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Britain Triggers Article 50. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 29, 2017 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:29] THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back.


MAX FOSTER, HOST: The British prime minister triggers Article 50 bringing Brexit one giant step closer. How the morning unfolded ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody is a bit mixed up about it, but being English, we will carry on with it and make the best of it.


HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CO-HOST: From Brussels to Berlin and, of course, back here in London, our reporters are across the UK and Europe, gauging

the mood for you this hour.

FOSTER: Hello. Welcome to this special edition of Connect the World. I'm Max Foster.

JONES: And I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones live from the heart of London here in Westminster this hour.

FOSTER: Well, it is full-steam ahead in the countdown. Now, for the epic showdown. In one corner, this place, Britain.

JONES: The other, of course, the rest of the European Union's 27 remaining members all now diving into what is set to be one of the most sensational

divorces in history.

FOSTER: Every rule, every penny are all surely going to be bitterly fought over.

JONES: It will, indeed, be very bitter and a marathon as well, two years. This is the moment the two-year long slog to leave began this morning. The

letter from Britain's prime minister to the president of the European Council on the right there, giving that formal notice.

FOSTER: There it is. Such a simple, traditional form of doing this as well.

JONES: What we have been waiting for for eight months or so.

FOSTER: Let's hear from both of them now.


MAY: A few minutes ago in Brussels, the United Kingdom's permanent representative to

the EU handed a letter to the president of the European Council on my behalf confirming the government's decision to invoke Article 50 of the

treaty on European Union. The Article 50 process is now underway. And in accordance with the wishes of the British people, the United Kingdom is

leaving the European Union.

DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: There is nothing to end in this process, and I'm talking about both sides. In that sense, in essence, this

is about damage control.


FOSTER: Well, CNN is covering this historic story in the only way that we can.

Isa Soares is in Downing Street for us, Phil Black is Blackpool, a city that voted to get out of the EU in a big way. Atika Schubert is in the

German capital.

And Isa, we're going to begin with you, because, you know, lots of people thought that we left European Union already, people haven't been across

every detail of this. But actually the process only starts today.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, the only - the process only starts today, but for a lot of people, at least, Max, for the

52 percent who wanted to leave, who voted to leave, this - they've got a bit of Brexit fatigue. And for them, this is a very important and historic


Of course, for all the others, this is a very - a moment of apprehension and also some nervousness, too. But Theresa May today trying to allay some

of those fears, trying to unite the country. And she did sound, I think - many people were in agreement reading her letter, she did sound very pro-

European in her tone, but also quite measured, Max.

She was uplifting. She positive in her tone to Europe. Clearly, many may interpret this as looking for allies in Europe, but also setting the tone

for what kind of negotiations she wants in Europe.

But if we read between the lines, really, of what she had to say, what really stood out, is this kind of jewel way she wants to attack the

negotiations, which is, she wants a trade agreement as well as a divorce proceeding to happen simultaneously.

Of course, Europe will perhaps say, look, you can't have any sort of trade agreement until you're

actually out of Europe, the divorce is actually final. Perhaps this is a vacant start on proceedings on a very relaxed manner diplomatically.

But Theresa May today trying to allay fears of people who clearly didn't want to leave, but also trying to unite the country, because this is very

much a divided country - Max and Hannah?

JONES: Isa, Theresa May said early that she is very hopeful about the future. Do you think she's going to be taking the rest of the commons, the

parliament overall with her with that sentiment?

[11:05:09] SOARES: Well, if we listen to PMQs today, probably not. And if you'll remember Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Leader, today saying, and I'm

quoting him here, that really he's going to hold the government to account every step of the way.

So she knows she has a challenge on her hands, Hannah. She knows it is going to be difficult and she acknowledged that in the letter. No one said

the divorce proceedings will be easy, but every step of the way, any mistake she makes, she will hold many within her own party and others as

well, opposition parties, questioning her about what the best deal is for Britain.

But up to now, she's held up to the job according to many, but we shall see, of course, because

this is a very long, long negotiation - Hannah, Max.

