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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
Queen Lays Out Government Agenda Amid Turmoil; Queen Outlines Brexit Heavy Government Agenda; PM May Has Yet To Reach Deal With Northern Ireland's DUP; King Salman Promotes Son To Crown Prince; United Kingdom PM Under Intense Pressure As Parliament Opens; Democrats Lose To Republicans In Four Races; May Faces Challenge of Leading Minority Government; Inside Yemen's Silent War; Killing of Muslim Teen Shakes Community; Grand al-Nuri Mosque Blown Up in Mosul; Reflecting on a Significant Day for Westminster. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired June 21, 2017 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. We are live outside the Houses of Parliament where the queen presented the
agenda for the British government, but is there enough political facility to put the plan into action. A lot to talk about today.
Also this hour, a very significant transition of power in Saudi Arabia. The man on the left is the new crowned prince. He is kissing the hands of
the man who just replaced. How could that impact the region and the world? We will break that down for you as well.
We begin here in the heart of British government, but it is a government in turmoil. Today, the queen delivered a speech prepared for her by Theresa
May's Torys, but they do face an uphill battle to actually get anything passed.
The event may look ornate to our international viewers, but today's speech was a toned down affair, make no mistake about it. The queen arrived in a
car not a carriage as she usually does for these events.
As you just saw the crown was carried in, she did not wear it. The speech itself included a series of Brexit bills and struck an optimistic tone
about the country's negotiating position. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEEN ELIZABETH: My government's priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union. My ministers are committed
to working with parliament, the devolved administrations, business and others to build the widest possible consensus on the country's future
outside the European Union.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: The question is can Theresa May's minority government actually pass anything outlined in the speech. CNN's Nic Robertson is live from 10
Downing Street. What's next then for Theresa May?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, there will be the debate in the House of Commons before the vote on the queen's speech
later next week, and that's the period basically she has to try to get this deal struck with the DUP, the Democratic Unionist Party, of Northern
Ten MPs who then bolster her 317 MPs, which are a minority, and give them the sort of tip to get the necessary votes to pass whatever bills she
Right now, we are hearing from DUP that they think the talks are going well in mood music over the past sort of 24, 48 hours. This sort of indicated
they are issues the DUP have been indicating those money issues. That perhaps they want to see an end to the Conservative Party's austerity.
That perhaps they want money for additional building programs, schools, health care, hospitals, et cetera, in Northern Ireland. It's not clear
because the talks have been sort of -- the details have been, you know, closely guarded.
But the fact that it has sort of come out in the public domain in the last 24 hours does really seemed to indicate that they are struggling to get to
this agreement. That we are keep being briefed that they will get to the agreement.
But that's another bid for Theresa May. She needs that. She doesn't have it yet, and that doesn't look very good.
GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Nic Robertson. Our senior diplomatic correspondent at 10 Downing Street.
Obviously a lot to talk about with my next guest, conservative lawmaker, Sir Bill Cash. He is a longtime supporter of Brexit and in fact was one of
the -- you are telling that the architects of what eventually became Brexit --
BILL CASH, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: That was in the (inaudible) --
GORANI: Let's talk a little bit about Theresa May. I mean, she called this snap election. She didn't have to. Clearly, it backfired
disastrously for her. She lost her majority. Should she stay or go?
CASH: Absolutely stay.
CASH: By the way, Ken Clark would say the same and he is not on the same argument with me, same side with me as Europe -- on the European issue.
But basically, you're talking about turmoil. As a matter of fact, what is actually happening is to do with the numbers in the House of Commons.
GORANI: She created the turmoil, didn't she? She didn't have to call this election.
CASH: Well, I think the short answer is that she did the right thing in calling the election. The election campaign by Common Conservatives is not
the best we've ever seen. Let's put it that way. However, we did get 43 percent of the vote, which is more than even under Margaret Thatcher.
And in addition to that, we have now got a completely confused opposition who actually, as I said this afternoon in the House of Commons, got to
power on the basis of what I would describe and did describe as a false elcomy (ph) of reckless spending. Now --
GORANI: But that's putting a positive on what was an --
CASH: But of course.
GORANI: -- let's be honest. Because you are saying that essentially the opposition is in disarray, but Jeremy Corbyn outperformed every single
expectation, how is that a defeat for (inaudible).
CASH: Not today in the House of Commons. When it gets back in the House of Commons, he shrinks, and that is the point. And that actually is where
the action is now going to take place.
GORANI: At the polls, he did better than expected.
CASH: Well, he did actually do really quite well getting 43 percent, but let's talk numbers for a minute because ultimately, all these matters are
going to be decided by votes in the House of Commons. On the repeal bill, for example, some of the things that are not being fully explained is that
Labour MPs who are absolute and completely with us on Brexit issues.
[15:05:09]And there were about anything between 7 and 10 of those. The DUP will come with us and absolutely no question about that, although there is
GORANI: Although there is no deal. Did Theresa May not -- I mean, essentially she announced as (inaudible) the fact that the DUP would rally
with her, and by the way, the DUP for our viewers, we had to take the crash course in DUP politics. They are far right, Northern Ireland party. They
have some social positions on for instance, gay rights, and abortion --
CASH: But it has nothing to do with Brexit.
GORANI: I get that, but British voters didn't necessarily go to the polls thinking I'm voting for a minority conservative government plus the DUP.
