tv Dateline London BBC News July 2, 2017 2:30am-3:01am BST
to have been hiding. the united nations is calling for italy to be given greater support as it deals with record numbers of migrants crossing the mediterranean. they are also seeking greater international efforts to tackle trafficking. more than eighty—thousand migrants have reached italy so far this year. the british government has promised it will keep a close eye on the local authority in charge of grenfell tower after the huge fire there last month. the leader and deputy leader of the local authority have resigned and pressure is growing for the council to be taken over by commissioners. now on bbc news, dateline london. hello and welcome to dateline london. i'm jane hill. this week we discuss the still fragile nature of britain's new government,
and we try to assess where we are with the campaign against the jihadist group isis. with me this week — michael goldfarb, host of the podcast frdh, first rough draft of history. steve richards, the political commentator and broadcaster, and writer of the recently published rise of the outsiders. can't think who you're writing about there, steve! that may come up. suzanne lynch of the irish times, now in dc after your stint in brussels. and the writer on arab affairs, friend to all of us, abdel bari atwan. welcome to all of you. good to have you with us again today. the british government has survived its first tests in the house of commons — winning the vote on the queen's speech — but compromises are everywhere. brexit talks are ongoing, and we have word today from a former insider that the prime minister's red lines are making negotiations very difficult.
and northern ireland is still waiting to return to power sharing — there's been yet another extension to the deadline with those talks with the dup. steve, how do you assess where we are this way? we have many vivid examples of this government's fragility, it's unavoidable fragility. when we got the concession about people in northern ireland being able to now come over here, to the rest of the uk, to have abortions costing quite a lot of money, that was because otherwise the government would have been defeated. this is going to happen on a regular basis. it did when we last had in effect a minority government between 1974 and 79 — they were defeated all the time and if they weren't defeated they were making manoeuvres all the time. apart from anything else, it's exhausting for the prime minister and the government. if you add on top of that brexit, and the beginnings of a sort of opening within the government
about what has really been going on, now they all feel in the cabinet free to position themselves in different places very publicly, this all feels very fragile. the point is they weren't public before, it was a very tight ship. theresa may has lost her two key advisers. when we hear today that apparently david davis, the man in charge of brexit, is struggling with those red lines, the real tough lines theresa may wants to keep to, does that resonate with the people you talk to? yes, and this is the most interesting of all the developments i think, on two fronts. before she called that silly election, they were all in the cabinet, i think, as scared of her as the cabinets of margaret thatcher were scared of thatcher at her peak in the mid to late 1980s. they didn't even speak
critically behind the scenes. now she is so weakened, we are getting... clearly david davis knew this would happen. david davis, former senior media adviser saying he was unhappy, and clearly not consulted, about, for example, in her tory party conference speech last october, one of red lines was that britain was going to pull out of the european court. this is apparently something david davis has found very, very difficult. to begin a negotiation with all these red lines kind of defining britain's position, to a point of extreme rigidity. that's interesting in itself, but the fact that we know about it is also interesting. because cabinet ministers feel free now to indicate where they are concerned about her, in a way they hadn't been before. how do the rest of you see it, and indeed talk about it? i have a perspective on the issue of the dup. it's extraordinary
what has happened here. because arlene foster, the head of the dup, has now been described as the second most powerful person in british politics, her party is propping up the conservative government. but just a few months ago she was in serious trouble. there were assembly elections in northern ireland. the dup did very, very badly and a resurgence of sinn fein confidence. there were talks about her having to resign over the renewable heating scandal. it is amazing how things can change. and the fragility you talk about was there in northern ireland. we have these talks that are separate, about the internal power—sharing agreement in northern ireland. they are ongoing, they have been delayed and delayed again into next week. we have been here before. there may be a deal but i think sinn fein, who are newly confident because of their own electoral successes, are going to be very closely watching the dup. they are not comfortable with the idea — even though they will also receive a lot of this 1 billion — they are not very comfortable with the idea of the dup being so close
to a conservative government. steve was talking about margaret thatcher before. in the 80s, in her pomp, they said "tina", — there is no alternative, and now you have an incredibly weak theresa may and it is still tina, there is no alternative. isn't that what is keeping her in office in the first place? yes. if there was a formidable figure waiting in the wings, if there were the equivalent, as there was in 1990 when thatcher finally fell and michael heseltine, john major and douglas hurd... i don't think she would be here now. the fact is that there isn't. those who want to be leader aren't sure they would win at this point, so they are not clamouring for a leadership contest they might lose. that keeps her in place. this is the worst thing which could happen to this country, in this critical time. you need not a fragile government, you need a strong government, otherwise you will be blackmailed
