‘mp (w vum ‘mp which may labour mp which may spell more trouble for kevin hopkins, already suspended from the party for sexual harassment claims. and another torrid week for the government, we discuss this with our political panel. there has been ramping up of attention in regards to ireland's future. the eu is demanding the uk speu future. the eu is demanding the uk spell out what it will pay brussels when it leaves in just two weeks. or face more delay in talks on future trade ties, but it is the eu's insistance on an "all island approach" for ireland where there appears to be most friction tonight. and that friction also extends to relations between the government and their partners, the dup.
so is this an intractable problem that could scupper the whole negotiations? here's chris cook. the hardest question in the brexit talks is about northern ireland. money remains a major sticking point in the negotiations, but we know how we can fix that. there is no simple way out of the irish question. let us say britain is no longer in a customs union with the european union. that will let us strike trade deals with third countries who have no similar deal with the eu. but the eu needs to be able to stop goods from that third country flowing into northern ireland and then into the eu via the republic. further, what if we decide to divert from eu rules, so goods in our markets no longer meet all eu standards? ireland need to be able to check stuff and may be turned back before it gets into the market. so they need a border. now, everyone says they want to avoid that. a hard border would be a major economic burden, especially for farmers, and could undermine
the peace process. the eu appears to be shifting position. in september, they said the onus to propose solutions which overcome the challenges created on the island of ireland remains on the united kingdom. a solution was up to us. there has been talk of answers involving customs technology and clever application of eu rules. we want to be smart border that no one would notice. but a leaked document from the european commission has shown a changing tack, saying it is essential for the uk to commit to ensuring no emergence of regulatory divergence from those rules of the internal market and the customs union in northern ireland. that is significant, a radical idea that has been pressed by dublin is now seemingly the preferred plan of brussels. this would be a big deal. northern ireland would in effect be treated as part of the eu customs union and single market to eliminate the idea for a hard border, but that would require four in effect customs arrangements
of goods travelling between great britain and northern ireland, something the uk says is unacceptable. we respect the european union desire to protect the legal order of the single market and the customs union, but that cannot come at a cost of the constitutional and economic integrity of the united kingdom. so could a british government reliant on dup virtually separate northern ireland from the rest of the uk? if not, it needs to find a plausible plan to make that border as soft as possible. dublin has a veto on taking talks forward, and on any final trade deal. a short time ago, i spoke to the former taoiseach bertie ahern. he was one of the architects of the good friday agreement along with tony blair and served as the head of the irish government for over a decade. i began by asking him whether he thought a hard border between the republic of ireland and the north was now inevitable.
well, i think the issue is fairly clear that it's impossible to have an invisible border, or a border that is controlled by technology, if you are not in the single market. the argument today is that the eu have come to the conclusion, after 12 months of looking at this, that they believe that to stay in the single market, and to stay in the customs union is the only way you can avoid totally a border. of course, the difficulty for that is that the british government don't agree with that and the dup don't agree with that. the irish government do. it is a difficult position and i'm afraid nobody has worked out how you can get the circle to work and cover everybody‘s point of view. but do you think the government in dublin is foursquare behind the other european countries‘ position on this? yes, there is no doubt about that.
i think throughout the negotiations right throughout this year, the eu position is one position and the irish government are locked into that. are you telling me that the republic of ireland would vote with other eu countries for a deal that included a hard border, and all the implications of that? no, i think it's just not feasible for the republic of ireland to agree to the reinstallation of a hard border after 20 years. the ramifications of it from trade and business, from agriculture, from all of our other sectors of industry big and small, are bad enough, but the difficulties for the ongoing peace process, we have enough problems with that, but for the irish government to agree to putting back a border is not something that is likely to happen. so in your view, then,
the only way to work this is to have an internal border in the uk to take in ports and airports? well, you know, the one great thing about europe is, it has always been good at finding solutions to complex issues. sometimes people say they fudge these issues, but i think that's unfair. i think over the last a0 years, many difficult situations, they have found ways of formulating solutions. and this issue of the irish border has been well and truly discussed. you of all people, then, might know what might happen on a hard border, you know, a former taoiseach and architect of the good friday agreement. what would be the impact on peace, a hard—won peace in ireland with a hard border?