It's being opposed --
CASH: That is completely true. But at the same time, the question of the alliance with the DUP is actually something intrinsic on Brexit in
particular, which is this parliament. This parliament is going to be dominated by Brexit and that actually on that we can be sure that the DUP
will actually work with us all the time.
And that's really important because that takes us over the threshold of 326 and then we got the Labour members as well who will vote with us too. So
actually it's not quite as bad as it looks for some people.
GORANI: That is your spin obviously as a conservative lawmaker. But let me ask you a little bit about how the Brexit negotiations are going --
GORANI: -- (inaudible) three or four. Already a huge concession, David Davis, the Brexit minister dropping a demand for parallel trade off with
the E.U. That is already a concession on -- is this an acknowledge the U.K. really doesn't have the leverage it claims that it has --
CASH: Now people who know me know I don't give spin and actually I take it straight, OK. And the bottom line is this, that I've just been with David
Davis, as a matter of fact, and the bottom line is this, that we actually noticed a very good way forward as a result of those discussions with Mike
Michel Barnaie (ph).
He's known Michel Barnaie (ph) since the Amsterdam Treaty in the 1990s. They were (inaudible) one another or working with one another as Europe
ministers. Actually there are some real bottom lines here and above all else, E.U. realizes that we are leaving the European Union.
It is not in their interest to create a monumental problem because they want to get on --
GORANI: It's part of their interest to make anything for you either --
CASH: Well, can I simply say that actually the real truth is it's in their interest to get a good deal and a fair deal, and I believe that that is
what's going to do a merge out of this and it's going to be in everybody's interest that we do because actually they know we are leaving and we don't
want to have a relationship antagonism.
And our industries actually have a monumental trade deficit with the E.U. and we want to look out with the rest of the world. And we have a
fantastic relationship with the USA -- (inaudible) with Wilbur Ross only two days ago and they had very good talks --
GORANI: The commerce secretary of the U.S.
CASH: Exactly. And we have similar discussions with Canada, Australia with New Zealand and other countries in the Commonwealth. We have a
tremendous opportunity here. This is not spin. These are facts.
GORANI: I know it's in your position consistently for many, many years. Sir Bill Cash, thank you so much.
CASH: Not at all. Nice to see you.
GORANI: We appreciate it. Nice to see you as well.
Now amid the scale down pump in ceremony of today's queen's speech, there was one very famous face missing, the queen's husband, Prince Philip. The
96-year-old prince is being treated in hospitable for an infection.
Buckingham Palace says he's in good spirits, but that he was disappointed to miss today's events. The queen's son, Prince Charles, attended the
opening of parliament in his father's place.
All right, we'll have a lot more from here in the United Kingdom on U.K. politics in a moment, but speaking of politics, in a completely different
part of the world, a royal shakeup in the House of Saud is promising to affect Saudi Arabia's relationship with not just the Middle East, but the
West as well.
King Salman has removed his nephew as crowned prince and promoted his 33- year-old son, but the young heir has a lot on his plate. Here's John Defterios.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN MONEY EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR (voice-over): A choreographed transfer of power at the heart of Saudi Arabia's monarchy.
Outgoing Saudi crowned prince, Mohammad Bin Nayef, pledging allegiance to his cousin, 31-year-old Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, as the kingdom's new
heir to the throne.
Scenes of royal deference masking radical change. All triggered by this royal decree from King Salman removing the previous crowned prince,
stripping him of his titles and roles in the government.
Power not consolidated in the hands of this man, Mohammed Bin Salman. His swift rise began when his father ascended the throne in 2015. Young and
ambitious, he's adopted an activist approach. He spearheaded Saudi Vision 2030, an economic transformation plan meant to whim the kingdom of his
addiction to oil and bring about more social reforms.
[15:10:02]As defense minister, he was primary architect of Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Yemen against Houthi rebels and their allies. Two
years on, it has yet to achieve its goals and has been criticized for causing civilian deaths and worsening humanitarian conditions of the
region's forest country.
And as his portfolio expands so too will the challenges he has to grapple with. Chief among them, the ongoing diplomatic standoff with Qatar, how to
counter the kingdom's regional archrival Iran and deal with low oil prices depleting his cash pile.
But the prince's backers aren't limited to his father's royal court. U.S. President Donald Trump chose Saudi Arabia as the first stop of his first
trip abroad. Signaling his strong support for the kingdom and its regional policies.
Support that will be key in helping the young prince push through bold domestic reforms and pursue a more confrontational foreign policy. John
Defterios, CNN, Abu Dhabi.
GORANI: We've now gotten word that in fact and you saw that as the last image in that report that the U.S. president, Donald Trump, has spoken in
fact with Mohammed Bin Salman.
Let's break down what this shift means for the region and the world. Fawaz Gerges is here with me. He is the chair of Contemporary Middle East
Studies at the London School of Economics.
So Fawaz, what is the most significant thing about this transition of power in Saudi Arabia?
FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: The most significant feature is the transition of power from the father's and the brother's little sons.
You have a generational shift. So Mohammed Bin Salman now represents the public face of Saudi Arabia, 31-year-old, ambitious, charismatic, activist.
He really for the young Saudis, they look up to him as the public face of Saudi Arabia. They view him very positively regardless of what we in the
West think of him.
