Monday 26 November 2018

"Erm, let's get the weather..."

Tonight's PM on Radio 4 featured a remarkable interview between Evan Davis and Lord Lilley. 

It's so remarkable that I thought I'd transcribe it for you - even though, because of all the 'speaking over', it wasn't always easy to hear what was being said.

(Ain't I the martyr?)

Evan's introduction immediately stopped me in my tracks.

I've not listened to PM since he took over (following Steady Eddie's departure), but maybe my monitoring focus should shift there and stay there.

When Evan said that the programme has attempted to get to the bottom of a key issue in the Brexit debate "by examining Brexiteer claims about trade and borders", the thought immediately arose, 'And what about 'Remainer claims? Have you examined those?'

And when Evan cited our old friend Anand Menon as "an expert...from King's College, London", my eyebrows took a distinctly 'Fiona Bruce' turn towards the universe beyond us. Peter Lilley was absolutely right to raise questions about Prof. Menon in response.  

The whole interview is a clash between two people who think they're right, as per their "experience".

One is a politician, the other a BBC presenter. And the BBC presenter's side is the one with the larger bully pulpit. 

So here's the transcript:

Evan Davis: Now, on two occasions in three weeks we've attempted on this programme to get to the bottom of a key issue in the Brexit debate by examining Brexiteer claims about trade and borders. Many Brexiteers think that the worries about border controls in Ireland, or between Dover and Calais, are overblown and that we can cleanly leave the EU, the Single Market and the Customs Union and still easily trade without too much fuss at the borders. Well, last week we used an expert called Anand Menon, from King's College, London, to critique the views on trade and borders of a Brexiteer, Lord Lilley - Peter Lilley - who'd been on the Today programme that morning. Professor Menon disagreed with a lot that Peter Lilley had said. Well, Lord Lilley felt that the Brexiteer case was stronger than implied, and he has joined us now to make that case. Cos I thought on the programme I thought we'd been pretty fair because we'd acknowledged...
Peter Lilley: (interrupting) Pretty fair?! (laughing) Grotesque! You didn't mention that the professor is not a Professor of Trade or Economics. He's Professor of European Politics. He has very strong views on Europe, to which he's entitled. He's a Remain campaigner effectively, but you didn't label him as such. You labelled me as a Brexiteer...
Evan Davis(interrupting) No, no, he's not a Remain campaigner. I'm sorry, he's an academic worker. He's an academic worker.
Peter LilleyHe's an academic worker! Come off it! Name me a single thing he's ever said in support of a Brexit. 
Evan Davis: Right. Can I just...the first point which I wanted to...
Peter Lilley(interrupting) Actually no, no. I think this whole business raises an important issue. I'm very flattered that the BBC thinks it needs to deploy four people to debunk my pamphlet: John Humphrys; then someone labelled 'a reality correspondent'...
Evan Davis(interrupting) Chris Morris, yeah, yeah. 
Peter Lilley: Presumably you're not 'an unreality correspondent'? What you're.. (indecipherable) you're detached from reality? This man is deemed to have a special grasp of reality which other people don't. Then you had you; and then you had this professor. Now, very kindly, you're having me back in. But four-to-one seems a little odd. And none of you mentioned a single myth, quoted a single myth, from my document, which is available at, for those who want actually to find out what I said.
Evan Davis: I really want to pin you down, because I didn't think you disagreed with Chris Morris. Most experts and businesses disagree with the way you've made your argument...
Peter Lilley(interrupting) That is simply untrue.
Evan Davis: That is untrue, is it? OK. Through my experience I...Look,...
Peter Lilley(interrupting) Hang on, hang on! Let me give my experience here because you've had yours four times. If you'd read my paper, if Chris Mason had read my papers...
Evan Davis(interrupting) Chris Morris.
Peter LilleyChris Morris, sorry...he would have found that I quote a trade organisation representing 19,000 customs, logistics and freight companies across Europe which said all the ingredients to ensure a smooth exit process of the UK from the EU, and which allow almost frictionless trade after the exit, are readily available. I went to their conference to learn more and talk to people. I sent a draft of my paper to four of the people I met. They came back with comments I incorporated. That's what I call 'reality checking'...
Evan Davis(interrupting) OK, no, let's, no, well that's, that's, that's, that's important, but it is MY experience - and it may be that I'm more in the ambit less of the trade experts and more in those of the EU experts who are are maybe not so much on trade - but I have to say most of them...  
Peter Lilley(interrupting) You will admit you were wrong...?
Evan Davis: (speaking over) No, I don't admit...Let's go to the next one...
Peter Lilley(speaking over) stating that.this organisation has...
