Sarah Smith and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Guests include Hilary Benn and Theresa Villiers.
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I'm Sarah Smith, and welcome
to The Sunday Politics,
where we always bring you everything
you need to know to understand
what's going on in politics.
Coming up on today's programme...
The Government says
the international trade minister
Mark Garnier will be investigated
following newspaper allegations
of inappropriate behaviour
towards a female staff member.
We'll have the latest.
The Prime Minister says she can
agree a deal with the EU and plenty
of time for Parliament to vote on it
before we leave in 2018. Well
Parliament play ball? New evidence
cast out on the
cast out on the
cast out on the
In the West,
cast out on the
In the West, the
cast out on the
In the West, the University
cast out on the
In the West, the University
challenge to. There are more cause
for the head of Bath University
on from the abortion act white MPs
are lobbying the Home Secretary to
stop the alleged harassment of women
attending abortion clinics.
All that coming up in the programme.
And with me today to help make sense
of all the big stories,
Steve Richards and Anne McElvoy.
Some breaking news this morning.
The Government has announced
that it will investigate
whether the International Trade
Minister Mark Garnier broke
the Ministerial Code
of inappropriate behaviour.
It comes after reports in the Mail
on Sunday which has spoken to one
of Mr Garnier's former employees.
News of the investigation
was announced by the Health
Secretary Jeremy Hunt
on the Andrew Marr show earlier.
The stories, if they are true,
are totally unacceptable
and the Cabinet Office will be
conducting an investigation
as to whether there has been
a breach of the ministerial code
in this particular case.
But as you know the
facts are disputed.
This is something that covers
behaviour by MPs of all parties
and that is why the other thing
that is going to happen
is that today Theresa May
is going to write to John Bercow,
the Speaker of the House of Commons,
to ask for his advice as to how
we change that culture.
That was Jeremy Hunt a little
earlier. I want to turn to the panel
to make sense of this news. This is
the government taking these
allegations quite seriously.
has changed in this story is they
used to be a bit of delay while
people work out what they should say
about it, how seriously to take it.
As you see now a senior cabinet
member out there, Jeremy Hunt, with
an instant response. He does have
the worry of whether the facts are
disputed, but what they want to be
seen doing is to do something very
quickly. In the past they would say
it was all part of the rough and
tumble of Westminster.
does not deny these stories, which
is that he asked an employee to buy
sex toys, but he said it was just
high jinks and it was taken out of
context. Is this the sort of thing
that a few years ago in a different
environment would be investigated?
Not necessarily quite the frenzy
that it is nowadays. The combination
of social media, all the Sunday
political programmes were ministers
have to go on armed with a response
means that you get these we have to
be seen to be doing something. That
means there is this Cabinet Office
investigation. You pointed out to us
before the programme that he was not
a minister before this happened. It
does not matter whether he says yes,
know I did this or did not,
something has to be seen to be done.
Clearly ministers today are being
armed with that bit of information
and that Theresa May will ask John
Bercow the speaker to look into the
whole culture of Parliament in this
context. That is the response to
this kind of frenzy.
If we do live
in an environment where something
has to be seen to be done, does that
always mean the right thing gets
Absolutely not. We are in
witch hunt territory. All of us work
in the Commons over many years and
anyone would think it was a scene
out of Benny Hill or a carry on
film. Sadly it is not that much fun
and it is rather dull and dreary.
Yes, there are sex pests, yes, there
is sexual harassment, but the idea
this is going on on a huge scale is
Doesn't matter whether it
is a huge scale or not? Or just a
Any workplace where
you have the mixing of work and
social so intertwined and you throw
a huge amount of alcohol and late
night and people living away from
home you will have this happen.
does not make it OK.
It makes sexual
harassment not OK as it is not
anywhere. This happens to men as
well and if they have an issue into
it there are employment tribunal 's
and they can contact lawyers. I do
not think this should be a matter of
the speaker, it should be someone
completely independent of any party.
People think MPs are employees of
the party or the Commons, they are
Because they are self-employed
to whom do you go if you are a
That has to be
clarified. I agree you need a much
clearer line of reporting. It was a
bit like the situation when we came
into the media many years ago, the
Punic wars in my case! You were not
quite sure who to go to. If you work
worried that it might impede your
career, and you had to talk to
people who work next to you, that is
just one example, but in the Commons
people do not know who they should
go to. Where Theresa May might be
making a mistake, it is the same
mistake when it was decided to
investigate through Levinson the
culture of the media which was like
nailing jelly to a wall. Look at the
culture of anybody's job and the
environment they are in and there is
usually a lot wrong with it. When
you try and make it general, they
are not trying to blame individuals,
or it say they need a better line on
reporting of sexual harassment,
which I support, the Commons is a
funny place and it is a rough old
trade and you are never going to
iron out the human foibles of that.
Diane Abbott was talking about this
When I first went into Parliament so
many of those men had been to all
boys boarding schools and had really
difficult attitudes towards women.
The world has moved on and
middle-aged women are less likely
than middle-aged men to believe that
young research are irresistibly
attracted to them. We have seen the
issues and we have seen one of our
colleagues been suspended for quite
That is a point, Jarrod O'Mara, a
Labour MP who has had the whip
suspended, this goes across all
The idea that there is a
left or right divide over this is
absurd. This is a cultural issue. In
the media and in a lot of other
institutions if this is going to
develop politically, the frenzy will
carry on for a bit and other names
will come out over the next few
days, not just the two we have
mentioned so far in politics. But it
also raises questions about how
candidates are selected for example.
There has been a huge pressure for
the centre to keep out of things. I
bet from now on there will be much
greater scrutiny of all candidates
and tweets will have to be looked at
and all the rest of it.
candidates is interesting. Miriam
Gonzalez, Nick Clegg's wife, says
that during that election they knew
about Jarrod O'Mara and the Lib Dems
knew about it, so it is difficult to
suggest the Labour Party did not as
There is very clear evidence
the Labour Party did know. But we
are in a situation of how perfect
and well-behaved does everyone have
to be? If you look at past American
presidents, JFK and Bill Clinton,
these men were sex pest
extraordinaire, with totally
inappropriate behaviour on a regular
basis. There are things you are not
allowed to say if you are feminists.
Young women are really attracted to
powerful men. I was busted for the
idea that there are young women in
the House of commons who are
throwing themselves at middle-aged,
potbellied, balding, older men. We
need to focus on the right things.
When it is unwanted, harassing,
inappropriate and criminal,
absolutely, you come down like a
tonne of bricks. It is not just
because there are more women in the
Commons, it is because there are
more men married to women like us.
We have to leave it there.
As attention turns in
Westminster to the hundreds
of amendments put down on the EU
Withdrawal Bill, David Davis has
caused a stir this week by saying
it's possible Parliament won't get
a vote on the Brexit deal
until after March 2019 -
when the clock runs out
and we leave the EU.