GORANI: But he's disrupting the Saudi's (inaudible) away some might call dangerous. You have the war in Yemen, the Qatar isolation, cutting off
Qatar for whatever overturns it made to Iran and other reasons perhaps as well. I mean, what could happen going down the road? Because he's now
effectively the ruler of Saudi Arabia.
GERGES: Mohammed Bin Salman, he was asked the same question about the war in Yemen. He says, he views Iran as an existential threat. He believed
that Iran is trying to seize, I mean, the Islamic world and takeover the holy places in Saudi Arabia.
So in this particular way, he views the war in Yemen, he views what's happening in Qatar and Syria, as really part of the regional war with Iran.
He believes --
GORANI: But that's precisely my point, it's dividing the region more. It's creating more sectarian tension than was there before.
GERGES: And in fact, Mohammed Bin Salman believes that he has to really standup, Saudi Arabia has a major responsibility to standup to Iran's
infiltration of the Arab world, who Iran's basically desire and designed to penetrate the Arab World.
I think we are focusing on foreign policy. The most important thing about the transition is that now what you have is a new leadership. He is in
charge of the economy. He is in charge of overhauling the Saudi economy.
His vision 2030 is to basically -- he does not want the kingdom to depend too much on oil. He wants to create a diverse economy. He wants also to
loosen some of the social restrictions in this conservative kingdom.
So informed policy, I'm sure there is a great deal of criticisms, some of it legitimate in terms of the -- inside the kingdom that's why he is very
popular among young Saudis.
GERGES: What's his plan? Because I mean, going forward you either diversify your economy if you're Saudi Arabia and your primary business is
selling oil to the world or your economy will shrink inevitably.
GERGES: Absolutely. I mean, this is why what distinguishes Mohammed Bin Salman from the traditional leadership style (inaudible). He is not afraid
to take risks. He is not afraid basically to disrupt conventional. He believes that the Saudi -- the future of Saudi Arabia lies in creating a
new economy what he calls vision 2030.
He wants to basically wean Saudi Arabia off the oil economy and the oil economy, you have 50 percent decline in all the processes. So he wants to
overhaul the economy, create a diverse economy. Of course, everything remains to be seen, but the reality is he now in charge.
And also what he needs to do is that what the king has done in the past 24 hours is to basically get rid of uncertainty, the ambiguity. No longer
there is ambiguity --
GORANI: The price of oil is going down now.
GERGES: Absolutely. It's been going on for a long time and that's why Mohammed Bin Salman vision, he says he frames his vision as (inaudible).
GORANI: I know you're talking about internal politics and the economy inside the kingdom, but the reason I brought up foreign policy so much is
because the biggest trauma that the region is going through is mainly due to the proxy battle between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. Will this
ruler alleviate that problem or worsen it?
GERGES: This is the biggest challenge facing him at least, is the fierce cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
[15:15:04]And Mohammed Bin Salman deeply believes that Iran is basically an aggressor. Iran is a destructor and this is why I don't expect any major
changes in this particular regional cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and guess what, President Trump has the same vision that Iran is a spoiler
state. That's why you are going to see more of the same in the next one or two years.
GORANI: All right, Fawaz Gerges, as always thanks very much for your analysis on this very important development coming from Saudi Arabia.
A lot more to come this evening. We are at Westminster. We'll get reaction to the queen's speech. We are hearing an inside voice from the
prime minister's own party next.
And despite an apparently unpopular president, Republicans runs aboard on special elections to fill empty seats in the U.S. Congress. What just what
are Democrats doing wrong? We'll be right back.
GORANI: Few prime ministers have gone into the state opening of parliament facing as much pressure as Theresa May between Brexit, ongoing political
uncertainty, three recent terrorist attacks, and the catastrophe at Grenfell Tower.
The mood at this year's queen speech was noticeably muted and the prime minister was keen to address the latter of those things in particular.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Let me be absolutely clear, the support on the ground for families in the initial hours was not good
enough. People were left without belongings, roofs over their heads, even basic information about what had happened, what they should do and where
they could seek help. That was a failure of the state, local and national, to help people when they needed it most. As prime minister, I apologize
for that failure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Apologizing for her response to Grenfell, it did not go down well. You might remember there were some contrasting images between how she
responded meeting with emergency response personnel and how Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, Labour Party, responded. You saw him
tearfully hugging some of those people who went through that hellish night in West London.
Now there is another huge challenge for the prime minister. It's -- well, actually, forming a working government after this month's election, and
even if she does, its success is by no means guaranteed.
Joining me now is Conservative Member of Parliament, Nigel Evans. Thanks for being with us. You said with the snap election, we didn't shot
ourselves in the foot, we shot ourselves in the head.
NIGEL EVANS, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, CONSERVATIVE PARTY: Yes, and somehow we still survived.
GORANI: Yes, or did you?
EVANS: Well, we did because we got to remind ourselves that we did have 50 plus seats more than the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn did much better than
anybody anticipated, but you know, Theresa got 43 percent of the vote and only that would result in a landslide victory. But because of the
polarization of the (inaudible) Labour or Conservative then --
GORANI: But it's hardly a landslide victory in seats?
EVANS: No, it wasn't.
GORANI: I mean, she's lost her majority. It was basically a terrible backfire.
