Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Preparing for Full and Rapid Withdrawal from Syria; British Government Steps up No Deal Preparations; Netanyahu Warns of Tunnel Threat Ahead of U.N. Meeting; European Union Cyber Breach Link to China; Corbyn Accused of Calling Prime Minister Stupid Woman; Businesses Fear Economic Impact of No Deal Brexit; Blows Keep Coming for Embattled U.S. President; Al Ain Makes FIFA Club World Cup Final. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 19, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, with me Becky Anderson from Abu Dhabi, where it is 7:00

in the evening. And we begin with a developing story, with huge impact for this region, the Middle East. The announcement last hour that the U.S. is

preparing to pull out of Syria. Now CNN has learned that U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered a full and rapid withdrawal of all U.S. forces

inside Syria. About 2,000 American troops are there. Primarily training local forces to fight against ISIS.

Well, just minutes ago, Mr. Trump announced his intent to withdraw, tweeting. We have defeated ISIS, in Syria, my only reason for being there.

Well, the U.S. withdrawal of course will be music to the ears of Moscow which is giving military support to the Syrian government. Fred Pleitgen

is in Russia. We'll get you to Washington for more on what is going on, and the thinking behind this in a moment. Fred, what is the likely Kremlin

perspective on this?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you're absolutely right, Becky, I think the Kremlin and generally the

Russian military as well is going to be very happy with this decision. If indeed it is what we believe it is, that there is going to be quite a

speedy withdrawal of American forces, if that is something that does happen. Now the Russians have for very long time been saying that they

believe that the United States should leave Syria. They believe the United States' mission there, which is of course fighting ISIS has been not

necessarily accomplished but finished they say. And they say the U.S., they believe is illegally on Syrian soil, because they don't have the

permission of the Syrian government, of course, under Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S., of course, has a very different perspective on that. If indeed this happens, Becky, this will vastly increase the leverage that the

Russians have on the ground there. Because now, what you have is you have only Russia as the one power that really pretty much everything in Syria

now depends on. What the Turks can do next will depend greatly on Russia. What happens between the Israelis and the Syrians, between the Israelis and

the Iranians? All of that will now to a much greater extent than it already has, depend on the Russians if indeed President Trump does follow

through on this decision.

Certainly, you're absolutely right. It will be music to the Kremlin's ears. We have reached out both to the Kremlin and to the Russian foreign

ministry already. We haven't gotten a response back yet. Because, of course, this is news that has just been breaking. But there is no doubt

that they won't be unhappy about these developments -- Becky.

ANDERSON: And what is the end game, as far as you understand it, for Russia in Syria?

PLEITGEN: Well, I think that Russia has pretty much already achieved everything that it wants to achieve in Syria. It stabilized the Assad

government. It helped the Assad government win back a lot of its territory. It certainly vastly increased the leverage it has on the ground

here and then also has vastly increased its leverage as a power broker not just in Syria but also inside the Middle East.

And so basically, right now what the Russians have been trying to do, is they've been trying to further stabilize the Assad government. Of course,

we know that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, his goal is to win back all of Syrian territory, and that's of course where things could get

potentially dangerous, once the United States moves out of there. We know that we have a lot of pro-American, largely Kurdish but also Arab forces on

the ground in the areas that the United States is in. In some cases, you have Syrian government forces down there. Is there going to be a power

struggle? What is going to happen for instance between the Syrians and the Turks? So, all of that now could potentially be called into question.

Could potentially become a new sphere of conflict in a country, of course, that's already been so torn by conflicts over the past couple of years.

And that's where now at least, if indeed all this plays out, the way it is looking like it might play out, a lot of that is going to depend on the

Russians whether or not they can prevent this country that of course has gone through this civil war, that is a lot more stable now than it was

maybe two or three years ago, but still is completely unstable, of course, by any account. But whether or not the Russians can now stabilize that

situation. But of course, one of the things that I think the United States has to be clear about, is that with the Russians and the Iranians and the

Turks heavily involved, in the Syrian crisis, and of course the Syrian government as well, the shape of that country now is going to be up to

those parties and the U.S. will pretty much have very little to say in the future of that country and how things move forward there.

ANDERSON: Let's bring in Barbara Starr who is at the Pentagon. Barbara, this news just out in the past hour or so. We know -- or have known for

some time, that the U.S. President has had a desire to get U.S. troops out of Syria.

[10:05:00] What does this mean in practical terms?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the 2,000 U.S. ground troops, approximately 2,000, will be coming out. The Pentagon will plan

very rapidly for that to happen. But I think Fred is raising the correct question, what happens on the ground now? What will be the Iranian and

Russian influence that they will be able to take over? What say will the U.S. have in the future of Syria if it is not on the ground as a player?

