this is bbc news. the headlines at 12pm. celebrations by sinn fein for big gains in northern ireland's assembly elections. the dup is still the biggest party but with just one more seat than the republicans. it's looking difficult to see how the two main parties can select the new first minister and deputy first minister in the three—week negotiation period ahead. concerns over the impact for 4,000 vauxhall workers in britain as a french car company reportedly reaches a deal to buy general motors' european operations. mercedes recalls 75,000 cars in the uk because of a risk of them catching fire. also in the next hour. just how much will it cost british taxpayers to leave the european union? a house of lords report says the uk has no legal obligation to make any final payment. and click is at europe's largest tech conference, in barcelona. that's in half an hour, here on bbc news.
good afternoon and welcome to bbc news. sinn fein are celebrating their best ever showing in elections to the northern ireland assembly. with all the votes counted, they've won 27 seats, just one behind the democratic unionists. sinn fein‘s president, gerry adams, has described the result as "an end to the old status quo". the two parties now have three weeks to try to agree a new power—sharing coalition. for the latest, annita mcveigh is in belfast. thank you and good afternoon from belfast. if you were to ask most people here if the dup and sinn
fein, the two largest parties could elect a new first minister and deputy first minister and get the devolved government back up and running in the initial three—week time period they have for negotiations then most people would say it would take some sort of miracle to achieve that. there are some long—standing historical legacy issues to be sorted out, contemporary issues to be sorted out. issues that led to the collapse of the assembly in january and these elections that we have just had. let me take you through how the parties are looking in more detail after those 19 seats have been counted, the votes have been counted and the 18 constituencies have their new assembly members. the dup is still the largest party with 28 seats, but thatis the largest party with 28 seats, but that is down ten seats on the elections ten months ago. sinn fein, right behind the dup, on 27 seats. so that dup majority over sinn fein
drastically cut, just one seat between them. the nationalist sdlp, they are very happy with 12 seats, they are very happy with 12 seats, they still have the same number of seats as last time around even though the overall number of seats was reduced at this election. the ulster unionist party, big losers that this election, down from 16 seats to ten seats this time round, and their leader mike nesbitt saying that he is standing down as leader asa that he is standing down as leader as a result. the cross community alliance party maintains eight seats. it had eight last time round as well. interesting because maybe the alliance party could become a power broker, if you like, in the negotiations ahead. well, let's take a look at how things have shaped up over the last 2a hours or so with oui’ over the last 2a hours or so with our ireland correspondent chris butler. if walking out of government was a gamble for sinn
fein, it's paid off. they increased their share of the vote and narrowed the gap between them and their own coalition partners, the dup. but the result leaves major questions about the future of power—sharing in northern ireland. i said consistently throughout the campaign that sinn fein are not interested in going back to the status quo. that remains the position. the dup need to fundamentally change their ways and be true to the principles of power—sharing if they want to go back into the institutions. sinn fein had called for the dup leader, arlene foster, to step aside as first minister during a public enquiry into a botched green energy scheme. when she refused, sinn fein left the coalition government, forcing powerfrom office. now there is work to be done and work to quickly mend the relationship which has been frayed by the discord of this election. but it was some of stormont‘s opposition parties that suffered most in this election. i shall make my statement and leave the stage. the leader of the ulster unionists, mike nesbitt, stood down because of their poor performance.
