our top story: the british prime minister, borisjohnson, has said he would rather be dead in a ditch than have to ask for a further delay to brexit. mrjohnson repeated his determination to exit the european union at the end of october, despite parliamentary moves to prevent the uk leaving without a formal agreement. a relief operation is underway in the bahamas after it was battered by hurricane dorian. heavy rains are now battering the coasts of south and north carolina as the storm moves along the eastern coast of the united states. and this video is trending on bbc.com. a court in france has given this noisy cockerel named maurice leave to continue crowing. a couple had brought a lawsuit complaining he was spoiling their peace. over 100,000 people signed a petition defending the bird. that's all, stay with bbc world news. now on bbc news, it's hardtalk.
stephen sackur interviews lord falconer. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. british politics is in full—on meltdown mode. prime minister borisjohnson has lost a series of key votes on brexit, and he's lost his parliamentary majority. he is now seeking a general election in mid—october to let british voters decide whether brexit should happen, come what may, at the end of next month. but will the labour 0pposition agree to a snap poll? well, my guest is former labour cabinet minister lord falconer. is labour in any fit state to win an election, amid britain's brexit chaos?
lord falconer, welcome to hardtalk. thank you. prime minister boris johnson right now is intent on ending the protracted brexit turmoil, crisis, call it what you will, in westminster. and your party, the labour party, appears to be intent on drawing out, prolonging, that crisis. why? well, i think the conflict between boris, the prime minister, and jeremy, the leader of the opposition, is that before there is any election, the labour party is keen to secure that they cannot be a crashing out of the european union with no deal. hence the need not just european union with no deal. hence the need notjust for this deal that
is currently going through parliament, that requires the prime minister to ask for an extension, but that parliament should stay in place to ensure he actually sends the letter. and then, and only then, should there be an election. because otherwise, borisjohnson, the prime minister, will have achieved what he set out to do, which is, having got us set out to do, which is, having got us out of the european union with no deal, and the public having no say ina deal, and the public having no say in a general election on that issue. well that, as you know, is not boris johnson's intent. his declared intent is to negotiate a new and better agreement with the european union, and the one thing he says he needs more than all else to get that better deal is to have the leverage of telling europe that if they won't doa of telling europe that if they won't do a deal with him in prison is prepared, if necessary, to leave without a deal. and labour is, i come back to it, intent on undermining that negotiating strategy. labour is not intent on
undermining that strategy. the first thing you would need for that to be true, what the prime minister is saying, is that he has something to negotiate about. what offer is he making to the european union? because presumably any negotiating strategy must involve putting something to the european union in place of the backstop. and although borisjohnson place of the backstop. and although boris johnson says place of the backstop. and although borisjohnson says things are going well in these negotiations, every european capital and brussels, where the european commission is based, says we have heard nothing from david frost, who is his main negotiator. well, with respect, as they would, because this is a negotiation. both sides are seeking to maximise their own interest, so they are hardly going to start talking warm and friendly before the ci’ux talking warm and friendly before the crux of the negotiation has been entered. but surely, in any negotiation, you would set out what your position is. and so far, even though he agreed with mrs merkel that they would be 30 days, and even though half of that period has gone,
he still hasn't said what is his negotiating position. my experience of doing negotiations with the european union, which i did when i was a justice minister, involved you setting out are position. you might well make optimises, but you do have to set out a position, and he's just not doing that. and therefore i'm very — personally, very unconvinced that he has got a negotiating position. well, as you can imagine, we have tested that proposition, not least just a couple we have tested that proposition, not leastjust a couple of days ago, with a senior conservative who is still very loyal with boris johnson. i. still very loyal with boris johnson. i, here with you, must test labour and the strategy being pursued by jeremy corbyn. of course. because if labour gets its way, manages to thwart, absolutely thought, the idea ofa no thwart, absolutely thought, the idea of a no deal brexit happening on 31 0ctober, of a no deal brexit happening on 31 october, the inevitable question for you and your senior labour collea g u es you and your senior labour colleagues is, what on earth are you going to do with another extension, it seems until 31 january? you have these new three months, but you
