Return to Transcripts main page
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
The Pound Sterling Is Poised For 24-Hour Of Political Drama As Theresa May Gets Her Last Chance To Get Her Brexit Deal Through Parliament; The Saudi Oil Minister Tells Us How OPEC Would Adjust To A China Slowdown; President Trump Has Spoken To The Turkish President On The Phone After Mr. Trump Tweeted That The U.S. Would Devastate Turkey Economically If It Attacked The Kurds In Syria. Aired: 3-4p ET
Aired January 14, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: We are in the last hour of trading. As you can see, the Dow starts down but moves higher throughout
the course of the session. It's highly possible in this last hour, we could actually go positive. The losses are very small, just 30 odd points.
If you want to know why, well, this is what's moving the markets.
The pound sterling is poised for 24-hour of political drama as Theresa May gets her last chance to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.
The Chinese trade numbers are worrying across Wall Street. The Saudi oil minister tells us tonight how OPEC would adjust to a China slowdown.
And earnings season is off to the races. Citi has a flying start. We'll understand what's behind the Citi numbers. Live tonight from London, on
Monday, it's the 14th of January. I'm Richard Quest. I mean business.
Good evening. Tonight, the United Kingdom and the United States are united by crisis. Two unprecedented political crises are threatening to under
undermine their two leaders, Donald Trump and Theresa May.
Here in London, Theresa May's government faces a historic defeat on her Brexit plan. In the United States, the government is still shut down with
Donald Trump facing a truly extraordinary string of scandals, the likes of which no President has seen before. In both cases, we are entering, as
they say time and again, uncharted territory.
The similarities of paralysis cannot be ignored, and importantly the transatlantic effect will soon be felt. Donald Trump stood outside the
White House today and answered an astonishing question that reporters were forced to ask.
For the first time, the President issued an outright denial that he is working as an agent for the Russian government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never worked for Russia and you know that answer better than anybody. I never worked for Russia.
Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it's a disgrace that you even ask that question because it's a whole big fat hoax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: As the second year of his presidency nears an end, Donald Trump is facing unprecedented range of crisis. Just look at the number of them,
first of all, at the weekend, the stunning revelations from "The New York Times" that show that the FBI feared the 45th President of the United
States could be covertly working for Moscow. Then "The Washington Post" revealed the extraordinary efforts that Donald Trump has personally taken
to hide the contents of his private talks with Vladimir Putin.
And at the same time, the U.S. is beginning to pull out of Syria and leave its Kurdish partners exposed. On Twitter, the President has threatened to
devastate Turkey's economy if Turkey attacks the Kurds. Amid all of this, the U.S. government is now in its 24th day of the longest shutdown it's
Talks to reopen an impasse, polls show most Americans blame Donald Trump. So Mark Preston is in Washington and joins me now. Mark Preston, I don't
want to bog us down with the polls just yet because they can change and they're variable. Let's stick to the core of this. Is there any movement,
first of all, on the shutdown?
MARK PRESTON, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: No movement at all, and in fact we saw President Trump just a few hours ago, Richard, dig in even
deeper as he was walking out of the White House to get over to Air Force One and to go down to a farm bureau event. He basically said that he's not
willing to negotiate based upon what the Democrats' demands are. Meaning President Trump still wants his wall and he wants his $5 billion plus to
start building that wall.
QUEST: Okay. So the second point, of course, is how unusual the circumstances are. I think I know the answer to this. You've been
covering the political world probably as long as I've been covering the business world. And have you ever heard a President being asked are you
working for Russia?
PRESTON: Are you an agent on behalf of the Russian government, as the Commander-in-Chief of the United States? No, it's amazing. And you could
see how angry that made him. It would make anybody angry, but given the fact that that question that was asked of the President just a few hours
ago right outside the White House was based upon a real report that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was concerned that he may be an agent of
Russia, that's astounding.
PRESTON: We are certainly in uncharted waters. We have been on unchartered waters, Richard, as you and I have talked about many times, for
a very long time. The question right now is, though, is that Donald Trump does not have the full support of Congress behind him. Meaning, Democrats
now run the House of Representatives and they're in a position to launch investigations and to cause a lot of havoc that Donald Trump has been able
to avoid the first couple of years of his administration.
QUEST: What - I'm going to ask this question to you and of course it will be a question I'll ask again later several times in Brexit. What gets the
U.S. government open again? What's it going to take? Because on the House side, on the political side if you like, on the Congressional side, there
are lots of actors that have to come on board.
