tv Dateline London BBC News July 21, 2019 11:30am-12:01pm BST
something i could ever sign up to. whites might island's foreign minister warns the next prime minister warns the next prime minister is... dramatic audio reveals how a british workshop warned iran services not to seize a british tanker in the gulf. hello, and welcome to dateline london. i'm carrie gracie. this week, in the fortnight since a tanker carrying iranian oil was seized off gibraltar, tehran repeatedly threatened to retaliate by seizing a british tanker in the gulf. and then it did exactly that. so much for british
hopes of de—escalation. it's a grave challenge for the world, but particularly for a new british prime minister. the uk changes leaders this week, with no sign of de—escalation at home either, as the brexit clock ticks down inexorably with no the uk changes leaders this week, with no sign of de—escalation at home either, as the brexit clock ticks down inexorably with no clear path out of crisis. my guests today, writer on arab affairs abdel bari atwan, michael goldfarb of the podcast frdh, stefanie bolzen of german newspaper die welt and political commentator yasmin alibhai brown. freedom of navigation is a fundamental principle of international law and no self—respecting government can ignore the seizure of its ships on the high seas. but us economic sanctions are choking iran, the nuclear deal is in tatters, drones are shot down and commercial shipping targeted for sabotage operations. how can the uk now respond to the seizure of an oil tanker
without making matters worse? what is the answer? the answer is, this freedom of navigation was perfectly practised in that part of the world until president trump decided to mess everything when he decided to pull out from the nuclear deal with iran. now he has imposed huge sanctions. he wanted to prevent any single barrel of iranian oil to be exported, he wanted to starve the iranian people, hoping he can topple the regime. starve the iranian people? that is strong language. that is not strong language. they starved the iraqi people before that for 11 years. they are starving gaza people also until this moment. i think this is the practice, starve the people, the people revolt and they will topple the regime.
it cannot work at all. so, i really feel that the government here actually committed a grave mistake, a grave disaster, to detain iranians ship. there is no embargo, there is no international law which allows britain to detain iranian... you are talking about the tanker in gibraltar? so the gibraltarians have detained the tanker. it is the british. the royal marines were definitely involved so i am not going to fight with you. i believe it was a grave mistake by the british government, the gibraltar government, to detain that iranians tanker. the grand ayatollah of iran warned several times the british government that we will retaliate if you don't release this tanker. they didn't. they are now in a suicidal mood,
they are in a suicidal mood, they would not actually leave the british government or any government to starve their own people and they will retaliate and they did retaliate. so if i am a consultant to the british government, which i will never be, i will say to theresa may or borisjohnson, release this iranian tanker immediately and avoid trouble. if there is a war, it will be disastrous. i want to hear what the rest of you think. i think that is a bit difficult because the united kingdom is still a member of the european union and the reason they stopped the tanker, as far as i am aware, is that it was breaking sanctions, so how can the uk then say, because of a difficult situation in iran, we just ignore what we agreed with the europeans. sanctions against syria, this is going to the syrian people.
we have 25 million syrian people. you want to deprive them completely of energy? you don't want them to fill their cars with petrol? the fact is, it is that they broke eu sanctions. i mean, i am sure there are deeper reasons that we'll see when the diplomatic cables are released 30 years after we are all dead but iran is particularly exercised around this. presumably they were not just giving this oil to the syrian people, the syrian regime was paying for the oil, and the big problem is that the sanctions prevent the sale of oil. just the sale of oil. this is what is interesting. the eu, this week is so interesting, in the 12 to 36 hours before this latest round of tit—for—tat,
there was diplomatic activity in new york and there was also reported activity in trying to figure out a workaround for the sanctions. russia is very keen, and russia is an important player in this story that we often ignore. russia was very keen to work with the european union to find a new payment system that would allow the sale of oil but that would avoid payment in dollars, but the iranians also need dollars in order to maintain their economy. all of this was under discussion — the european union, including britain, and then this event happened. why the spanish government did not detain this ship? this is part of the european union. can i speak? otherwise they will think they are paying me for not speaking. ijust don't believe that our
country and our foreign secretary and our government would be so assiduous about what the eu wants. we know what they think about the eu, the way they have treated the eu, it is nothing to do with the eu. i don't think they were conscious of that at all. this is to do with our special relationships with the united states, a dangerous special relationship, which they now have to grow very fast because there is no other option. i do think, although he does it in this colourful way, i do think he has a point. this ideal that you do this to a country which you kind of punish, you collectively punish it, and it started because trump hated what obama did. he hated obama. so he did everything in his power... in relation to that nuclear deal? it started with a very
personal thing. but the point remains that i am astonished, the men who rule iran are just as obnoxious as the ones we are dealing with in the west, and i was thinking, this is all about men. horrible, non—negotiating, arrogant, self—important men who are going to take us into a war. does anyone disagree with the gender point? i do disagree, because those men actually were highly accepted by the british government, american government, european union and they talked to them, negotiated with them and they struck a deal to contain iran's nuclear activities. so, you say it is not a gender issue. just on the gender issue, let's deal with that before we go back to anything else.
