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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
U.K. Prime Minister May Announces Snap Election; IMF Warns Against Trade Barriers; Trump Signs "Buy American, Hire American" Order; Ballmer Spotlights Government Spending; Melenchon Narrows Gap with Frontrunners
Aired April 18, 2017 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: closing bellringing on Wall Street. Dow is up 108 points. One, two, three. Three strong gavels that brought
trading to a close. Today is Tuesday. It's April the 18th.
Tonight, back to the ballot box. Theresa May in Britain has called a snap election before she starts Brexit negotiations. The IMF is warning against
trade barriers, while raising its forecast for global growth. And President Trump is signing a "Buy America, Hire American" executive order,
in this hour.
I'm Richard Quest, live in the world's financial capital, and I mean business.
Good evening, the wounds from Brexit aren't remotely healed and Theresa May is sending British voters back to the polls. In a stunning about-face,
having said that she would not call an election, the British Prime Minister is now calling a snap poll on June 8. Theresa May says she wants a more
united Westminster Parliament so she can negotiate Brexit with the strongest possible hand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with the prime ministers,
presidents and chancellors of the European Union. Every vote for the Conservatives will mean we can stick to our plan for a stronger Britain.
And take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now there's no question that it was an absolute surprise that the announcement came today. The Prime Minister said, the alternative is a
coalition government. Presumably under Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn. He says, Mrs. May's Conservatives have failed and he's promising he will seek
a Brexit that works for all if he's elected prime minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, LABOUR PARTY LEADER: I welcome the opportunity for us to put the case to the people of Britain. To stand up against this government
and its failed economic agenda, which has left our NHS in problems. Which has left our schools underfunded. Which left so many people uncertain. We
want to put a case out there to the people of Britain of a society that cares for all. An economy that works for all. Anna Brexit that works for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Hala Gorani is at Westminster outside Parliament and joins me now. Simple question, Hala. How does this affect Brexit? Because as I heard
the Prime Minister speak she said there's no going back. So, how does -- is there any chance this reverses Brexit in some shape or form?
HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very, very, very slim chance that that could happen. If you look at polls right now, and I know over the last
several years we've been burned by polls. The conservative party has such a massive lead, seven weeks out from this snap election if the MPs vote to
approve this proposal, this initiative, that essentially this would strengthen the Prime Minister's hands in any Brexit negotiation.
This morning we were told, just about an hour before the announcement was made, that she was calling for this early election to prepare for an
important announcement outside 10 Downing St. And you'll remember, Richard, the pound actually lost ground because there was their uncertainty
surrounding this announcement. What was she going to say? When she called for the early election and the dust settled, then you saw the pound
strengthen once again. Because markets thought, OK, the probability she's going to come out of this stronger. That Brexit negotiations will be
clearer going forward. Because it's just the beginning of the process. And we'll have a better idea possibly sooner what to expect. This is the
political calculation of the Prime Minister right now, Richard. That this will make her stronger and give her a mandate. After all, she took over
from David Cameron after the Brexit defeat. Not after the general election. She needs this support from the voters.
QUEST: OK, but as I was reading from "Politico" this afternoon, on one of their analysis of this. The suggestion is though that from the European's
point of view the way this election is conducted will give a very good idea of the strategy of the British government. Do you buy that?
GORANI: You mean, in the sense of what they propose in terms of what types of Brexit they favor and whether or not they get the popular support?
GORANI: Well, yes. It will definitely give us a better idea, because you're going to have to while campaigning become clearer and clearer as the
date approaches, as to what type of Brexit deal you're going to vote for if you're asking for the support of a majority of your constituents and of
voters across the country.
[16:05:05] So, this is going to give us a better idea. But it looks more and more as though, if indeed the Prime Minister feels she has a stronger
hand. And I know you'll be speaking to a Conservative member of Parliament later. That perhaps the option of a harder Brexit, in other words exiting
the customs union, the free market, as well as obviously, controlling immigration. Which means not allowing the free movement of people. That
this is a more likely outcome. The question is, what kind of economic deal, what kind of trade deal, will the U.K. strike with EU countries?
What will they do, also, very important about EU citizens already in this country and U.K. citizens across the EU. Those are some very important
points. And we are going to have to learn more about that from the ruling party here as this date approaches. There after all asking for new
mandate. They need to become clearer about what deal they want and what they will be negotiating for.
QUEST: Hala Gorani, who is at Westminster. Thank you, Hala, for putting that into perspective.
