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Theresa May No Confidence Vote In Parliament; A Gunman Is On The Run, Still On The Run After A Deadly Terror Attack At That Christmas Market In France. Aired: 11a-12n ET
Aired December 12, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
ROBYN CURNOW, HOST, CNN: We do begin with breaking news. The British Prime Minister fighting for her political career. In the next hour,
Theresa May goes into locked door - closed-door talks with her Conservative MPs and Julia Chatterley is leading all of this coverage in London.
So closed door meetings. This day could go either way for the Prime Minister. Hi, Julia.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, HOST, CNN: Yes, you're right. It's going to be a pretty dramatic few hours, I think while we wait and see what happens with this
confidence vote on the future leadership the Conservative Party for Theresa May. Of course, it's a pretty binary option; either she wins and carries
on with her deal or she loses and then the party has to search for a fresh leadership, and then what? For these Brexit negotiations.
Let's bring in Nic Robertson who joins us now from Downing Street. Nic, let's talk through the scenarios that we are looking at here. I've have
pointed out that it's binary here, either she wins or she loses. Talk us through what seemingly the most likely scenario here and that is that she
wins this confidence vote tonight.
NIC ROBERTSON, INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR, CNN: Sure, so we're expecting in the next hour that she will talk to MPs in that 1922
Committee. An hour later, that's two hours from now, that's when the voting begins in this secret ballot. Two hours later, 8:00 p.m. local
time, four hours from now, that's when the secret ballot concludes and pretty soon after, we are expecting a result.
Binary, as you say, the magic number, so to speak, for Theresa May is a simple majority of her conservative MPs in government here and that number
is 158. She wins, then she can be expected to go to Brussels tomorrow to meet with some of the other E.U. 27 leaders who are meeting there tomorrow,
possibly be there Friday, possibly tomorrow pick up and have that bilateral meeting with the Irish Prime Minister that she was due to be having right
around about this time in Dublin today.
Of course, that got put on hold because of this vote taking place. Following that, we can expect her to try to wrangle some of this language
that she has talked about as a reassurance on the backstop deal of the Brexit deal over the Northern Ireland-Irish border. When she feels she has
got that, as best she is going to have it, the estimation is there's not really going to be enough people backing her here, at least the MPs to vote
But she feels though she has got the best deal she can really get, she will have that meaningful vote, the vote that was supposed to happen yesterday.
The deadline for that is the 21st of January and the next deadline after that would be as things stand, the 29th of March when the Britain is
leaving the European Union.
So a lot to happen in that time, and everything depends on what happens in those coming months, in what happens in the next couple of hours here,
CHATTERLEY: Yes, and the suggestion is that there are enough MPs of the party that are backing her and that she will win this vote, but let's talk
about the alternative here, Nic, and that is that she loses this confidence vote for the leadership of the Conservative Party tonight, then what
happens? Talk us through that scenario, too.
ROBERTSON: Sure. I just gave you some of the timeline there for Britain getting out of the European Union and the real concern is that you saw
eating up time in a leadership contest. Every Conservative MP who thinks they could run for the leadership and has the backing of two other MPs puts
their name in the hat and then there is a process of whittling down those names until there are just two left.
Now, the voting is again just between conservative MPs and they would vote perhaps twice a week, perhaps more often. The last one in the vote each
time that loses is out of the running. The final two goes to the broader Conservative Party membership by a postal ballot, all takes time. That
time, a new leader would need to negotiate supposedly a new deal with the European leaders.
CHATTERLEY: Nic Robertson, thank you so much for that. Nic there outside of Number 10 Downing Street. Right, joining me now is Carole Walker,
political analyst, journalist, and former BBC political correspondent. Carole, great to have you with us. Let's just talk through these scenarios
again, because as Nic was pointing out there, even in what's seemingly the most likely scenario here which is a win for Theresa May tonight and
getting through this confidence vote, whatever she can negotiate here with the Europeans is simply a deal that won't pass through Parliament.
