18/06/2017 The Papers


18/06/2017

A lively, informed and in-depth conversation about the Sunday papers.


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Hello and welcome to our look ahead to what the papers will be

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With me are journalist Sean Dilley and political

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Let us take a look at the front pages starting with...

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The Observer claims that the Government repeatedly

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failed to act on fire safety warnings before the fire

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The Express leads with the Queen's response to the fire,

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praising her Majesty for calming the nation.

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The Sunday Mirror labels the Duke of Cambridge the "Prince

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of Compassion" for the role he played in responding to the fire.

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The Sunday Telegraph says Theresa May could face a leadership

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challenge from within her own party if she waters down Brexit.

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The Sunday Times reports that senior Conservative figures have told

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the Prime Minister she has ten days to improve her performance or face

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Let us begin. A great deal to talk about. The paper is dominated by

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Grenfell Tower. Perhaps we should start with the Sunday Telegraph, the

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headline, the Inferno response is not good enough, admits the Prime

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Minister. A statement of the obvious, Sean? I do not suppose when

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people have such an appalling experience there will be enough that

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would satisfy what we would want, but it has appeared to be very

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disjointed on the ground. When the Prime Minister is admitting people

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have not been visible enough, a ?5 million emergency budget so people

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can get food and clothing on the spot, and admitted that maybe she

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did not do entirely the right thing, well, again, it probably is the

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worst time for the Prime Minister, but ultimately, it is even worse for

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the poor people without homes. Vincent, one has to unpack it a

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little bit, there is the presentation aspect of what went

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wrong and the practical aspects. That is right. Theresa May with her

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mea culpa has realised that not just her but the local council has not

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performed well. The initial response of the emergency services was

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outstanding but the follow-up has been poor and people have seen the

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pictures on the BBC of the huge amount of aid that came in but it

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was even apparent on the pictures that it was not being very well

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distributed and that is where perhaps the army could have come in

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and some of that aid will probably not get to the people, some will be

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perishable. The follow-up has been poor. That is why she has tried to

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put some of it right now but she is very much behind the pace and it is

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going to be very difficult for her this week. She has to get a grip on

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the situation. She put civil servants in but this is a time when

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a Prime Minister needs to show leadership and I think the May has

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been very lacking. Just to add, Sir Craig Oliver, who was director of

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communications at Downing Street under David Cameron, has said

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because Downing Street has been so hollowed out, nobody really was able

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to say, you are losing compassion. She has been criticised widely in

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the media for what has been branded a lack of compassion. Hollowed out,

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what do you mean? Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, having to resign, as a

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result of tensions within the Conservative Party, concerns that

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Number 10 had too much power compared to an elected MPs, but

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ultimately, because it is a compromised parliament, whatever

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happens, in the lead up to the Queen's Speech, and it is not a

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political statement at all, the Prime Minister's position and the

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Conservative Party have been hugely weakened and ultimately, the

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suggestion is, it is far too soon. Gavin Barwell coming in as the chief

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of staff. She is in a dinghy on her own. I do not know if you agree?

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Yes, very much so. Before we move on, do you think the Prime Minister

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can make up for lost ground now? It is very difficult. She has a tricky

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week ahead. She is starting to try to get into the right territory, the

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invitation to Downing Street to the victims yesterday. People want more

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resources and potentially more money. The Government has offered ?5

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million. The local community are saying it is not enough so we may

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see the figure up. Moving on to the Observer and its front pages about

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more about the warnings there had been. This is why it is such a

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tragic event. It does appear to have been entirely avoidable. Their

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headline, revealed - the tower block fire warnings ministers ignored.

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This is interesting. Can I say, it is damning, the secretary of the

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all-party Parliamentary group, Ronnie King, a firefighter of 41

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years, a man who knows the fire industry, he has said the Government

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ignored calls for sprinklers and he has pointed out the fact even in

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schools they have called for sprinklers to be there and he would

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argue it would potentially save lives? Interestingly, we have to say

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that he appears to be the vice chairman of the national fire

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sprinkler network and I think it is important to declare that interest,

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it does not appear to be mentioned in the newspapers today. Ultimately,

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if this was preventable, even more questions, I think, will be asked.

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Put more pressure on Theresa May. Yes, all the Sunday papers are

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looking at the minutiae of what happened and what went wrong and

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looking at issues were warnings couldn't be ignored in the Observer

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is in that territory, saying this could have happened. The Mail on

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Sunday has a revelation that even the manufacturers of the cladding at

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the centre of the blame game say it should not have been used on

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buildings more than ten metres high and Grenfell Tower is 67 metres

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high. This will all come out in the looming public inquiry but already

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the Sunday papers are looking back and saying, look at what went wrong,

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where lessons to be learned? That was a phrase used by the leader of

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the council, Kensington and Chelsea. -- you said. Lessons need to be

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learnt, but we hear this platitude spoken after every horrific action.

