The Briefing Room

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

Episodes

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20160526

20160714
20160818

David Aaronovitch looks at important issues in the news.

20160825

David Aaronovitch hears from top experts and key players about an important issue of the day.

20160901

David Aaronovitch looks at important issues in the news.

20160908

David Aaronovitch looks at important issues in the news.

20160922

Can the deal between the United States and Russia lead to a sustained ceasefire in Syria?

Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Researcher: Alex Burton.

20161201

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

20161215
20170119
20170223

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

20170302

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

20170406

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

20170413
20170518

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

There's a compelling story unfolding in Washington. Last week, President Trump fired the director of the FBI, James Comey. It was a contentious move: Comey was investigating ties between Donald Trump's election campaign and Russia. Some are now asking whether the President's job could be at risk.

On this week's Briefing Room, David Aaronovitch unpicks the relationship between Trump and the FBI, and asks where the investigation goes from here. If Trump is determined to make the investigation disappear, could he?

With the help of a former FBI Special Agent and expert on national security law and a veteran watcher of Capitol Hill, David Aaronovitch steps into the Briefing Room to make sense of the Trump affair.

Guests:
Paul Wood, BBC World Affairs Correspondent
Asha Rangappa, former FBI Special Agent and current Associate Dean at Yale Law School.
Niall Stanage, Associate Editor of the American political newspaper, The Hill.

Producer: Neal Razzell
Research: Sarah Shebbeare.

20170706

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

The chancellor is facing widespread calls for more spending. Should he listen, or stick to his deficit reduction plan?

Senior Conservatives are calling for more public spending on things like public sector pay - but Philip Hammond is committed to what he himself calls 'the long slog of austerity'.

David Aaronovitch invites a range of experts into The Briefing Room to help him understand the arguments around public spending, and asks if the UK should ditch austerity?

Guests include Paul Johnson from the IFS and economists Ann Pettifor and Tim Besley.

20170713

Labour will play a crucial role in shaping Britain's exit from the EU now the Conservative government has lost its overall majority.

The vast majority of Labour MPs backed Remain ahead of the referendum - but most followed party orders to allow Article 50 to be invoked (the mechanism for leaving the EU).

On the day the government publishes the Repeal Bill and the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn meets the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, David Aaronovitch asks a range of political experts what Labour wants.

He'll look back into the party's history to see if that helps explain today's divisions and he'll be briefed on whether Labour's Brexit wishlist is realistic.

CONTRIBUTORS

Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at The University of Nottingham

Catherine Barnard, Professor of European Union Law, The University of Cambridge

Deborah Mattinson, former advisor to Gordon Brown and founder of think tank Britain Thinks

Producers: Phoebe Keane and Beth Sagar-Fenton

20170720

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

Are Tory divisions temporary or symptomatic of deeper problems?

Parliament has broken up for the summer, and the last week has seen Conservative cabinet ministers engaging in open warfare. But are the divisions a temporary crisis, or are they symptomatic of deeper problems in the party? David Aaronovitch speaks to a range of experts and goes beyond the future leadership jostling to see what's really causing the current political climate.

He hears from a former adviser to David Cameron who says the Tories are facing an existential threat if they can't win over the under 40s. He then hears from a panel of experts on what policies are needed to lure in younger voters.

CONTRIBUTORS

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London

Lord Andrew Cooper, former director of strategy to David Cameron

Laura Gardiner, senior research and policy analyst at the think tank The Resolution Foundation

David Skelton, director of Renewal – a campaign group to broaden the appeal of the Conservative party to working-class and ethnic minority voters

Guests include Tim Bale, Lord Cooper, Laura Gardiner and David Skelton.

20170727

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

This year almost 100,000 people have arrived in Italy by boat - and more than 2,000 have died trying.

The Italians say they can’t cope, but it's a problem which has now been going on for years - so why has nobody solved it?

In this week's programme David Aaronovitch asks who are the migrants, where are they coming from, how do they get to Europe and what needs to be done to stop more people dying.

CONTRIBUTORS

Joel Millman, UN's International Organisation for Migration

Tuesday Reitano, Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime

Mattia Toaldo, European Council on Foreign Relations

Elizabeth Collett, Migration Policy Institute Europe

20170803

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

It's been a tumultuous week in Washington - but to what extent does the chaos in Trump's West Wing matter?

Anthony 'The Mooch' Scaramucci was gone in 900,000 seconds - but whoever replaces him will be President Trump's third communications director. His press secretary has resigned, he’s fired his acting attorney general, and he’s on his second chief of staff, John Kelly, a retired general who many hope will bring discipline to a leaky White House.

By the standards of almost all modern American politics this seems bizarre, if not catastrophic. But then by the standards of almost all modern American politics Donald Trump would not be president.

In this week's edition of The Briefing Room David Aaronovitch takes a step back, and tries to find out what the actual consequences of the dramas of Trump’s West Wing might be.

CONTRIBUTORS

Jonny Dymond, BBC Correspondent

Adam Gingrich, worked on Donald Trump's campaign in Pennsylvania

Stephan Halper, former foreign policy advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan and now Emeritus Senior Fellow of the Centre of International Studies

Leslie Vinjamuri, Associate Fellow of the Americas programme at Chatham House

Anthony Zurcher, BBC senior North America reporter

20170810

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

How did the oil rich state of Venezuela see such a rapid economic decline? Poverty is rife, inflation is running at more than 700 per cent and protests are widespread. President Nicolás Maduro is tightening his hold on power following the appointment of a new national assembly, charged with writing a new constitution.

In this week's programme David Aaronovitch asks whether former president Hugo Chavez and president Maduro played a role in compounding the crisis and asks if Venezuela might become a failed state.

CONTRIBUTORS
Dany Bahar, The Brookings Institution

Andrea Murta, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center of the Atlantic Council

Miguel Tinker-Salas, Pomona College, California

Katy Watson, BBC

Vladimir Hernandez, BBC.

It's supposed to say the following in the long description:
How did the oil rich state of Venezuela see such a rapid economic decline? Poverty is rife, inflation is running at more than 700 per cent and protests are widespread. President Nicolás Maduro is tightening his hold on power following the appointment of a new national assembly, charged with writing a new constitution.

In this week's programme David Aaronovitch asks whether former president Hugo Chavez and president Maduro played a role in compounding the crisis and asks if Venezuela might become a failed state.

