Andrew Neil and Gordon Brewer with the latest political news, interviews and debate.
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It's Sunday morning and this is the Sunday Politics.
Was Fidel Castro a revolutionary hero or a murderous dictator?
After the Cuban leader's death, politicians divide over his legacy.
Can the NHS in England find billions of pounds' worth of efficiency
The Shadow Health Secretary joins me live.
Should we have a second Brexit referendum on the terms
of the eventual withdrawal deal that's struck with the EU?
Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown and former Conservative cabinet
minister Owen Paterson go head-to-head.
And on Sunday Politics Scotland, I'll be speaking to the Scottish
Secretary David Mundell about the Autumn Statement,
And we'll take a look at how Stirling will benefit
And with me, Tom Newton Dunn, Isabel Oakeshott and Steve Richards.
They'll be tweeting throughout the programme
Political leaders around the world have been reacting to the news
of the death of Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary who came
to power in 1959 and ushered in a Marxist revolution.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the former leader
as an "historic if controversial figure" and said his death marked
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Castro was "a champion of social
justice" who had "seen off a lot of US presidents"
President-elect Donald Trump described the former Cuban leader
as a "brutal dictator", adding that he hoped his death
would begin a new era "in which the wonderful Cuban people
finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve".
Meanwhile, the President of the European Commission,
Jean-Claude Juncker, said the controversial leader
was "a hero for many" but "his legacy will be judged
I guess we had worked that out ourselves. What do you make of the
reactions so far across the political divide? Predictable. And I
noticed that Jeremy Corbyn has come in for criticism for his tribute to
Castro. But I think it was the right thing for him to do. We all know he
was an admirer. He could have sat there for eight hours in his house,
agonising over some bland statement which didn't alienate the many
people who want to wade into attacked Castro. It would have been
inauthentic and would have just added to the sort of mainstream
consensus, and I think he was right to say what he believed in this
respect. Elsewhere, it has been wholly predictable that there would
be this device, because he divided opinion in such an emotive way.
Steve, I take your point about authenticity and it might have
looked a bit lame for Jeremy Corbyn to pretend that he had no affection
for Fidel Castro at all, but do you think he made a bit of an error
dismissing Castro's record, the negative side of it as just a floor?
He could have acknowledged in more elaborate terms the huge costs. He
wanted to go on about the health and education, which if you actually
look up the indices on that, they are good relative to other
countries. But they have come at such a huge cost. He was not a
champion of criminal justice. If he had done that, it would have been
utterly inauthentic. He doesn't believe it. And he would have
thought there would be many other people focusing on all the epic
failings. So he focused on what he believed. There are times when
Corbyn's prominence in the media world now as leader widens the
debate in an interesting and important way. I am not aware of any
criticisms that Mr Corbyn has ever announced about Mr Castro. There
were four words in his statement yesterday which is spin doctor would
have forced him to say, for all his flaws. He was on this Cuban
solidarity committee, which didn't exist to criticise Castro. It
existed to help protect Castro from those, particularly the Americans,
who were trying to undermine him. And Corbyn made a big deal yesterday
saying he has always called out human rights abuses all over the
world. But he said that in general, I call out human rights abuses. He
never said, I have called out human rights abuses in Cuba. In the weeks
ahead, more will come out about what these human rights abuses were. The
lid will come off what was actually happening. Some well authenticated
stories are pretty horrendous. I was speaking to a journalist who was
working there in the 1990s, who gave me vivid examples of that, and there
will be more to come. I still go back to, when a major figure diet
and you are a leader who has admired but major figure, you have to say
it. That is the trap he has fallen into. He has proved every criticism
that he is a duck old ideologue. But he is not the only one. Prime
Minister Trudeau was so if uses that I wondered if they were going to
open up a book of condolences. I think it reinforces Corbyn's failing
brand. It may be authentic, but authentic isn't working for him.
When I was driving, I heard Trevor Phillips, who is a Blairite, saying
the record was mixed and there were a lot of things to admire as well as
all the terrible things. So it is quite nuanced. But if you are a
leader issuing a sound bite, there is no space for new ones. You either
decide to go for the consensus, which is to set up on the whole, it
was a brutal dictatorship. Or you say, here is an extraordinary figure
worthy of admiration. In my view, he was right to say what he believed.
There was still a dilemma for the British government over who they
sent to the funeral. Do they sent nobody, do they say and Boris
Johnson as a post-ironic statement? There is now a post-Castro Cuba to
deal with. Trump was quite diplomatic about post-Castro Cuba.
And Boris Johnson's statement was restrained. The thing about Mr
Castro was the longevity, 50 years of keeping Marxism on the island.
That was what made it so fascinating.
Before the last election, George Osborne promised the NHS
in England a real-terms funding boost of ?8 billion per year by 2020
on the understanding that NHS bosses would also find ?22 billion worth
Since last autumn, NHS managers have been drawing up what they're calling
"Sustainability and Transformation Plans" to make these savings,
but some of the proposals are already running into local
opposition, while Labour say they amount to huge cuts to the NHS.
Help is on the way for an elderly person in need in Hertfordshire.
But east of England ambulance call operators
they're sending an early intervention vehicle
with a council-employed occupational therapist on board.
It's being piloted here for over 65s with
When they arrive, a paramedic judges if the patient can be
treated immediately at home without a trip to hospital.
Around 80% of patients have been treated this way,
taking the strain off urgently-needed hospital beds,
So the early intervention team has assessed the patient and decided
The key to successful integration for Hertfordshire being able
to collaboratively look at how we use our resources,
to have pooled budgets, to allow us to understand
where spend is, and to let us make conscientious decisions about how
best to use that money, to come up with ideas to problems
that sit between our organisations, to look at things collaboratively.
This Hertfordshire hospital is also a good example of how
You won't find an A unit or overnight beds here any more.
