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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  January 31, 2020 12:30am-1:01am GMT

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the outbreak of coronavirus which began in china has been officially declared a global health emergency. latest figures released within the past hour suggest a big jump in the number of confirmed cases, to more than 9000. the death toll is 213. with less than 2a hours until britain officially leaves the european union, pro—eu protestors have gathered outside the houses of parliament in london. it's expected there'll be a pro—brexit rally in london on friday. and this video is trending on bbc.com. remember president trump promising what he described as a "big, impenetrable, beautiful" wall on america's southern border? well, high winds have blown over this section near the californian town of calexico. that's all. stay with bbc world news.
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now on bbc news, it's time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. britain is about to make history by leaving the european union. it's a historic fork in the road, for the uk and maybe europe too. many on both sides didn't think it would come to this, even after the brexit referendum of 2016, but it has. my guest here today in luxembourg is jean—claude juncker, president of the european commission through the brexit drama. what will brexit mean for britain and the european project? jean—claude juncker, welcome to hardtalk.
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yeah, hi, my pleasure. what will your emotions be, you think, on that moment brexit formally happens? january the 31st, midnight in europe. what will you be feeling? i'm sad since the 23rd ofjune, 2016, so there's no reason not to be sad when it comes to where it has to come. i don't think that's a good decision taken by the british people but it has to be respected. the british economy will suffer for this and the european economy also, but not in the same way. but i'm sad. it's an ahistoric decision. it is an historic decision... a historic decision — it is against history. we can discuss that idea
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but it is certainly an historic decision, because never before has a nation left the european club, and it happened on your watch. do you feel a sense of failure? yes and no. i don't think the explanation for the british ‘no‘ has to be found in europe because what we did, the mandate was more or less swimming in the direction of basic british requests — less bureaucracy and so on and so forth. i made one major mistake on the request of david cameron, i didn't intervene in the referendum in britain, because he thought it would be counter—productive. he told me the commission is even more unpopular in britain than elsewhere in europe, which is quite a performance, i have to say. i did abstain from commanding the different elements of the british...
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here we sit on the eve of brexit, a brexit which, in the end, was a deal done by borisjohnson with you and with the eu leadership. what is your personal take on boris johnson? did you find him easy to work with? he is a tough guy, but i like him as a person. he's very open, very frank. there was no theatre around the positions he has taken, both in his negotiations with the commission or in his talks with european council. i can't blame borisjohnson. did you find him easier to deal with than cameron and may? there's irony in that you strike a deal with him that was essentially opening the gateway to a hard brexit, but it sounds like you found him easier to negotiate with than cameron or may?
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with cameron, we made a good deal, allowing britain to stay. with theresa may, we try to find the terms of a deal allowing britain to leave and allowing the europeans to keep safe their main interests. with borisjohnson, we were approaching the end of a process, so we had to not make concessions but to take on board as many british ideas as possible, as we did with his two predecessors. but he was a fair negotiator. i didn't like him during the referendum campaign, but i liked him as a minister. you accused him of telling lies, as did many europeans. you know that it is true. that must have made it difficult when you walked into a room to you negotiate with a man you accused of being a liar? i said he was using some lies, i didn't say that he is a 100% liar. that is not his case. but having in mind all
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of the criticism which was launched on me from the british side, including ministers and sometimes prime ministers, this was an appropriate answer. but i like him as a person, i cannot lie. what do you think boris johnson's strategy? he has a choice, he can, until the end of 2020, seek to formalise a close economic relationship, trading relationship, with the european union, or he can have a more distant, disengaged relationship and work very hard to strike new trade agreements with the united states and other major trading partners far beyond europe. what is your sense of what his strategy is? i don't know if i have discovered all the elements and dimensions of the prime minister's strategy. we will have 11 months now to conclude new relations and we will see in the course of these negotiations
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where he is willing to move to. do you think he knows? i think that from time to time, he knows that at certain junctures he has to give in. he has to give in? you think whatever noises he makes about not accepting eu regulations, not accepting close alignment and this so—called ‘level playing field', you think he's going to back down? i think in the deals we have concluded with britain, it's made perfectly clear that britain has, as it's agreed to, to respect a certain number of rules of the internal market. they agreed not to change dramatically the environmental and social terms we have
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inside the european union. for the rest, in other domains, he's totally free, but he knows in order for it to work, independent of the rhetoric employed by these and those, britain was seen as a major player inside the european union. as i know from so many conversations i have had with non—european leaders, they know britain brexit will not have the same influence in europe and elsewhere than before. to be clear, you're saying britain is going to be significantly weaker after brexit, are you? i think both the european union and britain will be significantly weaker after brexit, but britain is a great big nation. the europeans, the continentals, will look to britain.