Mitch McConnell has to come on board, Chuck Schumer has to come on board, with all of their various constituents. Nancy Pelosi has to come on board.
But on the executive side, Donald Trump can scupper it all simply by saying no, unless he's overruled.
PRESTON: Hundred percent. What I think we're going to see in the short term is we will not see the government open. We should also note it's not
the full Federal government, it's a slice of it, about 30%. But a very important 30%.
In order for a deal to be cut, you are going to have to bring everyone to the table. Democrats are emboldened right now that they are not being
blamed for it. Don't expect them to come to the table necessarily. What we could see happen and President Trump said this morning that he is not
inclined to do this right now, is to call a national emergency that will get the government back open.
If he does that, then we're looking at a big legal fight and the market, it will be amazing to see where the markets would go if that happened.
QUEST: Let's wait and see on that. Brexit or Donald Trump? Brexit or government shutdown, which is the bigger crisis, do you think?
PRESTON: Oh, Brexit I think is a greater crisis. Well, with the long term implications. I mean, look, here in the United States the President will
last four years, eight years. His policies up to this point will last X amount of time, but there's always change.
Brexit, you're talking about reordering the monetary system of basically the free world. So I think that's a much bigger issue. Certainly here in
the U.S., you know, ironically, Richard, as you know, people here are not paying that close attention to it unless you have a lot of money in the
market and it's something we probably need to.
QUEST: Mark, thank you, and we'll move on to Brexit. Thank you. In a moment, I am going to want you to go to cnn.com/join. We want to know how
you compare Donald Trump's problems to those of Theresa May. Bear with me. We'll show you what the problems are and we'll get to them.
The British Prime Minister made a last-ditch effort to shore up support for her Brexit deal. Theresa May spoke to workers in a factory in Stoke-on-
Trent. She then went back to Westminster where she addressed Parliament and said history will be the judge if they reject the deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: So I say to members on all sides of this House, whatever you may have previously concluded, over these next 24
hours, give this deal a second look. No, it is not perfect and, yes, it is a compromise. But when the history books are written, people will look at
the decision - people will look - people will look at the decision of this House tomorrow and ask did we deliver on the country's vote to leave the
European Union? Did we safeguard our economy, our security and our union? Or did we let the British people down?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: So get your phones, your tablets, however you choose to communicate these days, go to cnn.com/join and that's where you'll find this, and the
question we're asking you tonight. Which country is facing the bigger political crisis right now? You heard Mark Preston say he thought it was
the Brexit issue. Vote now. You'll see the results on the bottom of the screen, cnn.com/join. Which country - remember, the United States, Donald
Trump, the shutdown and all those problems versus Brexit, Theresa may and the possibility of the post Second World War Europe structures all coming
Now, if the Brexit deal is rejected as it appears, there appears likely to be three scenarios going forward. Let's look and examine the three that we
are talking about. First of all, if tomorrow she loses, well, they have only got a short time to only do anything, even just putting a sticking
plaster on, so you're looking at a no-deal Brexit. Crush out no deal, the default option.
A very small number of people seem to believe this is the perfect Brexit, because it leaves with - and you can build up from there. The next, of
course, is some form of new election or referendum.
QUEST: In either case, this would be called by the vote of no confidence, it would be called by the opposition, she'd lose and it would be decided on
a new referendum. What's the beauty here? Theresa May could seek a new mandate or the people could be forced into making a new choice. This is
highly controversial because it goes into the realms of what does it mean, the U.K. democracy.
And then finally, of course, renegotiate. Now, let's be clear about this, the E.U. has said it won't renegotiate. The E.U. even today in its letter
to Theresa May made it quite clear that nothing was going to alter the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration.
So of all these options as you look at them, what's interesting, of course, is that if this becomes - if this no deal becomes very likely and this is
highly dangerous, one wonders whether this becomes the default option that they have to go to. Option, not a possibility of Brexit, now happening.
Bianca is with me. Bianca is outside Parliament. I think I've summarized the three major potentials, but I'm sure you perhaps have got one or two
BIANCA NOBILO, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, there are so many options, that's why all the MPs keep referring to as uncharted territory and why there's so
much uncertainty. What we're seeing today in the Prime Minister's last- ditch attempt to try to win over support from her back benchers, and from some moderate Labour MPs is an attempt to try and avoid a crushing defeat
The question around Westminster is not if her deal is going to fail tomorrow, it's by how much. That is what is being referred to in political
circles, by some people I know as Operation Fig Leaf that is because she's trying to cover up the fact that she hasn't really been able to get any
more assurances from the E.U., which tangibly change anything.
