Andrew Neil and Lucie Fisher are joined by Baroness Smith and Oliver Letwin. The political panellists are Janan Ganesh, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Steve Richards.
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Commons Speaker John Bercow is accused of compromising his
impartiality by revealing he voted Remain in last year's EU referendum.
The EU Withdrawal Bill clears its first Parliamentary hurdle.
But will the House of Lords be quite so accommodating?
Labour's Leader in the Lords joins us live.
And we report from Stoke-on-Trent ahead of a crucial by-election
In the south-west, headteachers warn Ukip is looking to give
In the south-west, headteachers warn of cuts under the new education
funding formula. And with me a political panel
who frequently like to compromise Steve Richards, Julia
Hartley-Brewer and Janan Ganesh. I'll be trying to keep them in order
during the course of the programme. So, Commons Speaker John Bercow has
insisted his ability to act impartially is not damaged
by reports that he voted to Remain The Sunday Telegraph reveals that
Speaker Bercow revealed his views in front of an audience of students
at Reading University This may not be popular with some
people in this audience - I thought it was better to stay
in the European Union than not, partly for economic reason,
being part of a big trade bloc, and partly because I think we're
in a world of power blocs, and I think for all
the weaknesses and deficiencies of the European Union,
it is better to be part of that big Speaker Bercow speaking at Reading
University earlier this month. Does he not care is this I get that
impression, he knows perfectly well, it states he has to be particularly
-- Parliamentary neural. Whether there are going to be enough votes
to force him out, the question, the last speaker wept out with the 20
vote against him. You yes to have the command of the support across
the House. There is a Deputy Speaker, waiting, who would be
superb. I think even the people who pretend to support Macis have had
enough -- Speaker Bercow have had enough of his ways. The reason I ask
whether he care, he didn't just tell the students that he voted to
Remain, he then gave them a running commentary on all the issues that
will be part of the Brexit negotiations, workers' rights,
immigration, trade policy, everyone maternity leave got a hat tip from
him. He would be a very well prepared Brexit minister if
attendance needs a colleague -- David Davis needs a colleague. I
don't think this story makes his position untenable, what does is the
wired pattern of behaviour of excessive candour on his political
views, going back years, this is a guy who when the Queen visited
Parliament described her as theical lied scope Queen. He had a running
argument with David Cameron. We know his views on Brexit, we know his
views on Donald Trump. . He has given interviews, none of the views
are illegitimate but the candour which they are expressed with is
scrupulous. Given Lyndsay Hoyle is a class accuse. He is the Deputy
Speaker. And a fairly ready replacement, whether there is more
of a movement to say, maybe not force Bercow out but acknowledge he
has had a few years in the job and the question of successor ship comes
into play. Has he concluded he is untouchable? What I can definitely
say, is that he is determined to fight this one out, and not go of
his own volition, so if he goes he will have to be forced out. He wants
to stay. Which will be tough. It will be tough. Likely as things
stand. I would say this, I speak to someone who likes the way he has
brought the House of Commons to life, held ministers to account,
forced them into explain thing, whenever there is a topical issue
you know it will be in the House of Commons. He has changed that. He
has. Time has been courageous, Ied a mire the way he has been a speaker.
I would say this, during the referendum campaign, he asked me
Nick Clegg, and Peter Hitchens to debate Brexit if his constituency.
It was a packed out meeting. He chaired it. I said don't you want to
join in? He didn't. He showed no desire to join in, he was impartial.
He goes out to universities and kind of demyth GCSEs Parliament by
speaking to them in a way, he doesn't gets credit for it and stays
on after and drinks with them. Sometimes he, you know, it is
clearly a mistake to have gone into his views retrospectively on that
referendum campaign, I don't think that, did he try and stop Article 50
from being triggered in the House of Commons? That would be a scandal.
Even that would be beyond him. Briefly, yes or no, could you
imagine Betty Boothroyd behaving like that? Not at all. None of the
recent speakers I could imagine doing that. It is good he is
The bill that will allow the government to trigger Article 50
and begin Brexit negotiations was voted through
Many MPs were in a difficult position - unsure whether to vote
with their conscience, their constituency,
Europe, once such a divisive issue for the Conservatives,
is now causing major divisions inside the Labour Party.
So, let's have a look what happened in a bit more detail:
Thanks to academic research carried out since the referendum,
we now have estimates of how each individual constituency voted.
It's thought that 410 constituencies voted Leave.
On Wednesday night, the EU Notification of Withdrawal Bill
was voted through by the House of Commons.
The bill left the Labour Party divided.
Jeremy Corbyn told his MPs to respect the result
of the referendum and vote for the government's bill -
But 52 Labour MPs defied Mr Corbyn's thee-line whip
That's about a fifth of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Of those 52 Labour MPs who voted against the bill,
the majority, 45 of them, represent seats that voted Remain.
However, seven Labour MPs voted against the Article 50 Bill,
even though their constituents voted Leave in the referendum.
The Conservative Party were much more united.
The vast majority of Tory MPs, 320 of them, voted for the bill.
Just one Conservative MP, Ken Clarke, voted against it.
His constituency, Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire, voted Remain.
The bill will now go to the House of Lords -
peers will start debating it on Monday the 20th of February.
Joining me now is Matthew Goodwin, politics professor at
He's got a book out next month called
Brexit: Why Britain Voted To Leave The European Union.