don't appear to have any new idea of how to resolve britain's brexit crisis. if there is an extension until the end of january, crisis. if there is an extension until the end ofjanuary, and the position will be there will also almost certainly be a general election between the end of october and the beginning of the end of january. after the new government is selected, and it may well be a labour government, then what the labour government, then what the labour government, then what the labour government would do is see what terms were on offer from the european union, and see what terms could be negotiated, and then let the public decide, in the light of those terms, do they want to leave the european union in accordance with the first referendum, or do they want to remain, now knowing what the terms are? well, there are several issues with that. first of all, we know what the european union's offer is, because a deal was done with theresa may, and as far as we can see, the european union... it was a very complicated deal to do. the european union is convinced that at its core that deal is the only deal. that being the phrase used by barnier. know, that is not what mr
barnier. know, that is not what mr barnier is saying. mr barnier has said specifically that if the redlines were changed, then the deal could change. so for example, if the position where that we were willing to stay in the customs union, or if for example we were willing to stay in the single market or some modified form of the single market, then the position would be that that would change for example the need for the backstop stop so the redlines changing, and we would have a different position. we would be much keener on a softer deal than mrs may was, or borisjohnson appears to be, if he is in truth waiting for any deal at all. this can get complicated. you have just referred to the backstop, which for all of our viewers and listeners around the world, we must remind them is the proposition that whatever happens, we have to maintain an open border between the republic of ireland inside the eu, northern ireland, which if we brexited, would be part of the
united kingdom. very well put. thank you very much. but it goes beyond process. the labour position appears to me to have a fundamental weakness, illogic allergy, at the centre of it. you, according to keir starmer, you're brexit secretary, a party clearly committed to remain. he wants a second referendum and he saysin he wants a second referendum and he says in that referendum labour will argue to remain inside the european union. so you are telling me a labour government, if they were to win an election, would send negotiators to brussels, to a new deal with the european union, and would then advise the british public ina would then advise the british public in a referendum vote to ignore the new deal and vote to remain inside the eu. that position, if i may say so, it makes no sense whatsoever.m exactly the position taken by the government, when there was the first referendum. not the 13 years ago, but the one in the mid—i9 70s, where the labour government renegotiated with the european union as to what the position was. they then said to
the position was. they then said to the public, it's for you to decide, the public, it's for you to decide, the government will take a neutral stance. it is perfectly reasonable... to go back to the 19705... reasonable... to go back to the 1970s... well, reasonable... to go back to the 19705. .. well, i reasonable... to go back to the 1970s... well, i am not suggesting we go back to the 1970s. well, you are struggling to find a justification. i am not. why would anybody in brussels or indeed in the united kingdom, take seriously a negotiation conducted by people who are committed to actually ignoring their own negotiated deal and telling the public to do something entirely different? now, you've rather subtly changed what the policy is. the policy is find out what the deal is, then leave it to individual members of the labour party as to how they want to campaign in this. it would then be for the public to decide. and there's to that. well, if i may, we get to a disagreement here inside the labour party. i wonder which side of the fence you are on. keir starmer, i have referred to him, shadow director terry —— secretary, quite clearly said any outcome to a
negotiated deal must be the subject toa negotiated deal must be the subject to a referendum. and in that referendum, we in labour would campaignfor referendum, we in labour would campaign for remain. he said it is not an issue. whatever the deal is, we in labour will campaign for remain. we are a remain party. jeremy corbyn, on the other hand, just a couple of days ago said this. he said listen. if the deal is on the table in a new referendum is a no deal against remain, we will argue for remain, but if there is another deal on offer, then the pa rty‘s another deal on offer, then the party's democratic processes will decide what to do. so what is it? is labour fully decide what to do. so what is it? is labourfully remain decide what to do. so what is it? is labour fully remain or isn't it? there are differences between those two positions, as you have rightly identified, and i don't know precisely which position labour will adopt in relation to the manifesto. so labour is still, after more than three years, all of this torture, labour doesn't know what to do. you exaggerate and overstate the position. what they are saying is, we will negotiate the best deal that we will negotiate the best deal that we can, and then in some way or another, the public will get an opportunity... for myself,
