map the way forward. For round table discussions to be


meaningful, there need to be discussions and something to get


your teeth into. Is there any sign that will happen? You are right. I


was new to these intensive talks last few weeks and they were


absolute shambolic but no structure. Hopefully we will get structure. It


is incredibly important people put their own positions on the table and


give us a mechanism to talk about it. There are deals being done


behind closed doors and no-one knows where anyone stands. We need time


and space. So that political parties can manoeuvre and change positions.


At this moment in time, the trenches are being dug deeper. We won't go


anywhere unless thing radical comes up or some parties are willing to


change their stance. You're no stranger to this kind of intense


political process. You have been rendered what quite a few times


before. Do you get the sense that we are about to be where we maybe


should have been several months ago, frankly? In terms of a process, it


is a better structure. In terms of the prospects of the agreement, I am


not sure we're much further along on that after last few weeks. I have


questions and the bun fights -- bona fides. There could be other things


down the line well other parties gain an advantage. Is that an


admission on your part, that the three of you today represent the


smaller the five main parties, and your frankly a bit of a sideshow? We


collectively represent many hundreds of thousands of voters. That is a


sizeable section of Northern Ireland. Amongst the DUP and Sinn


Fein, there has to be a hunger for demolition being restored. What was


seen in the last week itself should be a massive wake-up call for the


parties. -- for devolution being restored. That means the ship could


seal strategic sources in the next 12 months. And in terms of Brexit,


from what the European Commission says, the toxin and the border in


Ireland will take place in the latter have of this year. We need to


have an Executive in place to make headway in that regard. Massive


amount of work to be done in a short period of time. Do you accept that


for the deal to be done, it has be done by the DUP and Sinn Fein? It


doesn't matter what you think your representatives think, what the


British and Northern Ireland governments think. It matters in the


end of the day that Sinn Fein and DUP agree. If they are not bought


into the process, there will be no deal. If they do not make a deal,


they will not be ideal. If so, they would have failed the people of


Northern Ireland. That does not make us a relevant in any way. We can


bring forward things can help them move position. If they want to be


moved. Absolutely. If they don't, they will not be moved. That is a


failing on their behalf. There was the issue of the flags, identity and


culture commission to give us time and space to discuss the issue of


the Irish language. There is a report coming out this month and a


full report at the end of the year. It gives people the chance to park


that issue of the Irish language for nine months until the commission


gives its point of view and then we can sit down and discuss those


findings. That is reasonable. But the difficulty is of course that


both Sinn Fein and the DUP now have read lines on the issue of the Irish


language. That does not help. It doesn't. That never helps. If you


keep digging the trench deeper, it doesn't help. That is where we are


now. That is why you need a reasonable stance. A reasonable


stands was to let the commission do its body of work. It is important.


Martin McGuinness is one of these people who set up the Fresh Start


Agreement. It is part of his legacy. You think it is a good or bad idea


that the DUP have introduced in that debate the issue of the military


covenant? Is a former soldier, I want to see Phil implementation of


the military college in Northern Ireland. It is here in Northern


Ireland. In the same way Sinn Fein have not gone into detail to tell us


what they want from an Irish language act, it is as if they are


using them as flags to fly and big trenches deeper. Colin McGrath, is


this a difficulty for the SDLP? You're pretty close to Sinn Fein


Bosman position on this. There needs to be a stand-alone Irish language


act, not a culture act or minority wine which act, which would embrace


Ulster Scots as well. Do you have a deadline on this as well? Sinn Fein


are closer to our opinion on this because we had the Private Members'


Bill that was in the Assembly to deliver the Irish language act. And


whenever the Programme for Government was introduced four


months ago, there was no mention of an Irish language act. We think it


is important. But what has happened with the Irish language act is it


has moved on. Language is important and having access to learning the


language is important, but it is about identity and expressing Irish


culture. We have had a fundamental dish respect shown to that in the


past number of months and years from the DUP. We want to address that.


Not to be up about it. We want them to share that journey and express


their culture. It should be implemented. You presumably, would


want, which are not, an Irish language act that encourages


Unionists, Protestants towards the Irish language and does not push


them away from it. That is what is happening at the moment. I would


like to see an Irish language where you don't have to have the


definition of unionist... That is not where we had at the moment. That


is where we want to move towards. If we had the Irish language act open


to everyone in the community to one, that would be much better. I would


not expect it would be a rush of Unionists wanting to learn the Irish


language, but if they wanted, it is the. It is a shared. This is one


island. Your party leader has said James Brokenshire is not an honest


broker in this process and is to be an external toxin so what it. What


is the chances of that happening between now and tomorrow? --


external Tok -- facilitator for talks.