Welcome to the programme. Has Brexit, how you voted in the
referendum and your continuing attitudes toward it, is that now
becoming the new dividing line in British politics? I think it
certainly is contributing to a new dividing line, in western politics
more generally, we know over the last ten years, that the old left
and right division has been making way for a new division, between
essentially social liberals and Conservative, and Brexit was a, an
incident a moment that really reflected that new dividing line, so
it wasn't just the case that Brexit has cut across Labour's base, it is
that dividing line, that deeper division is cutting across social
democracies more generally. Is there a possibility, no higher than that,
that it will reShane our party politics? I think it is too early to
know whether this is a fundamental long-term realignment. If we look at
what is happening in local by-election, what is happening at
by-elections, pictures a bit mixed but if you look at how some of the
Labour vote is responding, I think that potentially reflects the
possibility of a terminal decline for the Labour Party, it is going to
be incredibly difficult for Labour to win these voters back, these are
traditional working class, socially Conservative voters who are leaving
the party, don't forget, since the 1997 general election. It is not
just because of the referendum. If that was the case, Labour would
become more a party of the Metropolitan areas, and less of a
party outside of these area, is that what you are saying? What we are S
seeing across the west can social democracy that retrenchment into the
cosmopolitan, Metropolitan city area, university towns, you can
seeing in many European states populist right parties filling the
traditional socialist area, why are they doing that? Because they are
offering two message, economic and cultural protectionism. Social
Democrats are clinging to that economic protectionism but not
saying much about migration and multiculturalism and that sort of
stuff. Are there deeper forces at work than Jeremy Corbyn? He often
gets the blame for what is happening to the Labour Party now, but if you
look the way the Greek socialist party has been wiped out. The German
Social Democrats are in trouble. The Italian socialist party has lost a
referendum. The French socialist are coming close to being wiped out on
April 23rd, Labour's problems, are part of a much wider problem of
social democracy S Jeremy Corbyn is a surface problem, what I mean by
that is you could replace him tosh with another leader, they would
still have this fundamental tension within the electorate. They are
trying to appeal to two differenter reconcilable groups of voters who
think differently about the key issues of the day. It is very
difficult for any centre left party now to assemble the kinds of
coalitionses we saw in the '90s with Clinton and Blair and Schroeder.
Those days are gone. Does that explain why it is now Labour, rather
than the Conservatives, historically the party divided over the European
Union, does all of that help to explain why its Labour that now
seems, disunited over the EU? I think so, I think also that the
issue of Brexit, and the EU, is so immatly wrapped up with that issue
of immigration, if you look at who has been abandoned Labour since 2015
or the late 90s, the one thing those voters share is a rejection of the
so-called liberal consensus on EU membership and mass immigration. It
is difficult for any Labour lead eer co-bin or Clive Lewis on Dan Jarvis,
to bring those voters back unless they are going to move on that
cultural terrain. If they are not, they may not go to Ukip, they might
go to somewhere more difficult for Labour which is political apathy.
Thank you for that. Attention now shifts to the House
of Lords where peers will begin scrutinising the EU Withdrawal Bill
in just over a week. Brexit Secretary David Davis urged
the Lords "to do its patriotic duty" and resist the urge to tinker
with the legislation. Former minister Oliver Letwin
went one further - mooting the possibility
of the abolition of the Lords if it sought to frustrate
the bill in any way. Here he is posing the question
in the Commons on Thursday. Would he find time, in government
time for a debate, should the other place seek to delay beyond the end
of March the passage of our accession to Article 50, for this
House to discuss the possibility of either the abolition or full-scale
reform of the other place? And Oliver Letwin joins
me now from Dorset. Welcome back to the programme Mr Let
win. Before we come on to the Lord's, can I get your thoughts on a
matter that has been making the news this morning and John Bercow's
remarks about being a remain voter an giving something of a running
commentary on various Brexit issues, has he sqloefr stepped the mark as
speaker? -- overstepped the mark. I think this is slightly a fuss about
nothing. Every person who thinks about politics will have had some
opinion about great matters like Brexit, and I really don't see any
particular reason why his opinion shouldn't be known after the fact.
I, I was there throughout the five days of the Brexit debate, and I
have to say, I thought he was pretty scrupulously fair in the way he
handled the House, so, I, I don't really share the view that there is
some terrible thing that has been revealed this weekend. Let me come
on to what we are here to talk about, which is the Lords. Why have
you raised the threat of the abolition of the Lord for doing its
job of scrutinising what is coming out the Commons? Well, you know,
Andrew, this question of the job of the House of Lords and scrutiny, has
to be looked at carefully. There are all sorts of bills that come out the
House of Commons which are detailed things that relate to, finance, and
expenditure, and the criminal law, and all that sort of thing, and all
of that, I admire the work that the House of Lords does, as you say
scrutinising and we shouldn't use that word loosely, it means looking
carefully at the detail, line by line of complicated legislation,
hundreds of Paps in some cases, and spotting, using the considerable
expertise many, not all be many of the peers have, in any given field,
to identify things where the Commons has got it wrong in the sense that
the legislation wouldn't achieve what the Government of the day is
seeking to make it achieve. That is a serious proper role for an Upper
House and the House of Lords performs it pretty
Now this is a very different case. This is a two clause bill. The first
clause which is the operative clause says the Prime Minister should go
ahead and sign... I understand all that. We haven't got that much time,
this is becoming a monologue. There is nothing to scrutinise, Andrew.
There were plenty of amendments put before the Commons, none of them got
through, it is true. There are eight Labour amendments in the Lords, are
you resigned to this bill coming back to the Commons with amendments?
No, it should not come back with amendments. There were hundreds of
amendments literally put down in the House of Commons, they were all
drunk. They were all trying one way or another to derail the process.
This is a binary issue, should Theresa May sign the withdrawal or
not? What should the Commons do? The Commons has now voted in favour of
it. Node do should tolerate and unelected chamber forcing the
British people... The people voted in a referendum and the Commons
voted. The matter is now signed and sealed and should not be derailed by
the House of Lords. On Labour amendment wants confirmation that
when it is done, the potential Brexit agreement will be put before
parliament before any vote in the European Parliament, that has been
an agreed principle, what is wrong with that amendments? The government
has already agreed there will be a vote, but actually, what the
amendments were seeking was to give the Commons a further vote on
whether we actually leave or not. That is already decided. Neither the
House of Lords nor anybody else has a right in my view, despite the fact
I was a remain, to what the will of the British people. Nobody should
think an unelected chamber should now try to change the course of
British history by asserting amendments in a very effective on
clause bill which says go ahead and trigger Article 50. Are you
concerned that amendments by the Lords which would then have to go
back to the Commons for consideration, are you concerned
that could derail or delay the Prime Minister's timetable for Article 50?
