11/01/2017 Politics Scotland


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Good afternoon and welcome to the programme.


There was a feisty exchange at Holyrood


as the Finance Secretary defended his tax plans for Scotland.


And here at Westminster, could the political crisis in Northern Ireland


mean the triggering of Article 50 has to be postponed?


At Holyrood, the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay


has faced questions from MSPs over his tax plans.


Mr Mackay needs support from at least one other party


to get his budget through Parliament.


Let's speak to our political editor, Brian Taylor.


Does he have a deal? Not at the moment, he doesn't. He has to get a


deal on two elements. First of all, he has to get the budget three. At


stage three in the chamber behind me here. Before that, there's a


separate vote on the tax proposals. Holyrood now controlling income tax


rates and bands. He has to get that through as well. There isn't a deal


on that either. Let's recall briefly what the proposals are on income


tax. They want to freeze the standard rate. On the upper rate for


higher earners, the' proposing to increase the rate that kicks in. A


tax cut for those on higher earnings. The SNP says that goes too


far. Derek Mackay only wants to increase it in line with inflation.


Today, the Tories said it was wrong, people in Scotland would end up


paying more. Look at this exchange with Patrick Harvie who questioned


why there was a giveaway at all for those on higher earnings? Why are


you doing the maximum set out as something worth considering in your


manifesto? In line with inflation, we'll take tax decisions year to


year. That's a position we've put across at the moment. Why? That's


the figure in line with inflation. It feels like the right thing to do


in a balance way? Why? Why? It feels like it is in balance. Mr Harvie has


a different view on the structure of income tax. We feel it sits within


our manifesto. Sits with people is fair and gives certainty at this


time. What's your theory? I suspect you have one. Do you think this


makes a deal with the Greens less likely? It make it problematic at


the moment. There are two separate votes. One on the tax, a resolution


on the rates. The rate of tax to be levied. Thennage only then there is


a vote on the budget. You hear Patrick Harvie saying he is looking


and pressing for concessions on tax. You hear in response, Derek Mackay


making reference to the manifesto, a reminder a manifesto which drew the


SNP a rather larger share of the vote and of the MSPs than the


greens. They are not a majority. The SNP are taking the view large


parties have rights too. They believe they're entitled to put


forward their detailed proposals on tax. Derek Mackay is not for budging


on tax. If there are concessions, he wants them to be on areas of


interest and concerns to the Greens and the Liberal Democrats. He's


begin up on Labour. To wins the Greens over, he wants to give them


something on spending. Patrick Harvie's pushing and holding out for


something on tax. This could be very difficult indeed. I think


ultimately, there will be a deal. The final sanction in a further


election. Voters tend not to like elections, unnecessary elections.


They particularly tend not to reward the party that has created that


unnecessary election. What about the Liberal Democrats? The Liberal


Democrats are on the finance committee today. Very much in


discussion with the SNP behind the scenes. One element of this, people


on the SNP side, remember the 2007-11 Parliament, in 2009 they


thought they had a deal with the greens only for that to fall apart


at the last moment. They remember that. They don't trust from first


principles the greens, that's probably going too far. They are


Leary of the Greens because of that. They need to get a deal with


someone. Abstention or active support from another party or the


tax plan does not go through and the budget falls.


The SNP says the UK Government will have to postpone the triggering of


Article 50 if the political crisis in Northern Ireland is not solved.


Ministers in London have acknowledged a new election


is "highly likely" after Sinn Fein withdrew from a power-sharing


Our Westminster Correspondent, David Porter, joins me now.


David, bring us up to date on this. Gordon, this is to some extent an


example of the law of unintended consequences and how something that


happens in one of the devolved administrations potentially can


affect other parts of the UK on that massively important issue of Brexit.


It was an issue which was raised today quite fairly by the SNP at


Prime Minister's Questions. Theresa May, when she came into Downing


Street as Prime Minister said we know Brexit means Brexit but she


also wanted full negotiations with the devolved administrations. If, as


looks likely in Northern Ireland, there will not be a formal


administration and they may well be in an election period, what is the


knock-on effect for negotiating with all the devolved administrations to


get a position on Brexit and triggering of Article 50 to formally


begin the Brexit negotiations. It was raised at Prime Minister's


Question Time by the SNP leader down here at Westminster with Theresa


May. Here's a flavour of their exchange. Mr Speaker, the Prime


Minister's indicated she wants to take the views of the elected


representatives and the devolved institutions on Brexit seriously.