In the latest opinion poll from YouGov that Hala was referring to, Says the Conservatives have a commanding lead, 44% for the Conservatives, 23 for
Labour. You can see the Lib Dems sort of down 12. UKIP and other is 10. Now always remember with the U.K. of course, it's the first past the post
system. So, you don't get any vote -- or you don't get any seats if you get a large smattering of votes across the country. It's all about where
your seats are. Joe Twyman is the head of political research at YouGov and says, the odds appear to favor Mrs. May. Brexit may have changed U.K.
politics in ways we don't understand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE TWYMAN, HEAD OF POLITICAL RESEARCH, YOUGOV: if you are betting at this stage you'd say the polls and the historical precedent point to a strong
performance by the Conservatives on June 8. Having said that, British politics along with politics in many countries in the world has changed
dramatically over the last two or three years. And it could be that the Brexit referendum has redefined British politics in a way that the Scottish
referendum redefined Scottish politics. We don't know yet but it's clearly a long way still to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Crispin Blunt is a Conservative MP, and joins me now from Westminster. Mr. Blunt, please explain how does this election strengthen
the Prime Minister's hand in a negotiation even if she gets a thumping big majority, and increased majority? The other European leaders will say,
well, yes so, you have supportive your country. We know that, but were still negotiating hard against you.
CRISPIN BLUNT, MEMBER A BRITISH PARLIAMENT, CONSERVATIVE PARTY: Well the answer is pretty straightforward. It means she can carry any deal with the
Conservative support with a substantially increased majority we hope on the 8th of June. She can do whatever deal she feels is in the national
interest. So, she needs to make compromises in order to get a good deal for the United Kingdom with our European partners. Then she'll be able to
carry the Conservative Party even if some people are unhappy with those compromises.
If no deal is to be done because our partners are unable, are unwilling to give us the kind of terms that will be acceptable to the United Kingdom,
then of course she can then carry the whole of Parliament with her if she's got a decent majority. Even those people who think we should do a deal at
QUEST: Having said that tough --
BLUNT: So, our hand will be immeasurably strengthened if the conservatives get a good result on the eighth of June.
QUEST: Right, and the opinion poll suggested they will. However, it does smack once again, I mean -- it smacks of political opportunism. In the
sense that she spent the last nine months telling us she will not go to the country. Now she says she has reluctantly come to the conclusion she'll
have to go to country when frankly, the opposition hasn't changed its point or position on this.
BLUNT: I don't think this is actually really to do with the opposition as such. This is about her calculation about how to give herself the
strongest negotiating hand in order to carry Brexit. And then of course the process after we have left the European Union. And I think she's --
plainly there is a political opportunity because of the state of the opposition in the United Kingdom and I think if the Labour Party wasn't
quite such a mess that it is, she may not have been able to take this decision. But she will have her hand in the negotiation with our European
partners is going to be immeasurably strengthened if the country behaves in the way that one would expect it to give her the support that she's asked
[16:10:01] QUEST: So, there's been an election to choose a government, which brought in David Cameron. There's been a referendum on Brexit. The
Prime Minister will get all -- could get -- depending on the vote -- her own independent mandate as a result of June 8. Surely the next argument
is, there should be a second vote, not just by Parliament, but by the country on whatever deal she finally negotiates.
BLUNT: No, the decision has been made. The decision in principle was to leave the European Union and the negotiations now are going to take place.
Be under no misunderstanding, she is going to be trying to get the best deal for the United Kingdom with our European Union partners. And the
commonality of interest between the 27 and the U.K., should mean that the interests of the people being represented on both sides of the channel and
the North Sea, mean that we get a good deal that's in the interest of both sides. But politics comes into play here. There is obviously, injured
heart and pride on the side of the 27 who obviously, upset with the fact that the U.K. is leaving and they've got to make a decision about whether
the lesson that's got to be meted out to the U.K. that no one else is going to have the temerity to leave the European Union. Or they're going to
represent their interests of the people they represent, which is in a sensible deal with the closest possible partnership with the United Kingdom
outside the EU.
QUEST: Good to see you, sir. Thank you very much indeed.
Later in the program, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, I'll be speaking to the Labour, Kevin Brennan, putting those parts to the argument.
