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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  November 29, 2018 12:30am-1:01am GMT

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the warning comes after the british government's own forecasts said the economy will shrink for every brexit scenario compared to staying in the eu. indonesian investigators probing last month's lion air disaster say the plane was not airworthy. 189 people were killed when the jet crashed into the java sea shorly after take off from jakarta. and this video is trending on bbc.com. the pope's weekly address featured a surprise guest when a small boy ran onto the stage. the child amused worshippers and the pontiff alike as he ran around, before his mother came to retrieve him. that's all. stay with bbc world news. now on bbc news, it's time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur.
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on december the 11th, 2.5 years of posturing, politicking and poisonous disagreement will come to a head. the uk parliament votes on whether to accept the brexit deal prime minister theresa may has negotiated with the eu. her case boils down to this — it is the least worst option. but many in her own party, as well as the opposition, simply don't buy it. my guest is former government ministerjojohnson, who resigned in order to oppose this deal. does he have a credible alternative? jojohnson, welcome to hardtalk.
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thank you. great to be here. when you quit the government just a few weeks ago, a couple of weeks ago, you came out with this very powerful statement. you described brexit as a "failure of british statecraft on a scale not seen since the suez crisis." now, you have been intimately connected with the brexit project from the very beginning. do you feel a very deep sense of guilt? i feel we're in an appalling situation right now, and the government is presenting us with a choice which is completely unacceptable. that's what i was referring to. it's the choice which the government is framing between the prime minister's deal on one hand, which will trap us in this client subordinate relationship with the eu for the foreseeable future, then on the other hand, the threat of a chaotic exit,
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a no—deal exit that is going to be disastrous for our business community and lead to all manner of chaos for residents in my constituency in orpington because we will see traffic backed up from the channel ports at m20 and along the m26. that is a completely false choice for the government to present us with and that is a failure of statecraft. that phrase is such a grandiose phrase that surely we cannot place all of the blame on decisions taken in the last few weeks and months. my point to you, and your intimate connection, is that you go back to the very beginning of this. you were one of the key architects of that conservative manifesto when david cameron was the leader of your party, which pledged to the british public an in—out referendum on britain's membership of the european union. if we're to talk about statecraft in the wider sense, do we agree that you need to take
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a share of the blame? yes, of course. i certainly find myself to be part responsible for the situation the country finds itself in. it was a mistake? the referendum decision with david cameron was a mistake? the origins of internal conservative party tensions over europe go back decades. they tried to lance that boil, so to speak, by having an in—out referendum, which had been avoided for an awful long time as a proposition inside the conservative party. it was a decision taken by david cameron advised by people suhc as yourself. it's interesting that you, on reflection, seem to be saying that was fundamental mistake. david cameron took the decision to hold a referendum injanuary, 2013 in a speech to bloomberg at its headquarters in london, that actually predated my arrival on the scene. nonetheless, i certainly helped him and george osborne put together the 2015 manifesto, on which we won a majority,
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and that included, as you rightly say, the commitment to hold a referendum and to implement the result. do i think that was a mistake? no. on balance, i think holding the referendum was the right thing to do. i think the campaign on both sides was not a strong campaign, it was full of reckless promises, undeliverable commitments to the british people which are now coming home to roost, and that's what we're now having to unpick and that's what we've been unpicking over the subsequent 28 months. the current prime minister, theresa may, has been honouring our commitment in that 2015 manifesto to deliver the result and to honour that result, and she's concluded, this massive agreement, 585 pages of the withdrawal agreement, 26 pages of rather high—level waffle in the political declaration. that constitutes the deal on which, as you said in your introduction, parliament is going to vote in just over a fortnight‘s time. and you have, if i may stop you just for a sec. you have sat in government
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with important positions, higher education and transportation more recently, sat in a government which has tried to find a compromise, to deliver on the result of the referendum, to get britain out of the european union, but in a way that delivers as frictionless economic relationship with the eu as possible. it seems to me that, with all of its pluses and minuses, is what theresa may has come up with. well, we have a deal now. it's the product of 2.5 years of negotiation, but in my mind, it's the worst of all worlds. it really is hopeless, and it's for that reason that i took the decision that i can no longer stay in the government. you only took it on the last minute of the last hour. you've been sitting in government, watching theresa may and her advisers move toward this deal for an awful long time and you were supportive of it. precisely because i felt we had a duty to honour the referendum result, that's why i voted to start
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the article 50 process back at the beginning of 2017, and then that's why i kept my peace within government and allowed the prime minister the greatest possible manoeuvre to reach a deal that was in the national interest. it was only when the deal came back and we saw its emerging shape in the chequers agreement over the summer, it was only when the deal came back and i could see that it would land us in the worst of all possible worlds, trapped in this subordinate relationship with the eu, without any gains in sovereignty, but at massive economic cost, the very opposite of what was promised, that i realised i could no longer be a part of it and i could no longer support it. theresa may's letter to the nation says this, "we will, as a result of my deal.." the one she has negotiated after so much effort, "..we will take back control of our borders are putting an end to free movement of people once and for all. we will take back our control of our money, ending the vast annual payments back to the eu.