And perhaps very importantly, obviously, is the fate of those hundreds if not thousands of forces on the ground that the U.S. has been working so

hard to train, to be able to fight against ISIS. Will they still have the equipment? Will they have the training? Will they be able to move

forward? Or are they going to be abandoned -- Becky?

Yes, and spokesman Colonel Rob Manning, let's bring up what he said, regarding CNN and others reporting this news.

At the Pentagon, he said, at this time, we continue to work by, with, and through our partners in the region.

What happened, Barbara, to the promise or the proposal to replace U.S. troops with Arab troops? This was a Donald Trump suggestion and proposal.

He said he got signed off by his Arab allies. What happened to that?

STARR: That is a really good question, Becky. To which I don't actually have a good answer. You know, this has been a consistent theme in the

region, hasn't it? You've seen it for years. Where when a contingency comes up, there is the constant discussion of Arab forces taking a leading

role. And of course, in the early days and months and years of the fight against ISIS, you did see Arab forces, flying air missions, flying strike

missions, in that conflict. A lot of that has sort of gone by the wayside. And you have not seen the commitment from Arab forces to take over fully.

I suppose they will try to make an effort to do that. I think a lot of people would think don't hold your breath.

ANDERSON: I think you need to pick up that phone, Barbara. Somebody's trying to get a hold of you. But thank you. Pleasure having you on.

That's Washington for you.

Let me get to You nick Paton Walsh who's been in and out of the country over the past six, seven years, as of course, has Fred. Nick, the U.S.

President tweeting just moments ago his intent to withdraw, saying we have defeated ISIS in Syria. My only reason for being there. Have they?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I mean it is not over. The question really is what kind of end would signify the final

conclusive moment. Realistically, you're never going to eradicate every ISIS fighter that's in northern Syria and northern Iraq and they still of

course appear to be missing the key figureheads Baghdadi, the ISIS leader.

I think it's fair to say, once the town of Hajin fell, which has been heavily contested over the past months or, you're into limited, sort of

more dusty remote territories that were being fought over, and so, you might possibly say, well, we could have been chasing these people around

various parts of the desert for years to come. They'll be part of an insurgency simply because of the way the country is made of and how many

ISIS fighters have fled into some of those distant areas. But to say the fight is over is strictly speaking wrong and we've seen resurgent ISIS

fighters launch attacks in Iraq and Syria, too, over the past weeks or so.

So, that's certainly excessively optimism if not a degree of fiction. I got to tell you, this will have come to an absolute total shock to those

special forces on the ground in there, just from seeing the bases they were building back in March or so when we were there. These were permanent

structure, they won't go anywhere, they weren't expecting to be leaving any point soon. And I think many saw the U.S. presence there as a very kind of

efficient way of exercising influence in the region.

They didn't have the historically complex need for military presence in Iraq. They were staying inside northern Syria, a place where the Syrian

Kurds, were their allies fighting ISIS. And they sort of filled three important roles. They were able to continue that ISIS fight very

seriously. I think the one underestimated one, the one I think was possibly the Pentagon's key feelings here for their allies in the region,

was they got to keep Russian and Iranian influence in check simply by being there with all of that kind of fire power. A lot of things that they have

at their disposal.

They were able to stop Iran from moving weaponry and equipment through northern Syria, all the way to Lebanon, an Iranian ally where Hezbollah are

often a threat to the U.S. ally of Israel. They were able to excerpt that influence there. They were also, as I said, able to continue the ISIS


But thirdly, as well, the kind of unspoken one, they were able to perhaps keep their northern ally, Turkey, also a NATO member, a little bit calm.

[10:10:00] Because Turkey considered the Syrian Kurds, they were fighting with to be their enemy, to be terrorists, to be the same as the Turkish

Kurds they have been fighting for decades. Now, the idea the Americans were in command and control, supplying and assisting those fighters perhaps

made those an Ankara feel nothing crazy was about to happen.

You have to look at the timing, Becky, of this announcement. The Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, has been very clear he wants to

march into northern Syria, exactly where these American troops are and take on those Syrian Kurds who were there. He sees them as a threat on his

southern border. He wants to act. And the response from the Americans has been well, you shouldn't be doing that because you risk our guys on the

ground. And suddenly out of nowhere, really out of nowhere, Donald Trump has said, let's pull back. Let's get out of here. Rapidly.

