A lively, informed and in-depth conversation about the Sunday papers.
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That is all the sport for now and
next on BBC News, it is back to Ben
Brown with the papers.
Hello and welcome to our review of
the Sunday papers.
With me are Katy Balls,
at The Spectator and Ben Chu,
Economics Editor at The Independent.
Welcome to you both. Thank you so
much for coming in.
There's a good mix
of stories, from the extreme weather
to a look ahead to the Oscars.
The Observer takes stock
of the financial cost the wintry
weather has taken on the country -
suggesting it's cost us £1 billion
The Sunday Times leads
on an investigation into how
internet giants may be
implicated in the trafficking
of vulnerable women.
The paper also looks ahead
to tomorrow night's Oscars -
with a picture of Gary Oldman -
who has the Best Actor nod
for playing the part
of Winston Churchill.
The actor also takes centre stage
on the front of The Telegraph -
alongside the paper's top story
which looks at the way BBC
presenters' salaries are taxed.
The top story for the Mail
is the latest gossip
from within Theresa May's cabinet.
This time involving the Foreign
This time involving
the Foreign Secretary.
So plenty to be looking
at this morning.
Let's kick off with the weather. It
has been an atrocious week of
weather, of course. I was reporting
it from the north-east of England,
pretty chilly, I must say. We have
talked a lot about the travel
implications for people but also the
economic implications, Katie, the
big freeze according to the Observer
costing us £1 billion a day. I am
not sure exactly how they worked
Yes, the beast from the
east appears to be subsiding but the
aftermath will not be pretty and it
is thought it has cost us so much
money in terms of lost productivity
that it could affect our growth for
the first quarter of the year and we
could see a drop of .2%. That is
obviously not a good thing but it's
also hard to know how that could
actually be avoided, because it
comes back to the debate about
should we spend lots of money in
case there was bad weather or is it
where enough that we just need to
deal with it as we have now.
suppose with the best will in the
world however much you grip the road
and whatever preparations you take,
in a country like this, you will
always have so much disruption when
you have that much snow and ice.
is the old debate about should we
invest in snowploughs and things
like Canada and Switzerland have,
but the problem is that this does
not happen often enough for that
Which is why it is news,
Yes, this would be nothing
in Montreal. It is interesting how
they have worked out this £1 billion
figure. People have been spending
less in the shops, but they have
also been drawing more heat and
energy, so it does go the other way.
We have had a precedent for this. It
was in the final quarter of 2010,
very, very bad weather and the
growth rate collapsed. In fact, the
first estimate was that it fell by
.5%. It went from .6% 2.1%. So we
have seen very cold weather having a
very significant impact on growth
Katy, inside the Observer
some pictures and the headline that,
Britain's tale of empty shops,
really referring their to our
economic story, but also reunited
communities and people pulling
together to help each other. I must
say, I did see that in
Northumberland. Really going out and
pulling people out of snowdrift and
so on if they had to.
Yes, and I
think that is the positive story it.
The Observer looks at an area near
Glasgow and we have stories of the
blizzards and all the problems it
caused, but at the end here it says
one local resident says that it took
twice as long to get all these
objects from the snow, because they
were chatting to each other so much
and stopping to catch up and gossip,
so in a way it reminded him of how
it used to be when everyone stopped
at the shops and spoke to each
other. That was a nice way of
bringing the communities together.
And one of the most dramatic things,
Ben, was all these drivers stuck for
hours and hours on motorways and
roads, with jackknifed lorries and
then everyone else stuck there,
really, for the whole night. But the
good old British spirit often coming
through and people not daunted too
much. Just having cups of tea in
their cars and so on.
heartening. One place you did not
see that kind of spirit was in
Ireland where some thieves had a
snow looting episode where they
destroyed a small store and looted
all the alcohol and expensive food.
But you will always get these
different stories and it is
encouraging as Katy says that there
were places where people came
together to fight adversity as well,
as you to DC in this kind of
And we have got is no baby
as well, I believe, with a baby born
off the motorway as they can get to
the hospital. So mother positive
story to tell in years to come.
it been a positive story for Theresa
May and Brexit? Her big speech
possibly slightly overshadowed on
Friday by the weather. If you look
across the newspaper front pages
today, what is good from her point
of view perhaps is that there is in
the big backlash from either faction
to be speech that she made.
and the Observer has this headline.
If you told Theresa May this time
last week that the only person the
journalists would have to dig out to
be critical of the speech would be
Michael Heseltine, a man who has
said he would prefer a Corbyn
government to Brexit, I think she
would have been pretty happy and
hoping that would be the scenario.