Let's take a look at how
the controversy played out.
And which point do you envisage
Parliament having a vote?
As soon as possible thereafter.
As soon as possible
possible thereafter, yeah.
As soon as possible thereafter.
So, the vote in Parliament...
The other thing...
Could be after March 2019?
It could be, yeah, it could be.
It depends when it concludes.
Mr Barnier, remember,
has said he'd like...
Sorry, the vote of our Parliament,
the UK Parliament, could be
after March 2019?
Yes, it could be.
The thing to member...
Which would be...
Well, it can't come
before we have the deal.
You said that it is POSSIBLE that
Parliament night not vote
on the deal until AFTER
the end of March 2019.
I'm summarising correctly
what you said...?
Yeah, that's correct.
In the event we don't do
the deal until then, yeah.
Can the Prime Minister please
explain how it's possible
to have a meaningful vote
on something that's
already taken place?
As the honourable gentleman knows,
we're in negotiations
with the European Union, but I am
confident that the timetable under
the Lisbon Treaty does give time
until March 2019
for the negotiations to take place.
But I'm confident, because it is in
the interests of both sides,
it's not just this Parliament that
wants to have a vote on that deal,
but actually there will be
ratification by other parliaments,
that we will be able to achieve that
agreement and that negotiation
in time for this Parliament
to have a vote that we committed to.
We are working to reach
an agreement on the final deal
in good time before we leave
the European Union in March 2019.
Clearly, we cannot say
for certain at this stage
when this will be agreed.
But as Michel Barnier said,
he hopes to get a draft deal
agreed by October 2018,
and that's our aim is well.
agreed by October 2018,
and that's our aim as well.
I'm joined now by the former
Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary
Benn, who is the chair
of the Commons Brexit Committee,
which David Davis was
giving evidence to.
When you think a
parliamentary vote should take place
in order for it to be meaningful?
has to be before we leave the
European Union. Michel Barnier said
at the start of the negotiations
that he wants to wrap them up by
October of next year, so we have
only got 12 months left, the clock
is ticking and there is a huge
amount of ground to cover.
not think there is any point in
having the vote the week before we
leave because you could then not go
That would not be
acceptable. We will not be given a
bit of paper and told to take it or
leave it. But the following day
Steve Baker, also a minister in the
department, told our committee that
the government now accepts that in
order to implement transitional
arrangements that it is seeking, it
will need separate legislation. I
put the question to him if you are
going to need separate legislation
to do that, why don't you have a
separate bill to implement the
withdrawal agreement rather than
seeking to use the powers the
government is proposing to take in
the EU withdrawal bill.
If we stick
to the timing, you have said you do
not think it is possible to
negotiate a trade deal in the next
12 months. You say the only people
who think that is possible British
ministers. If you do not believe we
can get a deal negotiated, how can
we get a vote on it in 12 months'
If things go well, and there
is still a risk of no agreement
which would be disastrous for the
economy and the country, if
things go there will be a deal on
the divorce issues, there will be a
deal on the nature of the
transitional arrangement and the
government is to set out how it
thinks that will work, and then an
agreement between the UK and the 27
member states saying, we will now
negotiate a new trade and market
access arrangement, and new
association agreement between the
two parties, and that will be done
in the transition period. Parliament
will be voting in those
circumstances on a deal which leads
to the door being open.
But we would
be outside the EU at that point, so
how meaningful can vote be where you
take it or leave it if we have
already left the EU? Surely this has
to happen before March 2019 for it
to make a difference?
I do not think
it is possible to negotiate all of
the issues that will need to be
covered in the time available.
it is not possible to have a
meaningful vote on it?
will have to have a look at the deal
presented to it. It is likely to be
a mix agreement so the approval
process in the rest of Europe,
unlike the Article 50 agreement,
which will be a majority vote in the
European Parliament and in the
British Parliament, every single
Parliament will have a vote on it,
so it will be a more complex process
anyway, but I do not think that is
the time to get all of that sorted
between now and October next year.
Whether it is before or after we
have left the EU, the government
have said it is a take it or leave
it option and it is the Noel Edmonds
option, deal or no Deal, you say yes
or no to it. You cannot send them
back to re-negotiate.
If it is a separate piece of
legislation, when Parliament has a
chance to shape the nature of that
But it can't change
what has been negotiated with the
Well, you could say to the
government, we're happy with this
but was not happy about that chukka
here's some fresh instructions, go
back in and...
It seems to me what
they want is the maximum access to
the single market for the lowest
possible tariffs, whilst able to
control migration. If they've got to
get the best deal that they can on
that, how on earth is the Labour
Party, saying we want a bit more,
owing to persuade the other 27?
certainly don't want the lowest
possible tariffs, we want no tariffs
are taught. My personal view is
that, has made a profound mistake in
deciding that it wants to leave the
customs union. If you want to help
deal with the very serious question
of the border between Northern
Ireland and the Republic of Ireland,
the way you do that is to stay in
the customs union and I hope, will
change its mind.
But the Labour
Party is simply saying in the House
of Commons, we want a better deal
than what, has been able to get?
depends how the negotiations unfold.
, has ended up on the transitional
arrangements in the place that Keir
Starmer set out on behalf of the
shadow cabinet in August, when he
said, we will need to stay in the
single market and the customs union
for the duration of the transition,
and I think that is the position,
has now reached. It has not been
helped by differences of view within
the Cabinet, and a lot of time has
passed and there's proved time left
and we have not even got on to the
negotiations. -- there's very little
On phase two, the labour
Party have set out six clear tests,
and two of them are crucial. You say
you want the exact same benefits we
currently have in the customs union
but you also want to be able to
ensure the fair migration to control
immigration, basically, which does
sound a bit like having your cake
and eating it. You say that you will
vote against any deal that doesn't
give you all of that, the exact same
benefits of the single market, and
allowing you to control migration.
But you say no deal would be
catastrophic if so it seems to me
you're unlikely to get the deal that
you could vote for but you don't
want to vote for no deal?
absolutely don't want a no deal.
Businesses have sent a letter to the
Prime Minister saying that a
transition is essential because the
possibility of a no deal and no
transitional would be very damaging
for the economy. We fought the
general election on a policy of
seeking to retain the benefits of
the single market and the customs
union. Keir Starmer said on behalf
of the shadow government that as far
as the longer term arrangements are
concerned, that should leave all
options on the table, because it is
the end that you're trying to
achieve and you then find the means
to support it. So we're setting out
very clearly those tests.
were to vote down an agreement
because it did not meet your tests,
and there was time to send, back to
the EU to get a better deal, then
you would have significantly
weakened their negotiating hand
chukka that doesn't help them?
don't think, has deployed its
negotiating hand very strongly thus
far. Because we had a general
election which meant that we lost
time that we would have used for
negotiating. We still don't know
what kind of long-term trade and
market access deal, wants. The Prime
Minister says, I don't want a deal
like Canada and I don't want a deal
like the European Economic Area. But
we still don't know what kind of
deal they want. With about 12 months
to go, the other thing, needs to do
is to set out very clearly above all
for the benefit of the other 27
European countries, what kind of
deal it wants. When I travel to
Europe and talk to those involved in
the negotiations, you see other
leaders saying, we don't actually
know what Britain wants. With a year
to go it is about time we made that
One related question on the
European Union - you spoke in your
famous speech in Syria about the
international brigades in Spain, and
I wonder if your solidarity with
them leads you to think that the UK
Government should be recognising
Catalonia is an independent state?