So, it stands to reason, then, that if there is no Northern Irish


assembly and no Northern Irish executive for much of the time


before the March timetable she has set before invoking Article 50, she


will be unable to properly discuss, and find agreement on the complex


issues during this time period? In these circumstances, will the Prime


Minister postpone invoking Article 50... Will she postpone Article 50


or will she just plough on regardless? It's about ensuring, as


he says, we want to ensure we do hear the views from all parts of the


UK. That's why we have established the J MC European committee


specifically to take the views and the J MC plenary which is also


meeting more frequently than previously. I'm clear, first of all,


we want to ensure within this period of seven days we can find a


resolution to the political situation in Northern Ireland so we


can continue to see the Assembly Government continuing. But, I'm also


clear in the discussions we have, it will be possible, it is still the


case that ministers are in place and there are executives in place that


we are still able to take the views of the Northern Ireland people.


Where does this go, David? In theory, presumably, if we go back to


direct rule in Northern Ireland, the Government in London simply, as it


were, negotiates the Northern Ireland bits of this on behalf of


Northern Ireland? That is potentially what could happen. There


is a political agenda here. Angus Robertson and the SNP would be happy


if Article 50 was never triggered. They want Scotland and the rest of


the UK remain in Europe. What happens if there is no agreement in


Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland is going through elections,


who speaks on behalf of Northern Ireland? It was noticeable there


that Theresa May was choosing her words very carefully saying


ministers were still in place, there were civil servants in place so the


process could continue. It is certainly going on at the moment,


there are talks today in London... I'm curious, David, what was the


reaction from the Government benches and the Labour benches to that


question from Angus Robertson? Was it that they said interesting point


or this is just you trying to find an excuse for putting the triggering


of Article 50 off? It was more the former saying you've actually got a


valid point here. Perhaps there are some on the Labour benches who would


not have been terribly happy it had been raised by the SNP. That is more


to do with the tribal loyalties between Labour and the SNP. There is


a feeling it is a question that has to be raised. But when a question is


raised people have to come up with answers. Theresa May's made it plain


that she sees her timetable for triggering Article 50 by the end of


March, she doesn't see anything that will scupper that at the moment. It


does add another dimension to what is going on in Belfast at the moment


and the talks this there will be over Stormont. Also, it adds another


dimension to the Brexit negotiations, particularly involving


the devolved administrations. No-one say it was going to be easy.ant it


ain't! Thanks David. We'll speak to you later.


I'm joined by the former Shadow Scottish Secretary, Margaret Curran.


David's point is a good one. Because of the complexity of the structure


of the UK these days not to mention Europe, no-one would have predicted


the situation in Ireland we're in? As he said, it's not easy. There's


no straight lines coming out of the Brexit negotiations at all. It is a


reasonable question Angus Robertson raised. First of all, will an


election with the result? There will be rest Is stance to that in


Northern Ireland. I harbour a guess, there's no magic solution there.


But, it's yet another dimension on the complexities of Brexit. One gets


a sense, I mean, if we take away the particular situation arising from


Martin McGuinness's resignation, there seemed to be a willingness on


the part of both, of Europe, of the Government of Ireland and of the


Government of the UK to make sure there was an open border between the


north and south because of the peace agreement? That may get raised again


in all this discussion. The other point David raised about this in


terms of relationship to Brexit and Article 50, I think it is very


difficult to try to undermine a referendum result. We went through


all this in Scotland. We guaranteed we'd respect a referendum result. It


is very hard to use anything just to look as if you're completely


undermining and create difficulties for implementing that result. You


think Labour should be pretty unambiguously saying we're going to


leave the European Union. We might argue with might want to keep parts


of the single market but you think Labour should be saying... To be


fair, I've not been uncritical of the Labour leadership in some of


this, or I have been critical of them. It is put out clearly in the


Bloomberg speech, yes, you have to respect the result of the


referendum. That is the democratic and proper thing to do. But that


doesn't give the Government a blank cheque. They have been very lax in


terms of bringing forward any debate, talking about any of the


negotiating decisions, engaging with Parliament about that. Angus


Robertson says Parliament should be involved in this discussion. When


you think through the various perm tagses and implications. Parliament


has to be involved in that. I don't think, I think it doesn't respect


the debate, the complexity of that debate as their excuse to undermine


the result. The Government may not themselves know exactly what it is


they want to negotiate or what their plan is. In a sense... That's part


of the problem we have. Given no-one expected the Brexit vote. OK, it is


six months ago, it is not unreasonable for them not to be


fully decided on what they're doing? It is a Liberal Democrating the mat


criticism to say the party that held the referendum in the first place,


the party, with a good number of their members wanted to happen, now


leading Cabinet members arguing for it, seem pretty clueless as to what


the real implications are, to the extent they can't tell elected


people what it is. You're missing something out, the Prime Minister,


David Cameron and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the majority of


the members of the Government at the time said, these people want to


leave the European Union don't really know what they want.


