05/04/2017 Westminster in Review


05/04/2017

A look back at events at Parliament since January, including the terror attack, Brexit legislation, the u-turn Budget and Labour losing a long-held seat at a by-election.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to Westminster In Review,

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our look at the last three months here at Parliament, a term dominated

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by arguments over Brexit, a budget that backfired

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and an unpredictable American president.

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It is the Brexit debate that has taken up the most time and stirred

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the strongest passions.

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And you emerge in Wonderland where suddenly countries throughout

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the world are queueing up to give us trading advantages.

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Once again we become a sovereign nation state in command

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of our own destiny and I am absolutely delighted about that.

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Embarrassment for the Chancellor, forced to drop part of his budget

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almost as soon as he delivered it.

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It is shocking and humiliating that the Chancellor has been forced

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to come here to reverse a key budget decision.

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The British Prime Minister met the new US President,

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but there was an explosive reaction from the Commons Speaker.

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After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even

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more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump.

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And there were other changes of direction as a scheme allowing

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child refugees from Europe into the UK was suddenly stopped.

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How does she live with herself leaving thousands of children

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subject to disease, people trafficking, squalor?

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What many will remember most about Westminster's spring term had

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nothing to do with arguments over Europe.

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The ancient home of Britain's democracy was at the centre

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of an attack for which the terror group IS claimed responsibility.

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In the space of 90 terrifying seconds, Khalid Masood ploughed

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a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge,

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killing three before storming into the precinct of Parliament.

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He fatally stabbed a police officer, PC Keith Palmer.

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52-year-old Masood was then shot dead by armed police.

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The incident did not last long, but its extreme violence

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and suddenness shocked and bewildered Parliament.

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Order, I am now going to suspend the sitting of the house.

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This house is now suspended, but please wait here.

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For several hours MPs and parliamentary workers

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were under lockdown.

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There has been a serious incident within the estate.

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It is clear that the advice from the police and director

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of security is still that the chamber should

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remain in lockdown.

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I hope the house would agree that in the current circumstances it

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would not be right to continue with today's business.

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The following morning the Prime Minister addressed

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a sombre House of Commons.

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Yesterday an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy.

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But today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us

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and as future generations will continue to do,

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to deliver a simple message.

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We are not afraid.

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And our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism.

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Mr Speaker, yesterday we saw the worst of humanity,

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but we will remember the best.

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We will remember the extraordinary efforts to save the life of PC

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Keith Palmer, including those by my right honourable friend

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the member for Bournemouth East.

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And we will remember the exceptional bravery of our police,

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security and emergency services.

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And as the Prime Minister said, when dangerous and violent incidents

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take place we all instinctively run away from them for our own safety.

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The police and emergency services run towards them.

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We are grateful for the public servants yesterday, today and every

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day that they pull on their uniforms to protect us all.

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This democracy is strong and this parliament is robust.

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This was an horrific crime, but as an act

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of terror it has failed.

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Hear, hear.

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Those who attacked us hate our freedom, our peaceful democracy,

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our love of country, our tolerance, our

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openness and our unity.

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As we work to unravel how this unspeakable attack happened,

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would she agree with me that we must not, either in our laws or by our

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actions, curtail these values?

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Indeed we should have more of them.

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One man cannot shut down the city and one man

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cannot lockdown democracy.

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No terrorist outrage is representative of any faith

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or of any faith community and we recommit ourselves

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to strengthening the bonds of tolerance and understanding.

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This attacker and people like him are not of my religion,

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nor are they of our community and we should condemn all of them

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who pretend to be of a particular religion because they are not

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of a religion.

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If they were of a religion, they would not be carrying

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out acts like this.

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We have to stay united and show them that they cannot win on these

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grounds and we are here to stay.

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One MP thought it surprising Westminster hadn't

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been attacked before.

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Those of us who are privy to the information and background

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of these matters know very well that it has been little short

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of a miracle that over the course of the last few years we have

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escaped so lightly from the evil that is I am afraid present

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in our society and manifests itself in the senseless, hideous acts

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of violence and evil.

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Reaction also in the House of Lords.

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Where we do what is right, where we behave properly,

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where that generosity and extraordinary sense of duty that

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leads people to treat a terrorist in shame,

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where that bravery of somebody like PC Keith Palmer is demonstrated,

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that there is a victory for what is right and good over

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what is evil, despairing and bad.

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When the roads were reopened around Westminster, the public were quick

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to place flowers as a tribute to those who had been killed

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and the tributes continued to grow in the succeeding days.

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Undoubtedly the biggest day-to-day political story

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of the term was Brexit.

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Oddly, though, at the start of the year politicians were not

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where the focus lay.

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The ten men and one woman who make up the UK's Supreme Court

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were the centre of attention.

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They were deciding if Parliament should pass an act to start

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the process of the UK leaving the EU, or could it be done by prime

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ministerial edict alone?

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Strangely the case was not brought by a politician,

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but by a businesswoman, Gina Miller, who was

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a Remain supporter.

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For five days the country had been enthralled by the court hearing

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with the politicians looking on anxiously whichever

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side they backed.

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Some saw it as a debate over the entire governance of Britain.

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Finally on January the 24th, the president of the Supreme Court

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announced its judgment.

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Today by a majority of 8-3 the Supreme Court ruled

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that the government cannot trigger Article 50 without an act of

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Parliament authorising it to do so.

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Less than a week later a bill was drawn up

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notable for its brevity.

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It was just 170 words long.

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Its title, The EU Notification of Withdrawal Bill.

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It was there to enforce the outcome of last summer's referendum

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when the British people voted in favour of EU withdrawal.

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Now it is universally known as Brexit.

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But what sort of Brexit would it be?

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Are we going to get a detailed plan, Prime Minister?

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How far from the tentacles of the European Union did

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Britain want to get?

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Prime Minister Theresa May left no one in any doubt

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with a speech in mid-January.

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But I want to be clear.

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What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market.

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I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better

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than a bad deal for Britain.

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Although Brexit supporting politicians hadn't wanted any bill,

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fearing it was really about vetoing the referendum result, a mass of MPs

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still piled into the Commons for the Brexit Bill's first debate.

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At the core of this bill lies a very simple question.

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Do we trust the people or not?

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Above all it is our duty to ensure an outcome that is not just

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for the 52% or the 48%, but for the 100%.

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This is a big deal.

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You are not just divvying up the Nana Mouskouri records

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here or divvying up the bargain box set, where this has an impact

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on each and every one of us.

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The British people did not vote to make themselves poorer by pulling

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ourselves out of the greatest free trading single market

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the world has ever seen.

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A veteran pro-European thought the Brexiteers were living

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in the world of Lewis Carroll in how they saw the UK's future

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trading prospects.

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Apparently you follow the rabbit down the hole and you emerge

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in Wonderland where suddenly countries throughout the world

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are queueing up to give us trading advantages and access

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to their markets that previously we have never been able to achieve.

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I do want the best outcome for the United Kingdom

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from this process.

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No doubt somewhere there is a Hatter holding a tea party

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with a dormouse with a teacup.

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We need success in these trading negotiations to recoup

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at least some of the losses which we are going to incur

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from leaving the single market.

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For me this referendum was a massive, peaceful revolution

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by consent of historic proportions.

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This bill at last endorses that revolution.

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I feel I would be abandoning my duty to my constituents who have

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overwhelmingly and unwaveringly made their point that they do not

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want to leave the European Union.

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I campaigned like others on this side for Remain but I accept

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the democratic vote and I think we should allow the Article 50

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notice to be triggered.