And now rapidly is a definable term that could mean month, it could take a long time. They need to dismantle the stuff there, but it's definitely the

commander-in-chief saying we're going. And I think that will be two things, a green light to Ankara to move in but also, I think terrifying for

those Syrian Kurds. They've counted on American assistance. They always been fearful of the day the Americans might leave and they may be left to

face on their own the aggressive well-equipped Turkish army to their north and at the moment may be closer than they thought.

ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh is out of London for you today. Fred is in Russia. And we had Barbara at the Pentagon on the breaking news this hour.

The U.S. withdrawal from Syria.

To Westminster now, where it is dark, it's gloomy, and the weather is not particularly good, either. Looming over all of it is Brexit. And with

just 100 days to go the forecast is, well, to be honest, anybody's guess at this point.

In the past few hours the British Prime Minister has been defending her plan to a hugely divided Parliament. Lawmakers not the only ones with deep

concern, especially when it comes to the thought of leaving the European Union without any sort of deal at all. Well, the EU has just set out a

series of short-term measures should that happen. They cover everything from commercial airlines flights to pet passports.

Well, British business leaders say time is running out to prevent severe consequences. Well, Bianca is in London for us. Emergency planning, cost

ballooning into the billions, economic growth taking a hit at some 10 percent. U.K. exporters facing annual tariff costs of more than -- I don't

know -- $6 billion. The lorries backed up from the coast to outside of London. Nightmare scenarios. Truth is, nobody knows, do they? Because

nobody, it seems, has done the math, or the planning.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And part of the problem with the planning, Becky, is the fact that it doesn't take into account any action

that the government might take in the event of a no deal. The British treasury has allocated about 4.2 billion pounds across around 25

departments to try and mitigate the damage that they foresee would happen if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal.

But it depends who you ask. Those who wish to remain in the EU will see a second referendum or who are afraid of a no deal and what it would mean,

say it is simply realistic to talk about the nightmare scenarios. Because we don't know what will happen and they say it will be the biggest crisis

has Britain has faced since the world wars.

However, if you speak to Brexiteers and those who advocate a clean break from the EU and think that's what's necessary for Britain to regain its

sovereignty, they say it's scare tactics and we simply don't know and Britain will be better off than the forecast suggests. And indeed, the

forecasts have been more alarmist than the reality since the referendum was called, Becky. However, it is all an unknown. Of course, people are

afraid of that. And businesses are really struggling in order to make their plans going ahead, because confidence is depreciating. They're very

concerned about what this would mean, and they just don't know what to prepare for in the event of a no deal. So they're really putting pressure

on government today, saying you need to make a decision. We need that clarity in order to move ahead.

ANDERSON: And Bianca, just briefly, has the government said anything that is reassuring to those small companies, medium-sized companies, European

work is in the U.K., you have absolutely no idea what is going to happen come the end of March.

NOBILO: So the Prime Minister has made some pretty forceful statements regarding EU nationals who are living in the U.K. She said that in a no

deal scenario they would be granted residency rights. And indeed today, the EU responded in kind and urged all of the member states to grant U.K.

citizens in the EU, in the event of a no deal, generous residency rights as well.

Now in terms of business, Becky, when you look at the split of where the over 4 million pounds is going that the treasury has allocated for no deal,

the majority of it is going to places like the treasury business, the home office, so businesses getting the majority of that cash injection.

[10:15:00] ANDERSON: Bianca is in London for you, sorting or sifting through what is this, that the mess, I guess, that is the Brexit story at

present. Thank you, Bianca.

Still to come, as Britain battles Brexit, Europe faces its own foes a hack attack reported by the "New York Times", has raised eye browse. And some

serious cyber security concerns exposing EU views on everything, from that Trump, Putin meeting in Helsinki, and Mr. Trump's quote no rules, free

style boxing match with China.

First up though, a dire warning from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we're going to see what he calls an act of war.



BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: This is not merely an act of aggression. It is an act of war. And it is part of a war plan, I would



ANDERSON: Welcome back. Very strong words there, from Israel's Prime Minister. He urges Lebanon and the world to do something about tunnels dug

by Hezbollah. Benjamin Netanyahu says four tunnels have been uncovered so far that start in Lebanon and run under Israel's border. He says Hezbollah

intended to use them to attack Israeli civilians. His warning came just hours before the U.N. Security Council meets to discuss the tunnel network.

