Transcript: Can Britain Survive COVID-19 and Brexit? | Jan 11, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, blue shirt, and brown tie.

A caption on screen reads "Can Britain survive COVID-19 and Brexit? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says LET THIS SINK IN: 1 IN 50 PEOPLE IN ENGLAND HAVE COVID-19. IT'S EVEN HIGHER IF YOU JUST LOOK AT LONDON, 1 IN 30. AND WHILE THAT'S DOMINATING DAILY LIFE THERE, THE NEW NORMAL OF BREXIT ARRIVED AS BRITAIN ANNOUNCED IT HAD INKED A LAST-MINUTE DEAL TO EXIT THE EUROPEAN UNION TO AVOID THE SO-CALLED "CRASHING OUT." SCENARIO. WITH US NOW FOR A CLOSER LOOK: IN LONDON, UK: PAUL WALDIE, EUROPE CORRESPONDENT, THE GLOBE AND MAIL.

Paul is in his seventies, clean-shaven and balding. He's wearing glasses and a blue gingham shirt.

Steve continues PAUL, HAPPY NEW YEAR. IT'S GREAT TO SEE YOU AGAIN. I HOPE YOU'RE STAYING WELL.

Paul says INDEED I AM. THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON.

Steve says NOT AT ALL. YOU, AND OF COURSE THE REST OF THE PEOPLE IN THE U.K., HAVE JUST ENTERED, I GATHER, YOUR THIRD NATIONAL LOCKDOWN. YOU'RE KIND OF THE CENTRE OF EUROPE'S COVID-19 OUTBREAK. HOW ARE PEOPLE HANDLING ALL THIS?

The caption changes to "Paul Waldie. The Globe and Mail."
Then, it changes again to "Spreading like wildfire."

Paul says WELL, AS YOU MENTIONED JUST AT THE TOP THERE, THE NUMBERS HERE REALLY ARE QUITE FRIGHTENING. YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT LEVELS OF HOSPITALIZATION, IN PARTICULAR, THAT ARE MUCH, MUCH HIGHER THAN WE SAW BACK IN MARCH WHEN OF COURSE THE OUTBREAK FIRST HIT EUROPE. NOT ONLY ARE THE HOSPITALIZATIONS HIGH, BUT THE DEATH TOLL IS CLIMBING. YOU'RE SEEING NUMBERS LIKE A THOUSAND A DAY OF PEOPLE DYING. SO IT'S BAD AND IT'S GETTING WORSE. AND REALLY IT'S ALL ABOUT THIS NEW VARIANT THAT SEEMS TO BE SPREADING FAR AND WIDE ACROSS THE COUNTRY, AND THE GOVERNMENT NOW IS IN A DESPERATE RACE TO VACCINATE AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE TO TRY AND GAIN SOME KIND OF CONTROL OVER THIS PANDEMIC.

Steve says I THINK I SAID U.K.'S NATIONAL LOCKDOWN. I MEANT ENGLAND, OF COURSE. TALK TO US ABOUT THIS VARIANT. BECAUSE I GUESS BRITAIN HAS THE UNENVIABLE TITLE OF BEING THE LOCUS OR THE BIRTHPLACE OF THIS NEW COVID-19 VARIANT. HOW DID THEY DISCOVER IT?

Paul says WELL, THEY CAME ACROSS THIS BACK IN NOVEMBER WHEN THE COUNTRY... AND REALLY IT IS U.K.-WIDE, SCOTLAND, WALES, NORTHERN IRELAND HAVE SIMILAR TYPES OF LOCKDOWNS NOW. WHAT HAPPENED BACK IN NOVEMBER WAS THE COUNTRY THEN WENT INTO A LOCKDOWN, BUT CASES DIDN'T SLOW DOWN IN KENT, WHICH IS IN SOUTHEAST ENGLAND. SO THEY WENT BACK AND STARTED LOOKING AT THE WORK THEY HAD BEEN DOING ON THE VIRUS, THE SEQUENCING OF THE GENETICS OF THE VIRUS, AND THEY FOUND THAT THERE WAS A DIFFERENT STRAIN OF THIS VIRUS, A DIFFERENT VARIANT OF THIS VIRUS THAT WAS SHOWING UP IN KENT. THEY TRACED IT BACK TO LATE SEPTEMBER. AND THIS VARIANT NOW THAT THEY'RE SAYING IS UP TO 70 percent MORE CONTAGIOUS, AND NOT ONLY IS THAT A CONCERN BECAUSE IT HAS NOW SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, AND I GATHER TO CANADA AND OTHER COUNTRIES AS WELL, THERE'S ALSO A SOUTH AFRICAN VARIANT THAT HAS ARRIVED HERE IN THE U.K. THAT IS ALSO HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS. SO THE U.K. RIGHT NOW IS GETTING HIT WITH TWO VARIANTS, PLUS THE ORIGINAL COVID THAT CAME HERE IN MARCH.