personally, i would opportunity... for myself, personally, iwould be opportunity... for myself, personally, i would be much happier if what we did as a party is negotiate the best deal that we could, which i think would be a much softer deal and much closer to the european union, and then we didn't have a referendum at all. but you are asking about labour policy. have a referendum at all. but you are asking about labour policylj am, andi are asking about labour policylj am, and i think you're being very frank about the degree of confusion in labour today. we arejust frank about the degree of confusion in labour today. we are just weeks away, you agree with me, weeks away from a general election. yes. whether it is this side of 31 0ctober whether it is this side of 31 october or the other side, is very, very imminent also yes. and you are saying to me that the leader of your party and his key spokesman on brexit are completely at odds about whether labour is actually a remain party. you have used the word completely. what i am saying is there are differences that need to be resolved, but the ultimate and crucial element of this are there will be a negotiation, we will see what deal that we can get, and the labour party, one way or another, is then committed to giving the public some opportunity... and boris johnson is going to be your opponent
in that election. he is going to have a very clear message. he will say this is about the people versus a useless, prevaricating parliament that has let you down for three yea rs. that has let you down for three years. iam that has let you down for three years. i am a tribune of the people on this matter. the people voted for brexit and brexit is what i will deliver. and you think labour's confused message can compete with that. well, that is exactly- you have described exactly what boris is going to do. how has he managed to get to that position? by basically evicting from his party 21 members of parliament who were tories. you can of parliament who were tories. you ca n always of parliament who were tories. you can always get to clarity by basically evicting, sacking and removing everyone who disagrees with you. my experience of politics, and the way that british politics has worked successfully previously, is that compromises have to be made within political parties, which means that you are able... when you do things, you do it by taking into account a lot of people's views. now, boris has... you are exactly
right, he has the benefit of being able to say it is my view and my view alone, and all of my enemies within my party have been removed. well, let us not suggest for one moment labour has any sort of unity on this issue. you've lost more than half a dozen mps already who went off to form an independent grouping. their choice, their choice. you've got many other mps, substantially more, who said in constituencies, many of them in the midlands and the north of the united which were predominantly leave voting constituencies, and i'm thinking of people — idsa politicalfriends of yours, like caroline flint, who are absolutely adamant that if labour does insist in the next few weeks on portraying itself as a remain party, they will not only lose a host of important seeds in the north and the midlands, but they will in essence call into question the very future of the labour party. i don't think that's right in relation to the brexit issue. i think obviously people like caroline flint, who is a member of parliament for don valley, which is near doncaster in
england... one of a host of mps who have leave voters as a majority. and they have held onto their seats, even though labour is much, much more a party close to the european union, and not leave party, and they held onto their seats in 2017. to be honest, two years on, the story may well be very different. may well be very different, but indicates, and caroline flint is a very good example, she got 50% of the vote in 2017. why did you get over 50% of the vote in 2017? because don valley near doncaster will not vote tory. let us perhaps get away from the detail of british politics today and lift our eyes to a wider horizon. there was, like it or not, a referendum in 2016. 52% of the british people voted to leave the european union. we still have not left the european union, and we have seen more left the european union, and we have seen more than three years of frankly sometimes embarrassing, maybe even at times humiliating
argument and divisiveness at the heart of british politics in westminster. what do you think the public of this country now make of our national politics? i think many of them are surprised by how poor the last three years of peers to have been in terms of performance by politicians. 0n peers to have been in terms of performance by politicians. on all sides, yes. ithink performance by politicians. on all sides, yes. i think they are extremely disappointed about what has happened. as you say, this country has happened. as you say, this cou ntry voted has happened. as you say, this country voted by a short margin to leave the european union. i was against it but if we had done it well as a troop of politicians, then well as a troop of politicians, then we could have stood tall in the world. as it is we have become a symbol of both domestically and internationally of written losing or losing its grip as a country that is well governed with sophisticated and effective governance machinery. what