Yes, exactly. That would be the result of a prolonged bout of
ping-pong between the two houses, or much worse, if the House of Lords
failed to give way and the Parliament act had to be used. It
would really be intolerable. It is not good for our country. Those of
us who voted remain would prefer for that not to happen. The whole
country -- it is important for the whole country that this happens in a
rapid way and allowing the government free rein to negotiate,
that is surely in all our advantages? Deed think any efforts
to abolish the House of Lords, an issue you have raised, does that
make it easier because your friend David Cameron stuffed the upper
chamber with donors, lapdogs and lingerie designers? I was among
those who advocated for many years wholesale reform of the House of
Lords, to turn it into a serious elected second chamber. I think we
should have an upper house which commands legitimacy. This is a
second issue. Here we have not got such a House and it seems to be very
clear that it should not seek to derail on delay the action which has
been mandated by the referendum, agreed by the House of Commons, and
what we want to see now is a smooth orderly effect for this bill, so it
becomes law and Theresa May can go ahead and negotiate on our behalf.
One more question on the process, if the Lords to amend the bill and it
goes back to the Commons and the Commons sends these amendments back
again, take them out, how long could this ping-pong between the two
chambers go on in your experience? It is a very, very interesting and
complicated question with the clerks of the two ends of the Palace of
Westminster not always agreeing about this. But through certain
machinations of slightly changing amendments as they go, in my
experience this could carry on for an awful long time if clever people,
and there are plenty of clever people in the House of Lords, want
to do that and that is precisely why I think we should not tolerate it.
Oliver Letwin, thank you for joining us from Dorset.
Joining me now is Labour's Leader in the House of Lords, Angela Smith.
The Commons passed this bill without any amendments... There were
changes, the government did concede a couple of points. But the
amendments did not go through. Does that put pressure on the Lords to do
the same? I think the Lords always feels under pressure to do the right
thing. When I heard Oliver Letwin, I did not know whether to laugh or
cry. We will not frustrate, we will not wreck, we will not sabotage. We
will do what David Davis said was our patriotic duty. We will
scrutinise the bill. We have at amendments from the Labour Party. We
will look at those. It depends on the government response if we vote
on those. There could be amendments asking the Commons to look again.
That is normally what we do. It is not the wrong thing to do. But if
you do this and make amendments, it then goes back to the Commons. If
the Commons rejects the Lords' amendments, what do you think will
happen? I do not see any extended ping-pong at all. It is perfectly
legitimate. We are not talking about the outcome of negotiations, we are
talking about the process. The process of engaging with Parliament
and reporting to Parliament. It would be totally responsible for
Parliament to say, off you go, Theresa May, have two years of
negotiation and come back and talk to us at the end. The has to be a
process where the government can use the expertise of parliament to get
this right. But if you do put in some amendments, it has to go back
to the Commons, they may well say they don't want those amendments and
it may go back to the Lords, could that at the very least delay the
Prime Minister's Brexit timetable? I don't think so. She said the end of
March. Time has been built in for all the normal processes. I think
Oliver Letwin and others are getting a bit overexcited. This is the
normal process. Unless the government get things right the
first time every time, the has to be this kind of process. These are
reasonable amendments. This is a Labour amendment we are talking
about here, you want a vote in the UK Parliament before any
vote in the European Parliament if and when the Brexit deal is done,
the Commons and the Lords get to vote on it first. But the government
I think have already agreed to that so what is the point? It needs to be
on the face of the bill. It is over well if the government have agreed
it. Lord dubs had an agreement about child and look what happened to
that. Does not sound as if you would go to the wire on that? It is
important it is not just about the vote at the end, you have the
ongoing engagement. If it is going to be a bad deal, we need to know
long before we get to that stage? Is it something you would hold out for?
I don't know yet. It is about how the House of Lords votes, Labour do
not have a majority, we never had a majority in the House of Lords when
we were in government. It is wrong to suggest that we cannot debate
these issues... I don't think anyone is suggesting that. They are. It is
not unfair to ask the government to ask the House of Commons to look
again to look at those issues if that is what the House of Lords
decides. Bit of the House of Commons says we looked, we are sticking with
what we voted for, we rejected every amendment by at least 30 votes on
all occasions, the Lords then have to buckle, is that what you are
saying? Some point I think it is clear the House of Commons have to
have its say. I think it is inconceivable that having had a
referendum, which was not overwhelming, but it was a clear
result, the House of Lords has no intention of sabotaging that but
there are things which are not good about the process that we think
could be improved. We have not just have the result of the referendum
which voted to leave, but we have had the will of the Commons that
passed this legislation by a majority of 372. And I am not
contesting that for a second! Could you cite a precedent for the upper
house amending a bill which passed by 372 votes in the Commons? Quite
other things will come to the House of Lords with big majorities from
the Commons and quite often the amendments we get, with that then
forward and the government sees it could do better. Though not
necessarily saying the government has got things wrong, but they could
do things better. That happens time and time again and it is not
unusual. If you were seen to thwart the referendum result and the vote
in the Commons, the elected chamber of parliament, is the threat of
abolition hanging over you? I think that is really ridiculous and
absolute nonsense. We are not tying to what the decision of the House of
Commons, we are trying to do better. It is a bit rich of the government
and Oliver Letwin to complain about getting things through in time when
the House of Commons spent -- the government spent three months trying
to debate this issue. There have been some strong questions put to
the government from the House of Lords on all sides. I don't know if
the amendments have been passed or not. I think we have a good case for
the government to get debate the point. If a traditional MP like
Oliver Letwin is calling for the abolition of the hereditary and
appointed chamber, and the Labour person like yourself was trying to
defend that, that would not be a sustainable position, I would
suggest! We saw this with the Strathclyde report as well, this is
a government like no other. It is the first Conservative government in
history not to have an automatic majority. They do not like challenge
or scrutiny. But you get my point, Labour cannot go to the wire in
defending and an elected second chamber, can it? Actually, Labour
can go to the wire in saying the government does not get it right
every time. House of Lords is going to normal processes and people like
Oliver Letwin are really getting a little bit over excited, and people
who have been anonymously briefing. Who has been anonymously briefing? I
don't know, they are anonymous! I understand people want to make
amendments, that is the role of the House of Lords, but can I just for
the avoidance of doubt, is it still your case that whatever amendments
to make, whatever may go back and forward, it is not your intention to
stop Article 50 being triggered by the end of March? I have been saying
that, exactly that for months and months and months. It is
inconceivable that an unelected House will thwart the will of the
House of Commons and a referendum on this issue. But that does not mean
we will be bullied by Oliver Letwin and others. But the triggering will
happen by the end of March? I very much suspect so unless Theresa May
has second thoughts, I suspect that will happen. Thank you.