CAROLE WALKER, FORMER BBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. The Prime Minister's supporters are sounding pretty confident at the moment and
the BBC has counted more than 170 Conservative MPs who publicly said they are going to support the Prime Minister. Now, it is a secret ballot in the
privacy of the ballot box, who knows whether they will deliver on those promises.
But even if she does get through this vote tonight, which seems likely, she still has to try to get somehow her withdrawal deal through Parliament. We
are hearing once again from E.U. leaders they are not prepared to deliver any ...
WALKER: ... fundamental changes to the withdrawal agreement itself, though they could try to provide some extra reassurances, maybe some extra
protocols or explanatory notes. That may not be enough to win over enough of her critics here in Parliament. She still has got to try to get that
Everything is pointing to her trying to play along as she has throughout this entire process to try to delay, to prevaricate, to get to a stage in
January where she hopes that MPs may be sufficiently worried about the alternatives, about being forced to leave the European Union with no deal,
that she will able to get enough support for her deal.
But that is far from certain at this stage. There could be plenty of drama between now and then.
CHATTERLEY: Undoubtedly, I mean, we will explore the option of what happens if she loses tonight. But obviously, we are talking about party
politics here and with this confidence vote tonight, what about for the British people here? We have been out in the streets talking to people
about what they think of this confidence vote. Listen in to what they have been telling us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't care less. I couldn't care less. The best possible is they all jump in the Thames and that's all I can see ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think she is doing a good job. I mean, I think she's got a lot to compete with. You know, she is trying to get
something for everybody, you can't please everybody, but I don't think it's going in her favor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's incredibly challenging. I think it's likely hard, whether or not you agree with what she is proposing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just has to work out what's best for us. And I think the whole country should help her to get what's best for the U.K.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: Such a challenge. There's an ongoing uncertainty here. Perhaps in the event that she loses this confidence vote, and as we've just
discussed, it's not looking like the most likely scenario, but if she loses, is there no choice at that point then perhaps the party has to say,
"Look, we simply don't have time. We can't agree what we're going to do before March 29th when we're expected to leave the E.U., perhaps we have to
postpone and push back that date."
WALKER: I think that if she does lose tonight, and as you say, at the moment, it looks as though she will get through it, but if she does lose,
we will undoubtedly have a Conservative leadership contest.
Now, it t is possible that the whole process could be concertinaed done pretty swiftly. As Nic Robertson was pointing out earlier, there is an
initial process where MPs vote until we're whittled down to the final two. Party members then have to be consulted. Those who want this contest to go
ahead say that whole process could concertinaed be down to perhaps a couple of weeks, but even if you then had a new leader in place, perhaps if you
had, for example, an arch Brexiteer leading the party, they might then say, "Right, I want to scrub this Northern Ireland backstop, which is the source
of so much controversy."
When the E.U. then refused to play ball, they could then say, "Right, we are going to go for a managed no deal and soldier through that way." But
if anyone, wanted to try to negotiate a whole new deal, even supposedly the E.U. would prefer to do that, then it would make it more likely that that
Brexit date would have to be delayed somewhat. So many potential scenarios here, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: We'll keep discussing them, Carole. Thank you so much for that. Let's bring in Matthew Chance. He is outside Parliament right now.
Matthew, well, talk about some of the options here. But first, just walk us through again what we are expecting to see over the coming hours.
MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, as Nic Robertson was detailing a few moments ago earlier in this broadcast, there
is going to be a secret ballot that's going to be held amongst Conservative MPs over the next couple of hours. And in about four hours from now, that
An hour later, at about 9:00 local time, we are expected to hear the results of whether or not there are sufficient MPs that are calling for
Theresa May to be replaced as the Conservative leader or not. She needs 50%. She has got one more than she needs, then in theory, she could stay,
of course as the leader of the Conservative Party.
But you know, it's all up for play at the moment, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Matthew, just beyond this, let's assume again that she does win through this confidence vote. Is the next thing then she jets off to
Brussels for that Leaders' Summit obviously that begins tomorrow, and tries to come back and get more progress that she was talking about this morning,
of course in Prime Minister's Questions because every person I discuss this with says this simply is not a solution here in terms of a withdrawal
agreement that will be passed through Parliament behind me. The uncertainty remains, surely.
