15/12/2017 Politics Europe


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15/12/2017

The latest news from Europe, including interviews with MEPs, reports from the European Parliament and a guide to the inner workings of the European Union.


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LineFromTo

But first on BBC News,

Politics Europe.

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Hello, welcome to Politics Europe,

your regular guide to the top

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stories in Brussels and Strasbourg.

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On today's program, EU leaders give

the green light to move on to phase

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2 of the Brexit talks.

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When will the EU and UK

start discussing trade

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and transition period?

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Former European Parliament

President, Martin Schultz,

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says that the EU should become

a United State of Europe by 2025.

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Is that realistic?

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Could Brexit hasten the process?

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And, was the doner almost a goner?

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A vote in the European Parliament

almost skewered the humble frozen

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vertical meat stick,

or kebab to you and me.

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We'll chew over the details.

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So, all that to to come and more

in the next half an hour

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and joining me for all

of it is Ann McElvoy

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from the Economist and the Daily

Mail's Andrew Pierce.

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First though, here is our guide

to the latest from Europe

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in just 60 seconds.

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Theresa May began the week

with a Brexit spring in her step,

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following that deal to move talks

onto the next stage.

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But by midweek, was her first defeat

in the Commons when MPs voted

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to give Parliament a legal guarantee

of a vote on the final deal

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struck in Brussels.

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The European Parliament passed

a motion of approving a move

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to phase 2 but not all

MPs were supportive.

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Theresa the Appeaser has given

in on virtually everything.

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Elsewhere, the new Polish Prime

Minister has said his dream

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is to rechristianise the EU,

corner for a return to proper values

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in an interview with

the Catholic TV channel.

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The European commission President,

John Claude Junke is facing

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an investigation over a case

involving an alleged illegal wiretap

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when he was Prime

Minister of Luxembourg.

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And Emmanuel Macron hosted 50

countries and one kid at a climate

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change summit in Brussels.

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A notable absentee was the US

President, Donald Trump but don't

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worry, Arnold Schwarzenegger

was there instead.

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Now, one of the stories we saw

there was about the new Polish

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minister who wants to

rechristianise the EU.

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What do you think about that?

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I think Poland is in the sort of no

mates category in Europe.

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It has such a big economy.

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It has turned inwards,

it has problems within its legal

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system, its politics have become

rather hideous and its views

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of minorities are not good.

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I am just going to say

that it is funny that we are nervous

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when we had this argument about this

when Germany opposed Turkish entry.

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It is an "in fairness

to Poland" clause.

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Angela Merkel had a strong sort

of Christian identity and you didn't

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have to be Christian to go to church

but there was a Christian

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underpinning to the idea of the EU

which historically was true.

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That is one of the reasons why

she kept the Germans,

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Austrians and others

kept the Turks out.

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It is interesting that has come back

and it does not feel

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like it is the right language to be

talking about the EU.

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Do you agree?

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As Ann said, it seems a far cry

from the days when we were talking

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about accession for Turkey.

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Obviously that became an issue

during the EU referendum and now

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we have a new Prime Minister

in Poland saying that they want

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the European Union to return

to its traditionalChristian routes.

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As a good Roman Catholic boy I ought

to welcome this but I am alarmed

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because the politics in Poland have

turned very far to the right

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and I think it has got

an unhealthy undertone,

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it sounds like it could be a racist

undertone so I would

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be quite concerned.

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Now in the last hour,

European Union leaders have allowed

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Brexit talks to progress

to the next phase.

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Talks have moved into the UK's

eventual relationship with the EU.

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It is up for discussion,

including trade, transition,

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security, justice

and the list goes on.

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The BBC's Adam Fleming caught up

with negotiator Michel Garnier

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after the news broke.

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Are you happy?

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It is a big achievement.

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You going to get new guidelines?

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Are looking forward to that?

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When do you think we will have

the transition period

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sorted and ready?

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There will be a transition

beginning next year.

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When will we know?

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Will we know by March when it is?

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And, joining me now to discuss

all of this is the MEP,

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Seb Dance, the leader of Labour

in the European Parliament.

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He is here in the studio

and the Conservative leader

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in the European Parliament,

Ashley Fox MEP joins

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me from Bristol.

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Ashley Fox, first of all what do

you want to see in terms

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of Britain's position

and status within the EU

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during the implementation phase?

