of the saudi king. he's also suggested that rogue killers could be responsible for the disappearance. just two days before a crucial european union summit, britain's prime minister has insisted a brexit deal is still achieveable. the sticking point still is trade and security on the irish border. the president of the european council has said the eu should prepare for a no—deal brexit, which he says is now more likely than ever. the duke and duchess of sussex, harry and meghan, are expecting a baby in spring next year. the couple were presented a few gifts in sydney to celebrate the news. they're in australia on a 16—day tour and will visit new zealand, fiji and tonga. it's about liz30am. you're up to date on the headlines. now on bbc news, hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk.
i'm stephen sackur. after months of posturing and prevaricating, the brexit endgame is under way. this is the week the uk government and the eu 27 earmarked for agreeing a deal on the divorce and outlining a future close relationship. but on the eve of another eu summit, there is still talk of an impasse, focusing on the irish border and northern ireland's status post—brexit. my guest today is mairead mcguinness, irish mep and vice president of the european parliament. is brexit about to get very messy and very costly? mairead mcguinness, welcome to hardtalk. glad to be here. are you surprised that after a year and a half of intense negotiation between uk and eu officials, here we are with this endgame that ijust described under way and it seems the issue of the irish border and the post—brexit status of northern ireland are obstacles
that cannot be overcome. i'm disappointed. maybe i'm not surprised. but i'm not without hope. let me take this, because everyone is anxious about what didn't happen at the weekend. what is happening is talks are continuing. so there is no sense that there is a breakdown. but there is an impasse. and it's not surprising that the issue of northern ireland and the island of ireland is that the issue that the withdrawal agreement still has to be completed on. because, remember, it is notjust the eu or me as an irish mep, or the irish government insisting on this, the uk, the british prime minister last december signed up to an absolute commitment that there would be no hard border, no return to the past on the island of ireland, repeated that in march, in fact, there is a text on the table, a draft withdrawal divorce agreement if you like and the incomplete parts are around northern ireland. what has troubled me i have to say
is that normally when we negotiate certainly at the eu level, papers are produced, i don't like what's on your table but i will propose changes and guess what, you won't agree with all of them, but you take some on—board. that has not happened in these negotiations. what is happening, and this is the troubling part that i hope we can get over, is that the uk side, and that is their right to do this, have said we don't like the northern ireland agreement. we are proposing in the future relationship we will agree to this, if you like, time—limit customs arrangement, temporary customs arrangement, and in a way trying to reverse the future into the present. if i am making sense. it is complicated. you are making sense. but i am very aware that for people in britain and around the world there is a great deal of complication here. if i unpick it what you seem to be saying is that the british government led by theresa may
is reneging on promises made when it comes to the so—called irish backstop. if i wanted to use that word i would but i am not using it. i don't think she has delivered yet on promises made. that is a step from saying she is reneging on. i understand the pressure she is under. we are not blind to the politics of the conservative party. i am not blind to the fact that the dup is propping up the conservative government. there is a budget vote on the 29th of october. but i will tell you i am not blind to as well — i come from county louth, i come from a border county in northern ireland. in my constituency... all of the counties along the border with northern ireland, they are the people i represent. i drive to donegal through the north of ireland. it is my territory if you like. i remember my teenage years and younger when it was not a nice place to be. and therefore i think those of us who know the value of 20 years of peace and togetherness that isn't complete, but we get on, there is a great community spirit, don't want it impacted negatively by brexit. right, but on the other side of that northern irish conflict that you allude to, the unionist side,
there is an absolutely implacable opposition to the notion that northern ireland could ever be regulated in a different way, have completely different economic rules and differentjurisdiction from the rest of the united kingdom. they say that's driving a wedge, an unacceptable wedge, between their province and the rest of the uk. it cannot happen, and as a result of the position that your government and others are taking in these brexit negotiations, sammy wilson of the dup has just said that in his view a no—deal brexit is now probably inevitable. yes, well, if i wanted to rise to some of the rhetoric of the dup and the gentleman sammy wilson and others with blood red lines and others like that, i could do it but it won't make progress. let me pull this back much further. the people of northern ireland did not vote to leave the european union. the uk collectively did. but with respect, that is a red herring. northern ireland is a sovereign territory of the united kingdom. it might be a red herring to you. to the people of northern ireland
it is not a red herring. it is a fact. however we have to respect the collective uk vote. some of the farmers for example, and i know this industry really well, who voted to leave, are now coming to me to say that they want me to make sure that their lambs can be sold into france and the milk they produce is eu milk. there is an element of people not understanding what the vote did to the relationship with the european union. i also would say that within unionism there is also a desire not to have a hard border. what's lacking is an understanding of, where there is no deal or a bad deal, if we don't respect what's in the withdrawal agreement, which frankly is what is missing in the understanding, no one wants to use the backstop, but we need it as an insurance policy. we hope that if the backstop is agreed, the withdrawal agreement in its entirety, march comes, the uk leaves, i regret that, but the uk leaves, then we have a transition when we come to this future relationship on trade, on standards, which is so, if you like, close and effective, the backstop is not needed.