it is funny, the nuclear deal was essentially because men are in charge. i don't know what input angela merkel had in those negotiations, but by and large, i think there are gender issues, particularly related to iran, god knows, and also in the us and in the uk. but in this specific instance, i am not sure that you can make the... oh, i think you can. stephanie will tell us. the gender question is a bit difficult in this context but it is not so much about angela merkel, it is just the nuclear deal is something that is seen in germany as a massive achievement of years and years of negotiation and of course germans want to protect it and they are actually taking quite a risk in their relationship
with the united states, which is already very difficult now, between trump and merkel it is very bad, and there is another challenge now that they have to manage. on the underlying point that yasmine was making about the american agenda which the uk, in order to support its special relationship, come climbing off the fence in support of any american position. do you see that? i do. what i thought was very interesting, during the course of the week, donald trump gave this extraordinary speech, a blatantly racist call to his core supporters, about sending these four congress women of colour back to where they came from. the british press asked boris johnson and they ask jeremy hunt, who is his alleged challenger to take over as prime minister, will you condemn trump, and they both dodged the question.
jeremy hunt is still the foreign secretary. i inferred from what he was saying and the way he ducked, saying, i criticise the president for this, that he is considering britain's position in all this. where do we stand? and i do think that britain is already finding itself in that uncomfortable new ground that if brexit goes through as expected, we are going to find ourselves with you either really getting into the pocket of an american administration that i think a lot of people in this country probably don't like, even conservatives who are pro—brexit, probably have some questions about him. so, on this practical question, an american coalition of the willing in the gulf, is that something you feel the uk will feel it has to join? i don't know.
yes. yes! we are not forming coalitions yet. let's not jump too far ahead. even a month ago or six weeks ago... it is not a war coalition, by the way. it is allegedly, or it claims to be by the americans, a coalition in order to improve security. well, what does that mean? the security links between the us and the uk go back to world war ii. they have gone through all kinds of changes and revolutions. i don't see why that would change now. and the tensions, explored in fiction, ijust don't see that that will change. but insofar as racing towards some sort of violent confrontation or even sending in,
this is entirely hypothetical, suppose the trump administration agrees to some kind of special forces going to the area, as happened in the 1980s, and american special forces go in and do some physical damage, would the uk go in on that? possibly. yes. are you saying yes so firmly because... both. we are now going to be a dependency of the united states. that is strong language. i have written it, i have said it, and we have to be clear, watching liam fox in the united states, humbling himself in a way i have never seen this man doing before, everybody knows, even borisjohnson knows, that when we do this catastrophic thing called brexit... your opinion, obviously. yes, my opinion.