No, I don't think so. It is a very
difficult and potentially dangerous
situation in Catalonia at the
moment. Direct rule from Madrid is
not a long-term solution. There
needs to be a negotiation, and
elections will give Catalonia the
chance to take that decision, but I
am not clear what the declaration of
independence actually means. Are
they going to be borders, is they're
going to be an army? There will have
to be some agreement. Catalonia has
already had a high degree of
autonomy. It may like some more, and
it seems to me if you look at the
experience here in the United
Kingdom, that is the way to go, not
a constitutional stand-off. And I
really hope nobody is charged with
rebellion, because actually that
would make matters worse.
Now, the Government has this
week reopened the public
consultation on plans for a third
runway at Heathrow.
While ministers are clear
the £18 billion project
is still the preferred option,
new data raises further questions
about the environmental
impact of expansion,
and offers an improved
economic case for a second
runway at Gatwick instead.
So, with opponents on all sides
of the Commons, does the Government
still have the votes to get
the plans off the ground?
Here's Elizabeth Glinka.
The debate over the expansion
of Heathrow has been
going on for decades.
Plans for a third runway
were first introduced
by the Labour government in 2003.
Then, after spending millions
of pounds, finally, in 2015,
the airport commission recommended
that those plans go ahead,
and the government position
appeared to be fixed.
But, of course, since then,
we've had a general election.
The Government have lost
their Commons majority.
And with opposition on both front
benches, the Parliamentary
arithmetic looks a little bit up
in the air.
A lot has changed since the airport
commission produced its report,
and that don't forget
was the bedrock for the Government's
decision, that's why the government
supposedly made the decision
that it made.
But most of the assumptions
made in that report have
been undermined since,
by data on passenger numbers,
on economic benefits, and more
than anything, on pollution.
There's demand from international
carriers to get into Heathrow.
More and more people want to fly.
And after the referendum,
is going to be absolutely critical
to the UK economy, so if anything,
I think the case is stronger
for expansion at Heathrow.
A vote on expansion had been due
to take place this summer.
But with Westminster somewhat
distracted, that didn't happen.
Now, fresh data means
the Government has had to reopen
the public consultation.
But it maintains the case
for Heathrow is as strong as ever,
delivering benefits of up
to £74 billion to the wider economy.
And in any case, the Government
says, action must be taken,
as all five of London's airports
will be completely
full by the mid-2030s.
Still, the new research does cast
an alternative expansion at Gatwick
in a more favourable economic light,
while showing Heathrow
is now less likely to meet
its environmental targets.
Campaigners like these in Hounslow
sense the wind is shifting.
We're feeling encouraged,
because we see all kinds
of weaknesses in the argument.
Certainly, quite a few MPs,
I think certainly Labour MPs,
are beginning to think perhaps it's
not such a great idea
to have a third runway.
Their MP is convinced colleagues
can now be persuaded
to see things their way.
The Labour Party quite
rightly set four key tests
for a third runway at Heathrow.
And in my view,
Heathrow is not able...
The Heathrow option is not able
to pass any of those.
So, I see a lot of colleagues
in the Labour Party around
the country beginning
to think twice.
And if you look at the cross-party
MPs supportin this anti-Heathrow
And if you look at the cross-party
MPs supporting this anti-Heathrow
protest this week, you will see
some familiar faces.
You know my position -
as the constituency MP,
I'm totally opposed.
I think this is another indication
of just the difficulties
the Government have got off
of implementing this policy.
I don't think it's going to happen,
I just don't think
it's going to happen.
So, if some on the Labour
front bench are, shall
we say, not supportive,
what about the other side?
In a free vote, we could have had up
to 60 Conservative MPs
voting against expansion,
that's the number that is normally
used and I think it's right.
In the circumstances where it
requires an active rebellion,
the numbers would be fewer.
I can't tell you what that
number is, but I can tell
you that there are people right
the way through the party,
from the backbenches
to the heart of the government,
who will vote against
And yet the SNP, whose Commons
votes could prove vital,
are behind the Heathrow plan,
which promises more
And other supporters are convinced
they have the numbers.
There is a majority of members
of Parliament that support Heathrow
expansion, and when that is put
to the test, whenever that will be,
I think that will be
Any vote on this issue
won't come until next summer.
For both sides, yet more time
to argue about weather
the plans should take off
or be permanently grounded.
Elizabeth Glinka there.
And I'm joined now by the former
Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers,
who oversaw aviation policy
as a transport minister
under David Cameron.
Thanks for coming in. You have made
your opposition to a third runway at
Heathrow consistently clear. , have
reopened this consultation but it is
still clearly their preferred
It is but what I have always
asked is, why try to build a new
runway at Heathrow when you can
build one at Gatwick in half the
time, for half the cost and with a
tiny fraction of the environment
will cost average is that true,
though? Private finance is already
to go at Heathrow, because that's
where people want to do it and
that's where the private backers
want to put it. It would take much
longer to get the private finance
for Gatwick? Part of that private
finance is passengers of the future,
but also, the costs of the surface
transport needed to expand Heathrow
is phenomenal. I mean, TfL estimates
vary between £10 billion and £15
billion. And there's no suggestion
that those private backers are going
to meet those costs. So, this is a
hugely expensive project as well as
one which will create very
ultimately where passengers and
airlines want to go to, isn't it?
Every slot is practically full.
Every time a new one comes up, it is
up immediately, it's a very popular
airport. Gatwick is not where they
want to go?
There are many airlines
and passengers who do want to fly
from Gatwick, and all the forecasts
indicate that a new runway there
would be full of planes very
rapidly. But I think the key thing
is that successive elements have
said, technology will deliver a way
to resolve the around noise and air
quality. I don't have any confidence
that science has demonstrated that
technology will deliver those
solutions to these very serious
environmental limbs which have
stopped Heathrow expansion for
Jim Fitzpatrick in the film
was mentioning that people think
there is a need for even more
collectivity in Britain post-Brexit.
We know that business has been
crying out for more routes, they
really think it hurts business
expansion that we don't get on with
this. More consultation is just
going to lead to more delay, isn't
This is a hugely controversial
decision. There is a reason why
people have been talking about
expanding Heathrow for 50 years and
it is never happened, it's because
it's a bad idea. So, inevitably the
legal processes are very complex.