CHANCE: It absolutely does and I think that question actually cuts to the heart of the problem, which is no matter who is the Prime Minister of this
country, no matter who is the leader of Conservative Party.
CHANCE: And the deal that is on the table, that Theresa May has spent months negotiating, is basically hated by everyone and doesn't satisfy the
basic requirements of the remainers, of which there are many in the Conservative Party, or the Brexiteers of course who have been very vocal as
an element in the Conservative Party as well, just to go back to her support, well, all of her Cabinet colleagues are, you know, some notable
exceptions, are saying that Theresa May is going to win this vote.
Amongst them is Michael Gove, he is the Environment Secretary of this country. He was an architect of the Brexit campaign. He is a key figure
in Theresa May's government. Earlier, we got a chance to throw him a few questions as he was walking around Westminster to get some thoughts from
him about this extremely volatile situation. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: ... and the deal would go through? Has Theresa May already lost the confidence of the party, sir?
MICHAEL GOVE, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: No.
CHANCE: You say that, but don't you think that --
GOVE: I do say that, yes.
CHANCE: Do you think that you might be a better leader?
CHANCE: Do you have ambitions for the leadership at all?
CHANCE: Live Brooks tells you're a 10-1 favorite of being the next Prime Minister?
GOVE: I don't believe in betting.
CHANCE: Do you think there will even be a Brexit, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: All right, well, that was the real Michael Gove. There's a caricature now leaking out of Michael Gove as part of this statue that
remain campaigners have put up outside of Westminster. Brexit is a monstrosity. There's still a great deal of public sentiment being
expressed here both for and against the idea of Brexit even a backdrop - with a backdrop of this leadership contest underway for the head of the
Conservative Party and the Prime Ministership of the United Kingdom.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, I couldn't agree more with you, Matthew. It doesn't change anything ultimately. We will see what happens later on today.
Thanks very much to our Matthew Chance there.
Now, earlier I spoke with Cabinet Secretary Amber Rudd. She is optimistic about the Prime Minister's chances going into the confidence vote. Listen
to what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
AMBER RUDD, WORK AND PENSION SECRETARY: I said this to a lot of my colleagues who have said that they are not going to back the withdrawal
agreement. What else do you want? I mean, clearly, today we have seen that they want a new leader. They are not going a get new leader. If they
don't back the agreement when it comes back, they are not going to get a new leader. What do they want to achieve? This is going to be the only
agreement that we are going to have for leaving the European Union within the allotted time. Time is ticking against us W we are going to be leaving
at the end of March.
So I'd ask them to think very carefully about the consequences of not supporting this. The Prime Minister said this morning, if you don't
support the deal, it will either be no deal or no Brexit. Anything could happen.
CHATTERLEY: I mean, some would argue that you have also moved to the possibility of a Plan B here in the Norway plus, plus.
CHATTERLEY: You mean, that kind of undermines the situation that the Prime Minister is trying to present here because you've muted other options here?
RUDD: Well, actually, I think it does the opposite really. By saying that there is a plan - that there could be a Plan B which is other the EEA
option or indeed ending up with a referendum, I am really making people who oppose the agreement think about the consequences. They can't just say I
don't like this, but I don't like that bit without saying what they want instead.
If the Brexiteers are the ones who stop the Brexit, they will need to take responsibility for that.
CHATTERLEY: What happens if the Prime Minister loses the confidence vote tonight?
RUDD: Well, then we would have leadership fight and I think that would be a mistake.
CHATTERLEY: Will the party postpone the March 29 deadline?
RUDDD: I think we will have to - the government would have to look at doing that. A government is supposed to deliver stability and we have with
the E.U. negotiations a certain amount of volatility, let's be frank. And if we added to that a leadership fight as well, that volatility would
increase. I think it's an irresponsible thing to do, so I hope it's not where we're going.