Now to the markets. It was rather a brutal reaction, all things considered. Let's do the FTSE to begin with. Down 2 1/2 percent. Now
admittedly all of the European were down roughly 1 percent. France was down very sharply over one and 1/2 percent on the back of the forthcoming
French elections. But the FTSE was down 2.4 percent. At the same time as the pound rose 2.1 percent. Now, take a look. Those two figures they are
directly related and indeed it is a continuation of what we have seen with the relationship between sterling and the market. As one goes up the other
Of course, the correlation is as a result of the way in which exports will be hit regarding the currency. So, let's talk about this with Vicky Pryce,
who joins me now. Vicki, it's an unusual relationship that were seeing with sterling at the moment, isn't it? You don't often see such a stark
correlation between the currency and the equity market.
VICKY PRYCE, CENTER FOR ECONOMIC & BUSINESS RESEARCH: You are absolutely right. The interesting thing is that if you look at the FTSE 100, which is
a major -- the main companies in the U.K. listed on the stock exchange, 80 percent of their earnings come from abroad. So, every time the pound goes
down, it means that their earnings in sterling terms go up. So, what is been happening is that whenever the pound has been rising then the share
prices go down, FTSE 100 goes down. And whenever it's falling then it goes up. And we've seen exactly as you're saying, this inverse relationship
between the two. It's just an arithmetic really. Rather than anything much more than that. But it doesn't course, mean that the companies that
are based here, if they're already earning a lot from abroad will be able to do more investment, perhaps too more hiring. So, it's not a bad thing
QUEST: Right, but if we now go underneath that, as to why the pound should have risen so sharply. We were just showing a graph a second ago, and
we've got it as the pound versus since Brexit. Very sharp fall, there was a first sharp fall back in June. Then another sharp fall in September.
But why should the pound rally on the prospect of an election in June? What caused that?
PRYCE: I think it's very much what you are hearing before from Crispin Blunt. The reason why she's having the selection is not just because of
course, it's a very opportunistic moment, just as you been saying, absolutely correct. But also, because what she can do if she gets a big
majority is completely quiet the euro skeptics in her own party. So, what she wants is not to be constantly told you've got to get immigration
numbers by much more than you were perhaps thinking of doing. You've got to perhaps leave any trade arrangements for the EU outside any negotiating
deal you do. Just go down to WTO rules. And with that she'll be able to perhaps do her own thing.
Now what the markets are thinking, certainly what those who are buying or selling sterling as they do, is that we give her the ability to have a
softer Brexit. Not as hard as would have been the case otherwise, but softer. That would mean faster growth in the economy. That would mean
possibly higher interest rates in the future, than would otherwise be the case.
[16:15:00] So, the pound run isn't going up.
QUEST: That'll mean -- just to throw a bit of petrol on the flames -- that would also mean continuing supervision or at least supremacy of the
European Court. And possibly continuing open immigration.
PRYCE: Well, yes, I think what it would mean is that there is most likely to be a transition period much longer than people were perhaps
anticipating. During that period, all the things you just said will be happening. So, in many ways we won't really have left.
QUEST: Oh, what a day. Vicky, good to see you. Thank you for coming and making sense of it all for us.
We'll continue on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Donald Trump campaigned saying he put America first. Tonight, the president puts his signature on an
executive order. It's called, "Buy American, Hire American." It's a policy of the president. This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, live from New York.
QUEST: QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. The International Monetary Fund, the IMF, has warned politicians not to put up new trade barriers. Saying,
protectionism jeopardizes the global economic recovery. Now this is the so-called the WEO, the World Economic Outlook. It comes out twice a year.
It has various revisions. And if you take a look at the 2017 global growth forecast, it's been upgraded. This is particularly from the United
Kingdom. Obviously, we're interested in that because of the way in which the Brexit is moving forward and with the election.
It was 3.1 percent in 2016. It's now being upgraded quite sharply. It's now at some 2 percent -- I beg your pardon this is just the U.K. numbers as
well. If you take the rest of the countries of the world. Look at China. There's China. The forecast has been upgraded to 6.6 percent. It remains
lower than in 2016.
The United States forecast remains unchanged at 2.3 percent. That is from the earlier forecast, but it hasn't really changed since what was expected
for last year. Putting it all together and you will see this is India is forecast to be the fastest growing economy in the world at 7.2 percent. It
gives you an idea of how the whole thing fits together for the global economy. There we have the 2017 overall, is what the number was.
The IMF's chief economist, Maurice Obstfeld, has told CNN, despite raising its growth forecast 0.1 percent to 3.5 percent, he remains worried and this
warning about trade protectionism.
MAURICE OBSTFELD, CHIEF ECONOMIST, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: I wouldn't want to downplay the growth numbers and how excited we are to be upgrading.
I have to say that, but we do see risks to this outlook. And we think it's incumbent on policymakers to safeguard and nurture this recovery.