20170817

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

What do the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, tell us about the strength of the far-right in America? What should the government do to combat domestic extremism?

In this week's programme David Aaronovitch asks if there is a white nationalist revival in the United States and what that means for the country's politics.

CONTRIBUTORS:
J.M. Berger, author, analyst and consultant on extremism.
Sandy Hausman, WVTF radio.
Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi who is now an anti-extremism campaigner.
Leonard Zeskind, a researcher of the American far-right and director of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights
Asha Rangappa, former special agent, FBI and now lecturer at Yale Law School.

20170824

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

How will Artificial Intelligence shape our lives, and what should we do now to prepare for it?

AI is all around us in our everyday lives. It's used to make decisions about employment, loans, credit cards and even what we read and listen to. So what are the implications of this revolutionary technology?

David Aaronovitch hears from experts in the field including David Baker, contributing editor to Wired magazine, Cathy O'Neil, a former data scientist, Pippa Malmgren, founder of H Robotics and Regina Barzilay, a computer scientist at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI laboratory.

20170831

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

Do the United States and its allies really have the technology to stop incoming missiles from North Korea?

In the week North Korea tested another ballistic missile - this time it flew over northern Japan - David Aaronovich asks what threat does North Korea's missile programme pose?

And beyond North Korea, what are the capabilities of ICBMs? And how effective are missile defence systems?

Contributors:

Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at Kings College London

Joseph Cirincione author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late

Dr Patricia Lewis, a former UN official who specialised in non-proliferation

Dr Laura Grego from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

20170907

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

As negotiations between the UK and the EU hit choppy waters, the Briefing Room asks what does the EU want from Brexit and what would be its bottom line?

David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including:

Pascal Lamy, former EU Trade Commissioner and Director General of the World Trade Organisation

Daniela Schwarzer, Head of the German Council on Foreign Relations

Jacek Rostowski, former Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister of Poland

David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including:

David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including, Pascal Lamy, a former EU Trade Commissioner and Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Daniela Schwarzer, Head of the German Council on Foreign Relations and Jacek Rostowski, who was Poland's finance minister from 2007 - 2013.

20170914

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

The public sector pay cap is being scrapped after five years - what will it mean for public finances?

Prison and police officers will be the first to benefit, but unions have condemned the pay rises - which are less than inflation - as "pathetic".

But could this extra money in the pocket of public servants help recruitment and retention in the public sector?

To explore these issues David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including:

Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies

Dr Amy Ludlow, a prisons expert at Cambridge University

Sir Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police

Jerry Cope, Chair of the NHS Pay Review Body.

The public sector pay cap is being scrapped after five years. Prison and police officers will be the first to benefit. But unions have condemned the pay rises - which are less than inflation - as "pathetic". Will this money help recruitment and retention in the public sector? What will it mean for the public finances?

David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including, Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Dr Amy Ludlow, a prisons expert at Cambridge University, Sir Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and Jerry Cope, Chair of the NHS Pay Review Body.

20170921

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, says she wants to know why 400,000 Muslim Rohingyas have fled into Bangladesh. The UN says what's going on seems "a textbook case of ethnic cleansing".

But why are the Rohingyas facing persecution in the first place and why aren't regional powers in Southeast Asia willing to do more to condemn it and stop it?

And ultimately, could this violence develop into something bigger and more dangerous? To discuss these issues David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including:

Professor Penny Green, Director of the International State Crime Initiative

Richard Horsey, a Myanmar Analyst who advises the International Crisis Group

Dr Champa Patel, Head of Asia Programme at Chatham House

Dr Lee Jones from Queen Mary University.

20170928

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

Are big technology companies out of control and too big to fail? David Aaronovitch asks if companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon can be reined in. He explores a range of issues including innovation, data, privacy, competition and security.

Guests include Jamie Bartlett, technology writer, Jonathan Taplin, author of Move Fast and Break Things, Eileen Burbidge, Chair of Tech City UK and Rana Foroohar, Financial Times columnist and author of Makers and Takers.

Are big technology companies out of control, as their rapid growth and influence has made them too big to fail?

David Aaronovitch asks if companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon can be reined in and explores a range of issues including innovation, data, privacy, competition and security.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said his company will hand over to US investigators more than 3,000 advertisements bought by groups with links to Russia – and the Washington Post reported that President Obama had previously warned Mr Zuckerberg about the threat of fake news and political disinformation.

On this side of the Atlantic, another tech company - Uber – is now in big trouble with Transport For London over its license to operate in the capital, claiming the company was not “fit and proper ?, citing major concerns about its approach to reporting criminal offences and carrying out background checks on drivers.

Both cases, and a plethora of others, have raised questions about the way big technology firms operate, and while they arguably bring immeasurable benefits to us in our everyday lives, governments have struggled to keep up with what they’re up to.

CONTRIBUTORS

Jamie Bartlett, technology writer and author of Radicals: Outsiders Changing the World

Jonathan Taplin, author of Move Fast and Break Things

Eileen Burbidge, Chair of Tech City UK

Rana Foroohar, Financial Times columnist and author of Makers and Takers

20171005

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

Could the crisis over Catalonia lead to the break up of Spain? With political rhetoric from both Barcelona and Madrid intensifying, David Aaronovitch asks a range of experts whether an independent Catalan state is now a possibility.

He examines what lies behind the Catalan desire for independence and the impact that a split could have on Spain.

Joining David in The Briefing Room:

Miguel Murado, a Spanish journalist

Eduardo Mendoza, one of Spain's best-known authors

Dr Rebecca Richards, statehood expert and Professor of International Relations at Keele University.

20171012

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

Is capitalism broken, and if so, what should replace it? David Aaronovitch examines whether the free market is failing, and asks how it could be reformed.

He speaks to a range of experts and leading economists including:

Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies

Gillian Tett, US Managing Editor of the Financial Times

Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University

Michael Jacobs, co-editor of Rethinking Capitalism.

He speaks to a range of experts and leading economists including Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Gillian Tett, US Managing Editor of the Financial Times, Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University and Michael Jacobs, co-editor of Rethinking Capitalism.

20171019

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

Many China watchers believe the country's president, Xi Jinping, is now the most powerful leader the country has had since Mao Zedong. If so what does President Xi want to do with that power and what will it mean for the rest of the world?

