Andrew Neil and David Garmston 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
later this month, where Ukip is looking to give
In the West: The sweet smell of success.
Can West Country businesses have their cake and eat it,
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 different.
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.
Our thanks to Andrew, welcome along to the Sunday Politics
here in the glorious West of England.
And our headlines in the West: A spring in their step.
As the parties get ready for the local elections,
who will deliver success at the ballot box?
Well, just like Donald Trump, we've appointed three guests
to the Supreme Court of the Sunday Politics this week.
They are the Conservative MP Mark Harper, Ukip MEP
William, Lord Dartmouth, and for the Lib Dems, Gideon Amos.
It's fair to say that there may be some differences
in their political judgment, but we'll hear more
Now, the days of Brexit meaning, well, Brexit are behind us -
the Government has issued some guidance, in the form
It explains what the future might look like once we're out
But many West Country businesses still feel the process will be
anything but a cakewalk, as Robin Markwell explains.
It might have all the trappings of high government,
but this is Taunton, not Number 10.
But it's not stopped the man from this ministry,
the Ministry of Cake, from getting involved in politics.
They've dispatched their biggest seller, the chocolate fudge cake,
to the PM, the whips' office - not that sort - and the grateful
"Thank you for your gift of a fudge cake, it was eaten in a flash.
From your fellow Foreign Secretary, Boris."
That letter, and those cakes, were prompted by this.
The Ministry of Cake in my constituency of Taunton Deane,
a ?30 million turnover company, has recently been bought by a French
company called Mademoiselle Desserts.
It demonstrates that we can unlock global trade, and it demonstrates
that the South West is a terrific place to do business.
I absolutely agree with my honourable friend...
While though being praised in the Commons as a symbol
of economic strength, back in Somerset they have real
One of the fun bits of running business is you deal with lemons
when they get sent towards you, and you make lemonade.
I mean, Brexit though is a huge lemon, the size of a small tank,
so we're going to be making a lot of lemonade for some time to come.
Their number one worry is access to migrant labour -
like Lubo here, who's Slovakian - as this business is struggling
to fill the 30 vacancies they currently have locally.
The average British person - school leaver as maybe -
finds it hard to come and work in a factory and stand
at a production line for 23 hours at a time,
at a production line for two or three hours at a time,
when they can't go for breaks when they feel like it,
they can't go and talk to their mates, they've got to be
And the idea of working in a dark Satanic mill fills them with dread.
And I think rather sadly that means that we just don't get
Now, if we suddenly say you can't bring in unskilled labour,
I think the UK food manufacturing, UK food retailing and UK food
restaurant trade is going to be pretty much decimated.
It's not just the issue of migrant labour.
While some firms believe leaving the EU will lead to less
paperwork and fewer rules, others fear new trade agreements may
lead to a whole host of extra bureaucracy.
We now know we're leaving the single market, but companies don't know how
they will prove they comply with the regulations when they
We know we're probably leaving the customs union,
but companies don't know whether they'll have to pay
tariffs, what paperwork they'll have to fill in -
many companies won't have filled in paperwork
And we know there will be a UK controlled migration that'll
But if you're a company, you don't know whether your workers
will be affected and how easy it will be to recruit.
Many businesses ARE worried by the current uncertainty,
but while Brexit supporters will tell you the future is sweet,
those who backed Remain still say you can have your cake...and eat it.
That was Robin Markwell reporting - he didn't so much as
Mark, you were Immigration Minister, and you failed to bring
Will leaving the EU make a significant difference?
Bearing in mind that you couldn't even control the people
Well, it was great in that film to see Rebecca Pow doing such
a good job on behalf of her constituents
But no, I think the thing is, it'll give us control over making
decisions about who we want to bring here, for what reason.
I have to say, looking at that film I don't think that the boss
was doing the greatest job of selling working for his
company, by describing it as a "dark Satanic mill".
But I think we need to look at the people we have in the UK
who are not currently working, who could be in the labour market.
We've got many people for example who might require a bit more
effort by businesses, but who would love to be working,
who we're having to support, who currently aren't working.
But the point is we'll be able to make the decisions,
we'll be able to look at where there are labour shortages,
we'll be able to look at skill shortages,
and make the decisions for Britain rather than having no control.