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history has not been forgotten. i want this relation with britain to be as close as possible when it comes to defence, when it comes to security, when it comes to the fight against terrorism. you are one of the most experienced politicians and negotiators in europe, it seems to me there are already signs the eu is determined to use whatever leverage it can to dominate the coming economic and trade negotiations. for example, we've already got a clear linkage for european leaders, including emmanuel macron and leo varadkar, between fishing and continued full european access to british fishing waters and, for example, opening up or keeping access for british financial services inside the european union. their calling it the fish forfinance deal. many in britain regard that as a form of eu blackmail.
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the blackmail works in two senses and two directions. i think it's up to the negotiators to work out what can be done in favour of britain and what can be kept alive as far as european rules and certain things are concerned. we will have negotiations, these will be very tough negotiations, but we knew this before. so don't be surprised that these negotiations will be tough. but when emmanuel macron says, "if there is not continued european access to british fishing, there's no chance of a comprehensive trade deal," are we to take him seriously? yes, because there is a huge concern in the french ports and other regions in europe, so this is the point...
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but the vast majority of eu nations are not even fishing states. yeah, but this doesn't take away the importance of fishing for france, for belgium, the netherlands, for denmark and for others. it seems there's a danger in talking tough this way, the eu is misreading the politics in the uk because the whole point of brexit is to take back control. if you listen to some of the british fishermen‘s leaders, as i've been doing in recent days, they are saying what they see from the eu is a cynical attempt to continue deeply unfair fishing practices which have disadvantaged british fishermen which they will no longer tolerate. yeah, but this was part of all the treaties and negotiations we had over the decades with britain. the fact the european union wants to stick to these arrangements is not a surprise. it comes as a surprise to some
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british, as we were surprised by the fact that some in britain in the government department were claiming britain should have free access to the financial services in europe. why? if you are not part of the customs union, if you are not part of the internal market, why do you claim that the city of london should have the same rights as other financial centres in europe? so we have to bring the temperature down in order... it doesn't seem to me this is bringing the temperature down at all, it seems to me over the next 11 months, the temperature is probably going to rise and rise dramatically. and in the end, borisjohnson has said, "if we do not get a deal done by december the 31st, 2020, then we're just going to end the negotiation," and one can only assume that means in terms of a trade deal, there will be no trade deal, it will go to those good old wto standards. is europe prepared to contemplate that? i was never in favour of going back to wto, that's an old machine, the wto.