it will now be up to the leaders of sinn fein and the dup to draw battle lines in the inevitable negotiations to try and form a government. chris buckler, bbc news, belfast. getting noisier here, if you are wondering what that is, quite a party developing to my right. people gathering to mark international women's day. talk about what happens next for politics in northern ireland. this three—week negotiation period takes is up to march 27. if at the end of that a first minister and deputy first minister are not appointed then in theory the northern ireland secretary james brokenshire has a number of options. that includes suspension of the assembly, possibly calling another election, direct rule from
westminster although the westminster government certainly doesn't want that. that would take new legislation. 0r that. that would take new legislation. or perhaps he can find a way to buy some time. one senior politician, lord trimble, former leader of the ulster unionist party, suggested this morning when he spoke on bbc radio 2 fourballs today programme, that more time was what was needed. i would suggest it would be a good idea that the secretary of state for northern ireland be ready to rush through a little piece of legislation to give the parties more time. you see, under the belfast agreement there was more time. and when sinn fein and the dup did their original deal back in 2007, they reduced the time for the formation of an administration. that is going to come back and bite them. i put that thought that lord trimble had to claire hanna of the
nationalist sdlp. she's an assembly memberfor south nationalist sdlp. she's an assembly member for south belfast. it is very difficult to see exactly where we going but the fact is bringing the institutions down is the easy part and reinstating them will be very difficult. ithink, yes, people will want to give that space. we are in a very difficult situation in governance terms. no budget in place as of the 1st of april, no plans for brexit, and we are stepping into a little bit of a void. so going back to direct rule is an abdication of direct responsibility and is letting people down here. so we do want to avoid that. well, in general when you think of elections and election results, often at the end of the voting process people know where they stand, they know who the main party is, they know what direction that party intends to take, even if perhaps they have not voted for that party, but they have a clearer idea. i think the thing about northern ireland politics at the moment is that at the moment we have no clear
idea of exactly what is going to happen next, whether we are going to return to a devolved assembly, if so how long that might take. and how we are going to get there. from me in belfast, back to you. a group of peers has dismissed claims the uk could face a so—called "divorce bill" of up to £52 billion when it leaves the eu. the lords eu financial affairs committee says the government might not have to pay anything if there is no post—brexit deal but says concessions are likely if the government wants to secure access to eu markets. joining me now from our central london studio is baroness kishwer falkner, lib—dem peer and chair of the eu financial affairs sub—committee. good afternoon. just tell us a bit about the thinking of the committee. well, we took legal advice from a variety of experts, and where that
legal advice conflicted, we tested that against our own select committee's legal adviser and came toa committee's legal adviser and came to a judgment that the two pertinent bits of law, one is article 50, everybody is familiar with that, which says that if you have two yea rs which says that if you have two years to negotiate the withdrawal agreement and if you don't do that within two years, at the end of the two—year period, the eu treaties cease to apply, those are the words they use. then there is another treaty called the vienna convention on international treaties which goes back to 1969. that says that when parties are breaking their obligations, withdrawing from treaties, they are still to some extent bound by their existing liabilities. we looked at that very clearly. it also said they are only bound by existing liabilities unless there are agreements in place in
that treaty. so our conclusion is that treaty. so our conclusion is that yes, if there is no withdrawal agreement, the united kingdom can leave without having any legal obligations. and that can be adjudicated by any court. what about sticking point in this, programmes the uk is involved in or debts that should be honoured up to that point? well, interestingly, the government has acknowledged that there are some programmes such as the common agricultural policy, research funding, something called horizon 2020, that they have ready committed to paying until the end of the budgetary period which was supposed to be 2020. so they've said even if we leave we will continue to make up, this was to give confidence to farmers that payments will continue. we expect the government to define in greater detail over the next period what other things it would expect to pay if it lost receipts in
the united kingdom from the eu. what do you make of the figures being bandied around, £52 billion, huge figures. yes. i mean, we went to brussels, spoke to a huge number of experts here and in brussels. it seems to us that the range is so wide, at the bottom end the figure we came up wide, at the bottom end the figure we came up with was £15 billion, the top end could go, in our estimation top end could go, in our estimation to 60 billion euros, which is £52 billion. we came to a view that it was impossible to come to a settled figure until you decide what it is that you will pay and how much you will pay to those, they are very different things, like for example pensions, we came up with three figures for the pensions of united kingdom staff that have worked in the eu. came to a different set of figures on assets and liabilities. eu balance sheet accounts are not regular balance sheet accounts. i think at the end of the day will
depend on the negotiation. so do you think there is a chance that britain could be held to ransom to pay something for political reasons to continue a relationship?” something for political reasons to continue a relationship? i wouldn't use the word ransom because the uk, the prime minister herself in her papers says that she wants to have a free trade relationship with the eu, that she does not want a disorderly exit, that she wants to continue research and innovation funding with the eu technical funding. research and innovation funding with the eu technicalfunding. the government have outlined areas, even at this point, where they want to continue. so on that basis i would rather they call it payments for access. so there would be certain things the united kingdom decides it still wa nts things the united kingdom decides it still wants to do with the eu. in light of that it would earn goodwill by not just paying light of that it would earn goodwill by notjust paying into those programmes but taking a longer term view of its future relationship with the eu, the count of relationship it wa nts the eu, the count of relationship it wants and then adjusting the figure appropriately. a lot of figures,
there, i think they are going to have to deal with. thank you very much. donald trump has taken to twitter to accuse barack 0bama of tapping his phone ahead of the presidential election. in a series of tweets — he says: those are the tweets. donald trump, there. i'm sure we will get more reaction later. he's probablyjust woken up in the east coast of the united states and you do tend to get a little flurry at this time.
