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tv   BBC News at Five  BBC News  March 19, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm GMT

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today at 5: a big step on the road to brexit, as agreement is reached on the uk's transition period. the uk and the eu say the transition will end in december 2020, but there are still issues to be resolved — notably, the irish border. businesses need not too late investment decisions or rushed through contingency plans based on guesses about the future deal. instead, they now have certainty about the terms which will apply immediately after all withdrawal. translation: a decisive step remains a step. we're not at the end of the road and there is a lot of work still to be done. we'll be getting all the latest reaction from brussels and westminster. and we'll be talking about the impact on britain's fishing industry. also today: outside salisbury, forensic teams examine another car following the poisoning of a former russian spy, as international chemical weapons experts offer their services. itv presenter ant mcpartlin is arrested on suspicion
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of drink—driving, after a collision in london yesterday. he's since been released. a british woman dies in syria, after volunteering to fight with an all—female kurdish militia group. a report recommends that the maximum stake for fixed—odds betting terminals should be reduced from £100 to less than £30 for some games. and one couple have their honeymoon plans put on ice, as the mini beast from the east brings travel chaos to the country. it's 5 o'clock. our main story is that britain and the european union have reached agreement on arrangements for a transitional period after brexit, injust
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over a year's time. the eu's chief negotiator, michel barnier, described the new draft text as a ‘decisive step‘ in the uk's withdrawal, but not yet the end of the road. in particular, he said questions remained over the nature of the border between northern ireland and the republic. the brexit secretary, david davis, said british business could now invest with confidence, and the uk would be free to negotiate new trade agreements during the transition process. our europe correspondent, damian grammaticas, has the latest. first thing this morning, and it was ireland's foreign minister who was in brussels meeting michel barnier, before david davis got there. his aim, to see to it that irish concerns remained uppermost in the brexit negotiations. simon coveney had begun the day tweeting that he was on an early flight to ensure there would be no backsliding on the irish border issue. after his meeting, a satisfied looking mr coveney said that solidarity with the eu
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partners remained strong. a little later, it was david davis's turn, hoping a transition deal could be secured, to do so was urgent with brexitjust a year away. are you confident today? we're determined, mr barnier said. when the two men re—emerged, it was to say they had agreed to a transition period after brexit where the uk will be outside the eu, but continue to trade freely with it. businesses need not delay investment decisions or rush through contingency plans, based on guesses about the future deal. instead, they now have certainty about the terms that will apply immediately after our withdrawal, which means they can continue to operate with confidence, as the design of the future partnership with the eu becomes clear. mr barnier displayed on the screens the full text of the withdrawal treaty — yellow highlights for the clauses
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that still need work. the eu is insisting on its so—called backstop option, where northern ireland might stay fully aligned with eu rules to avoid a new border. we agreed today that a backstop solution must form part of the legal text of the withdrawal agreement. the backstop will apply unless and until another solution is found. the uk is still hoping a border can be avoided, but if it does not now present a better option, than the alignment of all parts of the island of ireland should be the solution. in a moment, we'll get reaction from westminster with our assistant political editor, norman smith. but first, let's go to brussels and our europe editor, damian grammaticas. your thoughts on what has happened today and the kind of framework it now provides going forward?”
