tv Dateline London BBC News May 22, 2022 11:30am-12:01pm BST
there is a change of government, there will be some changes in policy, particularly with regard to climate change and our engagement with the world. deadline day for the report into lockdown breaches in downing street — those named have until 5pm to respond ahead of its long awaited publication. the ukrainian government says it won't agree to a ceasefire with russia that involves giving up territory — in an apparent hardening of its position a city remembers — five years on from the manchester arena bomb that killed 22 people. now on bbc news, dateline london.
hello and welcome to the programme that brings together leading uk columnists, bbc specialists, and the foreign correspondents who write, blog and broadcast to audiences back home from the dateline london. it's been a week either of sequels — or of re—runs. in the uk, we're waiting for sue gray — again — and her report on partying in government whilst the country was in covid lockdown. borisjohnson and the european commission are wrestling over northern ireland post—brexit — again. covid surges and an authoritarian government in asia locks down — again — and polling made australia's politicians nervous about the outcome of this weekend's election — yes, you guessed it — again. in the studio are janet daley — american by birth, british by choice — whose weekly column appears in the sunday telegraph, the irishjournalist suzanne lynch, who writes for the politicos brussels playbook and newly returned
from filming in cambodia, the bbc�*s asia—pacific editor, celia hatton. welcome to all of you. thanks for coming in. let's begin with partygate. the fines are in and they're over, there won't be any more now. is borisjohnson�*s leadership secure, do you think? for the moment, yes, but that's heavily caveated. i don't agree with the people who say this is all about cake, why are we talking about cake when there's a war on and an energy crisis and all that. i don't think that's very convincing. there are people who will never, ever forget this incident because they had life—changing bereavement, people whose parents died without being able to visit them. grandparents who died before they saw newborn grandchildren. terrible, terrible things happened. those people will never forget. there's a wider sense in which there's a impression of shambolic irresponsibility in downing street. that's going to lie there quietly until it revives again. i think they are going to have to be
very careful to see to it that that impression ofjocularity and irresponsibility, of having laid down rules which were... i disliked most of those rules anyway, they were incomprehensible, contradictory, incoherent but a lot of people obeyed them. and they didn't, apparently. and it's notjust about the birthday incident either. there is talk, we know that borisjohnson and his wife held social gatherings at their apartment. the idea that the people that made those rules were cheerfully, perhaps in a jocular mood, disobeying them, that can easily come back to bite him again. could that be the big thing out of the sue gray report? not the parties and the names, warning people whose they have to respond before the end of this weekend or she's going to name them or give a reason why they should not be.
could it be that that's more damaging if this report paints a picture of a kind of dysfunctional number ten? a place where there was chaos, lack of organisation and ultimately a lack of leadership. it is showing up a lot of the characteristics that critics of borisjohnson have been saying about him for years. that's why i think it's politically difficult. i think some of the heat has been taken out of the situation. this is going on for so long, in a sense, voters have already banked the fact that this has happened. ultimately, the way the political wind seems to be blowing is that within his own party borisjohnson looks like he's going to survive this. there is not to be that push again soon. i think the timing of this has been very interesting and it's been very fortuitous for boris johnson, how this played out. we need to see this report is coming during next week. lots of speculation about who will be named, how damning will it be or will it be dull?
i think that might also have an impact on how this ultimately plays out. bear in mind that keir starmer has his own problems and he has made this perhaps a ratherfoolish unforced error of saying he will resign if he gets a fine. now he either gets a fine and he doesn't resign or he gets a fine and does resign or there's a suspicion that police holding back because they don't want to be in the invidious position of putting him out of hisjob by giving him a fine. it's not a very happy situation for him. no. the international resonance, ireland had its problem in lockdowns? it did. exactly, the public felt this and it's politically difficult territory for politicians in ireland. there is a controversy about politicians at a golf dinner and it led to a resignation of an eu commissioner. it's very politically difficult.