Innocentless, it is incumbent on the Government, if you hold a


referendum, to stand by the result. It is a pretty damning indictment on


all members of that party who took it to the people without working


through the implications of this. We are in a very interesting position


as has been highlighted in the UK Parliament, one of the implications


of this is the impact it could have for a situation like Northern


Ireland. Some of the economic implications but also political


implications for the progress that's been made in Northern Ireland. That


is thrown up. When you are making these proposals and taking forward a


referendum, you need to be very clear about what you're playing


around with here. We need to move on. What's your betting on who Derek


Mackay does a deal with on his budget. Greens or Liberal Democrats?


Greens. Today, in the Parliament, the


Scottish Government is leading the debate about their


International Development Strategy. Although overseas aid


is reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government offers


a voluntary contribution. It was a programme which was first


developed to help Malawi. The new strategy


will now extend the plan to include Zambia, Rwanda


and Pakistan. This year, the funding is due to


rise from ?9 million to ?10 million. It is easier to get things done, to


achieve greater value for money and bring about culturally sensitive


development guided by practical needs on the ground. We believe it


is a new model for development that is unique in world terms. This model


has enabled Scots to achieve a disproportionately large impact in


partnership with Mullally and individuals in organisations. --


Malawi. I am grateful. As the co-convenor of the cross-party group


I'm well aware of the work that civic society in Scotland does to


provide the foundations. There is concern that some of the core


funding has not been clarified. I wonder what he can offer to assure


the groups of future funding so they can continue to carry out that


excellent work? The member points to network groups within Scotland, and


of course the funding decisions have not yet been made but will be made


soon and the groups concerned will not need to wait aurally long for


those decisions. We brought energy access to over 80,000 people in


Malawi, in rural areas. We've established standards for education


there, education Scotland are working closely with the Scottish


Government and partners having developed a memorandum of


understanding in Malawi, and we've helped quadruple the annual number


of medical graduates from Malawi's only public medical school. We've


provided the Scottish Charity Mary's Meals with money to feed tens of


thousands of pupils across Mullally. I would like to congratulate their


founder on being awarded the Livingstone medal by the Scottish


geographical Society. He received this in recognition of his


contribution to feeding over 1 million children in Malawi and


thousands more in other countries. I agree with what he's said. I wonder


if he would agree that we both need to do the longer term investment in


enabling other countries but also shorter term things, such as the


meals he has been referring to? The member is right, this is the


challenge, making sure we respond to the immediate need, and the fact the


countries we are working in have ambitions like any other people in


any other country. They will be in a future position to be more


self-sufficient than they already are. That does not take away from


the urgent need to help now. I want to conclude with my comment about


Malawi. Although what we do there is for the sake of Malawi, are


partnership has created real benefits for Scottish people as


well. I am delighted to announce funding for the Blantyre to Blantyre


clinical research project. We are linking clinicians with those in


Mullally so we can study the increasing incidence. The results of


this will continue to research the Glasgow effect and studies of the


health of the Scottish population. The former Scottish Justice


Secretary has warned the SNP faces to win a new referendum


on Scottish independence. Kenny MacAskill said the


circumstances surrounding IndyRef2 are arguably less favourable


and more complicated than in 2014. Well, Mr MacAskill joins us this


afternoon from Edinburgh. You've been writing various things


about this, why have you got a donor on an independence referendum? I


don't think this is the time for it. But there are precursors, it does


not mean it cannot be one or the circumstances could not change


again. As you were discussing, a disastrous exit from the EU may make


it not only necessary but far more beneficial economically. But if you


look at things in the cold light of the verses where they were in


September 2014I think things are harder which is why I've always


cautioned this to not be the optimum time for a referendum. You also


think it should not be over the issue of Europe? There are two


factors, many of those who voted yes were also leave voters. There is


anecdotal and no doubt settle logical evidence for that. --


polling evidence. That could complicate matters. Secondly, we


don't know what the European Union is going to be like. The problem was


it set the tectonic plates shifting and we don't know what is green to


happen in the Netherlands and France, and the EU of 2017 will be a


fastly different place and it could be wiser to go for independence. You


seem to be saying you should not have an independence referendum over


the issue of the Brexit votes but also are seeing if there is another


one it should not be for Scotland in Europe. Firstly, I think there will


be another independence referendum, just not when. It could be that this


is the precursor to it if the negotiations are calamitous and the


scenario facing the UK and Scotland is grievous because of the terms,