The closest ones are 20 minutes down the road.
What's left is nurse-led care in an NHS-built hospital.
Despite a politically toxic change, this reconfiguration went
through after broad public and political consultation
with hospital clinicians and GPs on board.
It's a notable achievement that's surely of interest to 60% of NHS
trusts in England that reported a deficit at the end of September.
It's not just here that the NHS needs to save money and provide
The Government is going to pour in an extra ?8 billion into the NHS
in England, but it has demanded ?22 billion
worth of efficiencies across the country.
In order to deliver that, the NHS has created 44 health
and care partnerships, and each one will provide
a sustainability and transformation plan, or STP, to integrate care,
provide better services and save money.
So far, 33 of these 44 regional plans, drawn up by senior people
in the health service and local government,
The NHS has been through five years of severely constrained spending
growth, and there are another 4-5 years on the way at least.
STPs themselves are an attempt to deal in a planned way
But with plans to close some A units and reduce the number
of hospital beds, there's likely to be a tough political battle
ahead, with many MPs already up in arms about proposed
This Tory backbencher is concerned about the local plans for his
I wouldn't call it an efficiency if you are proposing to close
all of the beds which are currently provided for those coming out
of the acute sector who are elderly and looking
That's not a cut, it's not an efficiency saving,
All 44 STPs should be published in a month's time,
But even before that, they dominated this week's PMQs.
The Government's sustainability and transformation plans
for the National Health Service hide ?22 billion of cuts.
The National Health Service is indeed looking for savings
within the NHS, which will be reinvested in the NHS.
There will be no escape from angry MPs for the Health Secretary either.
Well, I have spoken to the Secretary of State just this week
about the importance of community hospitals in general,
These are proposals out to consultation.
What could happen if these plans get blocked?
If STPs cannot be made to work, the planned changes don't come
to pass, then the NHS will see over time a sort of unplanned
deterioration and services becoming unstable and service
The NHS barely featured in this week's Autumn Statement
but the Prime Minister insisted beforehand that STPs
are in the interests of local people.
Her Government's support will now be critical for NHS England
to push through these controversial regional plans,
which will soon face public scrutiny.
We did ask the Department of Health for an interview,
I've been joined by the Shadow Health Secretary,
Do you accept that the NHS is capable of making ?22 billion of
efficiency savings? Well, we are very sceptical, as are number of
independent organisations about the ability of the NHS to find 22
billion of efficiencies without that affecting front line care. When you
drill down into the 22 billion, based on the information we have
been given, and there hasn't been much information, we can see that
some of it will come from cutting the budget which go to community
pharmacies, which could lead, according to ministers, to 3000
pharmacies closing, which we believe will increase demands on A and
GPs, and also that a lot of these changes which are being proposed,
which was the focus of the package, we think will mean service cuts at a
local level. Do they? The chief executive of NHS England says these
efficiency plans are "Incredibly important". He used to work from
Labour. The independent King's Fund calls them "The best hope to improve
health and care services. There is no plan B". On the sustainable
transformation plans, which will be across England to link up physical
health, mental health and social care, for those services to
collaborate more closely together and move beyond the fragmented
system we have at the moment is important. It seems that the ground
has shifted. It has moved into filling financial gaps. As we know,
the NHS is going through the biggest financial squeeze in its history. By
2018, per head spending on the NHS will be falling. If you want to
redesign services for the long term in a local area, you need to put the
money in. So of course, getting these services working better
together and having a greater strategic oversight, which we would
have had if we had not got rid of strategic health authority is in the
last Parliament. But this is not an attempt to save 22 billion, this is
an attempt to spend 22 billion more successfully, don't you accept that?
Simon Stevens said we need 8 billion, and we need to find 22
billion of savings. You have to spend 22 billion more efficiently.
But the Government have not given that 8 billion to the NHS which they
said they would. They said they would do it by 2020. But they have
changed the definitions of spending so NHS England will get 8 billion by
2020, but they have cut the public health budgets by about 4 million by
20 20. The budget that going to initiatives to tackle sexually
transmitted diseases, to tackle smoking have been cut back but the
commissioning of things like school nurses and health visitors have been
cut back as well. Simon Stevens said he can only deliver that five-year
project if there is a radical upgrade in public health, which the
Government have failed on, and if we deal with social care, and this week
there was an... I understand that, but if you don't think the
efficiency drive can free up 22 billion to take us to 30 billion by
2020, where would you get the money from? I have been in this post now
for five or six weeks and I want to have a big consultation with
everybody who works in the health sector, as well as patients, carers
and families. Though you don't know? I think it would be surprised if I
had an arbitrary figure this soon into the job. Your party said they
expected election of spring by this year, you need to have some idea by
now, you inherited a portfolio from Diane Abbott, did she have no idea?
To govern is to make choices and we would make different choices. The
budget last year scored billions of giveaways in things like
co-operating -- corporation tax. What I do want to do... Is work on a
plan and the general election, whenever it comes, next year or in
2020 or in between, to have costed plan for the NHS. But your party is
committed to balancing the books on current spending, that is currently
John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor's position. What we are
talking about, this extra 30 billion, that is essentially current
spending so if it doesn't come from efficiency savings, where does the
money come from? Some of it is also capital. Mainly current spending. If
you look at the details of the OBR, they have switched a million from
the capital into revenue. Why -- how do you balance spending?
That is why we need to have a debate. Every time we ask for
Labour's policy, we are always told me a debate. Surely it is time to
give some idea of what you stand for? There's huge doubts about the
Government 's policy on this. You are the opposition, how would you do
it? I want to work with John McDonnell to find a package to give
the NHS the money it needs, but of course our Shadow Chancellor, like
any Shadow Chancellor at this stage in the cycle, will want to see what
the books look like a head of an election before making commitments.
I am clear that the Labour Party has to go into the next general election
with a clear policy to give the NHS the funding it needs because it has
been going through the largest financial squeeze in its history.