the united states is what we feel we have to fall back on and that brings certain conditions, and i think those conditions are not forgotten by trump. stephanie, i will bring you in in a moment, but the point you made about the, again, strong language, you said, suicidal state of mind in iran. where does that go next if this escalates? if it does escalate, it will be a disaster. when i said a suicidal mood, the iranians will bomb. they have a huge arsenal of missiles, ballistic missiles. they will hit the american bases in the gulf, they will hit the american aircraft carriers. you have forgotten israel. israel also. they haven't done it in 40 years of tension. i think you are being
a little hyperbolic. this is a dangerous thing. they will send their speedboats to destroy all the desalination plants in the gulf, they will destroy all the electrical stations in the gulf. it means when it is 55 centigrade there, it means that people will be deprived of water, air conditioning... i think michael is right. this can't be, this will not be. i know why you are feeling these things and i respect your feelings but there is another force, a nuclear power in israel. but if you want to starve me to death, do you expect me to throw in the towel? the iranians, when they said they will shoot down american spy drones, they did. when they said, we will detain
a british tanker, they did. and when they said they will hurt israel, they did. ijust want to quickly say, two days ago, at an annual press conference, like vladimir putin does, russia once again is serving its interests and friendship towards iran, before we get to desalination, before planes go flying into israel, russia will have much to say about this crisis. and potentially china. a lot of the oil and gas that goes through the gulf is heading east to china and india. a little bit of nuance to what you said, in terms of the british government and with a new prime minister next week, doing exactly what the us wants. what i have heard from the foreign office, the briefings they are getting, that coalition already exists because we have our ships
there and there is a structure for securing this trade path. but i would be a bit more careful to say the united kingdom, from next week on, will do anything that the united states... ido think... they are not on that page. but the civil service is now being targeted as an enemy of the people. when boris johnson was in the foreign office, his record of being totally impulsive, and he said over and over again, the united states is our closest ally. he needs something to mark him quite soon. quite early on. but the british public does not like the politics of the us president so why would he do it? and he cannot count on the us president giving him a good trade deal. i think the tory party particularly that we now have in power is not
going to be influenced by what the public... we gave trump a state visit that the people didn't want. we did it, forallthe reasons i have said. and at that point we are going to move on and look more closely at this new prime minister. she said, "brexit means brexit." he says, "do or die." under theresa may, it turned out that brexit didn't mean brexit after all. but this is her last weekend in power. if boris johnson becomes prime minister on wednesday, as most observers expect, should we expect him to do or to die? stephanie, we are going to leave all the iran, us and uk to one side for the moment, i want to look at the eu and the brexit dilemma. on the way to answering that do or die question, can you help us understand whether this is a moment for a reset with europe, because whether it isjohnson or hunt, they have both said they
want to renegotiate the agreement. no, i don't think things will change at all. next week we will probably have borisjohnson as prime minister, then this week, the german secretary of defence was confirmed as the new commission president, and she is a very interesting woman, and she is a stern european. i would not say federalist. she does not talk of this superstate of europe, she does not talk of this european army, so she is quite careful. she does know how important britain is in terms of security and defence and she has very good networks in the uk, she has been coming here a lot. she is quite an unusual german politician in the sense that she was born in brussels, she speaks fluent english and french, she moves very smoothly on all the international stages, so she knows what is waiting for her, but you should also have
in mind boris johnson going to brussels, visiting berlin, visiting paris, they are not looking forward to that. it is a very difficult situation for them. if you look at what angela merkel said yesterday, nothing has changed. she said the withdrawal agreement stands as it is, we can talk, but she talks about the political declaration, so i can't see it. what is interesting now, what happens on the 31st of october when the extension runs out. i really think there will be another extension. and they are talking about it again. if there are circumstances that are necessary, we will give another extension. it willjust drag on and very likely we will see a general election. and yet on october the 31st, boris johnson, assuming he is the next prime minister, he said, do or die. but there was a vote in parliament and for the first time there was some courage shown
by people of all parties and what they have managed to do by not a large majority but a significant majority, what he will not be able to do, which some of them have threatened, and i believe borisjohnson is perfectly capable of doing, is to prorogued parliament and just do what he wants. for god's sake, if this was happening in zimbabwe, we would call it out. we cannot shut down one of the oldest and most mature democracies in parliamentary democracyjust because you want to take us out of europe on a particular day. i think stephanie is right, all sensible people now assume there is going to have to be an extension because the parliamentarians have won the right to carry on debating what is going to happen. michael? just as likely to change the way we are talking about this, i keep thinking, as this mighty day of the coronation of boris approaches, that three years ago,
if michael gove had not knifed him in the front, and he had become prime minister, as everybody tipped him to be after david cameron resigned, would we be at this place anyway? and part of me thinks, you know, we would be at this place anyway because the delivery of brexit in any kind of way that is other than a total crash out and burning, essentially, of the effective settlement of british society for 45 years, it can't be done, it simply can't. there is a part of me that is cynical, i know you won't believe that, but the cynic in me thinks, in the end, something very like the withdrawal agreement that theresa may has already agreed... yes. and angela merkel and whoever succeeds it will agree to it, so it is slightly different.