then it may be that is the direction to go in. But you don't know what


position will be vis-a-vis the European Union and there may be


arguments that you should seek independence to change your own


direction. But the nub of it at the moment is I don't think it is the


time to be going for a referendum, I think it is harder than before but


does not mean it cannot be won. If I were Nicola Sturgeon I would be


saying, thank you for nothing. What you said undermines her strategy,


you are trying to dissociate the two things entirely. That needs to be


done, I think the independence scenario painted in 2014 was


predicated on there being no change in social, political, economic


unions. There are changes in Central and Eastern Europe that I find quite


unpalatable, there may be changes in Western Europe that are not to be


supported. The point of the Scottish Government, the only leveraged they


have as they see it in trying to get a deal over Brexit is to threaten


another referendum and now you're seeing, not only should they not be


doing that but if there is another referendum it should have nothing to


do with Europe. I'm appearing as a commentator, as you yourself are.


I'm not a member of the SNP Government or speaking on their


behalf. I've laid out matters as I see it and also as a critical


friend. I've countenanced those calling for a referendum that this


is not the time and I think the opinion polls bear that out. I think


the First Minister is doing the right job in seeking to leverage as


much as she can, she does have and is correct to put it on the table, I


just don't believe this is the time to trigger it. Of course, you can


say anything you like. You don't need to take responsibility for the


SNP Government. I'm just trying to draw out the point you're making,


which is so different from what Nicola Sturgeon is saying. Given


that so much was put on the idea of Scotland in Europe, could you think


the Scottish Nationalists have any realistic prospect of winning an


independence referendum if they said, you did not want to be outside


the European Union, we are going to be outside Britain and outside the


European Union. Long before I was a member of the SNP Government, I was


in the SNP when we changed the policy, quite controversially, to


being independence within the European Union. But things have


moved on. We don't know what the European Union is going to be like,


we don't know what the global situation is going to be because


Brexit is being followed by Donald Trump. So all I am cautioning is


independence is what the SNP stands for. The European Union can be a


double-edged sword, as we know when a significant percentage of the SNP


membership is not in favour of it. And they could be leverage a ring --


leverage in certain things. I've got Margaret Curran and I'm sure she


will say people are scared of independence and leaving the


European Union and scared of Donald Trump and that might help opposition


to independence for Scotland and she will jibe at you that you really


think the same, what is your reply to her before she says it? I think


it's a very scary world, the status quo that we knew and accepted, the


European Union, the relationship between Europe and America, they are


threatened by what has happened in the last six months or so. Anybody


who is a clear is either blessed with powers the rest of us don't


have because most of us did not see those things coming in mainstream


politics and I put my hand up to that. I would like to see where the


world is heading. There are some things we've always got to keep as a


North Star and I think Scotland being an independent nation is that.


How you achieve it may need to attack with the wind as it changes


and below. Thank you very much. Margaret Curran, you're still here


to say what I said you were going to say. He's done a service, because I


think it is time. He has been honest about the debate that is internal in


the SNP, and I think it is good he has brought it to a wider stage...


You do not, you just think it is good because he has contradicted


Nicola Sturgeon. I get frustrated because you only hear one view from


political party. Nobody could Labour of that! If we ever have another


referendum then I think people will be asking much more searching


questions about it. I don't think people will ever take the words of


political leaders saying they will sort it out later, just that it will


add up. Kenny MacAskill's idea, you'd effectively be running a yes


to independence campaign that was against Europe and against the UK,


it is 20 years since the SNP have been invested in Scotland in Europe,


it's a pretty big break. It is a huge break, you referenced that when


you said you would be asking Scots to leave, we would be out of Britain


and out of Europe and I think that puts us in a very vulnerable


position and I think small countries want to develop partnerships, work


with other people, and if we had no natural way of doing that it would


raise questions but fundamentally it is as Kenny MacAskill has said


himself, the economic questions have not been resolved and become more


challenging if we are out of Europe as well. There are big issues for


the SNP to face. What he touched on which is important is the First


Minister continually linking the issue of independence to Brexit is


quite frustrating, because she is talking more about Brexit than


education or health which is frustrating, you cannot always make


that link. You have strayed onto Kezia Dugdale's stump speech. Let's


speak to some MSPs at Holyrood. Your hands are in your pockets. Are


you relaxed you've done a deal with the Scottish Government over the


budget? Sorry to the so informal, Gordon! There's ongoing discussion


between the political parties about the budget, as there always is.