I'm just a bit confused why you didn't do that with people
Well, we did, we made big changes in the system.
So for example we stopped people coming here to bogus colleges,
we made sure that all the students coming here were coming to proper
universities and proper colleges, we made sure you could only come
I mean, one of the things to remember, of course...
Apart from the international students, the numbers didn't
So if you can't do it outside the EU, how can
Well, one of the reasons of course was for the last six years,
under first the Coalition and then the Conservative Government,
we created the British economy with excellent British businesses,
created more jobs than the whole of the European Union put together...
Well, I think it's two things - we were very successful,
but also their economies were in a real mess.
Which is why a lot of those people were coming here.
I think one of the things we want to see is a bit more
of a balanced European economy that's doing well,
All right, William's itching to come in.
So perhaps tell the cake man where he can get those
30 workers he needs, once you've stopped
Well, first of all, David, you've made that point with great
clarity that the Conservative Party cannot be trusted on immigration.
They didn't even control the people that they COULD have
controlled, let alone the ones that they couldn't have controlled.
Now, the fact of the matter is that labour shortages can be dealt
One way is to give 500 million people the absolute right
to live, work and settle in the United Kingdom.
Another way, which would be much better, is to simply
So if there really is a desperate shortage of cake makers
in the Taunton area and the South West, in the Taunton
travel-to-work area, that genuinely cannot be met -
well, then, there could be a system of work permits.
But the fact of the matter is you don't have to do it by giving
500 million people the absolute right to work in the UK.
You were the party against red tape - you're really suggesting a system
that will actually process each cake worker coming in for
Well, it's obviously unacceptable to the British people -
though not unacceptable to the Liberal Democrats
and not unacceptable to the Conservative Government -
it's unacceptable to the British people, that we should have
And may I say, you're simply re-fighting the same
You don't have to open your doors to 500 million people -
No, it's not re-fighting the argument, because we have
to decide on an immigration policy now that we're doing Brexit.
Well, this is extraordinary - we have the two Brexit parties,
Ukip and the Conservatives, both introducing, talking
about introducing, a whole raft of new red tape bureaucracy.
I understand that ministers have been unable to point to a single
industry where low skilled migration will be stopped.
They're needed in the fruit picking industry, they're needed
in the catering industry as we've just seen, they're needed
The Liberal Democrats are in favour of free movement.
No, let me tell YOU something, free movement is an extremely
important feature of the economic growth we've had over recent years.
Yes, people want to see sensible controls on immigration...
..but we must not throw out the whole baby with the bathwater...
Gideon, you don't want to see any controls on immigration from the EU?
No, we DO wish to see some controls, and I'll explain that if you wish.
You want to stop people coming here from the rest of the EU...
What the Liberal Democrats are pointing to is the situation
in Norway, which has access to the "emergency brake", and yet
And that seems to us a very sensible approach.
I've sat in the European Parliament for seven years, and what you're
suggesting is frankly just a pipe dream.
Let's talk about some numbers with you two now.
Say there's, I don't know, 150,000 people coming
We probably need, according to MigrationWatch,
No - I'm afraid the figures are much more, it's about 300,000.
And it's roughly the same from outside the EU...
All right, well then, let's talk in percentages then.
I thought you didn't want to talk too many statistics!
What sort of percentage of people do you want to be
It's isn't a question of people being banned from coming here -
instead of having an open-door policy, it should be based on needs.
Now, there's various ways of doing it.
Well, say there is 100,000 unskilled workers, how many
It can be done without giving people a permanent right of settlement.
Now, you mentioned agricultural workers -
They used to be something called the temporary agricultural workers
scheme, which was abolished - actually by the Labour Government.
That let in about 33,000 people, which is roughly a requirement.
That let in about 33,000 people, which is roughly the requirement.
And it works without having an open-door policy,
as the gentleman put with great clarity...
Well, the most straightforward thing is you just use the system used
for those coming from outside, where you allow employers
to employ skilled people, but you also have a sensible set
of officials that look at where we have shortages, skill shortages -
if you've got a skill shortage, then you allow people to come in,
if you haven't got a skill shortage, you don't.
It works very well for those coming from outside the EU,
So you have one system - you replace the system
we've got at the moment, we have two models, with one,
and I think employers will cope with that very well.
But Mark, that's the system which HASN'T reduced immigration
from outside of the EU, that you're suggesting.