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we will take the trouble of our laws, ending the jurisdiction of the european court ofjustice in the uk." those are three fundamental pillars she is delivering. well, i strongly disagree. i think that brexit as billed is not being delivered. we are not gaining control of our trade policy. the eu will continue to set our framework for trade because we'll be within the single customs territory. as president trump said this morning, this is a good deal for the eu but it's not going to facilitate uk trade deals with countries outside the eu, such as the us. with respect, you don't know that because you don't know the future trade relationship that will ultimately be negotiated in the second phase of this between britain and the eu. you don't know how free britain will be with other countries. there are some basic realities here, the eu is a market that is five
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times the size of the uk market. we are going to need to negotiate access to that market and part of the whole package of our future relationship that is foreshadowed in the political declaration, is that the provision for our membership of the single customs territory will be at the very heart of it. the eu is going to shape our trade policy, and that is why president trump is essentially right. it's not going to be possible for us to craft meaningful trade deals with third countries such as the us. for those people who do not follow the ins and outs of british politics every single day, some will not know that you were an ardent remainer. surely, underpinning your position today is the fact that you believe leaving the european union is a terrible decision for britain in any case, and what you have chosen to do at the 11th... well, the last minute of the last hour of this process, is actually act upon your fundamental instinct, which is to try to block brexit happening at all. i wanted the pm to bring back a great deal that was in the national interest and i suspended disbelief for the last 2.5 years
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that she might do so. in reality, what we saw, as we saw the chequers proposals emerged and then with this final deal that's come out of brussels more recently, that we will be trapped in the worst of all possible worlds and i do want to be a part of that. just a point — i mentioned politicking and poisonous atmosphere is in my introduction, just a point of interest to me but also political principle — when the chequers deal was created in the summer, your brother, who obviously was a very senior figure in the government, the foreign secretary, after two days of consideration, he flounced out, saying it represented what he called a suicide vest wrapped around the british body politic, you at the time were not in the cabinet, but a senior minister. you didn't say a word, you didn't say anything. why not? at that point, the negotiations with the eu were still ongoing, and i didn't want to do
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anything that would limit the prime minister's freedom of manoeuvre. so i didn't want to be accused of tying her hands and weakening our negotiating position in brussels. that's why i kept my peace until she actually reached an agreement pretty much. it was at that point where i felt i had done my duty, allowed her maximum space to conduct a deal, but i conclued it wouldn't be in the national interest, poorer and less in control than we were before. utterly pointless. with no deal whatsoever, is it? no, that's true, but that's not the relevant benchmark. it may well be the very relevant benchmark, because to many people's minds, including constitutionalists and political observers, if theresa may does not win a majority for this deal in the house of commons, the ultimate direction of travel is to a no—deal, some call it a a crash—out brexit, in march, 2019. that is the false choice which the government is presenting to mps and to the country as a whole which i am rejecting. of course we have other options,
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that is why i feel it is important that we could the people a chance to now say whether they want to proceed with brexit now we know what it is. it is an idealised position to take. not at all. you are ignoring everything happened around you. for example, jean claude juncker, the president of the european commission, is saying that this is the best deal britain can get, in fact, it is the only deal that the eu will consider giving to the uk, and if it doesn't take it, the clear implication is there'll be no renegotiation. no further negotiation, this is it. i'm not suggesting a renegotiation of the text, i think the prime minister has probably got the best deal that britain could get under the circumstances. what i'm saying is now that now that we know what the concrete reality of a negotiated brexit is, that we go back the people and say you wanted brexit, this is the negotiated brexit which the prime minister has delivered. it's the only brexit that is negotiable, it's on the table, now over to you. if you want it, this is it, if you don't want it, there is an opportunity to reconsider that decision."