David is joined by guests including:

Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia.
Yanmei Xie, a writer on Chinese politics,
Lord O'Neill, former Treasury Minister and Chairman of Goldman Sachs.

20171026
20190124
20190131

David Aaronovitch present in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

20190207
20190912

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

20190919
20191003

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

20191010
20191024

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

04/05/201720170504

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

For the first time in over half a century, two insurgents, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, have broken through France's traditional two party system. This week, voters will decide between two utterly different visions of France, Europe and the world.

But how did France get here? What do we need to know about its state, its economy and its changing people? David Aaronovitch steps into the Briefing Room for an anatomy of France.

Contributors:

Jonathan Fenby: Author of The History of Modern France and Director of European Political Analysis at the TSL research company.

Catherine Guilyardi: Journalist for Radio France.

Jacques Reland: Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute at London Metropolitan University.

Producer: Xavier Zapata

Aleppo: After The Evacuation20170112

What happened after the buses left eastern Aleppo in December?

After four and a half years of siege, the residents of eastern Aleppo were evacuated before Christmas. But the evacuees didn't disappear when they left the city and the Syrian Civil war didn't end with the end of the siege.

Abdelkafi, an English teacher from Aleppo, relates his experience of leaving Aleppo by bus with his wife and young daughter. He describes days of hardship taking place under the eyes of the West.

And as international figures prepare for negotiations in Geneva, David Aaronovitch finds out what the fall of Aleppo means for its citizens, Syria and the Middle East.

Joining David in The Briefing Room are:

Marianne Gasser, Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Syria

Lina Khatib, Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House

Aron Lund, Fellow of the Century Foundation

Producer: Hannah Sander

Researchers: Serena Tarling and Kirsteen Knight.

Anti-semitism On The Left20160519

Labour activists, councillors, an MP and a former Mayor of London have all been suspended for comments which many regard as anti-Jewish. But why might a left of centre, progressive, pro-minority party have a problem with Anti-Semitism?

Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room:

Professor David Hirsh - the founder of the 'Engage' campaign against anti-Semitism on the Left

Owen Jones - journalist and Labour party member

Kerry-Anne Mendoza - activist and editor of The Canary.

Editor: Innes Bowen, Producer: Joe Kent, Researcher: Kirsteen Knight, Production Coordinator: Brenda Brown

Black Lives Matter Uk20161013

Black Lives Matter is a protest movement formed in reaction to the killing of black people by police in the United States. Now there are BLM ""chapters"" in Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester and London.

The British organisation's most high profile action so far has been a blockade of airports and major roads - but what does Black Lives Matter stand for in the UK?

Joining David Aaronovitch in this edition of The Briefing Room are:

Doton Adebayo, journalist and BBC 5 live presenter

Stephen Bush, special correspondent at The New Statesman

Kiri Kankhwende, political commentator for Media Diversified

Researcher: Alex Burton

Producer: Joe Kent.

Brexit - Where Next?20181213

Theresa May has been back in Brussels to attend a meeting of EU leaders, a day after surviving a leadership challenge at home. Her mission: to try to extract some form of concession from the other 27 EU member states that might persuade MPs in Westminster to support the withdrawal agreement the UK has concluded with the EU. Few commentators give her much chance of success. It still seems likely that when the deal is finally voted on by Parliament, it will be rejected. So what would happen then? Would the UK be heading for the EU exit door with no-deal? Might there be a vote of confidence that could lead to a general election? Could MPs from both main parties form a temporary government of national unity? Or might the Prime Minister accede to demands for a new referendum? With the historian Peter Hennessy, Jill Rutter of the Institute For Government, Agata Gostynska-Jakubowska of the Centre for European Reform and Meg Russell from University College London.

Theresa May has been back in Brussels to meet EU leaders. What's the future of Brexit now?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Brexit: Where Next?20181213
Britain's Constitutional Dilemma - Who Now Runs The Country?20190926

The Supreme Court has ruled that Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, turning a page on the country’s constitution. The Supreme Court president Lady Hale said "the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme." The Prime Minister responded that he "strongly disagrees" with the ruling but will "respect" it. So is British democracy at a crossroads? In an extended edition of the Briefing Room, David Aaronovitch asks who is running Britain and is it now time to have a written constitution.

Guests:
Alison Young, Professor of Public Law, University of Cambridge.
Philip Norton, Professor of Government, and Director of the Centre for Legislative Studies, University of Hull
David Allen Green, contributing editor to the Financial Times and lawyer at Preiskel & Co
Michael Keating, Director of the Centre on Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University and Professor of Politics, at the University of Aberdeen.
Meg Russell, Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London, Senior Fellow at the UK in a Changing Europe
Murray Hunt, Director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law

Producer: Neil Koenig
Editor: Jasper Corbett

Does Britain's constitution need an overhaul? Should it be written down?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Britain's Constitutional Dilemma: Who Now Runs The Country?20190926

The Supreme Court has ruled that Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, turning a page on the country’s constitution. The Supreme Court president Lady Hale said "the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme."

The Prime Minister responded that he "strongly disagrees" with the ruling but will "respect" it.

So is British democracy at a crossroads? In an extended edition of the Briefing Room, David Aaronovitch asks who is running Britain and is it now time to have a written constitution.

CONTRIBUTORS:

Alison Young, Professor of Public Law, University of Cambridge.

Philip Norton, Professor of Government, and Director of the Centre for Legislative Studies, University of Hull

David Allen Green, contributing editor to the Financial Times and lawyer at Preiskel & Co

Michael Keating, Director of the Centre on Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University and Professor of Politics, at the University of Aberdeen.

Meg Russell, Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London, Senior Fellow at the UK in a Changing Europe

Murray Hunt, Director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law

Producer: Neil Koenig
Editor: Jasper Corbett

Does the constitution need an overhaul - and is it time to have a written constitution?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Britain's Future20190328

With the route of the UK’s departure from the European Union still unclear, this week David Aaronovitch looks at Britain’s place in the world and assesses what lies ahead in the next stage of negotiations with the EU.

Joining David in the Briefing Room are: Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, Sam Lowe, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform, Meg Russell, Director of the Constitutional Unit at University College London and Stefanie Bolzen, London Correspondent of German newspaper, Welt.

Producer: Jim Frank
Editor: Jasper Corbett

Brexit or not, what does Britain's place in the world look like?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Britain's Nuclear Dream20160804

The government has delayed a proposed nuclear power station. What choices lie ahead?