You say Labour will always give the NHS the money it needs, that is not
a policy, it is a blank cheque. It is an indication of our commitment
to the NHS. Under this Conservative government, the NHS has been getting
a 1% increase. Throughout its history it has usually have about
4%. Under the last Labour government it was getting 4%, before that
substantially more. We think the NHS should get more but I don't have
access to the NHS books in front of me. The public thinks there needs to
be more money spent on health but they also think that should go cap
in hand with the money being more efficiently spent, which is what
this efficiency drive is designed to release 22 billion. Do you have an
efficiency drive if it is not the Government's one? Of course we
agree. We agree the NHS should be more efficient, we want to see
productivity increased. Do know how to do that? One way is through
investments, maintenance, but there is a 5 million maintenance backlog.
One of the most high risk backlogs is something like 730 million. They
are going to switch the capital spend into revenue spend. I believe
that when you invest in maintenance and capital in the NHS, that
contribute to increasing its productivity. You are now talking
about 5 billion the maintenance, the chief executive says it needs 30
billion more by 2020 as a minimum so that 35 billion. You want to spend
more on social care, another for 5 billion on that so we have proper
care in the community. By that calculation I'm up to about 40
billion, which is fine, except where do you get the and balance the
account at the same time? We will have to come up with a plan for that
and that's why I will work with our Shadow Treasury team to come up with
that plan when they head into the general election. At the moment we
are saying to the NHS, sorry, we are not going to give you the
investment, which is why we are seeing patient care deteriorating.
The staff are doing incredible things but 180,000 are waiting in
A beyond four hours, record levels of people delayed in beds in
hospitals because there are not the beds in the community to go to save
the NHS needs the investment. We know that and we know the
Government's response to that and many think it is inadequate. What
I'm trying to get from you is what your response would be and what your
reaction will be to these efficiency plans. Your colleague Heidi
Alexander, she had your job earlier this year, she warned of the danger
of knee jerk blanket opposition to local efficiency plans. Do you agree
with that? Yes. So every time a hospital is going to close as a
result of this, and some will, it is Labour default position not just
going to be we are against it? That is why we are going to judge each of
these sustainability plans by a number of yardsticks. We want to see
if they have the support of local clinicians, we want to see if they
have the support of local authorities because they now have a
role in the delivery of health care. We want to see if they make the
right decisions for the long-term trends in population for local area.
We want to see if they integrate social care and health. If they
don't and therefore you will not bank that as an efficiency saving,
you will say no, that's not the way to go, you are left then with
finding the alternative funding to keep the NHS going. If you are
cutting beds, for example the proposal is to cut something like
5000 beds in Derbyshire and if there is the space in the community sector
in Derbyshire, that will cause big problems for the NHS in the long
term so it is a false economy. An example like that, we would be very
sceptical the plans could work. Would it not be honest, given the
sums of money involved and your doubts about the efficiency plan,
which are shared by many people, to just say, look, among the wealthy
nations, we spend a lower proportion of our GDP on health than most of
the other countries, European countries included, we need to put
up tax if we want a proper NHS. Wouldn't that be honest? I'm not the
Shadow Chancellor, I don't make taxation policy. You are tempting me
down a particular road by you or I smile. John McDonnell will come up
with our taxation policy. We have had an ambition to meet the European
average, the way these things are measured have changed since then,
but we did have that ambition and for a few years we met it. We need
substantial investment in the NHS. Everyone accepts it was
extraordinary that there wasn't an extra penny for the NHS in the
Autumn Statement this week. And as we go into the general election,
whenever it is, we will have a plan for the NHS. Come back and speak to
us when you know what you are going to do. Thank you.
Theresa May has promised to trigger formal Brexit negotiations
before the end of March, but the Prime Minister must wait
for the Supreme Court to decide whether parliament must vote
If that is the Supreme Court's conclusion, the Liberal Democrats
and others in parliament have said they'll demand a second EU
referendum on the terms of the eventual Brexit deal before
And last week, two former Prime Ministers suggested
that the referendum result could be reversed.
In an interview with the New Statesman on Thursday,
Tony Blair said, "It can be stopped if the British people decide that,
having seen what it means, the pain-gain cost-benefit analysis
John Major also weighed in, telling a meeting
of the National Liberal Club that the terms of Brexit
were being dictated by the "tyranny of the majority".
He also said there is a "perfectly credible case"
That prompted the former Conservative leader
Iain Duncan Smith to criticise John Major.
He told the BBC, "The idea we delay everything simply
because they disagree with the original result does
seem to me an absolute dismissal of democracy."
So, is there a realistic chance of a second referendum on the terms
of whatever Brexit deal Theresa May manages to secure?
Lib Dem party leader Tim Farron has said, "We want to respect
the will of the people and that means they must have their say
in a referendum on the terms of the deal."
But the Lib Dems have just eight MPs - they'll need Labour support
One ally is former Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith.
He backs the idea of a second referendum.