One of my anxieties about, pursuing
this option is that potentially it
means another lost decade for
airport expansion. Because the
problems with Heathrow expansion are
so serious, I believe that's one of
the reasons why I advocated, anyone
who wants a new runway in the
south-east should be backing Gatwick
is a much more deliverable option.
Let me move on to Brexit. We were
talking with Hilary Benn about a
meaningful vote being given to the
House of Commons chukka how
important do you think that is?
course the Commons will vote on
this. The Commons is going to vote
on this many, many times. We have
also had a hugely important vote not
only in the referendum on the 23rd
of June but also on Article 50.
will that vote allow any changes to
it? Hilary Benn seemed to think that
the Commons would be able to shape
the deal with the vote. But actually
is it going to be, saying, take it
or leave it at all what we have
Our Prime Minister
negotiates on our behalf
well-established precedent that
after an agreement is reached
overseas, then it is considered in
the House of Commons.
What if it was
voted down in the House of Commons?
Well, the legal effect of that would
be that we left the European Union
without any kind of deal, because
the key decision was on the voting
of Article 50 as an irreversible
Is it irreversible,
though? We understand, may have had
legal advice saying that Yukon
stopped the clock on Article 50.
Would it not be possible if the
Commons voted against to ask the
European Union for a little bit more
time to try and renegotiate?
is a debate about the reversibility
of Article 50. But the key point is
that we are all working for a good
deal for the United Kingdom and the
I'm concerned that some of the
amendments to the legislation are
not about the nature of the deal at
the end of the process, they're just
about frustrating the process. I
think that would be wrong. I think
we should respect the result of the
Will it be by next
summer, so there is time for
Parliament and for other
I certainly hope that
we get that agreement between the
two sides, and the recent European
summit seemed to indicate a
willingness from the European side
to be constructive. But one point
where I think Hilary Benn has a
point, if we do secure agreement on
a transitional deal, that does
potentially give us more time to
work on the details of a trade
agreement. I hope we get as much as
possible in place before exit day.
But filling out some of that detail
is made easier if we can secure that
two-year transitional deal.
That is interesting because a lot of
Brexiteers what the deal to be done
by the inflammation period, it is
not a time for that.
recognise we need compromise, I am
keen to work with people across my
party in terms of spectrum of
opinion, and with other parties as
well to ensure we get the best
Let me ask you briefly
before you go about the possible
culture of sexual harassment in the
House of commons and Theresa May
will write to the Speaker of the
House of Commons to make sure there
is a better way that people can
report sexual harassment in the
House of commons. Is that necessary?
A better procedure is needed. It is
sad it has taken this controversy to
push this forward. But there is a
problem with MPs who are individual
employers. If you work for an MP and
have a complaint against them,
essentially they are overseeing
their own complaints process. I
think a role for the House of
commons authorities in ensuring that
those complaints are properly dealt
with I think would be very helpful,
so I think the Prime Minister's
letter was a sensible move.
think there is a culture of sexual
harassment in the House of commons?
I have not been subjected to it or
seen evidence of it, but obviously
there is anxiety and allegations
have made their way into the papers
and they should be treated
appropriately and properly
Thank you for talking
Thank you for talking to us.
Next week the Lord Speaker's
committee publishes its final report
into reducing the size
of the House of Lords.
With over 800 members the upper
house is the second largest
legislative chamber in the world
after the National People's
Congress of China.
The report is expected to recommend
that new peerages should be
time-limited to 15 years and that
in the future political peerage
appointments will also be tied
to a party's election performance.
The government has been under
pressure to take action to cut
members of the unelected chamber,
where they are entitled
to claim an attendance
allowance of £300 a day.
And once again these expenses
have been in the news.
The Electoral Reform Society
discovered that 16 peers had claimed
around £400,000 without speaking
in any debates or submitting any
questions for an entire year.
One of the Lords to be
criticised was Digby Jones,
the crossbencher and former trade
minister, he hasn't spoken
in the Lords since April 2016
and has voted only seven times
during 2016 and 2017.
Yet he has claimed around
£15,000 in this period.
When asked what he does
in the House he said,
"I go in and I will invite for lunch
or meet with inward
investors into the country.
I fly the flag for Britain."
Well, we can speak now
to Lord Jones who joins us
from Stratford Upon Avon.
Thank you very much for talking to
us. You provide value for money in
the House of Lords do you think?
Definitely. I am, by the way, very
keen on reform. I want to see that
15 year tide. I would like to see a
time limit, an age limit of 75 or
80. I would like attendants
definitely define so the whole
public understood what people are
paying for and why. The £300, as a
crossbencher I get no support, and
nor do I want any, speech writing,
secretarial assistance, none of
that, and the £300 goes towards
Whilst you are in there
because we will talk about the
reform of the Lords in general, but
in terms of you yourself, you say
you invite people in for lunch, is
it not possible for you to take part
in debates and votes and ask
questions at the same time?
ever listened to a debate in the
laws? Yes, many times.
times. You have to put your name
down in advance and you have to be
there for the whole debate.
to be around when the vote is called
and you do not know when the book is
called, you have no idea when the
boat is going to be called.
part of being a member of the House
of Lords and what it means. If you
are not prepared to wait or take
part in debates, why do you want to
be a member? It is possible to
resign from the House of Lords.
There are many things members of the
Lords do that does not relate to
parrot fashion following somebody
else, which I refuse to do, about
speaking to an empty chamber, or
indeed hanging on sometimes for
hours to vote. There are many other
things that you do. You quote me as
saying I will entertain at lunchtime
or show people around the House,
everything from schoolchildren to
inward investors. I will meet
ministers about big business issues
or educational issues, and at the
same time I will meet other members
of the Lords to get things moving.
None of that relates to going into
the House and getting on your hind
legs, although I do go in and sit
there and learn and listen to
others, which, if more people would
receive and not transmit, we might
get a better informed society. At
the same time many times I will go
after I have listened and I am
leaving and if I have not heard the
debate, I will not vote.
an essential part of being part of a
legislative chamber. This is not
just an executive committee, it is a
legislature, surpassing that law is
essential, is it not?
Do you really
believe that an MP or a member of
the Lords who has not heard a moment
of the debate, who is then listening
to the Bell, walks in and does not
know which lobby, the whips tell
him, they have not heard the debate
and they do not know what they are
voting on and they go and do it?
That is your democracy? Voting seems
to be an essential part of this
chamber, and you have your ideas
about reforming the chamber. It
sounds as though you would reform
yourself out of it. You say people
who are not voting and who are not
taking part in debate should no
longer be members of the House.
did not say that. I said we ought to
redefine what attendance means and
then if you do not attend on the new
criteria, you do not have to come
ever again, we will give you your
wish. I agree attendance might mean
unless you speak, you are going.