[15:20:01]EVANS: We slid back (inaudible) two ways about it, but the fact is she got 2.3 million more votes at the general election than David
Cameron did in 2015, but it's just the way that the seats went.
GORANI: But what about Brexit negotiations because essentially some people in Brussels have said, look, we can negotiate with this government, but any
agreement we come to with the government that could collapse, fall, maybe their deal with the DUP will also cost. How will that stand? How do we
know those will be implemented?
EVANS: Well, the --
GORANI: I mean, they have a point, don't they?
EVANS: But no, the reality is Article 50 has been triggered and we are now in negotiations with them about leaving the European Union. And even die
hard politicians who think of nothing else other than the European Union now accept the fact that we are leaving and it's on what deal we leave.
GORANI: Exactly. It's not on leaving or not leaving. I mean, the deal itself --
EVANS: But the fact is we triggered Article 50 so at the end of the duration, whatever deal she comes to the parliament will have the chance to
say, yes, we leave with that deal or we leave without that deal.
GORANI: That's assuming she stays prime minister though.
EVANS: Well, my anticipation is she will. There is no appetite for a leadership election within the Conservative Party and there is no appetite
for another general election. We've simply had a snap election, we did. It was too long about two weeks.
GORANI: Right. Well, by U.S. standards it was a blink of an eye. So you don't foresee a general election because this is something that many
commentators here say it's practically inevitable.
EVANS: No, not in the short term. Now we've been (inaudible) on the Brexit discussions, I believe that Theresa May will carry that through
until 2019 and then we leave the European Union. We got room.
GORANI: Do you think in two years?
EVANS: She's got the opportunity to build.
GORANI: I mean, two human beings sometimes take longer than two years to divorce. I spoke with (inaudible). You remember he was speaking in the
name of Greece with his E.U. counterparts during that country's massive debt crisis. He told me the Brits essentially are delusional if they think
they are going to come to an agreement in two years and even 10 years he said. Because you're going to spend all that time negotiating on who to
EVANS: No. We've had Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary today talking about the opportunities that these Brexit negotiations are going to bring.
We've got to be more positive about how the United Kingdom is going to perform during these talks and then the trade deals including the United
States of America. Donald Trump wants to do a trade deal. We want to do a trade deal.
GORANI: The Bank of England governor has already said this is -- the Brexit is making the U.K. forum and he knows what he's talking about --
EVANS: Mark (inaudible), wasn't he the warmonger during the referendum. He was wrong then. He is wrong now. I felt great, great of optimism about
the strength of the British economy, which is doing rather well.
GORANI: Nigel Evans, thanks so much.
EVANS: Thank you.
GORANI: (Inaudible) speaking with you this evening.
Speaking of politics, we are going from one country to the other, and this time we focus on the United States of the dashing of Democrats dreams on
Tuesday night. The party lost all four special elections for seats in the House of Representatives to Republicans.
The American president, Donald Trump, was quick to taunt the Democrats tweeting, "Well, the special elections are over and those that want to make
America great again are 5-0. All the fake news, all the money spent equals zero."
The most closely watched race was in Georgia where Republican Karen Handel bested Democrat Jon Ossoff, but Republicans also won contests in South
Carolina, Kansas, and Montana. The fifth special election featured two Democrats in California so maybe the president got a little bit confused
because there was no Republican running.
The Georgia contest was seen as a referendum on President Trump so where do things stand now for the Democrats? I'm joined from Washington by our
political director, David Chalian. Why did they -- why do things go so wrong for the Democrats again, David?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, you know, for several reasons. One, they were playing on tough terrain. They were playing on
Republican turf, but what was different about Georgia than about Kansas, Montana or South Carolina that you mentioned is that the Democrats circled
that one on the calendar and said this is where we are going to clear the field for our preferred candidate, this young 30-year-old who didn't even
live in the district.
Get all the outside money in on this, organize all our grassroots activists around this, go all in, that's what they did and they came up short. So
that is -- you can't then say, well, it really was a Republican district.
Yes, it was, but the Democrats chose to make a stand there and what is most troubling for them is Donald Trump only won that district by one point.
This is exactly the kind of place if you're surveying the landscape to find out where you're going to go to --
GORANI: But I guess -- David, I guess, my question is, what is the strategy for Democrats? What is the message apart from we are not Donald
Trump -- we are not Donald Trump supporters? I mean, what is the positive plan that they put forward to attract support that goes beyond we are not
the other side?
CHALIAN: They don't have one right now. That's quite clear. By the way, being opposed to Donald Trump is probably necessary, but not sufficient if
you are a Democrat. It is the thing that got all that money to pour in and energize all the grassroots, the liberal wing of the party.
[15:25:04]The core supporters and activists are vehemently oppose to Donald Trump and they want to join in that fight to defeat him, but that's not
enough clearly to get you majorities in these swing battleground even Republican-leaning districts that you need if you are going to take back
the House of Representatives as the majority party.
CHALIAN: There is this internal debate inside the Democratic Party right now figuring out the balance of like how much to run on health care, which
Jon Ossoff did, but still didn't win, how much to run on anti-Trumpism?
GORANI: Exactly, but if you also call this or qualify this as some sort of referendum or litmus test on Trump and essentially you get beaten in every
single race where you're head to head with a Republican, I mean, Donald Trump rightly says this is a win for me too.