[16:20:00] And in trade we've seen a lot of protectionist measures since 2008, 2009. A lot of protectionist rhetoric from policymakers and
particularly politicians in a number of countries. So, we are worried.
QUEST: Let's not mince words about it. We are talking here particularly about the U.S. administration and the new Trump administration with its
policy on TPP. Its policy on NAFTA, and seemingly it's wish to rewrite many trade agreements. That's what you are referring to here isn't it?
OBSTFELD: We're not referring to just one country. I think globally throughout advanced economies we are seeing more skepticism about trade
integration. You know, if you look at the rhetoric in the French election right now it's similar. So, this is really a global trend. And you know,
as far as the Trump administration's policies so far are concerned, we haven't seen that much in the protectionist direction. You know, TPP was
scrapped, but in other areas we're waiting to see what happens.
QUEST: This anti-globalization movement, if that's what it is, is understandable from the point of view of those people who have not
benefited from globalization. So, surely once again it comes down to policymakers having failed to make the argument.
OBSTFELD: Absolutely, Richard. You know, if you look at the emerging markets where you don't see this negative sentiment toward trade, even
workers at the bottom of the income scale have benefited enormously. In the advanced economies, there have been losers and I don't think we've done
enough in these economies to take care of them, to compensate them, to make sure they can move on to new jobs. To invest in them so that they maintain
skills in the labor market and can take advantage equally in the opportunities that trade offers.
QUEST: Has you're thinking shifted about the medium-term effects as the fund views change at all concerning Brexit. I notice of course, you have
now once again upgraded the U.K. to pretty much to the position it was before the referendum. And now the Prime Minister is about to hold an
election in June. Does that have any effect do you think?
OBSTFELD: It's hard to tell what the election will do to the prevailing uncertainty. You can make a case that it raises it. You can make a case
that it decreases it as the government gets a clear mandate. You know, we've seen the British consumer be surprisingly optimistic in the period
since Brexit. And that has led us to raise the forecast for 2017. But we have seen a significant depreciation of sterling and longer-term we do
think that depending on what the final settlement is with the EU 27, there could be negative supply side effects for the British economy.
QUEST: And that's the chief economist of the IMF talking to me from Washington and the WEO published.
A short time ago in Wisconsin, President Donald Trump signed an executive order. He says it's designed to protect manufacturers and employees. It's
"Buy American, Hire American" policy. It calls for a full review of the H1B visas for skilled workers. It's used by the tech industry. Now
interestingly, only this week the number of H1B's fell for the first time in five years. Jim Acosta is with me at the White House. Jim, another
executive order. I'm getting a bit dizzy with the sheer numbers of them. But the real question for you, sir, is there any meat in this? Or is it
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House would argue, Richard, that there is some meat to it. But make no mistake,
when presidents issue executive orders instead of getting laws passed, it says something about their ability to get legislation through the Congress.
But the president, perhaps a little sensitive to what's been happening lately with respect to China. You know, last week the president declined
to label China a currency manipulator. Something he vowed to do on day one of his administration, during the campaign.
This week he's very much focused on the American worker and so up in Wisconsin, a state he flipped red by the way, flipped Republican to win the
White House. He was talking up these executive orders. One which will order this review across the federal government to make sure that federal
agencies are buying as many American goods as possible. They feel like that that has waned in recent years during the past Obama administration.
And also, they want to look at those special visas that you mentioned that allow companies to bring in foreign workers overseas.
[16:25:02] The Trump administration is saying, Richard, very forcefully that that program, that visa program, has been abused. And they want to
get to the bottom of it. But at the same time these are just reviews of both of these programs. These buying programs and these hiring programs.
And so, at this point it's not very clear at all whether is going to result in any American jobs being created. But it does make for a good campaign
style speech that you heard the president deliver earlier today in Wisconsin.
QUEST: We listened to what the president said just now. Let me just pause a second and we'll have a listen to what he said and you can give me the
interpretation. We'll have a listen to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: This historic action declares that the policy of our government is to aggressively promote and use American-made
goods. And to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job. America first. You better believe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Jim, in a nutshell -- and I know it's early days in the administration -- but in a nutshell, has the administration actually done
anything yet on the economic front besides stopping TPP?