those are very emollient words but here are some less emollient words from boris johnson. .. he is not in cabinet any more. he is a journalist. i can say this and i will let you go. i have to say this of mrjohnson. he was a journalist. i was one as well. but when i became a politician i left myjournalism behind. i am afraid he is acting as a journalist, not as a responsible politician. he has been very emotive in some of the language he has used around ireland and indeed very unhelpful. if you say, as you did earlier in the interview, you would like to take some of the heat out of conversation and just focus on what is achievable then perhaps what you have just said is not really helpful. he is not one of the negotiators in the british government. no, he has a important role to play in the conservative party. the uk prime minister... what he said is important and you need to respond to it. and i will. he said the eu has pushed us around for too long, treating us with naked contempt.
they present us with a choice between the breakup of this country or the subjugation of this country. it is a choice between two exquisitely embarrassing humiliations. that is borisjohnson‘s position and it's the position of very many influential voices inside the conservative party, possibly voices that are sufficient in number to dictate what theresa may has to do in the future. don't you need to show some empathy for the feelings they have, particularly on this issue of northern ireland? in terms of empathy, i get empathy a great deal, but when you say to me that borisjohnson, who is from a very large member state, and this is what has troubled me about brexit from the get go. i am from a small country. we know our size and we also know our influence. i am very surprised the uk, for all of its size and greatness, is so, if you like, under threat that it feels europe is pushing it about. i mean, that is an extraordinary statement for borisjohnson to make. the european union,
for all its flaws, works on the basis that around the table — remember, i come from a member state. we do have argy bargies. but we respect each other‘s position. we know that we have to compromise and move forward. what i would like to see from those of the borisjohnson team, and i am not sure of the full numbers. you would have the facts on that. what do they propose other than walk away? when you walk away, nothing is achieved. it might satisfy that innate "give someone a kick" but it doesn't solve problems for british business, for supply chains or the food industry. we will get to that in a moment. if i may, just to continue the thought about boris johnson's passion, as it was expressed in that very recent newspaper column, what he is getting at is that, for his party, which after all is called the conservative and unionist party, there is something fundamental at stake, which is ensuring the continued unity of the united kingdom. and they look at what comes out
of your own country, ireland, when it comes to an analysis of where brexit is, and they listen to statements like the one from you prime minister, the leader of your party, leo varadkar, the other day when he said, "ourjob as an irish government is to look out for the interests of the entire island of ireland," he said, "we are the party of europe and we are the united ireland party," and it sounds to some conservative and unionist politicians as though you have an agenda in your party and indeed your country, which is to see what's in brexit as a prelude to irish unification. but brexit has nothing to do with all of that. the reason why ireland and my taoiseach leader has a role to play in relation to the north of ireland is because of the good friday agreement. i mean, all governments have a role to play in this, because northern ireland is a unique entity. we have fired violence that i mentioned through my own childhood.