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today and the kind of framework it now provides going forward? i think the significant thing today is this overarching political agreement, conditional agreement, and that is an important word, conditional, which sets out the transition period. so it isjust a which sets out the transition period. so it is just a year away and the uk and the eu have agreed broadly what will happen after brexit in the year's time, and that is almost two years, 21 months of continued access to the single market, customs union, all the participation in that, which means businesses and people can plan ahead, which is what the business community in the uk and eu side had wanted. so that is a significant thing. but when you look at the detail to do that, what the uk government has done is agree to largely the timetable, the conditions that the eu side had asked for, so we have got more detail today about the financial settle m e nt detail today about the financial settlement are being agreed, about
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the citizens‘ rights being guaranteed all the way through this transition period. the transition is the duration the eu had asked for, 21 months, not longer. lots of issues like that. but at the heart of it, the conditional bit. this issue over the border in ireland which is yet to be nailed down. what we have got today is an agreement following on in december that that backstop option that the eu has envisaged all along will be translated into legal text in the agreement and will be the case is a better alternative is found. but translating that and getting it through the final deal can still be a huge hurdle. on that very point, to remind people, how problematic politically that backstop could be. yes, very, very tricky indeed. the eu provision was, it said the only way it saw avoiding a border in
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ireland will be to keep the entire ireland will be to keep the entire ireland of ireland, northern ireland, aligned with the republic and the rest of the eu in terms of customs union and single market rules and regulations. what the eu has left undefined is what happens with the rest of the uk. so the implication is that could apply to northern ireland, but it could also apply to the rest of the uk as well. the issue is that the uk‘s of red lines which the government has set out is it wants to leave the customs union and the single market at the end of this transition period, so therefore, there is a big problem. do you draw a line down the irish sea, what you do, not acceptable to some parties in northern ireland but have a different arrangement to the rest were uk, those difficult political issues for the uk to confront. and that issue has been put to one side because the stage in
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the withdrawal text will be drawn up over the next few months, so a crunch is still coming. experian much. i am going to westminster. the reaction today and where you see the fault lines potentially in what we have had? a number of fault lines had been seized on by reading brexit supporters, fisheries policies after we leave the eu. unhappiness that basically freedom of movement continues during the transition period. but above all, there is real concern over the issue surrounding the northern ireland border. basically, i think the view is that they believe theyjust have to trust theresa may, in the sense that were she to agree in the final deal to this backstop option, it would be pretty close to political suicide, i
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would suggest. she has already said it is unacceptable for any british prime minister to sign up to the sort of package, the all—ireland package, which would draw a border between northern ireland and the united kingdom. mrs may has said publicly, no british premier mr can sign up to it. therefore, it seems she simply could not sign up to it. if she tried to, almost certainly, the dup would pull the plank on the government. her own party would not accept it, it is not a runner. so she has to find another way round it. i think at the moment, she has been given a bit of slack by her brexit critics because they know this is an impossible concession for her to meet. so although it is in the legal text, it is something which i don‘t think mrs may can in any way except without pretty much sealing her own fake. so she is going to have to find a way round it one way 01’ going to have to find a way round it one way or another. it is pretty
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clear you are saying that on this issue, and we have discussed it many times, there is simply no credible option on the table that you can see to allow mrs may to resolve this. no, ithink to allow mrs may to resolve this. no, i think there will have to be alternatives just because the backstop option is just politically unacceptable and pretty much impossible for mrs may. it is a backstop option and only if all else fails, and the government remain hopeful they will get a trade deal thatis hopeful they will get a trade deal that is so good, there is no need for significant border controls or that they can come up with some technical wizardry to get round the need for a border. so they are clinging to those two hopes which will get them off the hook of this backstop will get them off the hook of this ba cksto p of will get them off the hook of this backstop of having a border between northern ireland and the rest of the uk. because that, frankly, isjust a mission impossible for mrs may to sign over.