Now, just because it's parliamentary recess next week
There are two by-elections round the corner -
one in Copeland, and another in Stoke-on-Trent Central
where the former Shadow Education Secretary,
Tristram Hunt, vacated his seat to take up a role
as Director of the Victoria Albert Museum in London.
But Labour are facing a fight to hold onto the constituency
Seconds away, Ukip's new leader has stepped into the ring
as their candidate in a by-election bout to see
At the last election Ukip came second to Labour here
But now they are confident they can land a knockout blow,
because this place is packed with people that voted to leave the EU.
70% of people voted to leave the European Union.
I'm the only candidate standing in this election
who is a true Brexiteer, who has always campaigned to leave
the EU and therefore I believe I would be the best person
But he has had to fight off allegations
he wasn't living in the constituency when he entered the contest.
Explain to me what is going on with this issue about your house?
Well, we took up the lease the day before nominations.
Everything we've done is perfectly legal and within the law.
The Labour Party are trying to get off the real issues in this election
and focus on something which is banal nonsense.
And there's been trouble as well for the Labour contender.
He's been labelled a Remoaner after he sent a series
of anti-Brexit tweets, filled with words
I can't believe I'm about to ask this question in a nursery
on a Sunday morning TV programme, but did you really tweet that
I tweeted many things about Brexit, that's tweet is out there.
It was done quite after the referendum result and it
was my way of showing my frustration at the fact that months
after the result we hadn't had anything from the government.
Theresa May had failed to produce any plan,
she had failed to give any meaningful statement
about what Brexit meant other than bland statements
about Brexit is Brexit, and it's a hard Brexit, or a soft Brexit.
The context of it was it was out of frustration.
So you didn't mean to insult the 70% of the people who live here
I never mean to insult anybody and you know,
I've made it quite clear, if I'm elected as the member
of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central, I will absolutely respect
the wishes of the people of Stoke Central.
I will make sure my vote in parliament is to trigger Article 50.
While the Tories' man has done little bit of rebranding too.
I voted Remain and I've been open about that, but my top priority
is about the economy and to ensure we still have an
Theresa May has set out clear proposal to ensure we develop
a trade relationship with Europe and make that a success.
It means the Lib Dems and the Greens are the ones battling Brexit.
Well, when the Lib Dem candidate is actually here.
The candidate is a consultant cardiologist.
He is actually at work today doing very important heart surgery.
He will be back tomorrow, back on the campaign trail working hard.
30% of people voted to Remain and nobody else
is representing them, so, you know, it is still a live issue.
It is still something people care about.
We are only at the start of the Article 50 process
We are very a clear that we are standing up for those
who want to remain in the single market, who want to protect jobs
Labour have taken people for granted in this area for a great many years.
Ukip, I'm afraid, all Ukip can offer to politics is division.
I've covered a lot of by-elections where Ukip have come second.
We'll find out if they really got Labour on the ropes this
And here is a full list of all the candidates standing
in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election.
They do atract lots of candidates. You can get that on the BBC website
as well. I was trying to think back, here we have the main opposition
party defending two seats in by-elections in the midterm of a
government. All the speculation is where the
opposition party can hold on, that is unprecedented. I can't give of an
equivalent. You wouldn't just expect them to win seats they have held
traditionally, you would expect hem to make inroads into seats held by
the other party, I wonder if they fail to hold on to just one of
these, whether it accelerates the momentum and criticism of the
leadership of the moment. I think they are interesting constituencies.
