A lively, informed and in-depth conversation about the Sunday papers.
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time. All it finished. Chelsea are
taught by one point. That is all
your sport for now. Now on BBC News
it is time for the papers, with Ben.
Hello and welcome to our look ahead
to what the the papers will be
bringing us tomorrow.
With me are the political
commentator James Millar,
and the Education Editor
of the Sunday Times, Sian Griffiths.
Following the UN's resolution
for a ceasefire in Syria,
the Observer carries the picture
of two children in Eastern Ghouta,
where it's thought hundreds have
died in the past week.
Brexit leads the Sunday Telegraph -
the paper has a piece from senior
cabinet member David Lidington,
in which he claims that the SNP
could split the UK economy
and ruin trade deals.
Staying with Brexit,
and the Sunday Express reports
that the Prime Minister will declare
Britain's best days lie ahead
in a major speech coming
up next week.
Topshop owner Philip Green is under
fire in the The Sunday Times
which claims the billionaire planned
to sell his high-street empire over
dinner with two HSBC bankers.
And The Mail on Sunday reports
that the Ministry of Defence
is setting up a helpline
for British troops suffering
from conditions including PTSD.
So no consensus over the main story,
but Brexit appears in several
guises, perhaps not surprisingly,
let's have a look.
Let's start off with the observer.
They're talking about labour, Jeremy
Corbyn. Jeremy Corbyn Reno was going
to make an important speech
tomorrow. Which may commit Labour to
staying in the customs union.
Absolutely. He's going to be a
little bit annoyed this morning
because the observer has splashed on
the story. There are splits,
exposing splits within the Labour
Party. Because 80 senior figures
across the party, including Baroness
Kennedy and Lawrence, have warned
Corbyn that he is not going to be
able to fund his promised fund more
schools, more hospitals, unless the
UK stays in the EU single market.
Jeremy Corbyn poised to make a
speech tomorrow that he's gone to
signal that Labour will back
permanent membership of the customs
union, this is just going to be seen
as not a helpful intervention at
It is extraordinary. As a country,
we are getting nearer and nearer the
door, if you like.
We still don't really know what lies
outside her door. Yes, the timing of
this is perhaps more interesting
than the content. Because we know
there are lots of people in the
Labour Party who would rather we
were still in the EU, never mind in
the single market and Customs union.
It does show up the splits and
labour. We know there are splits in
the Tory party. It is exactly same
on the other side. As you say,
exactly what either party wants,
never mind what were going to end up
with, remains something of a
According to the Sunday express,
Theresa May is also to be making a
big speech on Brexit this week and
sounding very optimistic.
The country's best days lie ahead.
You are the Prime Minister would say
What you make of that?
It is a small word that is very
interesting. She has said, if we get
them right, Brexit will be beginning
of a bright new story.
If we get it right. You would expect
a Prime Minister to be saying, we
will get this right, are best days
are ahead of us. But she's saying is
that it is fascinating. It goes to
the heart of the uncertainty around.
She's making a big speech on Friday,
the big speech on Brexit which will
set out apparently what the Cabinet
have agreed. But we don't know
exactly what that is yet and as you
say, the clock is ticking. We're
into march on Friday so there was
not much more than one year until we
leave the EU.
Whatever happens. I thought as well,
with the story, when you turn the
page away from the best days ahead,
says May, the story is exposing
splits in the Tory party because it
has got Chris Patten saying that it
is completely unrealistic that the
UK can replace the benefits of
single market membership of the
global trade deals. There is a great
quote from him, all this business
about Walter Raleigh and Britain is
pretty much for the birds, you know.
The rhetoric is all rather grander
There is a quote from Donald Tusk
saying this as having your cake and
eat it. He will be overseen the
negotiation so, you know, to Theresa
Makin set out what she likes on
Friday. The EU can then turn round
and say, yes, you're not getting it.
Then where does that leave us?
Disunity within the Tory party, the
Labour Party, you thought about. But
according to the Sunday Telegraph,
disunity within the United Kingdom.
Maybe Scotland doing its own trade
deals, making things difficult,
according to the Sunday Telegraph.
You could not make this up.
Essentially the Government is saying
that if you have different. Your
biggest market, which you are next
to, that is a bad thing. Surely
Brexit means we're going to have a
print rules to our biggest market,
who we are next to. And yet they are
saying that the SNP of the Scottish
Government, which asked by the
different things, the Scottish
Government and the Scottish
Parliament are different to party
political entities. They're doing a
bad thing by wanting more power and
by taking back control for
Edinburgh. This is somehow not
acceptable. And it will not play
well in Scotland. I'm quite sure.
It's just weird, I think.
This idea that Scotland and Wales
would like to have more powers to
negotiate trade deals, you know,
praised Brexit. I'm Welsh and I
cannot see the logic in it but in
the other hand, it is this idea that
the UK will be weakened, you know,
if it becomes for separate nations
or try to negotiate. There is power
in unity and so, yes, I'm disturbed
by the Sunday Times this morning.