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thanks for the latest news from westminster. our assistant political editor with his response. international chemical weapons experts have arrived in salisbury, to examine the nerve agent used to poison the former russian spy sergei skripal and his daughter. the team — from the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons —will also visit the military research base at porton down, in wiltshire. it comes a day after the foreign secretary, boris johnson, accused the russian government of stockpiling nerve agents to use in assassinations. our correspondent, duncan kennedy, is in salisbury. the latest on the visits of these experts and what has been going on today? yes, that is a major team from the independent chemical weapons centre in the hague, which has come to the uk, to porton down, to carry out the first part of its
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investigation. they will spend a week briefing themselves and talking to the team at porton down and other experts involved and they will take away samples to be tested in other laboratories around the world. that is the process that could go on to— three weeks. at the same time as that, we have had a separate major police operation at durrington, ten miles north of salisbury, and this is about recovering a car belonging toa is about recovering a car belonging to a friend of sergei skripal, who went to pick up yulia the day before the attack at heathrow. some movement is a game two weeks after this incident took place. independent chemical weapons level and also here as part of the police investigation. porton down is an isolated facility on salisbury plain that has operated since the first world war, and it is that expertise built up over a century, that is the foundation of its world—class reputation for testing chemical weapons. the team from the organisation for the prohibition
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of chemical weapons was invited here by the government. they are expected to spend up to a week talking to scientists and others involved in the investigation. the process will be very rigorous. they are the professional body, investigators of the united nations, a lot of very experienced operators and they do this all over the place. they have been to syria many times to investigate chemical weapons. for two weeks, experts have been filmed taking what looks like samples from across salisbury. it‘s not been made public whether the nerve agent involved was delivered as a powder, a liquid or otherform. the team fom the opcw that has arrived at porton down will be crucial to confirming the nature of the nerve agent. its inspectors will discuss first how to transport samples of the nerve agent from porton down out of the country. the samples will then be sent for analysis to one or more
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of around 20 approved laboratories at their disposal. it may take at least two weeks for the results to come through. the police enquiry today moved here to durrington, ten miles from salisbury. the bbc understands a car is being recovered here that belongs toa is being recovered here that belongs to a friend of sergei skripal that wishes to pick up yulia the day before the attack. the foreign secretary, also in brussels, said russian denials were becoming increasingly absurd. this is a classic russian strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation. moscow said again today that it had no involvement in the attack on sergei and yulia skripal on march 4th. mr skripal‘s bmw seems to be a central focus of the police enquiries,
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with multiple requests to the public asking them if they saw it. it‘s one of nearly 800 pieces of evidence gathered by officers in what they have described as a ‘complex and challenging‘ investigation. we have two investigations going on. not only the police one but the new one from the independent chemical weapons experts. police say there is could take many months and the chemical weapons experts say there‘s could last between two and three weeks before we confirm whether this nerve agent came from. many thanks for the latest, from durrington, not far from many thanks for the latest, from durrington, not farfrom salisbury. joining me from our cambridge studio is sir tony brenton, a former british ambassador to moscow. thank you for talking to us. if we get the strongest kind of response to back britain up from the eu and from nato, does that make any difference in moscow? it depends on what happens on the
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tit—for—tat sanctions. our hope is given these statements of support from the eu and nato, if we do find ourselves getting deeper and deeper into more expulsions or other types of sanctions against the russians and they retaliate against us, the european states under the nato states will also join european states under the nato states will alsojoin in. and if that were the case, the russians would undoubtedly be worried. does president putin‘s very impressive victory over the weekend make any difference to this equation? i think it probably does in russian minds, i don‘t suppose it much affects european and american views of russia. putin by whatever means has achieved a very impressive result. he will think of himself and his people will think of himself as a pet amazing russia. it will diminish their willingness to shift on this —— epitomise in russia. you will get the norm of lack of
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alternative explanations and noise to conceal the truth. and they will stand firmly where they are. you mentioned the expulsions, we have had the exchange of letters on that and the expulsion of 23 diplomats on both sides. is it incumbent on the uk, with its allies, too, with a further response? the comment has already said they are reflecting on the russian reaction to the measures —— the government. the russians did more to us government. the russians did more to us than we did to them in some ways, they closed our consulate general in st petersburg and they have closed the british council. so we might decide for example to close down the russian conseil general in edinburgh. i think it is unlikely to ta ke edinburgh. i think it is unlikely to take it that far but there are options out there. the other point is we have various measures on the financial front, the government is committed to support the so—called magnitsky act and we have a