and then boris can claim, i did it, the woman, to come back to the gender point, the woman couldn't do it, but i did it. i'm not sure. there is still enough hardliners believing it has to be pure brexit. i am thinking of the morning after borisjohnson, what will happen, is he going to renegotiate again? is he going to be welcomed by european union leaders? are they going to make concessions to him? i agree with stephanie, there is very, very little time and he will be forced to have an extension. the parliament would not let him leave without an agreement, without a deal. this is the basic thing. but what about northern ireland? it remains absolutely
an unsolved issue. so, if you arejeremy hunt or borisjohnson, you say you are going to go back to europe and get a better deal and threaten no—deal in order to get a better deal. you can't do that because they have said, and quite rightly... how patient the eu have been, how patient have they been with this incredibly badly behaved child that britain is? but, honestly, they are not going to do this. and also, i have a lot of contacts in northern ireland. there is a real worry in northern ireland that the peace agreement that was achieved after so long and is fragile, it continues to be fragile, this indifference to northern ireland is really upsetting them. we have only got a couple of minutes left so i want a quick answer on whether michael's point is going to basically be the end of the road. donald trump said just yesterday that the uk is going to get a new prime minister,
his name is probably borisjohnson and he will straighten it out. will he straighten it out one way or the other? i see quite a cynical game going on. in europe, on the continent, there is a fear that what is going to happen is, borisjohnson asks for an extension, there will be a general election, and he will campaign on the platform of no—deal. if he gets a majority, a big question, but if, he will say he has to do no—deal and the europeans have been intransigent. this is the narrative that has built up. because ireland and northern ireland did not want a compromise. i think for the relationship between britain and europe, it is going to be really bad. the rest of you have ten seconds. i think the british people should decide. i think he will cling on once he has got his feet under the desk. he has got until 2022 to mess things up.
i think there are going to be quite a lot of crashes under boris immediately and then there might be some mature politics. and with that thought, we have to leave it. that's it for dateline london for this week. we're back next week at the same time. goodbye. hello, some hotter weather and the way in the week ahead. for some it isjust a way in the week ahead. for some it is just a one—day wonder. way in the week ahead. for some it isjust a one-day wonder. we will ta ke isjust a one-day wonder. we will take a little to expect in just a moment. sunday, it is how it looked earlier on the isle of wight. some hazy sunshine around, and atlantic weather system with these pants
coming towards northern ireland and western scotland. rain turning heavier during the day here and a strengthening wind. initially hear the rain is light and patchy, but the rain is light and patchy, but the darker blue showing the heavy rain moving across northern ireland this afternoon on towards western scotland. wales and western parts of england, one or two light showers developing. some rain moving into cumbria later, much of eastern scotla nd cumbria later, much of eastern scotland and england, lose of mid—20s, just the teams in northern ireland and west of scotland. for royal portrush, it is going to be a very interesting final day. the rain turns more persistent later this afternoon, heavier to these average wind speeds. gusts up to 35 miles an hour, may be closer to 50 miles an hour. very wet in northern ireland and parts of northern england and scotland. rain in western scotland could be heavy and persistent enough to cause some travel disruption. the south sang mainly dry, temperatures are drier compare to last night. from monday, a damp start for
northern ireland and parts of northern england, wales and southern scotland. rain retreating northwards, lingering into the afternoon. some misty little cloud may hang on some western close, but for many it is a story of a very warm to hot sunny spells developing on monday. already near 30 celsius in the hottest parts of eastern england. temperatures on the up, looks like tuesday is going to be the day of the most widespread dry, sunny weather and heat. about 20s, hotspots in scotland and northern ireland. 30 or above in england and wales. storms on tuesday night, into wednesday morning. wetter weather system for scotland and northern ireland later in the week as temperatures tail. look at this mid week, could be 41 in paris. an all—time record. the heat lingers through central and eastern parts of england for a little bit longer. nudging the mid 30s with very high community, very uncountable nights for sleeping. before it turns a ledge bit cooler by the end of the
this is bbc news, i'm shaun ley. the headlines at midday. chancellor philip hammond tells the bbc he'll resign if boris johnson becomes prime minister and campaign to prevent a no—deal brexit. i understand that his conditions for serving under his government would include accepting the possibility of an audio brexit on the 31st of october and that is not something i can sign up to. ireland's foreign minister warns ‘we'll be in trouble' if the new pm tears up the brexit withdrawal agreement. if the house of commons chooses to facilitate a no—deal brexit and if a new british prime minister chooses to take britain in that direction, then it will happen. but this will be a british choice. not an irish choice, not an eu