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Well, we want a deep and special

partnership with the European Union.

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During that transition period,

I think we want to maintain

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equivalence with the customs union,

equivalence with the single market,

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so that during that 2-year period,

firms do not need to adjust

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their rules again.

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Does that mean still taking rules

from the European Union Court

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of Justice and freedom of movement?

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I think that that is

something to be negotiated.

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And what is your view?

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It is something to be negotiated.

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I would expect freedom of movement

to continue from the 2 years

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after we leave to the end

of the transition period.

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Seb says that needs to be

negotiated, but formalising

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the transition period and the status

of Britain will be part of that.

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It also requires the approval

of the European Parliament.

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What is the mood in Brussels

and Strasbourg from European MPs?

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I suppose the mood is one

of caution, a slight air of relief

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that we have managed to get some

progress now obviously because...

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Yes.

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There was a stage towards the end

of last week where there

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were really panic stations.

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It looked bad.

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So, there is a sense of progress

but ultimately the government has

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caved in on so much that I think

the expectation is effectively

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that the transition period will be

another example of that.

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The only difference is that we would

be able to make any rules,

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we will just be applying them.

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What ways have the

government caved in?

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Well, if you look at this

one deal, alignment,

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is the post- transition stage.

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That means that the customs union,

and the single market.

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Forget regulatory alignment

in the areas covered

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by the Good Friday agreement..

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You must accept

of the customs union.

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We will not have a say

in those rules.

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Do you accept that?

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That there is possibility that

Britain remains in the customs union

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beyond transition for many years?

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No, I think Seb Dance

is talking nonsense.

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We will leave the customs union

and we will leave the single market

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and we will have a separate

agreement between the United Kingdom

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and the EU and it is interesting

that the Italian Prime Minister

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Gentiloni has already said it

would need a tailor-made solution

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for the united kingdom.

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I have to say it must be really

difficult to be a Labour MEP

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at the moment because you have to be

permanently miserable, top-down.

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Not miserable.

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Mrs May has done really well

and she is a formidable politician.

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I would like to know what magical

way of squaring this circle you have

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come up with because that

is what the text says.

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Unless you can come up with a way

of achieving full alignment

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through some other means

that the customs union

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and the single market,

and incidentally of had 18 months

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to come up with this magic

solution and nobody has...

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I'm not remotely miserable.

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I am fascinated at how this magic

trick is going to be performed.

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What is your response?

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Seb had not read read the agreement

because what it says is,

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we will maintain alignment for those

areas where there is north

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south cooperation.

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Look at the 12 areas.

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Some are fairly minor

like waterways and tourism,

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the two big ones are

agriculture and energy.

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There is already a single energy

market and this will not change

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so that challenges

related to agriculture.

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We absolutely will not be staying

in the customs union.

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Isn't the truth that Labour wants

to remain in all but name

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within the single market

and the customs union and actually

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you welcome the debate around this

issue of full alignment

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regarding the border between Ireland

and Northern Ireland?

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This is Labour's gameplan.

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Not to recognise the

referendum outcome.

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Say that all you like but I want

to stay in the European Union.

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I will not make any

bones about that.

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If they decide that they get

at the end of this process

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is and what they voted for in the 23

June, it is a reasonable case

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to say, is this what you want to do?

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It is not up to me, it is up

to me to make the case.

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Is that not the strategy?

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Labour's strategy is to minimise

the damage of what Brexit will do,

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to take a completely different

approach to what the Tories

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are doing which is pursue,

at all costs, against the principles

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they set, a hard Brexit.

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That is not in the

country's interest.

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It is a difficulty.

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In the transition period

you won't be able to strike any

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free-trade agreements

with other countries,

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non- EU countries,

that is correct, isn't it.

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I anticipate we will be able to get

into trade negotiations

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but you are correct.

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Until the transition

period is concluded,

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I would imagine it to be

the first quarter of 2021,

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the new trade arrangements

cannot take effect.

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Do you know what the government's

position will be, in terms

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of the vision for that trade

relationship between Britain

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and the EU?

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David Davies described it

as Canada plus plus plus.

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When you look at our free-trade

agreement you will see that 98%

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of tariff lines are

abolished and set at 0.