It is a short window of opportunity. James Brokenshire said the whole


process is a short window. We have to look at the elements to do with


legacy. Is the Secretary of State from the British Cabinet the best


person to cheer these -- to be the chairperson of these? The British


Government has to step up and take bold decisions and a leap forward.


If you have a Secretary of State entrenched in being directed by the


Cabinet, is he the best person to arbitrate at the table? You're


shaking your head, Peter. I can see what the SDLP stances. But


he has been nominated by the Government of the UK. It doesn't


mean he is any good. But he has a job to do a day should be allowed to


do it. I do like the Gerry Adams as part of the bid discussions. But he


is the leader of Sinn Fein 's I have to get on with it and allow him to


be. Other parties need to do the same. We have a body of work to be


done. If we concern ourselves in the next few weeks with who will be the


chairperson of these talks, we will get nowhere. He has a job to do,


let's get on and let him do it. What people who are critical of James


Brokenshire would say is that Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein, has a mandate to


be represented at those talks. James Brokenshire has now mandate. -- has


no mandate. He is part of the Government elected into the UK. So


he does have a mandate. He is elected as the Secretary of State


Gerry Adams is a TD in the Irish Republic. Should he be involved in


Strand when talks? There is a number of different ways to look at this.


These people have a place to play. The issue is it is about the


independence of the chairperson. If you are the main person on one side


of the other, can independently be the chairperson? There is another


member who is as not independent as a Secretary of State, if you use


that yardstick. Your market is about the independence and can you make


decisions from the chair? Briefly, I want to talk about the deadline and


what it is. Do you think James Brokenshire can do the job that


needs to be done? He can, but he needs to address and reflect on some


of the issues, particularly in the last couple of months where people


have called into question the impartiality of the UK Government


and owned legacy issues. Can you understand where people are coming


from when they raise that issue? I understand some of the implications


and in some of the things said, particularly about the legacy of the


past and how that could be perceived with the role. But the important


thing is we need to get on with the talks because as you say, we have a


looming of some description in this month of April. Time is not on our


side in this regard. There is ready built consequences in terms of


finances in particular and that has resulted in people losing jobs. It


is critical and health services in crisis. There are major problems


reported last week. These things affect people's lives. So we hear


that it has been reported that the Secretary of State is trying to


reshape the process beginning tomorrow, where there will be added


structure and urgency to the process described as shambolic in recent


weeks. What you think the timescale is now? What is the new deadline,


since we failed to meet last Monday's deadline? In effect, he


wants to put legislation in parliament in the latter half of


April after Easter recess. Coming back on April 18? Tok 's could


happen in parallel with that legislative process. We have to bear


in mind, it is very technical, but we could lose close to ?1 billion in


terms of spending if we lose about two collect rates. It is a very


practical deadline in terms of financial situation. Not having our


Government as a luxury we cannot afford. Does the timescale make


sense as far as the Ulster Unionists are concerned? It does. We see the


next ten days as ten days of structured talks. And we hope for an


agreement we can buy into. We are looking for a reason to go into the


Executive. We're not looking for a reason to stay out. That is the


Ulster Unionist position, but the you believe the bona fides of the


other parties? Do you believe Gerry Adams wants devil is -- devolution


restored in Northern Ireland? If I am honest, I think he does not. He


puts his red line and because he thinks it will not be crossed by


other parties. Some of the things put into garish language, we could


never buy into it and he knows that. The DUP have thrown out the Armed


Forces Covenant and he knows that Sinn Fein cannot buy into that. I am


as they do not believe Sinn Fein do what that agreement. -- honestly do


not believe. The party is not yet a speaker itself, but when you spoke


to representatives of Sinn Fein, they are clear that they want to see


devolution. Colin McGrath. As well as political parties wanting


devolution restored, the most important people are the people in


communities on the ground. They came out in huge numbers to support


parties that said they wanted to form an Executive and come back in.


When people give you that mandate, you have an obligation to respond


and deliver what people have asked you to do. All the petty squabbling


that you can have up the hill and Stormont will not resonate with


people who have had health centres closed down and there is crisis


after crisis in the public sector. We look to them to sort it out in


the next ten days. In the meantime, you will know that there is a great


amount of public disquiet because MLAs are still being paid. You all


got a ?500 pay increase yesterday, which happened to be April Fools'


Day. People wonder, what in heaven 's name is going on? Can you


understand that? I absolutely can't. In many ways, I am ashamed that we


are not producing... You are ashamed? I am. Personally, as a


politician, I am ashamed that they are not producing what we need to be


bought Northern Ireland. But I went on a six-week interview to be an MLA


and then I was tested and elected. I worked from that moment onwards for


ten days without pay. And I am working hard as an MLA. Now, if they


turn round and say, stop might be, I have to go elsewhere. But my


constituency officers to say. Are you ashamed of what is going on?