Fair enough, if that is what is
agreed, yes. Sometimes I would speak
and sometimes I would not. If I did
not, then off I go. Similarly after
15 years, off you go. If you reach
75 or 80, off you go. Why do we have
92 members who are only there
because of daddy.
You are talking
about hereditary peers. You would
like to reduce the House to what
kind of number?
I would get it down
You would get rid of half
the peers there at the moment? You
think you are active enough to
remain as one of the 400?
No, I said
that might well include me. Let's
get a set of criteria, let's push it
through, because the laws is losing
respect in the whole of the country
because there are too many and all
these things about what people pay
for. I bet most people think the
money you get is paid. It is not, it
is re-funding for all the things you
have to pay for yourself. But I
understand how respect has been lost
in society. Let's change it now.
Let's get it through and then, yes,
if you do not meet the criteria, you
have got to go and that includes me.
Lloyd Jones, thank you for talking
Lloyd Jones, thank
you for talking to us.
It's coming up to 11.40,
you're watching the Sunday Politics.
Coming up on the programme,
we'll be talking to the former
business minister and Conservative
MP Anna Soubry about the Brexit
negotiations and claims of sexual
harassment in Parliament.
Hello and welcome to
Sunday Politics, here
in the glorious west of England.
I hope you remembered
to put your clocks back.
Well, coming up this week,
just how much do university
bosses deserve to be paid?
How does £500,000 sound?
It's what the vice-chancellor
of the University of Bath gets.
And now she is under increasing
pressure to stand down.
Well, I'm joined this week by two
MPs who are worth every penny
of our generous appearance fees,
which is nothing.
They do it because they love you.
They are the Conservative MP
for Cheltenham Alex Chalk.
As well as the Lib Dem MP
for Bath, Wera Hobhouse.
Welcome to you both.
Let's start with the latest
developments over Brexit.
Wera, do you think there
is going to be a deal or not?
I think it looks more and more
as if the government is struggling
to come up with a deal in time
that we can all vote on it.
That is obviously the democracy
that we want to see back in Britain.
If Parliament will not be able
to vote on the deal,
there is going to be a big disaster.
Do you think your friends in Europe
have got any intention
of giving us a deal?
I don't think it is up
for our friends in Europe to set
the timetable entirely.
But they are not
compromising the are they?
I think the government has got
also cards in their hand
that they can put on the table.
I'd say the first thing
would be moving towards
a solution on the money.
How much would you pay?
I wouldn't want to put
a sum on the table.
It is about headlines
that the government is making
in order to reassure their European
partners that the British
government is actually
going to stick to its commitment.
Alex, do you think there
is going to be a deal or not?
Well, I'm much more positive
than they are actually.
I think if you listen to the mood
music that is coming
from Angela Merkel, Donald Tusk,
it is quite clear that they think
it's in the interest of the EU 27
as well as in the interest of the UK
and it seems to be,
as I say, far more positive.
So, yeah, I'm pretty optimistic
and I'm optimistic that December
will be the time when they indicate
that we can move on to that
second stage, which,
as little as two weeks ago,
people were thinking
might never happen.
But across the channel they look
at Britain and they see
the government apparently all over
the place with different factions
and they think, well,
let's push for a harder settlement
than we might otherwise
get because they are
so divided among themselves.
Look, I think sometimes these
things are overblown.
Of course there are differences
of emphasis but the government
and the Cabinet are absolutely
united around the Florence speech.
There is a real sense of mission
and solidity and, you know,
I think we're in good shape
and I think from December we're
going to negotiate a deal.
That's only a month
away so we shall see.
We must move on because I think we
might be talking about Brexit again.
Just a thought.
A former Labour minister weighed
into the row over the head
of Bath University's pay this week.
Dame Glynis Breakwell has attracted
for her pay packet of nearly
£500,000 plus perks.
Well, now Lord Adonis has offered
to do her job for free and to sell
up her grace and favour house
and give the money to the students.
Is your pay justified,
It's a question she hasn't
yet publicly answered.
Under attack for months,
Glynis Breakwell was escorted
away after a meeting
of Bath University's
They had just announced changes.
She will stand down
from the committee which sets
the pay of senior staff
and there will be
a governance review.
Reaction was mixed.
Too little, too late.
If they were serious about it
they could have done this years ago.
They could have had some
they could have brought in staff
and students to look
at the performance of
the Vice Chancellor.
It is not something
that we are proud of, it is damaging
to the University's reputation.
And the fact that they
are taking these steps
is really positive to see.
He knows there is a lot more to be
done to placate students angry
at how their fees are being spent.
We talk about it a lot
and it's just anger.
No one really agrees with the fact
that she gets paid to much.
I do think it's a bit of an outrage
that she's earning so much really
because as it's in the news a lot
at the moment, public sector
pay is kind of limited.
And seeing as though we are paying
nine grand a year, yeah,
it's a bit of a sting.
After months of adverse
publicity about her pay,
expenses and interest-free car
loan and the grand house
she lives in rent-free,
there are calls for her to go.
My own view is that the Vice
Chancellor should now stand down.
Get the University back onto an even
keel, recruit a successor,
sell this multi-million pound house
in the middle of Bath,
which the university has no
reason for owning at all.
Give that money back to student
and then I think the reputation
of the University will rapidly
recover because it has very good
academic staff, very good students.
It is being held back
by the Vice Chancellor
and the scandal over her salary
and that of other top managers.
Others are more understanding.
For while student numbers
have risen rapidly,
universities must compete hard.
There are many universities that
have seen their numbers drop,
as other universities have grown.
And this University in particular
has seen growth so, yes,
we're doing quite well but that
will be at the cost of other
universities around UK.
Does that mean then you think it's
justified to have salaries
as high as £450,000?
I think that salary is high but that
would be for Bath University
to determine as to whether or not
it's the right salary.
He gets no fancy house and his pay
is almost half that amount
but he will still have to explain it
when the government's new regulator,
the office for students,
starts work in January.
Universities in the future
will have to justify
paying their Vice Chancellors more
than the Prime Minister.
But places like this aren't the only
publicly funded organisations
with senior staff earning more
than £150,000 a year.
From local government
and the police to the NHS,
there are plenty of high earners.
In the West, Avon and Somerset's
Chief Constable earns £154,000.
Swindon borough council's chief exec
gets £164,000 and some NHS
consultants in Bristol
are paid £230,000.
But but as for it in the £450,000
mark, nationally, the BBC's
But as for hitting the £450,000
mark, nationally, the BBC's
director-general is among
the few who do.
Overall, though, top pay has come
down across most of the public
sector in recent years.
That is largely as a result
of falling funding.
with their growing student numbers
have not experienced.
I'm pleased to say I'm joined
by Professor Len Shackleton
from the free-market think tank
the Institute of Economic Affairs.
He has written in defence of
the amount vice chancellors are paid
and he's in Westminster for us.
Thanks for coming on.
Is Dame Glynis worth every penny?