i think it would be a huge setback for us. the idea of putting customs checks up and security checks, i don't think we will ever go back to the watchtowers or the huge security presence, i don't think anyone is suggesting that and i don't think that will happen. but the idea of having anything, at the moment, i can leave my house in dublin and be in belfast in an hour, a0 minutes. you don't see a security person anywhere. and you have traffic duty now and again, but there are no difficulties or problems. to go back into putting the physical border back in place in any way, it will undermine, i think, so much of what our successive governments have done from tony blair and my time. of course, the people who have been drinking the champagne will be dissidents, because they will see this as great for them, it will give them a target again, and itjust would be so disastrous. the amount of effort that has been put in by so many people to avoid
that, and to consider going back to that is unbelievable. i don't think anyone wants to do it. you are saying that might lead inevitably to a return to violence? i don't think so. i think 98 or 99% of people on the island of ireland on all sides do not want to go back to violence, but i have to say, if you wanted to try and find a way of giving those who want to do it, and there is the i%, that i% can be very dangerous, we see it all over the world, you don't need many people to cause mayhem and destruction and devastation, so you certainly, if you put a physical border back across the island of ireland, you're certainly giving the huge incentives to those who want to cause mischief. is there a scenario here that is more likely to lead to the reunification of ireland? i think that issue is now more
on the agenda than it was before. as a result of brexit? yes, from the result of brexit. and there are more people debating it in college debates now. i know, i've been asked to several of them. people are actively looking at what shape would it be, how would it happen? my own view is that there will be a time to discuss that. it's not now, because we still have the institutions not up and running. we still have too much of an unsettled climate to be having votes on it, but i think inevitably in the good friday agreement, a border poll is part of the clauses in it, and i think brexit brings it closer. closer but not too close, in my view. in a way, the republic of ireland should understand the majority
decision in the uk to take back what they see as sovereignty from the eu. do you respect that decision? of course we respect that decision. you are entitled, or the uk were entitled to have the vote, and they have made that decision. but i think the uk have to understand that by making that decision, they have made a hell of a mess for us, and they have an obligation and responsibility to help us find a solution, and so far on the border issue, they haven't done that. bertie ahern, thank you forjoining us tonight. the mp kelvin hopkins, who was suspended from the labour party over claims of sexual harassment, tonight faces further allegations, this time from the labour mp kerry mccarthy. she says she is speaking out to support ava etemadzadeh, who asserted that hopkins sent her an inappropriate text and rubbed his crotch against her, accusations that he denies. kerry mccarthy, who says hopkins began paying her unwanted attention in 1994, and continued to do
so less than two years ago, has produced a cache of letters and cards from him. chris cook is here. what is this all about? one of the things kerry mccarthy has said this evening is that the problems with kelvin hopkins, as she relates them, were not very tangible. "if i told anyone, it would just be gossip instead of a complaint". but it is inappropriate, the way he has behaved. she has come up with stuff that she feels is germane to the investigation into the conduct of mr hopkins, now an independent mp since labour suspended him. we have one of the letters here. here is a quote from it. he sent her a note while she was a sitting mp. "i dreamt about you the following night, a night dream —— nice dream. you remain a very attractive woman". mr hopkins himself has said that if ms mccarthy had raised a complaint with the labour party in the normal and fairway, he would of course cooperate with any investigation. but he appealed on behalf of himself
and other individuals and their families that these matters should be dealt with by proper due process and not what he describes as an unfair trial by media. chris, thanks. boris johnson has been in the headlines and the heat for his dreadful gaffe about the british iranian prisoner nazanin zaghari—ratcliffe, opining that she was training journalists in iran rather than on holiday visiting her parents. his words, no matter his retraction, may result in an increase in her five—year sentence in evin prison. but what about nazanin herself in all this? how do we know what she is going through just now? john sweeney has been talking to other women who have been imprisoned by the iranian regime. i last saw nazanin when she travelled in march 2016. this man's wife is incarcerated inside one of the worst prisons on earth.
nice to meet you. this woman knows what it's like, because she has spent time there, twice. what was it like? it was not easy to go there when you had not done anything wrong. i was put in solitary confinement for a few weeks. i was arrested twice. both of the times, i spent the whole time in solitary confinement. was the hardest thing about being in solitary confinement? the most difficult thing is, you are left alone there for days and for some prisoners for months, by yourself. the most striking thing is how to spend the time. richard ratcliffe‘s wife, nazanin zaghari—ratcliffe, was visiting her mum and dad in iran with their little girl, gabriella, when they were seized by revolutionary guards last year.