But yesterday the party's deputy leader, Tom Watson, said that,
"Unlike the Lib Dem Brexit Deniers, we believe in respecting
To discuss whether or not there should be a second referendum
on the terms of the Brexit deal, I've been joined by two
In Somerset is the former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown,
and in Shropshire is the former Conservative cabinet minister
Paddy Ashdown, let me come to you first. When the British people have
spoken, you do what they command, either you believe in democracy or
you don't. When democracy speaks, we obey. Your words on the night of the
referendum, what's changed? Nothing has changed, Andrew, that's what I
said and what I still believe in. The British people have spoken, we
will not block Parliament debating the Brexit decision, Article 50, but
we will introduce an amendment to say that we need to consult the
British people, not about if we go out but what destination we would
then achieve. There is a vast difference in ordinary people's
lives between the so-called hard Brexit and soft Brexit. Soft Brexit,
you remain in the single market, you have to accept and agree on
immigration. Hard Brexit you are out of the single market, we have many
fewer jobs... Why didn't you say before the referendum there would be
a second referendum on the terms? Forgive me, I said it on many
occasions, you may not have covered it, Andrew, but that's a different
thing. In every speech I gave I said this, and this has proved to be
true, since those who recommended Brexit refused to tell us the
destination they were recommending, they refuse to give any detail about
the destination, if we did vote to go out, it would probably be
appropriate to decide which destination, hard Brexit or soft
Brexit we go to. They deliberately obscure that because it made it more
difficult to argue the case. It wasn't part of the official campaign
but let me come to Owen Paterson. What's wrong with a referendum on
the terms of the deal? We voted to leave but we don't really know on
what conditions we leave so what's wrong with negotiating the deal and
putting that deal to the British people? This would be a ridiculous
idea, it would be a complete gift to the EU negotiators to go for an
impossibly difficult deal because they want to do everything to make
sure that Brexit does not go through. This nonsense idea of hard
Brexit and soft Brexit, it was never discussed during the referendum
campaign. We made it clear we wanted to take back control, that means
making our own laws, raising and spending the money agreed by elected
politicians, getting control of our own borders back, and getting
control of our ability to do trade deals around the world. That was
clear at all stages of the referendum. We got 17.4 million
votes, the biggest vote in history for any issue, that 52%, 10% more
than John Major got and he was happy with his record number of 14
million, more than Tony Blair got, which was 43%, so we have a very
clear mandate. Time and again people come up to me and say when are we
going to get on with this. The big problem is uncertainty. We want to
trigger Article 50, have the negotiation and get to a better
place. OK, I need to get a debate going.
Paddy Ashdown, the EU doesn't want us to leave. If they knew there was
going to be a second referendum, surely there was going to be a
second referendum, surely their incentive would be to give us the
worst possible deal would vote against it would put us in a
ridiculous negotiating position. On the contrary, the government could
go and negotiate with the European Union and anyway, the opinion of the
European Union is less important than the opinion of the British
people. It seems to me that Owen Paterson made the case for me
precisely. They refuse to discuss what kind of destination. Britain
voted for departure, but not a destination. Because Owen Paterson
and his colleagues refused to discuss what their model was. So the
range of options here and the impact on the people of Britain is huge.
There is nothing to stop the government going to negotiate,
getting the best deal it can and go into the British people and saying,
this is the deal, guys, do you agree? Owen Paterson? It is simple.
The British people voted to leave. We voted to take back control of our
laws, our money, our borders. But most people don't know the shape of
what the deal would be. So why not have a vote on it? Because it would
be a gift to the EU negotiators to drive the worst possible deal in the
hope that it might be chucked out with a second referendum. The
biggest danger is the uncertainty. We have the biggest vote in British
history. You have said all that. It was your side that originally
proposed a second referendum. The director of Leave said, there is a
strong democratic case for a referendum on what the deal looks
like. Your side. Come on, you are digging up a blog from June of 2015.
He said he had not come to a conclusion. He said it is a distinct
possibility. No senior members of the campaign said we would have a
second referendum. It is worth chucking Paddy the quote he gave on
ITV news, whether it is a majority of 1% or 20%, when the British
people have spoken, you do what they command. People come up to me and
keep asking, when are you going to get on with it? What do you say to
keep asking, when are you going to that, Paddy Ashdown? Owen Paterson
has obviously not been paying attention. You ask me that question
has obviously not been paying at the start. Owen and his kind have
to stick to the same argument. During the referendum, when we said
that the Europeans have it in their interest to picket tough for us,
they would suffer as well. And that has proved to be right. The European
Union does not wish to hand as a bad deal, because they may suffer in the
process. We need the best deal for both sides. I can't understand why
Owen is now reversing that argument. Here is the question I am going to
ask you. If we have a second referendum on the deal and we vote
by a very small amount, by a sliver, to stay in, can we then make it
best-of-3? No, Andrew! Vince Cable says he thinks if you won, he would
have to have a decider. You will have to put that income tax, because
I don't remember when he said that. I don't remember when he said that.
-- you have to put that in context. Independent, 19th of September. That
is a decision on the outcome. The central point is that the British
people voted for departure, not a destination. In response to the
claim that this is undemocratic, if it is democratic to have one
referendum, how can it be undemocratic to have two?
referendum, how can it be Paterson, the British government, on
the brink of triggering article 50, cannot tell us if we will remain
members of the single market, if we will remain members of the customs
union. From that flows our ability to make trade deals, our attitude
towards freedom of movement and the rest of it. Given that the
government can't tell us, it is clear that the British people have
no idea what the eventual shape will be. That is surely the fundamental
case for a second referendum. Emphatically not. They have given a
clear vote. That vote was to take back control. What the establishment
figures like Paddy should recognise is the shattering damage it would do
to the integrity of the whole political process if this was not
delivered. People come up to me, as I have said for the third time now,
wanting to know when we will get article 50 triggered. Both people
who have voted to Remain and to Leave. If we do not deliver this, it
will be disastrous for the reputation and integrity of the
whole political establishment. Let me put that you Paddy Ashdown. It is
very Brussels elite - were ask your question but if we don't like the
very Brussels elite - were ask your answer, we will keep asking the
question. Did it with the Irish and French. It is... It would really
anger the British people, would it not? That is an interesting
question, Andrew. I don't think it would. All the evidence I see in
public meetings I attended, and I think it is beginning to show in the
opinion polls, although there hasn't been a proper one on this yet, I
suspect there is a majority in Britain who would wish to see a
second referendum on the outcome. They take the same view as I do.