internationally, the story got a lot of legs but more back in february, march when it came on the scene. we had pictures on international media, old pictures of borisjohnson in unserious poses. it hasn't... are there many of those around? there are a few. they can be found. this was again feeding into a narrative, rightly or wrongly about borisjohnson. so far, there has not been a huge media interest over the last few weeks as this is dragging on but again with the report, let's see, it may come back onto the headlines. how's it played internationally in your region? is there an awareness of it? in some countries there's been comment on it. - chinese media have been playing a little bit more attention- to boris johnson and rules that have been broken. _ using that to point out, - we are enforcing our zero covid strategy, which has made a lot. of people miserable but at least
we are sticking with it. you not caught any government officials breaking those rules. . that's been politically useful. for some government officials. ican imagine. let's talk about brexit again. it's been a while since we talked about it, the protocol. here we go again. there is so much noise and drama attached to this. trade agreements are renegotiated all the time, there's nothing new about that. the problem comes when one side is being uncooperative about those negotiations and, of course, britain would say that that's what the eu is doing. the whole thing has been so theatrical right from the off all those visits from eu officials, ireland was virtually ignored by the eu until that point except to be bullied into reducing its corporation tax because it was uncompetitive with the rest of the eu. suddenly, leo varadkar was the great star. he must�*ve been thrilled.
and now we are in this position where we're having, sorry to be so partisan about this, but the remain camp in parliament thought they had found the magic bullet. this was the immovable object, the unsolvable problem for the eu, the business about the hard border in ireland. it's perfectly true that you cannot create a hard border in ireland across from the republic. in other words, you can't have customs checks between northern ireland and the republic. we are talking about a tiny proportion of trade. most of the trade ulster does is with the uk and not the republic. the whole thing has become so overblown and so theatrical. now we have nancy pelosi marching in with her own theatrics saying congress won't approve of a trade deal with the us. but she won't be running congress. no, it doesn't look like it at the moment. the democrats lose control of congress.
to be fair shelay is not in congress, using the us state department and he said on friday we want to see this issue resolved and we want to see temperature lowered and we don't want unilateral actions or, in other words, they don't want the british tearing up as they are threatening to do. they are threatening. the idea that anybody at this point in time, with the war going on in the ukraine and with dreadful cost of living emergency occurring all over the west, notjust here, the idea that anybody would tear up an agreement and provoke a trade war is insane. it could happen. it's like a prelude to the first world war. why is the british government doing that? it isn't. not yet. i am not saying it will not but at the moment it isn't. this is all noise. i'm in brussels, i was in washington for the last few years and the number one mistake some members of the british government make they think the us doesn't know anything about this. those figures in congress are
following it very much in detail. they know what's going on in terms of the northern ireland protocol. in terms of brussels, over the last few months, nobody in brussels wants to talk about brexit. they have moved on, ukraine, try to get their own coherent position on that. so the eu member states were happy to let the commission do the negotiations and then there was a truce before the northern ireland elections, now the last week this is completely changed. the eu commissioner, he briefed eu ambassadors on wednesday after the announcement by liz truss _ his announcement that the government will legislate unless it can get renegotiated? they didn't actually legislate yet. the big question is this buying time? exactly. officials are saying when it does get serious is when that bill is tabled and if and when it is passed, which could take months. there is a window of opportunity for more negotiation. customs are the main issue
and customs are the main issue for the unionist community. liz truss spoke about the european court ofjustice and vat and all these other bigger issues there's prosperity finish. if i think the two sides can keep it on the customs issue, is a strong possibility that they'll. .. it has been already resolved on medicines, they will be no checks on medicine. it's perfectly possible, and animals too. the importation of live animals. there's no reason why this can't be resolved, it's become a vanity issue. the other issue is the dup, the unionist party in northern ireland, are saying they won't go into power—sharing — that's a problem. i've heard people saying that the british government instead of trying to bring the dup along, have kind of riled it up as an issue and that they are taking their side. that's one way of seeing that. the other issue about customs, it's only a few sausages, people say no big deal, the problem is in the longer term
as britain, as years go on and britain diverges from eu standards and signs with trade deals with america or australia, then you can have completely different products. that's when they'll be in issue for the eu, that these will get them to northern ireland and then across the border. that raises concerns for other countries that trade with europe around the world to get nervous about this kind of talk of divergence because they worry about if we doing trade with the uk, what are the implications for us in securing a trade relationship with europe? absolutely. i think that is an ongoing issue. it's really — we're going to have to see how this unfolds. - as the uk starts to talk to more l countries and starts to try to hash out deals with more countries, of course it's going _ to be a big issue. i think the long—term, it is a conundrum, this border issue and the people have been telling me this week why they are particularly annoyed is because it's not like there's a new government in britain, it's who signed the deal. their view is that the prime