JONES: Isa, thank you. Isa there live for us on Downing Street.

FOSTER: Well, Brexit isn't a game, but if it was, it would probably be poker, wouldn't it. Everyone is kind of bluffing and no one wants to blink

first and no one wants to show their hand either.

JONES: And Mrs. May's speech earlier ran for 15 minutes and didn't really tell us that much, certainly nothing too new.

And you have got the general themes, though, of what she said.

FOSTER: Let's bring you them. Locking in the rights of people from the EU in Britain to stay,

and tit-for-tat Brits in the continent staying put as well. Plus, keeping London's ties to Northern Ireland open and life outside of the single

market as well.

This - I mean, they are just such big subjects.

JONES: They are. And we're going to be getting all of the reaction from our reporters in the UK and also in Germany in a moment.

But first, let's bring in the Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, who supported Brexit and called

today a special day on Twitter and a great fun for our nation that has a truly global future.

Crispin Blunt, many thanks for joining us on the program.

And if any divorce can be amicable, who has the upper hand in this one?

CRISPIN BLUNT, CONSERVATIVE MP: Well, I heard your introduction just after the hour and you talked about this will be bitter. It's very important it

isn't bitter. And you will see in the tone the prime minister took today both in the statement in the House of Commons and the tone of the letter to

heard that the letter to Donald Tusk is extremely constructive, very positive about the future relationship.

And, obviously there's a bottom line in these negotiations, which we don't want to hit. Because it is not in the mutual interest of either the EU 27

or of Britain that we get there.

But if we're going to end up in that place, because it proves impossible to get these negotiatoins home and the first signs out of the European

parliament aren't terribly helpful today. These are going to be difficult negotiations to bring home, very important that they're conducted in a

positive and constructive atmosphere.

FOSTER: The big hurdle, surely, isn't going to be this issue of EU nationals. It strikes me that that is actually going to be resolved quite

simply. The big issue is whether or not the European Union will agree to looking into this idea of a trade deal, at the same time as negotiating the


BLUNT: And that's where the roots that's been put in place initially by the commission is that you kind of pay the divorce terms and then we'll

talk about the future. It will kind of be impossible for Britain to sign up to.

So, there's got to be, a, I think what you see in Theresa's letter today, is pointing the way to a

transition deal that is going to get us to a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement if we can't get that done within two years. But if there's

no prospect to any kind of future relationship within the negotiations carrying on in parallel, they may have to be agreed under

slightly different terms decided under different terms.

You have Article 50 process, which is a qualified majority to agree to divorce terms, but the

future may have to be agreed with unanimity.

But we have to have a root to that future arrangement otherwise we are going to get stuck with the possibility of no agreement at all.

JONES: Is there a chance, though, that Theresa May, the government is perhaps being slightly naive in assuming - or at least telling the British

people that they will have these trade negotiations running concurrently with the withdrawal negotiations?

BLUNT: Well, we can't - well, there are trade negotiations with other countries and there are trade negotiations with the European Union.

What we can't do is have formal negotiations with other countries whilst we're still in the

European Union. But of course you can have scoping discussions of people to talk about what

might happen to the rest. And indeed, we want to have those discussions certainly with the United States, for example, where the United States, for

reasons of re-winning the argument for free trade in the United States and trade deals, kind of needs a deal with the United Kingdom once we are

outside the European Union.

So, there's a certain amount of dancing going on about when is the negotiation not a negotiation and when is a discussion a negotiation in all

these parallel negotiations, not any within the European Union exit negotiations, but of course the discussions we're having with the rest of

the world as we prepare for our new role in the world, global Britain is the kind of the

catch phrase.

But it's back to, as I said in my tweets about Britain's strengths and interests and values and all the connections we have around the world,

given all the countries in the European Union, Britain the opportunity to forge this new role.

[11:10:06] FOSTER: I know that some of the UK political reporters here are looking quite closely at what she said about security, because she said -

what she intimated, into what he said about security, because she said - what she intimated - I haven't got these in front of me. But when - if

there is a hard Brexit, you know, Britain falls out of the European Union, those deals around security will fall out as well.