And you are seeing pictures here, these are CNN exclusive video, which Ian Lee was able to film. You are standing on top of one of these tunnel, just

days ago. What do you make of the Prime Minister's comments -- Ian?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are definitely very strong words from the Prime Minister, Becky. Especially when you go and look at these

tunnels, they are quite large. When I was speaking with the Israeli commanders involved in hunting these tunnel, they said there are more

sophisticated than what they have found along the Gaza border that Hamas have created. These are very large. These are over two meters tall. So

you can imagine an NBA player -- everyone knows they're very tall --they can stand inside of one of these things.

They are also a fairly sophisticated, in the sense that they have ventilation, they have lighting, and they have found four so far. This

border between Lebanon and Israel is 120 kilometers long. They're still hunting for them.

[10:20:01] And so what the Prime Minister wants, and he said, in his press briefing, this is what he said he wants to see, from the Security Council

meeting today.


NETANYAHU: I hope that the Security Council will stand up for the truth, and for peace and security. I hope that it takes the necessary action, the

correct action, the moral action. And in the meantime, Israel will continue to take all the necessary action to protect our people and defend

our borders.


LEE: Becky, it really comes down to UNIFIL, the U.N. agency monitoring group that looks after that boarder to make sure everyone's adhering to the

2006 ceasefire that came after the war between Hezbollah and Israel. And UNIFIL says they've gathered their evidence and now they're taking it to

the Security Council. It'll be up to the Security Council to decide really where to move forward with it -- Becky.

Ian Lee is in Jerusalem for you today, where it is 5:20 in the afternoon. It's 7:20 here in the UAE. Ian, thank you.

Nameless, faceless bureaucrats. That's the cliche reputation of Europe's top diplomats. But a hack of diplomatic cables, reported by "the New York

Times," offers a behind the scenes view of Brussels that is far from bland, and one of over 1,000 cables leaked. U.S. President Donald Trump's China

negotiating tactics are compared to a quote, no rules free style boxing match.

In another, the Helsinki Summit between Mr. Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, is summed up as a quote, successful meeting at

least for Putin.

Well, for more on what we can glean from the hacks, CNN's Samuel Burke joining me from London. And what do the cables tell us about Europe at

this point -- Samuel?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNNMONEY BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, I think President Trump would probably be the first person to tell you that

his style is far different from his predecessors. What these cables give us is a window in what it is like for the other foreign dignitaries and

world leaders as they deal with him, after they've talked to the press, what they say to each other.

Let me just put up on the screen the most sensitive topics that we see here. Trump's negotiations with China. They talked about how Xi Jinping

is quoted as saying, it's like a no rules free style boxing match. Well, perhaps more importantly, Xi reported as saying that Beijing will not

submit to what he called bullying by the United States, even if a trade war hurts everybody.

And when it comes to those successful relationships with Russia, well, perhaps the only thing more concerning in those cables, when it comes to

Russia, is the fact that they say that Crimea is a hot zone where nuclear warheads might have already been used.

And we also have to get to your part of the world, to the Middle East. Even though the U.S. has pulled out of the Iran deal, Becky, cables show

European diplomats requesting to finance exports to Iran, to entice that country to continue complying with the 2015 agreement. Becky, over and

over again, if you look at these cables and the reports of these, it is the negative attitude from Trump to the EU that the EU says has caused them a

lot of insecurity. That's the key word.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Now, the firm, the cyber security firm that discovered the hack, has linked it to China. Now why are they making that

connection? What evidence do they have?

BURKE: Well, let me just put up on the screen for you again another image that will show you some of this information, what we have, what we don't

have. That cyber security firm saying the techniques they see resemble those are long used by an elite unit of China's People's Liberation Army.

That's often what happens in these hack, they look at past information to try to figure out patterns for the current situation.

But they say it was just a simple phishing campaign aimed at diplomats in Cyprus. Becky, you know as well as me, phishing, somebody send you an

email, you think it's your cell phone company or even your work. You click the link. It looks like your works website. You putting your user name,

your password and all of a sudden, the hackers have it.

Now, unlike WikiLeaks, high level cables, these are low level classified documents and ,of course, the hackers never published them. Becky, China's

ministry of foreign affairs says "The New York Times" report is suspicious, groundless and extremely irresponsible. China points out they are often

the victim of hackings. That's something I hear from CEOs of tech companies in the United States, here in the European Union and even Jack Ma

of Alibaba telling me he wants that his company does faces thousands of hacks a day. There is hacking everywhere -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Fascinating and worrying. Thank you, sir.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, it is beginning to look a lot like no deal. Christmas is not coming early as far as Brexit

negotiations are concerned. We speak to two key players from the business world on the deal, or no deal, or Brexit. That is in a moment.