CHALIAN: Without a doubt. This is a big victory for the president and for his party. Paul Ryan in the House, Mitch McConnell in the Senate because
what happens now is Republicans that were a little nervous on Capitol Hill that the president's approval ratings are nowhere near where they would
That he is, you know, being hammered day after day in the press over the Russia investigation. All of that nervousness now dissipate a bit and in
fact, now McConnell and Ryan can go to their members and say, guys, we are not being punished electorally at the polls right now even though the
president is at a low number, let's move forward with health care repeal and replace. Let's move forward with tax reform. They will make that
argument to their own members.
GORANI: And last question, obviously, this is all an anticipation and you mentioned that of the 2018 midterm elections, and there's going to have to
be a very serious post-mortem after these special elections within the Democratic Party. Do they also need a leader, a figure head going forward,
which they really have right now?
CHALIAN: Well, that is a very good question. The House Democrats have one, her name is Nancy Pelosi, and the former speaker is a lightning rod
for Republican activism and money. This is -- the Republicans all these years with Nancy Pelosi leading the Democratic Party in the House. That is
their number one bogyman for Republicans, it works for them.
And so now you are starting to hear some Democrats on the House side wondering if they need a different leader of their party so that they
aren't tagged with the Nancy Pelosi San Francisco liberal, out of touch, kind of thing that Jon Ossoff was in Georgia.
GORANI: David Chalian, always a pleasure. Thanks so much for joining us.
CHALIAN: Thank you.
GORANI: Still ahead, the U.K. government gets back to work. There was a rowdy atmosphere in the House of Commons as Theresa May's Torys begin the
challenge of holding on to power. We'll get reaction from the opposition Labour Party next.
Plus this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) finish this disaster, patients are dying one by one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: An exclusive look at the human toll of Yemen's deadly war and Saudi Arabia's role in it. We'll be right back.
[15:30:26] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We are covering this hour the Queen's Speech and, of course, that disastrous result for Theresa May,
the Prime Minister in this country, and how she might keep her party together and also form some sort of government with an alliance with the
Northern Ireland party, the DUP.
So let's get the view from inside the Labour Party, which is the opposition here. Labour M.P. Kevin Brennan joins me now.
So I spoke to two conservative MPs before you, Kevin, and both essentially said there is no appetite for a leadership battle within the Tory Party.
They believe that Theresa May will complete her term. Do you agree? Why or why not?
KEVIN BRENNAN, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, UNITED KINGDOM: She certainly won't complete her term, and I don't think they really believe that either.
She's an interim Prime Minister who is there simply until they can get the Brexit stuff done and until they can decide who they want as their
GORANI: Brexit stuff done, what do you mean? That's going to take years.
BRENNAN: Two years to, at least, you know, get to the stage where Britain leaves the European Union if, indeed, all of that proceeds because she's
now doesn't command the parliamentary majority and who knows what's going to happen in British politics after the ups and downs we've had in recent
weeks and months.
GORANI: But do the Labour Party want a new election? Because the better than expected performance by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has that
BRENNAN: It certainly has. And I think that if you look at the polls at the moment, we're actually ahead in the polls and Theresa May has performed
disastrously during the general election, so we're in the jones for another election.
But I can't say that I expect one to happen because it looks as if the Northern Ireland party, the Democratic Unionist, have agreed to support the
Queen's Speech next week in the crucial vote, which will really test whether or not Theresa May can command a majority with their support in the
House of Commons.
GORANI: But do you believe Jeremy Corbyn should remain the leader of the opposition party? I mean, just last year, there was a large group of MPs
within his own party who wanted him out. He hung on and then he performed better than expected in a general election. Why did you, you know,
underestimate him so badly?
BRENNAN: I think everybody underestimated him actually, in fairness.
BRENNAN: And he is a remarkable campaigner, that has to be said. And I think people overestimated Theresa May and didn't realize what a disastrous
campaigner and what a wooden campaigner she would be.
And at the start of the election campaign, you know, everyone was worried about Jeremy Corbyn as a leader. At the end, the electorate was saying,
you know, we've got to get rid of this, you know, Prime Minister that we've got. So it's an incredible turnaround. And British politics, yet again,
you know, has turned the whole world upside down in the last two weeks.
GORANI: Do you think after this general election, Brexit is unavoidable, irreversible?
BRENNAN: I think it's changed --
GORANI: Because, you know, in Europe, even Emmanuel Macron, the French President, told Theresa May, you know, it's not too late.
BRENNAN: Well --
GORANI: You can still change your mind.
BRENNAN: Yes, everyone knows my view, which is, I don't think we should be doing it.
BRENNAN: However, the British people voted for it in a referendum. I think what this means is that the idea of a hard Brexit crashing over the
European Union and unto World Trade Organization rules is now a fantasy.
She has to and the government has to reach across the aisle, if you like, in the House of Commons and bring together the talented people there to
make sure that the Brexit that does happen if we leave is the least damaging for the British economy.
GORANI: But there's a reason a YouGov poll indicates that a majority of Brits actually would want another referendum on the terms of any deal they
come up with.
BRENNAN: Well, you know, my own view is that --
GORANI: I mean, they deserve one, right, because they voted for Brexit. They didn't vote for the strategy itself of what Brexit would look like.
BRENNAN: Yes. I mean, my own view is that the people always have the right to change their mind so that you can't really rule that out. But I
think they'd have to be a sustained and clear indication on public opinion that that's what they wanted for that really to become a reality rather
than just another significant vote in the House of Commons.
