Talk about Newsnight

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Tuesday, 26 June, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 26 Jun 07, 03:59 PM

Presented by Jeremy Paxman


quentin.gif"Under your leadership the Conservative Party appears to me to have ceased collectively to believe in anything or to stand for anything". The words of the now ex-Tory backbencher Quentin Davies in a letter to David Cameron today, announcing his defection to Gordon Brown's Labour party.

He goes on to lambaste the Tory leader for everything from his opposition to nuclear power to his decision to withdraw from the European People's Party. Perhaps the wonder is that he endured so long in a party with whose policies he so profoundly disagrees. We'll be assessing how serious this is for Cameron.


There's still no official confirmation that Tony Blair is to be the Quartet's new Middle East envoy, but at a press conference this morning he said he was up for the challenge. We'll be debating whether he's the right man for the job.


The US Department of Justice's decision to pick up where the Serious Fraud Office left off and launch an inquiry into BAE's relationship with the Saudis could prove to be the first big challenge to Gordon Brown's special relationship with George Bush. He'll have to decide whether to pass on crucial documents which could aid the inquiry, but damage the British government.


And - he's been compared to Stalin by one man that worked closely with him. So has Gordon Brown been trying to cultivate a warmer style of politics? The independent film-maker Jamie Campbell has been following the new Prime Minister for the past month on the campaign trail, in a bid to engage him in a conversation. Watch to see if he succeeds.

In the summit sun

  • Richard Colebourn
  • 26 Jun 07, 11:30 AM

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

olm_mub203.jpgIt’s summit season in Sharm el-Sheikh. The tourists on the beach, flown in on charter flights from Manchester, Moscow and Berlin, are oblivious to the political scrum taking place nearby. Inside the congress centre, President Mubarak of Egypt is hosting Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah of Jordan.

Outside journalists from across the region are sprawled on a small patch of grass. Hours and hours of airtime are devoted to a meeting lasting just under three. In the 45 degree heat, the media pour out sweat and speculation.

That summit cliché - the stakes are high – is true. The leaders are here to discuss how to bolster President Abbas and his Fatah party after the recent takeover of the Gaza Strip by their opponents Hamas. The rise of Hamas has put ‘moderate’ Arab states like Egypt and Jordan on the back foot. They worry about Islamist parties, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, in their own countries and don’t like the idea of a successful role model next door.

At 8pm, as the region’s news bulletins start, the leaders emerge to make statements to the press. The journalists scurry. Israeli press officers efficiently offer translated and typed transcripts and start a round of interviews. Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat appears and is promptly smothered by about thirty cameramen.

And the outcome of all this? Not a lot. The Israelis grabbed the headlines with an offer to release 250 Fatah prisoners. There are over 10,000 Palestinians in prison in Israel. Just over half have been convicted of an offence and around 800 are held without charge.

Continue reading "In the summit sun"

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