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This is the moment we begin to take back control of our laws,

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our borders and our money.

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Once again we become a sovereign nation state in command

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of our own destiny and I am absolutely delighted about that.

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For Labour these were difficult times.

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Most of their northern MPs had supporters back

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in their constituencies who voted in their thousands to leave the EU.

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History has its eyes on us today so here is my answer.

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I can no more vote for this than I can vote against my conscience.

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I can no more vote for this because it is against my values.

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I can no more vote for this than I can vote against my own DNA.

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Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, had imposed a three-line whip.

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Labour MPs had to back the government and vote for the bill.

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That meant a handful of resignations within Labour's shadow team.

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For the shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, it meant

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a dubious absence from the Commons voting lobbies.

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The following week, the Brexit Bill went through all its stages

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with no alterations.

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One Conservative Remain supporter saw her fervent Brexiteer party

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colleagues in a less than favourable way.

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I feel sometimes I am sitting along with colleagues who are like jihadis

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in their support for a hard Brexit.

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No Brexit is hard enough, be gone, you evil Europeans, we never want

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you to darken our doors again.

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I am afraid I heard speeches last week exactly making that point.

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As the bill passed through the Commons the pro-EU SNP claimed

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it had all been done in a rush.

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The government's refusal to accept a single amendment means

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there will be no report stage.

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The programme motion means there is no debate on third reading.

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I am informed by the library that the last time that combination

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happened was the Defence of the Realm Act of 1914

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which was about the First World War.

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For this to happen in any bill would be an abuse.

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To happen on this bill is an outrage.

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What is it about the procedures of this place that allow a bill

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of this constitutional significance to be railroaded through in this

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disgraceful fashion?

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When the result was declared there was no doubt about

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the government's victory.

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The ayes to the right 494, the noes to the left, 122.

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There was a curious footnote.

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While waiting for the vote, the SNP MPs struck a defiant musical

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note in the chamber, perhaps like the band playing

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on as the Titanic sank.

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The SNP sang the European anthem, Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

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Order, order.

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Until they were told to stop.

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Order!

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Huge political change wasn't confined to Europe.

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On January 20th, Donald Trump was sworn in as 45th president

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of the United States of America.

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I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear...

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So who would be the first British politician to meet the new top dog?

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The Prime Minister?

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The Foreign Secretary?

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No, it was this man, Nigel Farage of Ukip,

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the man credited in some quarters at least for achieving Brexit.

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When news emerged that Theresa May would be

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going to meet the new president, the Labour leader thought some

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plain talking was needed.

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How confident is she of getting a good deal for global Britain

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from a president who wants to put America first, buy American

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and build a wall between his country and Mexico?

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I am not afraid to speak frankly to a president of the United States.

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I am able to do that because we have that special relationship,

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a special relationship that he would never have

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with the United States.

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President Trump produced a series of executive orders,

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the most controversial being his intended ban

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on people travelling to the United States from certain

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countries, mainly Muslim.

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The Home Secretary was asked to comment.

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Do you disagree with Trump's ban?

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Yes, and I support the position the government has taken -

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the Foreign Secretary spelt out that it is divisive and wrong.

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When Theresa May visited President Trump in Washington

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at the end of January, not everyone was convinced that

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handholding within sight of TV cameras at the White House

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was a wise move.

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The Prime Minister said the new president was welcome

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to come to Britain this year for a state visit.

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A protest petition sprang up.

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He has threatened to dump international agreements

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on climate change.

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He's praised the use of torture.

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He's incited hatred against Muslims.

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He's directly attacked women's rights.

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Just what more does President Trump have to do before the Prime Minister

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will listen to the 1.8 million people who have already

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called for his state visit invitation to be withdrawn?

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The right honourable gentleman's foreign policy is to object

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to and insult the democratically-elected head of state

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of our most important ally.

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The arguments over President Trump's visit also had lighter moments.

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Given the Foreign Secretary once famously declared that he wouldn't

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go to New York in case he was mistaken for Mr Trump,

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is there any chance that President Trump will not come

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to London on a state visit in case he is mistaken

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for the Foreign Secretary?

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I am embarrassed to tell you, Mr Speaker, that not only...

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I think I was mistaken for Mr Trump in Newcastle,

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which rather took me back.

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But also in New York.

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A very humbling experience it was, as you can imagine.

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I can't tell you who was the exact progenitor of the excellent idea

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to accord an invitation to the president to

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come on a state visit but the invitation has been issued.

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I think it is a wholly appropriate thing.

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And what about President Trump coming to Parliament?

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The Commons Speaker said an address to MPs and peers by a foreign leader

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was not an automatic right.

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He spoke about the President's intended travel ban.

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Before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been

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strongly opposed to an address by President Trump

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in Westminster Hall.

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After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump,

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I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump

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in Westminster Hall.

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We value our relationship with the United States.

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If a state visit takes place, that is way beyond and above the pay

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grade of the Speaker.

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However, as far as this place is concerned, I feel very strongly

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that our opposition to racism and to sexism, and our support

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for equality before the law and an independent judiciary

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are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.

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APPLAUSE.

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Two words: well done.

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We shouldn't have clapping in the chamber but sometimes it's

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easier just to let it go on than to make a huge fuss about it.

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It'd been a remarkably strong intervention by John Bercow.

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I asked the BBC's political reporter, Iain Watson,

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how surprising it was to hear a Speaker so forthright

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in the Commons.

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It was very surprising.

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It's not something you would expect in Parliament.

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You would expect people to abide by certain conventions,

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a certain degree of diplomacy, certainly by the historic

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role of the Speaker.

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That was surprising and it certainly surprised me.

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It wouldn't be Westminster if we didn't have conspiracy theories,

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gossip and all the rest of it.

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Some people were suggesting that what John Bercow was trying to do

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was trying to maintain his role as Speaker for a few more years yet

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by saying something that would please the opposition benches

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- Labour, Liberal Democrat, the Scottish nationals -

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people who are not at all keen on Donald Trump and his message.

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So to some extent he was getting them onside.

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But it was interesting that a Conservative MP soon afterwards,

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James Duddridge, tried to get a motion of no confidence

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in the Speaker.

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So rather than elongating his time in that prestigious chair,

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it looked as though, for a short amount of time, that he

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might actually be out.

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But then it transpired that there was not really much

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support for that after all.

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So in fact he seems to have got away with what was a very robust

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denunciation of a foreign leader, and certainly what he succeeded

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in was preventing, whatever else happens with Donald Trump,

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preventing him from having the same honour as President Obama

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and addressing MPs in Westminster Hall.

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Economic austerity has remained in place in the first months of 2017

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and looks set to stay for the rest of this Parliament.

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Cuts continued across all areas of spending,

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including local councils.

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Perhaps the most human effect of the squeeze was in the area

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of caring for the elderly.

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With people living longer, the cost of social care looks

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set to keep on rising.

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So how can things change?

0:20:510:20:53

At a committee session, a minister suggested the way forward

0:20:530:20:56

lay with sons and daughters.

0:20:560:21:01

I wonder how you plan to fund social care to keep pace

0:21:010:21:06

with those growing numbers.

0:21:060:21:10

Nobody ever questions the fact that we look after our children.

0:21:100:21:13

That's just obvious.

0:21:130:21:18

Nobody say it's a caring responsibility -

0:21:180:21:20

it's just what you do.

0:21:200:21:21

I think some of that logic and some of the way that we think about that

0:21:210:21:25

in terms of the sort of volume of numbers that we see

0:21:250:21:28

coming down the track, will have to impinge on the way

0:21:280:21:30

that we start thinking about how we look after our

0:21:300:21:33

parents.