And the reason why it's important for her to avoid that crushing defeat, is Richard, as I'm sure you know, there are actually two types of confidence
votes. There's a formal confidence vote, which we could see Theresa May face, tabled by the leader of the opposition later this week, and there's
also an informal confidence vote. That's when a government can't pass its key legislation.
Now, Theresa May is synonymous with her Brexit deal. So if this fails to pass by triple digits, potentially reaching up to 200, making it one of the
most historic parliamentary defeats, if not the worst historic parliamentary defeat in British history, she will not be in a very strong
position and it's very difficult to see how she continues with any semblance of authority after that.
QUEST: I suspect it would be up there with those votes of the Second World War that were regarded in similar ways, and certainly the length and time
of its effects. But here's a - look, are her own back benchers are going to vote against her tomorrow, but in a vote of confidence, she would have
them with her and it would then be up to the DUP whether they were going to support the government or let it fall, but we're getting ahead of ourselves
NOBILO: We are. But if we just imagine that hypothetical scenario, that's the curious thing about a confidence vote. Is of course, it makes the
government of the day look incredibly vulnerable. The fact that it is even got to that point. There had been very few confidence votes since the 19th
Century in British history.
However, it does have that other effect of unifying the party which is being called into question. So it is likely that MPs that will be voting
against the Prime Minister's deal will vote for the government in a confidence vote and several have come out on record and already said that.
However, there's a few Brexiteers who you have to wonder are they taking the position that they're taking against the Prime Minister's deal because
they also have designs on their own personal advancement and leadership ambitions, and that's certainly the case. Of course, there is talk this
week about who will be replacing the Prime Minister if she can't get her deal any further, so we have to consider that, too.
QUEST: I mean, if you had to answer the question which country is facing the bigger political crisis, you have the advantage of - and this is an
objective view, not a subjective view from you. You can't see how our viewers have voted. How would you vote?
NOBILO: I would vote for Brexit. My main reason goes beyond Westminster, it goes beyond the power structures to the country at large. What we're
seeing now erupt in Westminster is the result of 30 years of fissures, if you like, within the Conservative Party crack wide open and cause a lot of
this political chaos.
But even beyond that and I believe far more toxic is what this referendum debate has done to the country. During the referendum campaign itself, it
was inflamed. The tensions were very high. There was the assassination of Labour MP Joe Cox. There is concern that if there was to be second
referendum then that would only ramp up further causing deeper divisions within society at large. And I think that is why Brexit is the far more
QUEST: And our viewers agree with you quite overwhelmingly; the viewers, 71% say the United Kingdom, 29% say the United States is facing a bigger
political crisis. Thank you very much indeed.
In a moment, I'll be speaking to the former Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. As we continue though tonight, the Saudi Energy
Minister tells me, he sees no recession approaching. He told John Defterios actually, but you'll get the idea. And if the recession
approaches and comes, all exporters can react quickly and pump as necessary. You'll hear from him in a moment.
QUEST: U.S. markets are just a touch lower in the final hour of trade on Wall Street, just looking at the numbers and you see, they're all just over
half a percent. FAANG is off a little bit more. The earnings season is well and truly under way in the market.
Citi's shares are up more than 4% with earnings beating expectations. Revenue is amiss. But as you see, on the share case and all this week, we
will be showing you the share case and how it actually adapts to what we're doing - it's not raising it. There we go. There you see on the share
case, it is up some 4%.
And over the course of the week, we're going to see more and more stocks going on there. Remember, the principle of the share case is the best
barometer of how - of a company's results is how the share has traded, the stock price trades in the following 24 hours. And as you see, Citi starts
off with a good note, up 4%. The Dow is weaker on weaker Chinese trade.
Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister, Khalid says OPEC is ready to cut production again if the global economy stalls. Oil prices have seen peaks and valleys
since OPEC decided to slash production in December. Now the minister spoke to John Defterios.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHALID A. AL-FALIH, MINISTER OF ENERGY, INDUSTRY AND MINERAL RESOURCES OF SAUDI ARABIA: I don't see a big economic recession the way we saw in 2008
or the late 1990s with the Asian financial crisis, it is not, at least on my radar screen, John. And if we see a slowdown from the 1.5, 1.6 million
we have seen in the last few years, it's going to be a small slowdown that the oil markets can well absorb with adjustments to supply that we will
respond to very quickly.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR, CNN: There's concern in the market today because we saw exports from China go down better than 4% and
imports down better than 7%. But the oil imports themselves remain above 10 million barrels a day for China alone. What does it tell us about China,
which is a big customer for Saudi Arabia?
AL-FALIH: I can tell on China in particular, we are seeing record demand numbers from Saudi Arabia. February we're seeing upwards of 1.7 million
barrels of requirements for oil from the Kingdom. That is a record number.
But even in the U.S., a look at U.S. demand numbers, they are setting records month after month - 200,000, 300,000 barrels of variability in
demand can easily be adjusted to in a market where supply is upwards of 100 million and the OPEC plus grouping is meeting regularly. We are monitoring
markets. And if we need to do more than the 1.2, we certainly will get together quickly and do it and it's easily within our control.
DEFTERIOS: How do you deal with this disconnect with a U.S. President that's been wanting lower gas prices and an industry, U.S. oil industry
that wants stability, $60.00, $70.00 a barrel for North Sea Brent seems to be a nice fairway.
AL-FALIH: From a U.S. perspective, we also hear a lot of voices, including those of producers, who have been providing fuel for the U.S. economy to
grow, and those are the shale producers. They are terrified by prices in the $50.00 to $60.00 range. Despite what they may say to their financial
We do listen to the signals coming out of President Trump and others in the U.S. We do listen intently to signals coming out of developing countries,
like Prime Minister Modi of India, and ultimately, we will try to straddle that spectrum of expectations.
DEFTERIOS: Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State who is in Saudi Arabia meeting with the Crown Prince today. He is calling for full accountability
on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But does it allow now a major chapter to be open to reboot relations between the Kingdom and the United States?
AL-FALIH: I think there is just too many areas of common interest, common values between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to even consider that this
unfortunate and tragic incident in Turkey would have been a major disruption to such a strong, historic relationship.
DEFTERIOS: What do you do with the lingering doubts that the Crown Prince ultimately was involved in this, even for the brand of Saudi Arabia, and
his reputation going forward?
AL-FALIH: The Crown Prince is a global leader on a global stage. We've seen that in the G-20. So his brand, his name, his leadership, his
boldness, his ability to lead the kingdom is unshaken and will never be shaken in my opinion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: President Trump has spoken to the Turkish President on the phone after Mr. Trump tweeted that the U.S. would devastate turkey economically
if it attacked the Kurds in Syria.
Clarissa Ward joins me from Northern Syria. This is - this is Donald Trump almost having to repair the damage from his own policy of withdrawal from
Syria. But it must have gone down rather badly that he has to attack Turkey.
CLARISSA WARD, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's right, Richard. I think what President Trump now finds himself in the position of
having to do is essentially walk a diplomatic tight rope.
On the one hand, he feels beholden or at least pressured by perhaps the media and consensus on the ground here in Syria to do something to protect
the Kurdish-led forces that have been on the front lines fighting and dying in the fight against ISIS, and so he needs in that sense to at least show
that the U.S. is doing something to ensure that after the U.S. withdrawal, the Kurds will be afforded some measure of protection.
At the same time, he also needs to respect the very real security concerns that Turkey has about a country on its border, about certain elements of
the Kurds, particularly the PKK separatist organization, and here in Turkey the YPG - or here in Syria, the YPG organization, both of which Turkey
considers to be terrorist groups.
So now the President finds himself in a position where he is trying to appease a NATO ally at the same time as appeasing the allies who have been
fighting for Americans on the ground here in Syria.
WARD: It's not an easy tight rope to walk, Richard. And so far, there have been mixed results. The Turks were extremely offended initially by
the series of tweets that came out in which he was threatening whatever economic devastation if the Turks took any actions against the Kurds. They
have subsequently had a conversation and it appears that the relationship is for now in a better place again, Richard.
QUEST: All right, briefly, Clarissa, the evidence of U.S. withdrawal, Donald Trump says he's withdrawing. John Bolton says it's not that fast.
Donald Trump says, well, I'm thinking about it a bit more. On the ground, what's the evidence?