ACOSTA: Well, you know, they would argue, Richard, that the president has put a lot of pressure on some of these companies. They brought in some of
these CEOs for meetings over at the White House and because of that they've been able to get Boeing to renegotiate, for example, the Air Force One
contract. A lot of it though, has been symbolic. No question about it. And that's what this action was earlier today. But you know, there is a
problem with the President's agenda right now. It is bogged down in what he would called the swamp. You know he did not get healthcare reform
passed. He did not get the Obamacare repealed passed that he wanted. They were hoping that that was going to give a boost to the economy. They also
are now making some noise about perhaps this tax reform push that was going to be initiated up on Capitol Hill. That they were hoping to get done by
August. That that is now going to be pushed off into 2018.
Now they will say, and you know this Richard, they do point to the Dow Jones. They point to the stock market and say, there is consumer
confidence out there. There is confidence in the stock market. That's why it's been doing so well since the president got into office. But no
question about it, they are finding that navigating the swamp, as they called it during the campaign, to be a lot more difficult than they
QUEST: Jim Acosta, at the White House, thank you, sir. It looks like a very nice day.
ACOSTA: Very nice.
QUEST: A spring day in Washington.
Now, the Transpacific Partnership, the TPP, just talking about it there with Jim, all but -- not all but, but it was killed off by the Trump
administration. The U.S. is reviewing its trade relations with some of its key partners. Vice President Mike Pence Is in Asia right now and says,
things have to change. These are the numbers he's unhappy about. Japan's trade surplus with the U.S. stands at $69 billion. South Korea is $27.7
billion. Besides trade, the vice president is also talking about another urgent matter, North Korea, as Alexandra Field Explains.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence is in the region for economic talks. Talking to officials here in Japan about
how to strengthen and deepen the economic bilateral ties between the two countries. But security is the top topic of conversation. Vice President
Pence called the North Korean provocation an ominous threat for the region. He's here to reaffirm the strength of the alliance that exists between
Japan and the U.S. There are currently some 50,000 troops who are stationed here. Vice President Pence went on to say that the U.S. is
resolve in confronting the North Korean threat is total and that the goal remains the denuclearization of the North Korean peninsula.
He said that a generation of efforts toward North Korea have failed and that they have resulted in continued provocations from Pyongyang. He has
said that all options remain on the table, including the military option. But went on to stress that work is being done with the allies in the
region, Japan, South Korea, and China to talk about how to further enforce sanctions and how to further isolate Pyongyang. Again, the goal being the
denuclearization of the peninsula.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also spoke from his residence after meeting with the vice president saying that Japan values the message that is being sent
by Washington. This end to an era of strategic patients. But the Prime Minister did say that he was pleased that Washington is looking at all
options when it comes to the North Korean threat. Which does threaten the safety of people here in Japan. He also said that it is important to Japan
to see that all actions are being taken to try and resolve the tension in a peaceful manner through diplomatic and diplomatic talks. In Tokyo,
Alexandra Field, CNN.
QUEST: Now the Labour Party MP, Kevin Brennan, is with us after the break. He'll have a point of view on the U.K. election. It's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
live from New York.
[16:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest.
There is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment. When they come from behind candidate in France holograms his way into election rallies across
the country, and former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer is focusing on facts by launching a database to track government spending. This is CNN and on
this network the news always comes first.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May is now calling for an early general election as she seeks a stronger mandate for strategy to steer Britain
through Brexit. The U.K. Parliament is set to vote on Wednesday on whether that election should be held on June 8.
Turkish President Erdogan is rejecting criticism his country is heading towards a dictatorship after a victory granted him sweeping new powers. In
an exclusive interview with CNN's Becky Anderson, days after narrowly winning the controversial referendum, the Pres. insisted Turkey is not
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (translation): There is no polarization in my country. OK, we have 51 close to 52 percent of the vote
that results in winning an election, but if we interpret that as polarization, it will be unfair, unjust. Unfair on whom? Unfair on the 52
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: The full interview can be seen, exclusive interview at 6 AM in Ankara, 11 AM in Hong Kong.
Police say the suspect in Sunday's murder that was posted on Facebook has not shot himself after a brief pursuit. The video of Robert Godwin's
murder in Cleveland State on Facebook for more than two hours, now the founder of Facebook and chief executive spoke briefly about how social
network site is reacting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: There is a lot to do here. We have a full roadmap of products to help build groups and communities, help build a more
informed society. Help keep our communities safe. And we have a lot more to do here. And we are reminded of this, this week by the tragedy in
Cleveland. And our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr. And we have a lot of work and we will keep
doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: President Trump has signed an executive order directing federal agencies to buy more American products made by Americans. This is the so-
called by American, higher American executive order. Agencies are also being asked to clampdown on the H-1B visa program abuses which brings in
highly skilled foreign workers to the United States.