Steve says LET'S TALK VACCINES BECAUSE THE U.K. GOVERNMENT DOES SAY THAT IT WANTS TO ADMINISTER NEARLY 14 MILLION DOSES BY MIDWAY THROUGH NEXT MONTH. THAT'S EVERYONE OVER THE AGE OF 70. THAT WOULD BE FRONT LINE HEALTH CARE WORKERS, THAT WOULD BE SOCIAL WORKERS WHO WOULD BE AT THE TOP OF THE LIST. IN YOUR JUDGMENT, BASED, I DON'T KNOW WHAT, ON YOUR SENSE OF THINGS, ON PUBLIC OPINION POLLS THAT HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED, HOW MUCH FAITH DOES THE PUBLIC HAVE IN THE GOVERNMENT'S ABILITY TO ORGANIZE THE LOGISTICS OF THIS?

Paul says WELL, THAT'S GOING TO REMAIN TO BE SEEN AND TODAY OF COURSE THEY KICKED THIS OFF BY OPENING SEVEN BIG VACCINATION CENTRES IN SOME SOCCER STADIUMS, SOME CONVENTION CENTRES ACROSS THE COUNTRY. SO, I MEAN, THERE IS SOME HOPE THAT THIS WILL GET DELIVERED. THE GOVERNMENT NOW ANNOUNCED TODAY THEY'VE VACCINATED 2.5 MILLION PEOPLE. THAT'S A MILLION MORE THAN THEY ANNOUNCED JUST ABOUT A WEEK OR SO AGO. SO THEY ARE RAMPING IT UP. WHETHER OR NOT THEY'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO MEET THIS TARGET THAT THEY'VE SET WHICH IS INCREDIBLY AMBITIOUS, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT 200,000 VACCINATIONS A DAY AND LATELY THEY'VE BEEN RUNNING AT ABOUT 300,000 A WEEK, BUT IT IS A MASSIVE RAMP-UP BUT THEY SEEM TO BE DOING IT, THEY SEEM TO BE GETTING THERE. THEY'RE ROLLING OUT THE VACCINE TO DOCTORS' OFFICES, TO PHARMACIES, AS WELL AS THESE VACCINATION CENTRES AND OF COURSE MOST OF THE HOSPITALS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. SO WE'LL WAIT AND SEE. THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT HAVE A GREAT TRACK RECORD ON MANAGING THIS PANDEMIC SO FAR, BUT LET'S HOPE THAT THEY GET THE VACCINATION PROGRAM RIGHT.

Steve says THAT'S STRANGE THAT THEY WOULDN'T HAVE A GREAT TRACK RECORD ON IT BECAUSE OF COURSE BORIS JOHNSON THE PRIME MINISTER HAD COVID-19 HIMSELF AND I THINK... REMIND ME... I THINK HE ENDED UP ON A VENTILATOR FOR A WHILE AS WELL, DID HE NOT?

The caption changes to "Paul Waldie, @pwaldieGLOBE."

Paul says OH, YEAH. HE SAID HE WAS 50-50, HE WAS IN INTENSIVE CARE, THIS WAS BACK IN APRIL. SO HE WAS IN VERY SERIOUS CONDITION. BUT THE PROBLEM THE GOVERNMENT HAS HAD, AND I THINK IN FAIRNESS A LOT OF GOVERNMENTS HAVE FACED A DELAYED REACTION TO EVERYTHING. SOMETHING IS HAPPENING AND THE SCIENTISTS ARE SAYING LOCK DOWN, LOCK DOWN, DO THIS, DO THAT, AND THE GOVERNMENT DELAYS AND DILLY DALLIES. AND BORIS JOHNSON LIKE OTHER POLITICAL LEADERS IS ABOUT OPTIMISM AND THE BRIGHT SIDE TO EVERYTHING AND HE'S RELUCTANT TO BRING FORWARD NEGATIVE NEWS AND TELL PEOPLE THEY HAVE TO STAY IN THEIR HOUSES. THAT'S BEEN THE GOVERNMENT'S PROBLEM SO FAR, INACTION OR DELAY OR A HAPHAZARD APPROACH TO THIS PANDEMIC.