There's not any deal that's been done. If you listened to the


discussion between myself and Derek Mackay, the financial secretary, in


committee today, there's a big difference between the Green and SNP


approach, particularly on the need for more progressive taxation. I


hope Derek Mackay's willing to give some ground on that, recognising he


doesn't represent a majority Government anymore. And that a


standstill tax policy is really very disappointing for the very many


people who campaigned long and hard for the ability to have more


progressive taxation in Scotland. To close the gap between rich and poor.


The point Brian Taylor made earlier, because there are separate votes in


the budget and the tax proposals, he was assuming you'd do a deal on the


budget or might, he said the fact you objected to the tax proposals,


and you have to vote for them or abstain, as matters stand, unless


there are changes on taxes, you won't vote for the SNP on the tax


issue? The discussion does have to be about all aspects of this, the


taxation and spending side. The rate resolution, the sangle band on


thresh holds has to happen before the final stage on the budget. I


hope all these discussions are tied up and the Government gives some


ground to build consensus and some majority support for what they're


putting forward rather than pretending the SNP manifesto in


budget form has majority support. We're taking the same approach as we


always have, whether it was a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition or


SNP and minority Government, we'll challenge and be constructive where


we can about and we'll always push the Government who whichever


political flavour to do more of the good stuff, less of the bad stuff.


Ash Denham, I think that was, the rough translation of that is we want


to do a deal, please do one. Will you? I think the Government have


been clear. We are a minority Government. This is an hoes tireic


time for the Scottish Government. The budget will not be a spending


budget but one that has to raise money as well. We've put forward


what we think is a very stable, there's not an awful lot of change


in there. For you personally, is the tax thing a bottom line? The point


Patrick Harvie was making in that exchange we saw earlier, he wanted


to see less inflation indexing of the higher rate. Is that something


that the SNP could even consider compromising on? The budget, they


took the decision, the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary, that


we didn't think it was a good idea to raise the additional rate higher


at this point. We need stability. We're in a very difficult economic


situation at the moment. There is some analysis which suggested only


5% of those additional rate taxpayers were to leave Scotland,


that policy would actually raise no more revenue at all. So, I think we


have to look at this carefully. The Scottish Government is open to


listening to the other parties. I think that will be an ongoing


process over the next fee weeks. Pauline McNeill, I presume Labour


would rather burn in hell than support the SNP budget. Am I right


in thinking that? No, I think you're wrong. We might be remote at the


moment from reaching any kind of consensus, the issue for Labour is


?327 million worth of cuts is something we could not vote for in


the budget. We'd like to see more recognition from the SNP that the


impact of this on public services this year will be quite severe on


the NHS, social services and so on. So are you saying if they Rowed back


a bit, you'd support their budget? We would be much closer to where we


want to be. I suppose we are closer to Patrick Harvie's position than


Ash Denham's position in that we think we've tax raising powers and


some of them should be used. We've heard today Derek Mackay saying


they're prepared to use the top rate of tax only if the Tories use it in


the UK. Then they would consider it. I think they need to make their mind


up where they want to be on this. Certainly where we'd like to be,


that would be some extra revenue and provide a balance between stability


that the country needs. But we cannot put up with any more cuts to


our public services. Murdo Fraser, a rough translation is Labour won't


support the budget unless Nicola sturgeon supports the Labour


manifesto. Is that your position for Conservative support? We can't


support a budget that makes Scotland the most highly taxed part of the


UK. The reason that's important this year because for the first time


around half of the money the Scottish Government has to has to be


raised within Scotland. It is the performance of the Scottish economy


which will determine the overall total available to spend on public


services. We know the Scottish economy is under-performing in terms


of the GDP growth and unemployment. Anything that hampers our ability to


go grow the economy means we get less money. The problem with Labour


and the Greens calling for higher taxes, that doesn't necessarily mean


more revenue. If those higher taxes depress economic activity you drive


away investment and have less money. Very sympathy with the argument Ash


Denham has with the higher additional rate. A higher rate in


Scotland compared to theest of the UK would be disastrous for the


Scottish publish revenues. We'd drive people away. Let's just


quickly talk about Brexit, Murdo Fraser. Just let me ask you this,


what would you like to see in terms of Brexit? Would you in favour of a


so-called hard Brexit or like Britain to still have some


somebodying says to the single market and what do you think that


would mean? People throw around terms like hard Brexit and soft


Brexit without knowing what these mean. You can't be a member of the


single market if you're not a member of the EU. We've taken a decision as


a country to leave the EU. We can't be members of the single market if


that concept has any meaning. We need to have the maximum possible


access to the single market. We can do that without being EU members.