minister was cynical, he wanted to deal, wanted brexit done and knew that these problems are there and he just put his head in the sand. crosstalk. it wasn't so much a head in the sand. the alternative was a no deal leaving without a deal. that was the impossible choice that this kind of remainer eu alliance presented him with. so he took what he did regard as an unsatisfactory deal, hoping that it could be renegotiated afterwards and that may yet come to pass. theresa may had another proposal. which could have been... that was hopeless. there was another option but the people are saying we cannot sign an agreement if somebody says actually, in a few years we don't agree with this. who knows, maybe it will be third time lucky? let's talk about covid. it's back with a vengeance in north korea. absolutely. this is only one of two countries in the world that has no - vaccination programme. it's also the first country— in the world that closed its borders completely when china first
announced that it had had i a mysterious 'flu virus - spreading across the country. so it went through this course where it tried . to shut down almost all trade, shut its borders _ and then it relaxed. and a few weeks ago, _ it had what is now thought to be a super spreader event, - military parade, many people were not wearing masks. now we are seeing more - than 2 million cases of fever. what's heartbreaking _ is that we really don't know how many of those cases are covid, . how many are measles or typhoid, which is a massive problem in north korea right now. because there's simply not that many tests. i why did kim jong—un suddenly decide to announce after many— theoretical outbreaks, _ and outbreaks of covid in the past? all of which were denied. why now — why is he i announcing this now? and very publicly going i on television, attending emergency meetings every day. it's really thought that this - is going to be a massive crisis. this is a country where around 40% of the population -
is already undernourished. in theory, you know, back in 2019, we knew that the north koreans i were reusing syringes, - reusing medical equipment. reusing syringes?! exactly. they were apparently becoming rusty, they were used so often. _ and so, think about covid ripping through that kind of population — it really is quite scary. but they've had offers from china and south korea of help and they're saying no, so what are people being advised to do at the moment? well, actually, we think- now that they have accepted some help from china. ah, right. i we know of three flights that have i gone between china and north korea just in the past couple of days, taking medical supplies over. i but that's just three - planeloads for a country of around 25 million people. so, what does kim jong—un do? does he allow ngos back into the country, allow. aid on a massive basis, _ allow vaccines to finally come in? or does he allow covid to rip through the country? - i think right now, he's trying to take kind - of a shaky middle ground. he's allowing china to get involved a little bit, -
which maybe is a little bit more politically palatable, _ he is deflecting blame and placing i a lot of blame on local officials i and sort of middle—level officials, and i think he'sjust waiting - and seeing and trying _ to prescribe traditional medicines. i there's also the possibility he'll i launch — he'll have another nuclear test while joe biden is in the region — i they say preparations i are completely ready — so, he'll try to deflect attention. but how long he can continue on thatj shaky middle ground before he really has to make a choice between opening the borders orjust_ letting covid rip through? and meanwhile... he doesn't have much time. and meanwhile, what advice have people been given? well, they are being told — _ i mean, we don't know exactly what's happening in the hinterlands — i but we know that they are being advised to gargle with salt water, for example, or they're _ being advised that traditional medicines are best — - but, frankly, that's - because north korea doesn't have a lot of other- alternatives at the moment.
what's going to happen— when they decide that they really do need to vaccinate the country? is it too late? probably. i and that's really what's difficult i is that kim jong—un has apparently repeatedly turned down offers from the who, the covax - programme to come in, - because they wanted to dictate exactly where the vaccines went, and the north koreans reallyjust didn't want that much intervention i inside their own country and so, i they really shut their borders - and then, it seems, probably relaxed a bit too much. janet, there was a big debate, wasn't there, early in the covid — the start of the pandemic about which forms of government will work best. and we've — you know, some saying, "well, actually, maybe authoritarian regimes would do a betterjob simply because they have control". but actually, as china has proved with its zero covid policy, it ain't necessarily so. no, i mean, you get lots of authoritarianism. the authoritarianism gets ramped up, but you — it doesn't necessarily work. it is extraordinary, that resurgence in china. quite extraordinary. and also, i mean, with
the authoritarian regimes, you have a lack of information. yes. like, as you pointed out, you don't actually know what's happening in these places and that's part of this problem. when you're not getting the full facts, it's very hard to gauge what's actually happening and how best to help people. it is extraordinary how democratically accountable governments, though, were able to — many of them — to bring in very, very successful vaccination programmes, like this country. it — that was quite startling. and it means that democratic societies on the whole seem to produce well—behaved people — people who have social responsibility and who behave as they should in those circumstances. and i suppose it's interesting looking as well at the french presidential result. a lot of people thought macron would suffer for his quite strong — the strong line taken, for example, over covid passports, saying "no, you can't go into a restaurant or a theatre, all the rest of it, without this" and yet, it didn't appear to be the case that people punished him. i think maybe the choices were not particularly... shaun laughs. and also — also the timing.