We haven't reduced students actually, coming into our
universities, but the point is you're bringing in skilled people
who are bringing a big benefit to the economy,
in things like IT and industries like that,
and that's the type of system I want to replicate.
Gosh, it would be nice to spend longer, but we've got to move on.
Well, Ukip nowadays portrays themselves as the party
That'll be their pitch to voters in the coming local elections.
Things have also changed for the Lib Dems, who post-referendum
seem to be reviving at the expense of the Tories.
Paul Barltrop reports from Gloucestershire.
The sun was shining on Liberal Democrats in the Cotswold
They pulled out the stops for a District Council
A previously solid Tory seat was seized, with a 25% swing.
It feels now for the Liberal Democrats so different to how it
felt eight months ago in the referendum.
And even two years ago at the General Election.
We have come on so much in the last eight months on the last two years.
What that means is we've got lots of new members helping us, but we've
also seen this plethora of huge gains in terms of council
by-election is all over the country. Party membership has doubled since a
few years back. Many clothes -- many joined because of their opposition
to Brexit. People are taking a fresh look -- look at us, and particularly
since the referendum. They are prepared to look at us again as a
party that's saying something very definite. The next battle will be
for this place. For four years, the county's had a minority Conservative
administration. Like other councils, Gloucestershire's financial
situation is pretty tight. For years it's been cutting spending while
facing increasing demands for services like caring for elderly and
disabled people. Despite that, this year it's not going to be putting up
the council tax by as much as the Government permits. That's because
the ruling Conservatives want to go into the election boasting one of
Country. We are changing services, Country. We are changing services,
you know, some services we are spending less on than we spent
before. That's because we're prioritising expenditure for the
most vulnerable and for the infrastructure that our candidates.
Just because you're spending less money doesn't mean you're delivering
a pro service. Yes, we have had to make difficult decisions, voters
understand that there is only so much amount of money. They run
households, they've got has budgets, they know they have got to make
choices about what to spend money on. The 2013 county elections
brought Ukip the breakthrough, winning three seats in the Forest of
Dean, but two recently left the party. It's been a real
roller-coaster. I'm not a career politician, and I went into it very
na vely about what was involved. He is enthusiastic about Ukip's new
emphasis on less well of photos. I think there's a lot of people in the
forest who have not benefited from what's happened in the economy over
the last 20, 30 years. There's a lot of people who have been left behind,
disadvantaged. And there is a heavy concentration of those in this area.
That is clearly a threat to Labour, which local councillor Paul McMahon
is determined to resist. People just wanted a change. They have changed
to Ukip, but sadly they have been very badly let down at County
Council. They have three members, one walked across to the Tories and
the other has disappeared into the ether and you have one bloke in the
Tories' back pocket. If you want to vote for the Tories, vote for them,
not for Ukip! In Fairford, the placards are being taken down. They
will be back out again before the West goes to the polls in May. It is
going to be interesting. William, when did you suddenly find this
passion to represent the working classes. That's a very loaded
question! It isn't about me, it's about what my party stands for as a
whole, it is about the leader, Paul Nuttall, the fact of the matter is
that the Labour Party used to be a patriotic party. It is no longer a
patriotic party, it has let people down and this is why so many people
who were hitherto Labour supporters voted for Ukip in the last General
Election. Where incidentally we got more votes than the Lib Dems and the
Scottish Nationalists combined. You could come on and talk about all
these elites and so on, and very often they are billionaires and
millionaires and all the rest of it. With respect, they are the elite.
You are the elite. If you do want to personalise it, I would point out
that the great Bristol MP and parliamentarian Toru -- Tony Benn
was the second Viscount scans gate. But what is relevant is what he
stood for, -- viscount stands gay. He stood for favouring -- viscount
Stansgate. He didn't change his political views very much. Mark
Harper, Theresa May has talked about the "Just about managing" people.