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We see no reason why it can't be 0

and then we want an ambitious

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service chapter on top of that.

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Isn't that the problem?

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The deal over services,

when you think of what a major part

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of the British economy

services actually make up,

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the Canada, and I take your point

about plus plus plus plus plus

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but the deal does not

include services.

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We start with an easier position

because we are in regulatory

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alignment with the EU.

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Our financial services providers

have the equivalent regulation

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to the EU.

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That is the point.

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We are coming from a totally

different starting point to Canada.

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Therefore, this idea

that it is going to be impossible,

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it might take 80 years

is wishful thinking.

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-- eight years.

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No.

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That is exactly the point

but we have regulatory alignment

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because of course we are in the EU.

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Those regulations

are decided by the EU.

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Do we really think that we will be

deciding with the European financial

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services regulations will be once

we are outside of the institutions

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that set those?

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Of course we won't.

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This is not about taking

back control at all.

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Do you think that the arch

Brexiteers within the Conservative

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party are going to accept this idea

to be part of the European Court

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of Justice for quite a few years,

to come and we will take

0:12:150:12:19

is in that sense?

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The Supreme Court has first podium

will decide whether to refer

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to the European Court of Justice.

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For most of them they are unhappy

about it but they have accepted it

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John McDonald, said the other day,

he wants to be in it

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different single market.

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I think they want to keep us

in the single market.

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In which case, there

is the point leaving the EU.

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Some of us do.

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You say there is no point.

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What you think the phase one

agreement has done in terms

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of the customs union?

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Ashley Fox talks about north-south

alignment and the DUP enjoyed

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that it was East-West.

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It is a huge chunk of

what the Brexit people

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so that we would be

doing trade deals on.

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It is now possible and we will not

be deciding the rules.

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How do you see full alignment,

influencing our future relationship?

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In a nutshell, it will dictate how

closely aligned our rules

0:13:150:13:18

and regulations and standards

are to the winds of the EU.

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I figure it depends.

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It is a great phrase.

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It reminds me of variable geometry.

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It can be made into anything

that you want it to be.

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The position that you are coming

from, you say that it

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makes no difference.

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If you have full alignment

you should not bother but of course

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you think that because you would not

have bothered anyway.

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Remain have been open

about that anyway.

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With Ireland, given the difficulty

that Ireland presents

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with the internal border,

you have a language which allows

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people to make deals which is not,

at the same time, saying you might

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as well just accept customs union

and the single market

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because you don't have to be very

far on the Brexit curve to say

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that these things

are not acceptable.

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I think that you are right.

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Your colleague on the other side

in Brussels has a point.

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You have to come up with instruments

which are going to make this

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at least as less likely to lead

to any future problems

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even if you cannot use it to cut

every problem through right now.

0:14:210:14:26

Do you think the EU blinked

in the end, in order to get

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to the end of phase one?

0:14:310:14:36

I don't think either side blinked.

0:14:360:14:38

It is a difficult negotiation.

0:14:380:14:39

Mrs May showed herself to be

a formidable negotiator

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and we reached an

equitable compromise.

0:14:420:14:43

These are the most difficult

negotiations I think that have been

0:14:430:14:46

undertaken by the United Kingdom

since the end of the 2nd World War.

0:14:460:14:50

Mrs May is doing a good job.

0:14:500:14:52

You think David Davis

is a formidable negotiator?

0:14:520:14:54

Yes I do.

0:14:540:14:55

I think is doing a good job too.

0:14:550:14:57

It's a shame that we

have opposition and

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politicians who pretend

to support the country.

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That take delight in

every small difficulty.

0:15:050:15:09

Why vote for the motion

to approve progress?

0:15:090:15:12

It's whether we are opposing it.

0:15:120:15:14

Why did you MEPs not vote for it?

0:15:140:15:20

We voted in favour specifically

of the paragraph that

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called the talks.

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It was a whole load of nonsense

put in by a man trying

0:15:240:15:27

to impose his agenda

on face to the talks.

0:15:270:15:30

That is not the purpose

of the European Parliament.

0:15:300:15:34

Let's leave it there for the moment.

0:15:350:15:36

There have always been tensions

in the EU between Federalists

0:15:360:15:39

who want integration

in the block and

0:15:390:15:41

those who value member states

sovereignty above all else.