Well, I think that's
not for me to decide,
it's not for the Twitter
storm to decide.
I think it's for the governing body
at Bath University to decide
and it's up to them.
I really don't like the way
in which people are being picked
on and it's very interesting,
of course, in another part
of the woods people moan
about the gender pay back
and so forth got a lady
here who is one of the highest
earning vice chancellors in Britain
and of course she's been attacked.
Vice chancellors in the UK earn just
a fraction of what comparable people
do in the United States, Canada,
Australia, you name it.
So, yeah, I think she's probably
worth what she gets but as I say,
it's not my job to decide this.
It's not your job either.
But she is running a charity,
so it's not a business
that can go bust.
And the students, the customers,
are taking out huge loans worried
whereas she's got an interest-free
loan for a car.
Well, talking about cars of course,
I mean, cars are a very
expensive consumer item,
cost as much as university places
but we don't insist that the chief
executive of car companies are paid
no more than the Prime Minister.
So, you know, it depends how
you pick these things.
Remember, universities are not
in the public sector,
they're not recognised
as being public sector by the OECD,
by international measurements.
They are private bodies and really,
when we lay down this kind of thing,
we should be really careful
OK, don't go away,
I shall come back to you.
Alex, do you agree?
Its free-market economics
and she's worth it.
No, Professor Shackleton,
with respect, has got it
completely wrong to suggest
their private bodies.
He ignores the fact that the tax
puts in, through teaching fees,
through research fees,
well over £10 billion a year.
And when you consider that
students as well as putting
in that kind of money,
it's absolutely right that
universities should have to justify,
not just to themselves,
but publicly as well
those sorts of things.
but publicly as well
those sorts of fees.
And my instinct is something
like over £500,000, that is very,
very difficult to justify and people
just got to get real.
He says it's up to the University.
Well, I don't think
that's good enough.
I mean, it's all very well for them
to justify it to themselves
but I think the public rightly
expects some kind of transparency
so that we can know that given that
public money is going in,
billions and billions
of scarce public resources,
that where there is exceptional pay,
there is exceptional
And that has got to be
a public judgment.
Let's hear from Wera.
She is your constituent.
So are you going to defend her?
I have never wanted
to pick on an individual.
It is about the governance
structure of the University.
And we need independent
oversight and good governance
so that the remuneration panel can
make a decision that is
open and transparent.
So it is not about picking
on individuals, it is
about the governance.
She's really been
pillared in the press
and virtually everywhere
about this, actually.
Do you think it crushes a woman?
Oh, an interesting point.
I don't think so.
I think it is because her pay
is exceptionally high and one
of the highest in the country.
It is important to stress
that the success of a University,
is not just down to one person.
The success of the University
is down to the lecturers,
the support staff and the students
So just to justify that higher pay
because it is believed that one
person has made that success
of the University
is also not correct.
Let's go back to
Do you think that vastly overpaid
is the point that Alex is putting
in and the government pays
in billions into universities.
Well, government doesn't pay
directly from a large chunk
of what universities do and,
you know, a large proportion of
students now our overseas students.
We compete in world market
and I think we need people
who are able to take on challenge.
I just repeat the point that
universities are not
in the public sector.
Whereas the BBC for example
is and Andrew Neil and Fiona Bruce
and John Humphrys and all these
people are paid a lot more
than Glynis Breakwell.
Sergei think that is justified?
By the same token?
How can you condemn one
section and not another?
I'm not condemning any of them.
She was also on the
She has stood down now.
Of the University.
So they sat around, I guess,
and said, well, look,
I'm going to set your pay,
your pay, your paid.
Now you've got to set mine.
I'll go outside.
That doesn't sound terribly
transparent or clear to me.
Well, that may be an issue
which is worth suing
Well, that may be an issue
which is worth pursuing
and the governance requirements etc
looking up time time.
But there are other highly paid vice
chancellors who don't benefit
from those kind of arrangements.
I come back to, this
is an international market.
British universities have
to compete big-time...
Yeah, but there's also places,
you mentioned the United States
and Canada, but there are places
like Poland which will be
and Canada, but there are places
like Poland which won't be
paying that sort of money.
Well, yes, that's our
comparator, is it, Poland?
Well, what is wrong with that?
We have independent universities.
are controlled by the state.
British universities have a long
tradition of independence and not
and autonomy and I think that's
what we ought to preserve rather
than having some jumped up proconsul
deciding that we should not pay
anybody more than an arbitrary
figure of £150,000.
OK, thank you for your contribution
but I am going to give the final
word on this to Alex.
The Conservatives are
all free-market people,
so it's just not quite clear why
you don't let the free
market take its course.
Well, the proper balance to strike
if to say is you want to justify
exceptional pay because you want
to attract people from
overseas or whatever,
that's fine but do it publicly.
What is not acceptable is for each
university to set its own rules
with effectively mates sitting
around a table deciding
who's going to get what.
They should be open and transparent.
If there needs to be a payment
above £150,000, just make the case.
And if it's a good case,
no doubt it will be justified.
OK, we must move on.
It was where I began my career
all those years ago,
on locals newspapers,
writing for the newspapers
and keeping the town
informed about what's
going on in their parish.
But does the digital revolution
threaten to put an end to all that?
It was one of the big topics at this
week's BBC Future Of News debate
and Robin Markwell was there.
And now, over to a conference
at one of the big national
newspapers, The Daily Sketch.
At the head of the table
sits the editor.
On his left, the managing editor.
Fleet Street in its prime.
Newspapers hot off the press
couldn't be handed out fast enough.
Several editions a day were rushed
out to a grateful reading public.
And they are distributed
in places as far away
as Lands End to a news-hungry
In proportion to our population,
the sale of newspapers in Britain
is greater than that of any other
country in the world.
That was then, this is now.
Read all about!
300 local papers closed
in the last decade!
17 alone during this summer,
says Press Gazette.
This month, two Gloucestershire
papers, which have been printing
daily editions since the 1870s,
switched to printing weekly.
The reason, they're
The Gloucester Citizen
and the Gloucestershire Echo's
sales now hover around
a mere 8,000 copies.
The paper's owners say the future
lies with a younger,
larger audience online.
People look at newspapers
like they look at red phone boxes.
Like they look at
Route Master buses.
There is a nostalgia
about a golden era of newspapers
but from my perspective
as a journalist it
never really existed.
And I think we just
have to accept that,
with the death of the pound note,
at some point in the future
there might be a move from a print
product into a new evolved form
of delivering local news.
In a BBC debate this week
on the future of news,
she went on to predict
even her weekly paper may no longer
exist in 20 years' time.
From a quick straw poll,
it was easy to see why.
So how many people here have
bought a local newspaper
this week last week?
Would you raise your hand?
A very small minority.
One former Citizen
of the paper may mean
a decline in journalism.
He says he's seeing fewer
journalists covering council
meetings once their bread
and butter of news.