How are you appealing to them? Well, you heard from the Conservative
leader of the council about making sure we keep council tax low. It's
only gone up about 2% on average since we've been in power. Before it
was going up 8%. But the same time was going up 8%. But the same time
we prioritised things like social care, son Gloucestershire social
care's been the number one priority since we took over. It's had to make
had problems to the extent there had problems to the extent there
have been elsewhere in the country, and nothing prioritising the
vulnerable but keeping council tax rises at a sensible level exam helps
people who don't have a lot of money and can see big rises in their
council tax, and want a party that is managing money properly. Unlike
the spendthrift local authorities like Surrey. In Gloucestershire,
when Labour and the Liberals were running it, one year they put up
council tax by 13%. The voters are talked to are pleased that we keep
council tax low, but at the same time we spend money on vulnerable
people who need the support from their council. And there's going to
be no sweetheart deal -- there's been no sweetheart deal from the
Government. No, not sorry either. Gideon, something happened in sorry,
didn't it? You don't happen to know what? The Government was very clear
that wasn't any extra money, and there wasn't any kind of special
deal. What local councillors have decided I don't know, but in
Gloucestershire we've got a good team and I want to see them
re-elected. Gideon, no doubt the Lib Dems have done very well in some
small council elections. Can that be transformed into something bigger,
do you think? Well, you know, one do you think? Well, you know, one
indication only, perhaps, of where we are going, and yes, we are
growing in membership, we are winning by-elections and councils,
and the one we've just seen in the report was actually outshone by one
down the road from the Ministry of cake in our constituency in Taunton
Deane, where we won the 72% of the vote. But whilst people are joining,
it's going to be a matter of how many become active, and actually do
things. You're trying to give a voice, I guess, to the 60 million
who voted to remain in the EU. It's more than that. But that's a
minority, isn't it? It's actually very interesting that you should
raise that, because if you go to the Blackdown Hills where we just won
with 72% of the vote, you will find that people there voted leaving the
referendum. People are coming to us because they want a party that has
something positive to say, something -- some -- that is willing to look
at Brexit... You voted against it this last week! What the Liberal
Democrats did in Parliament was split down an amendment to the Bill,
and were we to have a majority in the House of Commons, that Bill
would have gone through with the Liberal Democrat amendment. They
voted against giving the Prime Minister authority for article 50.
Would you stop Brexit in Government? We would continue with the Bill, the
amendment we put down this week... So you'd go ahead with Brexit. Which
would we would give -- which was we would give people the final say...
Let's be very clear, the Liberal Democrats are doing everything they
possibly can to frustrate Brexit, by fair means or foul. They are neither
liberal. Democrats at. They should be sued under the trade descriptions
act! Methinks they do protest too act! Methinks they do protest too
much. Whose job is it then to speak for the people who voted against? It
is certainly not Ukip's job. Why shouldn't it be the Lib Dem roll to
represent the 48%? The decision -- the discussion has been settled
decisively, although the two Labour MPs or two or three of the Labour MP
for Bristol unfortunately don't accept it either. The Lib Dems did
accept that, and ready to go forward as one country,. Because you would
have accepted have the reverse been the case? I would, I can't speak for
everybody, but I would, since you ask. -- had the reverse been the
Well, let's take a look at the political news
The Brexit debate heated up this week, Devizes MP
Claire Perry comparing some of her colleagues to extremists.
I feel sometimes I'm sitting along with colleagues
She joined Labour's Kerry McCarthy and Thangam Debbonaire
An independent report was scathing about Bristol City Council.
It said financial information was unreliable, overoptimistic
and unprofessional, preventing the council dealing
The Government revealed more details about the powers of the West
Whoever wins in May will be able to fund bus routes,
buy land for housing, and set up development corporations.
And it was claimed a new tunnel under Stonehenge could be
in trouble, because a Government road building fund has
But Highways England says it's still confident of driving
Well, that was the week in 60 seconds.
For the last 30 seconds of the programme I just want to talk
want to talk about austerity, and whether it's time
for the Government to take its foot off the brakes.
We're certainly in massive crisis in the NHS.
We're looking at a policy of depending on income
Cut foreign aid, and that will give us another ?8 billion to ?10 billion
Well, I think we need to continue spending money
on the NHS as we have, but I do think austerity...
I prefer to call it living within your means, and I think
the Government needs to continue doing that.
And that's it for the West this week.
My thanks to my guests, Mark Harper, William Dartmouth and Gideon Amos.
Please follow us on Twitter for the latest political news
from the West, and you can watch the programme again
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 OK, everyone, have you got
your bamboo sticks? If you just paint
what you want to paint,
Andrew Neil and David Garmston 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.