0:21:330:21:36

Because in a way, it is a responsibility -

0:21:360:21:38

in terms of our life-cycle, it's similar.

0:21:380:21:40

So should we all be paying for rising social care costs

0:21:400:21:43

by shelling out more in our council tax?

0:21:430:21:44

A big rise in the tax in Surrey was suddenly called off,

0:21:440:21:47

leading to speculation that a secret deal had been done

0:21:470:21:50

between the government and the local council.

0:21:500:21:51

After all, Surrey is well represented in the Cabinet.

0:21:510:21:54

Information had fallen into the lap of the Labour leader.

0:21:540:22:03

I have been leaked copies of texts sent by the Tory

0:22:050:22:08

leader, David Hodge, intended for somebody called Nick,

0:22:080:22:10

who works for ministers in the Department for Communities

0:22:100:22:12

and Local Government.

0:22:120:22:14

And these text read: "I am advised that DCLG officials have been

0:22:140:22:17

working on a solution and that you will be

0:22:170:22:22

contacting me to agree a memorandum of understanding."

0:22:220:22:26

Will the government now publish this memorandum of understanding?

0:22:260:22:36

What the Labour Party fails to understand is that this is not

0:22:400:22:43

just a question of looking at money, it is a question of looking

0:22:430:22:46

at spreading best practice and finding a sustainable solution.

0:22:460:22:50

And I have to say to him that if we look at social care

0:22:500:22:54

provision across the entire country, the last thing social care

0:22:540:22:56

providers need is another one of Labour's bouncing cheques.

0:22:560:23:01

Saving for a rainy day, Chancellor?

0:23:010:23:03

So could the Chancellor help with cheques that didn't bounce?

0:23:030:23:11

March 8th was budget day.

0:23:110:23:12

Time for Philip Hammond, doing his first budget,

0:23:120:23:14

to parade the familiar red box.

0:23:140:23:16

Grinning and bearing it, Chancellor?

0:23:160:23:17

We already knew that the budget was going to be moved

0:23:170:23:19

from the spring to the autumn.

0:23:190:23:21

In the Commons, Mr Hammond went into reflective mode,

0:23:210:23:23

recalling the last time a Chancellor presented a final spring budget.

0:23:230:23:28

24 years ago, Norman Lamont also presented what was billed them

0:23:280:23:31

as the last spring budget.

0:23:310:23:34

He reported on an economy that was growing faster

0:23:340:23:37

than any other in the G7 and he committed to continued

0:23:370:23:40

restraint in public spending.

0:23:400:23:44

The then-Prime Minister described it as the right budget at the right

0:23:440:23:48

time from the right Chancellor.

0:23:480:23:53

What they failed to remind me, Mr Deputy Speaker, was that ten

0:23:530:23:56

weeks later he was sacked - so wish me luck today.

0:23:560:23:59

The joke would come back to bite Mr Hammond.

0:23:590:24:03

He failed to spot the massive trouble that lay ahead.

0:24:030:24:07

For those worried about the social care crisis,

0:24:070:24:09

the Chancellor had some good news.

0:24:090:24:11

So today, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am committing additional grant

0:24:110:24:13

funding of ?2 billion for social care in England over

0:24:130:24:16

the next three years.

0:24:160:24:26

But someone's to pay for that ?2 billion injection

0:24:260:24:28

and that is where Mr Hammond's budget went seriously wrong.

0:24:280:24:30

He explained why self-employed workers, including Britain's army

0:24:300:24:34

of tradesmen in their distinctive white vans, were going to pay more

0:24:340:24:38

tax in the form of higher national insurance contributions or NICs.

0:24:380:24:47

Employed and self-employed alike use our public

0:24:470:24:49

services in the same way.

0:24:490:24:50

But they are not paying for them in the same way.

0:24:500:24:53

The lower national insurance paid by the self-employed is forecast

0:24:530:24:55

to cost our public finances over ?5 billion this year alone.

0:24:550:24:58

This is not fair to the 85% of workers who are employees.

0:24:580:25:01

To be able to support our public services in this budget,

0:25:010:25:04

and to improve the fairness of the tax system, I will act

0:25:040:25:06

to reduce the gap to better reflect the current differences

0:25:060:25:09

in state benefits.

0:25:090:25:19

It was a disastrous move, as the Scottish Nationalists soon spotted.

0:25:240:25:26

We've seen a scandalous attack on aspiration,

0:25:260:25:28

on the self-employed, taxing them more, changes to NICs,

0:25:280:25:32

?4.2 billion or so from people.

0:25:320:25:42

The 'party of aspiration' taxing those self-employed

0:25:430:25:46

putting in active,

0:25:460:25:49

real, hard disincentives to starting businesses, to employ people,

0:25:490:25:52

for stepping out on one's own.

0:25:520:25:53

I think that is a decision which will come back

0:25:530:25:55

to haunt this Chancellor.

0:25:550:25:56

The next day's headlines were not good news for the Chancellor.

0:25:560:25:59

There were stories of a massive falling out in numbers

0:25:590:26:07

10 and 11 Downing St between Prime Minister

0:26:070:26:09

and Chancellor.

0:26:090:26:10

Then, in an embarrassing U-turn, Philip Hammond dropped

0:26:100:26:12

the national insurance rise, and he did it in the Commons,

0:26:120:26:14

to the undisguised glee of the opposition.

0:26:140:26:16

Since the budget, Parliamentary colleagues and others have

0:26:160:26:18

questioned whether the proposed increase in class 4 contributions...

0:26:180:26:20

JEERING.

0:26:200:26:22

..have questioned whether the proposed increase in class 4

0:26:220:26:24

contributions is compatible with the tax lock commitments made

0:26:240:26:26

in our 2015 manifesto.

0:26:260:26:36

The Chancellor said a 2015 act made clear the government's

0:26:360:26:39

tax lock applied only to some self-employed people.

0:26:390:26:41

It is clear from discussions with colleagues over the last few

0:26:410:26:48

days that this legislative test of the manifesto commitment does

0:26:480:26:52

not meet...

0:26:520:26:55

..Mr Speaker, does not meet a wider understanding

0:26:550:26:57

of the spirit of that commitment.

0:26:570:26:59

LAUGHTER.

0:26:590:27:02

Mr Speaker, it is very important, both to me and to my

0:27:020:27:05

right honourable friend, the Prime Minister, that we comply

0:27:050:27:07

not just with the letter, but also the spirit of the commitments

0:27:070:27:10

that were made.

0:27:100:27:18

This is chaos.

0:27:180:27:19

LAUGHTER.

0:27:190:27:21

It is shocking and humiliating that the Chancellor has been forced,

0:27:210:27:24

forced to come here to reverse a key budget decision announced

0:27:240:27:26

less than a week ago.

0:27:260:27:33

If the Chancellor had spent less time writing stale

0:27:330:27:36

jokes for his speech and the Prime Minister less time

0:27:360:27:38

guffawing like a feeding seal on those benches,

0:27:380:27:40

we would not be landed this mess.

0:27:400:27:48

Let's be clear, let's be clear.

0:27:480:27:50

This was a ?2 billion tax hike for many middle and lower earners.

0:27:500:27:57

Loyal conservatives had initially supported the Chancellor's tax rise,

0:27:570:28:06

so the about turn had caused one loyal Tory, a New Forest MP,

0:28:060:28:09

a spot of embarrassment.

