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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  June 24, 2017 4:30pm-4:59pm BST

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mar inf help to support local authorities but without giving any confirmation of where the funding is coming from. and i know that many of the local authorities across the countryjust will not have the resources to be able to on their own put these matters right, and so what we need from the government is an indication of what financial support they can give to local councils, but only to immediately rectify the problems where they have been identified in tower blocks, but also going forward , tower blocks, but also going forward, to make sure that these councils have the resources going forward to be able to have fully staffed and fully resourced planning departments with building control officers that can go out on site and make sure that materials that are being used by developers are precisely the materials that meet ruling regulations and also the materials that were approved by the planning committees. andrew gwynne, thanks forjoining us. hello.
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this is bbc news. the government says 27 high—rise blocks of flats in 15 local authorities have failed fire—cladding safety tests. four buildings on the chalcot estate near swiss cottage in london were evacuated last night by authorities for "urgent fire safety works". they identified a number of issues in the blocks around gas pipes going into flats, around fire doors and the message to me was the combination of the flammable external cladding and the issues inside the block meant the building was not safe. some residents spent the night in hotels or on airbeds in a leisure centre. around 80 households have refused to leave. the general advice is to get out and evacuate but until circumstances change my intend to stay put. now it is dateline london.
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hello and welcome to dateline london at the end of a week in which one leader held on against the odds whilst another found himself out of a job. the unlucky one was saudi arabia's crown prince, replaced by a relative half his age, an encouraging sign for those hoping for reform. britain's prime minister theresa may, though, made it to the brussels summit of european leaders, defying predictions she would quickly be deposed after her election humiliation. it was the week where her government began negotiating brexit. those leading the talks exchanged
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gifts — a book on mountaineering and a walking stick. just how much of an uphill struggle will it be? with me are steve richards, uk political commentator and author of the rise of the outsiders. mina al—oraibi, an iraqi—british journalist, who's about to become editor in chief of the national. agnes poirier, uk editor with the french magazine marianne, and american writer and broadcasterjeff mcallister. a warm welcome to you all. thanks with being with us again. agnes, let me ask you first, what did you make of how these brexit talks began? being an anglophile and a fan of britain, i am saddened by it because theresa may was allowed to talk after coffee on thursday's evening dinner and that she was asked to leave the room so that the 27 other european leaders could actually continue their conversations because as angela merkel, macron and other leaders said, eu summits are not there for brexit talks. first we need to agree on divorce terms and then brexit talks can start.
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she came with what she said was a fair and serious offer on eu citizens living in britain and it was unfair in all seriousness, especially compared to the eu offer. the guaranteed lifetime rights of uk citizens in living in the eu. britain as for reciprocation, it falls short. so it's like our strong and stable government, in the end, she is weak and unstable. her fair and serious offer, it's nothing like fair and serious. it does not bode very well for the rest. steve, was it as bad as all that? yeah. right, 0k. it is very interesting when theresa may triggered article 50, it was portrayed in parts of the media as an act of steely leadership,
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comparable to margaret thatcher at her peak and so. when, in reality, what she was doing was triggering a sequence where she was passing control of the manner of brexit to the rest of european union. that is the dynamic as outlined in lisbon treaty of which article 50 is a part. she can come to summits and it's not her weakened position here in the uk, and it is very weak, that has brought this about. it is the dynamic of brexit as defined by article 50. even if she had arrived with a mandate bolstered... if she had won a majority by 200, it would still have happened. she went to the council, said look, here's an idea. one of the things they said is we have devolved this. this is negotiation that the commission will handle. the commission has outlined their terms, you can google it. other search engines are available. on lots of levels she has not got the leavers because of the way,
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this would apply to any country wanting to leave, because of the way this dynamic will now be played out. i agree with you in terms of the mechanics but i do think that at least inside the uk, the way theresa may is viewed today is so different from before the election, anything is being interpreted and read by people as being because of her weakness at the time that you have see angela merkel and macron looking stronger. we see britain as weaker on multiple levels. i think that is played in peoples minds is not the reality having negotiation with happened. what did you think of the gifts? a walking stick for david davis, made in the part of france.
