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David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts and insiders present in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

From The Briefing Room at 2022-09-29 20:30:00

Turmoil on the markets (p0d3lcr3.mp3)

The financial markets have been in turmoil since the chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, unveiled a big package of economic measures last Friday. Traders responded to the prospect of major tax cuts by selling the pound. The Bank of England then had to intervene to protect the UK's pension system. What exactly is causing the financial instability and what might that mean for the British economy over the next few years? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Dharshini David, BBC Economics Correspondent. Toby Nangle, Economics commentator and former asset fund manager. Martin Weale, Professor of Economics at King’s College, London. Chris Giles, Economics Editor of the Financial Times. Stephanie Flanders, Senior Executive Editor for Economics at Bloomberg. Producers: Octavia Woodward, Daniel Gordon and Simon Watts Editor: Richard Vadon Sound Engineer: Neil Churchill Production Co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed and Helena Warwick-Cross PHOTO: The Bank of England (Getty Images)

From The Briefing Room at 2022-09-22 20:30:00

Britain's productivity puzzle (p0d1ztgs.mp3)

This week the new UK government is unveiling its first major package of economic measures. They're aimed at achieving what Prime Minister Liz Truss says is her number one priority: promoting economic growth. Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he shares the same aspiration for Britain. But low growth is an entrenched problem, dating back decades. So why has the UK been performing so badly and what needs to be done to turn us into a high-growth country? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Nicholas Crafts, Professor of Economic History at the University of Sussex Business School. Chris Giles, Economics Editor of The Financial Times. Anna Valero, Senior Policy Fellow at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance. Paul Johnson, Director of The Institute For Fiscal Studies Duncan Weldon, Broadcaster and Author of “Two Hundred Years of Muddling Through”. Producers: Paul Connolly, Arlene Gregorius and Kirsteen Knight Editor: Richard Vadon Sound Engineer: Neil Churchill Production Co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed and Helena Warwick-Cross

From The Briefing Room at 2022-09-15 20:30:00

Ukraine: Have we reached a turning point in the war? (p0d0pw4x.mp3)

Ukraine's military has retaken thousands of square kilometres of territory near the north-eastern city of Kharkiv. The Russians are said to have retreated in haste and disarray, but they retaliated by shelling a large power plant, causing blackouts in Kharkiv, the country's second biggest city. Is Ukraine's successful counter-offensive a turning point in the war? Could Ukraine win? Experts say Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, won't countenance defeat, and will escalate instead of retreating or suing for peace. Might Putin launch a tactical nuclear strike? Or use mobilisation or conscription for all-out war? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: - Vitaliy Shevchenko, Russia editor at BBC Monitoring and co-host of the BBC's Ukrainecast podcast - Michael Clarke, Professor of Defence studies and Specialist Advisor to the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy - Samantha de Bendern, Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House - Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King's College London - Shashank Joshi, Defence Editor of The Economist Producers: Paul Connolly, Arlene Gregorius and Kirsteen Knight Editor: Richard Vadon Sound engineer: Neil Churchill Production co-ordinator: Siobhan Reed and Helena Warwick-Cross Image credit: Anton Petrus/Getty Images

From The Briefing Room at 2022-09-01 20:30:00

Can we keep the lights on this winter? (p0cxwchn.mp3)

Soaring household bills have made energy the number one issue facing the government and consumers in Britain. But in addition to the cost, there may be another problem ahead as winter approaches. Experts are increasingly worried about the supply of both electricity and gas from Europe, and how that might affect the power system here. So how worried should we be about energy shortages? And what can the government do to limit their impact? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Kathryn Porter, Energy Analyst at Watt Logic Javier Blas, Energy Columnist at Bloomberg Elisabetta Cornago, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform David Sheppard, Energy Editor at the Financial Times Michael Bradshaw, Professor of Global Energy at the University of Warwick. Producers: Paul Connolly, Kirsteen Knight and Simon Watts. Editor: Richard Vadon. Studio Manager: James Beard. Production co-ordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross. PHOTO: An electricity substation in East London (Daniel LEAL / AFP)

From The Briefing Room at 2022-08-25 20:30:00

The staffing crisis in the NHS (p0cwfxnh.mp3)

The NHS often appears to be in a state of permanent crisis. Recently, there've been headlines about long waiting times for ambulances and the huge backlog for routine surgery. Before that, the Health Service faced a two-year pandemic which may rear its head again this winter. But the NHS also has a big underlying problem. It has tens of thousands of vacancies for doctors, nurses and other medical workers – and that makes all the other pressures on the Health Service even harder to handle. So why does the NHS have a staffing problem? And what can be done to fix it? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Annabelle Collins, Senior Correspondent at Health Service Journal Alison Leary, Professor of Healthcare and Workforce Modelling at London South Bank University Suzie Bailey, Head of Leadership and Organisational Development at The Kings Fund Mark Pearson, Deputy Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at the OECD, Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust Producers: Bob Howard, Kirsteen Knight and Simon Watts. Editor: Tara McDermott. Studio Manager: Rod Farquhar. Production co-ordinator: Siobhan Reed. PHOTO CREDIT: (Getty Images)

From The Briefing Room at 2022-08-18 20:30:00

Fighting drought (p0cv0fp7.mp3)

Despite recent heavy rainfall, much of England is experiencing drought conditions. Both rivers and reservoirs are running low, and the water companies have told millions to stop using their hosepipes. Scientists warn that the current difficulties are only a glimpse of the much tougher challenges the UK will face in the future because of climate change. They estimate that there's a one-in-four chance of a drought which is so severe that drinking water has to be restricted. Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Sir John Armitt, Chairman of the UK's National Infrastructure Commission Dr Heather Smith, Senior Lecturer in Water Governance at Cranfield University Jean Spencer, Director of The Water Industry Forum Sir Dieter Helm, Professor of Economic Policy at Oxford University Producers: Bob Howard, Kirsteen Knight and Simon Watts. Editor: Richard Vadon. Studio Manager: Graham Puddifoot. Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed & Helena Warwick-Cross PHOTO CREDIT: A reservoir on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall in August 2022 (Getty Images)

From The Briefing Room at 2022-08-11 20:30:00

The Cost of Living Crisis (p0csk5y6.mp3)

There are growing calls for emergency measures to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Energy bills are now predicted to be hundreds of pounds higher than was expected just a few weeks ago. The Bank of England has increased interest rates, and warned of the twin threat of inflation and a recession. What policy options does the government have? How can ministers get help to the growing numbers of people forced to choose between heating and eating. Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Felicity Hannah, consumer affairs journalist and BBC Moneybox presenter Nicole Sykes, director of Policy and Communications, Pro Bono Economics Nick Eyre, professor of Energy and Climate Change, Oxford University Gemma Tetlow, chief economist, Institute of Government Duncan Weldon, economist and author of Two Hundred Years of Muddling Through

From The Briefing Room at 2022-08-04 20:30:00

Scotland's drugs problem (p0cr5ftk.mp3)

Scotland has the worst figures for drug-related deaths anywhere in Europe. According to National Records for Scotland, 1330 drug-users died in 2021 - a slight improvement, but a death rate per capita which is still 4.8 times higher than England's. Why do so many Scots die from drugs? And what more can be done to prevent it? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Kirsten Horsburgh, Director of Operations at the Scottish Drugs Forum Andrew McAuley, Glasgow Caledonian University Professor Catriona Matheson, University of Stirling Professor Alex Stevens, University of Kent PHOTO: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

From The Briefing Room at 2022-07-28 20:30:00

Adapting to a hotter Britain (p0cprry9.mp3)

Last week, temperatures in the UK reached a record-breaking 40.3 degrees centigrade. As Britons sweltered in their homes and offices, railway lines buckled, fires broke out in Greater London and the tarmac on Luton Airport runway began to lift. Climate Change scientists now describe this kind of heat as 'the new normal'. How well is Britain set up to cope with extreme weather events? Do we need to start heat-proofing our houses and infrastructure? And does government need to focus more on adapting to climate change? Joining David Aaronovitch are: Mark Maslin, professor of Climatology at University College London Glenn McGregor, professor of Climatology at Durham University Richard Dawson, professor of Engineering at Newcastle University and member of the UK's Climate Change Committee Kathryn Brown, former head of the Adaption at the UK's Climate Change Committee Producers: Tim Mansel, Kirsteen Knight and Simon Watts. Editor: Penny Murphy. Studio manager: Graham Puddifoot. Production co-ordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross.

From The Briefing Room at 2022-07-21 20:30:00

Ukraine: Who is winning? (p0cnby02.mp3)

The war in Ukraine is about to enter its sixth month. The cost of Russia’s invasion has been enormous: millions of refugees; thousands of dead soldiers; thousands more dead civilians; and billions of dollars’ worth of physical damage. It’s the most consequential military conflict for a generation. This week the Briefing Room investigates what’s happening now on the ground and whether either side is close to victory or collapse. Joining David Aaronovitch are: Nina Kuryata, Ukrainian journalist with Tortoise Media Shashank Joshi, Defence Editor at The Economist Samantha de Bendern, Associate Fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College, London Producers: Tim Mansel, Kirsteen Knight and Simon Watts. Editor: Richard Vadon. Studio Manager: Neil Churchill. Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed & Helena Warwick-Cross PHOTO CREDIT: Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images

From The Briefing Room at 2022-07-14 20:30:00

Covid - how worried should we be this time? (p0clz35c.mp3)

More than two years after the emergence of Covid, infection levels are high once again. The Office for National Statistics estimates that 2.7 million people, or 1 in 25 of us, have got Coronavirus. There’s concern too about new Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 – mutations which help the virus re-infect our bodies. But how worried should we actually be this time? Are the mutations normal or an alarming new development? And how much of a threat does Coronavirus still face to the NHS? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: James Gallagher, BBC Health and Science Correspondent Gideon Skinner, Head of Politics Research in Public Affairs at Ipsos Miriam Deakin, Director of Policy and Stategy of NHS Providers Meaghan Kall, Epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency Neil Ferguson, Head of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College, London. Producers: Tim Mansel, Kirsteen Knight and Simon Watts. Editor: Richard Vadon. Studio Manager: Rod Farquhar Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed & Helena Warwick-Cross

From The Briefing Room at 2022-06-09 20:30:00

What's wrong with the NHS, and how do we fix it? (p0cd0c5m.mp3)

Last year spending on health and social care in the UK hit nearly £200bn. That’s roughly a fifth of total government spending. Yet the perception has been that things have got worse. Have they? If so, how much worse? How do we compare with other similar countries? And what might we do differently? Joining David Aaronovitch in the briefing room are: Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at the King’s Fund Professor Carol Propper, health economist at Imperial College Mark Pearson, Deputy Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at the OECD Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at The Health Foundation Producers: Octavia Woodward, Kirsteen Knight and Ben Carter Editor: Richard Vadon Studio manager: Neil Churchill Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed & Sophie Hill