Also ahead, any courtroom cliff hanger, we'll talk about the surprise delay in sentencing for Donald Trump's former national security adviser and see

what that could mean for the Russia investigation.

[10:25:06] All of that coming up after this. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. A reminder of one of one of our top stories, with just 100 days until Brexit. Yup, 100 days and counting. Lawmakers in

Britain's Parliament have been locked in a heated discussion, but things were overshadowed when the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was accused of

calling the Prime Minister a stupid woman. He has since denied that. But take a look at the recording for yourself.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: They said they put down a vote of no confidence, then they said they wouldn't, then they said they would, then

they did it but it wasn't effective. I know it's the Christmas season and the pantomime season but what we see from the Labour front bench and the

right honorable gentleman, he is going to put a confidence vote, oh, yes, he is.

Oh, no he isn't.

I've got some, I've got some news for him. I've got some advice for the right honorable gentleman. Look behind you. They're not impressed and

neither is the country.


[10:30:00] ANDERSON: You got to read his lips there. You work out what he said.

So the clock is racing towards the Brexit deadline. The politicians and the people still divided. Not even the most seasoned commentators know

what comes next. Yes, it is pantomime season it seems. It's a great political soap opera. But if wasn't so serious, well it would be quite

funny. Nick Glass reports.


NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The flight of a cormorant along the river Thames, it's a wonderful life as they say at this time of

the year, flying and diving and fishing. If only those things were that simple at the great riverbank Palace of Westminster. Everyone agrees this

is Britain's worst political crisis in a generation and the Prime Minister is looking tired.

MAY: At this critical moment in our history, we should be thinking not about our party's interest but about the national interest.

JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: This, Mr. Speaker, a constitutional crisis. And the Prime Minister is the architect of it.

TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Our present situation is unique in modern British politics. The government is not in control. Not of the

agenda. Not of events. And certainly not of the outcome. The clock, which has never been set, ticking now, ticking ever louder, as we approach

the midnight hour.

GLASS: The cartoonists have been cruel. Oh, so very cruel. A dead duck is walking around Europe, with the verdict of the guardian's man. The tone

seems to be set in Brussels in the weeks before Christmas. Theresa May confronting the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker,

reportedly accusing him of calling her nebulous. Every word in the exchange later closely studied by media lip readers. It was all apparently

a misunderstanding but irresistible to the "Times" cartoonist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (READING "TIMES" CARTOON): Oi, Juncker! There's nothing nebulous about my position on Brexit.

GLASS: The truth is, Europe seems disinclined to make concessions and is waiting to see what happens next in the House of Commons. Acrimonious

parliamentary debate resumes in the new year and the postponed vote on May's compromised Brexit deal will finally take place in mid-January. No

one at this juncture expects the deal to be approved. The Labour opposition would love a snap general election. Theresa May remains

adamantly against a second referendum on Brexit. The "Guardian" cartoonists characterize it all as zombie ground hog day, buried with her

leopard print kitten heels rising slowly from the dead, only for more self- inflicted punishments.

So, will Theresa May take in a new movie over Christmas like "Bohemian Rhapsody" to help take her mind off things? Probably not. Not with those


BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY SONG LYRICS: You can always escape from reality.

GLASS: As we all know, Mary Poppins has returned. But the "Times" cartoonists quickly seized on that one, and she crash lands. Laurel and

Hardy, back in a new bio pick, "Stan & Ollie", might just make her laugh a bit. But you can't really think about them without thinking of their most

famous and misquoted line, well, here is another fine mess you've gotten me into. Nick Glass, CNN, Westminster.


ANDERSON: Well, jokes aside, emotions obviously running high. And time is running out. That is at least according to members of the business

community. Who are warning -- some at least -- of severe consequences if there is a no deal Brexit. I want to speak to two people now, the man they

call the Brexiteer's brain, Shanker Singham, director of the International Trade and Competition Union at the Institute of Economic Affairs. And Josh

Hardie, deputy director general of the Confederation of British Industry. Which was one of the groups that signed a cautionary statement. Josh,

deal, no deal or can we start again, please with a new referendum? Your position, in 60 seconds or less, please.

JOSH HARDIE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL, CONFEDERATION OF BRITISH INDUSTRY: Josh Hardie. Our position is, we've got 100 days left and the risk of no

deal is foremost in business's mind at the moment with no progress seemed to be made in Parliament. That means right now, businesses are having to

activate contingency plans. That's hundreds of billions of pounds or more of money being spent on warehousing, stockpiling, relocation, lost to our

economy, because it's unproductive cost. The government, the Parliament overall, need to find a way through. They need to find a way to

transition. To taking no deal off the table so that we can continue to grow. That's their responsibility.