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it was invented before the internet was invented. so i don't think the simple wto rules are sufficient to organise the trade relations between britain and the european countries. with respect, mrjunker, your successor as the president of the commission, ursula von der leyen, she says it's going to be very difficult, highly unlikely, that a deal will be done by the end of 2020. so what's going to happen? knowing the technical difficulties we're facing, i think she's right. it's not for sure we will be able, both the british and the european union, to conclude a full—fledged deal before the end of the deal and borisjohnson has the choice from now untiljune to either ask for a longer period or to try to assist in his wish to conclude a deal before the end of the year. if it is possible, it is fine,
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but if it is not possible, if we are left with unclear rules that people don't understand then it would be better to prolong. he has written into law that there will be no extension. do you think he's bluffing? no, i don't think so but if you are unilaterally are writing in a law that this must be done from now to that, what is that? a negotiation position, blackmail, what is that? what is that? you think his determination to end this process by december 2020 is a form of blackmail? no, because you are several times during our conversation saying that the european union is blackmailing here and blackmailing there and we are returning the sentence to your meditation. but blackmail is a word you would use about thisjohnson determination to... i am using this word because you were saying that the european union and the british, you are saying, the british do
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think the european union is blackmailing them. so... well, it comes back to what the eu wants as well. and what's in the eu's interest. the european union is not leaving britain. britain is leaving the european union. but the eu has choices to make too about how much hardball it's going to play. let me quote to you aand menon, he's the director of the think—tank in london, uk in a changing europe. he says, "look, let's all get real. "a continued economic partnership with the uk "is self—evidently positive and in the interest of the eu," so is the eu really going to be inflexible over the 11 months that follow over things like fishing rights? i think what you are quoting is right, it's in our interest to have normal, fair relations with britain. during the campaign for the elections of the european parliament back in 2014, one of my main programme points was to say, "we want the fair deal with britain." everything i did was to try
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to conclude the fair deal with britain. i was never inspired by punishing britain. very often in britain, it's said, including in the parliament debate i was following day after day, that the unit, that the european union wants to punish britain. that's not the case. we don't want to punish britain. we want have good relations. but it's a political failure that so many people believe you did want to punish britain. i fully accept that you are reflecting the british sentiment but you have to have a look into the european, the continental feelings too. we don't have hearts of stone, we have feelings and convictions too. they are as important as the british. and you mean by that, what, britain hurt your feelings? because sometimes, very often i have to say,
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ifound in the british press, in the parliamentary debates, in the academics sometimes a description of the european union which did not correspond to the reality. the european union and the commission, they are not monsters. we were always trying to accommodate britain as they were during so many decades. let's now think about where this leaves both britain and the eu in the medium—to—long term. i think it's clear that the european union is in deep trouble, trouble that goes far beyond brexit. would you agree with that? yes, because that was always the case. my first appearance in brussels goes back to december 1982. since then, the european union is said to be in crisis. the european union
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was always in crisis. you know the greek former finance minister, yanis varoufakis, he said brexit is just a symptom of the wider disintegration of the european union. but it's not a sign of integration, it's a sign of disclosure. during three years, i had to negotiate together with others on the end of a beautiful history. i went to brussels as president of the commission to be constructive but what i had to do when it comes to brexit was to prepare the end of something that is not very exciting, but it's clearly not a signal, a sign of integration, it's exactly the opposite. it is disintegration but hhis point is it'sjust the beginning of challenges which could lead to further disintegration. first of all, let's look at the failure, and this is a failure of france and germany, the most important member states, arguably, of the european union, to have a coherent position on the future political, fiscal integration of the union. will there be ever deeper
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closer union or not? i never understood. i was signing the maastricht treaty. there appears for the very first time, this expression of the "ever—closer union". i understood it as a commitment, not in technical terms, but in philosophical, abd political terms. as i said before, i'm not in favour of the european union becoming a state... if i may say so, you once said that you were very worried about the loss of what you call, quote, the collective european libido. you clearly wanted more europe. i wanted more action, yes. but you are not going to get it, and that's my point, that this may be that watershed moment and beyond the watershed is an eu that slowly drifts and falls apart.
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i don't think that the european union is on the way to fall apart. what i've noted after brexit was this determination of so many europeans to stand together. the approval of the european union as such went increasingly... 0h, mrjuncker, you can quote me all the polls you like. look at the reality, look at the reality of the politicians... i'm not a fan of opinion polls. look at the politicians in poland, in hungary. mr 0rban, for example, who says, "i am an illiberal democrat "and i will not allow brussels to dictate what i do." this is the reality, these are the successful politicians. look, it depends on the point of view. what i don't understand in our conversation and in all the explanations i'm asked to give, is that in fact it is not seen
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that the european union during the last years has changed. we have less regulations than we had before. we are taking less initiatives, intelligent and stupid ones, then were taken ever before. isn't the truth that the people rubbing their hands at brexit and what they see as the weakness of the eu today are people like donald trump, people like vladimir putin, those running rival powers who see the world in competitive terms, and delight in the fact that the eu looks weaker today. i have a long—standing relationship with vladimir putin and a good relationship with donald trump. i know that in their countries, they don't like the idea that the european union isn't as an important player as they are, which european union for the time being is not,
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but they don't want europeans to become as adult as they are, and other europeans, maybe apart from our british friends, they want to be equal players. not only players. they want to be players. you don't think britain alone will be a player? britain alone will be a player. i never thought that britain will disappear from the international landscape. britain is an old nation with so many traditions, with so many noble virtues that britain will not disappear but these virtues, these advantages britain was presenting again and again to the world can be more developed inside the european union than outside. and we will see. it's interesting you give me that thought because i want to end with this thought, that it is possible, who knows, but it's possible to imagine 10, 20, 30 years away, the british people and the british government may take a different view of europe.