From The Briefing Room at 2022-06-02 20:30:00

What's happening in Afghanistan? (p0cbg2wn.mp3)

Last year the Taliban launched an offensive in Afghanistan that, within a matter of weeks succeeded beyond the West’s wildest nightmares. In August Kabul fell and life changed dramatically for the Afghan people. Since then they’ve faced food shortages, a failing economy and a bombing campaign launched by Afghanistan’s own ISIS, ISIS-K. So is it Taliban 2.0 as some people hoped? How is it dealing with its domestic challenges? And how is it managing its relationships with its neighbours and countries further afield? Joining David in the briefing room are: Secunder Kermani, the BBC’s Pakistan and Afghanistan correspondent Laurel Miller, Director of the International Crisis Group’s Asia Programme, Ashley Jackson, co-director of the Centre for the Study of Armed Groups at the global affairs think tank, ODI Ahmed Rashid, journalist and author based in Pakistan who has studied the Taliban for decades Producers: Ben Carter and Kirsteen Knight Editor: Richard Vadon Studio manager: Neil Churchill Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed & Sophie Hill

From The Briefing Room at 2022-05-19 20:30:00

Is the crypto bubble bursting? (p0c7wt0s.mp3)

Last week cryptocurrency suffered it’s ‘black Wednesday’ moment. Investors raced to withdraw their funds and more than $200billion was wiped off the cryptocurrency market. One currency lost 98% of its value. Ironically it was a so-called “stablecoin”, whose value is meant to be pegged to currencies like the dollar, that collapsed. Was this a solitary - but very costly - blip or is the crypto bubble in danger of bursting? Joining David in the briefing room are: Gavin Brown, Associate Professor in Financial Technology at The University of Liverpool Jemima Kelly, columnist at the Financial Times Dominic Frisby, MoneyWeek columnist and author of Bitcoin: The Future of Money? David Shrier, Professor of Practice, AI & Innovation with Imperial College Business School Stephen Diehl, a software engineer and crypto writer. Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Richard Vadon Studio manager: Neil Churchill Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed & Sophie Hill

From The Briefing Room at 2022-05-12 20:30:00

What impact will the Northern Ireland election have? (p0c6fq5w.mp3)

The election in Northern Ireland saw nationalists, Sinn Fein, win the most votes. Their leader, Michelle O'Neill, becomes first minister. It has been heralded as a historic result. But what will its impact - on Stormont politics, the protocol and the union - end up being? Joining David Aaronovitch in the briefing room are: Enda McClafferty, BBC Northern Ireland's political editor Ann Watt, director of Pivotal, an independent public policy think tank Sam McBride, Northern Ireland editor, Belfast Telegraph & Sunday Independent Etain Tannam, associate professor of international peace studies, Trinity College Dublin Producers: Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight & Ben Carter Studio manager: James Beard Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed & Sophie Hill Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-05-05 20:30:00

How has the war in Ukraine changed German politics? (p0c5454w.mp3)

In late February, German chancellor Olaf Scholz described Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a ‘Zeitenwende’ - turning point - sparking the biggest shift in German foreign policy since the Cold War. The highlights included a 100bn euro package to boost the military and meet Nato’s 2 per cent of GDP defence spending obligation, send weapons to Ukraine and end his country’s dependency on Russian energy. A surprisingly bold plan from a man many had thought was - like many of his predecessors - naturally cautious. He drew applause at home and abroad, but two months on there is sense that Scholz is wavering. Can he, and will he, see his plan through? Joining David Aaronovitch in the briefing room are: Sir Paul Lever, former British Ambassador to Germany and author of Berlin Rules: Europe and the German Way Professor Markus Ziener, Helmut Schmidt Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States Daniela Schwarzer, Director of the German Council on Foreign Relations Sophia Besch, senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform Producers: Octavia Woodward, Kirsteen Knight and Ben Carter Production Co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed and Sophie Hill Studio Manager: James Beard Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-04-28 20:30:00

What's the impact of the Shanghai lockdown? (p0c3tlst.mp3)

What will the social and economic costs be of China's full-scale lockdown of Shanghai? David Aaronovitch examines the problems with the country's vaccination programme. Joining David in the briefing room are: Robin Brant, BBC Correspondent based in Shanghai Vincent Ni, China Affairs correspondent for The Guardian Professor Nancy Qian, Northwestern University Dr Yu Jie, senior research fellow on China in the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House George Magnus, economist and research associate at Oxford University’s China Centre. Producers: Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight and Ben Carter Production Co-ordinator: Siobhan Reed Studio Manager: Neil Churchill Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-04-21 20:29:00

Will the Rwanda plan work? (p0c2jsmq.mp3)

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has unveiled a plan to stop small boat crossings in the English Channel by sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. But will it work? Joining David Aaronovitch in the briefing room are: Mark Easton, BBC's Home Editor Alexander Betts, Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs at the Refugees Studies Centre Nicolas Rollason, partner and head of Business Immigration at Kingsley Napley Madeleine Sumption, Director of The Migration Observatory Producers: Rosamund Jones, Ben Carter and Kirsteen Knight Production Co-ordinators: Sophie Hill and Siobhan Reed Studio Manager: Rod Farquhar Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-03-24 20:30:00

Russia's invasion: what more can the west do to help Ukraine? (p0bxclbf.mp3)

It's a month now since Russian forces invaded Ukraine. The west have sanctioned Russia and provided aid packages to Ukraine but what more can it do to help Ukraine win the war? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Gustav Gressel, senior policy fellow with the Wider Europe Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) Berlin office. Dr Sarah Schiffling, International research fellow at the Humanitarian Logistics Institute in Helsinki, Finland and senior lecturer in supply chain management at Liverpool John Moores University. Javier Blas, energy and commodities columnist at Bloomberg and co-author of the 'The World for Sale’. Algirde Pipikaite, cybersecurity and digital transformation policy expert at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Producers: Ben Carter, Kirsteen Knight, Octavia Woodward and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Production Co-ordinators: Iona Hammond and Siobhan Reed Studio Manager: Neil Churchill Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-03-17 20:30:00

Russia's invasion: what could a peace deal look like? (p0bw2dm8.mp3)

Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have been underway this week. At the same time Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities have come under savage bombardment. If some sort of peace is to be brokered what compromises might be possible and what will be required to get there? David Aaronovitch is joined by: Oleksiy Semeniy, former advisor to the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Aglaya Snetkov, author of “Russia's security policy under Putin” and a lecturer at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies in London. Anatol Lieven, senior research fellow on Russia and Europe at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and a visiting professor at King’s College, London. Dr Julie Norman, lecturer in politics and international relations at University College London and co-director of its US politics centre. Producers: Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight and Ben Carter Production Co-ordinators: Sophie Hill and Siobhan Reed Studio Manager: Neil Churchill Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-03-10 20:30:00

Russia's invasion: what level of support does Putin have at home? (p0btpkx5.mp3)

What's the impact in Russia of painful sanctions and a war that's not going to plan? How is Putin controlling information and what's required for that to change? David Aaronovitch is joined by: Michael Clarke, Visiting Professor of War Studies at Exeter University and former director, Royal United Services Institute Sergei Guriev, Professor of Economics at Sciences Po in Paris and former Chief Economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Dr. Katerina Tertytchnaya, Assistant Professor in Comparative Politics, University College London Izabella Tabarovsky, Senior Program Associate at the Kennan Institute, Wilson Center (US) Dr Maxim Alyukov, fellow Kings College London Producers: Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight and Ben Henderson Production Co-ordinators: Sophie Hill and Siobhan Reed Studio Manager: Neil Churchill Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-03-03 20:46:00

Russia's invasion: what's the military strategy? (p0bsfjj3.mp3)

The war in Ukraine is a week old. What have we learned about the military strength - and tactics - on both sides? And what might that tell us about how the conflict might play out? David Aaronovitch is joined in The Briefing Room by: Vitaliy Shevchenko, Russian editor at BBC Monitoring. Colonel Liam Collins, founding director of the Modern War Institute in New York. Ed Arnold, Research Fellow in European security at RUSI and an ex British Army officer who was posted to NATOs Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in 2014 during the Russian annexation of Crimea. Kataryna Wolczuk, Professor of East European Politics at the University of Birmingham. Bettina Renz, Professor of International Security at the University of Nottingham. Producers: Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight and Ben Carter Production co-ordinators: Sophie Hill and Siobhan Reed Studio manager: James Beard Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-02-24 21:00:00

Russia's invasion: will sanctions work? (p0br3stk.mp3)

Russia is facing sanctions from around the world. Can they hit the country hard enough to make it change course and leave Ukraine in peace? In a live episode David Aaronovitch considers how sanctions have worked in other crises, why they are so frequently used and what circumstances are required for them to be successful. He is joined by: Lee Jones, Professor of International Politics at Queen Mary, University of London and author of the book Societies Under Siege: Exploring How International Economic Sanctions (Do Not) Work Tom Keatinge, Director of the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at RUSI Dr Maria Shagina, Fellow at the Center for Eastern European Studies at the University of Zurich Tyler Kustra, Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham Producers: Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight and Ben Carter Production co-ordinators: Sophie Hill and Siobhan Reed Studio manager: Rod Farquhar Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-02-17 20:30:00

What do drones mean for the future of warfare? (p0bpdhjb.mp3)

A few weeks ago a rebel group without an air-force managed to attack a foreign airport 1,000 miles away....from the air using drones. And theoretically what the Yemeni insurgents did in Abu Dhabi is repeatable the world over. Indeed is being repeated. Meanwhile drones are often the weapon of choice for major powers operating a long way from home. So are drones transforming the way conflicts are fought, to what extent is that a bad thing, and what can be done about it? David Aaronovitch talks to: Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, Professor of War Studies at Loughborough University Dr James Rogers, Assistant Professor at the Centre for War Studies in Odense, Denmark Shashank Joshi, Defence Editor at The Economist Dr Sarah Kreps, Director of the Tech Policy Lab at Cornell University Producers: Rosamund Jones and Ben Carter Editor: Richard Vadon Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed and Sophie Hill Sound engineer: Graham Puddifoot

From The Briefing Room at 2022-02-10 20:30:00

Will the levelling up plans work? (p0bng68v.mp3)

One of Boris Johnson’s key campaign promises in the run up to the last election was to level up the country. Now the government has published a white paper telling us how it intends to do that. So what are the plans, will they work and do they go far enough? David Aaronovitch is joined by: Jagjit Chadha, Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Jennifer Williams, social affairs editor at the Manchester Evening News Paul Swinney, director of policy and research at the think tank Centre for Cities Tom Forth, founder The Data City Producers: Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight and Ben Carter Studio manager: James Beard Production co-ordinators: Sophie Hill and Siobhan Reed Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-02-03 20:30:00