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in return, mr davis gave him a book about an expedition to the himalayas. perhaps the walking stick can be used in a more forceful fashion its negotiations get to uncharted territory to use. it is a fascinating because she did look like she was bestriding the world like a colossus before everyone predicted the victory and all the steam has gone out. notjust the steam for her personally but this whole project of what is brexit. the polls are now showing that people do not want a hard brexit, they want a economics first brexit. what is that? how do they get it? what do you have to give up to get a soft brexit? all of a sudden the benefits of staying in the eu under the current deal start to seem pretty good by comparison to what is a huge strain of attention.
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if you look at the queen's speech, the bill that people are going to be paying attention to be strange, technical getting out of the eu, all these civil servants are being diverted to brexit things. the has productivity problem, economic problems, the tower fire shows that has growing inequality, all of the red tory claims and promises that she made when she first began... appealing to working people? capitalism can be made to work for you, this thing she said when she first became prime minister all went out the window and that is whyjeremy corbyn did so well. the tories seem stuck in the corpse of brexit, there is no animating or captivating principle for her orally for the rest of them, as far as i can see. it is very bad time for british politics. how long can she carry on like this? it depends on her own capacity to cope.
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in my view, i've recently did a series for the bbc on all the modern prime ministers basically in our lifetime, british prime ministers, some ad—lib talks to camera, comparing her with any of them i think she's is the weakest position of any prime minister in our lifetimes. the reason i say that is partly practical, number ten, which has to counter all these big government departments is wholly under resourced. it is a small machine. exactly, the best of times it has to be muscle to compete with the treasury. the cabinet feels as if they can do what they want, that they do not have to get her permission because she cannot get rid of them again. she cannot sack these people. so they are stronger. so all that is true and that did not apply to gordon brown at his most traumatised, etc.
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there is that side of it. how long can she carry on? the tory party do not want a general election. could you not change leader without that? you could. you need her to voluntarily go at the current situation. no one is doing to wield the dagger, like michael heseltine who then didn't seize the crown, in the shakespearean drama we are living through. she will have to decide. none of us know, including her, whether she is ready for the mountainous ascent with all the wider sense of political impotence. it will be very, very tough on any human being and i think that, in the short term, is the issue. in the medium term, i don't think she will be around for the whole of this parliament. in the short term, it is whether she can handle both and all the other
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unexpected nightmares that will erupt. what about the contrast with emmanuel macron who we saw at his first eu summit as president as well and the man everyone wanted to be seen shaking hands with or hugging or sharing a joke with, even arnold schwarzenegger showed up in paris at the end of the week to offer the terminator‘s endorsement. and yet already emmanuel macron is having to re—shuffle his government because of potential scandal and he has these big domestic political challenges. it could all collapse very quickly for him? we will know pretty quickly if he is astute and shrewd as he appears. the four ministers who left his cabinet, it is good for him because they did not belong to his party. he does not need them any more. he has got majority in parliament and he is walking on water and so far, so good.
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you know how we call him in france? jupiter. yes, it is something that is not well known. explain, whyjupiter? it comes from his entourage. they call him jupiter? that is how he views himself. after spending two years in president hollande's government he knows what to do. what not to do, sorry. in the next few weeks, he is going to pass a law, he's got a majority for it, i do not see how it is not going to happen, that law will enable him to exceed do executive orders on what the most pressing issues are. even though he's won a parliamentary election, he's going to make changes through the executive powers. the french president is the most powerful in terms of institutional powers given to him in the western world. yes, jupiter is not quite a democrat. we will see.