[16:35:00] Selfish, narrow party political interests that is how Scotland's first minister as described Theresa May's motives in calling a general
election in the U.K. The Prime Minister says she wants to heal divisions in Parliament while she negotiates British exit from the EU. Nichola
Sturgeon says, the real goal is to eliminate her political foes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICHOLA STURGEON, FIRST MINISTER OF SCOTLAND: Clearly, she sees the opportunities given the total disarray in the ranks of the Labour Party to
crush all opposition to her, to get rid of people that disagree with her and to give herself a free hand to take the country in the increasingly
right-wing direction that she wants to take it. And that would mean not just the hardest possible Brexit but more austerity and deeper cuts. So,
now is the time for Scotland's voice to be heard and for people in Scotland to stand up for the kind of country we want Scotland to be, and that's
campaign that I look forward to leading in the weeks ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: The opposition, the official opposition, Labour says it would also fight the election hard. Kevin Brennan is a Labour MP joins me now. Mr.
Brennan, the timing may not be propitious but you must welcome the fact to put your party's position, which is now diametrically opposed to their
government, to the people?
KEVIN BRENNAN, LABOUR MP: Well, of course, I mean the first thing to say it is an incredibly cynical move, that is one thing that Nichola Sturgeon
is right about because the Prime Minister has just spent 12 months since she was elected as leader of the Conservative party, and therefore is Prime
Minister. Emphatically saying that it would not be in the country's interest to have a general election, and she has just turned around today
and said all of a sudden, that it is. And that kind of cynicism I think doesn't go down well with voters. And I think voters will wake up to the
reality of the Britain that she is planning, if she were to get the kind of majority she is hoping to win at the forthcoming general election. And
when they do that, I think they will turn towards the Labour Party.
QUEST: Except, your party is in disarray, yes, you have a whole raft of new policies that are very firmly on the left. But if the polls are to be
believed, you are up to 20 points behind currently, the conservatives.
BRENNAN: There is no doubt there is a considerable amount of work to do, and we have got to do that throughout the election campaign from the top to
the bottom of the party. But you are right we have announced a new raft of very popular policies that have been well received, and we just have to
show throughout the electoral campaign two thins. One is that we are a credible alternative government, and secondly, that's the alternative that
Theresa May is offering of a very hard Brexit, of a very right wing conservative, laissez-faire society with low labor rights. That is not
actually a sort of politics that I am sure you found, Richard, when you drove around Britain in your camper van during the Brexit campaign. That
is not actually the kind of politics that people were voting for in the referendum last year whatever they voted.
QUEST: Kind of you to remind us of the camper van and even as we speak, Kevin, it is being MOT so we can be back on the road again in hard Brexit.
But listen on this question of the hard Brexit versus the soft Brexit, the reality is what is Labour going to offer the country? What message will
you be saying as regards Brexit, if you are not going to accept supremacy of the European Court, and open borders? What else is there but a hard
BRENNAN: There are alternatives to hard Brexit, I mean the European economic area, the government hasn't even explained yet what our position
is in relation to that. And by ruling out any sort of effective relationship with a single European market right from the outset, Theresa
May has closed off a lot of options for closer cooperation with Europe, even if, as I deeply regret, Britain has decided to leave the European
Union. There are alternatives to hard Brexit. What she is doing and saying that she is doing this in the interest of the country is not true.
She's doing this, because she thinks there is an opportunity to get in a right wing conservative government with a powerful majority that will be
able to push through the kind of right wing policies that people in the country don't really want. As we saw a need Brexit campaign last year.
QUEST: Promise, Kevin, you will join me for a cup of tea in the van, in the camper van as the election campaign will come up to your constituency.
BRENNAN: I would be delighted, if you come down to Cardiff you would be very welcome, Richard.
QUEST: Thank much indeed, good to see you. Now Adrian Wooldridge is a columnist for the "Economist," he joins me now.
[16:40:00] What a lot of hot air huffed and puffed by politicians on all sides here, claiming political opportunism and cynicism. You cannot blame
Theresa May, can you? She has got the moment and she is going to take it.
ADRIAN WOOLDRIDGE, COLUMNIST, ECONOMIST: You can't blame going for an election which I think they're going to win, no, exactly her position, yes.
QUEST: And with that in mind, what do you see will be the big difference between the parties, pretty much to have a soft Brexit means eating
European policies that the British public don't want to eat.