0:15:410:15:44

Britain traditionally

sat in the 2nd camp,

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but now that we are

moving, could plans

0:15:480:15:50

for European federalism be

moving ahead at pace?

0:15:500:15:52

Today, at the European Council

summit, bidders are expected

0:15:520:15:55

to discuss ways to deepen

the Eurozone integration.

0:15:550:15:57

On the table is the possible

creation of a budget

0:15:570:16:01

for the Eurozone as well

as a Finance Minister

0:16:010:16:03

to represent the block.

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Earlier this week,

the European Council adopted

0:16:040:16:06

the creation of a permanent defence

and security cooperation network

0:16:060:16:09

known as Pesco.

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25 EU states have signed the defence

pact with only Malta,

0:16:120:16:15

Denmark and the United Kingdom

choosing not to take part.

0:16:150:16:17

It will integrate military

planning, weapons

0:16:170:16:26

development and operations that

will rely on a 5 billion

0:16:260:16:28

Euro defence fund.

0:16:280:16:29

Last week, the leader

of Germany's centre-left

0:16:290:16:31

social Democrats, or SBD, and former

European Parliament President called

0:16:310:16:34

for the creation of

a United States of Europe.

0:16:350:16:37

Shultz told SDP delegates

that he wanted EU member states

0:16:370:16:40

to sign off on a

constitutional treaty,

0:16:400:16:42

committing them to take steps

towards a federal Europe.

0:16:420:16:44

Do you think it will catch on, this

idea of a United States of Europe?

0:16:440:16:49

It has always been

there in the minds of

0:16:490:16:52

federalists.

0:16:520:16:55

It depends on what

you call federalists.

0:16:550:16:57

It has been there.

0:16:570:17:00

That is in division of Europe

stretching back over 20 years.

0:17:000:17:03

I spent time in Germany recently,

looking at Angela Merkel's

0:17:030:17:06

situation.

0:17:060:17:07

Martin Schultz, sitting

there on 20.5% of the vote,

0:17:080:17:10

don't forget, he has had

a very bad election,

0:17:100:17:13

he needs to have something that

from his perspective is very

0:17:130:17:16

pro-European.

0:17:160:17:23

Where he has come from,

into this part of German politics,

0:17:230:17:26

he wants to offer something

very bold and visionary

0:17:260:17:28

and I think his view is that

you go will tilt for it.

0:17:280:17:32

You stop saying that

you don't want it.

0:17:320:17:36

That helps you get

on with Mr Macron.

0:17:360:17:39

You can do something forward.

0:17:390:17:45

Do you think greater integration

is the way that it is heading?

0:17:450:17:48

I think in many areas, yes.

0:17:480:17:50

In many areas no.

0:17:500:17:51

We probably will see the emergence

of Europe going forward.

0:17:510:17:53

Do you support the idea?

0:17:540:17:55

I think inevitably people will go

further in some areas.

0:17:550:17:58

Not as far in others.

0:17:580:17:59

At the end of the day

the European Union it's a union

0:17:590:18:02

of states and it is the member

states themselves that decide how

0:18:020:18:05

far are comfortable

at any given point.

0:18:060:18:14

Frankly, there will always be

federalists and there will be those

0:18:140:18:17

that prize the sovereignty of member

states above all else and that

0:18:170:18:23

conflict will always

be there, but the buck

0:18:230:18:25

stops with the member states.

0:18:250:18:26

That conflict will always be there.

0:18:260:18:28

As a result of that

conflict then, he

0:18:280:18:30

actually see it happening in terms

of having a budget Minister,

0:18:300:18:33

if you like, and there

is already a sort of

0:18:330:18:36

Foreign Minister but also that sort

of close co-operation on defence.

0:18:360:18:39

In the end, national

values will trump,

0:18:390:18:41

won't they, for many

countries in the EU.

0:18:410:18:43

I would agree.

0:18:430:18:44

My concern over this

structured defence

0:18:440:18:45

cooperation is set up

as a rival to NATO.

0:18:450:18:48

If it results in the European

nationstates spending more

0:18:480:18:50

on defence, that is to be welcomed.

0:18:500:18:52

But what we don't want is several

more divisions of bureaucrats

0:18:520:18:55

who don't actually add

to defence capability.

0:18:550:18:57

Doesn't it make sense to have those

countries remaining within the EU,

0:18:570:19:00

coming closer together?