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to go back on theresa may, emmanuel macron, they have momentum, impotence. does that change brexit negotiations? it does. they know it won't make any difference. they are applying the rules we have applied before. merkel and macron, they do not want the block 27 states to allow themselves to be divided on brexit. and they are not going to allow it. britain was hoping probably to lead by lateral negotiations, one—to—one, and if this is not happening, is the block is concise and coherent then i don't see... britain is just retreating which is so sad to see. it is being just... it has always been a tendency of britain, 20th century. i think it is sad. the magic word was pronounced by macron and also a few people doing that eu summit. brexit can be reversed. but it would take such a strong leader in britain to muster the courage and the vision to actually say, look, you know. we should not go.
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procedural difficultures, that's what article 50 was set up to do, to make it impossible to get out gracefully. in a sense, brexit may be moving further away, it becomes an aspiration of goal but we never quite get there, we are in two transitional arrangements. the problem is the clock is running. the two years happen. for sure there will be transitional arrangements. in theory, most of this house of commons is still committed to brexit. and committed to delivering that referendum outcome. there are a lot of remainers in both parties. i think the labour leadership is committed to getting out on the basis of the referendum. but there will have to be
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transitional arrangements which will mean the uk is still in whilst formally out. now whether the tory prime minister, whoever that is, can deliver that to parts of their parliamentary party, is one of the many, many questions as to who ever is this prime minister, a sense of this peak nightmare. let us leave that one hanging in the air. the 800—year—old leaning minaret of mosul leans no more. the mosque below it, from where the group which calls itself islamic state proclaimed a caliphate three years ago, was destroyed as is beat a retreat from the city. the push—back against extremists is taking place in syria, too and there are signs of reform in saudi arabia, a country often blamed for allowing jihadist ideology to take hold.
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the elevation of mohammed bin salman to crown prince, aged just 31, is being interpreted as a signal of change. mina, who is this man and why should the world be taking notice of him? because saudi arabia is important, we need to take in notice of who is the future leader. someone that is young enough to lead for many years to come. he is someone that people in the region know quite well for the last two years after he was named deputy crown prince of saudi arabia, minister of defence, quite close to his father. he is also someone who is young and someone who has brought a dynamism to saudi, partly through the vision 2030. some people like to say it is just semantic. changing the economy, make people rely on work than oil income? absolutely. the interesting part, notjust talking about the economy, you can't just liberalise the economy and leave society behind which i think is an issue around the world because of the new think let's just get economic solutions and leave society.
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really tht impetus to try and change it. it comes at a time when the region is going through so many tumultuous events. you started by referencing the tragedy of mosul. also the need to try to make the politics of the region not about sectarianism and brutal ideologies and trying to think how do states function. at the heart of what we are seeing in the middle east is states falling apart and we need to pull them together and have state structures function. if saudi arabia stumbles, then the impact on the region is even worse than what we've seen so far. sorry... on the basis of this point about relations between states, what then do we make of saudi arabia flexing its muscles so brutally towards qatar? brutally is interesting term. i would say you are seeing clarity, not from saudi arabia alone, saudi arabia, the uae, egypt and other countries
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are at least standing and saying we cannot have a small country in the region that is supporting non—state actors that are supporting groups like everyone to militias in libya, cutting deals with militias sitting in a row, saying there comes a point where we have to call a spade a spade. which is interesting because i think outside of the region, many of people say the problem is saudia arabia. we have a country in the region that has been supporting extremist elements but also the idea of non—state actors, whether you have the taliban having a representative office as though it is an embassy. these are signals that actually have detrimental effects on people's lives and that is what we are seeing translated in the region. jeff, is this the consequence of president trump's recent visit to the region and has very strong message of support to saudi arabia? the reporting is that the saudis felt empowered by the green light that they got from trump who also pushed very hard to say that mohammed bin salman was going to be the pick of the united states. the bet.