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Lessons need to be learnt. There is going to be accountability. The Met

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Police commander saying where arrests are necessary, they will

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happen. But as the country, we need to be careful because there is

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always the knee jerk reaction somebody must get in trouble. Yes,

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absolutely, if someone has done something wrong, that is why it is

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important to have the public inquiry led by an independent judge. One of

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the other areas is the Kensington and Chelsea tenant 's management

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organisation responsible for this. I used to live very close to Grenfell

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Tower, I could see it from my bedroom window, even though it was a

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private flat, I was under the management organisation and even

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then it was overly bureaucratic and under managed and it was very

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difficult when it came to repairs because they have an approved list

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of contractors and there were arguments about the quality of

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repairs and why you could not get your own contractor and one reason

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was because it was a very formalised bureaucratic structure and there

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will have to be significant changes in the way the organisation is run.

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If those tenants and tenants of other blocks have raised concerns

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and they did not listen... They are not here to defend themselves but we

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will say the allegation, I am sure we look forward to a statement from

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them to defend themselves as quickly as possible, and I am sure questions

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will be asked and answered, but the allegation is they saved ?6,200

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using the inferior cladding and the company... What happens is, when

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they are heated, as Vincent said, they are supposed to be used up to

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ten meters. Yes. When fire hits them, they melt and drip downwards

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and also there is another aspect and I believe the Observer goes into it,

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they were due fire inspection by the London Fire Brigade and the

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allegation is that as a result of fire cuts, lots of fire inspections

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that otherwise would have happened have not happened. If that is true,

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it really would be damning. Indeed. Let me take you to pages two and

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three of the Observer, you can see there... This is an interview that

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has been carried out with the London fire commissioner, Dany Cotton, all

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about the decisions she had to take to send in the 100 members of her

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team into the burning building and the risk, the stress, the anxiety

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about that, quite a moving piece. She was very much front and centre

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of explaining to the public what was going on. One of the things many

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people, especially if you have visited New York and other major

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cities, you will see the tall buildings, in New York, for example,

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they have exterior fire escapes where you see them in all of the

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famous films and there was no access like that, as well as no sprinklers.

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The firemen are incredibly brave. But you come back to the issue in

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terms of fire safety, a big role of firefighters, because fires are

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relatively rare, why were there not more protected measures especially

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on higher floors? Returning to their heroism of the emergency services,

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any health and safety that is possible is there, they have the

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very best kit, I think we are reminded also with the London terror

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attack in policing, the Ambulance Service, the fire brigade here, when

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these most horrific things happen, when the city, the country is on its

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knees and we are running away rightly from danger, these are the

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men and women running towards that danger and it is interesting, you

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are seeing a sea change of people saying, thank you. I think it is

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right to say that because we read harrowing accounts of a firefighter

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having to decide whether to save a lady and her baby or to save other

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residents. Somebody was going to die. Can you imagine being in that

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situation? These people are people and... That is exactly what Dany

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Cotton, the commissioner, is saying, she realised she was sending her

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team into a very risky situation but she felt there were lives to be

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saved in the building, they had to go in. We should never forget, this

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is what they do and why they do it. Looking at the front page of the

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Express now, the Queen calms a shaken nation, this is again about

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her visit to the site in West London. It is interesting because

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the Queen is held in great respect and regard, but she is not known as

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somebody who shows empathy or emotion. Yet, actually, this seems

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to be the figure she has become. Very much so. Even her break with

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tradition to talk about the difficult times and how the nation

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has remained resolute in the face of adversity and her visit as well and

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those of the Duke of Cambridge as well, very moving and showing

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humanity and compassion. Unfortunately for the Prime

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Minister, even critics within her own party, they felt she was unable

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to show that. And the fact the royal family were able to go to the estate

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quite comfortably, it gives the lie to the claim is coming out from the

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Government that there were security concerns about the Prime Minister

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going there because all of the other senior MPs have been able to go

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there. The Prime Minister visited eventually, a belated visit and a

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very controlled visit which has dogged her premiership so far, this

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intense control which people are now starting to react against. I think

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you will see with the Queen's Speech on Wednesday, and other potentially

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very controlled event, talk of more protests on the streets of London,

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and I think that is part of the problem. Whether Theresa May can

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reinvent herself to show she is more empathetic, more humane and

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spontaneous, I doubt it. She is in a very difficult place. I agree. The

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Queen has said very few words but she is very much the start of this

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because people can see into her heart -- the star. I do not think

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anyone would suggest Theresa May is seen in human, that she would not

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care... It is the response. She has been branded in some media reports

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as lacking humanity. People are saying it. I do not think in reality

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people would think she does not care. Unfortunately, politics and...