What began with an open democratic process cannot end with a government
stitch up. Contrary to what Owen suggests, there is public support
for this. And far from damaging the government and the political class,
it showed that we are prepared to listen. We shall see. Paddy Ashdown,
have you eaten your hat yet? Andrew, as you well know, I have eaten five
hats. You cannot have a second referendum until you eat your hat on
my programme. We will leave it there. Paddy Ashdown and Owen
Paterson, thank you much. I have eaten a hat on your programme. I
don't remember! It's just gone 11.35,
you're watching the Sunday Politics. Good morning and welcome
to Sunday Politics Scotland. Coming up on the programme,
in a moment, I'll be asking the Scottish Secretary,
David Mundell, which powers he thinks should be devolved
to Scotland as a result of Brexit. Nicola Sturgeon heads to Dublin this
week to talk Business and Brexit with Irish politicians,
but is this Scottish government diplomatic offensive
really getting anywhere? And will a new city deal mean
a new renaissance for Stirling? Could even more powers be devolved
to Holyrood as a result of the UK's That appears to be the indication
from the Scottish Secretary It comes against the backdrop
of more capital investment for Scotland, which was announced
in this week's Autumn Statement. David Mundell, first of all, on the
Autumn Statement, there was much fuss made about helping ordinary
families, wasn't there? The issue for fiscal studies reckons that
families, wasn't there? The issue people on average earnings are still
not earning as much as they did before the financial crash, and will
not be earning as much as they did before the financial crash by the
end of the forecasting period, which is 2020-21. That can't be something
you are particularly proud of. What we've tried to do in the Autumn
Statement is specifically help those people and help those people by
increasing the personal allowance, help people on the lowest wages by
increasing the national living wage, by changing the taper on universal
credit. But nobody is denying, and the Chancellor didn't deny in his
Autumn Statement, the challenging circumstances that we face. He
didn't deny the Prime minister's statement that more needs to be done
to support those very people, people who are just getting by. And that
will be very much the focus of her government and its policies. The
Resolution Foundation estimates all the budget measures, including the
ones you mentioned, only take away 7% of the cuts that people on
universal credit face because of the freezing of benefits. How is that
helping ordinary people? Well, it is a change to the taper, so that it
is, I think, fairer. It means that the incentive and benefit of being
in work is clear, which is what universal credit is all about.
That's what the focus of Theresa May's government is going to be on,
it's going to be on helping people who are just getting by. That's why
the budget sought to take a greater proportion of income tax from those
on the highest earnings, closing down even more tax avoidance, tax
evasion schemes, so that there was a greater fairness in the system. Of
course, what the Chancellor also made absolutely clear is that there
would be no changes to existing benefit proposals that have been
previously announced, there will be no further cuts to benefits, which
is something that should be welcomed. You've been talking in an
interview in the Sunday Times today about how more powers could come to
the Scottish Parliament as a result of Brexit. Can you give us any
specific examples of what you have in mind? What I think, Gordon,
hasn't been fully understood and is only just beginning to be debated,
which is what I want to encourage, is that by leaving the EU, that will
have a fundamental change and the devolved settlement here in Scotland
and, indeed, elsewhere in the United Kingdom because these settlements
were predicated on the basis that the UK was in the EU. Therefore,
there are a number of powers and responsibilities which are currently
exercised by the EU which will have to return to the UK or to Scotland
and the other devolved nations. Can you give us any specific examples
relating to Scotland? What I want to do is encourage debate, and
discussion, on these issues because that is how we've always proceeded
in relation to powers in the Scottish Parliament. Self evidently,
agriculture and fisheries are two of the issues currently exercised at
European level. Both the NFU in Scotland and the Scottish fishermen
's Federation are coming forward with their views as to how these
sorts of powers should be taken forward, leaving the EU, but there
will be significant powers in the area of the environment, and there
will be powers in relation to the criminal justice system as well. And
we are at an early stage because we don't know the shape of the final
deal. There are areas of other important is that might be included.
I think that we need to have a debate and discussion in Scotland on
that. We have focused, rightly, in some regards to the single market
migration, but one of the most significant differences we could
feel in Scotland, post-Brexit, is in the changes to the devolution
settlement. On this programme last June, shortly after the referendum,
we were talking about another independence referendum, and you
made it quite clear you think they should not be won, and I'm sure that
is still your position. However, you also said that should the Scottish
government decide to hold one, the British government shouldn't stop
them doing it. I'll quote you. The people of Scotland ultimately
determined they want to have another referendum, there will be one. Is
that still your position? The position that I have set out and the
Prime Minister has I think is absolutely consistent with that. Of
course, there could be another referendum, that is a process issue.
The British government should not stop it? Of course they shouldn't.
We have had an independence referendum. I believe we should
abide by the Edinburgh agreement and respect the outcome of that
referendum. The Scottish government's own consultation paper
on a referendum recognises that referendum would require an
agreement of the UK Government and would require legislation in the
Westminster Parliament. So, they know what the processes. I'm asking
you... They want to pursue the issue of having another independence
referendum, so another referendum -- independence referendum could only
proceed with the agreement of both governments but at the moment the
Scottish government haven't put that proposition on the table and I think
the argument to continue to be that they be another independence
referendum. The overwhelming number of people in Scotland don't want
there to be a referendum. Fine, fine, but let me give you another
quotation from Ruth Davidson who said on this programme last July,
"Constitutionally, the UK Government should not block it. No." Would you
agree with that statement? What I say is that, you know, what the SNP
Scottish government ought to do is they want to get into a process row
about... You've said that... But we want to ask... What they
shouldn't... They shouldn't be an independence referendum because the
people of Scotland have made their decision and the overwhelming
majority of people don't want it. But the process is quite clear if
there were to be another independence referendum, and the
consultation document acknowledges that that the two governments would
have to agree on the basis... You've said that about five times now.
Because it is the factual position! Ruth Davidson said constitutionally
the UK Government should not block it, no. Would you agree with that
statement? Yes or no? What I... My position isn't inconsistent with
what Ruth's said. So, you do agree with that? Blocking it isn't the
what Ruth's said. So, you do agree same as reaching an agreement on it.