[10:35:00] And until they do that, business will have to keep preparing for the worst, while they hope for the best.

ANDERSON: Shanker?

SHANKER SINGHAM, INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Well, I think what has to happen now, is with respect to no deal, I think it is very important to

note that nobody wants to have no deal. No deal is simply what happens if you can't actually have a constructive engagement, and a deal between the

U.K. and the EU. So there is a sense I think sometimes that people are looking for no deal and not looking for no deal.

But preparing for no deal, is not looking for no deal. And every business, and a responsible government, should make sure that they have done the

necessary contingency planning to prepare for a contingency, which is a no deal situation. The more prepared we are for a no deal situation, the

stronger our negotiating position is and the more likely we are able to get a good deal from the EU as opposed to the Prime Minister deal. Which is

not a good deal and that's why it is not going to get through the House of Commons. So, the most important thing right now --

ANDERSON: A question to both of you. Hold on, Shanker. Hold on. Because 60 seconds or less. We need to crack on through, mate. A question to both

of you. It is not just Britain preparing for Brexit. Take a look at this web site. It is from a group called Enterprise Ireland. Advising Irish

companies on how to get ready for Brexit or Brexit ready. Is organized, up to date and one of the first results you get when you Google preparing for

Brexit is -- it's ridiculous. Is Britain itself doing enough to prepare its business community? That is the question to both of you -- Josh.

HARDIE: So I think what you're seeing is about 60 percent of businesses have contingency plans. And as I said, the vast majority of those are

activating them this month. And while that may be the right thing to do, just to be clear, it is a huge waste of money for a no deal that nobody


But the worry is, there are many businesses, particularly smaller, who don't have the capacity, the skill, or even the time now, with 100 days

left, to do their planning. In many cases, they'll be the ones least able to cope with the disruption. So there is a strong role for the government,

to build, let's say a one stop shop for business advice. We have had technical notices which provide a bit of advice but frankly not much. They

need to go further. Businesses need to help themselves through supply chains. The government also needs to be out there providing as much advice

and information as possible.

ANDERSON: Shankar, immigration has played a huge role in this Brexit debate. It sits at the very heart of it. We are learning more about what

the salary threshold for skilled immigrants to the U.K. could be in a post- Brexit Britain. We are seeing it being proposed at around 30,000 pounds. About $38,000 with change. What's the message there?

SINGHAM: Well, I think, you know, we have always advocated an open Brexit, where we're actually open to people from lots of country, not just the EU,

but lots of countries come in, if businesses actually need them. We should make it as easy as possible for people to actually come in. So, I think

this latest announcement on immigration has some positive things in it, but it is also, it looks like more of a closed Brexit, and limitations on the

ability to bring people in. So I would have some reservations about that.

ANDERSON: To both of you, Josh, let me start with you, very briefly. How would you rate British lawmakers and how they have dealt with the last two

and a half years, with 100 days now to go until March 29?

HARDIE: We have been quite clear, right now, for business, it feels like winter is coming. They're looking with despair. MP's, lawmakers, hold the

cards at the moment frankly and they need to act in the national interest. It does feel like there is lots of debate, lots of arguing, lots of

partisan positioning and lots of ideology. They need to go home and have Christmas, have a rest, look in the mirror and come back and act in the

national interest.

ANDERSON: It was mid-70s when we talked about the winter of discontent, I was a small child, Shanker, is that what we are looking at, a winter and a

spring of further discontent?

SINGHAM: Well, you know, I think it has been two and a half years since the referendum. It's been almost, you know, as we're heading up to two

years since the triggering of Article 50. I think the government should have done a lot more in terms of the preparation of the eventuality, the

possibility of no deal. Now I think I understand that they've done more than perhaps is publicly available. But it's needs to be public now, about

what they have done. And they need to ramp up, as I believe now, they are doing. Preparations for no deal. Which again, it does not mean we want no

deal. It simply means this is the best way to ensure we have a good deal.

What we should also be doing is putting that deal, the deal that can pass the House of Commons, on the table, putting the full text of the trade

agreement we'd like to have with the EU, the comprehensive trade agreement. Put text on the table.

[10:40:00] The EU has rightly said that it's very difficult to understand what the British position is, because they have to deal with speeches and

white papers. It's important to get text on the table. It's important to start this negotiation process as quickly as possible.

ANDERSON: Because how about this? Perhaps the government is perfectly well prepared and its project fear. Putting fright on a confused

situation. Who knows. We will find out I'm sure in the next couple of weeks. It doesn't sound or feel like that, does it? Gentlemen, thank you.