Is the Prime Minister’s office fit for purpose? (p0bm29f9.mp3)

How well 10 Dowing Street functions is under scrutiny, following Sue Gray's report into multiple parties during lockdown. David Aaronovitch explores who does what at the heart of government and asks if the current problems can be fixed. Contributors: Alex Thomas, Institute for Government Professor Andrew, Blick, King's College London Jill Rutter, UK in a Changing Europe Professor Patrick Diamond, Queen Mary University of London Producers: Rosamund Jones, Ben Carter, Kirsteen Knight Studio manager: Rod Farquhar Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed, Brenda Brown Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-01-27 20:30:00

How do we learn to live with Covid? (p0bkqnkv.mp3)

Plan B Covid restrictions in England have ended and the government says we must learn to live with Covid. But what does that actually mean and how sustainable is that position? In this programme we will ask how our understanding of Covid’s newest variant, Omicron, has evolved since Plan B restrictions were first imposed 7 weeks ago. To what extent might flu provide a model for how we live with Covid? And how will our hospitals cope with the strain as restrictions within wider society are eased? David Aaronovitch is joined by: Azra Ghani, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College, London Saffron Cordery, Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Providers Lesley Powls, Head of Clinical Site & Emergency Planning, King's College Hospital Emma Thomson, Professor of infectious diseases at the University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research Linda Bauld, Professor of public health at Edinburgh University Producers: Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight and Ben Carter Studio manager: Neil Churchill Production co-ordinators: Sophie Hill and Siobhan Reed Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-01-20 20:30:00

BBC Funding (p0bjf2xm.mp3)

With the longer term funding of the BBC under pressure, David Aaronovitch and guests explore the alternatives to the licence fee. How do other nations pay for their public service broadcasters? Contributors: Professor Jean Seaton, University of Westminster Matt Walsh, Head of school of Journalism, Media & Culture, Cardiff University Vilde Sundet, University of Oslo Professor Patrick Barwise, London Business School Claire Enders, Enders Analysis Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Ben Carter, Rosamund Jones Studio manager: Neil Churchill Production co-ordinators: Sophie Hill, Siobhan Reed Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-01-13 20:30:00

Inflation (p0bh444t.mp3)

Inflation is at a 30 year high. David Aaronovitch looks back to the 1970s when prices - and wages - soared. Are we returning to those times and how worried should we be? Joining him in The Briefing Room are: Stephanie Flanders, Head of Bloomberg Economics. Merryn Somerset Webb, editor-in-chief, Moneyweek. Torsten Bell, chief executive, The Resolution Foundation. Duncan Weldon, economist and author of "Two Hundred Years of Muddling Through" and "The Value Added Newsletter". Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Ben Henderson and Rosamund Jones Studio manager: Neil Churchill Production co-ordinators: Sophie Hill and Siobhan Reed Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2022-01-06 20:30:00

Brexit – What Have We Learned? (p0bfscjg.mp3)

It's nearly been a year since Brexit. What have the costs and gains been so far, what's yet to be sorted out and how has our relationship with our European neighbours changed? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Maddy Thimont Jack, associate director on the Institute for Government's Brexit team Sam McBride, Northern Ireland editor of the Belfast Telegraph & Sunday Independent Katya Adler, BBC's Europe Editor Peter Foster, editor of the Financial Times newsletter “Britain After Brexit” Anand Menon, director at UK in a Changing Europe Producers: Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight, Ben Carter and Ben Henderson Sound Engineer: Neil Churchill Production Co-ordinators Sophie Hill and Siobhan Reed Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2021-12-23 20:30:00

Space Wars and Laws (p0bc40dt.mp3)

Could space be the next frontier for conflict? And what would it look like? Recently the astronauts in the International Space Station had to shelter in their escape pods, after Russia destroyed one of its own satellites using a missile and leaving a dangerous trail of debris orbiting the earth. While not a deliberately aggressive act, the destruction of the satellite was an indication of the kind of weaponry that could be used in space. This summer, on the occasion of the official opening of UK Space Command, the head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, warned that any global conflict would “most likely be won or lost in space.” What is the likelihood of a space war, what form would it take and what are the laws that govern activity in space? Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room are: Dr Bleddyn Bowen, lecturer in International Relations, University of Leicester Michelle Hanlon, Professor of Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi, United States Alexandra Stickings, Space Strategy Lead at the consultancy Frazer-Nash Shashank Joshi, Defence Editor, The Economist Producers: John Murphy, Ben Carter and Kirsteen Knight Sound Engineer: Andy Garratt Production Coordinator: Siobhan Reed Editor: Richard Vadon Image: The International Space Station in orbit Credit: Nasa / EPA

From The Briefing Room at 2021-12-16 20:30:00

Ukraine - Could There Be War? (p0bbgz11.mp3)

Russian troops are amassed close to the Ukrainian border. Could this mean war? Or is something else going on? Tensions between Ukraine and Russia aren't new, particularly since the annexation of the Crimea in 2014 and fighting with separatists, backed by Russia, in eastern Ukraine. The West has warned Russia of dire consequences if it invades Ukraine. Russia says it is not planning to and has the right to put its troops anywhere within its territory. So what is going on? What does President Putin want and what can NATO and the West do? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Sarah Rainsford, BBC Moscow Correspondent Anton Barbashin, political analyst and Editorial Director of Riddle Russia Dr. Leslie Vinjamuri, Associate Professor of International Relations, School of Oriental and African Studies, also Director of the US Programme at Chatham House Orysia Lutsevych, Research Fellow and Manager of the Ukraine Forum, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House Dr Liana Fix, Russia expert, Körber Foundation, Berlin Programme producers: John Murphy, Kirsteen Knight and Chris Flynn Studio mix by James Beard Programme Editor: Richard Vadon Image: Ukranian servicemen on a front line near Svetlodarsk. Credit: EPA/Anatoli Stepanov

From The Briefing Room at 2021-12-09 20:28:00

Afghanistan - What Now? What Next? (p0b9198y.mp3)

From insurgency to government - the challenges for the Taliban and the West. Four months ago the Taliban stunned the world - maybe even themselves - when they entered Kabul and took power in Afghanistan. Since then they have had to move from 20 years of fighting to setting up a central government. That has not proven easy. In the meantime the people of Afghanistan are suffering food shortages and an economic crisis. So what is going on and what might happen next? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Secunder Kermani of the BBC, in Kabul. Dr. Mike Martin, Visiting Fellow in the War Studies department, King's College London. Laurel Miller, Director of the International Crisis Group’s Asia Programme. Ahmed Rashid, journalist and author. Ashley Jackson, Co-director of the Centre for the Study of Armed Groups at the global affairs think tank, ODI. Producers: John Murphy, Ben Carter, Kirsteen Knight Studio Manager: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Richard Vadon Image: Boy in Balkh camp, Afghanistan 13th November 2021. Credit: Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

From The Briefing Room at 2021-12-02 20:28:00

Living in a Variant World (p0b7s6xm.mp3)

What are variants? Where do they come from? Why do they develop and how do they take over? Currently Delta is the dominant variant in the UK and across much of the world; but now Omicron, first identified in South Africa, looks like it could take over. How does that happen? And what can we do about variants? Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room are: Emma Thomson, Professor of infectious diseases at the University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research. Dr. Jeff Barrett, Director of the Covid-19 genomics initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Dr. Charlotte Houldcroft, virologist from the University of Cambridge. Producers: John Murphy, Ben Carter and Kirsteen Knight Studio Manager: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2021-11-25 20:30:00

Europe's Covid Surge (p0b6d5x5.mp3)

As parts of Europe struggle to contain Covid cases we ask what that means for them and us. The World Health Organisation has warned that another 500,000 people in Europe could die of Covid by March next year unless countries take urgent action to control the spread of the virus. Austria – the country with the lowest vaccination rate in western Europe - has become the first country to legally require people to have the vaccine from next February. The German health minister has said the country is in a national emergency that could result in another national lockdown. There have been riots in the Netherlands in response to new Covid restrictions. So why is the situation so dire, what’s being done about it and what risk does the crisis on the continent pose to the UK? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Dr Louise Blair, Lead analyst in vaccines and covid variants at the health analytics firm, Airfinity. Dr Clemens Auer, Special Envoy for Health for the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection of Austria. He was Austria’s Covid co-ordinator until March. Professor Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Professor Sheena Cruickshank, Immunologist at the University of Manchester. Dr Raghib Ali, Senior Clinical Research Associate, University of Cambridge Producers: Ben Carter, John Murphy and Kirsteen Knight Editor: Richard Vadon Studio Engineer: Rod Farquhar Production Co-ordinator: Siobhan Reed

From The Briefing Room at 2021-10-21 20:30:00

China Crisis? (p09zk4n4.mp3)

For years China has been perhaps the most important economic engine driving growth around the world. Earlier this year it bounced back from the Covid shutdowns with double-digit growth. Global demand for Chinese-made products has been booming. But this week growth figures have dropped dramatically. The country has been experiencing an energy and property crisis. So, is the bubble bursting? And should we be worried? Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room are: Celia Hatton, the BBC's Asia Pacific Editor Dr. Philip Andrews-Speed, Senior Principal Fellow at the Energy Studies Institute of the National University of Singapore George Magnus, Research Associate at the China Centre, Oxford University Tom Orlik, Chief Economist at Bloomberg Economics Dr. Keyu Jin, Associate Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics Producers: John Murphy, Soila Apparicio, Kirsteen Knight Sound Engineer: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Jasper Corbett Image: Chenzhou in China during a blackout Credit: Alamy

From The Briefing Room at 2021-10-14 20:30:00

Social Care - What's Changing? (p09ypnc5.mp3)

For decades the difficult problem of social care - how to fund it, how to provide it - has been kicked into the long grass by government after government. But last month the Prime Minister announced a policy which he said meant no-one would have to sell their house to fund their social care. He also promised more money for social care - though not immediately. A "health and social care levy" is to be created through an increase in National Insurance contributions. So is the problem of social care being fixed? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Alison Holt, BBC Social Affairs Editor Peter Beresford, visiting Professor in the School of Health Sciences, University of East Anglia Sally Warren, Director of Social Policy at the King's Fund Jill Manthorpe, Professor of Social Work and Director, NIHR Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King's College London. Producers: John Murphy, Soila Apparicio, Kirsteen Knight Sound Engineer: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-10-07 20:30:00

Britain's Dirty Rivers (p09y1192.mp3)