CHATTERLEY: I mean the government being responsible here, surely, the divide that we're seeing right now in the Conservative Party, I mean, the
noise is about party politics rather than finding a solution here, an agreement with the E.U.
RUDD: The Conservative Party has always held people who have very different views on the European Union and some of my colleagues who have
started this vote of no confidence proposal today have completely different views to me on the relationships that we should have with the European
So in a way, we have always been a broad church and those disagreements have sort of bubbled up today.
CHATTERLEY: Which would mean it has never been more polarized, I mean, can the party survive this?
RUDD: The party will definitely survive this. What we need is after the Prime Minister wins, for my colleagues who have a sought a different
leader, to think very carefully about how we hold the party together. You know, we have always worked together in the national interest and I hope we
can get back to doing that.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
CHATTERLEY: Amber Rudd speaking there. Now we are joined by a Conservative MP and Brexit Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, great to have you with
KWASI KAWARTENG, CONSERVATIVE MP: Hi, good to see you.
CHATTERLEY: Can Theresa May survive the confidence vote tonight?
KWARTENG: Absolutely. I think you heard earlier your listeners that she will. I think she will win decisively. I think we will get a large number
of colleagues who are supporting her. But these people realize that to change horses midstream would be insane. It doesn't make any sense.
CHATTERLEY: That's what some of the party is trying to do?
KWARTENG: Yes, and those people, many of them are my friends, we campaigned for Brexit, I was a Brexit supporter, but really to change a
leader now doesn't make any sense. I think it would be irresponsible and where we are, people acknowledge is where the moment of uncertainty. Now,
to have a leadership contest would add to that uncertainty, and to do so willingly, I think would be irresponsible.
CHATTERLEY: You voted for Brexit.
CHATTERLEY: You have said - is this the right deal to exit the E.U.?
KWARTENG: I think it's an excellent deal. I think it's a good deal because it delivers on the money. We don't have to pay anymore annual
subscriptions after the implementation period, after 2020. I think we have our own immigration policies, so there is an end to freedom of movement.
We can decide what skills-based immigration we want, and also the jurisdiction of the court, the European Court of Justice will no longer
apply after we leave the E.U.
So many of the substantive things that I campaigned for, this withdrawal agreement delivers.
CHATTERLEY: The problem is, you're in a minority, and this deal simply won't pass in Parliament it seems and even with some amendments that
Theresa May could go on and get from Europe, it's still not going to pass.
KWARTENG: I think you are prejudging things. I think there is still a lot to play for. I think there is still a lot of negotiation. We have to
go into Christmas negotiating hard with European partners and across the water, but I think when it comes back in January, I think that will be a
whole different ball game, and I am strongly suspecting that we will be able to get it through.
CHATTERLEY: Do you believe pre-January 21st or even at January 21st, a vote can pass?
KWARTENG: That's right, and we clarified earlier in the House of Commons earlier this week that we were seeking as a government to have the vote
before the 21st of January.
Now, if we are seeking to do that, we are very confident and hopeful that we can actually win that vote.
CHATTERLEY: I mean, you are making it look like really hard work, the government, the Conservative Party here is making it actually harder
perhaps than it needs to be. What is the likelihood of the opposition party, the Labour coming forward and tabling a confidence motion in this
government before then?
KWARTENG: Well, that's up to them. I mean, they will try and play games and play tricks. They can call a confidence vote. Again, I am strongly
confident that we will win the confidence vote. And I think the one thing that will unite the Conservative Party is if Labour try and have a
I think we will see people on all sides, even people ironically who are questioning Theresa May's leadership will come together and defeat Labour's
CHATTERLEY: What happens if she loses the vote tonight?
KWARTENG: Well, I don't think she will lose. That to me is an extremely hypothetical question. If she loses, I think they will simply add to
uncertainty, it will add to a degree of a lack of clarity. The outlook will be much foggier and we will have to go through a very - a
destabilizing and potentially divisive leadership contest.
CHATTERLEY: Let's continue to let's play the hypotheticals. Who should lead the party if not Theresa May?