Evan Davis(speaking over) ...Let's go to the next one...
Peter Lilley(speaking over)... OK. You're not going to escape from that one, are you?
Evan Davis:  No, I'm not, because I don't...we're not going to resolve it. So you say experts are on your side...
Peter Lilley(interrupting) I'm saying...
Evan Davis(interrupting) I say my experience is different.
Peter Lilley: This trade association  published it, thought that this paper...
Evan Davis(interrupting) That's good, that's fine, and you've made that point. Let's go onto another one, because there was a very specific factual thing that you said, and lots of others have said, which is we trade with the US under WTO rules...
Peter Lilley(interrupting) Yes. That's not in this document.
Evan Davis: No, but it was said in that interview and was...and it had infuriated some people...
Peter Lilley: (interrupting) Well, yes. I'm very happy to talk about that. I'm writing something about it now...
Evan Davis(interrupting) Can I just ask? Do you acknowledge that actually there are a lot of, if you like, side deals that also govern trade...?
Peter Lilley: (interrupting)...(indecipherable) of WTO. There are lots of side deals. I'm writing something about it at the moment...
Evan Davis(speaking over) So, other deals, other deals...
Peter Lilley: (speaking over)...discussing, separate from what's in this document. And...
Evan Davis(speaking over) Right. It was said on the 'Today' programme...
Peter Lilley: (interrupting) For instance, the EU has 97 such deals with Russia.
Evan DavisCorrect. So the point is very few countries literally trade under WTO rules. And you acknowledge that one?
Peter Lilley: Yes.  
Evan DavisOK, that was a good one...Erm, do you also acknowledge, cos this I think is an interesting one, that if we had a no deal Brexit there would be borders, or there would be a likely requirement for borders, both in Ireland and a bigger border, more significant border, in Dover-Calais?
Peter Lilley: No. I quote Her Majesty's Customs and Revenue CEO, who has given evidence to countless select committees. who said there are no circumstances in which Britain...
Evan Davis(interrupting) But we would put a border.
Peter Lilley: Hang on!...we wouldn't need to erect infrastructure or have checks at the border. So the only issue is whether the EU has to. Now, the ERG...
Evan Davis(interrupting) But he...he...
Peter Lilley: ...has published a separate document which has shown that even under EU rules it should be possible not to have checks or infrastructure at the border. They've been and discussed it for two hours with Mr. Barnier. They got a letter back saying it's very helpful...
Evan Davis(interrupting)  Just to be clear about what Jon Thompson said. He thinks you can't apply normal arrangement at the border and he has no idea whether the European Union would try and apply normal arrangements because there's...
Peter Lilley: (interrupting) Well, he's not responsible for the European Union... 
Evan Davis(speaking over) No, no...
Peter Lilley: I'm putting him on the British positive side...
Evan Davis(interrupting)  On the British side. So there might be a border, a European border, or there might be...the Europeans might feel it's annoying to have no border in...
Peter Lilley: Well, there'll be a border. The question is whether the checks require infrastructure at the border. Nearly 100% of customs declarations are made electronically and actually checked in a computer in Salford that is what would happen to the bulk of them. Now, you may have to checks some animals. We already check 100% of animals coming from GB to EU (indecipherable), very visually and...
Evan Davis(interrupting) Can I get to a bigger question, Peter Lilley, about whether...Do you...cos a lot of people think the BBC, you know, has put up a politician against an expert and treats them like they're the same, and the public are left bamboozled and don't realise that the expert is the person they should be listening to, not the politician...
Peter Lilley: (speaking over)Well, hang on!
Evan Davis(speaking over) Do you...? I'm not (indecipherable)...
Peter Lilley: I was responsible for Customs and Excise. I've been Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. I helped negotiate the Uruguayan Round, which set up the WTO. Admittedly for two years you haven't had me on the 'Today' programme because you think that expertise is irrelevant, but carry on!...
Evan Davis(interrupting) No, no, I'm just wondering what you, how you, think in public debate how the public should decide who to listen to?
Peter Lilley: Well, they certainly shouldn't take the advice of BBC reality correspondents. That we've ascertained...
Evan Davis(interrupting) No, we haven't ascertained that (laughing).
Peter Lilley: They don't even read the documents they criticise. He didn't...he clearly hadn't read the document, otherwise he wouldn't have said that about 'most customs officers not having this view' when the trade association that's mentioned has come out and said we can have frictionless, almost frictionless, borders.
Evan DavisI'd love to continue this. We're literally out of time. Peter Lilley, thank your for coming in, and I'm glad you had your chance to get your own back on us. Erm, let's get the weather...