That's about how we negotiate the best possible deal for Scottish and


British businesses. For individuals too. That's always about the


negotiation bit. Just to be clear on this, you can understand many


people, including myself, get very confused about this. When you say we


can't be members of the single market, we can't take part in the


system anymore, which means Trading Standards and descriptions of


products are laid down at a European level and we can't be part of the


customs union, is that what you're saying? There are ways of doing


this. Being members of the a Norwegian-style deal. You're


effectively in the single market. Bound by its rules but you've no say


over how these rules are constructed. You don't want that?


You pay into institutions as Norway are doing. You don't have any


influes own it. That is not a desirable outcome. It is far better


to be out with the EU but we have the maximum possible access to the


single market. That's all about creating a negotiation and trade


agreement with the EU rather than being part of the EU. Ash Denham,


what's your interpretation of the question I asked Murdo Fraser? It is


interesting the Tories have rowed back significantly from the comments


in July after the referendum where she was quite firm. She said it was


a priority for her to maintain membership, not access, of the


single market. That seems to have dissolved in the wind now. The First


Minister has been very clear. We see a hard Brexit. That is being outside


the single market as being a massive threat to Scotland, to our economy.


It could cost us up to 80,000 jobs. In that sense, we are looking at


every option. We've put forward our proposals which was Scotland's place


in Europe. What if Murdo Fraser's right, that you simply can't leave


the European Union while staying in the single market. It simply isn't


possible. That's his argument? You can be a member of the EEA, the


European economic area, as he mentioned, like Norway is to give


you membership of the sing the market. You'd be happy for Britain


to be paying in billions of pounds to that withouting in any control of


the decisions that are made? We think a soft Brexit would clearly be


better. It is a question of degree. Hard Brexit will cost the most in


terms of jobs and the hardest impact on the economy which could take a


long time to recover from. We see membership of the single market or


soft Brexit as being the least worst option. We're in a difficult place


at the moment. In terms of Scotland, we see the potential for a


differentiated option. Where Scotland remain in the EEA and


England could be out of the EU. They have a mandate for that in Scotland


it is different. To respect the democratic issues of Scotland we


need to look at these options. It would be good if we could explore


these options for Scotland to stay in the single market and protect


jobs. Pauline McNeill, Labour's position depends on the last speech


Jeremy Corbyn made which contradict dicts the one he made before it. For


example, on Labour's free movement is unclear? I can't speak for UK


Labour only Scottish Labour, being in favour of being part of the


single market and getting the best possible deal for Scotland. What


Corbyn said yesterday was it's all a negotiation. We all have to


compromise to get the best deal for the UK and Scotland. What's


unnerving, and it's getting serious now, today, we've had warnings from


the banking sector about the seriousness of a hard Brexit and the


Scottish business sector about profit warnings. Companies concerned


we've no certainty in this. That's the most important thing good


forward, as soon as possible, the UK Government need to give us some


certainty over where we'll end up. Patrick Harvie, I'm curious as to


what you make of this, Murdo Fraser says you could have a Norway deal.


Other than that, you can't stay in the single market unless you're in


the EU. The SNP say they would apparently be prepared to have some


sort of Norway-style deal where Britain or Scotland is in E FTA,


we've lost Patrick? Margaret, let's get your take on that. We'll go back


to the Parliamentarians if we can. Are you any clearer on Brexit than


you ever were? I thought you were going to ask me about Jeremy Corbyn!


Sorry! Anyway, go on. I was concerned when you saw the interview


with the Prime Minister at the weekend indicating that perhaps she


was willing to trade membership of the free market for free movement


and wants restrictions in free movement, that was more important to


her. The importance of having this proper challenge. You will be


disappointed if I didn't ask you about Jeremy Corbyn. He had his big


relaunch yesterday. It fell completely flat? It is


disappointing, shall we say. He has not engauged for voters to


understand. Hang on, we've Patrick Harvie back. I was going to ask you


what you made of this business as an observer of it. Can we stay? ... The


SNP saying can we have a Norway-style deal. Britain or


Scotland paying in without having any control. Murdo Fraser saying if


you don't do that you can't be in the sings single market. Leaving the


EU means leaving it. If I understand Murdo correctly, he was arguing, it


is politically unable to be outside of the EU. The challenge I have for


anyone who takes about access to the single market, whether it is the


Conservative, coach coach or anyone else, access for whom? For the most


part they're talking about businesses trading in the singsle


market. A single market is only a single market, worthy of the name,


if people are also free to decide where they'll sell their labour. If


people are not free but capital is free, that's a recipe for even


deeper labour exploitation than we see today. That would be


unacceptable. The Scottish greens as well as our colleagues in the greens


in England and Wales will stand up for the value of free movement.