0:28:090:28:10

I'm in some difficulty because my article robustly

0:28:100:28:12

supporting the Chancellor's early policy in the Forest Journal

0:28:120:28:15

is already with the printer.

0:28:150:28:25

LAUGHTER.

0:28:260:28:27

And I just...

0:28:270:28:28

Having been persuaded of the correctness of the course

0:28:280:28:30

that he is now following, I merely needed an opportunity

0:28:300:28:33

in which to recant.

0:28:330:28:37

I asked Iain Watson how bad relations between Prime Minister

0:28:370:28:39

and Chancellor have got in the days following the budget.

0:28:390:28:47

I suppose if you're doing the scale of disagreements between,

0:28:470:28:49

say Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, it'd be at ten.

0:28:490:28:52

Between David Cameron and George Osborne, publicly -

0:28:520:28:54

their predecessors - that'd probably be around one

0:28:540:28:56

or two on the scale.

0:28:560:28:57

This was certainly above five, I would say.

0:28:570:29:03

There were briefings from either side, none of these,

0:29:030:29:05

of course, were official.

0:29:050:29:06

Friends of the Prime Minister, friends of the Chancellor,

0:29:060:29:08

there were suggestions that the Chancellor found some

0:29:080:29:10

people in Downing Street, some people working

0:29:100:29:12

with the Prime Minister, to be economically illiterate.

0:29:120:29:14

There was also a view from Downing Street that the Cabinet

0:29:140:29:17

had not been fully informed of what he intended to do

0:29:170:29:19

on national insurance, and just to underline how serious

0:29:190:29:21

that was, this wasn't simply about some people paying a bit more

0:29:210:29:24

in what is effectively a tax, it was breaching a Conservative

0:29:240:29:27

manifesto commitment.

0:29:270:29:32

That is what has caused the problems and Downing Street looked as though

0:29:320:29:35

they were trying to distance themselves from that very swiftly.

0:29:350:29:37

If I was a wealthy investor, should I be buying shares

0:29:370:29:40

in Philip Hammond?

0:29:400:29:41

I think in the short term, you probably should actually,

0:29:410:29:47

because, and this will pop up time and again, and we have

0:29:470:29:50

to use the B-word, Brexit, what Theresa May does not want to do

0:29:500:29:53

is create any impression of instability, just as very crucial

0:29:530:29:55

negotiations have to begin within the European Union.

0:29:550:29:57

To lose our Chancellor would be unfortunate,

0:29:570:30:01

to say the least.

0:30:010:30:03

And I think losing anyone else from the Cabinet

0:30:030:30:05

would look like carelessness.

0:30:050:30:06

So therefore she wants to hold on to the people

0:30:060:30:10

in the key positions, even if he made a bit of a mistake.

0:30:100:30:15

I think what we had was really a private rapping of the knuckles.

0:30:150:30:18

I think he will stay in place during the Brexit process.

0:30:180:30:21

In the longer term, if you're going to say "Is he going to be

0:30:210:30:24

Chancellor again at the time of the next General Election

0:30:240:30:26

or beyond?", I think perhaps she might be thinking of another

0:30:260:30:29

potential role for him by them.

0:30:290:30:32

Just as one of Philip Hammond's main budget policies turned to ashes,

0:30:320:30:34

there was another burning issue elsewhere in the UK that caused

0:30:340:30:37

a political impasse.

0:30:370:30:38

With unexpected speed the Northern Ireland Assembly in

0:30:380:30:40

Belfast came to an end in January.

0:30:400:30:42

Part of the reason was a row over a green energy scheme that had cost

0:30:420:30:46

millions of pounds in public money.

0:30:460:30:47

When the Northern Ireland first Minister, Arlene Foster

0:30:470:30:49

of the DUP, didn't stand down because of the scandal,

0:30:490:30:52

the Deputy first Minister, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein,

0:30:520:30:56

did resign, meaning the assembly couldn't continue.

0:30:560:31:00

Mr McGuinness was known to be in declining health.

0:31:000:31:03

His death was announced on March the 21st.

0:31:030:31:07

The elections for a new Stormont Assembly produced

0:31:070:31:11

a remarkable result.

0:31:110:31:13

Sinn Fein won 27 seats, one behind the Democratic Unionist

0:31:130:31:16

tally of 28 seats.

0:31:160:31:19

For the first time the Unionists did not have a majority on the assembly.

0:31:190:31:23

Talks began on power-sharing, but several weeks later

0:31:230:31:25

the future of devolution in Northern Ireland

0:31:250:31:28

looked uncertain.

0:31:280:31:31

Voting in other parts of the UK was meanwhile producing some

0:31:310:31:35

traditional by-election excitement.

0:31:350:31:37

A one-time member of the Shadow Cabinet, Tristram Hunt,

0:31:370:31:39

announced he was leaving Parliament and taking up a top

0:31:390:31:42

job at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

0:31:420:31:46

It meant a by-election in Stoke-on-Trent Central.

0:31:460:31:50

The Ukip candidate was its newly elected leader, Paul Nuttall,

0:31:500:31:54

but when stories emerged that he had been making some exaggerated

0:31:540:31:59

claims about his past, Mr Nuttall's campaign ran

0:31:590:32:02

out of steam.

0:32:020:32:04

Stoke Central was retained for Labour.

0:32:040:32:06

200 miles further north in scenic West Cumbria,

0:32:060:32:10

it was a different story when Trudy Harrison gained Copeland

0:32:100:32:13

for the Conservatives.

0:32:130:32:15

Will the member wishing to take her seat please come to the table.

0:32:150:32:20

It was the first time in 35 years that a governing party had

0:32:200:32:23

made a by-election gain.

0:32:230:32:28

Trudy Harrison enjoyed a rapturous welcome

0:32:280:32:31

into the Commons chamber a few days later.

0:32:310:32:33

CHEERING.

0:32:330:32:39

But what about the reasons for the by-elections?

0:32:390:32:41

I asked Ian Watson why two Labour MPs had simply walked

0:32:410:32:44

away from Westminster.

0:32:440:32:46

One thing that united the pair of them, they were basically

0:32:460:32:49

Blairite if you like, they were people who were not

0:32:490:32:51

regarded as modernisers within the Labour Party,

0:32:510:32:53

in the not too distant past people who were seen

0:32:530:32:55

as ministerial material.

0:32:550:32:56

In fact Tristram Hunt was even seen as a potential Labour leader at one

0:32:560:33:00

stage and considered standing in the leadership election

0:33:000:33:02

after the 2015 general election.

0:33:020:33:04

But I think from private conversations I had with one of them

0:33:040:33:07

there was a feeling they wanted to put Jeremy Corbyn to the test.

0:33:070:33:10

He was saying effectively that in some other electoral tests Labour

0:33:100:33:15

was never expected to win certain by-elections where Conservatives

0:33:150:33:19

were up against Liberal Democrats.

0:33:190:33:22

They were saying, here is two Labour seats.

0:33:220:33:25

If your left-wing brand of Labour politics is really going to triumph,

0:33:250:33:32

you should win in those seats.

0:33:320:33:34

What actually happened of course is Labour lost Copeland rather

0:33:340:33:37

disastrously and even had a fall in share of the vote in Stoke

0:33:370:33:42

at a time when usually governments are losing votes

0:33:420:33:44

and losing seats midterm.

0:33:440:33:46

There has been a lot of talk of coup attempts

0:33:460:33:48

and manoeuvrings by the Unite union.

0:33:480:33:49

What is going on?

0:33:490:33:51

What I think we have is a kind of proxy coup going

0:33:510:33:54

on if you like in the Unite union.