  1. He is a star. Very well done Peter Lilley. I'd like to see more people challenge the BBC like that.

    Like so many BBC reporters and presenters, Evan Davis doesn't do his homework and allows his personal opinion to prejudice his questioning and reporting.

    Btw Chris Morris the BBC's new useful idiot has just published his latest unreality check which I've posted about on the main thread.

  2. I heard the start of it. I enjoyed Lilley's determination not to play by the BBC's rules, his willingness to challenge every overt and covert assumption in Davis's questions.

    Here we saw Davis using every trick in his playbook included the uninvited summing up ("So really, you're saying you're a bit of a pr*ck...fine, so next question"),or the over-precise definition game (he often uses this - as he does in provoking a wrangle of whether "WTO rules" means "WTO rules" or "WTO rules plus side rules".

    And what about Davis's reference to the need post-Brexit for borders with France and Ireland? Er - does he think we don't have borders already? Did he mean "hard borders" - well perhaps, but a failure to make this clear is just the sort of thing he picks up on in interviewee's replies and makes a bit thing of, just to score points.

    As for Ireland, Davis and the rest of the BBC seem unable to use Google. If they could master Google they would find that Varadkar is not contemplating a hard border. He told RTE that recently:

    We have also said we have no intention of putting a hard border in place.

    So where's the problem?

  3. Peter Lilley:2 - BBC:0

    Pity it wasn't filmed.

  4. I see the partisan BBC Bashing Brexiteers are out in force to high five the above latest episode in anti-BBC bias; no surprise there.

    Why you would think the views on Brexit of a lifelong anti-EU zealot like crazed Peter Lilley would have more credence than professional journalists being paid to uphold the BBC charter for impartiality (however imperfectly they might achieve that - which is debatable) and an academic who is paid to professionally study the politics of EU treaties and international relationships, says far more about YOU than all of the participants in the Radio 4 discussion.

    Lilley was trying to claim he has greater knowledge and insight due to his Brexit Irish Border 'study' and political experience than any of the journalists or a Professor of EU politics.

    He, and you lot, appear to be blind to the fact that Brexiteer zealot Lilley approached his 'study' of the Irish border issue from the perspective of someone passionately anti-EU, who already had a fixed view on the issue i.e. that it was all a trumped up nonsense by EU bureaucrats to thwart Brexit, and so he would inevitably cherry pick his 'evidence 'to demonstrate his case.

    The idea that he might approach this task in an academic or intellectual fashion to seek the truth of Irish Border logistics, whatever that may be, is laughable.

    1. So how do you explain the RTE link I posted above? Makes clear Varadkar does not and never has had any intention of putting in place a hard border. Neither have the UK government. So where is the problem? There was no problem. It was a negotiating ploy which May was either too stupid and timid to call out, or secretly relished, being a Remainer.