KWARTENG: Well, I have no idea. I haven't even given it a second thought. I think Theresa May is the best leader. I think she has done the
job, a pretty thankless job for two and a half years. She has got this deal. I like the deal. I want to vote on the agreement.
CHATTERLEY: And no one else can do better?
CHATTERLEY: Thank you so much for joining us on the show. We will leave it there for now. I'll also get back to Robyn Curnow in Atlanta.
CURNOW: Thanks for that, Julia, so much uncertainty isn't there. Meanwhile, you are watching CNN and we do have lots more news after the
break, specifically this story. A gunman is on the run, still on the run after a deadly terror attack at that Christmas market in France. The
suspect also is no stranger to the police, so we are live with Melissa Bell. That is next. Stick with us.
CURNOW: Now, for a CNN alert. Right now, the fate of Donald Trump's once trusted lawyer is being decided in a New York courthouse. Michael Cohen
could be the first member of the President's inner circle to receive a significant prison term in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's
Russia investigation. Now, he is facing years in prison.
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight crimes, if you remember, including campaign finance violations. Now, those charges involved hush-money
payments to two women who said they had affairs with Donald Trump. We are watching that courtroom for any other news coming out of it.
And we are also following breaking news of a terror attack in France. A manhunt is underway for a gunman who opened fire near a popular Christmas
market in Strasbourg. At least two people were killed, 14 others wounded in this attack. And it prompted France to raise its national security
threat level to its highest status.
Authorities we know have tightened security at the border, but they are not sure if the gunman who escaped the scene in a taxi is still in France. So
let's go straight to Melissa Bell, she is live in Strasbourg for us.
So what is the latest on this gunman? Any sense of where he is and why it's taking so long for him to be apprehended?
MELISSA BELL, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: For the time being, the manhunt continues, Robyn, there are 720 police men and women involved, a couple of
helicopters well, but as you say no sense of whether he is still in France or might have slipped across that border.
You mentioned the heightened security level, we are at the maximum security level here in France and you can see the effects of it just behind me where
we are standing at the entrance to that Christmas market. It was over this bridge that the gunman made his way yesterday just before 8:00 p.m.
local time, and into that Christmas market, one of Europe's most famous and one of its most ancient. It goes back to Medieval Times. It is often
visited by tourists. It is extremely large and it had been a subject of threats - terror threats for many years.
That sadly, turned into something very concrete last night. We know that three people have lost their lives, Robyn, and a number of people remain in
the hospital tonight in a critical condition. What we understand happened is that having made his way over the bridge, he then headed into that
Christmas market even as it was closing and security measures which had been pretty tight over the last few years began to be lessened as the
Armed with a knife and a gun, you can imagine the scenes of horror that anyone who would have been here last night would have witnessed.
CURNOW: Indeed. And also, this gunman was known to police, we understand.
BELL: That's right, Robyn. He was known for common law offenses. Twenty seven convictions in France, in Switzerland and in Germany. He had however
never been convicted for any terror-related offenses and yet he was on France's watch list as a result of a radicalization, believed to have - he
was believed to have undergone while he was in jail. So he was being watched. He was on that watch list as someone who might pose a threat to
None of which prevented him from gathering the weapons that he carried on him and that were found in his home because, of course, even as, as a few
hours before he carried out this attack, authorities had thought to take him in for questioning, Robyn, in relation to a common law offense, in
relation to a case that they were investigating.
When they found him not at home, they found weapons inside his home in that raid and it was a few hours later that he went on the attack here.
CURNOW: And you say that he was radicalized in prison. That is a familiar process, isn't it?
BELL: It has been in a case of a number of the terrorists who have carried out attacks in France in the last few years and it has become an issue that
people have been actively looking at. The idea that prisons themselves might be hotbeds of radicalization for some of these people. I think he
has a case in point. All of his offenses, and there is a substantial history there in terms of the offenses for which he had been convicted,
this is man who has been in and out of prison, none of them had related to anything - terror related, and yet it ...