Matthew good win was talking about the left win coalition over the
years, almost being too broad for its own good, including places like
Primrose Hill and Hackney. Big university towns in Manchester,
Bristol. Diverse ethnically and included places like Stoke which are
more Conservative. With a small c. Less economically well-off, more
diverse, can the left hang on to both bits of country. Recent
evidence suggests it cannot and the opportunity for Ukip is to pick up
the second of those two types of community, the Stokes and the cope
lands. That what makes the by-elections interest I would
suggest. It is not just about Mr Corbyn's future about which we hear
too much, it is about this traditional Labour coalition, can it
still survive, particularly in places like Stoke? Europe clearly is
a test. I think it's a myth by the way that Labour are only split now,
over Europe and it has always been a Tory problem, last time I was on I
mentioned it. That is why we had a referendum in 75. That is why they
had a round then. But they were in chaos behind the scenes over what
they thought about the euro, skillful leadership can paper over
the cracks, and to address the wider issue of whether we are now in an
era where left right issues have disappeared, and there is more of a
regional divide, if you take Europe out of the equation which you can't,
but if you were able to, issues about health, transport housing do
split more left-right than a regional divide, so I think there is
still fundamental left-right issues, but Europe isn't one of them and
Europe has to be managed by a Labour leader skill fully and evidently
that hasn't happened now. How would you see the by-elections in the
current political context? Labour should be walking them, it should be
a sign of the March of the Labour Party taking on the current
Conservative Government. I don't think they raise any questions about
Corbyn's leadership because the people who put him in don't think
that winning elections matter, you have to remember this will be the
mainstream media, it will be our fault why any of those Labour
candidates don't win, the thing that is interesting is whether there is
is a role for Ukip. The argument after the referendum was Ukip has
done its job, it got the referendum, nothing to see here, I remember
speaking to put a Nuttall before he was Ukip leader, on the day after
the battle and he said this is Year Zero, where Ukip starts now, and
this, and this is the interesting thing, does, do we see this one
particular party having a role in the future? And I think it is all to
play for, they could not not have stood in this seat. They have to win
it to be an electoral force. The Labour candidate in Copeland has
made the NHS the issue for her in this, that goes into the left-right,
are we spending enough, are we not? That will be a test of what you were
saying to see if traditional left-right issue, which at the
moment would play Labour's way I would suggest, are big enough to
overcome all the things you have been talking about and Matthew has
been talking about. Maybe at this particular junction they are not,
but I don't think any of those issues will go away, and that is why
I question whether we are see the end of a historic left-right divide.
At the moment with Europe so prominent, clearly these
by-elections are unusual. And they will be a test of leadership for
Theresa May in the coming months if not at the moment, as they have been
in a way that he hasn't risen to, for the Labour leader.
We will be leave on BBC One on the night, February 23rd off back of
this week, we will bring you the result of both these crucial
It's just gone 11.35, you're watching the Sunday Politics.
We say goodbye to viewers in Scotland who leave us now
Coming up here in 20 minutes, the Week Ahead.
Hello, I'm Martyn Oates. Politics where you are.
Coming up on the Sunday Politics here in the South West:
The new education funding formula adds up to less money for schools,
And, for the next 20 minutes, I'm joined by Conservative MP
Sheryl Murray and Gareth Derrick from the Plymouth Labour Party.
Theresa May's now famous definition of the JAMs,
the Just About Managing, could be applied to local
A survey by a local government think-tank
has 94% of councils saying they're planning to increase
council tax and what they charge for services.
Councils in the south-west, like councils across the country,
To make their budgets work, they are all putting up council tax,
they are nearly all thinking about increasing charging,
to green waste collection to cremations.
These issues are as relevant in this region as anywhere else.
Here, all our top-tier authorities are considering raising council tax,
some by as much as 5%, with a large chunk of that
Councils are still waiting to hear how much money they'll get
from the government next financial year - but the Local Government
Information Unit says most of them aren't confident it'll be enough
You will be aware that your colleagues across the region are
lining up to say that the government isn't putting enough into local
authorities in terms of government grant. You are on the government
payroll now, so do you have to say that everything is marvellous? The
changes we are seeing, the four-year funding package that councils are
going to get, allows them to plan better, which is quite right. I
don't think anybody would object to paying a little bit extra council
tax to cover social services. On the issue of how the funding is divided
up, you will be well aware of something called the rural fair
share campaign, where Cornish, Devon and Somerset MPs are leading, and
they argue that there is a limited overall cake, but rural areas like
in this region do not get a fair share of that. Let's look at
Cornwall, for instance. There is the budget you get, and the way you use
it. We've got Cornwall Council at the moment one by the Liberal
Democrats and the independence, spending ?500,000 on a European city
of culture, and that's not going to happen... To be fair, if you look at
your conservative colleagues in places like Devon, they are also
saying that they are not getting a fair share from the government. I am
another full Cornwall, and I do believe that spending ?30,000 on an
office in Brussels and applying for a city of culture Project, spending
?500,000, which isn't going to happen until after we've left the
EU, you have to manage the budget correctly. Have these councils got a
point? Absolutely. My take on this is fundamentally different. We are
not getting our fair share, and the big picture is worse. There is a
very definite significant shift away from central government
responsibility to local government responsibilities. What is the result
of this budget reduction going to be? It is going to be a systematic
form of discrimination in areas like the south-west, where we have
relatively low wages and a relatively high number of elderly
people. We are not going to be able to afford the care that other parts
of the country have, which is very unfair, and a shift away what has
happened over many years, a shift towards high quality public services
for all. Almost two thirds of children
in Devon will lose out under government proposals to change
the way schools are funded, Pupils in Devon already receive ?290
a year less than the national average, and there's been years
of campaigning to improve on that. As one of the county's
MPs put it recently, it wasn't expected that when change
finally came it would And it's not just
Devon that's affected. Does anyone remember the difference
between the people that sat on either side of the room
when we were having the debate? It's never too young to get
engaged in current affairs. But this school is amongst hundreds
across the region which is taking politics out of the classroom
and direct to Westminster. 11 pupils like me are currently
worth ?290 less than other pupils To make it fairer, the government
is looking at changing They say we will be better
off by a little bit. But Devon County Council has
crunched the figures and it says, far from being better off,
61.9% of children will lose out. Why should a Devon child be worth
that much less than somebody The government's got
to do something about it. Meetings between headteachers
and union representatives have been taking place all over the country
to put pressure on the government They claim the region's