she is serving five years for allegedly trying to topple the regime. then the clown prince of british politics put his foot in it. if we look at what nazanin zaghari—ratcliffe was doing, it was just, she was simply teaching peoplejournalism, as i understand it. the regime has leapt on boris‘ mistake as proof of nazanin‘s guilt. translation: boris johnson's unplanned admission that some iranian journalists were taught by nazanin was a gaffe that the uk government could and cover—up. boris may be in trouble, but what is life like for nazanin inside evin prison? she has undergone solitary confinement. it is usually made worse by extreme sensory deprivation,
known in iran as white torture. you put inside a cell so you are given two blankets. this woman knows what it is like only too well. there is a light here up to the roof which is a very bright light. it is on for 2a hours. so you have to get used to sleep under a very, very bright light. and you have to remain silent all the time. what was the longest time you spent inside the cell without talking to a human being? ten days. i remember when my interrogator called me, he told me that it's been quite a long time that you have not been interrogated, isn't it? and i said, yes. he said, "that's why i'm now calling you because i know
that your mental situation is not good. you would need someone to talk," and he was right. another white torture veteran is a journalist. his memoir inspired john stewart's film rose water. i'm not sure what they want for nazanin‘s release but i'm sure they want something in return. the worst kind of psychological torture for nazanin is being away from her daughter, who's in the same city as her, but she cannot see her. just to imagine for a mother not to be able to see her young daughter, that must be intolerable. labour cannot cry shame too loud. jeremy corbyn took £20,000 from iran press tv, appearing on the channel. but incredibly, after more than a year in thejob,
britain's foreign secretary has yet to meet richard ratcliffe. why hasn't he met you? it's a good question. i think the foreign office is always trying to downplay nazanin‘s case. they have said behind closed doors keeping quiet is the best thing and we have always had tension where i have said listen, i think putting it out in the media, this is an injustice, the clearer this is stated to a wider audience, the more that will win out. borisjohnson could do well to remember that politics is not just about who's in, who's out, who will climb the greasy pole. it is also about ordinary people who may find themselves in a dark place, and if you use the wrong words, then their lives may be crushed. boris johnson's poor choice of words is one problem this week. i am joined now by tom newton dunn,
the political editor at the sun, polly mackenzie, nick clegg's former advisor and stephen bush, the new statemans‘s special correspondent. good evening to you all. first of all, let's begin with bertie ahern and the words of warning tonight on a hard border, and that idea that there is i% who could make this very difficult. is it your hunch that like bertie ahern, something will give in the next month on ireland? i think this is the worst crisis which could hit the brexit talks. this is between a rock and a hard place now. there is no way the british government could succeed two state there is no way the british government could accede a two state system and no reason that leo varadkar can go back.
leo varadkar is under his own political threat from sinn fein. new irish elections could come round the corner any minute and he will lose seats to sinn fein who will beat him up unless he goes hard. if he goes hard and the eu decides to push for this hard border which she doesn't want, we end up with their hard border in northern ireland. will this ever happen? the problem is the policy aims can only be achieved with a hard border. if you leave the customs union, you have to have a border check. the fact that at some point there will be an election means it is never in leo varadkar's interest to turn around to the british government and go... you could have predicted in a way that this would happen because it was never going to fly? people did predict. and ever since the referendum people have been explaining it is not possible without putting a hard border in the irish sea or between northern ireland and ireland and that is politically unstable.
theresa may is reliant on the dup for her majority and they have a fixed position. at the beginning there was no sense when theresa may called an election there was no sense that she would end up in thrall to the dup? it is notjust about the dup. there is a strong majority of about 50 or 60 tory mps who could not allow a two state system, it is not about the dup. it is unconscionable for a british prime minister to halve the northern ireland under control... ——half cede but then they come up with wacky ideas suggesting that blockchain will fix the problem. ultimately, the success of peace in northern ireland was about parking the issue and allowing people in northern ireland to have an identity and they could be as british
as they liked or as irish as they liked. the second we voted to leave, that was torn apart forever. and then we have as polly said, these essentially science—fiction solutions have been coming out. we have obviously had another issue tonight with allegations about kelvin hopkins, is there a sense now at westminster, and particularly for the younger generation, that they are prepared to speak out and have courage and are getting courage from other people? yes, i think particularly there is a sense among the younger generation. people feel that now was the moment that things might actually be changing. we are seeing how things are changing in hollywood, and this is the moment when the opportunity to change the structures and westminster can be seized. there is a particular problem for theresa may because we are awaiting the investigation into damian green which brings us onto her hold over cabinet if indeed she does have a hold over cabinet? no, she doesn't and this week has proved that beyond doubt.