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unexplained wealth orders that will hit russia and —— russians in europe and how will the russians react to that? is their anxiety over the question of security of energy supplies, i am thinking of gas supplies, i am thinking of gas supplies from that part of the world ? the russians have been supplying gas to large parts of western europe through the coldest part of the cold warand through the coldest part of the cold war and they have never carted off. i think the risk to gas supplies is very low unless the crisis takes on a much more extreme form than it is at the moment. with that in mind, i am wondering what else the russians might be minded to do if these financial sanctions take the effects some people expect? the off its targets to look at i am afraid british businesses and businessmen operating in russia —— the obvious targets. prominent would be some big names amongst those?- have huge holdings in russia. shell have huge holdings in russia. shell have huge holdings in russia. shell have huge holdings. quite a lot british investment in russia so that
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isa british investment in russia so that is a huge disincentive for the government to take that action? we have to be careful. there is obviously a lot of illicit russian money in london which we need to deal with quite independently of the skripal affair, in any case, we should be acting against that. but we need to maintain the distinction between that and the operation of legitimate business which there is also a lot of in london, and the operation of legitimate british business in russia and very important to make the distinction between the illegitimate and legitimate absolutely clear. your thoughts on the thinking likely to be going on in the kremlin right now, they have been pretty assertive, aggressive in the way they have responded to lots of these things, but will there be people who are increasingly concerned about russia‘s isolation here? well, there will be, but i don‘t think they are in the ascendancy in the kremlin. when they launched this operation, they must have known we would quickly identify it as being
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them because the material used was so them because the material used was so evidently russians so it was in a sense a deliberate and brazen act to do this thing and to dare us to respond. we have assembled a response and impressive western coalition in support and our hope is to be not so much that we can undo the past, our hope is to be that the next time they consider an operation like this, they will say, the brits did this the last time, it is not worth it. that has to be our hope. from the russian side, they have seen from the russian side, they have seen others react, they are digestive our reactions. i would guess the expectation on their side is everything goes gold for or while and we gradually resume more normal business. but some people will say we have to be tougher with them and some people will say, is it worth the candle? we rather hope we now settle the equilibrium we have got to and things go very chilly for a while and because we have to do business with russia, it is a big, important international presence,
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but that is not going to take place now evidently for some time. thank you very much. former british ambassador to moscow. from cambridge today. storage is, again. uber has announced it is suspending self driving car tests in all cities after a fatal accident involving these, a woman hit by a car and killed as she crossed a street in a town in arizona. and that story is just being developed. a female pedestrian reportedly killed after being struck by an autonomous uber vehicle in arizona, according to abc in america, and in response, it has pulled all self driving cars in the states and in the cities of san francisco, toronto and pittsburgh because there is a big roll—out of these cars in some areas. heading northbound when a woman walking
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outside the crosswalk was struck by the car. she was taken to hospital and later died from her injuries. reports that she may have been a cyclist, that has not been confirmed. but local authorities saying that they are looking into the incident in some detail. but uber confirming that the vehicle was travelling in autonomous mode, self drive motor, with the safety driver behind the wheel when the crash happened. that was the arrangement. that would make the pedestrian, according to these reports, one of the first known victims of the crash involving a self drive car. that is a storyjust developing right now from news sources in arizona. this is bbc news at 5. the headlines: a big step on the road to brexit, as agreement is reached on the uk‘s transition period, but the eu‘s chief negotiator warns there‘s still work to be done. outside salisbury, forensic teams examine another car, following the poisoning of a former russian spy, as international chemical weapons experts offer their services.
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the itv presenter ant mcpartlin is to step down from his tv commitments after being arrested on suspicion of drink—driving yesterday. tea m drink—driving yesterday. team paralympics gb have returned home from pyeongchang with a haul of seven medals between them. rory mcilroy is a new favourite to win gold‘s first major of the year, the masters, after his first victory in18 the masters, after his first victory in 18 months at the arnold palmer international. josh charnley has joined warrington wolves ending 17 months did in rugby union with sale. back with more on those stories at half past five. let‘s go back to our top story — the news that britain and the european union have reached agreement on arrangements for a transitional period after brexit in just over a year from now.