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are you a gambler? instinctively, as a person, are you a risk—taker and a gambler? i think it's important to be entrepreneurial in life, i support people who take risks and put themselves on the line for things, if you want to stand by your convictions in politics, sometimes you have to do that. this is the most extraordinary risk that you are suggesting the whole nation take. it's a risk that, if it goes wrong, it's going to cost the nation enormously. is there not an arrogance in you demanding the nation take that risk? listen, i'm just a backbench mp putting their views out. it's for other members of parliament and the country as a whole to determine whether they want to take any notice of me. all i'm now saying is we know what brexit looks like because the prime minister the government has spent 2.5 years negotiating it. i think will be a travesty of democracy to ignore the public, let alone what i think, ignore the public and say this is the brexit you are going to get, like it or not.
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actually, when i look at my mailbag as a constituency mp, i see my residents in 0rpington telling me they don't want this brexit, neither remainers or leavers want this because it's the worst of all worlds. i want to come to your proposition in a moment, but consider this idea of risk a little more. theresa may said this in the commons yesterday, she said, "no—one knows what will happen if this deal doesn't pass, but it will open the door to more division, more uncertainty, and all of the risk that that will entail." you surely, whatever you think of herjudgements in the last few weeks, you surely agree with that? no, i think proceeding on this basis with a flawed, botched brexit that leaves us in the worst of all worlds will leave everybody unhappy. conservative party will be blamed for bungling brexit, for saddling the country with a half—in, half—out relationship that leaves us poorer and less in control than we were before. we won't be forgiven for that. 0n the contrary, surely there's a message here that resonates with everything churchill said about democracy, to sum it up and paraphrase it, that it's the least worst system.
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it is not good, but better than all the other available systems. the conservative approach is to leave things as they are if you don't have a better solution. we don't have a better solution than the arrangements we currently enjoy in the eu, that is what i think we should put back to the british people, we got the negotiated brexit that the prime minister secured, you either want that all you crash out altogether that no deal at all. let's unpick this proposition of a second referendum. let's go back to the beginning. you are are the man who wrote the manifesto that said the conservative party promises the british people an in—out referendum which will settle the matter of britain and europe once and for all. you are now the man who appears to be going back to the same public and saying, whatever i promised you before about an in—out referendum that would settle the matter was complete rubbish, i don't like the result we got, the ongoing to do it all again. that is not credible. it potentially will settle the matter. you said that last time.
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you put the deal the prime minister has negotiated in full transparency back to the public. if they want to accept that deal, that's it. do you not see the problem? you've said that once already. you use up your credibility when you come back and say, "0h, we're just going to do it again." to a certain extent, but actually, you've got to realise, the referendum we had injune, 2016 isn't the same as the decision we'd be asking the public to make now. we have before us 585 pages of a legal agreement, plus a 26—page political declaration. this is the brexit reality. if people want it, let's buy that, not the fantastical visions that were presented injune, 2016. in brief, there's a few specific mechanics here i don't understand. the british parliament has passed an eu withdrawal act, and that, and the eu's treaty says... at least, the article 50 rules say, that we're leaving — absolutely categorically leaving — on march the 29th, 2019. now, i don't understand, least of all in timing, how you could get a referendum which requires parliamentary legislation and a very complex process to set it in train, how you could possibly get that done before the clock runs out on march
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the 29th, 2019. no, of course, you're right, you wouldn't get it done by the 29th of march, 2019, and it would require the agreement of our european partners to suspend the article 50 process, or extend the article 50 process, to give us time, a few extra months, to hold that referendum. and in terms of the process... just in parentheses, there is no majority in the british parliament, as far as anyone can tell, to get any of that done. at the time... as things stand today, that's probably true, i would concede that, but this is a very dynamic situation and i think everyone would recognise that if the prime minister's deal is voted down in a couple of weeks‘ time, i think everybody in parliament would be looking for a way through. one of the most obvious ways through is a referendum that puts this question back to the british people. 0nly, jojohnson, if you can answer the most basic question of all, what's the question on the paper, the ballot paper, for this second referendum ? ultimately it will be mps in parliament who legislate and who craft the question.