we now have is a political system dominated by two parties which i think it is fair to say have moved to the extremes on the brexit issue but perhaps other issues as well. jeremy corbyn is a self avowed socialist and whose associates ten seem socialist and whose associates ten seem to be from the hard left. the tories are now led by borisjohnson who has removed at least 21 mps of the more moderate persuasion. soft brexit persuasion, from his party. and there is a feeling, that there isa and there is a feeling, that there is a space in the centre ground of british politics which is currently wide open and perhaps people such as yourself, moderates within the labour party, or to move into that space didn't many colleagues already are you tempted ? space didn't many colleagues already are you tempted? not at all. way that our politics has worked in the way that i hope it will continue to
work is that labour is the great coalition, the coalition of a range of differing views but all of them on the left. if we want to make serious change in this country than the labour party is the machine to do it. tony blair has serious doubts. he says he has a lot of sympathy with those in labour who left to form an independent group, some of whom who have since gone to the liberal democrats. alastair campbell, he is now gone from labour. he was thrown out and says he does not want to go back because he does not want to go back because he cannot abide the current leadership. i dare say that you say you have more in common with people like alistair campbell than people like alistair campbell than people likejohn mcdonald, jeremy corbyn, len mccusker king and seamus milne. these are the hard left. do you really have anything in common with them? i have much in common with them? i have much in common with them in the sense that i am a member of the labour party. maybe membership of the labour party is meaningless? i don't think it is
meaningless? i don't think it is meaningless at all. you refer to the fa ct meaningless at all. you refer to the fact that many of my friends have left or been thrown out like alistair. he was thrown out, he did not want to go back. these are really great people who have left because they feel they cannot stand the labour party. that is not a choice that i am making because we're not in this for a year or two, we're not in this for a year or two, we need to stick with it over a long period. just to correct you, you said labour moved to the extremes on brexit. i don't think they have. i think the labour party remains trying to get a moderate solution to the brexit issue and a moderate solution and by that i mean something where an agreement can be reached. labour says the public then need to approve it. but we're still trying get a sensible deal which then involves close to europe.|j
trying get a sensible deal which then involves close to europe. i was not referring to brexit i was thinking primarily about current economic thinking and party policy but also of particular problems the party has faced that you have been intimately involved with. in my mind right now is the question of anti—semitism inside the party and the parties institutional failure to rooted out. that is an incredibly difficult and i believe an existential issue for the labour party. i refer to the fact that it may be that the institution of the labour party does not at the moment appear able effectively to deal with anti—semitism and i believe, and i mean by that that there are so many clear cases of anti—semitism by labour party members, the numbers may be disputed but there are significant numbers. people have spoken of over a thousand. at the current time i believe it is around 15 members of the party have been
expelled. so over a thousand allegations, serious allegations but only 15 members expelled. before we get into the detail of the few troubling cases, how could it be that anti—semitism, in the words of so that anti—semitism, in the words of so many jewish that anti—semitism, in the words of so manyjewish mps, let alonejewish members of the party, has become institutionalised and systemic in your party? because we as a party have failed to be absolutely unequivocal and clear that we will not tolerate any sign of anti—semitism. we appear to be lost in some legalistic morass which means that our disciplinary process is not sending out the message that we have to absolutely stamp on it. it is from the top down, right?|j believe that if a clear message came that we cut through the legalism and just get rid of those people who are
guilty of anti—semitism within the party, life would be much easier on that front. when i talk about the top down i am mindful that margaret hodge, again not with us not that long ago, she personally accuses jeremy corbyn of being anti—semitic and she says there is now a square in the party that permits a pernicious form of racism, that is anti—semitism. do you agree?” pernicious form of racism, that is anti-semitism. do you agree? i don't agree from my dealings withjeremy corbyn that he is anti—semitic. my dealings with him make me believe that he is very, very anti— anti—semitism. that he is very, very anti— anti-semitism. but here is your problem. you know that an election is coming. you said in the recent past that we could not win a general election and nor would we deserve to u nless we election and nor would we deserve to unless we are seen to election and nor would we deserve to unless we are seen to be tackling the scourge of anti—semitism. 0ne case to put before you which you followed closely, that of the national executive committee member pete wills and, a self—styled