BELL: ... it was according to the Paris prosecutor who was speaking here from Strasbourg earlier, the strongest indication we have of his motive was
that as he carried out that rampage through the Christmas market yesterday evening, he shouted, " allahu akbar" and it was the first indication we had
from authorities about what his motivations might have been. They had very been cautious about suggesting that there was anything like a terror
related motivation behind this until we heard those words.
So the manhunt this evening continues, Robyn for a man who could still be here in France, who might have slipped over the border because as a result
of that heightened level of security, one of the things that happens is that the border crossings become much more tightly controlled. But of
course, that took a few hours to get into place, giving the time to slip across what is otherwise a fairly porous borders that is one of the
questions and one of the reasons why this investigation is now popularly international.
CURNOW: Okay, thanks for that update Melissa Bell there in Strasbourg, thanks Melissa. Still ahead here at CNN, we are back in Westminster ahead
of a crucial hour for Theresa May. We will speak to a lawmaker who will take part in the vote on the British Prime Minister and again, his thoughts
firsthand. You're watching CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: A change of leadership in the Conservative Party now. We will put our country's future at risk and
create uncertainty when we can least afford it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: We're live here from Westminster where in just 30 minutes' time the British Prime Minister is facing the start of something that could
define her legacy. Theresa May preparing to speak to a critical group of her own Conservative Party lawmakers. They may cut the so-called 1922
Committee which has been at the center of the biggest challenge to Prime Minister May's power yet, a vote of no confidence.
But Mrs. May herself say she is going nowhere without a fight. Let's hit the rewind button for a moment and remind ourselves of exactly how we got
to where we are today. Here is Nick Glass.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
NICK GLASS, JOURNALIST, CNN: Long, long shadows on Westminster Bridge, and with them, an abiding sense of weariness and fracture. The last few weeks
of British politics have been both divisive and interminable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We remain concerned that time is ticking. My constituents would like Brexit to be over and done with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GLASS: The cartoonists have been predictably merciless. Theresa May on her marks going her way, everyone else in the opposite direction. Both
cartoons from a conservative newspaper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAY: As I have made clear, my focus is on the vote that will take place in the, on the 11th of December, here in this House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GLASS: And five days later --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAY: This argument has gone on long enough. It is corrosive to our politics. And life depends on compromise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GLASS: And a further six days later, facing the prospect of her resounding defeat, she postponed the vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAY: Does this house want to deliver Brexit?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GLASS: Those looks, nothing else Theresa May has been admired for her tenacity and resilience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Five, four, three, two, one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GLASS: A week, as they say, is a long time in politics, even at Christmas. So, the lady is for turning its claim, "The Daily Telegraph". The fact is,
Britain still seems profoundly split over Brexit and so toxically are the two main political parties and tempers are fraying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: The Prime Minister is trying to buy herself one last chance to save this deal. If she doesn't take on
board the fundamental changes required, then she must make way for those who can.
YVETTE COOPER, BRITISH LABOUR MP: Still, even now, don't know when she wants to bring this vote back, or even what she wants the deal to be. Does
she not realize how chaotic and ridiculous that makes our country look?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GLASS: "The Guardian" cartoonist persistently pinning Theresa May to Moby Dick in the water and at the cliff edge. Like good old John Bowl, we're
all now wondering what's going to happen next. The Labour MP, in this place of historic ritual, simply vented his frustration by briefly grabbing
the ceremonial mace. He was asked to leave the House.
Of course, as everyone is aware, this is only the beginning of the Brexit process. A trade deal with Europe is yet to be negotiated. Outside
Parliament, the flags have been out, both British and European. Protesters for and against Brexit have been encamped for days. Some political
commentators perceive Britain in limbo, teetering on the edge of a precipice, a constitutional crisis in prospect. Nick Glass, CNN,
(END VIDEO TAPE)
CHATTERLEY: A long and winding road. Is it dramatically shortened for Theresa May tonight? Joining us is Carol Walker, political analyst and
journalist and former BBC political correspondent. Carole, fantastic to have you with us.
WALKER: Good to be here.