schools could be more than ?105 million worse off
within the next three years. They say this is because of rises
in inflation, and lastly,
the apprenticeship levy, which is all likely
to result in fewer teachers We've cut right the way back
in recent years anyway. The only things left
to cut, unfortunately, That's why headteachers across Devon
and Cornwall are sending out letters to parents asking them to get
involved and write to their MP. It would really help
if everyone wrote and made You can't sit there and say
it is the schools' job to do it. Your children go there, so you've
got a bit of a responsibility to make sure you support
the school your children go to. The more pressure we put on,
hopefully, the more action The government, however,
says this new formula What we are trying to do is make
sure that every single child, wherever they are growing up
in England, gets the same amount of funding, and then a top-up
in relation to additional needs, whether it's in relation
to deprivation, which has been based on out-of-date data up until now,
or additional funding Even Devon's Tory MPs
are threatening to oppose If these proposals are adopted,
we're going to have 15 primary schools gaining,
20 losing out, and all the secondary This is clearly neither
fair nor acceptable. The government has said that,
under this new formula, schools in Devon, Cornwall,
Somerset and Dorset will benefit. The consultation runs until March
22nd, and it is keen to hear from parents,
schools, governors - This is very similar to the argument
about Council funding. What do you say to fellow conservatives like
John Hart who say that these changes, astonishingly to them, are
making the situation in places like Devon less fair? I would say,
remember this is a consultation. It doesn't end until the middle of
March, maybe the last week of March, and they have a chance to make their
views known on the transitional situation, on the funding situation,
and, at the end of the day, I also have to remember, from Cornwall's
perspective, a portfolio holder for the children services himself has
said that he sympathises with the Department for Education when he
says the unions are basing their estimations on untrue or out of date
that your conservative colleagues in that your conservative colleagues in
the House of Commons or in local government are going to be putting
total faith in data reduced by the unions. They have the same
opportunity as me to go to the Minister and tell him what they
feel, because we are in a consultation period. So you think
the government might move on this? I think they are listening. We have to
remember that authorities such as Cornwall have done very, very badly,
and Westminster schools and other areas have done extremely well. And
it's only right that fairness is what comes into it. Having a worse
funding situation in Devon isn't addressing that. It is fairness. At
the end of the day, I have to say that I do believe that the trade
and unacceptable information, and it and unacceptable information, and it
isn't right. I have read the same data and I have come to the same
conclusion. It is fundamentally unfair that our children in Devon
and Cornwall are getting around ?300 less a year. And it isn't being
addressed. The idea of the consultation is to make it fairer
for everybody. Isn't it astonishing that after several years of
lobbying, the proposal on the table should be less fair for somewhere
like Devon, which was at the bottom of the
heap anyway. It is a consultation, so let's see what the proposals are.
We have seen this formula with this government, where they promise
something on one hand, and it disappears on the other, like tax
credit and the National Living Wage. Identify the stats to my fingertips,
but... To the end of the last Labour government, you had just begun a
consultation. It wasn't addressed. Pupils in the south-west were
treated very, very unfairly compared to other city areas, and we are
trying to move to a fair system for everybody. It is quite right that
you have to have transitional measures. The south-west has been
unfairly treated for a long time. By your government. Possibly in the
past, but something has to be done about it. Fair funding has to be
delivered, and it is shameful that it isn't. It is a consultation, so
let's see. It will remain a lively issue.
The Government published a white paper this week aimed at fixing
It calls for more affordable housing and for small developers
That could be good news in the South Hams, which has some
of the highest average house prices and rents in the country,
But some fear it will just smooth the way for big profits for those
who can build houses and sell them on the open market.
Councils all over England are under pressure to build more houses.
This is just the first phase of 5,500 homes which will eventually
be built here at Sherford, effectively a new town sandwiched
But the government wants more, and the South Hams is feeling
Developers think, "Whay! We can do what we like."
Alison Ansell is chair of the parish council here in Newton Ferrers.
The village is an area of outstanding natural beauty,
and on a heritage coast, yet, despite nearly 50
objections and protestations from parish councillors,
plans have just been approved for five new homes on this
agricultural land at the west of the village.
We're very much pro-development, but we want the sort of development
that's going to improve life for our villagers and encourage
At the moment, we've got a developers' open field day.
Just up the road is a development of 15 affordable homes, much more
in line with what the government and Alison would
As chair of the Neighbourhood Plan steering group,
Alison and the local community should be able to shape
The whole point of doing the Neighbourhood Plan is we have
been assured that this will be a legal document,
and it will give us the ultimate say in what goes
where and how it goes where - in all respects.
And, basically, it can't happen soon enough, for me.
This week's Housing White Paper is aimed at encouraging small
developers to come forward and build more homes, but some fear the driver
will be profit from properties built for the open market.
There have been some disgraceful decisions taken lately.
The reality is what the people of South Hams want,
and the people I represent, are houses which they
can genuinely afford, not ?350,000 houses,
such as were agreed recently at a planning committee.
South Hams District Council says affordable homes always have been
The White Paper concentrates on building a mix of housing -
rented, shared ownership and starter homes.
That is what the White Paper concentrates on.
It doesn't talk about market value, luxury houses which you are talking
Both the parish council and the local MP, Gary Streeter,
have now written to South Hams District Council, expressing
their concerns that the views of local people and councillors
in Newton Ferrers are not being taken into account.
Whether or not the White Paper will change that remains to be seen.
We are joined now by the architect, Peregrine Mears. You once did a
stock take on this and realise that we spent more air time on this
programme discussing affordable housing than anything else. Do you
think this white paper takes us forward at all? I think it has some
different aspects to it. The government wants to make more now
and available for housing. Secondly, it is aimed at speeding up the
process of delivering houses. Thirdly, there's an element of
encouraging innovation. The problem with the whole planning system in
this country is it is mired in bureaucracy. It slows down the whole
process of delivering housing. It takes longer to get planning
permission for a development than it does to build it. It's crazy. What
happened to the presumption of sustainable development, as it was
called a few years ago? The government then was saying that they
needed to speed up the planning process. That is still in the
national planning framework, but it is a vague aim. What local planning
authorities want is more resources and a clearer definition of what
they can and cannot approve. I can remember Labour ministers, coalition
ministers, saying that we must really knuckle down and get on with
this, free up the planning system, tell people that building is
necessary. Still the problem remains that this is issued obstacle.