He had obviously found problems with
the speech but I think he is such an
extreme. We know he really opposes
Brexit, no matter what kind Brexit.
He wants to lead a rebellion in the
Lords on it. I don't think she could
have said anything other than we
will stay the EU or have a second
referendum to make him happy, but
like you say, in general the people
in her own party seem to be fairly
happy. Perhaps by disappointing
everyone a little bit.
Let's not go
too far. Michael Heseltine saying
that the Brexiteers are holding a
knife to Theresa May's throat, which
is quite a vivid description?
but I think it's quite accurate. The
way we are talking about it speaks
of the UK domestic debate, because
of course what really matters about
how the speech is perceived as how
the EU see it. Do they think what
she outlined admitted to a cherry
picking approach, which they have
said they will not have, or do they
think it was constructive? That is
the key thing. We are talking about
whether Jacob Rees Mogg liked it,
Michael Heseltine, which are very
relevant questions because we all
know Theresa May's position is very
fragile. That she could be brought
down by her own party if they think
she is not handling Brexit right. So
it's understandable, but actually
the bigger issue is how the
Europeans about that? That
determines whether we will get any
serious results in time.
mail on Sunday continuing on the
Brexit theme. Boris in new dirty
tricks row with Number ten. This is
the PM's fixer supposedly leaking a
As Ben pointed out, this goes
back to the domestic view of Brexit.
The idea of dynamics within the
Conservative Party and how it
affects Theresa May's position. A
memo was leaked to Sky News this
week which had a line in it where
the Foreign Secretary seemed to
concede that there could be a hard
Irish border. They feel like this
was unfair because it was one line
from a very long letter with lots of
different options, and the
suggestion was that it was leaked by
Number ten to put Boris Johnson in
his place. It's quite funny, because
obviously a key ally of Boris
Johnson told the mail on Sunday
this, but if you get off the front
page Boris Johnson's spokesmen says
it is a load of baloney, not true
and they are not accusing Number ten
That speech by Number
ten, I guess it was a reality check
in some ways in that you were saying
we will not get everything we want
in the negotiations. It may be
obvious, but she spelt it out.
and actually if we look at the
European reaction, Michel Barnier
said that. He welcomed the sense of
realism in the speech. And I think,
yes, one should recognise that she
was saying, we will not have all the
benefits of being in the EU when we
are out of the EU. It sounds
obvious, but for her to say that,
because her line-up until now is
that she wants all the benefits of
being in the and her ministers have
been saying that. It is blatantly an
unrealistic expectation, said she
has dialled it down. But as I say,
whether they still think what she is
asking for, this basket approach
where we are in think in regulation
and diverging other areas, depending
on what suits the UK, whether they
look at that and think no, no
chance, is the key question.
move away from Brexit. The Sunday
Times lead on Internet giants
profiting from pop-up brothels.
this is Number ten considering new
laws on sex trafficking and it is
being directed at Internet giants.
This idea that because on places
like Facebook you can see these
adverts, brothels advertised, should
the host sites be culpable for that?
It has been a big debate and in
America right now they are trying to
pass legislation which will mean
that is the case. It is something
which of course all Internet
companies massively resist because
they can't keep track of everything,
but I think the question is as well,
most of these adverts are not
saying, there is a pop-up brothel.
They are a bit more subtle than
that. You can probably still work it
out, but how much responsibility and
how far are these Internet giants
are opposed to dig really to find
that out? I think most people would
agree they shouldn't have something
Also in The Sunday
Times, the MP gender pay gap. We
have heard a lot about the gender
pay gap in other industries, Ben,
including BBC presenters, of course.
But this is MPs, they are saying,
and men being paid more than women.
It's important to recognise that MPs
do not get paid differently
depending on whether they are men or
women. They both get the same amount
per year. But what The Sunday Times
research is looking at is what they
earn outside. So once you factor in
the back that men and women in
Parliament, MPs, and different
amounts in that outside jobs, you
get this gender pay gap. So you're
the buckled Tory MP, male Tory MP,
gets about £100,000 including their
MP salary, whereas female MP
salaries get about 90 6000. There is
the gender pay gap. The gap between
Labour MPs is lower, 79,004 men,
78,000 for women. A lot of people
would be saying that MPs shouldn't
be doing any other work they should
just get their basic salary for
doing their MP work.