Climate change and meat - what's the beef?20191010

Would cutting back on meat consumption help tackle climate change?

What impact would this have on individuals, governments and businesses? Livestock farming accounts for at least 14.5% of all human emissions - with beef making up the highest proportion of this.

Meat free burgers are now available at fast food restaurants across the western world; veganism is on the rise, as is flexitarianism - a largely vegetable-based diet supplemented occasionally with meat. But how far can these eating trends help to reduce carbon emissions?

David Aaronovitch is joined by:

Dr Hannah Richie - Head of Research at Our world in data, University of Oxford
Tim Searchinger - Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute and Princeton University
Professor Louise Fresco - President of the Wageningen University
Laura Wellesley - Research fellow in the Energy, Environment and Resources Department at Chatham House
Toby Park - Head of Energy and Sustainability, Behavioural Insights Team

Producer: Serena Tarling
Editor: Jasper Corbett

What difference would it make to climate change if we reduce meat consumption?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Climate Change: Is Time Running Out?20181220

In October, the IPCC, the UN body that reports on climate change, issued a stark warning. It said that if the world wanted to avoid catastrophic environmental damage, we needed to reduce carbon emissions by almost half in the next 12 years. So what needs to be done now if that target is to be reached? What's the position in China, the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide? And how important is the stated intention of President Trump to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions? We hear from, among others, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, the author of the seminal Stern Review in 2006.

After the Katowice summit where does the world now stand on climate change?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

Could The United States And Iran Go To War?20190516

The British Foreign Secretary has warned of the danger of Iran and the United States stumbling into a war by accident. And the signs are ominous: the US accelerated the deployment of an aircraft carrier and B52 bombers to the Persian Gulf and all non-essential staff are being withdrawn from the US Embassy in Baghdad. US National Security Adviser John Bolton said any attack by Iran on America or its allies would be met with what he called unrelenting force. So what's the risk of a war breaking out?

David Aaronovitch is joined by:
Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group
Kori Schake of the International Institute for Strategic Studies
Aniseh Barissi Tabrizi of the Royal United Services Institute
Robert Cooper, former EU diplomat.
Barbara Leaf, former US diplomat and State Department official

As tensions rise between Iran and the United States, is there a danger of armed conflict?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Deal Or No Deal?20181129

Theresa May is urging her MPs to accept the deal she has struck with Brussels on the UK's withdrawal from the EU. The trouble is that few in Westminster believe this is a vote she can win and Brussels has said no further negotiations are possible. With the vote due on December the 11th the Prime Minister has less than two weeks to get MPs to change their minds. If Parliament does reject the deal, does that mean a no-deal in March next year? If not, how can no-deal be avoided.

Contributors:

Tim Durrant, Senior Researcher at The Institute for Government
Alex Barker, Brussels Bureau Chief of The Financial Times
Patrick Smyth, Europe Editor of The Irish Times
Professor Meg Russell, Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London

If Parliament rejects Theresa May's Brexit deal does that mean a no-deal Brexit?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Does The Uk Have An Opioid Problem?20190502

Prescriptions for opioid painkillers have increased by 60 per cent in the UK during the last decade, and the number of codeine-related deaths in England and Wales has more than doubled.

The government is now planning to put prominent warnings about the dangers of addiction on the packaging of opioid medicines, to protect people from 'the darker side of painkillers' - as Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock put it.

This is an effort to avoid the situation in the United States where 130 people die every day from opioid-related drug overdoses, which has prompted President Donald Trump to declare a national health emergency.

But are we really on the precipice of our own epidemic?

David Aaronovitch asks how the situation got so out of control in the USA and whether the UK should do more to regulate painkillers containing opioids.

CONTRIBUTORS

Sam Quinones, journalist and author of 'Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic'.

Dr Raeford Brown, former chair of the FDA's Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee

Dr Luke Mordecai, consultant anaesthetist at University College Hospital, with research focus on opiate use and complex pain

Professor Leslie Colvin, chair of pain medicine, University of Dundee

Dr Emily Finch, consultant addiction psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust

Producers: Serena Tarling & Richard Fenton-Smith
Researcher: Kirsteen Knight

Details of organisations offering information and support with addiction are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 155 947.

Opioid prescriptions have rocketed in the UK in recent years - how worried should we be?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Europe's Illiberal Democracies20161006

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban believes in nation states that govern in the interests of their indigenous populations, unencumbered by concepts like human rights, civil liberties and internationalism. He is one of Europe's popular new ""illiberal democrats"".

Join David Aaronovitch and experts in The Briefing Room to find out about the rise of illiberal democracy in Europe.

Producer: Joe Kent

Researcher: Kirsteen Knight

Editor: Innes Bowen.

Has Narendra Modi Changed India?20190523

It's the world's biggest organised event: 900 million eligible voters across India have been to the polls in the last six weeks after five years of Narendra Modi's BJP government.

Narendra Modi's ambition was to project India as a global economic power, clamping down on corruption and burnishing its national security credentials. How far has he achieved this? And to what extent should India's non-Hindus be concerned about Narendra Modi's brand of Hindu nationalism?

David Aaronovitch speaks to experts to find out.

GUESTS:

Dr S Y Quraishi - Former Chief Election Commissioner
Soutik Biswas - India correspondent for BBC news online
Kunal Sen - Director, Professor of Development Economics, University of Manchester
Ambassador Nirupama Rao - India’s foreign secretary 2009-11; former ambassador to the US, China and Sri Lanka
James Crabtree - India expert at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore and author of The Billionaire Raj

How has India changed under prime minister Narendra Modi?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

How Divided Are We?20190404

As the Brexit negotiations rumble on Britain appears more divided than ever. This week David Aaronovitch and his guests ask how deep is that division and what it would take to unify the country?

Contributors:
Professor Sara Hobolt, London School of Economics
Professor Sir John Curtice, University of Strathclyde
Margaret MacMillan, emeritus Professor of International History at Oxford University
Deborah Mattinson, Founder, BritainThinks
Paula Surridge, Senior Lecturer, University of Bristol

How has Brexit divided Britain, and what might unify the country?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

How Do We Pay For The Uk?20170511

An election guide to tax and spending.

This edition is a politician-free zone, with need-to-know facts and non-partisan analysis of where taxes come from, how they're spent, and the prospects for public services in the future.