0:19:000:19:01

For the Eurozone,

you're probably right.

0:19:010:19:02

The Euro is set up very badly,

0:19:050:19:09

with economies that

weren't convergent and

0:19:090:19:11

too many States,

we see many problems.

0:19:110:19:18

There probably needs to be

a greater fiscal capacity

0:19:180:19:20

for the Eurozone.

0:19:210:19:21

I am delighted that the

United Kingdom is not part of that.

0:19:210:19:25

Would you like to be part of it?

0:19:250:19:27

If Britain were to stay in the EU,

would you have been a fan

0:19:270:19:31

of being part of that

closer integration?

0:19:310:19:32

In defence it makes sense given

the level of threat that we have,

0:19:330:19:40

but we've got to counter

this idea that there

0:19:400:19:45

is somehow undermining NATO.

0:19:450:19:46

Britain and France have done

operations under a joint EU

0:19:460:19:49

flag in fact.

0:19:490:19:50

We have, that have not

undermined our contribution

0:19:500:19:52

to NATO.

0:19:520:19:53

It has not undermined the security

of the North Atlantic

0:19:530:19:56

Treaty organisation

in any way shape or form.

0:19:560:19:58

You can have multiple

layers of defence without

0:19:580:20:00

undermining existing layers.

0:20:000:20:01

Would it be a good thing?

0:20:010:20:03

No.

0:20:030:20:03

If this had been around

before the referendum,

0:20:030:20:05

with Schultz and other people

talking about a United States,

0:20:050:20:08

the referendum would

have been even bigger.

0:20:080:20:10

People do not like the idea

of the United States and Brussels

0:20:100:20:13

taking even more power away

from sovereign parliaments.

0:20:130:20:16

If there a problem with

Germany, or it seems

0:20:160:20:25

like a dictat from Martin

Schulz in this position.

0:20:250:20:28

To control everything

within the EU.

0:20:280:20:29

Yes, there is a problem

with Germany.

0:20:290:20:33

They run the whole show.

0:20:330:20:36

What show?

0:20:360:20:37

That is what it is.

0:20:370:20:41

That is the fact for

Germany running the show.

0:20:410:20:43

Germany is obviously

the economic powerhouse.

0:20:440:20:48

The French end of the Franco German

relationship is not at its strongest

0:20:480:20:57

and now there is a challenge,

but this is not the position

0:20:570:21:00

of Angela Merkel

who is likely to see and had

0:21:000:21:03

the government as we go forward.

0:21:030:21:04

It is the position

of the underbidder.

0:21:040:21:06

You take offence at this idea that

Germany runs the show.

0:21:060:21:09

Absolutely.

0:21:090:21:16

Germany is the largest economy,

incidentally had we stayed

0:21:160:21:19

in the EU,

we were on course to be

0:21:190:21:21

the biggest economy in the EU.

0:21:210:21:28

And Britain could have run the show

but we'll never know.

0:21:280:21:31

The idea that the Germany

runs the show.

0:21:310:21:33

Look through German eyes.

0:21:330:21:34

Here we have the biggest military

power in the European Union

0:21:340:21:37

leaving.

0:21:370:21:38

At a time we have threats

from Russia, at a time when we have

0:21:380:21:41

less than concrete assurances from

a good allies in the United States

0:21:420:21:45

and President Trump.

0:21:450:21:46

There is a lot of

nervousness around.

0:21:460:21:49

We will continue to.

0:21:490:21:51

To have a European layer

of integration makes sense.

0:21:510:21:53

In the run-up to

the referendum, David

0:21:530:21:55

Cameron spent a lot of time trying

to get concessions from the EU

0:21:550:21:58

and spent most of his

time talking to Mrs

0:21:580:22:01

Merkel because that is where it is.

0:22:010:22:08

And with that we'll

have a goodbye to our guests.

0:22:080:22:11

Are doners almost goners?

0:22:110:22:12

A vote in the European

Parliament seeking to ban

0:22:120:22:15

phosphates from frozen

from the meat fell short.

0:22:150:22:17

There were 3 votes

and the British MEPs

0:22:170:22:19

did their bit to save the frozen

vertical meat spit, or kebabs

0:22:190:22:22

as they are known by us.