0:33:540:33:56

It is the country's largest union, it is also the biggest single donor

0:33:560:33:59

to the Labour Party.

0:33:590:34:00

It is currently run by an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, Len McCluskey,

0:34:000:34:03

who is up for re-election at the moment.

0:34:030:34:05

He has given money directly to Jeremy Corbyn's re-election

0:34:050:34:07

campaign, so not just giving money to the party, but to someone

0:34:070:34:10

he believes will keep the party on the left of British politics,

0:34:100:34:14

some would say the far left of British politics.

0:34:140:34:18

At the moment Labour is somewhere in the region of 19-20 points behind

0:34:180:34:21

the Conservatives in the polls and those who oppose

0:34:210:34:24

Jeremy Corbyn within the party and here at Westminster believe

0:34:240:34:26

the only way Labour can recover, it would be a huge job to do,

0:34:260:34:30

but the only way it can recover is by first removing

0:34:300:34:33

an unpopular leader.

0:34:330:34:35

Their way of doing that is to try to remove another leader,

0:34:350:34:37

a leader of a trade union who is seen as his bulwark his

0:34:370:34:41

funder and his greatest supporter.

0:34:410:34:44

Westminster's committees had another good time,

0:34:440:34:51

Westminster's committees had another good term,

0:34:510:34:52

probing deeper into issues and shedding new light

0:34:520:35:09

on national scandals.

0:35:090:35:10

Some big reputations took a hammering.

0:35:100:35:12

The credibility of Britain's speed cyclists was hanging by a thread

0:35:120:35:12

when hearings continued into the doping allegations that

0:35:120:35:12

have surrounded the sport.

0:35:120:35:13

Damning evidence was given about the absence of any record

0:35:130:35:16

keeping into exactly what was given to riders and when it was given.

0:35:160:35:19

The extent of our investigation is confined to this particular race

0:35:190:35:22

for which there are zero records by Doctor Freeman.

0:35:220:35:24

What excuse has British Cycling given to you for this woeful

0:35:240:35:26

lack of record-keeping?

0:35:260:35:27

We haven't had an excuse from them.

0:35:270:35:29

There is just an acknowledgement that there was no

0:35:290:35:31

policy and no records.

0:35:310:35:32

That's it.

0:35:320:35:33

And the same for Team Sky as well?

0:35:330:35:35

Team Sky did have a policy, it is just that not everybody

0:35:350:35:38

was adhering to it.

0:35:380:35:40

There was a pasting too for the Internet giants Google,

0:35:400:35:42

Facebook and Twitter.

0:35:420:35:44

MPs on the Home Affairs Committee accused them of doing too little

0:35:440:35:47

to remove online content that was either objectionable,

0:35:470:35:50

exploitative or racist.

0:35:500:35:54

You are providing a platform which has acted as a moneymaking

0:35:540:35:58

machine for the peddlers of hate, extremism, supporters of ISIS,

0:35:580:36:02

for supporters of neo-Nazi groups.

0:36:020:36:07

That is happening on your platform and the way

0:36:070:36:09

in which you are prevaricating and dancing around

0:36:090:36:12

this is disturbing.

0:36:120:36:14

If I am honest with you, Mr Barron, all you need to do is say, "Yes,

0:36:140:36:18

that has happened and this is what we are doing."

0:36:180:36:20

We have no interest in making money from that.

0:36:200:36:24

It has happened, we work very hard to make sure that doesn't happen

0:36:240:36:28

and we work with advertisers to give us more transparency so they do not

0:36:280:36:33

appear next to political content but it is worth pointing out that

0:36:330:36:41

some of the videos you are referring to were not those that

0:36:410:36:44

break our guidelines.

0:36:440:36:45

There are not many business activities where somebody openly

0:36:450:36:47

would come and give evidence to this committee and have to admit,

0:36:470:36:50

no matter how many times they danced around, have to admit

0:36:500:36:55

that they are making money and people who use their platform

0:36:550:36:58

are making money out of hate.

0:36:580:37:01

That is happening on your platform.

0:37:010:37:03

We never want to make money out of hate.

0:37:030:37:05

You as an outfit, you are not working nearly hard

0:37:050:37:08

enough to deal with this.

0:37:080:37:12

We are looking very hard in this area.

0:37:120:37:15

Does the Prime Minister know what she is doing?

0:37:150:37:17

Also getting the Westminster committee treatment was,

0:37:170:37:19

yes, the Brexit process.

0:37:190:37:21

MPs grilled this man, Sir Ivan Rogers, who resigned

0:37:210:37:24

as Britain's ambassador to the European Union

0:37:240:37:26

in January, claiming ministers were suffering muddled thinking.

0:37:260:37:31

It is a negotiation on the scale that we haven't experienced

0:37:310:37:34

probably ever, but certainly since the Second World War.

0:37:340:37:40

This is going to be on a humongous scale.

0:37:400:37:43

We are going to have enormous amounts of business running up

0:37:430:37:46

various different channels and they involve difficult

0:37:460:37:50

trade-offs for her Majesty's government and different trade-offs

0:37:500:37:58

trade-offs for her Majesty's government and difficult trade-offs

0:37:580:38:00

for the other 27 on the other side of the table.

0:38:000:38:12

A month later the minister known as the Brexit Secretary gave some

0:38:120:38:12

remarkably frank views about whether Britain

0:38:120:38:15

had a plan B if no deal with the EU was ever reached.

0:38:150:38:17

Can you tell the committee whether the government has

0:38:170:38:17

undertaken an economic assessment of the implications for the British

0:38:170:38:17

economy and for British businesses of there being no deal?

0:38:170:38:20

Well, in May an estimate during the Leave campaign,

0:38:200:38:24

during the referendum campaign, I think one of the issues that has

0:38:240:38:28

arisen is those forecasts do not appear to have been very

0:38:280:38:30

robust since then.

0:38:300:38:36

Not since then?

0:38:360:38:38

Under my time, no.

0:38:380:38:40

So you are saying there has been no further assessment

0:38:400:38:43

of the implications of no deal at all since before the referendum?

0:38:430:38:45

Is that correct?

0:38:450:38:47

No, that's not correct.

0:38:470:38:49

You are putting words in my mouth.

0:38:490:38:51

No, no.

0:38:510:38:52

Yes, you are.

0:38:520:38:54

One of the difficulties about your sort of style of yes,

0:38:540:38:57

no answers and questions is you don't deal with what we can

0:38:570:38:59

do to mitigate and much of this is about mitigation.

0:38:590:39:02

Any forecast that you make, any forecast that you make depends

0:39:020:39:04

on the mitigation you undertake.

0:39:040:39:08

David Davis was one of several Cabinet ministers to look

0:39:080:39:11

in on the House of Lords from time to time.

0:39:110:39:13

The Prime Minister was watching as well.

0:39:130:39:15

The reason?

0:39:150:39:16

The passage of the Brexit Bill in the upper house.

0:39:160:39:19

A record 184 members of the Lords spoke in the initial two-day debate.

0:39:190:39:25

But the real drama came in the following two weeks.

0:39:250:39:27

The government suffered two heavy defeats on the bill

0:39:270:39:30

at the hands of their Lordships.

0:39:300:39:35

Firstly, peers wanted guarantees to be given to EU nationals living

0:39:350:39:38

and working in the UK.

0:39:380:39:42

We have over 3 million people living in this country

0:39:420:39:44

who are European Union nationals.

0:39:440:39:46

But it is not just them who are experiencing anguish,

0:39:460:39:48

it is also their family members, their employers.