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questions remain, however, over the nature of the irish border. the bbc‘s northern ireland business and economics editor, john campbell, is in belfast. let‘s talk more about this today because this is clearly one of the unresolved areas which still has the potential to cause massive political albums for theresa may. what is the reading in belfast? well, certainly, the hype today has been around the transitional deal. but i think in terms of the irish issue, we‘re not very much further forward. it was way back in december, three potential solutions to the irish border were laid out. the first is it will be solved in terms of an overarching trade deal, the second was a special dealfor overarching trade deal, the second was a special deal for northern ireland involving technology perhaps, and the third was a backstop option, meaning northern ireland or the entire uk continuing to follow most of the rules of the
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supermarket and the customs union. that is still where we are today. the uk has accepted there needs to be some sort of backstop in principle, but from what we have heard from david davis today, they don‘t accept what the backstop should be, certainly with the language around the backstop about what it should mean. i feel that we are not what it should mean. i feel that we a re not really what it should mean. i feel that we are not really very much further forward from where we were a couple of months ago. tonight, in terms of political reaction, sinn fein have said, we fully agree with this idea the backstop is the best option on the backstop is the best option on the table, that michel barnier has got this right and he is right to emphasise the backstop. the dup have said, there is nothing too much to concern us said, there is nothing too much to concern us tonight about what has been agreed because the irish border issue has not been resolved and we did not expect that at this stage. many thanks for the latest. from belfast. a 26 year—old british woman has been killed in northern syria, fighting alongside kurdish forces. it‘s understood that anna campbell —
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from lewes, in east sussex — died in the town of afrin, which has been the target of turkish bombing. our turkey correspondent, mark lowen, reports. from the calm of east sussex, anna campbell felt a calling to fight in syria. a 26—year—old plumber and human rights campaigner, shejoined the kurdish militia last year, dyeing her blonde hair to stand out less. she was killed reportedly in an air strike by turkey in its offences against the ypg kurdish fighters. her father called her ‘principled and brave‘. she was quite adamant about it. i said, you could be killed. and she said, i know, dad, there‘s nothing i can do to reassure you about that, but i have to do this because it‘s the most important thing for me. seven other british nationals have died fighting with the kurds in syria and iraq. anna campbell is the first british woman killed. turkey declared victory over the weekend, as it seized the town
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of afrin from the ypg, who it sees as terrorists linked to kurdish militants within turkey. the town bears the scars of a two—month offensive. some 200,000 residents fled, the first are now returning, but as troops tore down a kurdish statue and looted shops, there is a fear that victor‘s justice is becoming retribution. an outpouring of nationalism in turkey has accompanied this offensive — crushing its age—old kurdish foes unite a polarised country. this newspaper said, "turkey‘s victory day," another says, "we wrote history in afrin." turkey might now move on to other areas also held by the ypg, going against the west, which sees the kurds as allies in syria. anna campbell died fighting for those western allies, another life, another figure in the half a million killed in syria‘s war. it was dubbed the ‘mini beast from the east‘, but it has
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still caused big problems in parts of england and wales. over 700 schools are closed again today, after more than 20 centimetres of snow fell in wales and south—west england. about 80 motorists were forced to stay overnight at an emergency centre set up in a college near the a30, in devon. among those stranded were a bride and groom on their wedding night, as sean dilley reports. this rescue centre in devon was not where newlyweds sarah and john planned to spend their first night as husband and wife. the couple were among dozens of motorists who were offered safe haven here at okehampton college. we were fortunate, in that we could get off the road at okehampton, made the decision there and then. then we came into town. but of course, there‘s nowhere to stay. then a kind voluntary group run by devon city council came and rescued us and brought us here to okehampton college, where we were put up for the night.
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the county council say they helped about 80 people seek refuge from the snow after police closed a 64—mile stretch of the a30. we certainly had the majority of people travelling on the a30 caught out by snowdrifts. people travelling on the minor roads got stuck and couldn't get any further. they came to us for some warmth and shelter for the night, before getting under way today. more than 20 centimetres of snowfall has been recorded in central and southern england, with hundreds of schools across devon, cornwall and somerset shut. in wales, more than 200 schools were either partially or fully closed. and in scotland, temperatures fell to minus five. police say anyone travelling should be alert to local advice. the advice must be heeded. keep a close eye on local media, look at the weather warnings and advice and take heed of that advice. don't become complacent just because the major routes are looking ok. as soon as you come off those main
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roads, a lot of the minor routes are treacherous. the met office has issued a fresh weather warning for england and wales. they say ice is likely to form, increasing the risk of accidents. sean dilley, bbc news. with that weather on the images, reminding us what people have been through, darren will tell us what‘s been going on. some people have been going through it but not everyone by any means and it but not everyone by any means and it stopped snowing today. it wasn‘t quite as cold out there, and as well as being dry it was quite bright and sunny. we have cloud heading our way after what has been a sunny day. £1115. £3551 15:1: l::, =:: :l,,: _|::
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