from outside and inside. a critical time because of brexit? because of brexit, because of terrorism, because of the economy, because of the changing on atmosphere all over the world, political. theresa may cannot actually guide this country to a deal, a good deal, or even a bad deal, vis—a—vis brexit and that negotiation with the european union. also, if suddenly it is free abortion for the irish girls to come to this country and second, what kind of blackmail will happen? so you need a very strong government. i believe they should find an alternative. the conservative party should find an alternative as soon as possible, and actually before september, otherwise the country will collapse. before party conference season? yes, terrorism, three attacks in less than three months. it is very dangerous. ok, the conservatives said, we managed to maintain security,
we kept this country safe. everybody wanted to make use of the experience of britain and terrorism — european, middle eastern, american... and she was home secretary for six years. exactly. i think we have to be very precise here. this country needs a strong government, not vulnerable, not fragile, not weak. that is the name of the game. just on that, you're saying about the lack of opponents at the moment. some people, particularly those in the city, they would like to see philip hammond, he would be seen as a possible alternative. and boris johnson as well, but you are saying nobody is moving at the moment, there's no sense of that. we do have a situation now where, as you are saying, we have a very interesting perspective where we now have different versions of what people want from brexit within the cabinet. this is highly dangerous in a negotiation, when your opposite number can see it being played out. philip hammond went to germany this
week and said something very different to his colleagues back home, and david davis. the irony is that at the moment the brexit blueprint for britain is the theresa may blueprint. she has set out a very strong, essentially a hard brexit, out of the single market and customs union and no jurisdiction under the ecj. we now know that a lot of people are getting uncomfortable with that within government. will there be a point where that changes? negotiations are now on. whether these tie into things domestically before the autumn may dictate if we see someone moving against her or not. you see, the problem with that theory... a strong government would be a good thing to have at the moment but a change of leader does not change the broader situation. that prime minister would still be at the head of a minority government, dependent on the dup, in exactly the same way. whoever he or she happened to be wouldn't dare risk calling another election unless they are about 50
points ahead in the polls, given that they just lost one or nearly lost one when they began it 25 points ahead in some polls. so the prospect of this house of commons with a minority government continuing for some time is quite strong, i think. so even if they change the prime minister... it's a moot point because we are in the situation we are in. i would say the whole idea of brexit, even if she had got her majority of 50, as she more or less expected to get... because the whole process, it's two things. there's government — it would be nice to have at least a government that wasn't a minority government and beholden to a party in northern ireland, because playing the orange card is always a sidetrack, for any government. brexit is tautology. it was always going to be a government destroyer, because the reality of negotiating this separation... i thought in addition to the 20 point lead, which was a temptation to go to the country, she wanted to roll over the mandate. somewhere in there they understood they couldn't get the deal done before the next election in 2020, so if they kicked that can down the road, which is classic european union thinking by the way,
just kick it a little further... another 18 months or 24 months and we can come up with a solution or a fudge. that's where they would have been at in any case. i agree with that. that's one of the many twists in all of this, that they are running out of time. this is meant to be done by march 2019, to keep within the two year time limit — which one of the architects of it, john bruton, told me they deliberately set it at two years to make it impossible for anyone to leave! we've already several months in and nothing has happened. i'm really alarmed when you say yes, the government will continue. for how long is it going to continue? it could be years. by a ten seat majority?! there will be illness, there will be death, there will be by—elections... suppose ten people decided to rebel against the government, what will happen? well, they'll lose votes. i cannot see this government lasting, actually. but labour had a rebellion this week. we haven't even mentioned the opposition, which is part of the dynamic of governance
in this country. labour are not in power. the conservatives are in power. theresa may is heading a government, the cabinet. and a divided cabinet. is this the best formula to control? where does that take us? does it take us to another general election? try and find a strong government? i think she gambled and she failed, and she should step down and leave the stage for other people who can form a strong government and go for the brexit negotiation. look at the services in this country, challenge labour, impose or say we are britain, we are a major player in the international community affairs. to have a government very vulnerable like this, and to have a prime minister who gambled and failed and is still at the head of the government — i believe this is absolutely unacceptable. but even labour have its own contradictions about brexit. this is the irony, asjeremy corbyn becomes more and more
popular among young people, when they actually find out what he actually thinks about brexit, which is essentially very anti—eu, that will have problems for labour. i think brexit is the thing, the main issue facing britain at the moment for the next few years. and neither party has a coherent message on it. both are confused, both are conflicted. this is what is going to probably dictate the shape of the next government and when that government is going to be formed. steve, a quick thought from you. you have touched on it to some degree, but your sense, what people say to you about the internal workings in downing street now. you say there is no one obvious to take over. what is your sense of theresa may, how much do we know about she makes of where she is? the whole operation feels much weaker, not just politically — that's obvious — but in terms of its resources and sense of power. number ten is physically a weaker entity than the treasury, which is this mighty department down the road.