Steve says OKAY. PAUL, LET'S PIVOT NOW TO A SECTION WE'LL CALL ADIEU E.U., BECAUSE IT HAPPENED. THE UNITED KINGDOM HAS NOW OFFICIALLY LEFT THE EUROPEAN UNION, AND WE JUST WANT TO TAKE A MOMENT HERE TO I GUESS PUT ON THE RECORD HERE SOME OF THE CHANGES THAT ARE TAKING PLACE AS A RESULT OF THIS DEAL.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "The (Brexit) deal is done."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
NO TARIFFS OR QUOTAS ON GOODS. THE U.K. ABLE TO SET ITS OWN TRADE POLICY AND NEGOTIATE DEALS WITH OTHER COUNTRIES. THE FREE MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE BETWEEN BRITAIN AND THE E.U. IS OVER. BRITS WILL NOW NEED A VISA IF THEY WANT TO STAY IN THE EUROPEAN UNION FOR MORE THAN 90 DAYS. THE U.K. WILL USE ITS OWN POINTS-BASED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM WHERE THOSE ABROAD MUST PROVE THEY MEET CERTAIN CRITERIA TO BE ALLOWED TO WORK IN BRITAIN. BRITISH PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS, WE'RE THINKING DOCTORS AND ENGINEERS, WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY BE RECOGNIZED ACROSS ALL E.U. COUNTRIES, AND OF COURSE THE SAME GOES THE OTHER WAY. NORTHERN IRELAND, WHICH HAS ALWAYS BEEN A TRICKY ISSUE HERE, NORTHERN IRELAND WILL STILL FOLLOW MANY E.U. RULES TO AVOID THE HARDENING OF THEIR BORDER WITH THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND, BUT THIS MEANS THERE WILL BE NEW CHECKS ON GOODS ENTERING NORTHERN IRELAND FROM THE REST OF THE U.K. OKAY. LET'S GET TO THIS. FOR BORIS JOHNSON, WHAT ARE THE MAJOR WINS FOR HIM IN THIS NEW ARRANGEMENT?

The caption changes to "Adieu E.U."

Paul says WELL, YOU KNOW, THE BIGGEST WIN, STEVE, IS THAT HE GOT A DEAL. FOR THE LONGEST TIME HE WAS SAYING WE'RE NOT GOING TO GET A DEAL, WE MIGHT NOT DEAL A DEAL, THERE MIGHT BE A NO-DEAL BREXIT. SO HE SET EXPECTATIONS SO LOW THAT THE FACT THAT HE GOT ANYTHING [indiscernible] A LOT OF BUSINESSES AND PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY AND ALSO FULFILLS A LONGSTANDING AMBITION OF HIM AND OTHER BREXITEERS TO GET BRITAIN OUT OF THE... BREXITEERS OUT OF THE E.U. IT LETS THEM CONTROL WHO COMES INTO THE COUNTRY. IT GETS THEM AWAY FROM THE JURISDICTION OF THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE, WHICH HAS BEEN A BIG BONE OF CONTENTION FOR THE BREXITEERS FOR A LONG TIME, THAT BRITAIN WOULD NOT BE BEHOLDEN TO A FOREIGN COURT. IT DOES PHYLLIS WILLIAMS THE FU.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says HE CALLS IT A JUMBO STYLE AGREEMENT. WHAT DOES HE MEAN WHEN HE SAYS THAT?

The caption changes to "Wins."