0:22:220:22:27

Instead of saying the EU is banning

kebabs, that is not right.

0:22:270:22:30

The media and companies should be

asking the commission why

0:22:310:22:35

the commission is making food less

healthy and worse because that is

0:22:350:22:38

ultimately what the

whole story is about.

0:22:380:22:40

The Greens and social democrats

are simply spreading panic.

0:22:400:22:44

The reason why that is not the case

is that phosphates are allowed

0:22:440:22:48

in many foods, but they are

naturally present in many foods.

0:22:480:22:52

If they were such a great risk

to human health we would all have

0:22:520:22:56

been ill long ago.

0:22:560:22:57

Ibrahim Dogus, the founder

of the British Kebab awards

0:22:570:22:59

is here to chew this all over.

0:22:590:23:01

Those puns.

0:23:010:23:08

Are you relieved?

0:23:080:23:09

We welcome the position taken

by the European Parliament to allow

0:23:100:23:12

kebabs to be made.

0:23:130:23:14

What are phosphates used

for in making Doner kebabs?

0:23:140:23:16

The phosphates are used in a very

small section of industry,

0:23:160:23:19

in the frozen doner kebab industry.

0:23:190:23:22

The majority of kebabs shops

are using home-made kebabs

0:23:220:23:25

and they don't use phosphates.

0:23:250:23:30

But still, it is to keep meat moist

and also give it a bit of flavour.

0:23:300:23:34

It is an additive.

0:23:340:23:35

There are many others

used in many other

0:23:350:23:37

industries.

0:23:370:23:42

If they are only be used

for a small number,

0:23:420:23:44

would have had that much

of an impact if it was banned?

0:23:440:23:48

It would not impact British

kebabs but in Germany,

0:23:480:23:50

frozen donor kebabs industries

are bigger than it is in Britain.

0:23:500:23:53

In Britain we have more

restaurants and more takeaway

0:23:530:23:56

stores making their own doner

kebabs, but a frozen doner kebab

0:23:560:24:00

is still part of the industry and it

would have been bad to ban the use

0:24:000:24:04

of phosphates in industry.

0:24:040:24:05

How unhealthy is it to have

phosphates as part of the process?

0:24:050:24:11

The European food standards agency

and safety authority made

0:24:110:24:15

an assessment in 2013,

confirming there is no

0:24:150:24:20

health risk for any product

using phosphates, it does not cause

0:24:200:24:23

any direct health risk

to consumers at all.

0:24:230:24:25

How are you celebrating?

0:24:250:24:26

With a plate of kebabs?

0:24:260:24:34

With a big kebab.

0:24:340:24:35

I'm glad to hear it.

0:24:350:24:37

It is unfortunate because

everybody is hungry.

0:24:370:24:39

What is your view on this

great doner kebabs

0:24:390:24:41

debate?

0:24:410:24:49

I'm not a great eater

of donor kebabs, I have

0:24:490:24:52

to say but if you're

happy, I'm happy.

0:24:520:24:54

Do you eat kebabs?

0:24:540:24:56

I have a feeling that I fund

a lot of kebab eating

0:24:560:24:59

from my teenage sons.

0:24:590:25:00

If they didn't like the ones

with as many additives I would be

0:25:000:25:04

happy to nudge it in that direction.

0:25:040:25:06

For British MEPs that actually

helped the industry here,

0:25:060:25:08

there are falling

a function in here.

0:25:080:25:13

2 more years to go and they can

carry on doing good work.

0:25:130:25:16

And then our parliament

can sort this out.

0:25:160:25:18

You can't underestimate

the work that they are

0:25:190:25:21

doing at the moment.

0:25:210:25:22

Do you do any lobbying?

0:25:220:25:24

We didn't do any direct lobbying.

0:25:240:25:28

We knew the MEPs

are sensible people.

0:25:280:25:31

What make you think that, exactly?

0:25:310:25:32

Most of our MEPs have been doing

great work for many years.

0:25:320:25:36

We would expect them.

0:25:360:25:37

Is Nigel Farage on your side?

0:25:370:25:38

That is it for now.

0:25:380:25:40

Thanks to all of my guests.

0:25:400:25:41

Obviously, to you too

for being our guests of the day.

0:25:410:25:44

From all of us here, goodbye.

0:25:440:25:50