That's a right we didn't surrender in the referendum in June. We'll


stand up for that. Thank you to all the rest of you. We'll have to leave


it there. And now to the first Prime


Minister's Questions of the new year, where the focus


fell firmly on the NHS. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn


used all six of his questions to press Theresa May


on the pressures facing it. He said the Red Cross had described


the 485 people waiting over 12 hours on hospital trolleys in England last


week, as a "humanitarian crisis." Theresa May dismissed the


description of the situation in the NHS, as "irresponsible"


and "overblown". 1.8 million people had to wait


longer than four hours last year in accident and emergency departments.


The Prime Minister might not like what the Red Cross said but on the


same day the British Medical Association said conditions in


hospitals across the country are reaching a dangerous level.


It has been said the NHS is underfunded and overstretched. If


she will not listen to the Red Cross, who will she listen to? The


government has put extra funding into the NHS, the fact we're seeing


this, more people being treated under four hours every day in the


NHS because of the government putting in extra funding and the


hard work of medical professionals in an NHS like this, it is not just


a question of targets in relation to the health service, we continue to


have a commitment as the Health Secretary has made clear to the


four-hour target, it is a question of making sure that people are


provided with the appropriate care for them and the best possible care


for them in their circumstances. Many banks are accelerating the


closure of local branches with adverse effect on vulnerable and


older people and the high street. The Royal Bank of Scotland is


closing down branches across Scotland including Juniper Green and


Chester in my constituency. Locals are facing exorbitant bank charges


for the privilege of doing that. We'll Prime Minister meet with me to


discuss how can realise a situation where banking across the UK services


customers and the real economy. This is an issue that banks themselves


need to consider and there are many ways they are doing that. I will


certainly look at that issue. Sir Ivan Rogers said people may need to


deliver messages to the government they will find disagreeable so here


is one. A lack of priority for the single market is putting jobs in


Scotland and the economy at risk. That means her government is as big


a threat to the union as the SNP. Her government is not worthy of the


trust of Scots let alone their blind trust so will the Prime Minister


take the opportunity to apologise for threatening the union and give a


solemn promise to every single person in this country that they


will not be a penny worse off after Brexit? The honourable gentleman


will be very well aware that I want to see the best possible deal for


the UK. When we enter the negotiations, obviously that is one


of the things I want to see. Unlike the downplaying that he does about


the approach we are taking, I have to say it is this government that is


ambitious for the opportunities that are available to this country once


we leave the European Union. I'm not going to say it is blowing a gale


but it looks like it might be. It is looking threatening. Let me


introduce you to the panel. Ian Murray and Kirsty Blackman and


Alistair Carmichael. David Morris from the Conservatives. David, at


Prime Minister's Questions we had Angus Robertson raising a point,


Northern Ireland, what does that mean for Brexit and the triggering


of article 50? This is uncharted waters. There is legislation in


place to compensate for what is going on here. Hopefully the


countries will come together for the sake of Northern Ireland and sort


this issue out. What would happen after that, there would be an


election, who knows? It is interesting, if you don't have a


functioning administration in Northern Ireland, they cannot be


consulted, can you go ahead and trigger it? As a member of the


Brexit select committee I am hearing again and again what will happen, we


need to get on doing it for the economic interests because this


uncertainty is enormously damaging. It is incumbent on us to say to


those politicians who are part of the administration in Belfast, this


is another level of responsibility for you. The reason we've come to


where we are in Northern Ireland is this basic lack of trust between the


parties and transparency in the government. This is another reason


why you've got to get your act together because it is not just


affecting Northern Ireland but the whole of the UK. It is particularly


bad for the economy of Northern Ireland. If things go wrong in


Northern Ireland and we have a situation where we need new


elections does that mean the triggering of Article 50 has to be


delayed? We hope that will happen and parties in Northern Ireland will


get round the table and sort it out but I don't think you can have


meaningful consultation with Northern Ireland and their


representatives without having a government in place and without


having elections coming up so I don't think article 50 should be


triggered if things do not sort themselves out. This is the law of


unintended consequences. Despite everything we've been thinking,


nobody anticipated it could be Northern Ireland that could cause


real problems. That is the point the Labour Party made when we had the


debate on this issue. You cannot factor in events, the German


elections could also dictate the process. There is a much wider issue


about the people of Northern Ireland, holding Stormont together,


making sure the past can be dealt with. I agree with Alistair


Carmichael, they need to sort this out. Article 50 will be the least of