Paul says WHAT HE WOULD LIKE IT TO MEAN IS THIS SOME KIND OF COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT MUCH ALONG THE LINES OF WHAT CANADA NEGOTIATED WITH THE E.U., WHICH WAS GROUND-BREAKING ON A LOT OF FRONTS. IT WAS A TRADE DEAL THAT THE E.U. ARRANGED WITH CANADA, VERY COMPREHENSIVE THAT THEY HOPED TO USE WHEN THEY NEGOTIATED A DEAL WITH THE U.S. THE PROBLEM IS THE DEAL DOESN'T COME CLOSE TO THE CANADA DEAL ON A LOT OF FRONTS, AND REALLY WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO IS A GREAT DEAL IN TERMS OF MOVEMENT OF GOODS, WHICH IS WHAT THE E.U. WANTED. IT WANTED NO TARIFFS. IT WANTED NO QUOTAS. IT WANTED GOODS TO MOVE BACK AND FORTH. IT DOESN'T DO MUCH FOR SERVICES WHICH IS WHAT THE U.K. WANTED AND THE E.U. DIDN'T WANT, IN PARTICULAR FINANCIAL SERVICES. SO IT'S NOT CANADA JUMBO OR CANADA PLUS PLUS PLUS THAT WE HEARD ABOUT FOR A LONG TIME AND BORIS JOHNSON LIKES TO KEEP TELLING US IT IS.

Steve says IF IT ISN'T, WHY DOES HE KEEP SAYING IT?

Paul says HE KEEPS SAYING IT BECAUSE THAT IS THE EXAMPLE HE WANTS TO GIVE, THAT SOMEHOW BRITAIN HAS MANAGED TO CREATE A GOOD TRADE ENVIRONMENT WITH THE E.U. HE ALSO TALKS A LOT ABOUT AN AUSTRALIAN-STYLE IMMIGRATION SYSTEM, WHICH WOULD BE A POINTS SYSTEM. YES AND NO. I MEAN, AGAIN, THIS IS GOING TO BE IN THE DETAILS OF HOW THIS WORKS OUT, BUT THIS IS NOT REALLY THE COMPREHENSIVE DEAL I THINK HE HAD HOPED FOR. HE NOW TALKS IN TERMS OF, YES, THERE'S GOING TO BE DIFFICULTIES, THERE'S GOING TO BE FURTHER NEGOTIATION ON A WHOLE LOT OF DIFFERENT THINGS GOING FORWARD. SO THAT'S THE OTHER THING THAT BRITAIN MAY HAVE LEFT THE E.U. BUT THE E.U. IS CERTAINLY GOING TO BE A PART OF BRITISH LIFE HERE BECAUSE SO MANY THINGS STILL NEED TO BE WORKED OUT.

Steve says SURE. BUT OF COURSE THEY HAVE A DEAL, AND A DEAL IS A DEAL, AND THE PRIME MINISTER IS ENTITLED TO TRUMP AT THAT. ON THE OTHER HAND, WHAT ARE THE MAJOR LOSSES THAT THE U.K. IS LOOKING AT NOW THAT THEY'RE NO LONGER PART OF THE E.U.?

The caption changes to "Losses."

Paul says HE CERTAINLY DOES NEED TO HIGHLIGHT THE FACT HE GOT AN AGREEMENT AND BRITAIN NOW WILL BE ABLE TO GO AND NEGOTIATE DEALS WITH OTHER COUNTRIES. THE PROBLEM IS, AGAIN, WHAT THIS DEAL DOESN'T COVER, AND THAT IS FINANCIAL SERVICES IN PARTICULAR. THAT'S ABOUT 80 percent OF THE U.K. ECONOMY. LONDON, AS WE ALL KNOW, IS A BIG FINANCIAL CAPITAL. UP UNTIL BRITAIN LEFT THE E.U., YOU COULD SET UP SHOP IN LONDON AND SERVICE CLIENTS ALL ACROSS EUROPE AND WITHOUT ANY RESTRICTIONS AT ALL. THAT'S GONE NOW. AND HOW THAT OPERATES GOING FORWARD IS GOING TO BE A LOT OF NEGOTIATION, A LOT OF DISCUSSION, AND THE E.U. IS GOING TO HAVE A LOT MORE SAY OVER THAT BECAUSE THE E.U. WILL DECIDE WHICH FINANCIAL REGULATIONS THEY'RE GOING TO ABIDE BY OR EQUALIZE WITH THE U.K. GOING FORWARD. SO THERE'S A LOT TO DISCUSS ON THAT, AND THE E.U. IS GOING TO HAVE A LOT MORE CHIPS ON ITS DESK THAN THE U.K. IS. IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE HOW THAT WORKS OUT.

Steve says WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING ABOUT AN AGREEMENT THAT DOESN'T COVER 80 percent OF THE ECONOMY? HOW GOOD CAN IT BE?