protector of corbyn. videotape emerged a few months back of mr willman talking about the allegations of anti—semitism in the party saying that one of the things about anti—semitism that they are using, they use it to whip up people and i'll tell you what, he said, this is off the record, but it is almost certain the people behind these allegations towards jeremy, almost certainly it was the israeli embassy. and pete wills and has been suspended and after all of these has not been expelled. and he is an incredibly good example of why we have got a problem with anti—semitism. i think i said previously there is absolutely no reason why that should not be dealt with within14 days because, as you say, there is a tape so there is no dispute about what he said. if the tapers forged or fraudulent then he can say so. tapers forged or fraudulent then he can say so. and then a panel can decide whether it is anti—semitic or not. speaking for myself, if the
position was that a member of the ruling body of a party said complaints of anti—semitism were manufactured by the israeli embassy i would have thought, as a member, asa i would have thought, as a member, as a person of thejewish i would have thought, as a member, as a person of the jewish faith, i would have thought, as a member, as a person of thejewish faith, i would think that i would never get a fair trial there if somebody treats me in an anti—semitic way. fair trial there if somebody treats me in an anti-semitic way. you think you should have been expelled months ago? i find it difficult to imagine what his defence should be. but the point is that the machinery had not even kick into gear to have that decision made. and i am amazed by that. and to come back to your sentence, we cannot win a general election and nor do we deserve to, u nless we election and nor do we deserve to, unless we tackle the scourge. how can labourgo into unless we tackle the scourge. how can labour go into an election with this in their midst western market isa this in their midst western market is a problem for us and it should be a real problem because i am not saying that we should not win but i think... but urs sensually saying we cannot win. —— but urs actual —— but
you're actually saying. if we cannot finish of anti—semitism is a problem in our party then how can we hold ourselves up as in our party then how can we hold ourselves up as a in our party then how can we hold ourselves up as a party of moral fibre? and yet, you say you still are determined to stay in this party? i am determined to stay in the party because i believe a properly running labour party is the best engine, indeed probably the only engine, for change in this country. and you want jeremy corbyn to be the next prime minister of the uk? i would rather him then boris johnson. and i make it clear, i do think the institution looks tainted by anti—semitism because we cannot deal with cases like pete weldment but i don't thinkjeremy personally is anti—semitic and i think he would bea is anti—semitic and i think he would be a better prime minister than borisjohnson. be a better prime minister than boris johnson. lord falconer, we have to end their but thank you very much for being on hardtalk.
hello there. this week has been very changeable up—and—down temperatures, one day sunny and the next day windy and wet. it looks like we are ending the week in fact on friday with wetter and windier weather for many but as a band of rain slip southwards we will see return to sunshine with our showers as well. it's courtesy of this next area of low pressure moving in. to the north of scotland where the isobars are closer together. windy conditions through friday and this band of rain first thing friday morning will be across more central areas, spreading slowly southwards and eastwards as the day wears on.
eventually becomes confined to southern counties of england, and behind that the skies brighten up. plenty of sunshine around but also blustery showers and some will be heavy in the north—west and it will feel cool once again with temperatures in the mid to high teens celsius. it stays breezy as we head on into friday evening. that weather front clears away from the south, skies clear and for many. a couple of showers across coastal areas otherwise sunny spells and with the cool air in place it will be a fairly chilly start to saturday. and temperatures in single figures for many, particularly out of town in the north. high pressure builds into weekend for both saturday and sunday it looks like we should be mainly dry thanks to this big ridge of high pressure. light winds as well but the air will be on the cool side. we start saturday off on a chilly note with plenty of sunshine around. still breezy and windy down the eastern coastal areas with feeding in a couple of showers otherwise for most, apart from an isolated shower, should be dry through the afternoon. sunny spells and temperatures in the low to mid teens in the north, 18—20 across the south.
high pressure still with us on into sunday. the weather front may bring a bit more cloud to the north—west corner of scotland but most places will be under the influence of this high but it will be a chilly start on sunday up and down the country. bright with plenty of sunshine around. it could bring thicker cloud and more of a breeze to the far north—west, most places shall see sunny spells. fairweather cloud during the day. again, temperatures after a chilly start reaching the mid— high teens celsius. as we head on into monday it looks like we have another weather system pushing in from the north—west. that will bring a band of rain and the wind will pick up once again so a messy picture for monday with outbreaks of rain, some of it heavy moving across scotland and then into england and wales. it brightens up behind the rain band again, blustery showers following on. cooler air as well, 1a — 16 degrees.