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but you've thought about it, obviously, because you're telling me this is the only way out. it won't be for me alone. i'll come to that. parliament will legislate. there will be extensive debates in parliament. the electoral commission will test the question as legislation goes through the house of commons. what i think is important for the question is it doesn't disenfranchise strong groups within society, people who've got strong views for leave, strong views for remain and strong views in support of the prime minister's deal. you've already laid out three different territories there. so are you saying this won't be a binary referendum? i don't see how a non—binary referendum... i think it's quite possible that it isn't a non—binary referendum, but i think what's relevant is parliament ultimately will determine the question on the advice given to it by the electoral commission. if you would, frame for me, as you say, it's not your decision, it will be a collective decision in the end, but frame for me, because you're an important player in this debate, frame for me a question that you think would work. you're familiar with how we elect mayors in metro cities
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across the country. london, birmingham, manchester, liverpool and so on. we use a system of a preferential vote, with a first preference, whereby you identify the candidate you want to be mayor most, and then you identify the person you could live with as the second choice. and progressively, as candidates are eliminated, those who give them their second preference votes are redistributed. it's a system of voting which we are now familiar with in at least six metro mayor elections across the country. it's a system which is well understood, and which can be easily deployed in the event that parliament decides there needs to be three options — remain, leave without a deal or leave with the prime minister's deal that's been negotiated over the past 2.5 years. what you've just outlined is complicated. it is if you want it to be. i don't think it has to be. we quite successfully elect mayors in london. we have done using the system on a number of occasions. we've become more familiar with it in other parts of the country. the mayor of london is one thing, but a decision which you all agree, and we started with a quote from you, a very grandiose quote
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about historic decisions more important and more challenging than anything since suez. we're not talking about electing the mayor of london or manchester. we're talking about something that will shape britain for the next 50, arguably 100 years. you underestimate the ability of voters to determine what they want between complicated options. they quite easily manage to read party manifestoes and make choices based on different parties‘ manifestoes. they quite easily choose between candidates representing up to ten different political parties. i think it is to undermine the ability of the electorate, or to underestimate the ability of the electorate. a no—deal brexit could damage the economy to the tune of 8% or more of gdp by 2030. you're rolling the dice, accepting that that is a part of your gamble. well, if mps choose to put that particular scenario on the ballot paper, ultimately... you said yourself that it would have to be on the ballot paper. ultimately that would be one of the possible outcomes. i would obviously argue strongly against a no deal outcome of that sort, and i'm sure the entire business community would as well. i can't believe there
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are many mps in parliament who would welcome that. the point is you have an opportunity right now if you and other mps were to support theresa may with what she would acknowledge is a compromise deal, you have the opportunity to absolutely be sure britain will avoid that fate. but you're rolling the dice. well, look, i do think the prime minister still has extraordinary flaws. it will leave us poorer, it will leave us less in control. we won't get any of the advantages of brexit in terms of the ability to do trade deals, the ability to turbocharge our economy and deregulate it and lower taxes and change all manner of standards, which was the brexit vision. none of that is going to come to pass, and that's why i think it would be a travesty of democracy if we didn't go back to people and say, "is this the brexit you actually want?" in the 1840s, arguments over the corn laws, trade and tariffs, they destroyed the conservative party for an awful long time, decades. that is happening again, your party is going to be destroyed over the next few weeks, isn't it?