Paul says THAT IS ONE OF THE BIG CRITICISMS OF THIS AGREEMENT. A LOT OF THE BIG FINANCIAL CENTRES, THE BIG BANKS AND THAT, HAVE FOUND WAYS TO WORK AROUND THIS. BUT THEY ARE WAITING TO SEE WHERE THE NEGOTIATIONS WILL BE GOING FORWARD, END UP. THEY DECIDE WHICH OF THE U.K.'S FINANCIAL REGULATIONS THEY'RE GOING TO FOLLOW AND THEY'RE GOING TO ABIDE BY. BUT THE E.U. HAS ITS OWN PRIORITIES. IT WANTS TO SET UP FRANKFURT AND PARIS AS FINANCIAL CENTRES. EXACTLY HOW MUCH THEY'RE GOING TO ALLOW LONDON TO DOMINATE EVERYTHING WE MAINS TO BE SEEN. THEY DO HAVE A PROBLEM IN THE FACT THAT LONDON IS SO OUTSIZED WHEN IT COMES TO FINANCIAL SERVICES IN EUROPE THAT REALLY TO MAKE LIFE TOO DIFFICULT ON FINANCIAL SERVICES COULD HURT THEIR OWN BUSINESSES. SO THERE'S GOING TO BE A DELICATE BALANCE HERE. THAT'S GOING TO PLAY OUT FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS.

Steve says OKAY. THIS AGREEMENT JUST GOT SIGNED AND AS THE EXPRESSION GOES, THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING IS IN THE EATING. HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO SEE ANYTHING ACTUALLY CHANGE IN THE SHORT TIME THAT THIS NEW AGREEMENT HAS BEEN IN PLACE?

The caption changes to "The proof is in the pudding."

Paul says WELL, I'LL TELL YOU WHAT. THE ONE AREA WHERE YOU'VE SEEN REAL PROBLEMS EMERGING IS THAT NORTHERN IRELAND PART THAT YOU TALKED ABOUT EARLIER. NORTHERN IRELAND OF COURSE ISN'T PART OF THE BREXIT DEAL THAT WAS ARRANGED BETWEEN THE U.K. AND THE E.U. IT'S PART OF A SEPARATE PROTOCOL, AS YOU MENTIONED. IT WAS DESIGNED TO KEEP THE IRISH BORDER OPEN. SO TO DO THAT, THEY KEPT BASICALLY NORTHERN IRELAND IN THE E.U. FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES AS FAR AS A SINGLE MARKET GOES. WHAT THAT HAS DONE IS LITERALLY CREATED A BORDER DOWN THE IRISH SEA. ANY GOODS MOVING BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND ARE NOW SUBJECT TO CHECKS. AND WHAT YOU'VE SEEN IN THE PORT IN BELFAST THIS WEEK IS HUGE DELAYS. SOME TRUCKS ARE BEING HELD UP FOR 12 HOURS. TRUCKS DON'T HAVE THE PROPER DOCUMENTATION. GROCERY STORE SHELVES LITERALLY ARE EMPTY IN PARTS OF BELFAST BECAUSE SUPPLIERS IN ENGLAND HAVE SAID I'M NOT GOING TO BOTHER SHIPPING STUFF TO NORTHERN IRELAND BECAUSE IT'S TOO MUCH OF A PAIN, ALL THE PAPERWORK I HAVE TO GO THROUGH. IMAGINE SHIPPING SOMETHING FROM ONTARIO TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND HAVING TO GO THROUGH CUSTOMS CHECKS. THAT'S THE SITUATION THE U.K. IS IN. THE HAULERS ARE WORRIED ABOUT IT. THE FARMERS ARE WORRIED ABOUT IT. IF YOU'RE A FARMER IN NORTHERN IRELAND AND WANT TO SEND SHEEP TO AN AGRICULTURAL SHOW IN ENGLAND, THEY HAVE TO STAY FOR SIX MONTHS BEFORE THEY'RE ALLOWED BACK INTO NORTHERN IRELAND. THAT'S GOING TO BE UNWORKABLE GOING FORWARD. THE GOVERNMENT SAYS THESE ARE TEETHING PAINS. WE'LL FIGURE THIS OUT. BUT GROCERY STORES, TRUCKERS, TRANSPORT PEOPLE ARE SAYING THEY BETTER WORK IT OUT PRETTY QUICK BECAUSE IT'S CAUSING REAL DAMAGE NOW AND WE'RE ONLY... WHAT?... TWO WEEKS INTO THIS THING.