WARD: On the ground, there's a growing realization that this is happening now, Richard. Kurdish military commanders, Kurdish officials acknowledging
the fact. You can see it for yourself. There are military convoys moving out and about. It doesn't appear that they are pulling troops out just
yet, but they're starting to dismantle the military hardware. There's a number of bases here. This is going to take a little bit of time.
If anything, they have actually had to move some U.S. military personnel into Syria to help with the move out of Syria. But make no mistake, this
is happening. We don't have a timeline on it yet, but it is happening, Richard.
QUEST: Clarissa Ward in Northern Syria, thank you. As we continue tonight, Brexit and security. The former NATO Secretary General, Anders
Fogh Rasmussen is with me to talk about that and why should Brexit affect security cooperation? In a moment.
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. There's more "Quest Means Business" in just a moment. When it's the eve of the meaningful vote on Brexit, and
I'll be joined by the former head of NATO and former Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
And now coin controversy, you never learn(ph), just drop penny, one of the world's most famous tourist landmarks, we'll be live in Rome with the
pennies of the Trevi Fountain and who gets them. As we continue, this is Cnn, and on this network, the facts always come first.
President Trump said he never worked with Russia, rejecting a bombshell report as a big, fat hoax. The "New York Times" first reported that FBI
agents opened investigation in 2017 to determine whether Mr. Trump was secretly acting on behalf of the Kremlin.
A Canadian man has been sentenced to death for drug smuggling. Robert Schellenberg was convicted of trying to smuggle more than 200 kilograms of
methamphetamine into Australia. He's allowed to appeal. Relations between China and Canada have been strained since Canada arrested a Chinese tech
executive in December.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the Saudi royal family on Monday. He said he told them everyone involved in the murder of Jamal
Khashoggi must be held responsible. Pompeo did not say whether he spoke about the fact that U.S. intelligence officials believe the Crown Prince
Mohammed Bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's murder.
The mayor of a major Polish city has died after a shocking public attack. The mayor of Gdansk was stabbed on stage on Sunday night during a
fundraiser. Not long after he passed away, officials say the suspect is a man with a criminal record, he's under arrest.
EU leaders sent a letter to Theresa May reiterating their assurances about the most contentious aspect of the British Prime Minister's Brexit deal.
The so-called Irish backstop. They said they do not want the backstop to come into effect and if it did, it would be so only temporarily. Cnn's
Erin McLaughlin looks at the tense and lengthy negotiations that have brought us to this crisis moment.
THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: So we are at an impasse.
BORIS JOHNSON, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, UNITED KINGDOM: Brussels has got us exactly where they want us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do now face a real risk of no deal by accident.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the intensity of Brexit negotiations ratcheted up, so too did the complaints
from British lawmakers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the moment, you, your European friends seem to think the way to keep the club together is to punish a member who leads.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The EU 27 does not and will not pursue a punitive approach. Brexit in itself is already punitive enough.
MCLAUGHLIN: From the outside, the EU set clear red lines on what it was prepared to negotiate and what it wasn't.
MICHEL BARNIER, EU CHIEF BREXIT NEGOTIATOR: The single market and its four freedoms, four freedoms are indivisible.
MCLAUGHLIN: Part of the strategy which landed the EU with a favorable draft deal. But the 27 united around a common position and a rigid
structure for the negotiation.
OLIVER PATEL, EUROPEAN INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON: The U.K. has constantly tried to go around the commission to try and get sort of special
deals with different countries to try and play them off against each other, divide and rule, but it hasn't been able to do that.
MCLAUGHLIN: And a relative commitment to transparency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to show you what we've done.
MCLAUGHLIN: Showing the world exactly what the EU wanted from Brexit and why?
PATEL: Before the U.K. even had a position, because it was so early on in Theresa May's premiership, the EU had already published all these
documents, so it showed the U.K.'s domestic audience, how unprepared it was, and it also forced the U.K. to respond with its own position.
MCLAUGHLIN: From the outset, it can be argued that the process was rigged in the EU's favor with article 50 of the EU treaty, allowing only two years
for negotiation. The U.K.'s primary Trump card, when to trigger the process, rushed to satisfy Brexiteers, forcing the U.K. into time-pressured
PATEL: Yes, they've used clever strategies, but they also just have the no deal. It's just so much worse for the U.K. than the EU. Which kind of
puts pressure on the U.K. to just agree with whatever the EU suggests.