      But the BBC is totally silent on this.

      For Davis, the BBC and 99% of UK academia it's a case of "Can't get used to losing EU" as Andy Williams might have sung. They aren't impartial, they are pro-EU partisans. The BBC often has "experts" from various bodies that receive large grants from the EU. Their conflict of interest is never mentioned.

      Menon and Portes' fantasy forecasts are completely meaningless. For one thing we will never know what another scenario might produced once one has been chosen, unless that scenario is chosen. For another the Treasury, Bank of England and OBR, despite all the resources at their command (far more than Menon and co) have all been spectacularly wrong with their economic predictions, especially those relating to the alleged dire effects of a Brexit vote.

      Also Portes has form. He was one of those predicting only a trickle of migration from Eastern European back in the early 00s.

      Also they don't examine the impact of a Canada Plus deal.

      These people are policy lobbyists not objective, detached academics.

    2. Andy having read your Twitter feed (click on his name it takes you to it) I don’t think you can honestly say that you are looking at the issue impartially either, no matter how much you may believe otherwise.

      Your post is also needlessly aggressive and part of the problem.

      Anyhow carry on.

  5. Hi Craig

    yes you really should monitor PM more

    I heard Davies the other day make a claim that all nations are vassal states so it really didn’t matter that UK was going to become an even bigger one

    1. Yep, Davis seems to think PM is an exercise yard for his preferences and his prejudices.

  6. Here's the BBC emole for today:
    By Justin Parkinson

    Brexit deal: Trump weighs in

    ['weighs in', geddit!?]

    Theresa May has two weeks to persuade the House of Commons to back her Brexit deal with the EU. So the latest comments by Donald Trump on the subject might not be regarded as particularly helpful. The US president said the agreement thrashed out in Brussels seemed "a great deal for the EU" and that it might leave the UK unable to sign a trade agreement with his own country.

    Mrs May took plenty of criticism from MPs following her statement on the deal on Monday. Mr Trump's intervention, writes BBC North America editor Jon Sopel, "can only be interpreted in one way - the president is siding with the prime minister's critics". Downing Street insists it's "very clear" the UK will be able to sign its own trade deals around the world after Brexit. BBC Reality Check looks at the challenges ahead.

    And we have a guide to where we are with Brexit.

    Lots of 'We' from the speaker for the nations... with added 'reality'.

  7. Is this a Chris Special?

    1. Tweets don't embed here so you need to quote them.
      and make a link (a href="http://...") ..(/a) using pointed brackets
      RealityCheck: Is Trump right about the Brexit deal?
      By Chris Morris
      BBC Reality Check //

      JunkkMale replies
      \\ Sanity Check: Is every BBC headline soon to be in the form of a question?
      #bbcquestionasaheadline //

  8. Here goes....

    In case it doesn't work (odds?), here is John Simpson 'quoting' a 'friend'.
    John Simpson

    Verified account

    30m30 minutes ago
    John Simpson Retweeted Kay Watson
    An ambassador friend of mine says ‘Boris was far & away the worst foreign secretary I’ve served under. Not stupid - I could have put up with that - but unashamedly lazy.’

    I would have had it the other way around.

    <a href="> ..</a>

  9. <a href="”3rd time lucky?</a>

  10. Replies
    1. Good grief! With the level of smug in the thread under that tweet it's a miracle it didn’t slide off the screen. It's pretty disgraceful that someone in Mr Simpson's place is so happy to trade in gossip.

      PS: Well done with the html - I haven't the patience!!

  11. Tx. You need it. I hope I have a working template for URLs at least.

    I got a flag that told me to clear my Google cache that enabled me to actually post directly once, but I am now back to going around the houses again ;(

    I have also changed from Google to DuckDuckGo on search, and may soon kill off Blogger, in part because they clearly are in the stone age still, but also Google is losing a lot of friends as a SillyValli Net Nanny with Censorious Tendencies.

    And need to be hit in the pocket by any who value free speech.


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