0:39:480:39:52

These people are not bargaining chips, they actually...

0:39:520:39:57

If we say quite freely that they are free to stay,

0:39:570:40:00

that actually does give the moral high ground to our government

0:40:000:40:03

and its negotiations.

0:40:030:40:06

It is quite clear to everyone in this house that there is no

0:40:060:40:09

chance parliament would approve the expulsion of EU citizens legally

0:40:090:40:13

resident in this country.

0:40:130:40:16

No way.

0:40:160:40:18

I think that the government ought to accept that the weight

0:40:180:40:23

of opinion is in favour of that unilateral guarantee.

0:40:230:40:28

Why is everybody here today so excited about an amendment

0:40:280:40:31

which looks after the foreigners and not the British?

0:40:310:40:38

My Lords, this is a matter of principle.

0:40:380:40:41

It is a simple matter of principle, of being prepared to do the right

0:40:410:40:46

thing because it is the right thing, and being prepared to say so.

0:40:460:40:51

These amendments are at the wrong time in the wrong bill on the wrong

0:40:510:40:55

subject and we should support the rights of British

0:40:550:40:58

citizens living in Europe.

0:40:580:41:02

Peers voted for the guarantee for EU workers.

0:41:020:41:05

A week after that another riposte for the government.

0:41:050:41:12

A week after that another reverse for the government.

0:41:120:41:14

Peers demanded a meaningful parliamentary vote in two years'

0:41:140:41:17

time on the final EU exit deal.

0:41:170:41:19

My Lords, the essence of this amendment is very clear,

0:41:190:41:21

it has been clear from the start.

0:41:210:41:23

It simply seeks to ensure that Parliament and not ministers have

0:41:230:41:26

control over the terms of our withdrawal at the end

0:41:260:41:28

of the negotiating process.

0:41:280:41:33

We now face the most momentous, peace time decision of our time

0:41:330:41:38

and this amendment, as my noble lord has so clearly set out, secures

0:41:380:41:42

in law the government's commitment, already made to another place,

0:41:420:41:49

to ensure that Parliament is the ultimate custodian

0:41:490:41:54

of our national sovereignty.

0:41:540:41:57

So we get to the final hour at midnight when the deal has been

0:41:570:42:00

done and the Prime Minister says, "Hang on a second, I can't agree

0:42:000:42:03

a deal, I've got to go and consult the House of Commons."

0:42:030:42:06

It is ridiculous.

0:42:060:42:08

Can it honestly be imagined that if one or other house,

0:42:080:42:11

whether it is approval or an act of Parliament, goes back

0:42:110:42:14

to Europe in just under two years' time and says,

0:42:140:42:16

"We don't like the deal," that the other 27 will say, "Oh,

0:42:160:42:20

dear, here is a much better one?"

0:42:200:42:23

I ask your Lordships to rest on the long contested principle

0:42:230:42:28

that this country's future should rest with Parliament

0:42:280:42:32

and not with ministers.

0:42:320:42:35

And it is in that spirit that I commend this new clause

0:42:350:42:39

to your Lordships' house.

0:42:390:42:42

The government cannot possibly accept an amendment

0:42:420:42:45

which is so unclear on an issue of this importance on what the Prime

0:42:450:42:49

Minister is to do if Parliament votes against leaving

0:42:490:42:53

with no agreement.

0:42:530:42:56

With that risk, my Lords, let us remember the first

0:42:560:42:58

principle I stated.

0:42:580:43:00

The government is intent on delivering the result

0:43:000:43:03

of the referendum.

0:43:030:43:05

Having been altered twice by peers, the bill, following strict

0:43:050:43:08

Westminster procedures, had to return to the Commons.

0:43:080:43:12

MPs rejected the Lords' alterations.

0:43:120:43:15

But when the two issues returned to the Lords there was,

0:43:150:43:18

surprisingly, little or no appetite for a protracted battle.

0:43:180:43:22

The Lords caved in.

0:43:220:43:24

It is now time for this house to give way to the House

0:43:240:43:27

of Commons on this matter.

0:43:270:43:32

And so with all final opposition voted down,

0:43:320:43:33

the Brexit Bill became law.

0:43:330:43:37

The next stage in the Brexit drama took place many

0:43:370:43:40

miles from Westminster.

0:43:400:43:42

At a news conference at her stately residence in Edinburgh,

0:43:420:43:45

the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, announced her

0:43:450:43:48

intention to ask for a second independence referendum to take

0:43:480:43:52

place sometime between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of 2019.

0:43:520:43:58

What Scotland deserves in the light of the material change

0:43:580:44:00

of circumstances brought about by the Brexit vote

0:44:000:44:04

is the chance to decide our future in a fair, free and democratic way.

0:44:040:44:10

When Theresa May declared now is not the time for a referendum,

0:44:100:44:14

the party's Westminster leader stepped up the pressure.

0:44:140:44:18

The Prime Minister can wag her finger as much as she likes.

0:44:180:44:23

If she is not prepared to negotiate on behalf of the Scottish government

0:44:230:44:27

and secure membership of the single European market, people in Scotland

0:44:270:44:31

will have a referendum and we will have our say.

0:44:310:44:38

He is comparing membership of an organisation that we have been

0:44:380:44:41

a member of for 40 years with our country.

0:44:410:44:45

We have been one country for over 300 years.

0:44:450:44:50

We have fought together, we have worked together,

0:44:500:44:53

we have achieved together and constitutional gameplaying must

0:44:530:44:58

not be allowed to break the deep bonds of our shared history

0:44:580:45:01

and our future to.

0:45:010:45:09

At Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament was soon debating

0:45:090:45:11

the First Minister's call for an independence referendum.

0:45:110:45:14

The future of Scotland should not be imposed upon us,

0:45:140:45:16

it should be the choice of the people of Scotland.

0:45:160:45:20

Most people in Scotland are sick to death of the games.

0:45:200:45:22

Most people in Scotland don't want another referendum any time soon.

0:45:220:45:25

Just three years after the last one.

0:45:250:45:28

And most people in Scotland see the plain common

0:45:280:45:32

sense in our own position.

0:45:320:45:35

The Parliament went on to vote in favour of the demand for a second

0:45:350:45:39

independence referendum.

0:45:390:45:40

The motion as amended is therefore agreed.

0:45:400:45:45

APPLAUSE.

0:45:450:45:46

12:28pm, Wednesday March 29th, and in Brussels, Sir Tim Barrow,

0:45:460:45:49

Britain's ambassador to the EU, hands over a letter to the European

0:45:490:45:53

Council President, Donald Tusk.

0:45:530:45:57

The endlessly talked about triggering of Article 50

0:45:570:45:59

of the Lisbon Treaty had finally happened.

0:45:590:46:09

The letter had been drawn up in the Prime Minister's office.

0:46:130:46:16

Its delivery confirmed Britain was deadly serious

0:46:160:46:17

about leaving the EU.

0:46:170:46:18

Donald Tusk sounded unimpressed.

0:46:180:46:20

There is no reason to pretend that this is a happy day,

0:46:200:46:22

neither in Brussels, nor in London.

0:46:220:46:26

Britain's EU membership wasn't ended but it did represent

0:46:260:46:28

the beginning of the end or, as a Prime Minister

0:46:280:46:31

put it in the Commons:

0:46:310:46:33

This is an historic moment from which there can

0:46:330:46:36

be no turning back.