I think this is
a fair point and this is may be
looking at that male MPs are more
able balance family commitments. We
were speaking about this before and
saying that George Osborne had about
six jobs whilst he was an MP. I
would have completely skewed
everything. I think he was financial
adviser, briefly the editor of the
standard, or he planned to edit the
standard whilst being an MP,
obviously be speech circuit which
can be very lucrative.
Telegraph, let's go on to that. They
are talking about Britain being told
to brace for a spring crime spree,
Ben, and knife crime which has been
so dominant in the last few years
seems to be increasing. I am not
sure how you predict there is going
to be a surge in that?
appears to be that as the weather
gets warmer naturally, you get more
crimes because people are out in the
streets more. That is essentially
the basis of the story. They say the
number of young people who have been
killed by knife crime this year has
been about double what it was at the
same time last year. So if it
continues to extrapolate trends in
the way it has is the weather gets
warmer, you will get more crime. It
is highlighting the fact that that
does seem to be this surge in knife
crime, violent crime, from a pretty
low base, it must be said and it is
localised to certain areas. There
was not a nationwide crime wave
going on but they do seem to be
pockets of this and really this is
drawing attention to that trend.
how do you reduce knife crime?
very difficult, isn't it? We know
that Sadiq Khan is very worried
about this because we had four
stabbings in one night recently and
his plan is to significantly
increase stop and search. It is seen
as quite controversial because of
how it affects communities, but I
think the judgment is now coming
from the police that it does need to
be done if they are going to tackle
this, because they think it is very
effective. And therefore you will
see more things like body cameras so
you can attest to the fact this is
not being done in a manner which
could be accused of being racist or
OK, it is the
Oscars, of course. Very exciting.
Gary Oldman, the great British hope.
His pictures are plastered over a
lot of the front pages. Are you an
A Gary Oldman fan? I
can't say I have ever stayed up to
watch it but what I find astonishing
is that he is a huge favourite to
win an Oscar, which is about 95%
chance implied that he is going to
win it. Obviously the odds are
begged the way the betting is going,
but that seems to me. An
extraordinary set of odds to be
giving on something like that
because we do not know how the votes
are tallied up. I think it is
interesting from that perspective
I suppose in some years there
is more competition among the male
leads and maybe this year he is the
dominant one. Whereas in the best
actress category, there is more
Yes, I think there is
more room for surprise. I think if
you back a pound on Gary Oldman, you
get a 4p return. I have seen a film
I thought was very good.
Very good. I rarely go
to the cinema but I went to the
cinema for that and it was good.
you believe the story quite up
because people talk about Churchill
and the prostatic sand whatnot.
would say it was up from the Crown,
that is my level of expertise.
shape of the water, which everybody
gets very excited about, but I just
couldn't get into it. Then, have you
had any movie favourites you would
be voting for?
I saw Dunkirk, which
I thought was excellent, but some of
the critics saying it was not a
documentary, why wasn't this in it,
why wasn't that in it, but I think
that is misinterpreting what it was
I think it is good to see
that British talent, be it acting,
technical talent, is still there at
Definitely, and I think
that makes it more fun to watch.
Like the World Cup, we are reaching
for the British.
Yes, and hopefully
Gary Oldman will deliver. All we
will be gutted.
Now, this is about
If this replicating the idea of
When I heard about
this story, I thought it sounded
awful, like going to get a Christmas
tree again but four is Detry. Then I
realise it is something we do at
home, get a branch and hang some
decorations on it. It's a nice
little ornament on the table.
Essentially what the story is is
trying to push this as a concept,
because they have got a quote from
John Lewis and they are talking
about Liddell and algae, so they are
trying to get people to get into
There is always the commercial
aspect in these areas.
I think we
are getting more into arts and
crafts as a nation, but it is
becoming more commercial now and you
can buy baubles with chicks inside
them and whatnot but I think you
could do it more cheaply at home.
is interesting, because the seasonal
trappings have just been out for
ever but a lot of the Christmas
traditions only go back to Victorian
times. So you can invent them.
Charles Dickens invented it, didn't
he? With the Christmas trees, plum
pudding and Turkey. We have to
understand that a lot of our
traditions are invented and
commercial companies do play a role
in shaping the way we see things.
Maybe we will be the generation that
invented Easter trees. Anyway, thank
you very much, both of you. I hope
to see you again very soon. But Katy
and then, thank you very much
indeed. Don't forget, you can see
the front pages of the papers on our
website seven days a week. And if
you happen to miss the programme any
evening in the week, you can was
watch it later on BBC iD there. Our
thanks again to Katy and then, but
for now, goodbye from us.