GORANI: And lastly, you think two years is -- I mean, do you think it's achievable?
BRENNAN: I don't think everything can be achieved in two years, let's be honest about it. There has to be some kind of transitional and interim
And I think what will happen, in reality, is we'll get to the end of the two years, this issue will be settled one way or the other, but they'll be
longer term interim transitional arrangements. Then Theresa May will be kicked out by the Conservative Party and they'll pick their new leader.
And we'll have another general election, probably, in three years' time.
GORANI: And you were re-elected --
BRENNAN: I was.
GORANI: Were you concerned?
BRENNAN: I was at the beginning of the campaign, if I'm perfectly honest about it.
BRENNAN: Because the polls weren't that promising. But I ended up with the largest majority I've ever had, so politics is a funny old game.
GORANI: There you go. Kevin Brennan, thanks so much for joining us.
BRENNAN: Pleasure, Hala.
GORANI: Appreciate it. Let's turn to our other top story this hour. The King of Saudi Arabia has removed his nephew as Crown Prince and appointed
his son as the new heir to the throne. A family affair as it always is in Saudi.
The promotion for the 31-year-old man you see on your screen there, Mohammad bin Salman, could have wide ranging effects in the region and
across the globe.
[15:35:00] He has his hands in several of Saudi Arabia's international alliances and conflicts, including the war in Yemen. And it is a war
that's taking a tragic human toll. The Saudi-led campaign in Yemen has triggered starvation and a cholera outbreak.
CNN's Clarissa Ward spent two months trying to gain access to the hardest hit parts of the conflict. She found that the coalition is blocking
journalists from entering the country.
CNN commissioned a group of local journalists for this exclusive report to see what they might be trying to hide. But a warning, some of it is
difficult to watch.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the images that Saudi Arabia does not want you to see. The youngest
victims of a near famine that threatens the lives of almost 7 million people.
Baby Ahmed (ph) is just 10 months old. The nurse says he would be dead in two days if he hadn't come for treatment.
But many Yemenis can't afford to get to a hospital.
In a dusty camp for those displaced by more than two years of grinding civil war, our team met Hassen Hamza (ph). His 10-month-old son, Akram
(ph), has been malnourished for months.
"I cannot take him to the city because there's no money," he says. "We're hoping any aid group will come see us and help us, but no one has come. We
await God's fate."
Access to the victims of this man-made famine has been drastically restricted. In recent months, CNN has found that the Saudi Arabia-led
coalition is deliberately blocking journalists and human rights workers from visiting the hardest hit areas.
The air, land, and sea blockade imposed by Riyadh and its partners has brought basic services to a grinding halt. Deteriorating conditions are
being blamed for a vicious cholera outbreak. With more than 1,100 deaths in a matter of months, according to the World Health Organization.
For 25-year-old medic, Rana Sayeed Farah (ph), the days have become a blur. Like so many hospitals, hers is short staffed and under equipped.
"How old is she," she asks. "Is she throwing up?
The little girl, Israh (ph), has been brought in by her parents. She is the third of their child to fall ill.
"I'm scared, of course," her father, Ali (ph), says. "Your children are your world."
RANA SAYEED FARAH (PH), MEDIC: We wish we finish this epidemic, this disaster. We want to finish this disaster. Patients are dying one by one.
They will die at any time, we couldn't do anything for them.
WARD (voice-over): Pleas for help appear to have fallen on deaf ears. President Trump's recent trip to Riyadh and the announcement of a massive
weapons' deal was seen by many to embolden the kingdom, leaving Yemen's conflict, for now, a silent war.
GORANI: And Clarissa Ward joins me live now. And, Clarissa, I spoke to the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel Al-Jubeir. I did ask him about access for
journalists to Yemen on, for instance, U.N. flights. He said he wasn't aware that there were any issues there and that he would look into it.
WARD: That's right, Hala. And we have also reached out to a number of government workers and people in the military.
We've received one statement from the Saudi Ambassador to the U.N. who says that, "Saudi Arabia would like to assure you that the country does not
exercise any kind of censorship. Many news reporters and U.N. personnel have been granted access to Yemen. The Yemeni government and not the
Saudi-led coalition usually process visa approvals."
So a very strong denial from Saudi Arabia there that they are, in fact, blocking journalists and human rights workers from going to those hardest
hit areas in Yemen, Hala.
GORANI: All right. But it is proving difficult to get there, obviously, as your experience shows. Thanks very much, Clarissa Ward, our senior
international correspondent with that.
Still to come, this Muslim teenager was brutally murdered near a mosque, but police are still asking whether the killing was motivated by hate or
something else. We'll have a live report from Virginia.
[15:41:38] GORANI: The killing of a Muslim teenager near a mosque has shaken her close-knit community in the state of Virginia. A funeral prayer
service for 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen was held a short time ago.
Police say a man beat her with a bat during a weekend road rage incident. The question that many have is, is this a hate crime?
Earlier this week, her father told CNN he believes she was killed because of her faith. Alexander Marquardt joins me now live from Sterling,
Virginia with more on how the community is dealing with this horrific killing.
So have the authorities made a determination about what motivated the suspect to kill this teenager?