we have had piece for 20 years. we have tried to build bridges between communities that, in a way, were very divided. and, sadly, because of brexit those divisions are beginning again. it very clear, just on the united ireland, that can only happen with the will of the people of northern ireland. and the island of ireland. it is not on the agenda now whatsoever, and i think to make it... again, the conservative and unionist politicians i talk of feel that it is being put on the agenda in ireland. let me quote to you marylou mcdonald, just today, the leader of sinn fein, she said that if there is an no—deal brexit, as far as she is concerned, the damage will be so severe to all the people of ireland, "we will not stand idly by, there will have to be a border — a cross—border poll on unification." but it doesn't matter what the leader of sinn fein says. the truth and the reality of a border poll has to be called by the secretary of state
in the north of ireland. nobody else can do that. and the sad part about today's politics in the north of ireland is there is no government. that sinn fein and the dup could not see a way to sit down and have a government that had a voice in the brexit discussions, and that both in fact are using brexit in a most inappropriate way, and not in the best interest of peace and prosperity on our island and ongoing cooperation. on the other hand, i respect where the dup come from, and others in the unionist community. and, at the risk of repeating it again, this word "annexation" of northern ireland, this is not what this is about. what we're trying to do is minimise the damage, because brexit will damage ireland, the uk, europe and northern ireland, so it's to try to find a mechanism to minimise that damage and that's my political priority in all of this. i don't want to spend the entire interviewjust on brexit. i want to give you some quickfire questions,
quick answers and then we will move on. if there is no deal, is there bound to be a hard border between your country, the republic of ireland, and northern ireland? we've said we won't construct a hard border and the british have said the same, so that is the position for now. you see, many others have said there is bound to be a hard border with no deal, because wto rules will require it, if nothing else. i certainly will not vote for anything that would result in a hard border on the island of ireland, because it would not just be a step backwards, it would be a generation backwards. in that case you are saying the same thing as the brexiteers in the uk who are saying that many people talking about the necessity of a hard border in the case of a no deal or indeed a trade deal are talking rubbish. there are all sorts of technologies and instruments which make a smooth, frictionless border possible. except we don't have it yet. i have listened to those arguments around technology. and if i may. you just said you wouldn't support the putting up of customs posts and a hard border. this isn't just about structures and technology. this is about the psychology
of that region. remember that history takes a long time to heal. and, indeed, this week in the parliament we will have victims of terrorists coming to talk to us. and the uncertainty that brexit has caused has hurt a lot of people again. no one believes we are going to go back to those awful days, but we are going backwards in terms of relationships, and none of us want that. so, i work very well with my dup colleagues in the european parliament. so, to paraphrase what you havejust said, there are present dangers, security risks, if there is an no—deal brexit and if there has to be some form of restored border. in shipping no, because i'm not going to use your words, but what i am saying... what troubles me more, and i tried to explain this to david davis at one meeting when he was he was part of the brexit negotiations, that to understand the psychological impact of brexit, you have to be there, live there and lived and know what has happened.
and i think that's the part of the discussion that people aren't hearing. and you have to obviously respect different views on this, but at some point, when language is used like "annexation" and "blood red lines"... today, for example, i read, and i wouldn't even say it on television, it was quite a vulgar comment about this, i thought, "we're going too far here." that's why calm is required but also an understanding that the uk is leaving, not the eu breaking up. it is sucking up so much energy from the european union. from me and you. everybody‘s been drained by it. there's an argument to say there are much bigger dangers and challenges facing the eu, and for you as an official with a sort of overview as vice president... elected representative, not an official.