MCLAUGHLIN (on camera): But it can all be for naught if the deal fails to get through Westminster and all of this ends in a messy and costly no-deal
scenario. So was the EU too successful? Did it overplay its hand? Well, that remains to be seen. Erin McLaughlin, Cnn, London.
QUEST: Anders Rasmussen was Prime Minister of Denmark from 2001 to 2009. And more recently served as NATO secretary general. He joins me now. Good
to see you, sir, good to see you.
ANDERS RASMUSSEN, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK: Thank you.
[15:35:00] QUEST: You said to me one of the beauties of -- just now, one of the beauties of being out of office is you can speak your mind. So when
you look at the issues from Brexit, you see security as being the major of being in a board room.
RASMUSSEN: Absolutely. Security cooperation between the EU and the U.K. is of the essence and approach a Brexit, that is a Brexit without any deal
would disrupt that cooperation. That would --
QUEST: Tell me why?
RASMUSSEN: Be a major challenge.
QUEST: Right, explain why? Because I can hear viewers saying, as I did when I was reading the notes, oh, just because you're leaving, you can
still have a rule that you share cooperation, you could share information. You can still have all the same structures without having Britain in the
RASMUSSEN: No, I mean, if you don't have a deal, then the U.K. will leave by the end of March.
RASMUSSEN: Without any agreement, including no agreement on security.
QUEST: So you carry on with what you're doing at the moment.
RASMUSSEN: If you could.
QUEST: You could, you just simply say, you just simply say, well, until we put a deal together, we will continue to exchange information on the same
RASMUSSEN: Yes, but --
QUEST: Why could you not do that?
RASMUSSEN: No, because that exchange would require an agreement on how to exchange, how to protect data, et cetera. And that's a problem. That's
what will be negotiated in the transition period, provided that you have a deal. But no deal would be no agreement.
QUEST: And what if all 28 members said there's no deal, but we agree that we will continue to exchange information on exactly the same terms until
there is a deal?
RASMUSSEN: Yes, but then you will have -- then you will need an agreement to negotiate that deal. So you're back to scratch. I mean, it's either
the deal as negotiated between the EU and the prime minister or a brutal Brexit.
QUEST: What is the downside of a brutal Brexit from your point of view on security?
RASMUSSEN: Yes, well, on security, it would be that we will weaken our fight against terrorism, for instance. I think that will be the major
challenge. The fight against terrorism would be much weaker.
QUEST: As a former prime minister who has spent more hours than you wish in EU negotiations. The EU -- are the EU -- are the EU prepared to see no
Brexit? A no-deal Brexit?
RASMUSSEN: No, we would all like a Brexit with a deal. Let me stress. No one wants to stop Brexit. We -- I don't think it's a wise decision, but
we'll respect it, OK. But an organized Brexit based on a deal, that would be the way forward. But if the U.K. wants or the -- through no decisions
in parliament, no agreement, then they will leave by the end of March without a deal.
QUEST: But how likely is it if Theresa May fails tomorrow and no deal is looking likely, that Europe suddenly says right, we need to do something
here. We need to just agree to continue until we sort it out or everything stays as it is or we need to give her -- the argument in Britain is the
Europeans didn't give her enough.
RASMUSSEN: Yes, but I think it's an illusion to believe that the EU would be able to give more. An agreement has been reached and the EU has really
been flexible. It's an illusion to believe that either Prime Minister May or the opposition leader Corbyn could get much more from the EU.
Maybe a bit. Maybe a bit if tomorrow's vote would leave her with just a small majority against, there might be room for maneuver.
QUEST: But the history of this negotiation is the British Prime Minister going to Brussels to say help me out here. Now, this goes back to David
RASMUSSEN: Yes --
QUEST: Going to Brussels before the referendum and saying, give me something on immigration, and all they gave him was the emergency break,
and we have a referendum. Theresa May went to Brussels before Christmas and says give me something --
RASMUSSEN: Yes --
QUEST: And they gave her nothing.
RASMUSSEN: They gave her a bit, but the problem seen from the EU perspective is that the EU didn't think that they could give enough to get
her over the line. But now we are approaching that line. So if tomorrow, she just needs a few votes to get over the line --
QUEST: Well, that was the point of the letter.
[15:40:00] RASMUSSEN: She could -- she could go back to the EU and maybe get some concessions. But I would like to stretch, it's an illusion if the
U.K. believes that they can get a lot. They can't.
