We talk to historian Tom Holland about the fall of the Roman Republic and the parallels with today. Why does Roman history still exert such a strong pull over our imaginations? Are politicians like Trump and Berlusconi recognisable types from the ancient past? And is contemporary democracy vulnerable to the same forces that brought down the Roman Republic? Plus, we discuss Putin's claim that Russia is now the Third Rome. What is he getting at? With Helen Thompson.
An extra episode in our climate season: we talk to Sir David King, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the British government, about what's now known about the scale of the threat and the urgency of the need for action. What has happened since the Paris agreement? What is the Chinese government most afraid of? What is the meaning of Extinction Rebellion? And is it time to start talking about refreezing the poles to repair the damage already done?
David and Helen talk through the latest twist in the Brexit tale: Theresa May's offer to work with Labour to get some version of Brexit over the line. Can the two parties ever agree on what that version is? Could any agreement be made to stick? And if they can't agree, what happens next? Plus we talk about whether May's offer to stand down is still in effect and we ask what all this might mean for the ERG, the DUP, the SNP and the EU.
As parliament finally gets the chance to indicate its Brexit preferences - if it has any - we discuss the real choices now facing MPs and government. What is the sequence of events that would actually prevent a no-deal Brexit? Can the Withdrawal Agreement be separated from the Political Declaration? And if it can, will MPs eventually have to vote for it? Plus we ask how long we can avoid another general election and we discuss whether Theresa May's survival to this point tells us more about her resilience or about the dysfunctionality of British politics. With Helen Thompson, Chris Bickerton, and Catherine Barnard, Professor of EU Law.
We take the wider European view this week, catching up with the latest developments in Italy and France. A year on from the Italian elections, who is up and who is down in the coalition between the League and Five Star? What is China up to in Italy? Has Macron really got his mojo back? Plus we ask the big question: between chaos at Westminster, riots in Paris and rabble-rousing in Rome, whose democracy is in the biggest trouble? With Lucia Rubinelli and Chris Bickerton.
At the start of another momentous week, David catches up with Helen to explore some of the long term implications of the Brexit crisis. Is lasting damage being done to constitutional government in the UK? Can the Brexiteers still have their cake and eat it? And is the story of Theresa May ultimately a tragic one? You can also hear Helen and David this week on the 538 politics podcast → ttps://53eig.ht/2FaPkJz
*Recorded before John Bercow’s ruling on Monday afternoon