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tv   Wednesday in Parliament  BBC News  May 2, 2019 2:30am-3:01am BST

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there have been clashes in the venezuelan capital caracas, with police using tear gas and rubber bullets and protesters attacking armoured vehicles with stones and petrol bombs. there have also been pro—government demonstrations. a day after president maduro said he had stopped what he called an "attempted coup," the united states has threatened military action. the us attorney—general, william barr, has decided not to testify before the judiciary committee of the house of representatives on thursday. mr barr had been scheduled to appear to answer questions about his handling of the report by the special counsel robert mueller on russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. the british defence secretary gavin williamson has been sacked over information leaked from a national security council meeting. the prime minister, theresa may, said there was compelling evidence that he was responsible for the disclosures. mr williamson has strenuously denied any involvement. now on bbc news,
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wednesday in parliament. hello and welcome to the programme. coming up in the next half hour, the prime minister sacks the defence secretary over the huawei leak as she faces more questions about letting the chinese tech firm have a role in the next generation mobile data network. you are not contradicting me when i'm suggesting that huawei is intimately linked with the chinese communist government and its deeply hostile intelligence agencies, are you? a labour mp tells theresa may it's time to compromise to get a brexit deal through parliament. resilience is a strength but stubbornness is a weakness. former labour mp fiona onasanya loses her seat in the house
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of commons after voters in her peterborough constituency sign a petition demanding her removal. and there are calls for a more radical approach to tackling climate change. green—washing and tinkering have been the order of the day. but first, the prime minister has sacked the defence secretary gavin williamson over the leaking of information from the national security council. he'll be replaced by penny mordaunt. an investigation was launched following the publication of information about plans to allow chinese tech firm huawei limited access to help build the uk's new 56 mobile data network. gavin williamson denies he was the source, insisiting neither he nor any of his team would leak from the nsc. an mp broke the news of his sacking in the commons raising a point of order with the deputy speaker. you may not be aware, but the defence secretary has just been sacked. and therefore, have you had any indication that the prime minister will be coming here to speak?
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the deputy speaker dame rosie winterton said she hadn't and returned to the debate in hand. but theresa may had faced questions about huawei throughout the day. a conservative and chair of the foreign affairs committee raised it at prime minister's questions. the decision that has been discussed in many parts of the world at the moment is the possibility that we will be nesting a dragon in the critical national infrastructure of the uk by allowing huawei to build the cyber network that will power 5g. this decision is frankly extraordinary given the advice of the national security agency in the united states and the australian signals directorate. could the prime minister perhaps explain why she feels are two of our intelligence allies and putting in danger a 70 year intelligence—sharing relationship that has underpinned security in the uk is worth it for chinese commercial gain? we are committed to taking decisions to supported by a hard—headed technically—informed assessment of the risk. we do discuss very closely with our allies security issues. we have put in place a review
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of the 5g supply chain to ensure that we have a secure and resilient roll out of 5g and the decisions of that review will be announced in due course. and there were further questions about the decision at the liaison committee meeting of senior mps. which is the more important — our intelligence relationship with united states or our commercial relationship with communist china? we have as you know a very particular intelligence relationship with the united states and we continue to work with the united states in that deep and special way that we always have done. do accept that the telecommunications firm huawei is intimately linked with the chinese communist government and its deeply hostile intelligence agencies? if i may expand my answer to this question.