CHATTERLY: Theresa May was very confident when she came out today. The message from the Conservative Party seems she has the votes here to survive
WALKER: That's right, well look, Julia, in less than half an hour from now, the Prime Minister is going to be addressing her own MPs, essentially
making a last-minute appeal to them to support her, to keep her as their leader and Prime Minister at least until Brexit is delivered.
And certainly her supporters are is sounding very confident that she is going to get the numbers that she needs. She needs 158 votes to stay in
her job. The BBC has counted public declarations of support from more than 170 MPS. This is a secret ballot. They may not decide to deliver on that
when it gets into the privacy of the ballot box, but as things stand, it looks as though she will get through tonight's vote, but she still then
faces the problem of her withdrawal deal, how she is going to get that through Parliament, and the implacable opposition that she faces where it's
far from clear she does have the numbers.
CHATTERLEY: Yet, all the challenges that we have been talking about over the last 48 hours remain if she wins this, what happens if she doesn't?
What happens if she doesn't win this confidence vote tonight?
WALKER: If she does lose tonight and it looks as though she is going to win it, but if she loses, then there will be a contest and it looks as
though if that does happen, a large number of contenders may well throw their hats into the ring including several in her own Cabinet who at the
moment are publicly declaring their support for Theresa May.
But once it's opened up, then I think that there will be an all-out battle for the leadership and the future direction of the party and the sort of
Brexit which this country gets. The numbers of contenders will be whittled down to the final two, Conservative Party members have a say, there is no
doubt that the Party will want to try to get through that as quickly as possible because, of course, that Brexit date is looming at the end of
CHATTERLEY: Yes, battle for the future ofhe country. Carole, thank you for that. Coming up, the British Prime Minister's job is on the line. If
she win the confidence vote, then what? We'll discuss. Stay with us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
CHATTERLEY: British Prime Minister Theresa May will shortly address Conservative members of Parliament in a bid to save her job. We should
know whether she wins or loses a vote of no confidence in around three hours' time. Let's get some context here. Rory Stewart is a Conservative
MP who says he will be backing the Prime Minister in tonight's vote. Will she win, Rory? Great to have you with us.
RORY STEWART, CONSERVATIVE MP: Well, it's a secret ballot and with secret ballots, you don't know, but my instinct is that people will think it would
be crazy to get rid of the leader of the Party, the Prime Minister in the middle of the Brexit negotiations.
CHATTERLEY: Do you think there is a risk though that people who have come out today and said, look, we back the Prime Minister, could do a U-turn
when it comes down to it in the vote tonight?
STEWART: Anybody who has seen British politics over the last two months would say that you can't really predict very much at the moment, but the
fundamentals of this, if people decided to vote against the Prime Minister, it would be a very risky thing to do because then there would be a
leadership contest, which could last six weeks, we wouldn't even have a Prime Minister in place before 21st of January when we need to get
withdrawal agreements through Parliament.
CHATTERLEY: And yet, that's what the Brexiteers in the Conservative Party seemingly have pushed for here?
STEWART: I am hoping that they will lose. And I am hoping also they will lose significantly. Because it is quite important, they have been talking
as though they represent the majority of Parliament. They have been talking as though they represent the majority of the MPs. If they don't,
it would be good for them to acknowledge that fact. Maybe this vote will finally bring them to acknowledge that they don't have the majority of the
House at home and therefore they need to compromise.
CHATTERLEY: I mean, if Theresa May wins this confidence vote, then she is in place for a year. There is nothing they can do at this stage, does that
effectively shut them up at this time or are they going to continue to be as vocal and as divisive for the Party, if not the country?
STEWART: So the fundamental problem is this is incredibly polarized. There is a hard Brexit right that begs pretty much no deal, there is quite
a large chunk of the Labour Party now that wants no Brexit at all. So they're trying to referendum the Brexit, they're trying to get a Brexit
deal and the question is can we build a Parliamentary majority?
And what I want to do is lock those 650 MPs up in the chamber for two weeks and make them sit there until they actually get a deal because there is too
much talking about what they don't like. There is not enough concrete practical engagement with tariffs, with quotas, with import restrictions
with the next ten years, a relationship with Europe and that's what we need to move the conversation after ideology.