What we know that is in relation to having an independence referendum,
that requires agreement between the two governments. That was the case
in relation to the previous referendum, we had the Edinburgh
agreement... You've said there is referendum, we had the Edinburgh
now about six times. We have set out...! I'm afraid, Gordon, it is
because it is the factual position! We know the process the having
another referendum. If the Scottish government have a proposal to bring
forward another referendum, then they come for to the UK Government
and we look to reach agreement on that basis. There isn't such a
proposal and I want to continue to argue that they shouldn't be such a
proposal because the people of argue that they shouldn't be such a
Scotland don't want another independence referendum. I redo the
credit in. Constitutionally, the UK Government shouldn't block it, no.
All I'm inviting you to say is I agree with that statement. I don't
disagree with the statement. I don't think the UK Government would block
it. What the UK Government would do... OK, all right... Is seek to
reach agreement about the referendum, which is what I have
said on the last six or seven occasions. You are, in a sense,
Scotland's representative in the Cabinet. You favoured remaining in
the EU. And, as you know, most people in Scotland voted to remain
in the EU. Are you arguing in the people in Scotland voted to remain
Cabinet for staying in the single market? Firstly, the referendum that
we had in relation to the EU, Gordon, was whether the UK stayed in
the EU. That is what people in Scotland voted on, for the United
Kingdom to stay in the EU. I voted that way. I didn't do it on the
basis that if I didn't get my own way, Scotland would be dragged out
of the United Kingdom and that the whole independence debate would be
started up again. That is very regrettable. That isn't what I asked
you. Of course, what I'm arguing for regrettable. That isn't what I asked
is that Scotland gets the best possible access to the single
market. That is access I'd want to see for the whole of the UK. Sorry,
I'm not asking you... I don't think we will need to see a separate
Scottish deal about access to the single market because I want to see
a United Kingdom deal that gives the best possible access to that single
market. Yes, I didn't ask you whether they should be a separate
Scotland deal, I asked you as whether Scotland's representative in
the Cabinet you are arguing for Britain to stay in the single
market. I'm arguing for Britain to get the best possible access to that
single market. As I've said, the Prime Minister and others have said,
the UK is going to get a unique deal in terms of the arrangements that we
reach with the EU, in relation to how our access to the market is
structured. Our overriding priority is to get the best possible access
without barriers and tariffs, which is what we are seeking to achieve
because that is in the best interest of Britain and Scotland. There is an
because that is in the best interest idea of having a transition period
where we stay in the single market of 5-10 years. And that gives both
David Davis Liam Fox time to do their trade deals. And it would also
give a proper chance to negotiate something with the EU. Is that a
good idea? I think we should look to ensure
that we can complete the deal with the timescale, of course there are
other eventualities and nothing has been ruled out. Nothing has been
ruled in in that regard. I genuinely believe that other European
countries will want to see is speedy resolution to this issue, they will
want to see a definitive arrangement with the United Kingdom, and
therefore I think that we will be able to achieve the objective of a
deal within the two years of the triggering of article 50.
David Mundell, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
Later this week Nicola Sturgeon will become the first serving head
of a government to address the upper house of the Irish Parliament.
She'll also take the opportunity to hold talks with politicians
and business leaders and is expected to remind them of the
"long tradition of co-operation" between Scotland and Ireland.
Glenn Cooksley reports on the First Minister's continuing
efforts to strengthen Scotland's ties with the EU
Two days ago, Nicola Sturgeon was in Cardiff for the first meeting of the
British, Irish Council since it convened in July to discuss the
outcome of the UK's referendum on EU membership. She outlined her latest
thinking on the way ahead for Scotland.
There should be an approach that is about staying inside the single
market because I think that is the best outcome, or other the least
worst outcome, for businesses and a whole range of other interest in the
UK and every single nation of the UK.
This week she's in Dublin, and as well as addressing the upper house
and talking to Irish business people, she is expected to meet the
Irish president Michael Higdon 's, who was welcome to Scotland in June.
Although it is believed there will be no direct over Brexit, the first
list has said she's looking forward to using the Dublin visit to speak
about her plans for Scotland but to using the Dublin visit to speak
interest in the EU. It will be the latest in a long line of diplomacy
by the Scottish Government of further its single market cause. The
UK free trade Association and the European economic area, which
includes lift and sewing, Iceland and Norway, are denied as potential
routes. In addition, there are attempts to strengthen already
established ties, including talks with ambassadors, dialogue with
politicians abroad, and the formation of the standing Council in
Europe, which is advising the Scottish Government in the aftermath
of the Brexit vote. Dublin has been seen as the latest opportunity for
the First Minister to outline her single market vision for Scotland.
Well, I'm joined now by The Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary
This diplomatic offensive to stay in the single market, with a separate
Scottish deal, so far you have managed to get the Spanish covenant
to say, there is no way Scotland can have a separate deal. The First
Minister of Wales has said Scotland cannot have a separate deal, and the
trade Mr of Norway has said Scotland cannot join separate from the rest
of the UK. If this is a diplomatic success, I would hate to think what
of the UK. If this is a diplomatic a failure might look like.
You are being offensive in terms of what we are trying to do here.
Because you're putting words in the modes of others, you are not
understanding... You are not understanding the process. Nobody is
negotiating with anybody, because article 50 has not been triggered by
the UK Government, and because the UK Government has not set out its
own position, other countries are not negotiating. We are expanding
Saughton's position. We are not negotiating, we are not saying to
the Spanish, this is our position. What we are doing is talking to
everybody who agrees with us, and had the BBC covered, has the BBC
been at Cardiff, you would have heard what Carwyn Jones said. He was
agreeing with Nicola Sturgeon on the importance of the single market but
making sure that we have access and participation in the single market,
including freedom of movement. That is where we are. That is his
position, but what he also said, would you be bubbly don't
understand, is that we have to be aware of the positions of the
different parts of the United Kingdom. He is interested in what we
are developing. That is the current position and it is important to
understand that. Clearly I don't understand it. Can
you give me some counterexamples to the offensive examples I gave? Can
you tell me any politicians in Europe who have said, we think the
Scottish Government should have a separate deal from the UK in Europe?