According to campaigners, Britain has some of the dirtiest rivers in Europe. Sewage, slurry from farms and chemicals are all a problem, too often ending up in our rivers. The parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee estimates that the discharge of raw sewage accounts for 55% of rivers in England and Wales failing to reach good ecological status. Not one river has good chemical status. So what's going wrong and what can be done to fix it? Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room are: Olivia Rudgard, Environment Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph Peter Hammond, retired Professor of Computational Biology at University College London Rachel Salvidge, Deputy Editor of ENDS Report Steve Ormerod, Professor of Ecology and Co-Director of the Water Research Institute, Cardiff University Producers: John Murphy, Kirsteen Knight, Soila Apparicio Sound Engineer: Neil Churchill Editor: Jasper Corbett Photo: Chemical Pollution from Industrial Outfall Pouring into River Mersey UK. Credit: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

From The Briefing Room at 2021-09-30 20:30:00

Non-Fungible Tokens (p09wwtdt.mp3)

When a collage of digital images was sold in New York earlier this year for £50 million, the art world was convulsed. The reason? The picture couldn't be hung on a wall and was only visible online. What had been bought and sold was the non-fungible token - or NFT - relating to the collage. David Aaronovitch and his guests discover how NFTs work for those who sell and those who buy them and also consider if NFTs are a passing fad or an aspect of our culture that is becoming increasingly common and might lead to the emergence of a future John Constable or Tracy Emin, eventually spreading to and influencing other art forms. Enter the Briefing Room and find out why collectors are investing in NFTs; how easy it is to spot a fake and what you can do about it; and whether non-fungibles will be an enduring part of the artistic - and investment - worlds in the years ahead. Those taking part include: Georgina Adam of The Art Newspaper; investor in NFTs and co-founder and chief executive of the Arts and culture portal Vastari, Bernardine Bröcker Wieder; and the art historian, former art dealer and presenter of the BBC FOUR series, Britain's Lost Masterpieces, Bendor Grosvenor. Producers Simon Coates and Bob Howard Editor Jasper Corbett Image: Visitors to "Machine Hallucinations - Space: Metaverse" by Refik Anadol, which will be auctioned online as an NFT at Sothebys, at the Digital Art Fair, Hong Kong Credit: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

From The Briefing Room at 2021-09-23 20:30:00

The UK's Energy Crisis (p09ws8by.mp3)

The Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, has said there is 'no question of the lights going out' this winter as a result of a huge rise in gas prices. But many smaller energy companies are struggling to stay afloat as they are unable to pass on the higher wholesale costs of gas to their customers because of the energy price cap. Labour has accused the government of complacency when it comes to energy supplies. Some Conservatives have warned of a tricky winter ahead. So what lies behind the current problems, and what can be done to stop it happening again? Joining David Aaronovitch are : David Sheppard, Energy Editor at the Financial Times Dr Sharon George, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science, University of Keele Michael Bradshaw Professor of Global Energy at the Warwick Business School Sir Dieter Helm, Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford Producers: John Murphy, Kirsteen Knight, Soila Apparicio Sound Engineer: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-09-16 20:30:00

Vaccine Passports and Booster Jabs (p09w5dpl.mp3)

Government ministers have been blowing hot and cold about vaccine passports. Now the Westminster government says it is not planning to introduce them to England, though they're being kept as an option should things change. The Welsh government is thinking about them, while Northern Ireland has rejected them for now. In Scotland vaccine passports are coming in on October 1st for nightclubs and large venues. But booster jabs are coming across the UK. The roll-out for over-50s, frontline health workers and vulnerable groups will begin in days. Joining David Aaronovitch to ask if we need vaccine passports and boosters are: Laure Millet, head of the healthcare policy programme at the Institut Montaigne in Paris Melinda Mills, Professor of Demography at the University of Oxford and Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science Azra Ghani, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London Natasha Loder, Health Policy Editor at The Economist Producers: John Murphy, Kirsteen Knight, Soila Apparicio Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-09-09 20:30:00

Universal Credit: The Challenge Ahead (p09vjntl.mp3)

At the start of the first pandemic lockdown the government announced a £20 uplift for those receiving Universal Credit, the benefit designed to help those of working age with their living costs. It made clear at the time that the extra money was temporary and, in the coming weeks, payments will start to be reduced. But is a cliff-edge drop in the income of more than two-and-a-half million families the right step to be taking? And how best are the UK's poorest to be supported with the country still recovering from the pandemic? David Aaronovitch and his guests evaluate how well Universal Credit has been helping those in and out of work and what the uplift has achieved for families and single person households. Is giving more money to claimants the most effective way of helping them in the post-pandemic economy? Or, with prices rising for household essentials, should the government now be thinking about other measures to help those struggling to make ends meet? How do we help the least well-off while being fair to taxpayers and not subsidising employers paying low wages? Producers Simon Coates, Jim Booth and Kirsteen Knight Editor Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-09-02 20:30:00

The Afghan Refugee Crisis (p09twm0x.mp3)

The Taliban takeover over of Afghanistan has left millions internally displaced and hundreds of thousands more hoping to leave the country soon. Where will these Afghan refugees try to go and how will they be received by different countries? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Camille Le Coz, Policy Analyst with Migration Policy Institute. Michael Semple, Professor at the Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen's University Belfast and former UN co-ordinator for the Bamiyan region in Afghanistan. Peter Walsh, researcher in migration at the Migration Observatory. Dominic Casciani, BBC Home and Legal correspondent Producers: Ben Carter, Kirsteen Knight and Sharon Hemans Studio Manager: James Beard Production Co-ordinator: Iona Hammond Editors: Alison Gee and Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-08-26 20:30:00

HS2: On Track? (p09t99dh.mp3)

HS2, a high-speed railway linking up London, the Midlands and the North of England has been in development for more than a decade. It was described by Boris Johnson as the ‘spine’ of a new network to deal with the ‘great musculoskeletal problem of UK transport’. The ‘spine’ is costing an arm and a leg. In 2012 the project was priced at £32.7bn. That was revised to £55bn in 2015. Last year a review by civil engineer Doug Oakervee said the final figure could top £100bn. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has already warned that Covid has severely damaged public finances and that will likely impact decisions made in the comprehensive spending review taking place this autumn. So how is HS2 progressing and is its completion threatened by its rising costs? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are - Nick Kingsley, Managing Editor of Railway Gazette International Bridget Rosewell, Commissioner, National Infrastructure Commission George Parker, political editor at the Financial Times Tony Travers, Professor in the School of Public Policy at the London School of Economics Producers: Ben Carter, Kirsteen Knight and Sharon Hemans Editor: Jasper Corbett Sound Engineer: Neil Churchill

From The Briefing Room at 2021-08-19 20:30:00

What next for President Biden’s foreign policy? (p09spcb5.mp3)

‘The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely,’ said President Joe Biden six weeks ago. This prediction has not aged well. One harrowing scene this week saw some Afghans trying to escape their new reality by clinging to the wheels of a US Air Force plane as it took off from Kabul airport. Some of them fell to their deaths. Amidst growing international condemnation of the United States, President Biden has remained unrepentant about the end of the US mission in Afghanistan, arguing it was never about nation building or creating a unified democracy. It was about preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland. But what impact will events in Afghanistan this week have on the President's future foreign policy decisions? Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are: Alex Ward, National Security reporter at Politico Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, Director of the US & Americas programme at Chatham House Madiha Afzal, Brookings Institution Prof Michael Clarke, former Director General of RUSI and Professor of Defence Studies at King's College London Producers: Ben Carter, Kirsteen Knight and Sharon Hemans Editor: Penny Murphy Sound Engineer: Graham Puddifoot

From The Briefing Room at 2021-08-12 20:30:00

Who's supporting the Taliban? (p09s2blw.mp3)

The Taliban’s relentless march across Afghanistan continues – taking control of provincial capitals, rural districts and the financially lucrative border crossings. As the world watches on with increasing concern US President Biden has told Afghan leaders that it’s their battle to win and that they need to come together and fight for their nation. The female Afghan politician and diplomat Shukria Barakzai warned this week that her country is experiencing a ‘human catastrophe’ and Afghanistan will provide a safe haven for militants, which will cause the world huge problems. There’s also the prospect of a huge refugee crisis. But how are the Taliban succeeding and who’s helping them? David Aaronovitch is joined in The Briefing Room by: Laurel Miller, Director of International Crisis Group’s Asia Programme Ashley Jackson, Co-Director, Centre for the Study of Armed Groups Ahmed Rashid, Pakistani journalist and author Producers: Ben Carter, Sally Abrahams and Kirsteen Knight Sound engineer: James Beard Editor: Penny Murphy

From The Briefing Room at 2021-08-05 20:30:00

Taiwan and the Threat to Peace (p09rfwh9.mp3)

Only a handful of small states officially recognise Taiwan as an independent country, though in many ways this democratic territory has the trappings of an independent nation. But Taiwan's giant neighbour, China, argues that the island is a renegade province that will one day reunify with the mainland - and Beijing reserves the right to use force to accomplish that if need be. In recent years the Chinese have built up their military forces substantially, including many aimed at Taiwan, and the rhetoric from Beijing remains that Taiwan belongs to China. Meanwhile calls within Taiwan for full independence have grown louder. The United States says it is committed to preserving the ambiguous status quo in the region and to opposing any Chinese coercion of the Taiwanese. Japan, too, has recently become more outspoken about supporting the US military forces in any possible conflict over Taiwan. So could the dispute over Taiwan trigger a war? Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room are: Margaret Hillenbrand, Associate Professor of modern Chinese culture and literature at the University of Oxford. Dr. Yu Jie, Senior Research Fellow on China in the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House. J Michael Cole, Taipei-based Senior Fellow with the Taiwan Studies programme at Nottingham University. Bonnie Glaser, Director of the Asia Programme at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Washington DC. Producers: John Murphy, Ben Carter, Kirsteen Knight, Jim Frank Sound Mix: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-07-29 20:30:00

Where Are All the Workers? (p09qt10w.mp3)

A supermarket chain is offering £1000 welcoming handshakes to new truck drivers - just one indication of the shortages in the haulage industry. The Road Haulage Association says that there is now a shortfall of 100,000 lorry drivers across the UK and other sectors of the economy are also finding it difficult to find workers, including in hospitality, construction and IT. The pandemic has shaken things up and Brexit has seen thousands of EU workers returning home - but is this a short-term problem or are there deeper structural changes happening? Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room: Dougie Rankine, editor of Truck and Driver magazine. Katherine Price, news editor of The Caterer. Tony Hill, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies. Yael Selfin, Chief Economist, KMPG UK. Torsten Bell, Chief Executive at the Resolution Foundation. Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce. Producers: John Murphy, Sally Abrahams and Kirsteen Knight. Sound Engineer: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-07-22 20:30:00

Floods, Fire, the Future and COP26 (p09q4x7m.mp3)