Over the years, the journalists
have been disappearing.
First from the sub committees,
then from the major committees
now from the council meetings.
At the last council meeting,
there was no journalist
there from the Gloucester Citizen.
And what they've been relying
on more and more is cutting
and pasting of press releases coming
out of the council and you don't get
the digging around that you got
in the old days from journalists.
We have local journalists
on the ground, in the communities
that they are living
in as well as reporting on.
I can't comment on what
other traditional print
publishers are doing.
But certainly in my newsroom,
in the newsrooms within
the region that I work,
we have a patch reporters.
We have caught reporters, we have
dedicated political reporters.
We have agenda reporters looking
into investigative stories.
If there are fewer journalists
asking the right questions,
knowing where to get
the information, knowing how
to dig and delve for it,
and trained in matters of law
and so on.
Unless there is a professional
cohort of journalists
holding power to account,
then the problem quite
clearly will be that
democracy will be the loser.
With even editors predicting
their newspapers are heading
the same way as the trusty old red
phone box, should we consign them
to history now or do we risk leaving
traditional readers short-changed?
Well, I for one, love red telephone
boxes and local newspapers
but there will soon be highlights
from the BBC debate
on our BBC website.
Now, the freelance journalist
Phil Chamberlain was also
there and he's head of the School
of Journalism at the University
of the West of England.
Welcome along, thanks for coming.
Is it the beginning, do you think,
of the end for printed news?
And I worked with Rachel
at the Bath Chronicle back
in the day and I'm hoping to turn
out graduates who will be
working in print products
for a number of years yet.
I think we may have thought that
radio was going to be killed off
by television and yet it flourishes
in different forms.
I also think that if you look
at the way print products
are thriving in areas such
as Private Eye and specialist
magazines like that,
that do extremely well and things
like the Voice series in Bristol
that have been delivering
a particular product
to a very specific audience.
I think they're really thriving.
There are real opportunities.
But the days of mass
circulation of local evening
newspapers, for example,
is gone, isn't it?
I think the market has changed
enormously by thing to say
that it is going to go the same
as red phone boxes I think
is too pessimistic.
I think actually there is a future
just in myriad different forms.
Wera, does it matter if people don't
read the local news?
I think there is definitely still
a place for good local journalism.
Whether that is delivered
in print paper or that is
delivered digitally online.
I think the point that was made
about democracy and how we report
on local council meetings,
that is a very important point.
But I do believe very good
journalism can be done
through digital media.
In fact, at the Bath Chronicle,
we just got a very young reporter
who is going to get a reward.
For doing exactly that,
videos and clips.
What is his name?
Congratulations to you.
Alex, what do you reckon?
I mean, if people don't want to read
what's going on in councils,
parish councils, then there's no
point in sending
reporters along to it.
Yeah, but I knew at distinguishing
between two things.
There is definitely a huge
appetite for local news.
So in Cheltenham, people are really
interested in what's going on.
But they're not because they
are not buying the Echo.
They might not be necessarily
buying the print media
but they are increasingly consuming
media, as I am, I very rarely
actually buy a printed copy
of newspapers but I do look
at things on a tablet.
That appetite is still there.
So what the market has got to do
is work out how to deliver it.
I do deprecate the loss
of daily newspapers,
I'm quite nostalgic for them
and I know they serve an important
community purpose because people go
to see the newsagent
except but you can't
hold back the tide.
But I do think that the market
will continue to meet that demand
because it is certainly there.
Are the big media companies prepared
to invest in the local journalism?
Because in the days when they were
earning millions of pounds,
when they had all the classified ads
and the estate agent adds,
when they had all the classified ads
and the estate agent ads,
why didn't they then bring in star
paid them large salaries and build
up a real editorial base?
I think this funding issue is key.
Alex talked about the market
we're probably operating
in different forms of markets.
You've got people like Google
and Facebook who have a different
kind of business model and that
perhaps earning in some ways off
the backs of the products that
newspapers are putting out.
Actually, local newspaper
companies are profitable,
they are very profitable.
They have always been profitable.
It is how they choose to spend that.
They have got very
high profit margins.
Supermarkets have very low
profit margins and make
enormous profits as well.
It's about how they wish
to organise their model.
Newspapers are profitable,
it's just how they choose
to spend that as well.
You've got differing economic models
if you like competing,
so you might have bloggers
who are doing it out of love
and then you've got professional,
if you like in inverted commas...
So you need that core
of professionals, don't you,
otherwise you could get a load
of fake news.
And I think that is exactly
the place for good local journalism.
And a paper like our local paper,
the Bath Chronicle,
is a trusted brand and people
want to get their information
from a trusted brand.
Trust I think is key.
That is a real sellable
commodity I think.
I think that will be
just as important.
We have to leave it there.
Unlike newspapers, we can't just
print an extra page.
Our time is up.
And there's always news
on local television.
You've done your bit
for the Bath Chronicle today.
They'll be thrilled.
What about the Gloucestershire Echo?
And the Echo, and the citizen
and evening Post.
Before we go, just time
for our round-up of the political
week with our Robin.
It was a bleak week
for the Council in Swindon.
Around 400 jobs are to go,
that's 15% of its workforce as it
adjusts to funding cuts.
The NHS dismissed rumours that
Cheltenham's downgraded A&E
might eventually close.
There have been concern
from councillors following a pilot
scheme to transfer some orthopaedic
patients to the
perhaps it's the first male MP
in the chamber, I too very proudly
paint my nails today.
The Bristol MP Darren Jones sported
nail polish in the Commons.
It was part of the police's
let's nail it campaign.
It's targeted at modern slavery
in places like nail bars.
And there was disappointment
for that Cheltenham MP
in the Westminster dog
of the year awards.
His pooch, Ruby, failed to place.
Second spot went to
the member for Taunton Deane
and her beagle, Bonnie.
Both were rescued dogs
in need of new homes.
Oh, what a week.
Well, we're off to paint our nails.
My thanks to all my guests
for joining me here but now
we will return to London and Sarah,
who is waiting for us.
With that, it's back to Sarah.
Now, the much anticipated
EU Withdrawal Bill,
which will transfer EU law into UK
law in preparation for Brexit,
is expected to be debated
by MPs later next month.
Critics have called it a "power
grab" as it introduces so-called
Henry VIII powers for Whitehall
to amend some laws without
and it faces fierce resistance
from opposition parties
as well as many on the government's
own backbenches, with 300 amendments
and 54 new clauses tabled on it.
We're joined now by the Conservative
MP Anna Soubry who has been a strong
critic of the legislation.
Thank you very much for joining us.
Before we talk about the withdrawal
bill, I would like to bring up with
you that the Prime Minister has just
sent a letter to the Commons Speaker
John Bercow asking for an
independent body to be established
to investigate claims of sexual
harassment in Parliament. What are
your thoughts on that?