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They haven't. The police have said that, for now, there is little evidence that this was a
hate crime. However, in speaking with the prosecutor -- we spoke with him several hours ago -- he says that he is not ruling anything out.
As you did mention, the father, for his part, does believe, he said with 100 percent certainty, that Nabra Hassanen was beaten and killed because
she was a Muslim.
This community is going through a tremendous period of grief. They are shocked. They are saddened. They are stunned.
The funeral was held at this mosque just a short time ago. And shortly before the funeral, we were able to speak with some of the mourners about
their feelings today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT (on camera): When you heard the news on Sunday, what was your reaction?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't believe it. I mean, me and my family both, like, we were just --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We come for prayers for --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- like, night prayers here. So it was very, like, shocking. And this area's never dangerous or anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: And in speaking with people here today, they say that even if this wasn't a hate crime, that, in general, Muslims are becoming a much
bigger target here in America, Hala.
GORANI: All right. And let's talk also about these terrible reports that there might have been sexual assault during this crime.
MARQUARDT: That's right. It's not something that they're ruling out. Right now, they haven't offered any evidence that there was any sort of
The Fairfax County police, they have not said anything, one way or the other, when we reached out to them earlier today. They gave us a statement
saying that it's part of an investigation to determine every crime that occurred, Hala.
GORANI: Thank you very much. Alexander Marquardt in Sterling, Virginia.
We have some breaking news coming into us at CNN. The Grand al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul has been blown up. ISIS has been in control of the mosque, but
Iraqi forces had been preparing to storm it in their effort to retake the city.
That al-Nuri mosque is symbolic to ISIS. It's where the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first and only public appearance to declare
the formation of a caliphate in 2014.
Our Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon has reported extensively on the battle for Mosul. She joins me now on the line with more.
We're showing, by the way, Arwa, as we come to you, video from 2014 of Baghdadi at that al-Nuri mosque. Tell us more about these reports that
they have blown up, at least, the minaret.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Yes. At this stage, Hala, we're getting some conflicting claims as to who may or
may not be responsible for this.
[15:45:02] The commander of the Nineveh operations has blamed ISIS for destroying at least the minaret and perhaps a portion of the mosque as the
Iraqi security forces, who are, right now, basically pushing into the last remaining area under ISIS control, and that is the old city of Mosul,
blaming ISIS terrorist gangs for blowing up the mosque as the Iraqi security forces push through around 60 meters from the al-Nuri mosque.
Now, ISIS is blaming the United States for blowing up the mosque. Either way, this is a highly symbolic location because of what you exactly just
This is where al-Baghdadi declared the so-called caliphate, effectively breaking down borders between Syria and Iraq, creating what became an even
bigger magnet than it had been in the past for foreign fighters, for people who had a misguided and misconstrued notion of what it would mean to live
in and underneath Islamic law.
And many people, really, viewed the mosque and the declaration that was made there as being as phenomenally significant event.
And the Iraqi security forces themselves, in the time that we had spent with them, had repeatedly said how capturing the mosque for them would be
greatly symbolic when it came to the battle against ISIS. Just in the sense that, at least, there and then, they will be able to say that the
location where the caliphate was declared was finally back in the hands of the Iraqis.
But one must also bear in mind that this an incredibly convoluted battle and all of this, while we are right now discussing the mosque and its
destruction, we also need to remember that around a hundred thousand civilians are still believed to remain inside the old city as this battle
is raging around them. And they are terrified and have no way to keep themselves safe, Hala.
GORANI: And, Arwa, just a question there. So there is confusion about what happened, right? Did ISIS blow it up in anticipation of the assault,
the final assault on the old city, but ISIS claiming that it was Iraqi forces who did it or --
DAMON (via phone): No, ISIS actually --
GORANI: Where is the confusion coming from?
DAMON (via phone): -- is blaming the United --
DAMON (via phone): ISIS, Hala, is basically blaming the United States for blowing up this mosque. It came out in a statement that was released
through the ISIS media wing, Amaq.
DAMON (via phone): The Iraqis, of course, are saying that ISIS themselves blew it up at this stage. But, again, I go back to the whole issue of it
is a greatly symbolic location.
But there is still a very, very tough battle ahead for control of the old city, not only because of its narrow alley ways and just how dense it is --
not just in terms of the physical buildup of it but also in terms of the human population that, effectively, is being held there as human shield --
but also because the buildings of the old city are historic, which means that they are not necessarily structurally sound.
DAMON (via phone): So any explosion there, whether it's ISIS suicide car bomb, an artillery round, an air strike of sorts, that causes significantly
more damage than it does, for example, in other parts of Mosul because the buildings themselves cannot withstand the force of these explosions.
DAMON (via phone): This means that the civilian population caught there is much more likely to end up wounded or killed as this assault continues to
push through this last remaining ISIS stronghold in the city of Mosul.
GORANI: Arwa Damon, thanks very much for that update. Well, once again, the civilian of a major Middle East city is suffering, major cultural
heritage of the region blown up and becoming just a pile of rubble.
We saw it in Aleppo. We're seeing it as well in Mosul as the conflict there continues. And Arwa will bring us a special report as U.S.-backed
forces in Syria make progress in a push to seize the city of Raqqa in Syria.