fair enough. there is a difference. that's fair enough. your role as vice president of the european parliament, how worried are you by the fact, in the midst all this fuss about brexit, what we don't seem to be focused on is that certain countries in the eu, like poland and hungary, for example, are simply refusing to play by the eu's rules and accept basic eu values when it comes to things like a free media and independence of the judiciary. but i think we all should be worried about that. of course we're all concerned about it, that's why i voted that there should be an article 7 review of what's going on in hungary... article 7 wouldn't work, though. article 7 doesn't work doesn't work because not only are poland and hungary acting for themselves, but they are acting with the support of a bloc of countries who will ensure that the so—called article 7... i understand all of that... ..which will allow them to be disciplined by the eu commission, the ec] and others, it won't work. i know, but i've met viktor orban face—to—face and i've said to him my concern about what's going on in his country. so be under no illusion that while brexit is a big issue,
we're also dealing with those other fundamentals. and, more importantly, at least within the european union, you have a capacity to influence and to bring article 7, which you say is not going to work sufficiently, yet... with respect, you say we're dealing with it under article 7. article 7 was triggered last year against poland. this year, the poles have pressed on with these judicial changes which have involved the president basically getting rid of more than two dozen seniorjudges. i'm aware of what's happening. and the more the eu protests about it, the more the poles say, "we don't care." yeah, but you're in a differentjob than i am. myjob is to make sure that the polish leadership understands that the rule of law has to prevail, even if that takes longer than i would like, that we keep demanding high standards, and the benefit of europe is that at least these countries are with us around the table. but it doesn't take away from your core point, there are deep divisions around that table. yes, but not only are there divisions, it also seems to me that the strain of nativist, nationalist, populist politicians, which will include those in... governing in poland and hungary are making the political weather. and parties like yours in the centre—right,
fine gael and the wider bloc in europe, the european people's party, they are running scared of these people. your own bloc refused to expel viktor orban's fidesz, even though you think he's flouting european values. well, first of all, i'm not running scared of anyone. i'm from a small country but i'm pretty brave in my politics. secondly, the british conservatives did not vote to sanction mr orban and hungary, so there's a question for them to answer. and, thirdly, the pressure will be relentless. what's happening within the epp group are deep conversations about what is happening with viktor orban. i've eyeballed him and told him what i think. they've bottled it. the epp bottled it. they had an opportunity to say to fidesz... if you were in the room... we've said very clearly our views of fidesz, as has manfred weber, the leader of our group, who also voted to sanction hungary. we have not yet got to that point. it may come where we say we cannot be together, but don't conflate no dramatic action with inactivity. there's a huge amount of activity. so you say, but look at the facts...
not only so i say, with respect, so i know, because i'm involved in it. the truth is, you have governments across east europe who refuse to accept the eu notion of burden sharing when it comes to taking quotas of immigrants. on a whole host of other issues, including the creation of a new security force, putting 10,000 guards into frontex, east europeans won't buy it. on all of those issues, when it comes to the hot issue of migration, the notion of collective eu action just isn't happening. not yet, but the pressure will have to be in that direction, because, for one simple fact — the biggest driver of migratory flows will not be conflict, but it will be climate change, and europe needs to do more on that. the reason why italy and those who've been at the forefront of receiving migrants are angry is they feel europe has abandoned them. the third point is that the numbers of migrants coming to europe has dramatically decreased,
but what's very worrying if you have any concern about human beings is that one in 18 die, so... for 18 arrivals, one person dies and has died in the first couple of months of this year. that is an horrific statistic. but the people of europe listen to arguments about what to do, and they seem increasingly to be buying the arguments of the far—right. we're about to go into european elections... again, with respect, don't mention the peoples of europe without including the uk, because the uk referendum was, in my view, fuelled by false pollsters and debate around migration. well, that's an interesting point, but it's got nothing to do so we could come back to square one. ..because, frankly, when it comes to the next european elections,
the brits will not be voting. but around europe, polling evidence suggests that mr salvini, that marine le pen's party in france, that a whole host of far—right parties in countries as far apart as poland, hungary, austria, you name it, they have the political momentum. polls suggest they'll be very strong in the next european parliament. bavaria at the weekend, it was the greens who were actually the surprise, if you like, vote—getters. and there are new figures coming out, wednesday you should watch out for them, about the mood across europe. definitely politics is polarising. i chair the european parliament, and increasingly when i call votes, you see that the extremes on the right and left vote the same way on issues. so it's not just about ideology here. there's something else happening in the body politic. i mean, i would worry about whether the centre can hold. we're seeing the social democrats be quite fractured, and our own epp, christian democrats, that could be a quite difficult election for us. that's point i'm making, that you two, the mainstream blocs, the epp and the european socialists, to many people, according to the opinion polls, not to me, but according to the opinion polls, to many people around europe, they look like the tired
old brussels elites who have not delivered, and that... well, you see, you're using the language which fuelled a referendum here, and quite frankly, it becomes a bit tedious. i may have aged since i got elected, but i'm not tired. i'm not an elite. but look in that referendum, look at what happened in the vote in italy. look at what happens in hungary and poland. this is reality, it's notjust me. i know all of that is reality, but myjob is not to give into a reality that i believe would be bad for my children, and i have four of them. and in fact, i warn then. i say to them, "you have taken for granted peace on this continent because it's there. nothing is a given." and my biggest worry, and i do tremble with this sometimes, is that we will squander what the european union did, which was develop peace and prosperity on the continent of europe, for this idea that you can have your own individual policy, or you can be a populist, when all you have to do is say something but not take the responsibility for it. i take responsibility for what i do and what i say, and i hope that in the european parliament elections we'll talk about europe and not national
issues, because they tend to be about national issues. and, mairead mcguinness, i appreciate your historical perspective, but here's a quote from a man widely respected around europe, pascal lamy, a former commissioner, he said, "without change and reform, the eu will remain," as it is today, in his view, "irrelevant to a majority of its citizens." that's an extraordinary worrying comment from a europhile. yeah, it is... it's not worrying. i mean, you could worry yourself to death — you've to do something with it. the first part where he is saying reform of the eu, of course, that's essential. the thing about being irrelevant, just hold on a second. in ireland, for example, many of us took for granted the single market and customs union without understanding what it meant. since brexit, right across europe, because of the debate, people are beginning to understand the single market, the customs union, how drugs are regulated, how chemicals are banned if they're dangerous, and europe has done that. how pets can be brought on holidays. the smallest to the largest part of how we live today has happened because of the good stuff that europe does.