A very good
idea, sounds like a great deal of
common sense. I had already this
morning sent a request to the
speaker asking for an urgent
statement from the Leader of the
House as to what could now be done
to make sure that any complaints
actually against anybody working in
Parliament, to extend the
protections that workers throughout
the rest of businesses and in other
workplaces have, they should now be
extended into Parliament and asking
for an urgent statement from the
leader. Clearly the PM is well onto
this and it is a good idea. We have
to make sure everybody who works in
Parliament enjoys exactly the same
protections as other workers, so I
This should maybe have
happened a long time ago. We hear
stories of harassment that has been
going on for decades, but until now
it has been difficult to work out
who you could complain to about it.
It is my understanding that my Chief
Whip and the previous deputy Chief
Whip, and Milton, shared that view
and have shared that view for some
time but found it difficult to get
all the agreement necessary. Anyway,
we are where we are and we are
making that progress, but
my Chief Whip and the previous
deputy Chief Whip wanted this done
some time ago.
That is an
interesting point. Let's move on to
the much anticipated EU withdrawal
bill which will finally be debated.
You have put your name to an
amendment which is calling for a
vote on the final agreement in
essence, do you really believe that
that will be a meaningful both
offered to the Commons?
Yes, if you
look at the terms of the amendment,
it would deliver exactly that. It
would give members of Parliament the
opportunity to debated and voted on
it. It would be an effective piece
of legislation and would go through
both houses and should be done. One
of the problems with this process is
that Parliament has been excluded
from the sort of debate and
decisions that would have enabled
the government to move forward in
progress and form a consensus so we
get the very best Brexit deal.
have been excluded, that has been
wrong in my view, but by the end we
should not be excluded. The
government have made it clear that
whilst there may well be a boat if
you win on this amendment, it will
be a take it or leave it vote. This
is a deal you should accept, or
there will be no deal.
If you look
at the amendment we put forward
there will be other alternatives.
This is all hypothetical because we
want a good deal and it is difficult
to see that the government would not
bring a good deal to the House in
any event. But this is hypothetical,
it would mean Parliament would say
to government, go back and seek an
extension as we know it is there in
Article 50. It is perfectly possible
with the agreement of the other
members of the EU to seek an
extension so we continue the
negotiations and we get a deal that
is good for our country. It keeps
all options open and that is the
most important thing.
Conservative MPs really would take
that option in those circumstances?
It is only if you get enough votes
that you would be able to ask the
government to go back and
Have you for that?
For give me, but
you are jumping way down the line. I
am talking about an amendment that
keeps the options open. I am not
speculating as to what would happen,
I am not going there, it is far too
speculative. Let's get this bill in
good shape. The principle of this
bill is right and we need to put
into British domestic law existing
EU laws and regulations into our
substantive law. We all agree that
must happen. It is the means by
which we do it that causes problems
and we have this argument and debate
about what we call the endgame.
sure we will talk about this many
more times before we get to that
vote. I will turn to our panel of
political experts. Listening to the
tone of what the remainders are
trying to achieve with the EU
withdrawal bill, will be achieved?
You can hear that tussled there,
they want the maximum space and room
for Parliament to have a say. But
they have to be careful. The reason
is that clock is ticking and if you
have a situation which may seem to
be more interested in finding
different things to object to and
saying no to, it is not getting a
good deal and it does not look good
for the remainders in this argument
and they will have to come through
with their proposals. I do not mind
Parliament saying it should have a
big say, but what do you do if
Parliament says this is not good
enough? The government must simply
say, I am sorry we have run out of
time. The 27 will say they cannot be
bothered to have another round
either. They have to be strong, but
realistic about what their role in
Do you think the people
putting this amendment who say they
want a binding vote in parliament
are doing it because they think
Parliament should have a say or
because they want to obstruct it?
They do not think people should have
a say in the first place, they think
people got it wrong, so they need
more clever people than the voters
to have final say.
Or they believed
taking back control means Parliament
should have the final say.
Parliament said they would like to
give that decision back to the
people. This is the issue. It seems
to me that people like Anna Soubry
are trying to delay of the
transition period a bit longer.
These negotiations will take as long
as they have got. The EU will take
it to the wire and if we do not get
a decent deal, and one of the
reasons is the level of incompetence
on this government's part I have to
say and the other one will be the
people who want to remain
undermining them. They undermined
the government at every single stage
and they undermine Britain's
It is the timing of all
of this that is crucial and whether
the government can get a deal in
There will be a meaningful
vote, whether it is an shined in
legislation or not, there cannot be
an historic development as big as
this without Parliament having a
meaningful vote. I meaningful,
having the power to either stop it
or endorse it. You cannot have a
government doing something like this
with no vote in the House of
commons. When you say it will go to
the last minute I completely agree,
but last-minute in reality means
next summer. It has got to get
through the European Parliament and
the Westminster Parliament and quite
a few others as well.
with invoking Parliament is if it is
driven solely by remain, I would
love to say what people in the
league side think. I disagree with
Julia, I do not think you could say
people had their say and the terms
with which we leave are left open
and only the government should have
a say in it, Parliament clearly
should have a say in it.
Do we want
a good deal or not?
It does not mean
anything if you do not do it by next
summer I suggest.
Does that leave
Parliament any room for changing the
deal or is it simply take it or
It will have to have that
rule because it cannot simply be
another of these binary votes were
you accept the deal or no Deal.
There has to be some space.
a few MPs in the House of Commons
change a deal that has been agreed
by the member states?
Because of the
sequence, a huge if by the way, if
they vote down the deal that the
government has negotiated, the
government will have to re-negotiate
or there will have to be an
election. This will be a moment of
huge crisis, our government not
getting through its much topped
It is a mini Catalonia.
think it would be as big as
Catalonia, but with the implication
that there would have to be a
practical change in the deal because
if Parliament has not supported
It is a remain fantasy that
this deal can be put off and off
until they get something that is as
close to remaining as they can
possibly get. I am very much for
trying to get the best and avoiding
the worst, but there is an unreality
to that position if you keep trying
to do it again and again, at some
point people will want clarity.
labour putting forward a realistic
I thought Hilary Benn
was very realistic this morning, I
wish he was more in the driving seat
of Labour policy. He made clear
where he disagreed and he made clear
where he thought the negotiations
had gone off track or were bogged
down. I worry a bit about the Labour
position being incoherent, but that
is kept that way by the present
leadership because as far as they
are concerned the government is
suffering enough, why should they
have a position? Hilary Benn said we
needed to have clarity about the
timetable. It is like reading an
insurance contract and finding the
bit where you might get away with
it. That is not a policy.
That is not a policy.
That's all for today.
Join me again next Sunday
at 11 here on BBC One.
Until then, bye bye.
Sarah Smith and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Guests include chair of the Exiting the EU Select Committee Hilary Benn and former transport minister Theresa Villiers. Steve Richards, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Anne McElvoy are the political panel.