Guests:
Emily Andrews, senior researcher at the Institute for Government
Helen Miller, associate director, Institute for Fiscal Studies
Ben Page, director, IPSOS-Mori

Producer: Neal Razzell
Research: Sarah Shebbeare.

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

Immigration: Why Did It Rise?20160630

Unprecedented levels of immigration motivated many Leave voters in the EU referendum vote - but what are the political decisions and global trends which have driven immigration over the last 20 years?

In this week's The Briefing Room David Aaronovitch charts a short history of immigration over the past two decades, exploring claims that the Labour party wanted to increase immigration to build support, through to the causes of the asylum spike in the early 2000s, and the impact of an expanding European Union.

Joining David is a panel of experts bringing unique insight into the issue:

ED OWEN Former Special Advisor to Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw

MADELEINE SUMPTION Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford

DAVID GOODHART Journalist and commentator, former director of the thinktank Demos

TONY SMITH former Director General of the UK Border Force

Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Researcher: Kirsteen Knight.

India's Bonfire Of The Bank Notes20170126

On 8 November, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a stunning announcement. As of midnight that day, all 500 and 1000 rupee notes would no longer be legal tender. The announcement came as a shock not only to the Indian public, but also to businesses, banks and some of Mr Modi's closest advisors. Large queues formed at banks across the country as people tried to exchange their old notes for new ones and businesses came to a grinding halt. Agriculture was one of the sectors that was hardest hit. It was sewing season for India's farmers, many of whom had no means to buy the seeds, so reliant are they on cash transactions.

So what was Modi trying to achieve through this shock and awe tactic? Is this a stroke of economic genius or a highly damaging political move? And did the move have the desired effect?

David Aaronovitch speaks to a panel of experts to find out.

Guests:

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of a biography about Narendra Modi, Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times

Ila Patnaik, former economic advisor to the Modi government and a professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy

Douglas Busvine, Reuters bureau chief in New Delhi

Justin Rowlatt, BBC South Asia Correspondent

Producer: Phil Kemp

Research: Serena Tarling and Kirsteen Knight

Editor: Innes Bowen.

Infrastructure: The Roads To Recovery?20161020

Theresa May has promised new trains, faster broadband and improved infrastructure. Critics accused her of adopting Labour Party politics. But is it left-wing to invest in infrastructure?

During the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes encouraged governments to dig holes until the economy was restored. The explosion of building in 1930s America is often seen as Keynes' words in action - but the New Deal was not as straightforward as we may think. The Economist's Soumaya Keynes finds out what really happened.

After the 2008 crisis, politicians turned to Keynes' ideas once again. First Ed Miliband, then George Osborne and now Theresa May have pledged to build us out of trouble. How has this idea moved across the political spectrum - and could traffic lights and bridges really solve our economic woes?

Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room are:

Sir John Armitt, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers

Michelle Baddeley, Professor of Economics and Finance at University College London

Tim Worstall, Senior Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute

Researcher: Jordan Dunbar

Producer: Hannah Sander.

Is Britain's Political System Broken?20190117

There is little or no consensus in Westminster about what kind of Brexit, if any, MPs want. The government's plan was defeated by a whopping 232 votes. And Labour's vote of confidence in the government was then defeated.

Brexit has stretched the British parliamentary system to its limits. David Aaronovitch and guests examine Britain's constitutional crisis and ask if the current political system is irretrievably broken.

GUESTS
Katy Balls - Deputy Political Editor of The Spectator
Sam McBride - Political Editor of The Belfast Newsletter
Alison Young - Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge
Robert Hazell - Professor of Government and the Constitution at University College, London

Has Brexit broken Britain's political system?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Is It Time To Renationalise The Railways?20170216

Bringing Britain's railways back into public ownership is a popular idea with passengers - but would it really make any improvements to service?

Renationalisation of the railways is official Labour party policy. Polls suggest a majority of voters favour it too - and that was the case before the recent problems with Southern Rail.

With the help of the Conservative former transport minister Michael Portillo, David Aaronovitch explores the history of British railway ownership, asks whether it's possible to make the privatised system work and finds out how a future government might go about bringing the railways back into public ownership.

Contributors:

Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside and Chair, Transport Select Committee

Laurie Macfarlane, Economist, New Economics Foundation

Michael Portillo, former Conservative Minister of State for Transport

Michael Schabas, railways consultant

Christian Wolmar, railways historian and journalist

Producer: Phil Kemp

Research: Sam Bright.

Les Gilets Jaunes20181206

In France a wave of protests has brought the country to a standstill in recent weeks. The original cause of the anger - the government's plan to raise the rate of tax on diesel - has now disappeared. President Macron responded this week to the mood in the country by withdrawing the tax, due to be introduced next year. The question now is whether that will temper the anger of the Gilets Jaunes, the protesters who take their name from the hi-viz vest that every French driver must carry with them in their vehicle. The protesters form an amorphous movement without leaders and their demands are many and various. President Macron is being criticised as much for his style and tactics as his policy. Where does France go from here? With Sophie Pedder of The Economist, the geographer Christophe Guilluy, the pollster Bruno Jeanbart, the writer Jane Weston-Vauclair and Professor Philippe Marliere of University College London.

As Paris braces for another weekend of demonstrations, we ask what's going on in France.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Liberalism Under Attack20161222
Quantitative Easing20160929

Current affairs combining original insights into major news with topical investigations.

Should Vaccinations Be Compulsory?20190509

With measles infections on the rise in the UK, should vaccinations be made compulsory?

Measles is an ‘entirely preventable’ disease, says the UN – and for a while the UK and other developed countries had prevented it.

But during the first three months of this year, the World Health Organisation reported 112,000 cases of measles. Over the same time last year it was 28,000

In the UK we once again have outbreaks of measles and a falling vaccination rate.

David Aaronovitch asks how much this matters and whether, as the Health Secretary has said recently, we should rule nothing out, even including compulsory vaccination.

CONTRIBUTORS

Gareth Williams, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Bristol and author of Angel of Death: The Story of Smallpox

Professor Heidi Larson, director of The Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Hugh Whittall, director of The Nuffield Council on Bioethics

Dr Stephen John, Hatton Lecturer in the Philosophy of Public Health at the University of Cambridge

Producers: Richard Fenton-Smith & Serena Tarling
Researcher: Kirsteen Knight
Editor: Jasper Corbett

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Snap General Election20170420

What defines British voters today, and how will the vote in June shape Britain?