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they might possibly consider wanting to rejoin. do you believe europe will be ready to listen? is it a possibility for the future, do you think? i don't know if this is a possibility. when britainjoined, britain was in favour of the european union — without it, they wouldn't have joined. now they have taken the opposite decision. it could easily be in 20 or 30 years from now they would reconsider their point of view. who knows how the international world will develop in the next coming decades but if britain, at somejuncture, would present itself or herself at the door of the european union, who would be the one who would keep this door closed? it's better for britain and the european unionn to have britain with us than beside us. you put it that way but to be frank,
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mrjuncker, do you think it's possible britain might seek to rejoin the european union and as you say, the door would be open? do you think it's possible within your lifetime? you are still in your mid—60s, you are not an old man. is it possible in your lifetime? it depends on my lifetime. but it would be great, it would reflect whatever i thought on the relations between britain and the european union, if britain one day were to rejoin the european union, but it's not up to me to the british people. they are... they don't like being lectured. maybe they feel they've had enough lectures from you. no, but maybe that europeans have the impression that we did listen too often to britain, but i don't think we listened too often britain, but i know in a majority of countries, britain has not improved its popularity after brexit. jean—claude juncker, thank you very much indeed...
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thank you. ..for being on hardtalk. thank you. hello there. thursday was a very windy day across the north of the uk into parts of scotland. it stays breezy through the course of today as well, even windy in some areas, but what you will notice is it's going to feel very mild. the reason for it, low pressure always nearby, this front will bring spells of rain which will spread south—east
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across the country. quite a few isobars on the chart, and we're drawing our air in from the south—west. this air source from the azores, as you can see, the oranges and yellows indicate it's going to feel very mild for the time of year. there will be quite a bit of around through the morning. that weather front i showed you, a band of rain spreading southwards and eastwards across england and wales through the day. behind it, skies will tend to brighten, so there will be some glimmers of sunshine and plenty of blustery showers across the north and west of scotland, heavy with spells of rain. some heavy and merging together to bring longer spells of rain. a blustery day wherever you are, these are average wind speeds, could gust to 40mph or maybe 50mph in some of the windiest spots. look at the temps, for the time of year, extremely mild. the mid—teens and celsius, we could be looking at 15 degrees in one or two spots in eastern england. it stays breezy as well, rather cloudy as we had through friday night.
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further outbreaks of rain or longer spells of rain across the north—west corner of the country. further south, a few drier interludes, one or two showers around and again, it should be a frost—free one with temperatures remaining in double figures across the south to start the weekend. low pressure again nearby on saturday, we'll have this weather front bringing rain to the north and this front bringing rain to the south. in between, a mixture of cloud, one or two showers but also bit of brightness. 0ne front across the south will allow outbreaks of showery rain to move across southern britain, tending to clear away from the south—east. further north, outbreaks of rain here, northern ireland, scotland, northern england, with some colder air beginning to push into the north, single figures, further south, a cooler day but still mild for the time of year — 10—13 degrees. on sunday we will see another blustery day, especially in the south, a weather front working its way northwards, taking its rain with it, turning to snow over high ground in the north as it encounters colder
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air but further south, another bright day with a few shower and once again those temperatures in double figures. as we head on into next week, looks like it turns colder. a cold snap for a while before it starts turn milder for the end of the week, with a return to stronger winds and outbreaks of rain.
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welcome to newsday on the bbc. i'm sharanjit leyl, in singapore. the headlines: the world health organisation declares a global health emergency as china's coronavirus spreads. at least 200 people have now died and there are cases in 18 other countries. the main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in china, but because of what is happening in other countries. the race is no on to develop a vaccine before the virus takes hold. we'll be at a laboratory in san diego, which is spearheading the research. i'm lewis vaughan jones, in london. also in the programme:

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