Josh Hardie and Shanker Singham in the house for you.

Live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, Donald Trump's personal charity has agreed to shut down, amid accusations of

shocking illegality. We are live in Washington for you ahead.


ANDERSON: One after the other, the blows just keep coming, for U.S. President Donald Trump, under investigation, on multiple front, of course.

A quick rundown of what's happening in just the past 24 hours for you. To get you bank up to date. Mr. Trump's former national security adviser

chose to delay his sentence for lying to the FBI, to extend his operation in the Russia probe, and other investigations. And this is Michael Flynn

we're talking about. And he told the court he was not entrapped. Contradicting Mr. Trump's claim that he was pressured into telling lies.

Well, Mr. Trump's long-standing claim that he had, quote, nothing to do with Russia. Also took a hit when CNN obtained a letter of intent, signed

by Donald Trump, about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Now, the President's foundation has agreed to shut down amid a lawsuit after New York officials said they have found a shocking pattern of

legality. Well, think about that. The President, running the United States of America, isn't allowed to run his own charity, because of alleged

unlawful acts. Let's bring in Stephen Collinson who is a regular guest on this show. It is not looking good, is it? It is not looking good. But

this is a President who tends to come out of what looks like a really bad time, with wins. So, just how do we stack all of this up at this point?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Becky, it seems almost every day, that the stories and the defenses that Donald Trump has built

around his presidency, his business empire, his personal history, keep crumbling, whether it is in the courtrooms, whether it is new disclosures

from Robert Mueller, whether it is stories about the Trump foundation, and the Moscow project, for instance, which we saw yesterday. And you're

right. Ever since we have been talking about Donald Trump for the last three and a half years, he has done thing that most politicians would find

to be, you know, things that might end his career.

[10:45:00] I think one thing we should think about here though, in the last few days, especially the Michael Flynn situation, the White House has all

along been saying that Flynn was bullied by the FBI into lying under oath and testifying against the President. In that court hearing yesterday, the

judge pointed out and got Flynn to point out that that wasn't the case. To me, that suggests that while Donald Trump's tactics may work politically,

with conservative media, and shoring up his base, when they hit reality, in a courtroom situation, they don't work, and that could be very dangerous

for the President going forward.

ANDERSON: Well, in the midst of a bad day for President Trump, he got some good news when the U.S. Senate passed the criminal justice reform bill,

called "The First Step Act". Now the impetus for this bill, Stephen, as I understand, it came back in May when Kim Kardashian visited the White House

to discuss prison reform. The bill reduces the minimum sentence for drug- related crimes and gives judges more flexibility in sentencing nonviolent offenders. It also bans inhumane practices like shackling pregnant women.

Who would have known that wasn't banned until now in 2018? Politicians, Stephen, have been working on criminal justice reform for years. How did

this bill finally get passed?

COLLINSON: This is very interesting. First of all, because it is pretty much one of the only bipartisan initiatives that have taken place in Donald

Trump's Washington, and for many years before that. So that is interesting in itself. I think the reason that this got passed largely is perhaps due

to Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law. Who is often talked about in much more negative circumstances, for example, his peace plan in the Middle

East. His role in alleged cooperation with Russia during the campaign. His father was incarcerated following a business case, and he got first-

hand experience of the U.S. prison system. He and in an alliance with top Democrats were crucial to this passing.

ANDERSON: 20 years, we have to talk about this before we go, it is an interesting day today, we got to mention a controversial anniversary, today

marks 20 years since former U.S. President Bill Clinton was impeached. As you consider that, your closing thought with us this evening is what?

COLLINSON: Well, we're possibly next year heading into another impeachment drama, a very rare occasion in the history of the United States.

Thankfully, given the uproar and political dislocation it causes. And also, I think there has been a reassessment of Bill Clinton, when he left

office, he was exceedingly popular. He was impeached but wasn't convicted in the Senate. One of the reasons was because of his popularity. Now, in

the light of all of the me-too revelations and the way people look at relationships between powerful men and women who are subordinate in their

business, or the administration's, Bill Clinton's legacy looks a lot more tattered than it did when he left office in the light of things which have

happened recently. So I think that is a very interesting fact. One of the reasons, one of the, some of the proof of that is Clinton, who is a great

campaigner, was not wanting to be on the campaign trail by Democrats in the recent midterm elections.

ANDERSON: Yes, I know, fascinating. Stephen, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir. It is 10:48 in Washington. It is 19:48 here in Abu Dhabi.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson.