0:46:360:46:37

A few minutes ago in Brussels, the United Kingdom's permanent

0:46:370:46:39

representative to the EU handed a letter to the president

0:46:390:46:41

of the European Council on my behalf, confirming

0:46:410:46:43

the government's decision to invoke Article 50

0:46:430:46:45

of the Treaty on European Union.

0:46:450:46:52

The Article 50 process is now underway and,

0:46:520:46:54

in accordance with the wishes of the British people,

0:46:540:46:56

the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.

0:46:560:47:00

I know that this is a day of celebration for some

0:47:000:47:03

and disappointment for others.

0:47:030:47:04

The referendum last June was divisive at times.

0:47:040:47:11

Not everyone shared the same point of view or voted the same way.

0:47:110:47:14

The arguments on both sides were passionate.

0:47:140:47:16

Let us come together and work together.

0:47:160:47:19

Let us together choose to believe in Britain with optimism and hope.

0:47:190:47:22

For if we do, we can make the most of the opportunities ahead.

0:47:220:47:25

We can together make a success of this moment.

0:47:250:47:27

And we can together build a stronger, fairer, better Britain.

0:47:270:47:37

Labour will not give this government a free hand to use

0:47:380:47:41

Brexit to attack rights, protections and cut services.

0:47:410:47:43

Or create a tax dodger's paradise.

0:47:430:47:44

So let's be clear, Mr Speaker.

0:47:440:47:45

The Prime Minister says that no deal is better than a bad deal

0:47:450:47:48

but the reality is no deal is a bad deal.

0:47:480:47:58

The Prime Minister says that she thinks that

0:48:020:48:04

Brexit will bring unity to the United Kingdom.

0:48:040:48:06

It will not.

0:48:060:48:09

On this issue, it is not a United Kingdom.

0:48:090:48:15

And the Prime Minister needs to respect

0:48:150:48:17

the differences across the nations of the United Kingdom.

0:48:170:48:20

I am determined that I will look my children in the eye

0:48:200:48:23

and be able to say that I did everything to prevent this

0:48:230:48:26

calamity that the Prime Minister has today chosen.

0:48:260:48:28

I wish my right honourable friend good fortune in her negotiations

0:48:280:48:33

until she comes to true glory and is welcomed back to this House

0:48:330:48:36

as a 21st-century Gloriana.

0:48:360:48:41

I asked Iain Watson, as the mammoth EU negotiations now begin,

0:48:410:48:44

what are the potential risks for the Prime Minister?

0:48:440:48:50

I think there are huge risks for Theresa May and that may seem

0:48:500:48:53

a strange thing to say because at the moment her personal

0:48:530:48:55

ratings are extremely positive.

0:48:550:48:56

The party, as we have been discussing, is about 20 points clear

0:48:560:48:59

in some polls, of the Labour opposition, but to some extent

0:48:590:49:02

she may have reached a high watermark of her popularity

0:49:020:49:04

because negotiations are only really beginning.

0:49:040:49:08

At the moment it has been easy to keep the coalition, if you like,

0:49:080:49:11

of Conservatives in her party, the Remainers and Leavers,

0:49:110:49:13

and so on, together, because she has a simple message,

0:49:130:49:16

which is that she is carrying out the will of the British people,

0:49:160:49:19

the 52% who voted to leave the European Union

0:49:190:49:21

in the referendum.

0:49:210:49:23

How you carry that out becomes the tricky bit for her.

0:49:230:49:26

So, for example, were she to concede that Britain had to pay an exit

0:49:260:49:30

bill, a kind of divorce settlement with the rest of the European Union,

0:49:300:49:33

then currently perhaps somewhere in the region of 70 or 80

0:49:330:49:38

of her own MPs, who at the moment are cheering her to the rafters,

0:49:380:49:42

would start to question whether she should be walking away

0:49:420:49:44

from the European Union without paying a penny or by paying

0:49:440:49:47

a smaller sum.

0:49:470:49:49

So at the moment she's looking unassailable but that phrase,

0:49:490:49:52

when it's used in politics, usually unravels rather quickly

0:49:520:49:54

and people are 'sailable'.

0:49:540:49:56

And as if the whole EU negotiations were not enough of a headache,

0:49:560:50:02

Theresa May has that additional problem of a Scottish Parliament

0:50:020:50:04

vote in favour of holding a second independence referendum north

0:50:040:50:07

of the border.

0:50:070:50:11

Do you think it's just a fact that big political change always brings

0:50:110:50:14

about unintended consequences?

0:50:140:50:16

Referendums are all the go here at the moment, aren't they?

0:50:160:50:19

The Liberal Democrats are actually going for a second

0:50:190:50:21

referendum on the EU.

0:50:210:50:22

They are saying, let people see the final deal,

0:50:220:50:24

then have another vote.

0:50:240:50:25

In Scotland, the Scottish National Party and their allies,

0:50:250:50:27

the Greens, are saying, let's have a second

0:50:270:50:29

independence referendum.

0:50:290:50:30

And although it looks like an unintended

0:50:300:50:32

consequence, to be fair this

0:50:320:50:33

has been flagged up, the danger has been

0:50:330:50:35

flagged up for a long time because in their election manifesto,

0:50:350:50:38

the SNP said they would call a second referendum if one

0:50:380:50:40

of two things happened.

0:50:400:50:41

If there was sustained support for independence or, secondly,

0:50:410:50:46

if there was a material change in circumstances.

0:50:460:50:53

And they specified, "Such as Scotland being dragged out

0:50:530:50:55

of the EU against its will."

0:50:550:50:56

Because that has happened, the Scottish Parliament has now

0:50:560:50:59

voted for that second referendum.

0:50:590:51:01

But the decision rests here at Westminster to the SNP

0:51:010:51:04

will be putting pressure on the Conservative government

0:51:040:51:06

to try to concede that.

0:51:060:51:10

I think they have no chance of doing that

0:51:100:51:13

during the Brexit negotiations.

0:51:130:51:13

So to what extent do you think this demand for a referendum is simply

0:51:130:51:17

a counterpoint to the SNP's own domestic difficulties

0:51:170:51:19

in Holyrood?

0:51:190:51:20

To some extent, calling for a second referendum will be a rallying cry

0:51:200:51:23

for SNP supporters ahead of crucial local elections in Scotland in May,

0:51:230:51:26

that is certainly true.

0:51:260:51:27

But equally, I think there is a feeling that they might

0:51:270:51:30

have missed their moment if they don't push

0:51:300:51:32

for a referendum now.

0:51:320:51:35

What they are hoping to do is to pick up some

0:51:350:51:41

who voted to stay in the UK in the 2014 Scotland

0:51:410:51:44

referendum but now are worried about leaving the European Union.

0:51:440:51:46

These 'no Remainers', if you like, are seen as a happy hunting ground

0:51:460:51:49

for the SNP and if they leave the demands for a referendum much

0:51:490:51:52

beyond Brexit, perhaps that vote will no longer be interested

0:51:520:52:00

in coming their way and perhaps by then people might see

0:52:000:52:03

the details of the Brexit deal and it'll all settle down.

0:52:030:52:05

They want to exploit this when they can.

0:52:050:52:07

I think that is the overwhelming reason for calling for this

0:52:070:52:10

at the moment, rather than simply trying to distract people

0:52:100:52:12

from what they have been doing in government.

0:52:120:52:14

For many the issue of Brexit has been inextricably

0:52:140:52:16

linked with immigration.

0:52:160:52:17

And that issue has itself been given an added edge by the sight

0:52:170:52:21

of the thousands of refugees from Syria and other war zones

0:52:210:52:23

making their way to safe havens across Europe.