Right across the world unpredictable and extreme weather has led to devastating consequences: homes washed away by floods in Europe and China with hundreds dead; extreme heat and giant wildfires in North America and in Siberia, and we now hear that the Amazon rainforest is emitting more carbon dioxide than it is soaking up. Scientists are clear that man-made climate change is playing a significant role in all this. In November senior representatives from 197 countries plus the European Union are supposed to be gathering for COP26 in Glasgow. Can this gathering - and the pronouncements made there - help save us from extreme climate change? Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room are: Alina Averchenkova, Distinguished Fellow from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. Michael Jacobs, Professor at Sheffield University’s Political Economy Research Institute. Carly McLachlan, Professor of Climate and Energy Policy, Manchester University, and Director of Tyndall Manchester. Dr. James Dyke, Senior Lecturer in Global Systems, University of Exeter. Presenter: David Aaronovitch Producers: John Murphy, Sally Abrahams and Kirsteen Knight. Sound Engineer: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett. Image: People wading through flood waters following heavy rains in Zhengzhou in China's central Henan province. Credit: STR/AFP via Getty Images

From The Briefing Room at 2021-07-15 20:30:00

Stepping into the Unknown (p09pjnr6.mp3)

Some are calling it Freedom Day. Others are much more circumspect. The lifting of Covid restrictions on 19th July in England is, to a certain extent, an experiment. The UK has one of the best vaccination rates in the world and far fewer people are now dying from coronavirus. But it also has one of the fastest rising infection rates. The development of the vaccines so quickly was, undoubtedly, an extraordinary scientific feat. It did also lead some scientists to predict that we would be through this pandemic by now. So why hasn't that happened? And what do we know about the risks involved in lifting restrictions now? Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room are: Azra Ghani, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College, London Tom Chivers, Science journalist and author Linda Bauld, Professor of public health at Edinburgh University Thomas Hale, Associate Professor in Public Policy, University of Oxford Producers: John Murphy, Ben Carter and Kirsteen Knight Studio Manager: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-07-08 20:30:00

Who Do We Think We Are? (p09ntr3q.mp3)

Four recent by-elections in the UK - Airdrie and Schotts, Hartlepool, Amersham and Chesham, and Batley and Spen - tell us four different stories about who we are and what determines who we vote for. So how well do we know who we are and how has that ‘who’ changed over the last thirty years? Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room are: James Kanagasoorium, CEO of Stack Data Strategy Paula Surridge, political sociologist from the University of Bristol Rosie Campbell, Professor of Politics at King's College, London Rob Ford, Professor of Political Science at the University of Manchester Producers: John Murphy, Kirsteen Knight and Ben Carter Editor: Jasper Corbett Sound Mix: Graham Puddifoot Image: Liverpool by night Credit: Jenna Goodwin / EyeEm / Getty

From The Briefing Room at 2021-07-01 20:29:00

How Unsettled is EU Status? (p09n441x.mp3)

European Union and European Economic Area citizens living in the UK should have applied for so-called settled status in Britain before July 1st. Over five million people have applied - a significantly higher figure than the British government originally estimated would be eligible. But there are fears that, for various reasons, tens of thousands of people failed to meet the deadline. In theory, this means they could lose their right to work, rent housing, or access certain hospital treatment, and are potentially subject to removal from the country. UK citizens living in EU countries are also having to prove their status. To examine what has happened so far - to EU citizens in the UK and to UK citizens in the EU - and what happens next, David Aaronovitch is joined in the Briefing Room by: Mark Easton, the BBC's Home Affairs Editor Michaela Benson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Lancaster Catherine Barnard, Professor of European Union and Labour Law, Cambridge University. Jill Rutter, former Treasury official and senior fellow at the Institute for Government. Producers: John Murphy, Ben Carter, Kirsteen Knight Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-05-27 20:29:00

The Ransomware Threat (p09jtf1d.mp3)

You might receive an innocuous looking email – it might even look like it’s from your boss – asking you to click on a link. Watch out! It could be the start of a ransomware attack. Over the last year cybersecurity experts say that the number of ransomware attacks has grown exponentially. During the pandemic lockdowns criminal hackers have been able to exploit the vulnerabilities inherent in the increase in homeworking to infiltrate computer systems, shut them down and then demand a ransom to restore services, or even to stop publishing data they’ve stolen. Along with the increased volume of attacks, the level of ransom demands has grown. Using new technology and techniques, this has become a lucrative business for international criminal gangs, with individuals, businesses, schools, hospitals and charities all targeted. Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room to discuss ransomware attacks are: Emily Taylor, CEO of Oxford Information Labs and Editor of Chatham House's Journal of Cyber Policy Sadie Creese, Professor of Cyber Security at the University of Oxford Geoff White, investigative journalist and author and presenter of the BBC’s podcast series, The Lazarus Heist Susan Landau, Bridge Professor of Cyber Security and Policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science, Tufts University Producers: John Murphy, Sally Abrahams and Imogen Serwotka Sound Engineer: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-05-20 20:29:00

Hamas (p09j4rl5.mp3)

Gaza is one of the most crowded places on earth. Most of its two million residents live in refugee camps and around half are unemployed. Gaza is governed by Hamas, an organisation that many governments regard as a terrorist group. Hamas extended its control over the whole of Gaza in 2007, after it ousted Fatah, which is now based in the West Bank. Since then Hamas has been involved in a number of conflicts with Israel. Its military capability has grown over the years. Joining David Aaronovitch to explore who Hamas are and what they want are: Jennifer Jefferis, Associate Professor at the Near East and South Asia Centre for Strategic Studies at the National Defence University in Washington, DC. She is also author of Hamas: Terrorism, Governance, and Its Future in Middle East Politics. Dr Nina Musgrave from the Centre for Defence Studies, Kings College, London. She is the author of a forthcoming book, Hamas and the Arab Uprisings: resistance, allegiance, and the departure from Syria. Fabian Hinz, an independent open source intelligence analyst who specialises in Middle East missiles. Natan Sachs, Director of the Centre for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, Washington. Producers: John Murphy, Sally Abrahams, Luke Radcliff Sound Engineer: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett Photo: Hamas militants with rocket launcher. Credit: NurPhoto/Corbis/Getty Images

From The Briefing Room at 2021-05-06 20:30:00

Hong Kong: Beijing Tightens Its Grip (p09gvck5.mp3)

Hong Kong has long been at the centre of a tussle between mainland China and the outside world - certainly since the British took it as a colony in 1842. That heralded more than a century of "shame" for the Chinese - but in 1997 the British handed Hong Kong back to China with internationally agreed conditions. The so-called "one country, two systems" principle was meant to last until 2047, but in recent years Beijing has tightened its control over Hong Kong. Major pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019 were quashed and, in 2020, the authorities introduced a controversial and wide-ranging National Security Law to Hong Kong. Over recent weeks pro-democracy campaigners have been locked up, troublesome journalists have been censured or fired from their jobs, teachers have been told they will have to explain the benefits of the National Security Law to their pupils. Some argue that this is the end of Hong Kong. So why is Beijing and its supporters in the Hong Kong legislature taking this action now, and where might it end? Joining David Aaronovitch on this week's programme: Hugh Davies, a former diplomat who negotiated the return of Hong Kong Mary Hui, journalist for Quartz Yuen Chan, Senior Lecturer, City University of London Charles Parton, Senior Associate Fellow at Royal United Services Institute Producers: John Murphy, Sally Abrahams, Kirsteen Knight Sound Engineer: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-04-29 20:29:00

India's Covid Catastrophe (p09g5s62.mp3)

In February India's governing party, the BJP, congratulated itself and its “visionary” leader, the prime minister, Narendra Modi,, for “defeating Covid.” Two months on India is in the midst of what one historian has termed “the gravest crisis the nation has faced since Partition” in 1947. Hundreds of thousands of new infections are reported every day and thousands of deaths. The peak may come in a few weeks. Meanwhile the country is short of hospital beds, oxygen and even wood for the funeral pyres. So what’s gone wrong? And what does India’s plight tell the rest of the world about the trajectory of the pandemic and when it might finally end? Producers: Tim Mansel, Kirsteen Knight, Paul Moss Studio Engineer: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-04-22 20:29:00

Could Germany Go Green? (p09fgr6h.mp3)

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel bows out of politics later this year after 16 years at the head of the German government. She seems likely to be replaced by one of two people; the man Merkel’s party, the CDU, has designated as her successor, Armin Laschet; or the relative political novice, Annalena Baerbock, from the Greens, a party with its origins in the environmental movement. Most commentators agree that however the cards fall after the September election the Greens will be in government, whether at the head of a coalition or as its junior partner. David Aaronovitch asks how the Greens have gained ground so dramatically in such a short time and what a Green German government might mean for Britain. Producers: Tim Mansel, Paul Connolly, Kirsteen Knight Sound Engineer: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett The German flag flying in front of the Reichstag, home of the German parliament (Bundestag), Berlin, Germany. Credit BBC.

From The Briefing Room at 2021-04-15 20:30:00

Northern Ireland – how fragile is the peace process? (p09dsgc8.mp3)

There’s been violence on the streets of Northern Ireland in recent days, most of it in Protestant areas. On occasion it spilled over the sectarian divide. The proximate cause appears to be twofold: the refusal of the Northern Ireland prosecution service to bring charges against Sinn Fein members who apparently broke lockdown rules to attend a funeral last summer; and the Northern Ireland Protocol, which under the Brexit deal, means that checks apply to goods travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland. There are other, longer term grievances, in particular a perception that the Good Friday Agreement privileged the Catholic community at the expense of Protestants. Many fingers are now pointing at Westminster where the British government is accused of inactivity and indifference. More protests have been promised. So how fragile is the peace process? Producers: Tim Mansel, Kirsteen Knight, Paul Moss Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-04-08 20:30:00

Global supply chains - is the UK vulnerable? (p09d3lw7.mp3)

When the 400 metre long Ultra Large Container Vessel, Ever Given, got wedged diagonally across the Suez Canal at the end of March, it brought one of the world’s most important trade routes to a standstill for six days. Around ten per cent of global shipping passes through the canal. Shipping itself is responsible for some 90 per cent of global trade. The blockage served to revive worries that global supply chains have become a source of vulnerability for economies that rely on international trade. The immediate effect of the Ever Given accident for the UK may not become clear for several weeks. The Briefing Room asks what longer term vulnerabilities has it exposed and how might these best be mitigated? Presenter: David Aaronovitch Production team: Tim Mansel, Paul Moss and Kirsteen Knight Satellite image shows stranded container ship Ever Given in Suez canal. Egypt March 25th 2021. Credit: Reuters

From The Briefing Room at 2021-04-01 20:59:00

Covid-19 and the World (p09cj9h2.mp3)