What are the political tribes which divide British voters today and how will June's general election shape Britain?

Britain voted last year on the question of the EU - and following Theresa May's surprise announcement, we vote again on who should take us out.

The nature of the result could define British political life for decades to come - so how will voters decide? And what might the impact of the campaign be on Britain's future outside the European Union?

David Aaronovitch speaks to political experts to assess the upcoming campaign and its potential to shape the country Britain becomes.

CONTRIBUTORS

Lord Peter Hennessy, Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary University of London

Peter Kellner, political commentator and veteran pollster

Rosie Campbell, Professor of Politics, Birkbeck College, University of London

David Runciman, Professor of Politics, University of Cambridge and host of the Talking Politics podcast

Producer: China Collins.

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

The Battle for Britain20190912

It’s been another extraordinary week of politics. Parliament is closed, but a general election is on the horizon.

What strategy should the party leaders follow to come out victorious? David Aaronovitch slips into character to seek advice as to how Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson, Nigel Farage and Nicola Sturgeon should play the coming weeks and months.

Guests:
David Cowling, political analyst and expert in voting patterns
Rosie Campbell, Professor of Politics at King’s College London
Rob Ford, Professor of Political Science at Manchester University

What strategy should the party leaders follow now?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The Perfect Storm: The United Kingdom, Brexit And Its History20190905

In a momentous week for British politics, David Aaronovitch presents a special hour-long edition of The Briefing Room in which he asks whether the United Kingdom's history might help us to understand better the political storms buffeting the country. What has the debate over Brexit done to Britain’s political parties and its parliamentary system, what does Brexit mean for the future of the union, what does it tell us about Britain’s place in the world and what has it revealed about the state of the country and the public’s faith in government as its provider and protector?

Joining David Aaronovitch are:
Margaret MacMillan, Professor of History at Oxford University
Anne Deighton, Emeritus Professor of History at Wolfson College
Mary Daly, Emiritus Professor of Modern Irish History at University College Dublin
Lord Lexden, the official historian of the Conservative Party
Professor Ian McLean, Senior Research Fellow in Politics at Nuffield College Oxford
Alwyn Turner, social historian.

Producer Neil Koenig
Editor Jasper Corbett

Can history help us make better sense of the political turmoil we are living through?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The Prison Problem20161208

Prison life isn't meant to be easy but it is supposed to be safe and secure. Drugs, violence, self-harm and suicide are increasing problems - but what are the policies and political decisions which led to this current crisis?

David Aaronovitch examines what's gone wrong and hears stories from inside the prison system. He explores what over-crowding and under-staffing means for prisoners and officers alike who live with it day in, day out.

The programme also looks beyond the budget and staff cuts to explore the impact of sentencing changes, institutional leadership, and political opposition to more liberal policies which might ease the pressure in an overcrowded system. And we also discuss the current impact of drugs in prison and ask what role corrupt prison staff might play in the smuggling of contraband.

What would it take to bring prisons under control and longer term, how can we stop the next prison crisis and get the system working properly again?

CONTRIBUTORS

Charles - a former inmate at a London prison, now working with the rehabilitation and education charity Key4Life

John Podmore - former Governor of HMP Brixton and HMP Belmarsh; author of Out of Sight Out of Mind: Why Britain's Prisons Are Failing

Helen Arnold - Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Suffolk and Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University

Julian McCrae - Deputy Director of the Institute for Government and former Deputy Director of the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit (2009)

Producer: Matt Bardo

Research: Kirsteen Knight and Beth Sagar-Fenton.

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

The Problem Of North Korea20170427

David Aaronovich explores what to do about a nuclear North Korea.

The US and North Korea have been flexing their military muscles in recent weeks, testing and deploying new missiles. President Trump has said North Korea is "a big big problem" that he will deal with "strongly". This week he took the extraordinary step of briefing the entire US Senate on American options to deal with the North's nuclear programme, as American troops conducted live-fire exercises near the North Korean border. Senators said the briefing was "sobering". Here, David Aaronovich gets his own briefing, from one of America's top former diplomats in the region and from experts in Beijing and Seoul.

Contributors:

Daniel Russel: President Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, now Diplomat-in-Residence at the Asia Society Policy Institute
Yanmei Xie: Chinese foreign policy analyst, formerly with the International Crisis Group, now with Gavekal Dragonomics.
Jenny Lee: Opened the first western news bureau in North Korea, now with the Wilson Centre in Seoul

Producer: Neal Razzell
Research: Sarah Shebbeare.

The Remainers20160721

David Aaronovitch looks at important issues in the news.

The Truth About Bhs20160512

BHS was once one of the biggest names on the high street, but after falling into administration now it faces an uncertain future.

In this, the first edition of The Briefing Room, presenter David Aaronovitch finds out whether it could have survived.

Much of the focus has been on Sir Philip Green who sold the firm a little over a year ago to a little-known group called Retail Acquisitions. BHS - once a fixture on the British high street - went through a period of high growth during the first part of Green's 15 years of ownership. But its subsequent decline was accelerated by the economic crisis of 2008, and in recent years it racked up huge losses.

Many accuse Green of trying to offload the company to duck its growing pension liabilities - one MP even called him the ""unacceptable face of capitalism"". But there have also been suggestions that he's being unfairly tried in the court of public opinion.

Green and the owners of Retail Acquisitions will face questions in front of a parliamentary select committee next month. Meanwhile the administrators are entertaining offers for BHS assets. Hanging in the balance are the company's 11,000 employees and more than 20,000 members of the company pension scheme. So what happened to the retailer, and who's responsible for its decline?

Join us in The Briefing Room to find out.

Producer/Reporter: Michael Wendling

Researcher: Alex Burton.

Trump And Putin20160915

It's one of the strangest developments in a very strange election campaign. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, says Donald Trump is ""colourful and talented"".

For his part, the Republican nominee says Putin ""is very much a leader... far more than our president has been a leader."

More than flattering words, on specific policy points - such as the civil war in Syria, the influence of NATO in Eastern Europe, and sanctions against Russia imposed over the conflict in Ukraine - Trump and his advisors seem sympathetic if not outright supportive of Putin's foreign policy objectives.

Donald Trump's policies are a startling departure from the normally hawkish Republican Party establishment, and Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have wasted no time in painting Trump's Russia links as a threat to national security.