but, frankly, and i was a journalist, no media is interested in the good things. and you're right to focus on all that is difficult and needs to be challenged, because that's myjob to do that. but in that time it's no harm to remind people that without the european union, where would my country be? we would not be at the table, where we at least get respect and have a word. and i think we would be in a much more difficult world. mairead mcguinness, we have to end there, but thank you very much for being on hardtalk. thank you, my pleasure. thank you. hello there. it was a lovely day on monday across scotland and northern ireland,
with plenty of sunshine, but a different story across england and wales, rather cloudy skies for most with some mist and murk and a few spots of drizzle. the reason for it is this weather front here, which will still be there on tuesday morning. this weather system will bring a change to scotland and northern ireland through the course of tuesday. but, for the start of tuesday, it looks like we'll hold on to this cloud across england and wales. some mist and fog developing too. the breeze tending to pick up across this north—west corner. these are the temperatures to start this morning. single—figure values in the north. just about making double figures further south. a bit of a grey start up and down the country, winds really picking up across the north—west corner of scotland with some gales here, 50—60mph gusts. band of rainjust pushing in here. but for england and wales, a much better day than monday with the cloud breaking up, plenty of sunshine developing, particularly across the south—east,
where we could make 21 to 23 degrees. even further north, despite the wind and the showers, it's going to be pretty pleasant. temperatures around the seasonal average. on into wednesday, a bit more of a complicated picture. we've got a tangle of weather front is moving in from the north—west. one of them grinding to a halt across parts of england. so it looks like for wednesday we could see a band of cloud from lincolnshire, through the midlands, down into the south—west, there could be some patchy rain on it. to the north and the west of this weather front, a little bit cooler and fresher, sunshine and one or two showers but a pleasant enough day. into the far south—east, after a misty, foggy start, we should see some sunshine there. temperatures, 15—18 celsius. average for the time of year, or maybe above. thursday, a ridge of high pressure builds in, there will be some cool air associated with this. cold start on tuesday, particularly in the northern half of the country. a touch of frost. some mist and fog patches pretty much anywhere. because of that ridge of high pressure, a fine day with light winds, sunshine up and down the country.
a little bit of fairweather cloud further south, but most places should stay dry, and temperatures, ranging from 12 to 17 degrees across the south—east. a similar sort of picture on into friday, although this weather system begins to push into the north—west corner of the country, so it turns a bit downhill there. high pressure holds on across england and wales. so a windy day for scotland and northern ireland, we'll start to see showers or longer spells of rain pushing particularly in the north and west of scotland, whereas further south again underneath that ridge of high pressure, once we lose any mist and fog patches through the morning, it's going to be another fine day. plenty of sunshine. temperatures range from 12 to maybe 17 degrees. this is the briefing, i'm samantha simmonds. our top story: turkish police complete their search of the saudi consulate in istanbul where they believe the journalist jamal khashoggi was murdered. prime minister theresa may insists a brexit deal is still possible despite major differences over the future of the irish border. as the royal couple, meghan and harry, confirm they'll be parents in the spring, australians welcome the happy news with a few special gifts.