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now... you will be aware that huawei is officially owned by its employees and is a private chinese company. however, we have robust procedures in place to manage risks to national security today and are committed to mitigating future risks. i don't think you can describe me as somebody who has been lax in relation to national security. if you look at my record, the decisions i take are decisions that are taken in the interests of national security. but you are not contradicting me when i am suggesting that huawei is intimately linked with the chinese communist government and its deeply hostile intelligence agencies, are you? i said huawei is officially owned by its employees and is a private chinese company. julian lewis questioning theresa may at the liaison committee over the huawei decison. well, the main focus of that meeting between the prime minister and senior mps was brexit. mrs may was pressed over whether or not she'd agree some kind of customs union or trade tax arrangement with labour
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in an attempt to make progress on brexit. the uk had been due to leave the eu at the end of march, but unable to get a deal through parliament the prime minister was forced to ask for an extension to that timetable with the european union settng a new exit date of october the 31st. the session began with questions about the department for transport‘s decision to cancel contracts to provide extra ferry services in the event of a no—deal brexit. ending the contracts with two companies has cost the taxpayer nearly £41; million. a labour mp wondered what the decision meant. does that mean that the government has now accepted that there won't be a no—deal brexit? in other words, if you have accepted that, i can see why you cancelled the contracts and you won't need them any more, or might you have to stand them up again if we come to the 31st of october without an agreement? what is the government's policy now
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on a no—deal brexit? the government's policy is that we want to leave the european union with a deal. but she said that wasn't entirely in the government's hands. so what about the talks with labour to try to get a deal? if they can't reach agreement as you have just said, you are going to put a number of options to the house, will that include an option for a customs union? what we would intend to do would be to discuss with the opposition because we would want this to be a process with which we have discussed with the official opposition and which they were willing to support and we would discuss with them the options that would be put before the house. well, would it include a customs union? one of the discussions that we have been having and i have said this sort of thing publicly as well is the whole question about customs arrangements for the future. various terms are used in relation to customs. sometimes, people use different terms to mean the same thing. sometimes, it's meaning different approaches. but what i think would be important when we come to that process is that anything that is put before the house and, obviously, customs union has been put previously before the house and been rejected by the house,
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anything that i would hope that we would be able to get an agreement with the opposition so that there is a process that everybody can stand behind. but a labour mp reckoned there'd have to be more movement from the pm to get any deal through. you did talk about compromises but it sounds like your version of compromise just means telling everybody else that you were right all along. what's the evidence that you're actually going to shift position? i mean, look, resilience is a strength but stubbornness is a weakness. you accused me of not being willing to compromise. i have pointed out that we have shown our willingness to compromise. on this particular issue of customs, what is important is that we are able to sit down and if you like tease up what the different elements of this is. it isn't sufficient simply to say, "there's one thing, that's it and that's not. " we are sitting down and talking through with the official opposition what are the different elements of this and what is it we are trying to achieve.
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a conservative brexiteer questioned whether the government should have changed the date of the uk's departure from the eu. whatever the political pressures may have been on you on the 29th of march, you were under no legally—binding obligation of any kind to accept the extension, were you? the implication of your question is this. we said we were going to ask for an extension to the 30th of june, the house had confirmed that. if i had asked for an extension for the 30th of june and the european council had come back with an extension to the 30th of june, the implication of your question is i should've said, "no, sorry. i know we asked for that but we don't want it any longer." i don't think that's quite how one behaves in international... is it your position that you would want to get the withdrawal agreement through and get that done as soon as possible and not wait until the slst of october but to do it much sooner than that? absolutely, definitely. that is why the element of fungibility or terminability, whichever term you wish to use, of the date is very important to me,
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ie that as soon as we've ratified the withdrawal agreement, the agreement is as soon as we've ratified the withdrawal agreement, then we leave at the end of the month in which the deal is ratified. do you have a date in mind that you're able to share with the committee you are targeting for another go? after the challenge i received earlier in relation to dates i have given in the past and given the approach that the house has taken so far, i'm reluctant to put an actual date on it except to say that i want to do this as soon as possible. theresa may. a former labour mp has been stripped of her commons seat after more than 27% of registered voters in her peterborough constituency signed a recall petition demanding her removal. fiona onasanya, who was a lawyer before being elected and was jailed for perverting the course of justice. she's the first mp to be removed by the recall process, introduced in 2015. the speaker made an annoucement to the house. the recall petition process for the constituency of peterborough established under the recall of mps