Meanwhile, according to reports in the American press, Russian intelligence agencies are actively looking to disrupt the election. The hack of Democratic National Committee emails, whose contents were released in July, is just one noteworthy example.

In this edition of the Briefing Room, David Aaronovitch asks is Donald Trump Russia's man, or just anxious to rebuild half-burned bridges?

Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room this week will be:

Gabriel Gatehouse, BBC International Investigations Correspondent

Anne Applebaum, columnist for The Washington Post and director of The Transitions Forum, The Legatum Institute

Franklin Foer, fellow at the New America think tank and a contributing editor to Slate.com

Producer: Michael Wendling

Researcher: Kirsteen Knight

Editor: Innes Bowen.

Trump, Ukraine and impeachment20191003

What's the Trump impeachment inquiry about? The White House is in damage limitation mode following a whistleblower complaint that revealed details about a phone call between President Trump and Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The whistleblower expressed an 'urgent concern' that Mr Trump had used his office to pressure a foreign power to damage a political rival and leading Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden.

Now the Democrats have launched a formal impeachment inquiry into what went on. Where might this end up and what does it mean for American politics?

David Aaronovitch is briefed on the wider context to this story and how the case will likely be built both for and against Donald Trump. He also asks how significant this moment is likely to be in US history?

GUESTS:

Josh Gerstein, Senior Legal Affairs Contributor, Politico
Jonah Fisher, BBC correspondent in Kiev
Leslie Vinjamuri, Head of US and Americas programme at Chatham House
Elaine Kamarck, Senior Fellow in the Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution
Amy Jeffress, former federal prosecutor and partner at Arnold and Porter law firm

Producer: Serena Tarling
Editor: Jasper Corbett

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Trump's Economy20170202

President Trump says he'll make America richer. He's promised a raft of radical economic reforms including a huge cut in tax on businesses, an income tax cut, a massive reduction in regulation, and investment in America's infrastructure.

His goal is to get America's economy growing at roughly double its current rate. He also wants to create 25 million new jobs, and put 'America first' in every policy decision.

But are these goals achievable and are the measures he's proposing likely to work?

David Aaronovitch explores what 'Trumponomics' might mean in practice and asks a range of experts whether his plans for the economy will lead to boom or bust.

Guests include Arthur Laffer, Professor John Kay, Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Jim Tankersley.

Researcher: Samuel Bright

Producer: China Collins.

Trump's Economy: Trade20170209

Donald Trump put trade at the heart of his campaign to become President.

He has promised to take America out of what he sees as ""bad deals"" that outsource cheap labour to countries like Mexico. He has promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to America.

This message was particularly powerful in America's Midwest - often referred to as the rust belt - where voters supported him in droves and helped him secure his narrow victory.

But can he now deliver on his promise to bring back jobs, and what does 'America First' mean for the rest of the world - including Britain?

In the second part of The Briefing Room's two-part series on Trump's economy, David Aaronovitch explores what the President's trade policies might mean in practice.

Guests include Arthur Laffer, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Professor Ted Malloch and Monique Ebell.

Researcher: Samuel Bright

Producer: China Collins.

Trump's Shock Troops20160804

Why has Donald Trump clinched the Republican Party nomination despite angering a long list of key groups of American voters? Part of his success can be explained by an element of his political base, the ""alt-right"". It's a mostly young, disparate movement which organises and congregates online, and its supporters have little in common with traditional Republicans. They are tribal and mostly sceptical about religion. They yearn for a strong leader and they loathe political correctness with a passion. Some are leading figures in the white supremacist movement, a development that frightens many mainstream Republicans who promised a more inclusive party after Mitt Romney's defeat four years ago. And in an interesting twist, some of the leading voices in the movement come from Britain.

In this episode, David Aaronovitch finds out more about the alt-right - who are they, what do they believe, and for the next four months what role will they play in the Trump campaign and American politics at large?

Trump's Shock Troops: The 'alt-right'20160811

Why has Donald Trump clinched the Republican Party nomination despite angering a long list of key groups of American voters? Part of his success can be explained by an element of his political base, the ""alt-right"". It's a mostly young, disparate movement which organises and congregates online, and its supporters have little in common with traditional Republicans. They are tribal and mostly sceptical about religion. They yearn for a strong leader and they loathe political correctness with a passion. Some are leading figures in the white supremacist movement, a development that frightens many mainstream Republicans who promised a more inclusive party after Mitt Romney's defeat four years ago. And in an interesting twist, some of the leading voices in the movement come from Britain.

In this episode, David Aaronovitch finds out more about the alt-right - who are they, what do they believe, and for the next four months what role will they play in the Trump campaign and American politics at large?

Guests:

Milo Yiannopoulos, technology editor, Breitbart News

Cathy Young, columnist, Newsday

Reporter: Mike Wendling.

Turkey, Syria and the Kurds20191017

Donald Trump’s recent announcement that he was withdrawing the remaining US troops in northern Syria sent shockwaves across the security establishment, and caught allies in the region off guard.

Turkey moved swiftly to launch an offensive against Kurdish forces across the border. What does President Erdogan want to achieve? And where does this leave the political map of the region and the fight against the Islamic State group?

David Aaronovitch speaks to guests about the phone call that started it off and what could happen next.

GUESTS

Eric Schmitt - senior writer covering terrorism and national security issues for The New York Times and co-author of Counterstrike
Dr Amanda Sloat - senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean Affairs at the State Department
Charles Lister - senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and author of The Syrian Jihad: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency
Lina Khatib - Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House
Seth Frantzman - Middle East affairs analyst for the Jerusalem Post and the author of After Isis: America, Iran and the struggle for the Middle East (September 2019).

Producer: Serena Tarling
Editor: Jasper Corbett

How the US withdrawal from northern Syria could reshape the political map of the region.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Universal Credit: What's Gone Wrong And Can It Be Fixed?20190110

Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd, this week announced that the next stage of the Universal Credit roll-out is to be scaled back amid concerns about the controversial new benefits system.

So what were the origins of the Universal Credit policy and can its flaws be fixed?