the foreign office has announced that borisjohnson will visit russia in the coming weeks. in the meeting, the foreign secretary is expected to hold talks with his russian counterpart, sergey lavrov. mrjohnson has stated that britain's policy towards russia is to ‘engage but beware'. discussions will focus on the uk—russia relationship, as well as current international issues including syria and ukraine. borisjohnson will be the be the first british minister to travel to moscow for an official visit in more than five years. reports from france suggest the owner of peugeot and citroen has reached an agreement to buy vauxhall and 0pel from the american car maker general motors. the deal will raise concerns about the future of vauxhall‘s two uk factories which employ more than four thousand people. andy moore reports. vauxhall builds the vivaro van at luton. around 70,000 rolled off the production line last year. and at elsemere port about 120,000 vauxhall astras are built every year. as well as those employed directly by gm, thousands more work
in the supply chain. and there are also 15,000 people in the pension scheme, one of the uk's largest. they have already been told that they will be no worse off under the new deal. the good news is that the psa group, which owns peugeot and citroen, has promised not to cut anyjobs in the uk before 2020, but the future after that is uncertain. psa's boss carlo tavares has already had talks on the phone with the pm theresa may. there were reassuring words but no promises were made. vauxhall is now set to become part of the second—biggest carmaker in europe after vw. but the french government has a 14% in psa and there are fears french jobs will come ahead of british and german ones. the unite secretary, len mccluskey, has been involved in talks with the psa bosses. he called vauxhall a jewel within the crown of gm's european business. last autumn, the government did a deal to keep nissan in sunderland.
the company was promised free access to european markets whatever happened after brexit. psa may well seek similar assurances. the bbc‘s business correspondentjoe lynam says its expected to be confirmed in a press conference on monday morning. officially, though, no comment from either company when i called them last night, there was nothing they could add all would say on or off the record. suffice it to say that this negotiation has been very brief for two giant companies. general motors genuinely wanted to get rid of gm europe because it has been loss—making for about 16 or 17 years, and they can sustain it no longer. they want to focus on core brands in america, core american brands. for peugeot and psa, they definitely want to be a bigger player in europe.
and this would make them toe—to—toe, almost, with volkswagen in europe. so there is a lot at stake. more than jobs and security as well, the question of pensions? yes, a really important issue actually. because these are very old companies and they had very generous pension schemes. there is an estimate that there could be a pensions black hole or shortfall of 10 billion euros. that is mostly on the 0pel side, which is a german company. but also about £1 billion on the vauxhall side here in the uk. so we don't know how they square that circle. has psa agreed to take on all 10 billion euros? i doubt it. or is this just a heads up agreement, ie, we have agreed to annotate this, that and the other and we will revisit in coming months. that has to be negotiated. make no doubt about it, a giant pensions black hole of 10 billion euros would be too much for psa to swallow. mercedes—benz is to recall around one million cars because they're
at risk of catching fire. it's because of a fault found within newer models which can cause them to overheat on starting. it's thought around 75,000 cars in the uk could be affected, but mercedes says the risk to customers is small. the models at fault include some a, b, c, and e—class cars as well as mercedes' cla, gla and glc vehicles. anyone who's bought a car between 2015 and 2017 could be affected. mercedes say they're aware of 51 fires so far, but that no deaths or injuries had been recorded. it's thought owners will be contacted later this year. the headlines on bbc news. sinn fein make big gains in northern ireland's assembly elections. the dup is still the biggest party but with just one more seat than the republicans. there are fears for the future of vauxhall plants in britain after a french car company which produces peugeot vehicles reportedly reaches a deal
to buy general motors' european operations. mercedes is recalling 75,000 cars in the uk because of a risk of them catching fire. it follows the discovery of a fault in a fuse in some models. let's get more now on the northern ireland assembly election, where unionists have lost their long—held majority. in a snap election — called after the power—sharing government collapsed — the democratic unionist party won just one more seat than sinn fein. with me is the irish writer and broadcaster, brian 0'connell. what do you make of it? substantial gains for sinn fein. 0bviously what do you make of it? substantial gains for sinn fein. obviously not so good for the dup. question now is, can they put together a new executive? sinn fein has a shopping list, topmost is a provision that would give equal status to the irish