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act 2015 closed today at 5pm as more than 10% of those eligible to sign the petition have done so. i advise the house that the petition was successful. fiona onasanya is no longer the member for peterborough and the seat is accordingly vacant. she can therefore no longer participate in any parliamentary proceedings as a member of parliament. a writ setting in train a by—election for the seat is expected to be moved on thursday morning. you're watching wednesday in parliament with me, alicia mccarthy. don't forget on friday nights, you can catch our round up of the week in parliament, which you can also find via the bbc iplayer. the commons has declared an "environment and climate emergency". mps supported a labour motion
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which also called on the uk government to commit to achieving net zero emissions before the year 2050. recent protests against climate change and the extinction of species have hit the headlines. jeremy corbyn paid tribute to the many young people and others who've taken part. we are witnessing an unprecedented upsurge of climate activism with groups like extinction rebellion forcing the politicians in this building to listen. for all the dismissive and defensive column inches, the processes have provoked, they are a massive, and i believe, very necessary wake—up call. today, we have the opportunity to say, "we hear you." would he agree with the young people who are outside this building that it would be easier and better to tackle climate change as if we remained full members of the european union? we are not here to debate the eu or brexit, for which everyone
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will be very pleased. but i would say that under any proposal, from my party, we would import into the uk all the environmental regulations the eu have adopted, most of which are very good and progressive, often do not go far enough. to beat climate change in this country, and around the world, we have to green our pension funds, green our banks, green our stock exchanges, de—carbonise capitalism, drive trillions of dollars into the green and clean energy investments that we need. on this side of the house, we recognise the situation we face is an emergency. it is a crisis. it is a threat and all of us have to unite to meet. and actually, the first person to make it clear, the first british politician, the first world politician to make it clear that climate change was an emergency was margaret thatcher. the green mp accused him of using "honeyed words".
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we need action, notjust words. greta thunberg last week was talking about the emergency and saying we needed to see action as a result. will he demonstrate his new—found conversion to this emergency by agreeing that the expansion of heathrow airport is quite simply incompatible with our climate change commitments? if it goes ahead by 2050, aviation, if it is given a blank check, it could be using up two fifths of our total carbon budgets. michael gove didn't answer that directly, the debate got more and more heated. let's not try to say that any one party in this house has a monopoly of virtue. let's try to ensure that we have a civilized debate that combines a sense of urgency about the challenge in front of us, and at a time a nation to take action in the future. order!
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really, it is like a primary school class. i'm sorry. i mean no insult to primary school children. mps quietened down but the accusations continued. can i just say about bloody time? grave warnings from the ipcc have been ignored by too many governments and parliamentarians forfar too long. greenwashing and tinkering have been the order of the day. we had prime ministers saying they would run the greenest government in history, saying vote blue, get green. we've had government ministers jetting around the globe to summits on how to address climate change. the former labour leader and before that climate change secretary expressed a regret. the truth is i feel a sense of guilt. i feel a sense of guilt i myself have not done more on this issue. and i didn't do more when i was leader of my party. i talked about the issue but i didn't do more. it is notjust brexit the reason why this issue hasn't been more
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pressing, or rather it goes in peaks and troughs. and i think the reason for it is that this is the ultimate challenge. because the decisions we make now will have impacts in generations' time, but less so today. and the electoral cycle, if we respond to our voters, is five years or less, not 20, 30, 40 years. ed miliband adding his voice to the call for action on the "climate emergency". now let's go back to those ferry contracts we mentioned at the top of the programme. labour has demanded an apology from the government for the cost to the taxpayer of cancelling them. they were booked as part of no—deal brexit preparations. the transport secretary chris grayling has been criticised for his handling of the contingency plans. but the transport minister said she'd have made the same decisions. in light of the article 50 extension, the fairy contracts with britney and dfds have
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now been terminated. the national audit office estimate the total termination cost of £56 million, and i'm pleased to be able to tell the house that the number for termination is £1118 million. furthermore, the total amount for termination fees and running cost is a little over £50 million. these contracts were an important insurance policy to ensure the continued movement of medicines and other essential goods. the government always talks about getting value for money. in this case, we had a lot of money, but no value to the taxpayer. will the noble lady, the minister, now apologise for the unnecessary expense that has been incurred and for the failures of the government and the secretary of state in particular? i would like to focus on the first of those questions and that is what exactly was the benefit to the taxpayer. the benefit to the taxpayer was that the taxpayer had an insurance policy. and like many organisations, the government is also able to take