Nobody is talking about any deals because the UK has not, as the
member state... Can you caught me anyone who has
said they can? The pony is -- diplomacy is
something you do. We have spoken to ministers in Paris, the Italian
government, we have been in Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic. People
are very sympathetic and understanding of the position
Scotland is in, six to 2% of this country voted to remain -- 62%. We
want to have the best possible proposition for the UK as a whole,
that is our position. We want to see the strongest position for the UK.
If they were to visit that back -- put a position forward including
freedom of movement, vital to our economic interest, that is what
we're trying to the UK Government to do.
You can quote me a single person in Europe who has come out and said
that is a good idea. -- cannot. If you understood where the EU are,
they are operating as a block, they are not saying anything about
Scotland. But neither are they saying anything about the UK,
because the UK has not set out its position.
Except some of them are seeing things about a special deal for
Scotland. We have not set out a special deal
for Scotland, so how can we comment on something that has not been set
out. In this incredibly complex process,
what are you hoping to get in Ireland this week?
We're building on the continuing relationship we have that we have
been building up over a number of years. We have had 12 ministerial
visits in Ireland and Scotland over the past year, a lot of business and
government interest, and we have spoken to the Irish government in
relation to our interest. What did they say?
I have also met... What would you like to say?
That's the UK Government as a whole should get the best in terms of
That's the UK Government as a whole participation in the single market,
that protects our economic interest. If that is not possible, to be
open-minded to consider a situation that there could be a differentiated
deal with in the United Kingdom in terms of what they put forward for
article 50. You do want them to say they are
sympathetic to that? Remember, the EU 27, with most of
the government representatives, ministers and ambassadors of all of
the EU 27, they are not prepared to make any statement about any deal,
either for the United Kingdom or for Scotland, until Article 50 has been
triggered. That is the basic ABC as to what has been happening as part
of the process. Your massive unprecedented
consultation with the people of Scotland, that comes to an end in a
few weeks' time, doesn't it? Tell us what some of the results are.
I don't know, I am not counting or allocating looking at the results.
But my experience is a lot of interest from people that voted no
for Scottish independence but voted to remain in the EU. Very
disenchanted with the fact that against their will very likely to be
taken out of the EU. A lot of people are rethinking their position.
But you don't know the final results?
I don't know the final results. When will they be published?
It is a listening in the party exercise. I am not part of the
consultation process. I am expecting to have the results of what comes
forward... There have been suggestions it will
not be published. I am not part of the party operation
doing that. There has been a lot of campaigning, we have had so many
elections and referendums over the last five years.
What is the point of view listening if you don't tell the public what
you hear? I have spent my time talking to the
different governments and nations and ambassadors. I am looking
forward to hearing what the results are, but I am not sure what point
that will be. What will be interesting is to hear the
priorities people have, whether it is the economy, or in terms of
services, or Social Security, etc. The independence referendum number
two, it is your position still that you will not have another one until
the polls show for a substantial period of time that you will win it?
The first one was quite clear, there had to be some material change, but
also distinct support for independence. We are quite aware
that in this very fluctuating period of time, as we know from the EU
referendum, and a lack of certainty for what the UK is setting out, that
we need a bit more certainty. You still want the polls to be seen,
people want this? We want to persuade the UK as a
whole, in relation to the... But you still want the polls?
I want Scotland to be independent. But the polls are showing that at
the moment. Yet you're still going around threatening that saying,
promising, you will have a second referendum if you don't get your way
in the European Union. But if the polls are still where they are now
and you don't get your way in the European Union, the two things that
you said, the material change plus support in the polls, both of them
contradict each other. Not necessarily. The important thing
is to persuade people not to threaten them. That is the point
where we have got to make sure we're in a period of listening...
Rouble not have an independence referendum even if you get your way
in the European Union -- you will not.
We want to make sure that we have the options to deliver the best deal
for Scotland, and that is why we are consulting on an independence
referendum. You will not hold that unless the
polls are going your way. We're a long way from considering
where we will be. What I am saying is that the two
things contradict each other, and you need both of them, don't you?
People should read the manifesto, I strongly believe that Scotland would
prosper best as an independent nation.
But that is not the question I am asking.
The period of time we are in is very much fluctuating. People want
certainty, the UK is not providing that. We do not know what the
prospects for Scotland will be, whether we will be in the single
market. You still won't propose to go your
way, before the referendum? We were elected on a manifesto on
the point of view. In the manifesto is said only if the
polls go your way? You had a discussion with David
Mundell about the context and the content of the proposition. Europe
will be completely different in two years' time. We are living in a
period of uncertainty, but we want to set out some certainty and we are
trying to do that in the best we possibly, possibly internationally
and in the terms of Scotland. Thank you.
This week's Autumn Statement was, well, a little flat
But one which was by and large welcomed was the proposal
The UK government's now discussing schemes like this for each
But what does it mean for these areas?
If you're into urban regeneration, economic development and all that
kind of stuff, then the big buzzword right now is city deal. Essentially
it provides public cash to help get local project off the ground, to
create jobs. Some parts of Scotland already have city deals, and those
that don't have them are trying very hard to get them. This week,
Stirling learned it was going to get a city deal from the Chancellor, but
how will it work and will it do any good?