Coming up, truly an Arabian knight has the whistle blown for this thoughtful fairy tale or will the team be granted one more wish? Stay with

us for that.


ANDERSON: Well your parting shots this evening, what many are calling the greatest sports moment in the UAE's recent history. Local football club,

Al Ain, found itself in a penalty shootout against South American giant River Plate. And with the final kick of this penalty shootout, this



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He must score. He has it. And they are going to the final of the FIFA cup, World Cup. It is one of the big stories of the



ANDERSON: Certainly the biggest story of the football season here in the UAE. But that is a big, big win for this little club in terms of world

football. That save sent Al Ain into the FIFA Club World Cup final. An amazing result for a team from the Arabian Gulf League and now they could

play Real Madrid in the final. For now, who cares what comes next. The magic of making it this far has captured the attention of everyone in this

region. A short time ago I chatted with the journalist Matt Monaghan of Sport360. Have a listen.


MATT MONAGHAN, SPORT360 JOURNALIST: It was incredible. It was a tinder box atmosphere. It was only the River Plate fans, we know what they bring

to the table. But it was also very interesting is the UAE fans have fully got into this tournament. It's not just Al Ain fans. The whole country

gets behind whichever entry into the club World Cup. And you got fans from all over the UAE, cheering on. And what is intriguing is how the team

responded to it. In the second half, Al Ain were on the ascendancy and also, in the stands, you didn't really hear much from the River Plate fans

when it was heading towards 2-2 in penalties. You actually -- the camera flicks for River Plate as they were crying in the stands. It was just an

incredible carnival atmosphere.

ANDERSON: There will be people who say really? Al Ain playing the likes of River Plate?? They've got the potential of the game with Real Madrid.

Should Real Madrid get through tonight.

MONAGHAN: We are talking about the UAE's most decorated club. So, you know.

ANDERSON: Come on. But for the international viewers.

MONAGHAN: Yes, for international viewers, I mean, it's form on the Club World Cup, that wherever it's been it's the champions of the host nation

play. And what's interesting is in 2016, so Kashima with Real Madre was the final. Kashima was 2-1 ahead before Cristiano Ronaldo had the shot,

and that's tonight semifinal. And there's no Cristiano Ronaldo.

ANDERSON: What does it mean for a country like the UAE? I mean, you just talked about the fans, not just those for Al Ain which is a club just about

140 kilometers here in Abu Dhabi. What does it mean for the country?

MONAGHAN: What I find is so crazy -- I come from England and it's a very, very tribal thing. I would never support southern teams no matter what

they're doing.

ANDERSON: Who do you support?


ANDERSON: You would never support City, for example? You'll probably go where the same here.

MONAGHAN: So, yes, I'm very conflicted at the moment with Liverpool and Man City, who's going to win the title. And I would never in a million

years ever support them. But out here, they will get behind whatever team is doing very well in both the Asian Champions League, the Club World Cup.

And I think you can really see it helps the teams. And last year, Las Aguilas got to the semifinals. They had to go through Real Madrid in the

semifinal. And so Cristiano Ronaldo scoring in the seconds half. They list the players. You can see the players really going for it.

ANDERSON: Looking ahead through to tonight's match, Real Madrid against the Japanese club, Kashima Antlers. Do we even need to ask your favorite?

MONAGHAN: Real Madrid our favorites. It's rather shallowed out. If you look at the names on the paper. But the old adage for those played on

paper. So, if you look at Kashima, two years ago they pushed Real Madrid so hard in the final, no one expected Real Madrid's results have been good

under Solari, the performances have been iffy. We saw with River Plate against Al Ain last night.

[10:55:00] And if the teams aren't close to their best, a shock could happen. I mean, I'd say Real Madrid 80 percent favorites. It was

definitely the same with Al Ain and River Plate last night and look what happened.

ANDERSON: Well, listen, we will be back to talk to you soon should Al Ain get any further in the tournament, Al Ain and win it that would be quite

remarkable. You know, I think you and I will agree, and for anybody watching the show who thinks that this is a region where people don't

either get football or support football, they are completely wrong.

MONAGHAN: What's intriguing, there's a study recently of what most nations around the world, I think the UAE was top with 80 percent of people love

football. So the passion is there. It is not always reflected in attendance as much, but the passion particularly for foreign teams like

Real Madrid, is huge.


ANDERSON: Well, that Real Madrid match, kicking off in less than 30 minutes time. I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD from the

team here in Abu Dhabi, those working with us in Atlanta and in London, thank you for watching. CNN, of course, continues after this short break.

So, don't go away.