Kurdish and Arab fighters of the SDF, the Syrian Democratic Forces, have taken territory on three sides of the city. You're seeing Raqqa more and
Arwa will introduce as to people who escaped ISIS brutality and a female Kurdish commander fighting to retake Raqqa. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAMON: We did run into Clara Raqqa, a unit commander and a native of the city itself, who was just back from one of the fronts.
CLARA RAQQA, KURDISH UNIT COMMANDER: (through translator): In the city, we can see that the city of Raqqa is above ground, and there is another
city below ground.
Raqqa was a city that was a mosaic of people, but turned into a place of women's enslavement. The place where women where enslaved has to be
liberated by the hands of women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:50:07] GORANI: Well, tune in Thursday to see Arwa's report from inside Syria on the battle for Raqqa. We'll be right back.
GORANI: It's been a busy day here in Westminster and a busier one on social media as people reflect on the Queen's Speech and its significance.
And it's a hot day here in London, the hottest since 1976, which is why we are all carrying our bottles of water.
Let's digest some of the reaction with our political commentator, Carole Walker.
Let's talk a little bit about Theresa May and whether or not she can survive this because one Conservative M.P. after another has said,
absolutely, there's no appetite for a leadership battle, she will finish her term. Are they being realistic here?
CAROLE WALKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think she can keep her job for the time being. You're right that many conservative MPs simply feel that, at
the moment, if they were to back some kind of move against Theresa May, the danger is that that would hasten another general election.
Anyone that stepped into her shoes now would face accusations that they didn't have their own personal mandate. They haven't stood for election.
If we had another general election now, well, those Conservative MPs fear that they would lose. We would get a Labour government led by Jeremy
So, for the time being, they feel that it is better to keep her in place to try to get through at least some of this very difficult two years. But I
think it's very difficult to find senior people in the Conservative Party who think that she's going to lead them into another general election.
She fought what many of them saw as a pretty disastrous campaign. She went into it with a huge poll lead. And instead of getting the bigger mandate
that she wanted, of course, she has ended up in a minority government.
But she's now going to face a really grueling tough two years here, trying to get through this huge welter of Brexit legislation to get it through not
just the House of Commons, but the House of Lords as well, without an overall parliamentary majority and with an emboldened Labour Party that's
absolutely determined to use every possible opportunity to make her life as difficult as possible.
GORANI: Why was Queen's Speech so scaled down this time? Because she's wearing --
WALKER: Simply because --
GORANI: She was not wearing her traditional garb. She came in a car and not a carriage, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
WALKER: Well, interesting. The official reason that we are given is that because it was a snap election. Because the timing of the Queen's Speech
was only organized at the last minute, it was very close to some other big ceremonial occasions. And it wasn't really right to try to get both such
big events organized in the way.
But isn't it extraordinary how, you know, the Queen always seems to reflect the mood of the nation? And today, not only did she leave behind the
golden carriage, the glittering horses, many of the pomp and ceremony that we normally have on these occasions, but she actually wore what has been
hugely remarked as this extraordinary blue hat with the yellow flowers that --
GORANI: But --
WALKER: -- extraordinary similarities to the European Union flag.
GORANI: I'm glad you just brought this up because, in fact, it's been all over the Internet.
People have been designing, have been split screening memes with the Queen's hat and then the European flag as well. If we could put that up,
that would be great. That essentially, was she trying to send a subliminal message of support for the European Union?
WALKER: Well, if you talk to anyone --
GORANI: Nothing blasted cans (ph) with the Queen, isn't it?
[15:54:59] WALKER: -- who knows the royal family, everyone who knows how carefully she considers every element of protocol, everything that she
wears, people are questioning things.
This simply could not possibly have happened simply by error of judgment or by a pure coincidence. The Queen, I think, wanted to scale it down because
of those ceremonial reasons.
I think, also, there is, perhaps, a mood in the country that too much extravagant pageantry, golden coaches, after everything that the nation has
been through over the past few weeks, simply would not have been appropriate.
So perhaps by accident, perhaps by some kind of coincidence, the Queen has ever reflected the mood of the nation.
GORANI: And speaking of the Queen and big important state affairs, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition party, asked Theresa May today,
whatever happened with that Donald Trump visit by the way? Just asking, he said. Just kind of asking.
WALKER: Yes. No mention in the Queen speech of the official visit by Donald Trump, although some other state visits are listed towards the end
of the Queen's speech.
We're told that the reason is that, of course, there's no date fixed for it yet so that's why it wasn't mentioned. But I think there is now big doubt
about exactly how and when this visit is going to take place.
Make no mistake, a visit by Donald Trump to this country would be hugely controversial. There are many people who have already declared their
readiness to get out onto the streets and demonstrate.
Theresa May, of course, went out of her way, right from the start, of her premiership to visit Donald Trump, to extend the invitation to a state
visit, to visit, of course, Donald Trump, to very controversially hold his hand. But I think there is now a big question mark over it.
I think officials on both sides of the Atlantic know that it would be difficult, that it would be hugely controversial.
GORANI: Well, he doesn't want protest either, we're told by sources in Washington.
WALKER: Indeed. And Theresa May has so much on her plate right now, perhaps she would not be too upset if he decided it was better if he waited
a while before coming to this country.
GORANI: Carole Walker, thanks very much.
We close out the show. This has been a special edition of the program. I'm Hala Gorani.
The Uber CEO has stepped down, and "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming up next with more on that story. Stay with CNN.