so it exercises power through authority, and the authority of those advisers working with the prime minister. she had to get rid of her two advisers, who terrified ministers and all the rest of it. they are gone. the head of policy, who was there before, is gone — she hasjust replaced him with someone else. there are new people moving in. her authority's greatly diminished, and those in the cabinet who were, as i said earlier, in awe and fear of her — she was so popular — they are now beginning to feel assertive and muscular, and that's why we know what david davis thinks this morning. that's why we know what philip hammond thinks. so it is a completely changed dynamic in this government. you are right to suggest she won't recover that authority. once you've lost a kind of mandate in the way she did in that early election, you don't recover from that. but i don't think there
will be an early election, because the conservatives can't afford to hold one because they might lose it. i might suggest a lot of people watching just breathed a sigh of relief with you saying that, steven! it depends on your view, obviously. let's turn our attentions outwards and talk a little bit about the middle east. coalition forces have almost recaptured the city of mosul in iraq, and in syria the defacto isis capital raqqa is surrounded, but still the jihadists fight on and the civilian toll is enormous — some half a million people have been killed, and millions more left homeless and displaced. abdel bari atwan. .. your assessment of isis, its strength or otherwise, who is in charge, your take on where we are? we have been talking about mosul falling for a long time
and still hasn't fully happened. we must talk more about the middle east on this programme and other programmes. middle east is coming to us. not only are we going to the middle east, now terrorism is coming to us. immigration, illegal immigration, is coming to us. look at the other side of the mediterranean — there is libya, absolutely a failed state and a source of trouble. look at egypt, it is bankrupt. there are 90—95 million people there. look at syria, about 500,000 were killed. look at iraq, look at other parts, even the gulf region — saudi arabia and qatar are quarrelling and fighting. middle east is very important, we have failed states there, notjust isis, the islamic state, we have a lot of problems. the question is now, ok, i can sense some sort of euphoria. isis is going to be defeated, they are about to lose mosul, they are about to lose raqqa. but there are two very important questions. what will happen to isis after that?
the second question, what will happen to the coalition which is fighting isis? is it going to be intact? is it going to be strong as it used to be? because they were united simply because of isis. answering the first question, i believe there are two choices for isis. the first one, to dissolve itself, which is impossible. the second one, to go underground and turn to plan b, terrorism, and as they are shrinking in territories, they are expanding in terrorism. the third option is to go to other branches, like pakistan and afghanistan, like libya and syria, like libya... we don't know...yemen. if they go to these branches and they have the infrastructure there, instead of having isis in iraq and syria, you will have isis in 19 branches all over the world. going underground, they will be more dangerous. why? because they will get rid of the burden of running
a state, a caliphate. now, they used to have 9 million under their rule. if they get rid of that, you know, if this country struggling with health care, struggling with education, struggling with services, so imagine a country, isis lack the experience. those people are the men of saddam hussein, the republican guards. abu bakr al—baghdadi is just a front. those people can actually disappear underground and can be very, very dangerous. so we shouldn't actually celebrate the death of isis. we should prepare ourselves for the next stage. it is interesting, because if you think about the history of all of this... isis descended from zarqawi's networks, which descended from a pledge of allegiance to osama bin laden. we can go back decades as this
thing has metastasised throughout the muslim world. i agree entirely with what bari says. i think that menu of choices you listed being open to isis, i think they will take all of them. i think as they are squeezed out of mosul... you have to understand, they are surrounded in the old city of mosul. you cannot really even get a car down the street in many parts of these quarters. they still have tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of civilians under their control in this warren. the allied forces are trying to be as careful as they can be, but there is still huge civilian casualties trying to clear them out of that space. they will go away. the bigger question, and this is one that goes back three years to when isis first arrived
in iraq, was, you could find any day of the week some newspaper or other talking about security services being concerned about kids going to syria, kids going to iraq to make jihad and then coming home. we know some of the attacks in france and brussels were perpetrated by people who had been in syria and had come home. i wonder to what degree the security services in britain know of people who have travelled to syria and iraq, have worked or gone online and read isis' main form of communication and are thinking of stuff. this is a real problem... it applies in lots of european countries. because they survive on publicity. every time someone comes out and either kills 50 people in a gay nightclub in orlando and says, "i pledge allegiance to isis." or runs 15 people over on london bridge and say, "i pledge allegiance" — this is a great success for them and allows them to sustain themselves in all these other countries where they are running away to. one positive, if you like, as the shrink in territory happens, their finances are being affected here.