No crisis has had the global reach and impact of Covid-19. There have been more than 120 million recorded cases of the coronavirus and 2.7 million people have died. Lockdowns, with their draconian curbs on people’s freedoms have become a familiar part of daily life in many parts of the world. Just over a year since the world started to get to grips with the first global pandemic in more than a century, what can we say about how different countries have dealt it? to Which countries have suffered the worst impact and why? Which public health systems have held up best? Why did test and trace work in some countries but not in others? Around the world governments have propped up their economies accruing eye-watering amounts of debt, was it money well spent? Where and why has the vaccine roll out been most successful? And what could be the lasting legacy of the pandemic? In this edition of The Briefing Room David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including: Dr.Thomas Hale, Oxford University Prof. Martin McKee, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Nazmeera Moola, Ninety One, a South African asset management company Dr Monica DeBolle, Peterson Institute for International Economics Jerome Kim, Director General of the International Vaccine Initiative Rasmus Bech Hansen, founder and CEO of Airfinity Dr. Jennifer Cole, Royal Holloway, University of London Kishore Mahbubani, Asia Research Institute at National University of Singapore Producers: Tim Mansel, Paul Moss, Kirsteen Knight Sound Engineer: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-02-25 20:29:00

Brexit Business (p0981wst.mp3)

Britain's transition period with the EU ended on December 31st. For the first time since the inception of the single market in 1992, British companies were on the outside. A trade agreement was reached meaning that no tariffs would be paid on imports or exports, but it did mean that trade would no longer be entirely friction free. It’s still early days, but what do we now know about the extent of that friction and its possible consequences? How representative are the frustrations of Cornwall’s daffodil growers who say they can’t find labourers or UK companies that are now setting up production facilities in the EU in order to avoid red tape and its cost? To what extent have difficulties been mitigated by new trade deals that the UK is now free to negotiate. And what’s the view from the EU? With Peter Foster of the Financial Times; Sam Lowe of the Centre for European Reform; Vandeline von Bredow of The Economist; and Maddy Thimont Jack of the Institute for Government. Producers: Tim Mansel, Sally Abrahams, Kirsteen Knight Editor Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-02-18 20:28:00

Out of Lockdown (p097dmnf.mp3)

The prime minister is due to announce on Monday his plan for lifting the current lockdown in England. He says he wants progress to be cautious but irreversible. And he, like many, is saying that decisions on how and when to lift lockdown need to be driven by data not dates. So what are the risks, for example, in sending primary age children back to school? Of opening pubs? Of opening non-essential shops? To what extent would any of this be possible without the rollout of the vaccination programme? And why is vaccination alone not a magic bullet? With Professor Azra Ghani of Imperial College, London; Professor Stephen Reicher of St. Andrews University; and Dr. Mike Tildesley of Warwick University. Producers: Tim Mansel, Sally Abrahams and Kirsteen Knight Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-02-11 20:29:00

“Turmoil” in the SNP (p096q8bw.mp3)

The prospect of independence for Scotland may never have been brighter for the SNP. Elections to Holyrood are due in May and the party has promised to seek a new referendum on independence if it gains a majority. Yet, at the same time, a prominent SNP MP concluded this week that the “turmoil” within her party was “unprecedented”. Others have talked about the “fight to the death” that’s currently being waged between supporters of the leader, Nicola Sturgeon and supporters of her predecessor, Alex Salmond. The feud has its roots in a government investigation of Mr Salmond in 2018 that led to him being charged with a number of sexual offences. A jury cleared Mr Salmond on all counts in a trial last year. So what’s going on in the SNP? How can it be so apparently popular while being so deeply divided? And how might this affect its chances of realising its ambition of an independent Scotland? With BBC Scotland editor, Sarah Smith,; journalist Dani Garavelli; and Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, Sir John Curtice. Producers: Tim Mansel, Sally Abrahams, Kirsteen Knight Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-02-04 20:02:00

GameStop Shock (p0962c0t.mp3)

There was pandemonium on the US stock market when shares in a chain of video game shops went through the roof. At one point GameStop’s stock, which averaged just seven dollars last year, was valued at more than 480 dollars. The frenzy was fuelled by cheerleaders on Reddit. Investors were being encouraged to buy the stock even as it became clear that they would probably lose most of their investment. There was a mood of rebellion online and clear hostility to millionaire hedge fund managers. Then one of the platforms that offered small investors free access to the market said it would temporarily no longer allow new purchases of GameStop stock. This prompted furious claims of unfairness; accusations that Wall Street had shut out the little guy; that there was one rule for the big investor and another for the amateur. So what did actually happen? Was this truly a battle between the Davids and the Goliaths of the financial world? What will happen next? And why does it matter? Contributors: Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge Sebastian Mallaby, The Council on Foreign Relations and Washington Post Philip Coggan, The Economist Susannah Streeter, Hargreaves Lansdown Producers: Tim Mansel, Sally Abrahams, Kirsteen Knight Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-01-28 20:29:00

The Irish Question (p095dx88.mp3)

This year marks 100 years since the creation of Northern Ireland, in May 1921. But in the light of Brexit, which has left Northern Ireland inside the EU’s single market and customs union, creating, in effect, a border in the Irish Sea, conversations about the possibility of Irish reunification are getting louder. One opinion poll suggested there is now a slender majority in Northern Ireland in favour of holding what’s known as a “border poll”, a referendum on the reunification of Ireland, within five years. So has Brexit made reunification any more likely? With Margaret O’Callaghan of Queen’s University, Belfast; Alan Renwick of University College London; Sam McBride of The News Letter; and Etain Tannam of Trinity College, Dublin. Presenter: David Aaronovitch Editor: Jasper Corbett Producers: Tim Mansel, Sally Abrahams, Kirsteen Knight

From The Briefing Room at 2021-01-21 20:29:00

Putin vs Navalny (p094qhf3.mp3)

Millions of people have been watching a film in the past two days that was released by Alexei Navalny, Russia's leading opposition figure, even as he languished in a Moscow jail. The film, presented by Navalny, accuses the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, of embezzlement on the grandest of scales. Mr. Putin is said to be furious. Last year there was an attempt on Mr. Navalny’s life using the nerve agent, novichok. Fingers were pointed at the Kremlin, which has denied any involvement. Navalny went to Germany for hospital treatment and convalescence. He returned to Russia on Sunday and was arrested on arrival in Moscow. Navalny seems likely to find himself behind bars for several years, but he’s called on his supporters to take to the streets. The Kremlin’s reaction to his return indicates its nervousness. There are parliamentary elections later this year. So what has Vladimir Putin to fear from Alexei Navalny? With: Arkady Ostrovsky, Russia Editor at The Economist; Steve Rosenberg, BBC Moscow Correspondent; Catherine Belton, author of the book, Putin’s People; and Nikolai Petrov, Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House. Producers: Tim Mansel, Sally Abrahams, Kirsteen Knight Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-01-14 20:30:00

Covid and the NHS (p0940qyr.mp3)

More than 80 thousand people in the UK have now died with Covid-19; there are currently more than three million confirmed cases across the country. In the worst affected areas one person in 20 is infected. The strain on the National Health Service is immense. Even with the whole of the UK now in some form of lockdown, there are more than 35,000 people in hospital with the virus. That is around 50 per cent more than at the peak of the epidemic in the UK last spring. And, as hospitals reprioritise to deal with Covid cases, patients with other conditions are bearing the brunt. One London hospital trust announced this week it was cancelling some cancer operations. So this week we are asking if the NHS is coping with the Covid crisis. With Jennifer Dixon of the Health Foundation, Nigel Edwards of the Nuffield Trust, Siva Anandaciva of the King’s Fund and David Salisbury, the former head of immunisation at the Department of Health. Producers: Tim Mansel, Sally Abrahams, Kirsteen Knight Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2021-01-07 20:29:00

America: what just happened? (p093d5sk.mp3)

The past day has been an extraordinary one in the history of modern America. Firstly, the Democrats secured a majority in both houses of Congress. Secondly, Congress certified Joe Biden’s election victory - although many Republicans challenged the votes of some states. Thirdly, while the political debates were underway, pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and four people died. David Aaronovitch is joined by an expert panel of guests to examine what just happened and what does this mean for the United States, its institutions and its politics. Producers: Tim Mansel, Kirsteen Knight and May Cameron Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-12-31 20:30:00

Facebook's Monopoly Problem (p091x1mf.mp3)

US federal regulators and dozens of state prosecutors are suing Facebook accusing it of illegal actions in buying up rivals and stifling competition. It's one of the biggest antitrusts in US history and is one of several cases being taken against big tech companies. David Aaronovitch explores the case against Facebook and the evolution of antitrust law in the US. What is the basis on which these companies are being held to account, and is this law an outdated tool in confronting tech titans? GUESTS: Gilad Edelman - Political writer at Wired magazine Scott Hemphill - Professor of Law at the University of New York Lina Khan - Associate Professor at Columbia Law School Ariel Ezrachi - Professor of Law at the University of Oxford Producers: Serena Tarling, Viv Jones Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-12-17 20:30:00

The Climate Crisis: Are We Moving Fast Enough? (p091rkml.mp3)

While the world’s attention has been distracted by Covid, the climate crisis has continued to pose an existential threat. But there have been significant developments this year, not least the announcement by China that it has set 2060 as the year when it will become carbon neutral. Joe Biden was elected president of the United States with promises to set a carbon neutral target of his own and to spend trillions of dollars on new green jobs and new green infrastructure. The EU, Japan and South Korea have all designated 2050 as the year they will reach net zero emissions. Meanwhile the world continues to get hotter. So is this all too little, too late? Hopefully not, especially, as we’ll hear, given the way that industry and finance are now reorganising. With Professor Mark Maslin of University College London; Byford Tsang of the climate change think tank E3G; Pete Ogden, who worked on climate change in the Obama White House and is now at the United Nations Foundation; and Dr Gabrielle Walker, a writer and consultant to private industry on climate change adaptation. Producers: Tim Mansel, Sally Abrahams, Kirsteen Knight Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-12-10 20:30:00

Living with the Taliban (p0912123.mp3)

The war in Afghanistan has just entered its twentieth year. It has come at an enormous cost, most notably to Afghan civilians, but also to Britain. Nearly 500 British military personnel have lost their lives there since 2001. But now, for the first time the Taliban and the elected Afghan government are involved in direct peace negotiations. The talks in Doha, which have been going on since September, follow an agreement reached earlier this year between the US government and the Taliban. Under that agreement the US promised to withdraw its remaining troops within 14 months and the Taliban said it would cut all ties with terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda. The Taliban’s place at the negotiating table reflects its strength on the ground in Afghanistan as a fighting force; and it implies that it the way is open for a return to government in Kabul. But, given memories of public executions, the exclusion of women from public life, and the banning of music and kite flying, how acceptable will that be to the Afghan people? And how easy will it be for western governments to do business with the Taliban? David Aaronovitch is joined by: Lyse Doucet, the BBC's Chief International Correspondent Orzala Neemat, Director of the Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit, Annie Pforzheimer, a former deputy Head of Mission at the US Embassy in Kabul. Producers: Tim Mansel, Kirsteen Knight, Sally Abrahams Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-12-03 21:00:00