190,000 new homes were built last year, and the need was around 220
5000. We can't go on like this. With this housing bill, we will not only
see what Peregrine has outlined, but it is also looking at utilising very
sure they go up quickly. The sure they go up quickly. The
government have said they will release land themselves to enable
some of these houses to be built. Local plans, which of course
Peregrine didn't allude to, but they form part of the planning law. We
have been talking about neighbourhood plans for a long time
now as well. They should be in place now. Local government has dragged
its heels. What the bill says is they have to be reviewed every five
years so that they are updated with the actual requirements. I don't
think we should blame local councils too much. Plymouth has 10,000 homes
ready to go, but they are not being taken forward by the builders. This
is a sort of U-turn by the government, bringing in some very
welcome policies that Labour was talking about in the past. Lovely to
hear a Labour person say that! But one or two things are missing,
especially when the focus is on social housing. The government has
failed to reintroduce the social housing grant that was cut five
years ago. I think you will find that there is an element in the bill
to say that local authorities will have the ability to be able to
provide houses to rent at realistic rates. I would like to see that
reinstated, because it is a really important factor in the viability of
social housing. The other thing is that councils are captain the amount
to borrow to build social housing. This would not cost the government
money. Michael Portillo was advocating this last night, of all
people. The bill does include a protection for tenants in private
rented accommodation. It isn't always new builds. It's utilising
empty homes. It is utilising other buildings that can be converted. In
terms of housing to buy, what is defined as a first-time buyer is
someone commanding less than ?80,000 and buying a house worth less than
?250,000. We have to make sure that people's wages increase and that the
economy improves. But that will not happen in constituencies like yours.
You are on another planet. I am optimistic that the economy of South
East Cornwall is growing, and people will be better off with that, and
will find that some houses are more affordable. To wrap up, Peregrine,
what would you do? We would like to see the planning system streamlined
completely to make the process quicker and easier, so local
authorities could adopt design codes to allow housing of a certain type
and density to be built. They could reduce the amount of red tape
involved in the planning stage, so that developers could get on quickly
and they can secure funding and the whole process can be delivered more
quickly. It will not be the last time we discussed this.
Now our regular round-up of the political week in 60 seconds.
No, not the occupants of the House of Commons.
The seagulls a Plymouth MP says need to be brought under control.
This is an important matter, and I hope the government will act
before someone is really hurt, yet again, by an aggressive seagull.
Meanwhile, Westminster comes - almost - to the seaside,
as the cross-party Brexit committee hears evidence in Truro.
Devon and Cornwall Police is criticised for under-recording
What's important to emphasise is that the victims of crime
remain at the heart of what we do here in Devon and Cornwall.
The historic states of Jersey could end centuries of tradition
and rename itself "the government" to avoid confusing people.
And claims that plans to build a garden suburb in Taunton
The much-trumpeted Taunton Garden Town could well turn out
Gareth, as a former naval office, I imagine seagulls hold no fears for
you. This is a serious problem, isn't it? It is a serious problem, I
agree. And Plymouth has done a lot of work on it. I'm sure many other
places have to. It is interesting because they have tried to sort it
out through many ways - contraception, removing eggs and so
on. But the thing that has proven to be at the heart of this problem time
and time again is waste food being left out through various avenues.
Maybe it isn't being collected enough. It was very interesting to
hear Oliver Cromwell criticising the Council for their plans. It has been
councillor, Martin. One of the councillor, Martin. One of the
things I would point out is there are a number of things in place now
that councils can use to address this problem. Cornwall Council are
pro founding seagull proves sacks for your rubbish. We will leave it
there now. After the excitement and late nights
in the Commons last week, MPs are having a little break this
week as we head into But there's still plenty
in the diary in the near future - let's just remind ourselves of some
key upcoming dates. There they are. We have the two
by-elections on February 23rd. The budget is 8th March. That will be
the last spring budget under this Government because it moves to the
autumn. That round of French elections
narrows the candidates, probably about eight or nine, down to two,
the two who come first and second, then go into a play off round on May
7th. That will determine the next President. Steve, listening to
Oliver Letwin and to the Labour leader in the House of Lords, is
there any way you think that end of March deadline for Mrs May could be
in jeopardy? No, I don't. Andrew Smith couldn't have been clearer
with you they would do nothing to block not just Article 50 but that
timetable, so I would be surprised if they don't make it. Given her,
Theresa May's explicit determination to do so, not to do so would have
become a problem for her, I think one way or another... No before this
vote last week there was a vote nor the deadline, to agree the deadline
by all sides. Plain sailing do you think? There is no serious
Parliamentary resistance and it would be a personal embarrassment, I
think for the Prime Minister to name the the end of March as the deadline
and to miss it, unless she has a good excuse. I I reckon it will
change the atmosphere of politics for the next two years, as soon as
the negotiations begin, people in our profession will hunt for any
detail and inside information we can find, thing also be leaked, I think
from the European side from time to time, it will dominate the headlines
for a solid two years and change politics. Let me just raise a
possible, a dark cloud. No bigger than man's hand, that can complicate
the timetable, because the Royal Assent on the current timetable has
to come round the 13th. I would suggest that the Prime Minister
can't trigger that until she does get the Royal Assent. If there is a
bit of ping-pong that could delay that by receive day, the last thing
the Europeans would want, they have another big meeting at the end of
March which is the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. They don't
want Article 50 to land on the table... It would infuriate
everybody. My guess is she will have done it by then, this is between the
Commons and the Lords, I mean Andrew Smith couldn't have been clearer,
that they might send something back but they didn't expect a kind of a
long play over this, so. The Liberal Democrats, they are almost an
irrelevance in the Commons but not the Lords, they feel differently.