That felt like a veiled threat, that felt like the start of a negotiation process. You need the security cooperation. They do, don't they?

BLUNT: No, but if you saw the language in there, the language is about - there is going to be a positive relationship with the European Union.

Britain is going to be the European Union's closest ally in the future. And if the negotiations for whatever reason don't come to a former

agreement, then we're going to have to cope and we're going to have to put in place the mechanisms to make sure there's a reality of the UK being the

EU's closest security partner going forward. And obviously, most EU nations are members of NATO, so those are kind of obvious security

guarantee given through the Article 5 guarantee through NATO.

But what I want to explore, the foreign affairs committee in the course of the next year is how might you structure a British relationship within the

common foreign security policy of the European Union. There should be a special United Kingdom role with the EU. We've got all of that now.

Britain adding its security and defense weight to the European Union in a way that's acceptable to everybody is plainly in the interests of both the


FOSTER: Do you think that will be quite easy to get through?

BLUNT: There's an awful lot of complexity in the details. And we've got to work out at what point the UK can be part of the discussions about

security and foreign policy without, then, assuming these things about the sovereignty of the EU 27 going forward or indeed of the United Kingdom.

JONES: Difficult time for you for the next two years, I imagine, all these parliamentarians not just dealing with security, but also all the others


FOSTER: You've got to scrutinize all of this. That's the job of your committee, right?

BLUNT: Yes. And there's also the Brexit committee - all the select committees have responsibility in different areas of this negotiation.

There is a terrific amount of work to be done in that place over the next two years. You have got the great repeal bill coming forward. And you

will get more detail on that tomorrow in the White paper about how this process is going to be taken forward.

And then after that, there's probably going to be an enormous amount of work in the statutory instruments that will then bring the European Union

regulations into British law.

JONES: Crispin Blunt, thanks very much for joining us here on CNN.

FOSTER: As we heard, the vote for Brexit split the country. But some places were more sure than others that it was the right move. And Phil

Black is in one of them. He's in Blackpool. Hi, Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Max. I'm standing on a Beachside promenade that was paid for using money from the European Union,

millions of pounds. But as you say here in Blackpool, this is a city where 67.5 percent of the population voted in favor of

the Brexit.

It's a sort of contradiction that you'll find in a lot of areas where the Brexit vote was particularly strong. To understand that, we have been

talking to people today. As you can see, it is a windy, blustery, cold, rainy spring day in Blackpool, but that's OK because we have got Freddie,

the CNN Brexit wagon with us, and we are able to keep our local guests, our residents nice and warm and dry inside. And so I'm very happy to introduce

to you, Anne.

Anne, you are a Blackpool resident who voted for Brexit, correct?


BLACK: Tell me why?

ANNE: I think like a lot of other people, I think things have gone a bit too far since we joined the common market and things have changed so much

over the time.

I think we'd be better off out.

BLACK: So, on this day where Article 50 is finally been triggered, the two-year process is underway. It is now a reality in waiting, it would

seem. What are your thoughts and feelings today?

ANNE: I just hope we can get the best deal we possibly can.

BLACK: Any nervousness?

ANNE: Slightly. I think it's going to be difficult for a couple years. But I think on the whole, at the end of the day, I think we're going to be

better off.

BLACK: Do you believe Britain is still divided on this issue?

ANNE: Oh, yeah, most definitely, I think, yeah. I just hope people will pull together, especially in parliament.

BLACK: What do you think it will mean for Blackpool, ultimately?

ANNE: I don't know, really. You know, there used to be seasons in Blackpool. There aren't anymore. People come here all the time. I hope

it will bring an influx more of people. I don't know whether it will. We'll just have to wait and see. But we're not sort of agriculture type

place at all, we more rely on people coming for holidays.

So, I don't know how it will affect Blackpool at all, really.

BLACK: There's a contradiction here, because this is a town with quite a sizable poor population, but it is also a town that has done very well from

the EU in the sense that the EU has paid for a lot of renovations that have going on here, a lot of infrastructure, a lot of the stuff that brings the tourists here in the first place.