macron or a fascist, you know. also, the timing. i mean, again, he was quite lucky. by the time the election happened, we had kind of macron the statesman with the war in ukraine. even though people were critical of macron's kind of overtures or dialogue with putin, it seemed to play well in his own country. so i think the news agenda had moved on and that point and it benefited him. let's talk about another election that's happening this weekend — we don't know the result as we sit here — but apparently, half of the votes have already been cast because voting is compulsory in australia and a lot of people vote in all the ways — postal votes, apparently they've been allowed to vote by telephone if they have covid now, which is a new innovation that's come in. three years ago, celia, it was a tight race and everybody thought bill shorten�*s labor party was going to depose the liberal national coalition and scott morrison, he calls it "his miracle election". is he gonna — is he hoping for another miracle? oh, i think he is hoping for another miracle! - i mean, the pollsters — who knows? the pollsters were wrong before. it's unclear, as you said — l we're really not sure what's going to happen now. but i think what's fascinating |
is the debate in this election. — you would think that it might have turned more to climate change than it has. given everything that's happened over the last three years. exactly! we've seen epic forest fires in australia. - and, you know, some polls show that this is the number _ one issue for voters — that they really care i about climate change — - but both of the major leading parties don't seem to want to discuss it in any great —| or they haven't come up with a huge... - because presumably, labor think it got punished last time because it did those policies and they finished some, for example, the mining states in western australia. perhaps, perhaps. but, i mean, so, what's really interesting is the emergence i of the so—called 'teal independents' — you know, around 20 women- who are running as independents who are fiscally conservative - but really are running on very, - very strong climate change agendas and they have a huge amount of grass roots support, a huge amount- of financial backing and i think . it's really going to be interesting to see if they want to turn the tide in australian politics. _ yeah, i mean, the other issue i think is going to be really
interesting to watch is the kind of geopolitical aspect of what's happening, and scott morrison's handling on these challenges, particularly from china. and i think he's getting a lot of criticism — and his foreign minister as well — for taking their eye off the ball when it came to the solomon islands, obviously, china — there's now a pact between the solomon islands, which was... crosstalk. because they kind of snuck in. they snuck in, and even at the same time as australia did this famous aukus defence deal, if people remember last autumn, which which really annoyed the europeans. with the uk and the us. yes. really annoyed france. that was great! shaun and janet laugh. really annoyed france — it was the us, uk and australia. great. scott morrison looked liked the great global leader. and yet, in their own backyard, they took the eye off the ball and i think there are kind of questions now about leadership there in terms of the big geopolitical issues at a time where it's a very important issue for australia. one thing, though, it's really been interesting | to watch the chinese debate, i watching — watching — going — watching the australian election. so, we've heard some signals this week that j
china has been saying, - "you know, this might be a time for us to turn the chapter. "we might be able to — after the election..." . ideally with a new prime minister? "yeah, we're open to starting to..." you know, and i wonder whether this has something to do with the fact - that china and australia are such key trading partners. _ you know, the chinese economy is really hurting right now. - yeah. are they really starting to think, actually, you know, this- has gone a bit too far. presumably, all those covid lockdowns must have hit — as much as people in the west complain about supplies from china not getting through, the reality is at home, it must�*ve been really painful. absolutely. new economic figures out this week really showed, you know, _ retail sales way down, - exports way down, so it's really quite a shocking time - for the chinese economy, so maybe that'll affect. relations with australia. and the — sorry — the chinese social relations as well. i mean, the chinese are — the idea that it's a communist state in any sense that marx would recognise is absurd. i mean, they've positively encouraged the growth of a very wealthy, acquisitive bourgeoisie. what's going to happen if their economy tanks? just on that question of a possible
reset with australia. some criticism — unsurprisingly on the political right, but perhaps more broadly on people who worry about china — about the approach ofjacinda ardern in new zealand, that she's been a bit too reluctant to criticise china, a bit too cosy, perhaps, with beijing. presumably, beijing would quite like a relationship like that with an incoming anthony albanese government in australian labor, in canberra, but presumably for the australians, it's a bit more complicated. oh, i should think so, yes. i mean, australia is in this, geographically, this pivotal position. you know, they could easily pivot to the east, as they always say in america, like california. but they are basically british in their mentality and they're very, very strongly democratic. i mean, how can they possibly come to terms with a close relationship with a state — a totalitarian country? i mean, it could be done but it would be very uncomfortable politically and culturally. but i think that's what one of the big themes of
the last decade has been — a change towards china. as you say, in australia — look at america. before the ukraine war, joe biden's absolute foreign policy priority was china. he continued that after donald trump and said we need tough on china in terms of trade, etc. europe as well, you know — it was a bit too close to beijing, certainly washington felt that, biden administration did. and now, it's — there's divisions there but people are beginning to question that they put economic growth, economic possibilities ahead of concerns about human rights abuses, etc. so, you know, there has been, i think, a global western, if you like, shift towards china and it's gone from being, you know, an economic place of, you know, of opportunity to a being threat geopolitically in terms of human rights. i think it'sjust interesting i when we think about china — and, yes, i think australia's actually been criticised — i from the people that . i've been speaking to — ofjust going too far. they unilaterally came out and said, "look, we need an inquiry— into how covid really — - really came about in china". quite a confrontational approach. that really — quite - a confrontational approach.