language in northern ireland in governmental institutions. the dup didn't want to do this. it's a hangover from the st andrews agreement which goes back to 2006. so they've got three weeks or so, the british government, to extend that period a bit to see if they can put humpty together again. if they can't, we end up with direct rule. and that's not going to be good from northern ireland, particularly given all the issues in northern ireland, the economy and the border with the republic, as we have heard about, as we go into the article 50 process. northern ireland at the moment does not have a voice in those talks. northern ireland will not have a democratically elected voice in those talks. if you look at scotland for example and the prime minister goes to scotland, makes a big speech, nicola sturgeon, the first minister, you know, has a voice in that, she has a say about whether they have a referendum on what the
future of scotland is inside or outside the uk, inside or outside the eu and so on. if you go to direct rule in northern ireland you are not going to have a democratically elected voice in an assembly in northern ireland are talking about those sorts of issues which i think it's bad, it's a retrograde step. unfortunately it is down to the parties at this stage to see if they can reach a deal. let's go back to where the parties stand after this election. so, the sinn fein victory, what would you put that down to? sinn fein is the fastest—growing party north and south of the border. i'm not sure, i think probably the way in which the power—sharing arrangement in northern ireland is fairly unique, is setup makes it very difficult for the central parties. the wider the tent, the more you want to get everybody in, the more the people in
the middle are squeezed, that is what has happened with the ulster unionist party and the sdlp. so i suspect that's certainly the tactic of blaming arlene foster, the leader of blaming arlene foster, the leader of the dup, we don't need to go into the details, but the renewable heat incentive and so on, probably did have an impact, martin mcguinness, the outgoing deputy first minister saying basically that she was unable to govern and she should not be governing because she had been responsible for the scheme and the rest of it. also almost 65% turnout, very big, even in northern ireland politics, certainly in politics this side of the water, it would be. i think that probably benefited sinn fein as well. what about the changing landscape of politics in northern ireland ? changing landscape of politics in northern ireland? we've seen a lot of new blood coming into sinn fein, perhaps not so much on the unionist
side? yes, we see martin mcguinness going and we see michelle 0'neill coming in. similarly in the south where sinn fein is an emerging political force, still, where sinn fein is an emerging politicalforce, still, there's going to be the same thing. interestingly a lot more women coming into the party as well. but i wouldn't put too much store by that in itself. i think that's just by the nature of things, maybe the dup and the demographic getting colder, sinn fein appeals to a younger more class group, and maybe some of the old divisions are breaking down, the unionist nationalist things breaking down. for example, south of the border in the republic, sinn fein appeals not necessarily just border in the republic, sinn fein appeals not necessarilyjust to nationalist voters but to people who are nationalist voters but to people who a re interested nationalist voters but to people who are interested in what's going to happen, anti—austerity sort of
candidates, that count of thing as well. that is what is probably happening in northern ireland as well, more about the economy than what happened 20 years ago. thank you. tens of thousands of people are expected to join a march in london today to to protest at cuts to nhs services. 0rganisers say the demands of theresa may on austerity and the nhs represent a real risk to patients and safety. jeremy corbyn is expected to address the crowd. we can cross live now to richard lister who's at the rally. richard. yes, this rally has been several months in the making. something like 150 bus—loads of people have come from all over england and wales for people to take pa rt england and wales for people to take part in this march down to parliament square where they will be addressed by a number of people including jeremy corbyn. hoping for a turnout in the tens of thousands. an anti—austerity march along similar lines last year saw something between 70000 and 150,000