Now, we don't know yet what the European Union negotiating position
is going to be, we don't know because there are several crucial
elections taking place, the Dutch taking place in March and then the
one we put up, the French, and, at the moment, the French one is, it
seems like it is coming down, to a play-off in the second round between
Madame Le Pen who could come first in the first round and this Blairite
figure, independent, centre-leftish Mr Macron, he may well get through
and that, and the outcome of that will be an important determine napt
on our negotiations. -- determinant. You o couldn't have two more
different candidate, you have a national a front candidate and on
the other hand the closest thing France could have you to a liberal
President. With a small l. A reformist liberal President. It
would be the most French thing in the world to elect someone who while
the rest of the world is elected elitist, to elect someone who is the
son of a teacher, who has liberal views, is a member of the French
elite. It would be a thing for them to elect a man like that which I why
I see them doing it. If it is Le Pen, Brexit becomes a minor
sideshow, if it is Le Pen, the future of the European Union is?
Danger, regardless of whether we are were in or out. I suggest if it is
Mr Macron that presents some problems. He doesn't have his own
party. He won't have a majority in the French assembly, he is untried
and untested. He wants to do a number of things that will be
unpopular which is why a number of people close to Mrs Le Pen tell me
that she has her eye on 2022. She thinks lit go to hell in a hand
basket under Mr Macron. He hasn't got the experience. What I find
fascinating. It is not just all to play for in France, it is the fact
what happens in France and Germany, not so much Holland I think but
Germany later on in the year, how much it impacts what we are going to
get. How much which ex #i78 panting on them. And at the time we are
trying to, withdrawing ourself from European politics it is fascinating
how much it will affect us. You see what Matthew was talking about
earlier in the show, that what we do know, almost for sure, is that the
socialist candidate will not get through to the second round. He
could come firth but the centre-right candidate. If we were
discussing that monthing a we would say it between teen the centre-right
and the national fronts. We are to saying that. Matthew good win who
spent a time in France isn't sure Le Pen will get into the second round,
which is interesting. It is, I mean, it is going to be as important for
the future of the European Union, as in retrospect the British 2015
general election was, if Labour had got in there would have been no
referendum. That referendum has transformed the European Union
because we are leaving and the French election is significant. We
will be live from Paris on April 23rd on the day France goings to the
first round of polls. Tom Watson, he was on The Andrew Marr Show earlier
today, was asked about Mr Corbyn, this is what he had to say.
We had a damaging second leadership election, so we've got
The polls aren't great for us, but I'm determined now we've got
the leadership settled for this parliament, that we can focus
on developing a very positive clear message to the British people
So Julia, I don't know who are you are giggling. I find it untenable
that, he is a very good media performer and he comes on and he is
sitting there so well, you know, things are bad but don't worry we
are looking at what we can do to win 2020. The idea that Tony Blair and
Gordon Brown were sitting in their offices or on TV screens at this
time in the electoral cycle thinking well I wonder if we can come up with
a policy the British people might like. It is a nonsense, this is
Tuesday night book zlufb. I am going to ask you the question I was going
to before. I would suggest that he the right. The deputy Labour leader
Tom Watson is violent the leadership is settled, with one caveat, unless
the Corbynistas themselves to decide to move on Mr Corbyn, if the left of
the Labour Party decides then it is not settled. Settled. If that
doesn't happen that is That would be the worst situation if you are a
Labour moderate. The Corbynistas would be saying the problem is no
Corbynism, it is Corbyn himself, if we a younger person leading the
process we can win the next general election, which means you have
another itration of this, another five year experiment. And that is
worst of all. If you are a Labour moderate, what you want is Jeremy
Corbyn contest the next general election, possibly loses badly and
then a Labour not moderate runs for the leadership saying we have tried
your way, the worst would be Corbyn going, and a younger seven version
of him trying and the experiment being extended. I see no easy way
out of this. That is why he radiated the enthusiasm of someone in a
hostage video in that interview. Maybe he has the Stockholm Syndrome
now. The Labour moderates have had their day in the sun, two days in
the sun and they lost. I suggest they are not going to try for the
hat-trick again. Is there any indication that on the more Corbyn
wing of the Labour Party, there is now doubts about their man. Yes,
just to translate Tom Watson, what he meant was I Tom Watson am not
going to get involved in another attempted coup. I tried it and it
was a catastrophe. That is question enhe says it is set selled. It is
because there is speculation on a daily basis. I disagree, Julia said
I think this lot don't care about winning, I think they do. If the
current position continue, one of two things will happen. Either
Jeremy Corbyn will decide himself will decide he doesn't want to carry
on. He half enjoys I it and half hates it. Finds it a strain. If that
doesn't happen there will be some people round him who will say, look,
this isn't working. There is another three-and-a-half years. There is a
long way to go. I can't see it lasting in this way with politics in
a state of flux, Tories will be under pressure in the coming two
years, to have opinion polls at this level, I think is unsustainable.
Final thought from you.? Yes, the idea it St another three-and-a-half
years is just madness, but the people we are putting up at
replacement for Jeremy Corbyn, and they have been focus grouping them.
Most members wouldn't know who most of people were let alone most of the
public. Angela rain? They are not
overwhelmed with leadership potential at the moment. Very
diplomatically put. Neither are the Tories, but they happened to have
one at the moment. All right. That is it.
Now, there's no Daily or Sunday Politics for the next week
But the Daily Politics will be back on Monday 20th February and I'll be
back here with the Sunday Politics on the 26th.
Remember if it's Sunday, it's the Sunday Politics...
Just back from a very long shift at work...
The staff are losing - they're just giving in.
Panorama goes undercover to reveal the real cost
Andrew Neil and Lucie Fisher present the latest political news, interviews and debate and are joined by shadow leader of the House of Lords Baroness Smith and Conservative Oliver Letwin. The political panellists are Janan Ganesh from the Financial Times, Julia Hartley-Brewer from talkRADIO and journalist Steve Richards.