when you contrast that with, i you know, maybe singapore's relationship with china — _ even japan's relationship with china is a little bit more nuanced in how they deliver their messages - and i think now that we're in a position where a lot l of countries are looking to china to think they actually, _ they have a pivotal role to play with russia and how russia, i you know, deals with ukraine and so, a lot of countries are thinking, - well, actually, maybe we really do need to kind of improve our- relationship with china in order to, you know use that - leverage with russia... and on climate change. on climate change, the idea that you need to work with — you hear people like john kerry saying that — like, "we need to work with china on this. "it's a global issue". crosstalk. good luck! actually, that's one of the issues where you hear again _ and again where actually, - you know, there are quite good relationships between americans and chinese scientists. _ there are quite good relationships when it comes to climate change. | in fact, that's usually the only issue that's pointed out - as being the thing that the two countries can agree on. -
some cause for optimism. janet daley, celia hatton, suzanne lynch, thank you all very much. thank you, too, very much for your company. we'll be back same time next weekend with more dateline london. goodbye. hello, sunshine on the way for many parts of the uk this afternoon, but for some it will be accompanied by a serving of showers. driest, brightest closest to this area of high pressure, so across southern and eastern most counties of england. low pressure to the northwest feeding in more in the way of cloud. the sun is going to have a pretty good go at breaking that cloud up in many areas, but it is likely to produce some showers i think across western wales and northern england into the afternoon and potentially some thunderstorms for southern scotland and northern ireland.
up to 23 degrees, though, in the sunshine towards the southeast. just 13 or 14 where we have a band of more persistent rain across northwestern scotland stretching up to the northern isles. and more rain to come out of that through the course of the night for northern—most scotland. elsewhere, we are looking at an essentially dry night and a mild night, with temperatures widely in double figures. for monday, it's a bit of a two—pronged attack in terms of our weather. we've got weather fronts trying to push down from the north and we've got an area of low pressure trying to push in from the south. the theme, really, for the week ahead is that it's going to be unsettled and it will also turn cooler. this area of low pressure could make for some pretty intense rain across eastern—most counties of england through monday and then fronts heading south i think will start to produce some showers that lump together into longer spells of rain, particularly for wales and the south west come monday afternoon. we are having some questions around exactly where this rain sits
across eastern england through monday and how heavy it is. so just keep that in the back of your mind through the course of the day. but cooler as you can see for everyone. temperatures no longer in the low 20s, mid—teens very typically. tuesday, low pressure to the east of the uk means i think many eastern areas will see some quite heavy showers. there'll be strong winds along the length of the north sea and some of this rain could also be fairly persistent before the low drifts away. towards the west, a very different story, actually. light winds, sunshine and a pretty pleasant and quiet day. but by midweek we've got an area of low pressure coming in from the atlantic and all areas that will turn it windy and bring a chance of showers just about anywhere. it does look like things will start to settle down, though, again towards the end of the week and we might see some warmth creeping back in by then, too.
this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. deadline day for the report into lockdown breaches in downing street. those named have until 5pm to respond ahead of its long—awaited publication. the education secretary defends the prime minister. i think the prime minister has always throughout this process allowed sue gray to conduct herself independently. the ukrainian government says it won't agree to a ceasefire with russia that involves giving up territory in an apparent hardening of its position. australia's prime minister—elect gets ready to take to the world stage, promising a new approach on climate change. there is a change of government, there will be some changes in policy, particularly with regard to climate change and our engagement with the world.