Steve says EVERYBODY WAS SAYING BEFORE THIS HAPPENED IT WAS A KEY PRIORITY FOR AS MANY AS POSSIBLE TO KEEP THE NORTHERN IRISH BORDER THIN.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Paul says WHAT HAPPENED IS BORIS JOHNSON FOR THE LONGEST TIME SAID, NO, THERE WILL BE NO PROBLEM BETWEEN ENGLAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND. WE'RE ALL IN THE SAME COUNTRY. TRADE WILL MOVE. IT'LL BE FINE. THAT'S NOT WHAT'S HAPPENING. TRADE IS BEING HELD UP. THERE ARE DIFFICULTIES. AGAIN, THEY SAY THEY'RE GOING TO WORK THIS OUT OVER THE LONG TERM AND HOPEFULLY THEY WILL FOR THE SAKE OF COMMERCE IN NORTHERN IRELAND, BUT THEY HAVEN'T YET. ON THE OTHER SIDE, WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT U.K.-E.U. RIGHT NOW THE PORT OF DOVER HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE FOCAL POINT OF THAT TRADE. 10,000 TRUCKS A DAY. 20 percent OF EVERYTHING SOLD IN THE U.K. COMES THROUGH THAT PORT. IT'S BEEN OPERATING OKAY. NOW, WHY IS THAT HAPPENING? FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS. ONE, A LOT OF TRUCKERS HAVEN'T SENT STUFF TO CALAIS, TO FRANCE, THEY'RE WAITING TO SEE WHAT THE SYSTEM IS. ON THE FRENCH SIDE THEY'VE HAD A LIGHT TOUCH, THEY'RE NOT CHECKING AS MUCH STUFF, THEY'RE NOT ENFORCING THE RULES AS THEY COULD. WE'RE SEEING THE FLOW THERE MOVING OKAY, BUT AGAIN, WHEN THAT STARTS TO RAMP UP, WHEN WE GET INTO SORT OF A REGULAR SEASONAL MOVEMENT OF GOODS, IS THAT GOING TO CONTINUE AND IS THE E.U. GOING TO BE APPLYING QUITE THE SAME LIGHT TOUCH THAT IT HAS UP UNTIL NOW?

Steve says OKAY. PAUL, LET ME GET YOUR SENSE ABOUT HOW UNITED THE UNITED KINGDOM ACTUALLY IS. OF COURSE WE FAMOUSLY REMEMBER 52-48 I THINK WAS THE VOTE ON BREXIT ALL THOSE YEARS AGO. IS THE COUNTRY STILL ESSENTIALLY HALF AND HALF ON THIS ISSUE?

The caption changes to "A disunited kingdom?"

Paul says OH, YEAH, VERY MUCH SO. THERE'S BEEN MINIMAL MOVEMENT IN TERMS OF POLLING ON BREXIT. YOU MIGHT FIND NOW, IT MIGHT GO 52-48 THE OTHER WAY. BUT REALLY THE POPULATION REMAINS DIVIDED. THE PEOPLE WHO BACKED THE DEAL THINK IT'S GOING FINE. THE OTHERS THINK IT'S GOING TO FALL APART. THE COUNTRY REMAINS JUST AS DIVIDED ON THIS ISSUE.

Steve says IS THERE ANYTHING YOU SEE OUT THERE THAT COULD POTENTIALLY CHANGE THE WAY PEOPLE FEEL ABOUT THIS ISSUE?

Paul says IT'S GOING TO BE HARD TO SAY. IT'S ONE OF THESE THINGS IT'S GOING TO BE VERY HARD TO MEASURE THE IMPACT OF THIS DEAL OVER TIME. IT WILL TAKE TEN YEARS, IT WILL TAKE A LOT OF ECONOMIC DIGGING AROUND TO ESTABLISH WHAT EXACTLY IMPACTED THE ECONOMY, GIVEN THE FACT THAT WE'RE IN A PANDEMIC WHICH IS GOING TO CAUSE WHAT MANY BELIEVE IS GOING TO BE THE LARGEST RECESSION IN THE U.K. IN 300 YEARS, IT'S REALLY HARD TO KNOW HOW BREXIT FIGURES INTO THAT. I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A LONGER-TERM THING. WE MIGHT KNOW IN THE NEXT ELECTION WHEN ALL THE NORTHERN ENGLAND RIDINGS THAT BORIS JOHNSON WON, IT COULD BE A TOUGHER SELL. WE'RE NOT GOING TO KNOW THAT FOR MONTHS IF NOT MANY, MANY YEARS.