WOOLDRIDGE: We are going to have a very peculiar election in which the Tory party will be in favor Brexit, the Labour Party will be roughly in
favor Brexit, or in favor of the will of the people as expressed in the referendum but reluctantly. So, the only people that will really be
against Brexit, I think in the selection, are the Liberal Democrats. They will be the party of remain. So, both parties essentially both the Tories
and the Labour Party are deeply divided over Brexit, but both have decided to accept the results of the referendum. The Liberal Democrats are the one
party that says no to that.
QUEST: Do you think there is mileage in the Lib Dems basically going all out for a vote for us and we will give you a second chance to have that
referendum all over again?
WOOLDRIDGE: Absolutely, I mean if I was the Liberal Democrats I would be pushing very, very hard for that because the Labour Party doesn't have a
credible leader, it doesn't really have a credible differentiating message on Brexit. The Liberal Democrats really have an opportunity to do that,
and 48 percent of the population voted to remain, and even more of the population may actually think that it was a mistake to go for what looks
like a hard-ish Brexit. So, they really ought to rally about that, I don't happen to think the leader is good enough. I don't think the party is good
enough to seize the opportunity but there is a real opportunity there.
QUEST: Finally, look, you have obviously seen and covered in been witness to many U.K. elections. Do you think this one is going to be a corker or a
WOOLDRIDGE: I think it is going to be probably a dud actually because you really need to have a good opposition, and Corbin is a desperately week
leader, the Labour Party is desperately divided. The Tory party is led by somebody who thinks they know in their mind, and it is a very disciplined
party. So, I think it ought to be a massively interesting election, I rather think that it will be an election which Theresa May will win with
some ease against and appallingly bad Labour Party.
QUEST: Sir, come and have a cup of tea in our camper van as we travel around. Freddie Brexit takes to the road again. Thank you for joining us.
CNNMONEY.COM, it is a newsletter, please subscribe, remember it arrives in your email box just as New York closes, and it is before Asia opens.
As we count the days left to the presidential election in France, prosecutors say that they have thwarted an imminent attack, we'll talk
about that next.
[16:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
QUEST: So, today is tax-day in the United States, it is the deadline to pay what you owe the United States federal government, and then file a tax
return. What happens to your money after that is not always clear. The former Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer wants to change that with
USA Facts. He has been speaking to Maggie Lake.
STEVE BALLMER, FORMER MICROSOFT CHIEF EXECUTIVE: We are trying to bring transparency to your tax dollars, yours, the population's and how well that
it is working for you. And I think it is largely independent. Of course, it is very important and we will be evangelistic because we are pro-fact,
partisans if you will. We will be advocates to make sure government continues to publish a lot of information, that it is available on a timely
basis. Where it is inconsistent because some of the government numbers are inconsistent, it gets fixed. How do you run a business? You run a
business with accurate data and numbers about what is going on. Our government should be every bit as well equipped.
MAGGIE LAKE, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Since it was so hard to find do you think the government itself has a handle on exactly where is the money
going, and how it all balances out? Or have we sort of lost that as government has grown and maybe that some of the agencies just haven't been
able to keep up?
BALLMER: I think the agencies are doing a good job, I think the problem is how do you see the forest for the trees. There are so many trees. What we
have tried to do is go back to the forest level, so you don't have to pick through trees to see what is going on in aggregate. Think that can be
useful to people who actually work in government? Absolutely, I think it can because I think if you are a congressperson, it is very hard to see the
forest. You were in your committee and you are seeing these details numbers, but you are still asked about broad questions of budget and
expense. If we can provide a tool that would be helpful for people who want to see the forest even if they are in government, I would be very
LAKE: Do you think you can help find common ground because we have right now a very bitterly divided Washington that don't seem to be able to
compromise in the way that traditionally have in terms of budget and priorities. We have been at the brink of government shut down multiple
times, and we are facing another round of that. Will this help if there is a common set of facts for everyone to operate on? Is that your hope?
BALLMER: It would be my hope, whether it is numbers that we publish or anybody else, we would like to see more common ground. What I found when I
was running Microsoft was interesting, people would get in these huge debates with one another if they did not have common facts. If they have
common facts, they would say oh, we are not really that far apart in what we think. You know, you feel debates today they are the equivalent of this
is a huge problem, this is really terrible. And we are really talking about the difference like between 11 and 10. Sometimes the numbers make
things look closer together than adjectives. I am a numbers guy, but I think numbers a more precise way to capture sometimes and the connected
differences look more narrow.
QUEST: Fascinating, Steve Ballmer talking to Maggie Lake on the question of numbers.