Brexit: Is It Oven Ready? (p090fjzy.mp3)

With just weeks to go till the Brexit transition period ends, David Aaronovitch and The Briefing Room team explore Britain’s readiness for 2021. What will it mean for you? What have supermarkets, airlines, businesses, ports and the government done to get ready – and will it be enough? Producers: Serena Tarling, Kirsteen Knight, Sally Abrahams Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-11-26 20:30:00

How Broke is Britain? (p08zqrwq.mp3)

Thanks to the pandemic Britain’s borrowing is forecast to hit nearly £400bn this year. The economy is expected to contract by more than eleven per cent. How can we afford this? What can the government do to bring public spending under control? David Aaronovitch is joined by: Jagjit Chadha - Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Nicholas Crafts - Professor of Economics and Economic History at the University of Warwick Adam Posen - President of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) Gemma Tetlow - Chief Economist at the Institute for Government Abigail Adams-Prassl - Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford

From The Briefing Room at 2020-11-05 20:30:00

The President's In Tray (p08xjb3s.mp3)

Whoever wins the US presidential election, what policy priorities await the next man in the White House? David Aaronovitch, asks what are the domestic priorities for an-coming President Biden or a second term President Trump and how do they go about rebuilding the US economy amid an ongoing Covid pandemic? On the international front, how might America's relationship with the rest of the world change with a new President and will this mean a greater commitment to tackling climate change? If President Trump wins a second term, where will he focus his international agenda? Contributors: James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and former Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice-President Joe Biden. Leslie Vinjamuri, Director, US & Americas, Chatham House Thomas Hale, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Oxford University Producers: Richard Fenton Smith, Simon Coates, Kirsteen Knight Sound Engineer: Rod Farquhar Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-10-22 20:30:00

Education: A Testing Issue (p08w1n2l.mp3)

Scotland has cancelled its National 5 school exams next summer - should the rest of the UK follow? On The Briefing Room David Aaronovitch asks if exams should go ahead next year, and can governments ensure assessments are fair? Contributors: Branwen Jeffreys, BBC education editor Prof Anna Vignoles, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge Laura McInerney, former editor of Schools Week Natalie Perera, executive director at the Education Policy Institute Prof Lindsay Paterson, University of Edinburgh. Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Bob Howard and Rosamund Jones Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-10-15 20:30:00

Covid-19: Regional Differences (p08vdcyq.mp3)

As the U.K. introduces more restrictions to stem the spread of Covid-19, why are there such marked regional differences in the infection rate? Contributors: Greg Fell, Director of Public Health, Sheffield City Council Wendy Burke, Director of Public Health, North Tyneside Council Dr Susanna Currie, Clinical Director for Cumbria Sexual Health Services at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, Dame Anne Johnson, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at University College London Dr Michael Tildesley, University of Warwick Producers: Rosamund Jones, Bob Howard and Kirsteen Knight. Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-10-08 20:00:00

Britain's Immigration Dilemma (p08trd7x.mp3)

As the Home Secretary Priti Patel promises to fix a 'broken' asylum system, what measures could the government take to reduce the number of migrants crossing the English Channel? Contributors: Professor Nando Sigona, Department of Social Policy, University of Birmingham Kathleen Newland, co-founder of the Migration Policy Institute Rob McNeil, deputy director of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, Producers: Ros Jones, Bob Howard, Kirsteen Knight Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-10-01 20:30:00

Covid-19: are we still following the rules? (p08t305x.mp3)

As more restrictions are put in place regarding who we can meet and where we can go, to what extent are we following the rules? Is there any evidence of fatigue among the British public when it comes to adhering to government guidance designed to stop the spread of Covid-19? David Aaronovitch looks at the latest restrictions put in place around the UK and maps our behaviour since lockdown was first introduced back in March. What determines whether someone complies with the guidance or not? Will bigger fines encourage more people to fall in line? And to what extent do we actually understand what is being asked of us? Contributors: Dominic Casciani, BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Prof Daisy Fancourt, University College London Prof Jocelyn Raude, EHESP French School of Public Health, Rennes Prof Linda Bauld, the University of Edinburgh Team: Richard Fenton-Smith. Bob Howard & Kirsteen Knight Studio Manager: Rod Farquhar Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-09-24 20:30:00

Sweden and the Pandemic (p08sfxzs.mp3)

Sweden decided not to lockdown like other countries - was it the right decision? David Aaronovitch explores the Swedish experience of the pandemic and reveals that, for a country which didn't officially lockdown, it still introduced significant changes to everyday life, from school closures to social distancing and the cancellation of theatre shows and concerts. He looks at how the country's economy has fared compared to similar countries, and investigates whether claims it is in a better position to generate 'herd immunity' are accurate. Contributors: Maddy Savage, journalist in Stockholm Dr Emma Frans, researcher in medical epidemiology at Karolinska Institute, Stockholm Richard Milne, Nordic and Baltic Correspondent at The Financial Times Marcus Buggert, assistant professor at the Centre for Infectious Medicine at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Team: Richard Fenton-Smith, Bob Howard, Kirsteen Knight Studio Manager: Rod Farquhar Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-09-17 20:30:00

Covid-19: Six Months On (p08rswty.mp3)

It's been six months since the coronavirus-induced lockdown was introduced across the UK - what have we learned about Covid-19 in that time? David Aaronovitch explores what we now know about the science of the virus, the symptoms it produces, and the policies which have been developed to tackle its spread. Contributors: Ravi Gupta, Professor of Clinical Microbiology, University of Cambridge Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology. King's College London Thomas Hale, Associate Professor in Global Public Policy, University of Oxford Keith Neal, Emeritus Professor in the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, University of Nottingham Team: Richard Fenton-Smith, Kirsteen Knight and Julie Ball. Studio Manager: Rod Farquhar Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-09-10 20:30:00

Will the US election be free and fair? (p08r34yq.mp3)

Allegations of potential postal voting fraud and voter suppression have raised questions about the fairness of November's US presidential election, but what evidence is there to suggest these fears will be realised and influence the vote? David Aaronovitch explores the prevalence of electoral fraud in America, and in a year when the polls suggest a tight race in several states, he asks what will happen if the election result is contested? Contributors: Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter Elaine Kamarck, director of the Center for Effective Public Management, Brookings Institution. Professor Carol Anderson, Emory University, Atlanta Professor Jamal Greene, Columbia University, New York Team: Richard Fenton-Smith, Julie Ball and Kirsteen Knight Studio Manager: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-09-03 20:30:00

Football and the Pandemic (p08q5nx3.mp3)

Like many other areas of life the pandemic has hit football where it hurts: revenues are down and there’s a danger that some clubs will go out of business. But if that were to happen, does it really matter? The Premier League has become a great British export and it generates billions pounds for the British economy. Beyond its monetary value, it is also something which millions of people enjoy watching and playing - but how important is it in the current crisis? Contributors: Kieran Maguire, Accountancy and finance Lecturer from the University of Liverpool. Alex Culvin, Senior Lecturer in Sports Business from Salford University. Stephan Uesrfeld, Germany correspondent from sports channel ESPN. David Goldblatt , Sociologist and Author. Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy, Cambridge University. Presenter: David Aaronovitch Producers: Jim Frank and Ben Carter. Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-08-27 20:30:00

Brexit: deal or no deal? (p08ptmvf.mp3)

The EU has warned a trade deal with the UK now seems unlikely – is that just posturing to speed up negotiations or is ‘no deal’ now the most likely outcome? And how will Brexit affect you when the transition period ends – from the price of shopping, to pet passports and lorry parks, David Aaronovitch asks the experts: Katya Adler – BBC Europe Editor John Peet - Political and Brexit Editor, The Economist Maddy Thimont Jack - Senior Researcher. The Institute for Government Professor Anand Mennon – Director of the UK in a Changing Europe. Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Alex Lewis and Joe Kent Studio manager: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett.

From The Briefing Room at 2020-08-20 20:30:00

Belarus: the end of a dictatorship? (p08p5yd1.mp3)

Belarus is gripped by nationwide protests, triggered by what is seen as an unfair election, rigged in favour of the country’s authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko. Violent clashes have led to the arrest of more than 6000 people, with many reporting beatings and torture at the hands of the police. President Lukashenko has told protestors they would have to kill him before there was another election – but are the days numbered for the man described as Europe’s last dictator? Contributors: David Marples, professor of history, University of Alberta Brian Klaas, associate professor in global politics, University College London Olga Dryndova, editor of Belarus-Analysen, University of Bremen Elena Korosteleva, professor of international politics, University of Kent Team: Richard Fenton-Smith, Beth Sagar-Fenton, Kirsteen Knight Studio Manager: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-08-13 20:03:00

Covid-19: the return to school (p08nkkr5.mp3)

This week children start to return to school in Scotland, with the rest of the UK due to reopen schools in September. For most students this is the first time they'll be setting foot inside a school since March - the longest interruption to schooling in living memory. But with the number of coronavirus cases back on the rise, how should we balance the risks of reopening schools, against the risks of keeping them shut? Contributors: Professor Bobby Duffy, Director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London. Professor Jonas Ludviggson, Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health and is a scientific adviser to the government as a member of SAGE Professor Anna Vignoles, University of Cambridge Inès Hassan, researcher at the Global Health Governance Programme at the University of Edinburgh Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Beth Sagar-Fenton and Rosamund Jones Studio manager: Neva Missirian Editor: Hugh Levinson

From The Briefing Room at 2020-08-06 20:03:00

Scottish Independence: Hope and Fear (p08myrtk.mp3)

Recent polls suggest a growing majority of people in Scotland now favour independence, so what’s behind the change since the 2014 referendum when 55% of voters chose to remain in the Union? How likely is another vote considering Boris Johnson has said it’s not going to happen and what issues are likely to dominate campaigning if it does? David Aaronovitch asks the experts: Allan Little reported widely on devolution and the questions around Scottish independence as a BBC special correspondent. Sir John Curtice is a Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, and Chief Commentator on the What UK Thinks Jess Sargeant is a Senior Researcher at The Institute for Government where she focusses on devolution. Lynsey Bews, is a Political Correspondent for BBC Scotland Alistair Grant is a Political Correspondent for The Herald newspaper. Producers: Kirtseen Knight, Beth Sagar-Fenton and Joe Kent Studio manager: Neva Missirian Editor: Richard Vadon

From The Briefing Room at 2020-07-30 20:30:00

How to beat obesity (p08m96cn.mp3)

The government says “tackling obesity is one of the greatest long-term health challenges this country faces” and has published a plan to help people in England lose weight. What’s in it, what’s not, and what more could be done? David Aaronovitch asks the experts: David Buck is a senior fellow at the health think tank The Kings Fund and used to work for The Department of Health Smitha Mundas is a doctor turned journalist and a health reporter for the BBC Susan Jebb is Professor of Diet and Population Health at the University of Oxford, and a member of the Public Health England Obesity Programme. Professor Corinna Hawkes is Director of the Centre for Food Policy at City University and Vice Chair of the London Child Obesity Task force. Producers: Ben Crighton, Kirsteen Knight and Joe Kent Studio Manager: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett.