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It is her ability to express it, the optics, a Westminster cliche. She is

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coming across very poorly, as are the centre of the Government in the

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way they have managed the operation. It is true, but I think other

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politicians have said she lacked humanity and they need to be

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careful. Michael Portillo said that, you are right. Former Kensington MP,

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of course. Let us move on from the terrible tragedy, but talk a little

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more about the Prime Minister because the Telegraph, it's other

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front-page story, May faces a threat of stalking horse leadership

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challenge. How credible is that? Yes, in terms of growing

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unpopularity, that is true. I was talking this week the Conservative

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ministers and their view is, yes, it is very bad, but she got us into

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this mess, and at the moment, the view earlier in the week was, we

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want her to get us out of it. There are all sorts of problems with a

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leadership challenge, a new Conservative leader and Prime

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Minister, they would be unelected, into the whole territory Theresa May

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was in, seeking a personal mandate. Nobody wants a second general

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election within a year, not least because the Conservative Party fear

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they might lose. Even those who want to get rid of Theresa May in the

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Conservative Party, they realise it could precipitate another general

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election and Jeremy Corbyn could be Prime Minister. There is no doubt

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the Telegraph is right to highlight the fact there is never this and

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unhappiness within the Conservative Party and critically within the

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grassroots that MPs are meeting this weekend at the various social and

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events who are very unhappy with Theresa May. Also, there are a

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couple of interesting things in this report on the Telegraph, you do not

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need a stalking horse, 48 letters sent to the 1922 Committee, formed

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in 1923, a little fact! It was the 1923 Parliament. This powerful group

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of backbench Conservative MPs who hold the leadership to account, they

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would be duty-bound to trigger the leadership election. Who would run?

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Who would not be a stalking horse at the moment? The same names, they

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would emerge, in terms of Boris Johnson, various others. I do not

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get a sense... You would need 48 letters, 15% of the current... We

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are political geeks! And a very good thing too. Let me take you to a

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related story, they are all related. The front page of the Observer,

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business leaders pressed the PM to rethink a hard Brexit. Negotiations

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start tomorrow. The Telegraph was saying that if Theresa May slackens

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on Brexit, all hell will break loose. The Observer is applying the

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pressure the other way from business leaders. Am I being cynical? There

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is a Cabinet split at the moment with the Chancellor, Philip Hammond,

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who was supposedly not to be the Chancellor, had there have been a

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bigger majority. The Prime Minister and Philip Hammond do not exactly

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see eye to eye on various issues. If you look at the Conservative Party

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for the last 30, 40 years, Europe and the EU have been the single

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defining issue that has torn apart the party. Yes, the Observer, the

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most pro-European newspapers, highlighting it. It is not just big

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business, particularly Stuart Rose, the Conservative pier and the

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chairman of Ocado, it is the fact Theresa May in reality cannot

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probably get a hard Brexit passed her own Cabinet, her own party,

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probably the country. A survey today saying 69% of people are not in

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favour of a hard Brexit. It does look very difficult for Theresa May

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because there is probably a growing majority within not just Parliament,

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the House of Commons, her own party and the Cabinet, but the general

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public as well, an argument people do not want the cliff edge Brexit

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and that is another of the many headaches Theresa May will face in

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the week ahead. It will look a bit bizarre if she was saying before the

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general election the British public have spoken and it is very clear

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what is wanted and now it slightly changes. You're not suggesting there

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would be a U-turn, Vincent? A softening of the position! Let us

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and with something a little nicer. It is sweltering outside. I love

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wearing suits! I will be in shorts in ten minutes. A happy picture,

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East Sussex, at a swimming pool. Do we complain too much? Personally

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speaking, I would rather go out into boiling hot weather every day

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because you can get air conditioning. The heating bills are

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lower. We need something to lift the mood. Driving this morning in

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London, people are smiling. We need a bit of that. The Telegraph talking

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about the hottest June since records began. If there is a lido near you,

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people will want to be in it. Thank you very much. That is it for The

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Papers. Thanks to Sean and Vincent. Just a reminder, we take a look

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at tomorrow s front pages every

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