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out insurance policies and these contracts were precisely that. lady randerson had a dig at the transport secretary chris grayling. every time i think the secretary of state of has extracted the last vestige of farce these ferry contracts, he seems to plunge the depths. i want to take up the point about pno, can the noble lady, the minister, explain to us if the government is facing court action from pno, and at what stage any action is at in that case, and the government claims to have paid £800,000 for legal advice on which these contracts are based. that is a large sum to pay for daft advice indeed. if that advice that was given was followed. what i know now for my short time in the department,
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had i been the secretary of state, i would've made the same decisions. these are very important contracts and i think the other thing to be aware of is that these contracts had to be as flexible as possible. and many will say, oh but they are not flexible. but this is all dependent on the maritime market. the maritime market is not the same as other markets. it operates in periods of weeks, and in months, rather than hours and days. so she said the government believed that the legal advice was appropriate. back in the commons, many mps were away from westminster campaigning ahead of the local elections and so it was a more subdued pmqs than usual. jeremy corbyn highlighted social injustice and social mobility claiming things were going backwards with life expectancy falling for the first time since 19115. life expectancy has fallen by six months. infant mortality is rising and up. this month, we have also learned
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that a record 1.6 million food parcels were given out last year alone. under this government, things are getting worse. does the prime minister agree with her secretary of state, that it is the policies of this government that has meant in one of the richest countries on this earth, food banks are now handing out 1a million meals a year to people, some of whom are in work, who simply haven't got enough to eat? the best route out of poverty for people... labour mps shouted "oh, no", anticipating theresa may's answer. the speaker intervened. the best route out of poverty is to be in the workplace, we want to ensure that we are seeing more, better paid jobs being created for the people in this country. and that is what we are seeing under this government. we have seen record numbers of people in employment.
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we see real wages rising for the first time in a decade. and we see this government is taking decisions that are helping people to keep more money in their pockets. the snp westminster leader raised suggestions that after brexit, eu students could be charged more to study at english universities. they currently pay the same as those from the uk. scotland's first minister has a pledge to match three eu student fees through 2021. will the prime minister follow this example, or is she determined to build a bigger, hostile environment? we have made clear about the position for eu students. and this year we will make the announcements in good time for students for future years. but i think i am right in saying that what the scottish government has done is said that eu students can have free tuition up to 2024, but english students
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will have to pay. the liberal democrat leader turned to current concerns about climate change. the department expects that the warnings about the climate emergency require a fresh approach to highly polluting and rapidly growing sectors like aviation and in particular, it should not the control of carbon emissions and air quality take precedence over the expansion ambitions of the commercial owners of heathrow? of course, we take these issues around emissions and climate change generally incredibly seriously. we have consistently said that climate change is one of the greatest challenges that the wellhead is facing. that is why i'm proud of the wreck at this government has in dealing with climate change. in saying that we have since 2010 been decarbonising
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our economy faster than other other g20 economy, we are at the leading edge of patients with dealing with these issues and we will continue to do so. the government has had to step in to prevent british steel being fined more than a billion pounds by the european union over the firm's emissions of carbon dioxide. the company had faced falling foul of eu pollution rules, so ministers have lent it £120 million on commercial terms to ensure it meets its obligations. the business secretary told mps that the move had become necessary after the eu suspended the uk's access to free carbon allowances until a brexit deal is agreed. british steel, as many members know, employs 4,200 people directly in the uk. and thousands more in associated supply chains. he said the threatened fine would have put the firm under significant financial strain. the government was left with a choice. either see british steel be unable to comply with the legally binding obligations, creating a liability of over £600 million. or consider if there was a path to allow them to comply