We had that Chequers summit of the
inner Brexit War Cabinet, whatever
you want to call it, which there
was, apparently consensus of a kind.
And we've got pictures and some of
the papers of that war cabinet.
There was a nice cosy sort of fire.
I'm not sure if it is a real log
fire or a gas fire. And they're all
in armchairs and on sofas, sitting
around, talking about the future of
the country. It is quite interesting
just to see them around not the
Cabinet table but around a rather
posh living room like that.
It is a classic picture tells a
thousand stories, doesn't it? The
power politics going on a few sips
wear. David Davis at the Prime
Minister's left by the fireplace,
apparently that was a prime position
to have. Michael Gove reanimated at
her right hand.
They are all numbered just in case
you don't know who is who from that
One of the things we remarked on is
how few women are in this gathering.
Just see that we counted. We also
noted that the men were
gesticulating rather animatedly and
woman sitting there with their hands
folded in their laps. There are all
kinds of... And I love these kind of
photos on the Sunday papers because
they tell you so much.
Theresa May trying all the time to
keep this consensus or establish a
consensus. Do you wonder now whether
maybe looking back she was right to
try and called a snap election?
Because she needed a majority which
obviously shouldn't get, but it
would have made her life so much
easier if she had a decent majority
in the Commons.
You forget that last April anyone
would've said she should draw a snap
election and get a big majority do
what she likes. Not work out like
that. It is unfair to suggest that
she should've seen ill exactly how
that election should play out though
she suddenly was responsible for
many of the Tory mistakes that were
made that led to the result but we
got. But, yes, she must lie awake at
night wishing she had that huge
majority of 100 that she was
dreaming of a year ago.
Let's move away into the murky world
of spies. It is always fun Sunday
morning. In the Sunday Times,
they've got unmasked, the Daily
Telegraph reporter who spied for
Moscow. His name was Floyd and he
was nicknamed Pink Floyd. She was
the Communist affairs correspondent
for the Daily Telegraph, which is a
great job title, isn't it?
A fabulous story.
Who would have thought the commonest
affairs correspondent would be a
communist spy? It is a fabulous
story and he is called David Lloyd.
He is a former British diplomat,
and, as you say, he became Communist
affairs correspondent for the Daily
Telegraph and the Sunday Times
revealed the escape prosecution. He
was unmasked just after the time
that Donald Maclean disappeared and
he was never prosecuted. The
thinking is that he was not
prosecuted because it would just
have been such a huge embarrassment
have yet another, you know, Russian
spy in Britain. He was actually
given a job. It was all dealt with
very quietly and he was given a job
in the Daily Telegraph, and then
editor and deputy editor had in fact
work for MI6. So we don't know
exactly why the deal was struck,
whether it was just too, you know,
save red faces all round. Or whether
he perhaps provided more
information. We don't know. There
was a lot about the story that we
don't know but it is just a fabulous
Plenty of entry, which is what you
want from a spy story.
And the mail on Sunday, they've got
a story about another well-known
journalist. The BBC's own John
Simpson, and how he nearly fell for
a communist spy honey trap.
It is an interesting insight into
how it worked. He was having trouble
in his marriage at the time. And,
here we go. The communists found a
glamorous young lady to try
persuading to, well, into a honey
I don't think you need to say any
more. Honey trap covers it.
John Simson and honey trap are not
words I want to dwell on.
We were chatting earlier about what
propels people to do this kind of
thing. Whether it is that you are
inspired by communism and you feel
this is a good ideology. Whether it
is actually that you are a man and
some rather beautiful young woman
from Eastern Europe comes along with
legs up to their armpits and seduces
I always thought it would be rather
flattering to be approached but
nobody ever approached me to be a
You would say that, though, wouldn't
you? I would, that's clever. Very
clever. Sunday Times front page.
They've got a big splash about
What you make of that? An
interesting choice of splash. They
might be trying to get at something
else. The story is that, allegedly,
Philip Green talks about selling off
his Arcadia group, talked about
selling fish shops. You very much
says, no, nothing in the story
actually happened. Which is a
slightly odd story for a splash. Is
there something more to this story?
It might have more to run, I
suspect. We will have to work that
out. The observer, they are leading
on Syria which has been so sad, so
tragic. Horrific, all week, really.
Another picture of misery therein
Syria. After that you end ceasefire
resolution which does not seem to
have made much difference says bar.
It is a very sad picture. Two little
children at a makeshift clinic in
rebel held area. The Security
Council voted in favour of a 30 day
ceasefire and they're still been
jailed and people are still dying.
There is no end in sight.
We've been talking about the papers
and comes up every so often and it's
so incredibly depressing, isn't it?
Because there is no obvious end.
Even, you know, the ceasefire.
Within minutes, according to the
coverage, there was no fighting.