people turn up. looking for similar figures this year. here with me at tavistock square in central london is one of the organisers, john rees. john, last year this was an anti—austerity march, this year the focus is on the nhs, why did you make that change? i think we realise the crisis in the nhs is not going away, it got worse than 2013, 2014, worse again the following year, worse again the following year, worse again the following year, worse again now. this is an absolute bedrock service that every working person who cannot afford private health care depends on for their health, livelihood and often their lives, so you cannot ignore this. it has been privatised, it has been cut. when did we ever hear of 19 whole hospitals being closed in one year? the government argues that another £10 million in real terms has been given to the nhs by the end of 2021, that these are straitened times, and unlimited versions of
money are not available any more. the government has had enough money in successive budgets to reduce corporation tax in this country so that it corporation tax in this country so thatitis corporation tax in this country so that it is lower now, the lowest in europe and lower now than when margaret thatcher was prime minister. perhaps if we just put corporation tax back up to the level that margaret thatcher found a cce pta ble that margaret thatcher found acce pta ble we that margaret thatcher found acceptable we could find some more money for the nhs. do you think to some extend the debate about the nhs has been eclipsed by other political concerns like brexit over recent months? i certainly think that is true to a degree but now people have witnessed over this winter something thatis witnessed over this winter something that is fundamental to their lives is being privatised, wages restrained, hospitals closed, and they better do something about it if they better do something about it if they want to hang onto something we have depended on for the whole of our lives in this country. i think working people feel very aggrieved, they watched the wealth at the top of society piling up, they see corporate bonuses, they look around at their local hospital, services being cut. most people think this
typifies absolutely everything wrong with this covenant and the way it is dealing with problems in this country. many thanks forjoining us. the march is taking place across the afternoon, and if you want to follow on social media you can look for the hashtag our nhs. time for a look at the weather. changeable thing to the weather continues as we had through the remainder of the weekend. all sorts of weather, staying unsettled, showers or longer spells of rain. some sunshine. if you do not see sunshine today, you are more likely to see it tomorrow. central and eastern parts of england look mostly dry into the afternoon. further west, heavy showers, blustery winds, gale force gusts at times. temperatures six or seven to the north, 12 or 13 further south. scotla nd north, 12 or 13 further south. scotland will continue to see rain and hill snow pushing northwards this evening and overnight. strong
easterly winds. elsewhere further showers or outbreaks of more persistent rain moving into night. the rain across wales, central and southern parts of england, and through the date, some hill snow across wales pushes itself further eastwards gradually. many parts of england and wales seeing the rain and hill snow across the pennines. an improved day across scotland and northern ireland. goodbye. this is bbc news, the headlines: sinn fein make big gains in northern ireland's assembly elections. the dup is still the biggest party but with just one more seat than the republicans. the two parties now have three weeks to try to agree a new power—sharing coalition. there are fears for the future of vauxhall plants in britain after a french car company which produces peugeot vehicles reportedly reaches a deal to buy general motors' european operations. mercedes is recalling 75,000 cars in the uk because of a risk of them catching fire. it follows the discovery of a fault in a fuse in some models. britain is not be legally obliged to make a final budget payment to the eu after brexit according to a house of lords committee. downing street has
described the report as a "significant contribution". sport now and for a full round up, from the bbc sport centre, here's katherine downes. britain's 0lympic bronze—medallist asha philip is through to the semi—finals of the 60—metres at the european indoor athletics championships in belgrade. philip, who was part of britain's 4 by 100—metre relay team in rio, finished first in her heat. the semis and final are tomorrow afternoon. richard kilty made a good start to the defence of his 60—metres title, winning his heat and finishing quickest overall. he'll be joined in this evening's semi—finals by theo etienne and andrew robertson, who also won their heats. in the long jump, lorraine ugen jumped a season's best to gain automatic qualification for tomorrow's final. 6.80 metres on herfirst jump was all she needed. she'll be joined in the final