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within the strict bounds of what is possible under domestic and european law. after careful consideration, the government took the decision to enter into a short—term bridge facility valued at around £120 million. in return, under a deed of forfeiture, ownership of the company's 2019 allowances will now be transferred to government once they are released. through to subsequent sale of these allowances, we expect the taxpayer to be repaid in full. british steel workers and those in the supply chain will be breathing a sigh of relief at this loan. however, it is with regrettable that the government's handling of the brexit negotiations have brought us to this point. uk steel, the body representing the sector, warned injanuary that a no—deal brexit was nothing short of a disaster for the sector, but despite that, the prime minister ploughed on in the risk and viability of our manufacturing sector have been plain to see. this house had an impact on british industry as they continue
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to fight off uncertainty. she is right that if we had a brexit deal that would have been agreed, this would have not been necessary. i welcome the constructive discussions that the honourable lady and i have been having to now come to an agreement but it is the case that if members opposite voted following the advice of the company itself, this would not have been necessary. it is not our fault. it is a lack of leadership from the government. two years the prime minister telling us no deal was much better then a bad deal, and then all of a sudden, it is my deal or no way at all. and the thing is, that was a withdrawal agreement that suffered a historic defeat. so surely the government should take heed to that, instead of coming back time and time again and blaming this house for the brexit mess. i am very much agree with the steps that my honourable friend is taking but is he essentially saying
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that this whole situation has arisen because the united kingdom and specifically our steel industry is being punished by the european union, despite the fact that we still remain a member? this situation could've been avoided had the company not sold surplus allowances from previous years and therefore, this situation is a result of management failure by the private equity firm which owns british steel, which the public have now been expected to pay for. it is a fairly standard, common way to proceed. but it is perhaps something that might well command the attention of this house as to whether it is the best way to proceed. and that's it from me for now, but dojoin me on bbc parliament at the same time tomorrow for another round up of the day here at westminster. but for now from me, alicia mccarthy, goodbye.
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hello. we are now over halfway through the working week, for many there is a bank holiday weekend to look forward to. the weather managed to behave itself but more on that in just a moment. yesterday we saw some showers across the uk, if anything, today the showers, more widespread. and some of them are likely to be fairly heavy affairs as well. it all starts off fairly quietly, there will be a few showers across eastern england first thing, some feeding into wales and the north—west of england. but as the morning wears on, and the sun starts to warm up the atmosphere little bit, we will see some towers of cloud building and then the chance of thunderstorms increases come the afternoon. we could see a shower just about anywhere, really, on thursday. not all places will see them, but if you are caught in the showers, chances are they are going to be quite punchy. the greatest risk of thunder, i think probably across the midlands and northern england. the rain you see across scotland is slightly different, there is more cloud here, this is actually a weather front. and this is quite a big marker
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for the change in our weather as we end the week and get into the weekend. the showers will clear overnight, thursday into friday, ahead of this front sliding south. not bringing much in the way of rain but the blue triangles give you the clue, it's a cold front coming in behind it, much colder air on friday. the showers coming in on the northerly wind into scotland. wintry across higher ground, that wind will feel bitter as it strengthens down the north sea coast. ahead of the front to the south, not too bad, some sunny spells, there could be the odd shower, but a high of 15 degrees. to the north, factor in the wind and that seven in aberdeen, probably will feel more like freezing. what a difference after temperatures in northern scotland were 20 degrees earlier this week. the cold air will dig its way all the way south across the uk through the remainder of friday into saturday. it will stay with us through the bank holiday weekend. that nagging northerly wind could feed in a few showers to eastern reaches of the uk, but on a positive note
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there will be a lot of fine weather around. away from the east coast, a frost possible first thing on saturday, if you are a gardener or a grower, beware. i've certainly got some of my young plants out at the moment, time to dig out the fleece. for saturday daytime we should see some decent sunshine, but temperatures never really recover. bit more cloud around on sunday, monday the wind should ease and that could make quite a big difference. after a couple of pretty chilly days, saturday and sunday, monday you may find things starting to feel closer to average temperatures for the time of year, shall we say.
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welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: clashes in the venezuelan capital, as protesters attack armoured vehicles and police use rubber bullets and tear gas. our reporter is in the thick of it. both sides have called for a mass mobilisation, as a way of trying to influence the military, and these protesters are targeting an airbase right in the heart of caracas. the us attorney general is grilled by a senate committee on the mueller report, but refuses to testify to the lower house. the british prime minister sacks her defence secretary, accusing him of leaking security concerns about huawei to the press. double olympian caster semenya loses her case against athletics‘ governing body.

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