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well, i think it's important that we come together. come on, people aren't coming together. you and your brother have fallen out completely over this. actually my brother and i are in total agreement on the question of the need to reject this. absolutely, rejecting the deal, but from completely different ends of the perspective. borisjohnson, former foreign secretary, he has called, and i'm going to use his language, shameful capitulation and surrender, vassalage, colonisation, enslavement, a suicide vest around the body of britain. from the point of view of ardent, passionate brexiter, you are now an ardent advocate of a referendum and a hope that people would vote to remain. you're at completely opposite ends of the spectrum in the same party. whether you're remain or leave, whether you're a remainer or brexiteer, all of us care about being in control of our lawmaking processes. it's inherent in our democracy that you have to have consent of the government, and that's what we're really losing over
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the regulation of vast swathes of our economy with the prime minister's deal, and that's completely unsustainable and unacceptable for a democracy such as ours. not as unsustainable as the current state of the conservative party. look, i don't deny the party is divided. who could? but the important thing is we don't do something because it's on the table. it's a bad option, we shouldn't accept it. we need to go back to the people, ask them to confirm that this is the brexit that they actually want, and if it's not, then let's pause and give them the option to stay in the european union. in all honesty, what do you think this brexit crisis has done, is doing, will do to britain's political fabric? well, look, clearly it's a difficult time in politics. the opportunity cost of brexit is enormous. we are wasting so much brainpower across government, across the country that could be better deployed solving the real causes of brexit — our low productivity, our poor social mobility, our housing crisis, income inequalities — all these really fundamental issues we should be tackling are not being addressed
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because the government is spending so much time and effort thinking about brexit, and mitigating the damage it's going to be doing to our economy and our society. so the wasted opportunity... and you really think another referendum is going to solve that problem? yes, i do. if it gives us the opportunity to rethink this course. because believe me, if we accept the prime minister's deal, we're not going to suddenly stop talking about brexit. we're going to be talking about — how long do we stay in the transition period? on what basis do we extend it? on what terms do we go into any future trading relationship? for how long? with who? it's never going to stop. jojohnson, we have to stop right there, but thank you very much for being on hardtalk. thank you very much. thank you, stephen. hello there.
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the atlantic is set to be pretty relentless in terms of sending spells of wet and windy weather our way in coming days. this hook of cloud is the spell of windy weather and rain that we had on wednesday. the flow centre rolling away, this one developing quite explosively as well to the south—west as we go through the early part of thursday, promises even stronger winds than we saw yesterday and some very heavy rain. certainly not looking great for the morning rush hour. there will be a risk of some disruption and bbc local radio is a great place to to get the details where you are. this is what that will look like, however. six o'clock, pretty much just about everywhere seeing some rain at this stage. 0n the plus side it is a mild start, temperatures in double figures. through the morning the wettest weather will start to push north pretty quickly.
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the strong winds will remain an issue, i think if you are out in the morning, especially across the western side of the uk. around the coast and across the hills, these are the gusts. you can see 50, 60, maybe 70 miles an hour off the coast of pembrokeshire. the stronger winds as well, pushing further north into northern england and the south—east of scotland as the morning goes on. as a rough rule of thumb, 50 or 60 is possiblejust about anywhere towards the west, in exposure we could be talking 70 or a little bit more. rain pushing northwards quickly through the morning. many areas actually seeing a great improvement come the afternoon. quite a few showers packing into the west and the north—east of scotland, keeping the rain until the end of the day. a mild variance to the air coming in from the south—west, 13 or 1a is the high. quite a few showers around in western exposures through thursday evening. low pressure stays in charge. it's what's feeding us those showers. it starts to change that orientation slightly on friday,
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bringing in the air from the north—west, and that will be a slightly cooler direction. still some showers thanks to that western exposure on friday, but for many, a much quieter day. yes, still breezy, but nothing like the winds of thursday. many areas could escape with a dry day, temperatures a couple of degrees down on those we see on thursday. 0nto the weekend. another couple of these areas of low pressure look like they are going to head our way. the question is, will they be around in the daytime or come rolling in overnight? at the moment it looks like some of the wettest weather could be first thing on saturday and sunday. as the day goes on we could see increasing amounts of sunshine, but stay tuned to keep up—to—date with the detail for your weekend weather. i'm kasia madera in london. the headlines: the bank of england warns that the uk could face a deep recession and a collapse in the pound if there's a no—deal brexit. the direction of the effects of the reduction in openness is clear — lower supply capacity,
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weaker demand, lower exchange rate and higher inflation. with less than two weeks until a brexit vote in parliament, how will these forecasts affect theresa may's compromise deal? i'm rico hizon in singapore. also on the programme: not airworthy. indonesian investigators probing the lion air disaster say the plane
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