From The Briefing Room at 2020-07-23 20:30:00

The UK's place in the world (p08ln8cb.mp3)

How can the UK shape its foreign policy in response to threats posed by the likes of Russia and China? And how does that fit with the government’s vision of ‘Global Britain'? David Aaronovitch asks the experts: James Landale: BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Lord Ricketts: former diplomat, ambassador and national security advisor Dr Leslie Vinjamuri: director of the the US & Americas programme at Chatham House Christopher Hill: Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Cambridge University and author of 'The Future of British Foreign Policy: Security and Diplomacy in a World After Brexit' Dr Victoria Honeyman: politics lecturer and specialist in British foreign policy at the University of Leeds. Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Simon Coates and Joe Kent. Editor: Jasper Corbett.

From The Briefing Room at 2020-07-16 20:30:00

What is happening to the Uighurs in China? (p08l038l.mp3)

The Chinese Communist Party is accused of locking up hundreds of thousands of Uighurs in internment camps. In the Uighurs' homeland in Xinjiang, the state operates a system of mass-surveillance and is accused of human rights abuses against the mainly Muslim minority including forced labour and compulsory birth control. China says the camps are not prisons but schools for ‘thought transformation’ and it continues to deny the abuse of human rights. David Aaronovitch asks leading experts what’s going on in Xinjiang and how is the rest of the world responding: Rian Thum, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham Dr Jo Smith Finley, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Newcastle University Josh Chin deputy China Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal Charles Parton Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI Producers: Kirtseen Knight, Beth Sagar Fenton, Joe Kent Studio manger: James Beard Editor: Jasper Corbett.

From The Briefing Room at 2020-07-09 20:35:00

Can the NHS recover from coronavirus? (p08kb3dh.mp3)

The pandemic will impact the way healthcare is delivered for years to come. At the same time as preparing for a possible second wave, the NHS also has to work its way through a backlog of delayed appointments and treatments. Waiting lists could top 10 million people this year. David Aaronvicth asks the experts what Covid-19 has done to healthcare in the UK and how can it recover: Journalist Chris Cook specialises in the public sector and is an editor and partner at Tortoise Media Rachel Schraer is a health reporter for BBC News Dr Jennifer Dixon is the chief executive of the Health Foundation Professor Carol Propper is a health economist at Imperial College London and President of The Royal Economics Society Nigel Edwards is chief executive of the Nuffield Trust an independent health think tank. Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Beth Sagar Fenton, Joe Kent Studio manager: Neva Missirian Editor: Jasper Corbett.

From The Briefing Room at 2020-07-02 20:15:00

The Leicester lockdown (p08jpjrb.mp3)

In Germany fences have gone up to keep people in their homes and stop the spread of Coronavirus, while some people in Melbourne are being threatened with fines or imprisonment for travelling to other states. Could that happen in the UK? The new lockdown in Leicester is likely to be the first of many, so how should local lockdowns work and when should they be introduced? David Aaronovitch asks the experts: Amy Orton – local democracy reporter at the Leicester Mercury/ Leicestershire Online Dr Nathalie MacDermott – Kings College London Damien McGuinness – the BBC’s Berlin correspondent Alex Thomas – Programme director, The Institute for Government Greg Fell - The Association of Directors of Public Health/ Sheffield City Council Director of Public Health Dr Jilly Gibson-Miller – health psychologist at the University of Sheffield Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Beth Sagar-Fenton, Joe Kent Editor: Jasper Corbett.

From The Briefing Room at 2020-06-25 20:30:00

Can Britain avoid mass-unemployment? (p08j0n0j.mp3)

The Bank of England says unemployment could approach 10 per cent this year and as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is wound down, many economists are warning it could go even higher. With more than a quarter of the UK workforce already on furlough, what can be done to make sure they have jobs to go back to? David Aaronovitch examines the government’s options and hears who is most vulnerable. Contributors: Melanie Simms, Professor of Work and Employment at the University of Glasgow Laura Gardiner, Research Director at The Resolution Foundation Alan Manning, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies Producers: Beth Sagar-Fenton, Kirsteen Knight and Joe Kent. Editor: Jasper Corbett.

From The Briefing Room at 2020-05-15 09:06:00

China and the Pandemic (p08d62m9.mp3)

How have China's relations with other countries changed since the arrival of the virus? The US and China have been facing each other off for years, but increasingly other nations are questioning the benefits that China's growing dominance has brought. David Aaronovitch explores how that is being viewed within China itself. Has trust in the communist regime declined or are nationalistic attitudes strengthening? And what changes might this bring to global power dynamics in the future? Contributors: Professor Niall Ferguson of Stanford University, Rafaello Pantucci from RUSI, Yu Jie from Chatham House, economist and author Dr Linda Yueh and Professor Steve Tsang from SOAS. Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Sally Abrahams and Rosamund Jones. Editor: Jasper Corbett.

From The Briefing Room at 2020-05-07 20:31:00

Coronavirus and the economy (p08ckpfc.mp3)

What damage are the pandemic and lockdown doing to the economy and what could happen next? David Aaronovitch explores the economic impact of physical distancing on business, whether our fast expanding national debt is sustainable and the threat posed by declining consumer confidence on our economic recovery. Does history offer a guide as to how and when people should return to work and government support be turned off? And what will our economy look like when the lockdown is eased? Contributors: Faisal Islam, BBC Economics Editor Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality Jeffrey Frankel, Professor of Capital Formation and Growth at Harvard University Professor Jagjit Chadha, Director of The National Institute of Economic and Social Research Stephanie Flanders, senior executive editor at Bloomberg and head of Bloomberg Economics Producers: Luke Radcliff, Sally Abrahams and Rosamund Jones. Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-04-30 20:10:00

Covid-19 and the Care Sector (p08bxw28.mp3)

Have the mounting deaths exposed cracks in the way we deliver care to some of our most vulnerable people? David Aaronovitch looks at how the system is structured and funded. and why it sometimes struggles to gain the political attention it needs. This is a sector in which people have called for reform has for decades but very little has been delivered. How have other countries care systems coped during the pandemic and what lessons could we learn? Contributors: Alison Holt, BBC Social Affairs Correspondent William Laing, Chairman of Laing Buisson Jill Manthorpe, Professor of Social Work at King's College London Adelina Comas-Herrera, researcher at the London School of Economics Natasha Curry, Acting Deputy Director of Policy, Nuffield Trust Producers: Luke Radcliff, Sally Abrahams and Rosamund Jones Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-04-23 20:15:00

Easing the lockdown (p08bcsjb.mp3)

Some countries have opened schools, hairdressers and small non-food shops. David Aaronovitch asks what has guided those tentative first steps and whether the lockdown can be eased safely. What have we learnt about the behaviour and epidemiology of the virus and how might that inform decisions in the UK? He also quizzes experts about how long it could take to end the lockdown fully, and whether some form of social distancing could be in place for many months to come. Contributors: Dr Nathalie MacDermott, Imperial College London Dr Michael Tildesley, Warwick University Prof Hans Joern Kolmos, University of Southern Denmark Prof Martin McKee, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Ngaire Woods, Blavatnik School of Government and Professor of Global Economic Governance at Oxford University Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Darin Graham and Rosamund Jones Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-04-17 10:09:00

The psychological impact of the coronavirus pandemic (p089pxyr.mp3)

What do we know about how we are coping with the pandemic crisis? David Aaronovitch looks at the impact the three month lockdown has had on people in China and asks how different groups in the UK - just three weeks in - are faring. What are the particular difficulties faced by the most vulnerable and those who have been advised to self isolate, maybe for many months, during the pandemic? He asks what strategies can be put in place to reduce mental hardship now and in the coming weeks. And when normality resumes, how changed might we be? Contributors: Dr George Hu, Shanghai United Family Pudong Hospital Helen Westerman, Childline Prof Bobby Duffy, King's College London Prof Stephen Reicher, University of St Andrews Prof Neil Greenberg, King's College London. Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Darin Graham and Rosamund Jones. Editor: Jasper Corbett.

From The Briefing Room at 2020-04-09 20:30:00

The Inequalities of Lockdown (p08941g8.mp3)

What effect is the lockdown having across the country and population? David Aaronovitch examines which jobs have been lost, whose health is more at risk and whose education is most likely to suffer. Is the lockdown likely to increase inequality? And if it does, how might a government reverse that trend once normal life is resumed? Contributors: Professor Angus Deaton from Princeton University, Professor Simon Burgess from Bristol University, Xiaowei Xu from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Paul Swinney from the Centre for Cities and Miatta Fahnbulleh from the New Economics Foundation. Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Darin Graham and Rosamund Jones. Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-04-02 20:10:00

Covid-19: What Next? (p088hmr5.mp3)

Why have some countries run mass-testing operations when others, including the UK, have not? David Aaronovitch examines how South Korea and Germany have approached the coronavirus pandemic and what they have learned from the data they've gathered. He also looks at how the hunt for a vaccine is progressing and who is in the race, as well as the role existing anti-viral drugs might play in reducing the threat posed by Covid-19. Contributors: Professor Devi Sridhar, Chair of Global Public Health, University of Edinburgh Dr Jerome Kim, Director General of the International Vaccine Institute Dr Philipp Zanger, Head of the Institute of Hygiene, Infection Control and Prevention at the Rhineland-Palatinate Agency for Consumer and Public Protection Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute Professor Johan Neyts, virologist, University of Leuven, Belgium. Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Darin Graham & Rosamund Jones Editor: Jasper Corbett

From The Briefing Room at 2020-02-20 20:30:00

UK fishing and Brexit (p0843f55.mp3)

The UK fishing industry will be central to EU trade negotiations, starting soon. David Aaronovitch explores why a sector, which contributes very little to the overall economy, has gained such political and cultural importance. He asks why there is such a mismatch between the kind of fish we catch and the kind of fish we eat. When did cod become so central to our diets? With his guests, he also traces the industry's relationship with the EU down the decades. To what extent did the imposition of EU quotas reduce the amount of fish UK boats catch? And should fishing now expect a 'Brexit bounce'? Contributors: Hazel Curtis, director of Seafish Nick Fisher, fisherman and author John Lichfield, journalist Dr Jill Wakefield, University of Warwick. Dr Bryce Stewart, University of York Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Jordan Dunbar and Rosamund Jones. Editor: Penny Murphy.