CONTRIBUTORS

Roy Sainsbury - Professor of Social Policy at the University of York

Baroness Philippa Stroud - former government advisor and CEO of the Legatum Institute

Kayley Hignell - Head of Policy for Family, Welfare and Work at Citizens Advice

Fran Bennett - Senior Research Fellow at the Department for Social Policy and Intervention at Oxford University

Torsten Bell - Director of the Resolution Foundation

Deven Ghelani - Founder of Policy in Practice

How did universal credit come about, and why has its roll-out been delayed?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Vip Sex Abuse Allegations20161124

An independent review of police investigations into VIP sex abuse has found 43 police failings.

The Henriques Review looked into the police investigations of public figures, including former Home Secretary Lord Brittan, retired army chief Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor, a former Conservative MP. Justice Henriques criticises the police for choosing to believe uncorroborated accusations rather than approaching the investigations with an open mind.

Reporter Alistair Jackson digs deeper into Operation Midland and Operation Vincente: police investigations that spanned several years, cost millions in tax-payers' money, and drew in large numbers of police officers. He speaks to people closely involved and finds out why the Metropolitan Police has now issued apologies.

David Aaronovitch asks how historical sex abuse investigations should be handled and whether the police preoccupation with historic cases is hampering their ability to investigate more recent crimes.

Researcher: Kirsteen Knight

Producer: Hannah Sander.

What are the Risks of Vaping?20190919

Seven recent deaths in America have been linked to the use of electronic cigarettes. The federal government and some states have made moves to ban the use of the products - other countries, such as India, are following.

But some experts believe that vaping has a useful role to play in helping people to give up smoking.

In this week's programme David Aaronovitch asks why have e-cigarettes become so popular, and what are the risks of using them?

CONTRIBUTORS

Tom Novotny, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, San Diego State University

Hannah Kuchler, US Pharma and Biotech Correspondent, The Financial Times

Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, the University of Edinburgh

Lion Shahab, Associate Professor in Health Psychology, University College London.

Producer Neil Koenig
Editor Jasper Corbett

Recent deaths in the USA have been linked to e-cigarette use, leading to calls for a ban.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

What Are The Risks Of Vaping?20190919

Seven recent deaths in America have been linked to the use of electronic cigarettes. The federal government and some states have made moves to ban the use of the products - other countries, such as India, are following.

But some experts believe that vaping has a useful role to play in helping people to give up smoking.

In this week's programme David Aaronovitch asks why have e-cigarettes become so popular, and what are the risks of using them?

CONTRIBUTORS

Tom Novotny, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, San Diego State University

Hannah Kuchler, US Pharma and Biotech Correspondent, The Financial Times

Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, the University of Edinburgh

Lion Shahab, Associate Professor in Health Psychology, University College London.

Producer Neil Koenig
Editor Jasper Corbett

Recent deaths in the USA have been linked to e-cigarette use, leading to calls for a ban.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

What Do Remainers Feel Now?20160728

There was jubilation among many who were on the winning side of last month's EU referendum. But the vote, more than any in recent memory, laid bare the UK's divisions - not only in demographics but also social attitudes. Many of the 16m people who voted Remain expressed shock, sadness and even grief after the result. Two weeks ago The Briefing Room visited Wakefield in West Yorkshire to find out about those who voted Leave. In this programme, David Aaronovitch takes the opposite tack and visits Lambeth, the south London borough that stretches from the banks of the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament to the Capital's suburban fringes. He talks to long-standing residents and relative newcomers to find out what Remainers feel now. In in area where nearly four-fifths of those who voted backed Remain, is there a still a sense of upset over the result? And having been outvoted in one of the UK's biggest democratic experiments, what do they plan to do now?

Interviewees in Lambeth include: Devon Thomas chair of the Brixton Neighbourhood Forum, local Green Party candidate Rashid Nix, Labour Party volunteer Gareth Rees, Rosamund Urwin of the London Evening Standard, Tom Shahkli general manager of the Brixton Pound project, and Rui Reis, vice chair of the Portuguese cultural and football club in Stockwell.

Studio guests: Cordelia Hay of Britain Thinks and Stian Westlake of NESTA.

Producer: Mike Wendling

Researcher: Kirsteen Knight.

More than 16m people voted Remain. How do they feel now that they have lost?

What Drives Religious Intolerance?20190425

Is religious intolerance on the rise, and if so, what is behind it?

In Sri Lanka this week, people claiming to be acting out of religious belief killed more than 350 people, mostly of a different faith – in this case Christians.

Religious intolerance is a theme which has surfaced in the news with some frequency in recent years – be it the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Yazidis in Iraq, the Uighurs in China or numerous blasphemy trials in Pakistan.

On this week's programme, David Aaronovitch asks whether religious intolerance – be it intolerance of religions, or by religions - is actually on the rise.

If so, who is leading this – governments? Nationalist political movements? Or the faithful themselves?

CONTRIBUTORS:

Alan Keenan, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group

Alan Cooperman, Director of Religion research, Pew Research Centre

Karen Armstrong, author of The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts

Oliver McTernan, founder of the conflict resolution organisation, Forward Thinking

Robin Gill, Emeritus Professor of Applied Theology at the University of Kent

Is religious intolerance on the rise, and if so, what's behind it?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

What Next For Europe?20190411

David Aaronovich examines the likely lasting impact of the UK's decision to quit the European Union - not on Britain but on mainland Europe. The European Union is struggling to reconcile competing views of the economy, of national identity and of ideology. As populist political parties play an increasing role in the governance of member states, some expert Euro-watchers give their views of the divisions and the chances of them being reconciled. Might the EU "widen" its reach to new countries? Or deepen" the binds between member countries? Or is it time to concede that voters across the Continent prefer sovereignty to be exercised within national states.

Presenter: David Aaronovich
Producer: Sally Abrahams
Researcher: Kirsteen Knight
Editor: Andrew Smith

As Britain prepares for departure, what does the future hold for the rest of the EU?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

What's In The Mueller Report - And What Are The Implications For Us Politics?20190418

The investigation has taken nearly two years, cost tens of millions of dollars, and led to dozens of criminal charges. Now, a redacted version of Robert Mueller’s report into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 US Presidential election is going to be delivered to Congress.

This week David Aaronovitch and his guests in the Briefing Room examine what’s in the report, and what does it all mean - especially for Donald Trump and his prospects for winning a second presidential term next year.

Contributors:
Katie Benner, Justice Department reporter, New York Times
Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, Head of the US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House
Shira Scheindlin, former United States District Judge
Larry Sabato, Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia

What's in the Mueller report - and what are the implications for US politics?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

What's In The Mueller Report?20190418