Why do you think so many people voted for Brexit given that circumstance, given that contradiction?

ANNE: I think there's a lot of people who, yes, appreciate the money that the EU has given, but at the end of the day, that's not what it is all

about, not really.

BLACK: OK. And so we begin.

ANNE: Yes, it will be very interesting, very, very very interesting.

BLACK: Thank you very much.

ANNE: Thank you.

BLACK: Thank you.

Guys, as I have been saying, it's very much the feeling we have been hearing here today. A lot of people just glad this is now underway and

looking forward, they believe, to a stronger, brighter future for Britain. Back to you.

FOSTER: I think we should all have a camper van when we got out reporting. Look at him. You know, it start raining, he just goes in and he sits in a

comfy space.

JONES: The camera, though, looks maybe - maybe that's just our camera that has got rain drops on it. Maybe you're nice and toasty and warm in there.

FOSTER: He goes to war zone. He goes to the rain in Blackpool. He can do anything.

We heard from the president of the European Counsel earlier. We've also had reaction from the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. And Atika Shubert

is over in Berlin for us.

JONES: Atika, just a quick question to you. We've heard so much about a hard - a short, a soft Brexit, a sharp Brexit. Is the kind of Brexit that

we've seen so far the type that Chancellor Merkel can handle?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, she made it very clear in her speech today that, you know, Germany did not want to see the UK leave the European Union.


JONES: ...1 percent at the moment. So pretty much as expected right now.

FOSTER: Yeah, it's not a big shock at the moment. But really it's how the negotiations develop and when the economic ramifications, you know, become

apparent. Then that is going to start sinking into markets.

JONES: Although, everyone has said there that would be a big affect of after the referendum, eight, nine months later...

FOSTER: It didn't transpire.

JONES: That didn't transpire. So, we wait to see whether that long awaited impact on the economy is felt in the coming days and months.

FOSTER: Much more on this historic day just ahead when we get the view from Brussels.

The European Council President Donald Tusk says he says he won't even pretend that it's a happy day, saying he's now focused on damage control.

Very different tones coming from there.


JONES: I'm going to take you now on this breaking news day, I'm going to take you to Brussels where we can hear from Guy Verhofstadt. He is the

chief of Brexit negotiator for the European parliament, and also alongside Antonio Tajani who is the European parliament president. Let's look and

listen in.


[11:42:44] FOSTER: Tough words, really, coming from the European parliament.

JONES: Very strong words indeed. You've just been listening to the Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt alongside the

parliament president Antonio Tajani. They've been talking about an orderly Brexit process saying that EU citizens shouldn't be bargaining chips, also

crucially saying that the UK is leaving the EU, but is not leaving Europe, echoing there, of course, the words of the British Prime Minister Theresa

May from earlier on today.

As CNN's political contributor Robin Oakley joins us now. What did you make of what they had to say there, the kind of ton that you expected?

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I rather thought that that was a statement, or a series of statements that have been drafted before

Theresa May spoke, because her tone was rather friendlier towards Europe than I felt the tone of those remarks was towards here.

And, you know, those were sort of red lines being set out in advance of negotiations by the European parliament negotiator Guy Verhofstadt and the

parliament president.

OK, when you look at them in detail, they were saying they want the - they don't want a hard border to be created between Northern Ireland and the

Irish Republic. Fine, nor does Theresa May. They were saying absolute priority for sorting out a deal on EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals

in the EU. Theresa May was saying in her remarks and in the letter that she wants an early settlement of that question.

Perhaps slightly more competitively (ph) they were saying the EU has got to meet its financial obligations before they and the European Parliament

would sanction any deal. And they don't want the European Union going behind their backs, which was the expression they used, and doing any -

starting any - the UK going behind their backs and doing any trade deal with anybody else.

FOSTER: Interestingly, adding to that, in saying all with members states. So member states go behind parliament's back.

OAKLEY: Sure. Yes. Yes.

FOSTER: It was quite aggressive, wasn't it? But I guess that's how the negotiation works, right?