it is easy for political hacks like us to draw grand sweeping conclusions and linking themes like the poor run of luck theresa may is having. but there is quite simply a catastrophic collapse of authority. if you have a prime minister that no one is scared of, nobody gives two stuffs, you will do your own thing, you will be freelance on your policy on israel, you will not read your brief before you go in front of the select committee like boris johnson and the real question is how many tank mines are left unexploded? but it shows a disregard for the electorate as that is it another form of the westminster arrogance not to read your brief and not to care enough? i think it is extraordinary. while there were criticisms that the bar was set too low and people were resigning over sexual harassment which was just a hand on a knee, but now it has shot up. and priti patel, day
after revelations have got worse and worse, only days later that she do the honourable thing and resign. at the moment she cannot afford in the middle of brexit to start moving many chess pieces around? i think she has more power than she thinks. the one thing she has got going for her is the fear of corbyn in the conservative party. she could have been more bold. but she knows that there may be more accusations of sleaze out there. and she knows her new defence secretary gavin williamson may know more from becoming from chief whip. there isjust a nightmare for her. she has been captured by her own timidity in a way. what has happened in the last week or two is the balance has thrown from timidity to they have nothing to lose. let's turn to boris.
endless stories about boris‘ demise have gone on for so long, but there was a complete disregard this week, it was not just a slip, not even bothering to read the brief. would theresa may like to get rid of boris if she could, or actually, is there a funny way that she can contain him more inside than out? he's better inside the tent still. although he is annoying in his brief, he can't start saying i think universal credit is bad... there is cabinet responsibility sort of. fun sort of is better than nothing at all. he does not have much of a following so he could not upset the apple cart but he is someone who would start saying things that new statesman readers would agree with. how is he regarded by the party now? i think a lot of the shine has come off the figure of fun,
someone who would be the witty standard—bearer for conservatism. a lot of people have now shifted to jacob rees—mogg as that have i got news for you—friendly tory. the times splash is about a canadian who was inside evin prison as well and she and her child were both hooded. the more you hear about this the more you realise how dangerous boris‘s words were? yes and no. i don't think this will get boris. i will put my hat on the table and be prepared to eat it when it is made of marzipan at a later stage. boris screwed up, but it is still the iranians who are hooding three—year—old children when they go and meet their mother who is also hooded. as time has elapsed people
are using boris‘s idiocy for their own disgraceful ends. is he safe? i think he is safe. you cannot have a foreign secretary whose idiocy makes it easier for the iranians or any other nation to endanger british citizens. it is surely in the job description not to do that. in the new year, do think theresa may will still be in position, polly? it all depends on the budget. can she pull off a decent budget to give momentum back to the government. stephen? yes, i think she will. budget, and then she has got to move onto trade talks. then she has to do with a reshuffle. if you does it all by january the 10th, she will live on. thank you. time now for viewsnight — when we give original thinkers the space to challenge and push the boundaries of orthodox thinking. tonight, stanford professor niall ferguson, with his take on who should get to decide what we can read on social networks.
niall ferguson. just before we go, this has been equal pay day. but we've a long way to go, so by rights for many women, this should be the last day they work this year. but lest we forget, here's a reminder of where we've come from. music: just a girl by no doubt. # take this pink ribbon off my eyes. # i'm exposed and it's no big surprise. # don't you think i know exactly where i stand... how far are you prepared to go? as far as it takes. # cos i'm just a girl, little ol‘ me... a few years ago, it was a joke. people laughed at us. they don't laugh at us any more. # oh, i'mjusta girl, all pretty and petite # so don't let me have any rights... it is international women's day today, and you've sent
a male to interview me and a male cameraman. where are your women cameramen at the bbc? hello and welcome to sportsday. i'm lizzie greenwood—hughes. the headlines this evening: it's goalless at wembley, but england's youngsters match the world champions in tonight's friendly. more disappointment for wales, soundly beaten by france in their friendly in paris. and england's women continue their battle for the ashes,