they're taking control of these oilfields and having the money to finance this. that would be interesting, how that plays out. as you pointed out, it could be that they take a different strategy more underground attacks. that is a huge positive, that it is going to affect them and perhaps their recruitment. a lot of the people that went over were getting paid a lot of money. how are they funding it and can they continue to do it? they lost 80% of their income, because now they don't control the oil fields, the gas fields there. and if they do control it, they can't export it, they cannot sell it. these are extremely important things. but when you conquer them in mosul and raqqa it means they don't need this amount of money. they used to receive about $3 million, equal export of oil and gas. now they don't need, they will go underground. i would like to remind
you that the people, the cost of the 11th of september, $250,000 only. it didn't cost that much. so they don't need a lot of money, as they are used to. the problem, the problem... we should look at the incubators who actually give their oxygen to those people in iraq and syria and all parts of the middle east. if we want to root out those people or at least reduce the danger to the minimum, we should deprive them from incubators. we should deprive them from the grassroots, from frustrated young people. unemployment is extremely huge, instability is the name of the game in the middle east. you have a new generation completely frustrated. no jobs, no future, no hope at all, so we have to look at it if we want to solve this problem. haven't people been warning about that for some years? exactly. your argument is, western governments have not heeded this? jane, we know about that and have said it several times but nobody
paid attention to it. we have to look at the roots of the problem and try to find a solution which actually can treat it from the roots, not looking at reactions or saying ok, let us go and look at security measures. security measures... so instead saudi arabia and the gcc isolate qatar and say it's all qatar's fault? this is ridiculous. it is not the fault of qatar. maybe qatar is part of the problem, but... there are 7000 saudis fighting in the ranks of isis. also from chechnya, from pakistan, from tunisia. from tunisia about 5000 are fighting under the isis flag. why? who facilitates this thing for them? you were right in your introductory comments to say we have to give a lot more thought to this, because the middle east is coming to us and you gave the example, absolutely rightly of course,
the refugee crisis, if anything will deepen. when i wrote the book the rise of the outsiders, it was fascinating to see the degree to which that was defining the politics of many european countries, from the vulnerability of angela merkel for a time, to the way social democrats in northern europe... all responding to that process. you mention the fact that the isis leadership are basically saddam hussein's old republican guard. so that western intervention has triggered all of this. what should the west do, in terms of dealing with this? i can't see what practical... what's not happening is american leadership, for example, that will be interesting. how the trump administration, he's talking about more troops in afghanistan, maybe we will hear more about that in the next few months. he seems to be retreating from that. they are quite happy to keep it at arms distance, they are there behind...
steve, you are absolutely right. we should change all our plans, our way of thinking when we look at the middle east. isis defeated, ok, now we have an american president who drums the war against iran. saying, we have to fight the iranians and other sorts of terrorism. let us finish from this terrorism and then move to that! this is the problem. we have to stop wars in the middle east, by all means, and concentrate on people, how to make their life much better, in order to keep them away from us! laughter. this is the problem! we have to leave it there, even though as you say — you're quite right — we must be talking about it more. we must cease for now but we will return to it, i'm sure. thank you to all of you. that's all we have
time for this week. please do join me again next week, same time, same place but for now thank you for watching and goodbye. hello once again. the remnants of saturday's rain will still be there across the south—east. once we get rid of that, a really lovely day for a good part of england and wales. not too much in the way of trees. temperatures into the low 20s and teams for many. more on the way of cloud, maybe a passing shower. some of those may be sharp and prolonged especially towards the end of the day across the north—west of scotland. you may even hear the odd rumble of thunder.
with easing in the north—east but ever present for a good part of scotla nd ever present for a good part of scotland for most of the day. monday, the start of wimbledon. quite a bit of cloud, may be brighter later, the 10th of one or two showers. more in the way of cloud and rain for wales in the south—west of england, elsewhere, just a passing shower, perhaps. hello and thank you forjoining us here on bbc news. iraqi forces say they've taken control of the main base of the so—called islamic state, in the city of mosul. the militants have been driven from a hospital compound, where several senior is leaders were thought to have been hiding. there's still fighting around part of the old city — but commanders say a final victory is in sight. our correspondent orla guerin reports from mosul. a symbol of victory, planted this morning in what was the main base of is in mosul. troops, weary after driving the militants from this vast medical complex, but vowing to hunt down