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jared kushner had him to his house for dinner. ifind it fascinating how the us was for the longest time, we like mohammed bin nayef. he's our pick. oh, this is america's pick, mohammed bin salman. trump said, i take credit, as he does that so many things. there still is no evident american policy. despite all the faffing around, one way or the other. we have mixed signals. the president tweets on the question of qatar, on reference was pointed to qatar as funding extremism. perhaps this will be the beginning of the end of horror of terrorism. we are hearing from the us defence department from the pentagon, we are very grateful that qatar is such a stout ally. we sold 12 billion dollars worth of fighter
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jets just three days later to them. this is complicated, of course. the fundamental thing is that trump does not believe in policy. his mind does not work that way. remember the cruise missles into syria, he said he was going to have make the people in syria safe. he likes to throw something into the middle, get the attention, get the buzz and move on without the complex process that other presidents have had. he has not filled most of the subordinate positions in the state department. there is no one minding the store except for the guys at the very top. they disagree with each other. there is no way of resolving their disagreements. as long as he is president, i think that will be true on almost all foreign policy.
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are they seizing a moment where there is a vacuum in terms of washington's attention and consistency that actually he might make a lot of noise but he is a weak figure at the moment in the middle east? i think there was a vacuum when obama was president to when it came to the region. the fact that you had obama referred to the leaders of places like saudi arabia and egypt as sunni leaders. that has nothing to do leadership. i think it is less about seizing the opportunity of a vacuum. there is a moment when they have to stand up and sort what is going out in the region. one of the issues is what is happening in iraq and syria and in the us, you are right, first of all, we thought trump was going to take some action on syria and then did not. iran has launched a missile into the heart of syria. leaders feel that we have to take action to control this situation. steve, we're talking about the imminent fall of mosul. a long process, but we're at that point. is there a confidence now do you think in
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western capitals that first mosul, finally islamic state might be brought to its knees? the degree to which these territorial holds are fundamental to the potency of isis or whether theyjust move on to some other place, there is that issue. to go back to the american thing, what i find so interesting is what in the end is likely to produce a more stable mood in the middle east, whether it's no american policy or the policy proves to be counter—productive. as you are saying about obama, incoherent and contradictory at different times. in a way, there has been this kind of vacuum for a very long period of time and i am not quite sure whether one territorial recapture has significance compared to that broader context, but what do you think? i think it has significance
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for the poor people who have been subjected to the terror of isis. i think sometimes we get into these conversations, where we are talking brexit, if i was one of the 3 million citizens, eu citizens here i would be worried about brexit. the problem for iraq and syria is the fact that not having coherent american or western policy. no one thinks of borisjohnson as the foreign minister for the uk, that used to be so important for the region. what happens if you declare isis defeated. you have cities with no security structure. you have troops all over the world now but there is no plan for the governance and securing these territories. if it is not isis, some other militia group. if you had groups to fight isis, they are
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fighting forces, isis is declared defeated, what are they going to do? they are not going to go intojobs that are secured for the country. they are going to have weapons and want to fight the next enemy. the danger of what we saw, agnes, in libya when the french and the british kind of help to bring down gaddafi and then their attention was diverted elsewhere and you had a lot of people with a lot of weapons with no jobs and not much hope of a future and they end up fighting among themselves. for territory and for power. it is true but france and britain worked well in responding to an un mandate which did not exist with iraq. i would like to go back on that ultimatum with the saudis, to qatar and basically qatar... we are not naive about qatar because france and britain's economies are tied up with qatar and we know that qatar funds terrorism
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and we can see it in our streets in europe. what were the saudis thinking when they asked qatar to actually close down ties with turkey and iran? i'm thinking what are they hoping. they have ten days to comply so what is going to happen in ten days' time? the last time in 2014, promises were made, the trip was made and everybody said let's make friends but that doesn't seem to be in the saudi mood right now. a country as weighty as egypt, the largest arab country, standing behind those shows that there is a problem in the region and you
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are right in that 2014, there was this problem, and words were accepted.
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