0:52:230:52:28

Last year, largely thanks to the efforts of this man,

0:52:280:52:31

the Labour peer Lord Dubs, the government agreed that the UK

0:52:310:52:36

would take in some 3000 unaccompanied child

0:52:360:52:38

refugees from Europe.

0:52:380:52:45

But the scheme, known as the Dubs Scheme,

0:52:450:52:47

was wound up in February.

0:52:470:52:49

When the Home Secretary said it was acting too much

0:52:490:52:51

as an incentive for people to make dangerous sea crossings.

0:52:510:52:53

The abrupt ending angered opposition MPs.

0:52:530:52:55

There are still so many children in need of help.

0:52:550:52:58

She knows there are thousands in Greece in overcrowded

0:52:580:53:00

accommodation or homeless, or in Italy, still at risk

0:53:000:53:02

of human trafficking.

0:53:020:53:06

Or teenagers in French centres which are being closed down now

0:53:060:53:09

and they have nowhere left to go.

0:53:090:53:11

These are children who need looking after over a period.

0:53:110:53:16

When we accept them here, it is not job done, it is making

0:53:160:53:19

sure that we work with local authorities, that we have the right

0:53:190:53:22

safeguarding in place.

0:53:220:53:24

It seems that the government tried to sneak out what they knew would be

0:53:240:53:28

a very unpopular announcement when they were busy avoiding

0:53:280:53:30

scrutiny in this House about the Brexit deal.

0:53:300:53:32

Is this the shape of things to come?

0:53:320:53:35

And is this what comes of cosying up to President Trump?

0:53:350:53:38

How does she live with herself?

0:53:380:53:43

Leaving thousands of people, leaving thousands -

0:53:430:53:45

and members opposite can jeer - how does she live with herself,

0:53:450:53:48

leaving thousands of children subject to disease, people

0:53:480:53:50

trafficking, squalor and hopelessness?

0:53:500:54:00

She describes how she doubts that the children in

0:54:050:54:07

France are looked after.

0:54:070:54:08

But I can say to the right honourable lady, the children

0:54:080:54:11

who are most vulnerable are the ones in the camps out in

0:54:110:54:14

Jordan, out in Lebanon.

0:54:140:54:15

These are the ones who are really vulnerable.

0:54:150:54:17

And those are the ones that we are determined

0:54:170:54:19

to bring over here.

0:54:190:54:22

In all, 350 children were accepted into the UK under the Dubs Scheme.

0:54:220:54:25

Now, leave or remain?

0:54:250:54:33

That's very definitely the big issue here at Westminster but no,

0:54:330:54:36

I'm not talking about the EU.

0:54:360:54:37

Parliamentarians have to decide whether they are going to leave this

0:54:370:54:40

place, the Palace of Westminster, while it undergoes a massive

0:54:400:54:43

restoration programme.

0:54:430:54:43

And there's no doubt the work is urgently needed.

0:54:430:54:47

The masonry's crumbling, the ageing electrics and plumbing

0:54:470:54:49

needs serious upgrading.

0:54:490:54:50

It's a mammoth programme that could take six years.

0:54:500:54:53

The cost, some ?3 billion.

0:54:530:54:56

MPs argued over whether the work could go on around them.

0:54:560:55:05

Much of our infrastructure is well past - in some cases decades past -

0:55:050:55:08

its life expectancy.

0:55:080:55:14

And the risk of catastrophic failure is such as a fire or a flood rises

0:55:140:55:17

exponentially every five years that we delay.

0:55:170:55:19

We should be in absolutely no doubt, there will be a fire.

0:55:190:55:22

There was a fire a fortnight ago.

0:55:220:55:23

There are regularly fires and people patrol the building 24

0:55:230:55:26

hours a day to make sure that we catch these fires.

0:55:260:55:34

As during the Second World War, the House of Commons debating

0:55:340:55:37

chamber should at all times retain a presence in the old

0:55:370:55:40

Palace of Westminster.

0:55:400:55:41

Instead of building what I would deem to be a folly costing

0:55:410:55:49

?85 million of a replica chamber in the courtyard of Richmond House,

0:55:490:55:52

we should, as in the war, use the House of Lords chamber.

0:55:520:55:58

But still no timetable has been agreed for Parliament's restoration.

0:55:580:56:00

Now spring is with us in winter is left for behind.

0:56:000:56:05

But adverse wintry conditions left their mark on the supermarket

0:56:050:56:07

shelves of the nation in February as freezing temperatures gripped

0:56:070:56:12

the growing areas of the continent.

0:56:120:56:14

In particular, courgettes disappeared for weeks on end.

0:56:140:56:16

When the shortage was brought to the attention of the House

0:56:160:56:18

of Lords, a minister said now was the time for British growers

0:56:180:56:21

to step up to the plate.

0:56:210:56:23

In a very real sense.

0:56:230:56:30

He will have seen the news reports of empty shelves in supermarkets,

0:56:300:56:33

with the crisis expected to last until the spring.

0:56:330:56:35

And meanwhile, prices have tripled, in part because it costs more to fly

0:56:350:56:38

vegetables from the USA and from Egypt than it does to bring

0:56:380:56:41

them overland from Spain.

0:56:410:56:42

I was seeking to be courteous to the noble Baroness

0:56:420:56:44

but it is certainly no crisis.

0:56:440:56:48

The only shortage will be of iceberg lettuce which we think will be

0:56:480:56:51

for about a few months and there is a wonderful variety

0:56:510:56:54

called cos, which is even better.

0:56:540:56:58

I think it is only fair that we hear from the Greens

0:56:580:57:00

on this particular subject.

0:57:000:57:02

I produced a report on how to make London more sustainable

0:57:020:57:04

in its food supplies and part of that was actually

0:57:040:57:07

shortening supply chains.

0:57:070:57:08

Half the vegetables that we eat in this country are imported,

0:57:080:57:11

including native crops like cauliflowers and onions.

0:57:110:57:18

Isn't it time that the government's forthcoming Green Paper on food

0:57:180:57:21

and farming seeks to tackle this decline in home-grown veg?

0:57:210:57:23

Very much so.

0:57:230:57:25

In fact I was pleased only this morning to hear that cauliflowers

0:57:250:57:27

from Cornwall are coming onto the market.

0:57:270:57:29

So we have a great opportunity again to buy some British vegetables.

0:57:290:57:35

Some food for thought from the appropriately-named Lord Gardiner.

0:57:350:57:38

And that's it for this term.

0:57:380:57:40

MPs are back straight after Easter Monday,

0:57:400:57:43

so do join us for our daily round-up each evening at 11 o'clock

0:57:430:57:46

on BBC Parliament.

0:57:460:57:47

Until then, from me, goodbye.

0:57:470:57:57

Whoo! This is what I call a proper playground.

0:58:080:58:11

This is the real deal.

0:58:120:58:13

Woohoo!

0:58:130:58:14

She's going to kill it. You're not going to make it.

0:58:140:58:17

Whoa, the acceleration is enormous!

0:58:170:58:19

Whoo!

0:58:190:58:20

That's insane!

0:58:200:58:21

Whoa!

0:58:210:58:22

For decade after decade,

0:58:270:58:28

Keith Macdougall looks back on the events at Parliament since January, including the terror attack, Brexit legislation, the u-turn Budget, Labour losing a long-held seat at a by-election, the House of Lords starring in its own series, the collapse of the Northern Ireland executive, the Scottish government demanding a new referendum on independence and the speaker telling Donald Trump he's not welcome at Westminster.


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