Steve says AGAIN FOLLOWING UP ON HOW UNITED THE UNITED KINGDOM IS, SCOTLAND IS NOT THAT HAPPY ABOUT HAVING TO BE FORCED OUT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION BECAUSE IT'S PART OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. CAN YOU PLAY OUT THE PERMUTATIONS OF WHAT'S HAPPENING ON THAT ISSUE?

Paul says THIS DEAL HAS BEEN A HUGE BENEFIT TO NICOLA STURGEON AND THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY. THEY'RE HEADING INTO ELECTIONS NEXT YEAR. THEY'RE EXPECTED TO CLEAN UP IN THOSE ELECTIONS, BRING A LARGE MAJORITY GOVERNMENT. SHE HAS BEEN CALLING FOR A NEW REFERENDUM ON SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE. THE POLLS SHOW SHE WOULD WIN THAT HANDS DOWN. THAT'S NOT TO SAY THOSE POLLS WILL HOLD UP ONCE THE CAMPAIGN IS UNDERWAY. YOU RECALL BACK IN 2014, IT WENT 55-45 AGAINST SEPARATION. SO SHE DOES STILL HAVE A HIGH HILL TO CLIMB AND ALSO TRYING TO NEGOTIATE... OR TRYING TO SELL SOMETHING THAT SAYS NOT ONLY DOES SCOTLAND WANT TO BE INDEPENDENT BUT WE WANT TO REJOIN THE E.U. THAT RAISES A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER THINGS, WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE ENGLISH BORDER, THE CURRENCY, A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER THINGS. IT ISN'T A SLAM DUNK FOR NICOLA STURGEON IF SHE DOES GET A REFERENDUM BUT THINGS ARE POINTING IN HER FAVOUR ON THAT FRONT. BORIS JOHNSON IS NOT WELL LIKED IN SCOTLAND. HE'S REFUSING TO GRANT A REFERENDUM. HE'S SAYING, NO, THAT'S BECOMING AN ISSUE. LET PEOPLE DECIDE, GIVE PEOPLE THE RIGHT TO DECIDE. RIGHT NOW THINGS ARE LOOKING PRETTY GOOD FOR A REFERENDUM ON SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE COMING MAYBE NEXT YEAR.

Steve says HAVING SAID THAT, I READ IN YOUR PIECES THAT NICOLA STURGEON HAS BEEN HOLDING TO HER VIEW THAT THERE'S NO POINT IF BORIS JOHNSON DOESN'T GIVE IT A SALE OF APPROVAL. DOES SHE NEED WESTMINSTER LEGITIMACY BEFORE CALLING IT?

Paul says THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WESTMINSTER HAS TO CALL. THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME. THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE IN THE SNP WHO OPT FOR THE CATALAN MODEL WHERE YOU CALL A REFERENDUM ON YOUR OWN. SHE DOESN'T THINK THAT WOULD WORK OR GIVE YOU THE KIND OF MANDATE SHE WOULD NEED TO FORM AN INDEPENDENT COUNTRY. SHE WANTS WESTMINSTER TO CALL A REFERENDUM AND SHE IS NOW USING THAT AS A POLITICAL WEAPON SAYING WE'RE BEING DENIED OUR RIGHT TO DECIDE FOR OURSELVES BECAUSE OF WESTMINSTER. SO IN A SENSE IT'S FEEDING INTO HER ARGUMENT.

Steve says PAUL, LAST 30 SECONDS HERE. WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE ARE MORE EXHAUSTED BY: BREXIT OR COVID-19?

Paul says COVID BY FAR. IT HAS FAR SURPASSED BREXIT AS A BIG ISSUE RIGHT NOW. BREXIT IS PRETTY MUCH FORGOTTEN IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT, IT'S BEEN PUSHED ASIDE BY COVID, FOR SURE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Steve says WE HOPE YOU STAY SAFE AND WE'RE ALWAYS GRATEFUL WHEN YOU ACCEPT OUR CALLS AND COME ON TVO AND SHARE YOUR WISDOM WITH US. THAT'S PAUL WALDIE, EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL. THANKS PAUL, AND STAY SAFE.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Paul says THANK YOU. SAME TO YOU.

Watch: Can Britain Survive COVID-19 and Brexit?