One of the key projects that the city deal aims to deliver is a new
digital district which is going to be based right here in the old
headquarters Stirling Council. Local businesses hugely welcome that, they
say that is exactly the kind of thing that is needed to grow the
economy. This normal looking industrial Park on the edge of
sterling is home to businesses of the future. The ploy is of the
successful company do not spend all day playing games -- the employees.
Most of the time they designed mobile phone apps for a wide range
of clients across the UK and beyond. They say the Stirling city deal is a
huge opportunity. Having a digital district in the
centre will be really impactful. It will start to attract businesses
similar to ourselves, technology businesses, into sterling, which
will start to allow people to stay in sterling rather than having to
leave, Aust -- they will be able to stay in the area. This is going to
be one great big reason to come here.
One of the key figures behind the bid said winning a city deal was
crucial for the economy, and would bid said winning a city deal was
provide something which nobody else does.
If we didn't see the investment coming into the EU, I think there
was a concern that economic growth might go into decline. That is not
great for sterling. Neither is it great for the Scottish economy or
the UK economy. I don't necessarily see that Stirling competence against
the likes of Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen, but it does have a niche
part in terms of the broader economic growth we are all looking
for. In other parts of Scotland, city
deals have helped resurrect older projects, like the Glasgow airport
rail link, scrapped seven years ago on cost grounds. Fresh plans have
been unveiled thanks to Glasgow's billion pound city deal backed by
the UK and Scottish governments. Back in Stirling, proposals are also
underway to boost leisure and tourism and create a new Civic
Quarter. The leader of the local council says now it is time to get
on with it. Everyone wants the headline, this is
now about how do we deliver on the ground? We spent 18 months building
our business cases so that we would be ready to go, and I think it's
because Stirling has done so much groundwork, and we are just ready to
take those projects forward and make a change in people's lives, it is
what it is all about. As more parts of Scotland bid for
and win city deals, like Stirling, one concern as they become less
about helping those most in need. Then there are areas that might be
left out altogether because they can't get one. But, for now, city
deals are here to stay, it seems. Let's look back at the events of the
past we can see what's coming up in the Week Ahead.
With me now is Jenni Davidson of Holyrood Magazine and political
commentator at the Sunday Herald, Iain Macwhirter.
Let's start with this national... Survey. Competition would be more
fun! This was built up to such an extent at the beginning of this
year. It was. Hasn't been much talk about it sins. I don't think I heard
anything about it. It seems to have fallen flat. I'd almost forgotten
about it, it finishes in a few days' time, and there have been no
balloons or celebrating. Some suggestions it might not even be
public. My understanding is it was for internal use, research the SNP
would use themselves, and isn't going to be published afterwards. I
suppose it depends what the results are, whether or not they want to
publish it, they might want to keep it quiet if they don't like the
results. The original idea, Iain, is this would be a process of
reformulating the proposal for independence and they would address
things like the currency, but there doesn't seem to be any sign of that.
It was a result of a late-night brainstorm, a special adviser to
Nicola Sturgeon. He denies that, but it has gone down in history as being
an improvisation, if you like, that was introduced at the last minute to
appeared to give something for all the SNP troops to do when they're
not campaigning for a second independence referendum. So, it has
performed that function. Clearly, it was never intended to be made public
but everybody will be asking, obviously, after Friday, just what
were the results, and if you're considering the results --
concealing the results, they weren't very good, obviously. What about the
policies? It is a sensible thing to do to have an inquiry into these key
issues which were unresolved by the independence referendum campaign in
2014, most notably things like currency, issues about border and
relations with Europe. It makes sense. It's no secret that at a time
like this, after having two referendums in two years and two
Parliamentary elections, it's been an uphill struggle getting people to
contemplate the prospect of another referendum under these
circumstances. People are fed up with breaks and Trump. Repatriating
powers to Scotland, that is... Is a an exaggeration? It is complex. I
think the assumption would have been one of the advantages of Brexit is
we will get all these powers back from Europe. It isn't necessarily
the case that we, as in Scotland, will get them. They will get to the
UK Government. There's no obvious will get them. They will get to the
repatriation of powers over the environment, agriculture and.
Although that is a devolved area. There is lots of international
agreement that is involved in that that would be difficult to
repatriate without giving the Scottish Parliament and government
more powers to do international deals, so it'll be a big question.
There are certain things that'll happen automatically. For example,
agriculture's devolved so presumably whatever replaces... Whatever
replaces the Common Agricultural Policy will be administered in
Scotland, but possibly invented in Scotland as a different system using
the block grant the Scottish government has, they could invent a
different system from England, if they wanted to. It is up in the air
and David Mundell was assuming there some kind of logical progression
here that because Scotland has powers over these at the moment,
when they are repatriated from the ultimate powers from Brussels, they
will naturally go to Holyrood. There is no automaticity about that at
all. That will have to be decided in this long process of reformulating
what the Scottish Parliament's powers are because remember the
European communities act is written into the Scotland Act. All Scottish
legislation is written into that. It isn't automatic. It assumed things
like agriculture and fisheries will devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
What is the key question here is what happens to the funding of those
policies. I don't think Westminster's going to say, OK,
because 40% of the money that has been going into agriculture
subsidies. I don't think Westminster is necessarily going to say, OK, you
can handle all that revenue stream entirely on your own in future and
decide what it is. That's why a lot of the amenities are getting anxious
about this. They would drop a British agricultural policy which
would not apply in Scotland and through the Barnett formula... That
is what the farmers are worried about. Scotland gets 40% of the
agricultural subsidies that come to the UK, they go to Scotland. Under
the Barnett formula, that would be 8% - 9%, which is why farmers are
worried. Briefly, Jenni, diplomatic offensive... I was being offensive
by pointing that out! What is your impression of it? My impression is
that is going to be difficult to make a case for Scotland having... A
different set of international arrangements to be in the single
market if the rest of the UK is not. That is clear from what Spain is
saying. It would be difficult. We will have to leave it there, thank
you very much. I'll be back at the
same time next week.