their problems if they cannot get this together. One of your


colleagues will appear before the Lord and he suggested after Brexit


European nationals could be charged to work in this country, companies


sponsoring them could be levied with a fee of ?1000 for European


nationals to work in the UK. What do you make of that? I'm not aware of


that particular point but I'm sure that the grown-ups amongst us would


like, if there is any immigration, not an open door policy like we've


got now, would there be a tariff? I don't know. At the end of the day


depending on what language is used and how Brexit progresses I'm sure


that we will be in the European club of some sort. The fact is, we're


leaving the European Union but not Europe. You've got a different take


on this? It just gets worse. Every week we are here and we want to hear


more from the government, we say we need to hear more from the


government, when we eventually hear from them it is clearly half baked,


not supported by any evidence and if anything, makes the situation worse.


There is a massive vacuum into which he politically has been dropped. The


person who needs to take control and give direction and tell the country


to tell Parliament what she intends to achieve, if not how she will


achieve it, is Theresa May. It is her lack of leadership and strategy


leaving us in this dreadful position. You may not agree with the


policy but if you decided you were to leave the European club there is


a logic you can make the rules as to who does and does not work here and


whether you want to charge them for that privilege. We want to remain


members of the single market and cannot do that without accepting


free movement. I think having the Tallis is pretty ridiculous because


if you think about small business owners, how are they going to afford


to pay this money to have people come and work on their farms,


fishing boats, any of these small enterprises? This is a ridiculous


pack to take and I agree it is another half baked proposal. There


is no plan for Brexit. They have taken back control of the car but


they are driving it from the passenger seat, they have no


coherence or consistency. What they don't have a plan and they are


flailing around with half baked ideas, they are pushing the union


further apart and nobody will forgive the Conservative Party if


this gamble splits the United Kingdom apart. Health has dominated


PMQs and is dominating politics down so. Fully aware that it is a


devolved issue but, David Morris and, is it one of those things that


whether we live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland we need cross-party


agreement and the commission on how we deal with health and social care?


Looking at what has been said in the chamber, the Prime Minister has


accepted there are problems with the health service. We've all known


that. However it is how we manage it from them. We always have a spike in


winter but this time there has been more concerned from the public.


Brief answers on that from the three of you. Let's not be too smug, the


same demographics providing a challenge in England had the same in


Scotland. Accident and emergency targets I missed. We need the same


approach, the cross-party consensus approach that I was pleased to see


the perimeter take on. We have the same challenges and we are working


to beat them. We've made huge changes in the NHS. Health boards


are about reducing those charges. We're working on it far faster than


England. Reporting Scotland said it was the worst state of the NHS since


devolution. By the time Andy Burnham had walked out of the room, the


Conservatives produced a thing called the death tax. There needs to


be trust that the parties will take this forward with good faith. And


sure we will come back to the spot the clock has beaten us. Back to the


studio. Margaret Curran are still here. What do you make of the


discussions about Brexit? Murdo Fraser was arguing you cannot be in


the single market if you're not in the European Union. The SNP idea


that part of it could stay in the single market but it would mean we


pay into the European Union. Do you find any of these possible? I do


think paying into something and have no control is a substantial argument


but we need to have negotiations. Other options were we could have a


degree of control and still be part of the single market because


obviously by all the economic indicators... You like the option? I


would like to know the other options, whether you have some


degree of control. Obviously being members of the single market matters


enormously. All the indicators... Your economic prospects going


forward. Jeremy Corbyn said something interesting, about


migration. I have a sense that we need to develop a fairer migration


system and make the case for that because I don't think it has cut


through the migration that benefits us, some communities have an unfair


burden but there are ways. On a fair and equitable basis I would be in


favour of it but we're not far enough down the road in discussion.


We do not want to collude with any idea that it is not for the benefit


of the British people. That is it, join us tomorrow for First


Minister's Questions. That is it for now, we will be back next Wednesday.


Goodbye. For two centuries,


it has told Scotland's stories. The Scotsman is one of the most


prestigious names in the Now the people behind the headlines


tell the incredible story of the paper itself.


It could get quite hairy. This was real


seat-of-the-pants stuff. I went down to the newsroom,


opened the door and I thought, "I've come home."


You're actually recording history. It's not going to be a newspaper


that disappears - no way.


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