We will continue in a moment QUEST MEANS BUSINESS live from New York.
[16:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
QUEST: French authorities are tightening security ahead of this Sunday's presidential election, the first round. They have announced they have
foiled an imminent attack. The police have arrested two men in Marseilles and found a stash of weapons in an apartment there which included 3 kg of
explosives. They also reportedly found an ISIS flag.
Now, a top prosecutor says the suspects are both French, were known to the authorities after turning to radical Islam. Tens of thousands of police
and soldiers have been mobilized, it is all designed to protect polling stations this Sunday. As for the candidates themselves, they are making a
final push. The race we have told you is too close to call, especially given the unexpected servers of the left-wing Jean Luc Melenchon. The
candidates are spreading themselves thin trying to reach as many voters as possible.
Now, this is fascinating, when you think about how candidates will do anything they can to get to as many places as possible. Perhaps there is a
new twist, Melenchon has come up with a different way to be at multiple rallies at the same time. Our correspondent in Paris is Melissa Bell.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: The last time Jean Luc Melenchon was in several places at once was back in February.
JEAN LUC MELENCHON, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (translation): So where am I, in Lyon? Or in Paris?
BELL: The far-left fire brand was the first French politician to ever hologram himself while delivering a live speech in front of two adoring
crowds he spoke for an hour and 1/2 about his radical left-wing platform of reform. Which includes a referendum on Europe, a rise in public spending,
and in taxes.
The technology was developed here in this Paris studio. This time though the challenge is even greater with Melenchon due to be in seven French
towns at once including one in the Indian Ocean.
UNIDENTIFIED TECHNICIAN: The technology is such that it's not an image that you are seeing but a real person, the same height, the same presences,
and with 10 minutes people will have forgotten that it's a hologram.
BELL: It is his very real rise in the polls that Melenchon is hoping to cement. He is now one of four candidates with a real chance of making it
through to the second round, that thanks partly to his strong showing in the TV debates, enter the legal troubles of some of his opponents.
MELENCHON: This campaign has been polluted by the scandals that concerned some of you but not me. No, I think it is important to underline here is
that there are only two people who are concerned, Mr. Fillon and Mrs. Le Pen.
BELL: Given his rise in the polls since, the hologram's creator believes that this time the technology could help carry the message even further.
UNIDENTIFIED TECHNICIAN: It's not the people traveling to see the politician, it's the politician making himself available to the whole of
BELL: Technology perfectly suited to a man whose left-wing version of populism appears to be gaining ground.
QUEST: Melissa Bell reporting. Now let me remind you the first round of the election, it takes place this Sunday and then the top two one is
expected to be Marine Le Pen, the other could be Melenchon or Macron, we obviously won't know that until Sunday. They go to as we say the playoffs,
to the final showdown if you like and May.
As to the markets now and how they traded, the Dow Jones industrials as you can see there were down 113 points. Fascinating part about the Dow today
it opened lower and it stayed there and at one point when we were talking on Quest Express it was off 160 points so it pulled back quite a bit.
Goldman Sachs was one of the biggest drags on the Dow after the bank pulled back, the bank failed to meet its estimates and what the market had
expected. United also had a statement out today in which the CEO once again apologized for the debacle and fiasco.
[16:55:00] The European markets, they were down 2.4 percent in London. The FTSE was often very sharply on the back of the Brexit or at least the U.K.
election. There are elections everywhere in Europe, remember, you have now got the French this weekend, the British in June, and the Germans still to
come later in the year. Profitable Moment after the break.
QUEST: Tonight's Profitable Moment, time to get out Freddie Brexit from the garage, get it MOT, and ready to go back on the road again into
Britain. Absolutely, so, the U.K. is going to the polls on June 8. It is a fascinating vote this election because although Brexit will be all over
the issues, it won't decide anything about whether the U.K. stays or leaves, that has already been decided. Instead this is political
opportunism, some would say cynically it is just the Prime Minister cutting and running, attempting to improve her majority while she has a strong lead
in the polls.
To those who say that, I say so what. That is what politics is all about, for goodness sake, you take your moment when you see it, and at the moment
Theresa May has a good chance to not only put her own backbenchers in their place, to increase her majority, strengthen her negotiating mandate, and to
show Europe that she actually is a leader who has her party behind her.
If you were in that position, wouldn't you go to the polls. And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight, I am Richard Quest in New York. Whenever
you are up to in the hours ahead, I hope it is profitable. Let's get together tomorrow and do it all over again.