The world just seem so powerless at
the moment, doesn't it?
To do anything. It is likely for
themselves to a standstill except
they haven't because they're still
As education editor you're
interested in the University story
that is in the observer.
This is a story on the front page of
the observer. And the headline is
revealed, university chief's 5-star
expenses. The story based on
requests and it lays bare the lavish
expense account of some British
university vice chancellors.
They've already been criticised for
their allegedly high salaries. Very
big salaries, approaching half £1
million in some cases. This is a
Channel 4 special programme tomorrow
and there are some juicy bits,
really, I guess. The questionable
items include a pawn star martini. A
Fortnum & Mason hamper. One
university paid £1600 for their
Chancellor's pet dog to be relocated
He must have flown first-class. Of
course, you know, this is coming at
a time when universities and facing
the worst industrial action they've
seen for decades. Strikes are to bus
week and it is a 14 day strike which
could be extended into the summer.
The good hits student exams. It is
over pension cuts and students at
the moment, lectures have been
cancelled, they are demanding
refunds for their fees. It is a
complete mess and given how many
overseas tunes we have here, what a
huge important business our
universities are for Britain.
It really needs to be sorted out.
You get a sense of higher education
is in a state of turmoil at the
moment. That is definitely true. The
one thing guaranteed to make any
situation worse is dropping the word
expenses. That is just the magic
Or a pawn star martini.
I wasn't sure about that, that is a
It has in it. Oh, you know what it
what it is? It seems tacky to have a
pawn star martini.
Would expect a vice Chancellor to
have a proper martini. What is being
done about those high salaries were
Is anything going to change on that?
Ministers have come up with very
strong words. There is a new
regulator coming in at the beginning
of April and they will have powers
to fine universities that continued
to paint vice chancellors salaries
that are not justified. A vice
Chancellor can show that the buck
salaries justify their in the clear
but adding some of the salaries way
above. Especially when we're seeing
lecturers now facing £10,000 cuts to
their pensions and many of them are
on short-term contracts.
It is timing, isn't it? Terrible
timing given the strike is all about
pensions. Suddenly you're finding of
another nearby towns is getting a
huge amount of pay, they can do this
as well. That you might not that
closely linked but it is very easy
to fudge the two together.
£1600 to bring your pet dog from
Australia. That seems a bit over the
top. There was a good cartoon on the
front page of the Sunday Telegraph
from Matt, who is always liable to
make us laugh.
Exactly. Have you got that led to
readers of what Matt says? We have
of 30 of Matt been celebrated in
recent days and it is remarkable how
he is always on point. This one is
what looks like two dogs outside the
university and one saying, if a
philosophy lecturer goes on strike,
and all his students sleep through
it, did the strike ever happen? It
is a serious and issue but it gets
to the point and makes you laugh.
An incredibly difficult skill,
actually, to do time after time. I
wonder if that is true. I wonder if
some of them have been sleeping
through the strike. Anyway, OK,
let's finish off on the rugby.
Now, I know, James, you're
interested in this.
Did you enjoy...
I've got a foot in both camps on
Who do you support, tell us?
I think the Scottish addition to the
Sunday Telegraph has a different
page. I expect the Scottish addition
had a jubilant Scottish player after
they beat England 25 have then --
Do you sport England or Scotland?
You will mean all sorts of trouble
here. Historically, growing up in
Scotland, you were required to
choose one or the other and you
would... I suddenly decided to
choose the one who tends to win
more, whose England.
But I still wish Scotland what
they're playing anybody else.
But you are a Scottish? I was born
in England so our foot in both camps
as I see it.
My timeline on Facebook and Twitter
have been overtaken by jubilant
Scots who are absolutely over the
moon, which is lovely to see.
Because it has been ten years since
they last won and apparently it was
a good game. I confess I missed it,
unfortunately. I will try to catch
the highlights. I believe the
highlights are on YouTube. Your
recommended to get a bowl of
porridge while you're watching them.
It is not the championship more
interesting, it is underdog story.
It is just a really nice story.
you a rugby fan? I was at the match
where Wales beat Scotland a few
Why you? Yes. And Wales. It was a
lovely atmosphere. We were at
Cardiff station going back in the
evening and I was saying to you,
there a Scottish bagpipe player in
his kilt and he was playing Scottish
tunes. And if it had been a football
match it would've been a very brave
person to be standing at Cardiff
station surrounded by drunken Welsh
bands but it was rugby is of the
Welsh bands were just singing along
and that's the difference between
rugby and football. Such a nice
atmosphere to to the games.
It is such a family atmosphere.
gentlemen. Is that right?
Very good quote, yes, that is
perfect. Thank you very much for
both of you.
That's it for the papers today.
Don't forget you can see the front
pages of the papers online
on the BBC News website.
It's all there for you -
seven days a week at
and if you miss the programme any
evening you can watch it
later on BBC iPlayer.
Thank you to James Millar
and Sian Griffiths.