Something has to give in that regard, particularly getting a pay


rise when people are losing jobs because of the budget.


Thank you very much indeed for that. We will have to leave it for now.


Let's hear what Lesley Carroll and Brian Feeney make of that.


Brian, what are your thoughts about the talks, kick-started tomorrow by


James Brokenshire, of who it is feared as a young -- it is fair to


say you're no great fan, what will happen with the process?


I don't think it will happen before Easter. The smaller parties want


round table talks. But as you said at the outset, there has to be


something at the table for people to discuss. So far, the papers


presented, particularly the one from James Brokenshire on legacy, was


just waffle and no use at all. The real business will be done behind


closed doors. Obviously, the smaller parties won't rent table tops to


hear what is going on and what the DUP and Sinn Fein are saying. --


smaller parties want round table talks. Sinn Fein's priority is not


establishing an Executive. It will not happen until the shopping list


has been addressed. Are you optimistic?


I am not overly optimistic. I would say that, from looking will.i.am,


the talks are shambolic. That is not because of James Brokenshire but


because we have had a shambolic Government for years. -- from


looking where I am. We have a set of Executive relationships were smaller


parties with maybe one or two ministers have not had the voice


that they thought they should have had at Executive level. There has


not been a relationship of respect and understanding of each other and


collaboration that makes Government within system work. In my view, the


talks are not shambolic because of James Brokenshire of the specific


issues of these talks because ball-mac but because the have built


a number of years in Government. You have been an observer of nationalism


and Republicanism for many years. Do you believe Sinn Fein can only once


Stormont to be restored? -- currently wants. They wanted


restored in a different way. They have said repeatedly there will not


be a return to the status quo or business as usual. They want


changes. These Sinn Fein red lines are for real? They are. But don't


forget, the eyes are fixed on Dublin and the fact there is a non-stable


Government there and it could be a general election in May or


September. They would like a position to be in Government... Not


with Gerry Adams as leader. Adams could well move in the next year.


There is lot of stuff happening. They don't want to be part of a


Northern Ireland team on Brexit. They want to do the negotiations of


Brexit through the Irish Government, not Stormont. Will talk more about


Brexit hopefully towards the end. Briefly, public disenchantment, we


had Doug Beattie say that his ashamed politicians are receiving


money and progress that 's to be made is not being made. People are


not happy with what they are seeing. -- that should be made. People are


not happy. The business community will not get corporation tax changes


they had hoped for by April, the Lord Chief Justice doctor about the


criminal just as system, changes the needed and not happening. And


Stephen referred to the committee voluntary sector. It is a disaster.


Thank you very much. Let's just pause for a moment


to take a look back at the political week in 60 seconds


with Gareth Gordon. With the stroke of a pen,


the United Kingdom took its first The Article 50 process is now under


way. In accordance with the wishes of the British people, the United


Kingdom is leaving the European Union.


But not everyone here is happy with the direction of travel.


This will be the biggest economic catastrophe in years. Our job is to


protect citizens and committees and businesses here. It will be


detrimental to the people of Ireland. We need to have parties


working together in the national interest and special staters for the


island of Ireland. still has confidence


in the Stormont talks process. The intensity of discussions are


stepped up with renewed intensity and for Chris. -- focus.


I would encourage James Brokenshire to be more assertive in top.


Perhaps the former Scottish First Minister is the man for the job.


If there is anything I could do to help the process, I would be very


willing to do so. Let's stick with Brexit.


We have mentioned that they are being the biggest economic


catastrophe since partition. It was a big week as far


as Brexit's concerned. Where does Northern Ireland stand in


the wider debate? There is no wider debate because there is not an


agreed was issued. And it will not be an agreed position because Sinn


Fein and the DUP will not agree with being part of a British delegation.


James Brokenshire is not even on the Cabinet committee supposed to be


dealing with Brexit. He does not have a seat on it. Northern Ireland


just does not figure in the UK's grander scheme. The British


Government brought this referendum in with no idea, no concern about


the consequences on the island of Ireland. They do not care.


Theresa May repeatedly refers to strengthening the union. That is her


mantra. Alex Salmond, we saw an extract of him there, said, if you


add a man from farmer, you should be worried about the direction of the


UK's travel on this direction. -- if you are a farmer from Antrim. Do you


agree? I do agree. There was a reference to


follow the Berlin Wall in comparison. It sounded dramatic at


the time, but perhaps he is not wrong. The implications for elation


ships here and across Europe and on these islands are significant enough


to be thinking in these terms. Theresa May wrote to Brussels and


David Davies Road to Stormont... There has been a lot of ink used in


last week. Not always with good results. You would think they would


have a great deal of care about what was in these letters. Theresa May


has been criticised for linking intelligence with negotiations and


also Gibraltar. Gibraltar as a whole other


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,


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