CHATTERLEY: The problem is, even if the conversation moves on as you say, and we see Theresa May winning this confidence vote, heading to Europe to
try to get concessions, no one that I have spoken to believes that any amount of concessions that she can get from Europe here presents a deal
that can be passed through Parliament. The mathematics here simply don't work.
STEWART: So it's very tight as you say, the Prime Minister doesn't have a majority in Parliament. So she is having to appeal across the aisles, she
is having to appeal to other parties like the DUP. She is trying to bring back people. So she will go to Europe. I think she will get concessions
out of Europe, but the question as you say is whether we then sit people down and say this is in a sense the last chance to lean, if we don't get a
deal in place, we will crash out in March, and I believe in the end that our country is sane, I believe in the end that we are a moderate country,
and I believe we ought to be able to come to a deal.
But you're absolutely right, the events of the last two days have been testing some of my faith.
CHATTERLEY: Is this government sane? Is this party sane enough to postpone the deadline beyond March 29th rather than have a crash out
scenario or no deal exit year?
STEWART: Nobody in the government wants a no-deal exit, so we will be looking to build a majority and that majority may have to, if this
continues, may have to involve reaching out towards other people ...
CHATTERLEY: And do you believe that from the Labour MPs? Do you think Jeremy Corbyn, the opposition leader will allow them to step forward and
STEWART: In the end, I think this is a pretty brutal democratic moment and it's also one of the most divisive that you see in the British politics.
But Britain has an amazing tradition of moderation and sense and I hope that is going to finally breaks through.
CHATTERLEY: Are you embarrassed by the Conservative Party at this stage and the infighting, the politics that we are seeing?
STEWART: I am actually - I am sad about a number of things. I am sad about some people in the party, but I am also honestly sad about some
people in the Labour Party who claim to say they want a Brexit deal, but who are enjoying playing party politics and just don't want to talk about
We need to move the conversation on to the text. We need to make it less party political and talk about what relationship we want with Europe over
the next 20 years and at the moment, everybody is in denial. They are pushing either for no deal or no Brexit and both of those will be so
divisive. Because you basically pit 50% of the population against the other 50%. This isn't like an election. You can't split things 50/50. We
need the middle ground.
CHATTERLEY: Can you then say that this deal is better for the U.K. than ultimately remaining in the E.U.?
STEWART: Yes, for one fundamental reason. It respects the result of the referendum. If you try to stay in the European Union, you would basically
be saying that referendum which was a high turnout referendum where 52% of people voted to leave, should be ignored. And that will cause populous
politics, that will have a new British National Party and the U.K. rhythm, and a third referendum movement would start at once to leave the European
So it wouldn't resolve anything. But it would lurch back into Europe but without any of these results. We need to step out but remain engaged. So
leave the European Union but remain closely involved with Europe, economically and politically to work out what we want to do and what our
future alongside Europe will be.
CHATTERLEY: When does that get real moment come? When do politicians start being more truthful, stop playing party politics, doing what is best
for the country, for the voters who they are supposed to represent in this country rather than anything else?
STEWART: Well, it's not quite happening yet. I thought it would be happening by now. I hope that after Christmas, I think actually the public
will play a role. I think the public is getting clearly extremely fed up at what is happening in Parliament.
So as the public begins to communicate to politicians that in the end, they want to move on, they want to get a deal in place, then I think people will
start to concentrate. But it's getting pretty late. And I wish this moves more quickly.
CHATTERLEY: Do you think there is going to be a vote before 21st of January?
STEWART: Yes, we will bring a vote before the 21st of January, for sure.
CHATTERLEY: Okay, we shall see. Sir, thank you very much.
STEWART: Thank you very much.
CHATTERLEY: Great to chat with you. And that just about wraps it up for this show. I am Julia Chatterley live from London. Stay with CNN. We
will have the latest on Theresa May's fight to remain in power as the leader of the Conservative Party, but first, "World Sport" with Patrick
Snell that follows after this quick break. Stay with CNN.