OAKLEY: Yes. I mean, (inaudible) something tougher in advance. But you'd have thought they might have made a little bit more concession having

listened to her, because, you know, she was definitely reaching out a hand to Europe today. And one of the interesting things I thought that there

has been some resentment in Europe of her getting too close to Donald Trump. And people were saying, oh, she comes over to Europe and she just

spouts slogans about Brexit means Brexit whereas she goes to the United States and she holds hands with President Donald Trump.

[11:45:04] JONES: Not necessarily...

OAKLEY: Well, I thought, you know, when she used this constantly this expression in the letter deep and special partnership with the European

Union, I thought there was a deliberate play on the traditional special relationship between Britain and the United States and that was assuring

Europe, no, we're going to care quite sincerely for you, too.

JONES: One of the things that the parliament - European Parliament president said that I thought was interested, he said being a member cannot

be the same as not being a member. It's sort of a veiled threat, really, isn't it, of the cost of Brexit, both in financial terms and also


OAKLEY: I think that's been there all along. And it's been absolutely obvious.

The prime minister of Malta, who is current host of the EU as it moves around, said awhile back that, you know, life outside the European Union

for Britain has got to be worse than life inside the European Union, otherwise, what's the point of all the rest of them subscribing to the

conditions that they have to meet in order to have the advantage of the European Union?

FOSTER: Especially, it would have to honor - UK would have to honor all financial obligations. They're talking about this penalty, which obviously

the UK is going to fight.

OAKLEY: Yes, well, I don't think the UK is necessarily going to fight the principle of some payment.

FOSTER: It's the amount.

OAKLEY: The question is what the amount is going to be. And everybody will have an idea...

FOSTER: It's going to be billions, isn't it?

JONES: It certainly will.

Robin, thanks very much.

Well, speaking to parliament earlier on, Theresa May says she wanted to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living here in the UK. And it is, of

course, a big issue. There are more than 3 million citizens here. Well, Diana Mangay is gauging the mood at a Portuguese cafe in South London.

Diana, what is mood there?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, I have encountered such a range of moods amongst the various EU nationals

that we have interviewed today. I've been in the city of London talkingto Italian bankers who told me that they felt their life was,

to a certain extent, on hold as they didn't know whether their bank would stay in the UK or not. And they couldn't buy houses. They didn't know

what to do next.

I've talked to people, Lithuanian people here in Portuguese communities in South London who have told me that they feel this is almost a part of their

identity. They have been here such a long time that their identity feels confused. They feel unwanted.

And now I have a guest with me who feels fairly sanguine. This is - and let me get your name right, Nelson Eufigenio. You're Portuguese. Thank

you for being here.

How do you feel on this really quite momentous day for Britain and the EU?

NELSON EUFIGENIO, PRIVATE SECURITY OFFICER: Well, I'm very relaxed. It is just a normal day in London again. I'm not concerned about it, to be

honest with you. The people choose. We have to respect. We live in democracy.

And I came to this country three years, almost four years ago. I'm working since the first day I am in here, paying my taxes. I'm full-time employed.

I'm not concerned.

MAGNAY: And you feel confident that Theresa May will guarantee your rights, as she says she will, for those people who are EU nationals who are

working here?

EUFIGENIO: Well, I'm 100 percent sure that who is working in here now is going to keep their jobs. But the other side, the people who came to this

country and who are not working, they are only claiming, claiming, claiming, I (inaudible) those ones will be concerned.

I'm not.

MAGNAY: So you feel that actually this is quite a good thing, that those people who are from the EU who come to this country and who bring benefits

to the economy will stay, and that it will actually make sure that those who don't bring any benefits won't, is that your point?

EUFIGENIO: Definitely yes.

If the workforce is coming to help the country to help the economy. They are going to be

welcomed. They are still going to be welcomed, even the ones who are already here.

But the people who come in here not with a goal, without a goal or without a target to build up

their lives to help the economy as well, I reckon that will be a problem and they will stop them.

MAGNAY: And do you think within the Portuguese community, is your feeling the same or are

you feeling different thoughts?

EUFIGENIO: I used to be called the revolutionary one because I disagree with most of Portuguese community in here, because everyone is against the

Brexit. And I'm not against or in favor of it. I say, as I told you, it's a democracy, we have to accept it.

But I'm not concerned about it, because I'm not claiming nothing. I'm not living from benefits. I'm not working cash in hand. So, I'm not worried.

MAGNAY: Brilliant. Thank you very much.

Now, from there you go possibly a lone voice in the Portuguese community, but there will be many, many people within the British community who agree

with Nelson on that one. Back to you guys.

FOSTER: It is interesting, isn't it, because of course it's unsettled, particularly for families, but you know, one member might be an EU


But actually I think the one thing that (inaudilbe) today so far is that all sides are agreed that issue needs to be resolved in a positive way and

pretty quickly.

JONES: Yeah, Theresa May implying really that that issue already had been resolved, really, and it is certainly behind us has been talking about for

a long time. So, no doubt that's going to be at the forefront of all of these negotiations over the course of the next two years, perhaps more.

Back to you. Live from London, this is Connect the World.

Coming up, it's been a long and stormy relationship down through the years. Now, Britain has finally started the process of divorcing the EU. We take

a look back at the history.

FOSTER: Going way back.


JONES: Welcome back.

Now, like most relationships on the brink of divorce, the UK and the EU have something of a contentious past.

FOSTER: Yeah, it's an odd relationship, isn't it, the UK has with the EU.

Today was the beginning of a new phase, though, Nick Glass is taking a look back for us.


NICK GLASS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Britain and the European Union, always a fractious, rather ambivalent relationship, never simply

black and white, although the idea did have an eloquent post-war champion.


less than the union of Europe as a whole. And we look forward with confidence to the day when that union can be achieved.

GLASS: Britain could so easily have been founder member in '57, precisely 60 years ago, along with the German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the

French and the Italians, but a suspicious Britain declined to join the club.

As Germany and France prospered economically and are now embraced by France's Charles de Gaulle, Britain had a sudden change of heart out of

economic self-interest.

But de Gaulle said non, vetoing the British application in 1963 and again in 1967. Only after de Gaulle died did Britain finally gain membership in


The conservative prime minister Ted Heath signed with a golden pen as a keen musician, he

encouraged the newly formed European youth orchestra.

But by 1975, Britain was already having second thoughts. The Labour Prime Minister Harold

Wilson, called a referendum.

HAROLD WILSON, LABOUR PARTY: The British people in clear and unmistakable terms, have made their historic decision that Britain shall remain a member

of the European community.

GLASS: Note that word historic. So persistently used in this prolonged saga. The Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously had her

battles with Europe, arguing that Britain was contributing too much to the EU budget. She successfully won a rebate in 1984.

MARGARET THATCHER, FRM. BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is asking the community to have our own money back.

GLASS: The (inaudible) treaty in 1992 brought about greater integration among members states over justice, home and foreign affairs and security.

But Britain went on to opt out of the common currency, the euro.

And so did David Cameron's fateful decision announced in 2013.

DAVID CAMERON, FRM. BRITISH PRIME MINISTER; It will be an in/out referendum.

GLASS: And to Nigel Farage's triumph as leader of the UK Independence Party as the British voted out last summer.

NIGEL FARAGE, FRM. LEADER UKIP: Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day!

[11:55:06] GLASS: The basic question was and remains, what has the EU done for Britain? Superficially, it changed our drinking habits, our

consumption of latte and cappuccino and anything bubbly, and it encouraged a flood of German cars. And more importantly, and divisively, a flood of

people. Over 3 million European nationals living and working in Britain.

With a narrow vote in favor of leaving, the referendum showed that Britain is profoundly fractured over Europe. Manifestly, for better or worse, it

isn't quite the same country it was in 1973, and that raises a new question, what will Britain's place in the world be in the future?


JONES: What will it be, indeed?

We will have much more on what the triggering of Article 50 means in the coming hours. That was Connect the World. Thanks very much for watching.

I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones.

FOSTER: I'm Max Foster. Stay with us. Richard is coming up next.