QUEST: I come back finally to this question of security, because I can see the threat of what might happen, but I can also see somebody saying, it's
very simple, both sides simply agree, we will continue to exchange information at the same rate and same level as we did before pending the
RASMUSSEN: Yes, but that would require that the U.K. accepts that, for instance, the European Court of Justice and other institutions would still
have a say, and the Brexiteers, they don't want that, so that's why you need some time to negotiate a long-term agreement.
QUEST: Is this the biggest mess you've seen?
RASMUSSEN: Yes, indeed. I've never seen anything like that, and I think this is a disastrous decision both for the U.K. and for the European Union.
QUEST: Good to see you and thank you very much indeed, thank you --
RASMUSSEN: Thank you.
QUEST: Thank you. As we continue ahead of Tuesday's Brexit vote, Europe's stocks, they were finished slightly lower, it's amazing they didn't
collapse. But FTSE is the worst performer but only by 1 percent. It does make you wonder what on earth is going on.
Sterling actually gained against the dollar, I think we can say that's on the ground of some technical factors, certainly not lower interest rates
any time soon.
Millions of tourists throw coins into Rome's Trevi Fountain every year. Now, as they throw and as they wish, where does the money go? For a
financial program, we'll show you after the break.
QUEST: The clash of the coins. Three coins in a fountain. Well, indeed, you know, it can only be the Trevi Fountain in Rome. The mayor of Rome is
back-tracking after getting into a row with the Catholic Church. They argued over what happens to the coins that millions toss into the world
famous Trevi Fountain.
Now, we're not talking small change here. Every year, authorities scoop out a whopping $1.7 million. In years past, the money has gone to a
Catholic charity for the poor.
[15:45:00] Now the money is said to be used by the city council. It's still unknown where the funds will go. The mayor has promised that the
donation to the charity will never be less. Romans say if you throw a coin into the water, you will have good luck. I tried it for myself, the
jewelry is still out.
Now, get out your phones, iPhones, Samsung or others. Go to cnn.com-slash- join. Our second question tonight, who deserves the money from the Trevi Fountain? Should it go to charity or should it go to the government or the
city council? Cnn.com-slash-join.
Now, before you all roar ahead and think about it, it's the -- it's the government that has to clean it up. It's the government that has to ensure
it's looking good for tourists. It's the government that has to ensure it's working properly and the fountain pours money.
So who should get the money? The charities or the government? Barbie Nadeau is an American journalist, an author who has lived in Rome for more than 20
years, she joins me now. Bobby, before we go any further, your credentials for answering this question, have you -- or being a guest. Have you ever
thrown a coin into the fountain?
BARBIE NADEAU, JOURNALIST: Many times because I know the real story. If you throw one coin, you'll come back to Rome, if you throw two coins,
you'll fall in love with a Roman, so there's much more to it that just good luck, Richard.
QUEST: Right, so the mayor says they'll -- what will happen now is, they will collect the money, count it -- they used to collect the money at the
end of day and hand it to the charity there and then. Now, they're going to take it away, count it, but nobody knows what's going to happen to it.
NADEAU: No, that's absolutely right. It could be argued that the city of Rome needs this money a lot more than the Catholic Church's charities do,
because they are very well funded, and the city of Rome is in the state of sort of a decline over the last couple of years.
And it could be argued that this city could really use these funds. But she got such backlash, the populist five-star mayor because of her own
allegations of mismanagement of city funds she has. So a lot of people don't think she can manage the funds if they're given to her, Richard.
QUEST: And as I understand it, the city says the charity will not get less. And which begs the question, why not just continue doing what you've
been doing, which is sweep the fountain every day and hand the money to the nuns or whoever it is who come from the charity?
NADEAU: Well, this only started in 2001. Before that, the city of Rome did get the funds for the Trevi Fountain. But the mayor actually went so
far because she was embarrassed over the backlash, saying of course we're not going to take money from the Catholic Church and the poor.
She actually promised to give all the coins from all the fountains in Rome to the Catholic Church earlier this evening in her sort of about-face turn
around. So she's actually shot herself in the foot even more. So none of the coins in any of the fountains now are actually going to go to help
maintain those fountains, and the various tourist sites so desperately need funds here in the city.
QUEST: Right, so now she's given all the money away, now, she's got to find the money to clean and protect and look after the fountains.
NADEAU: That's absolutely right, and the church gets their cash, gets their money, they're there every single morning when the coins are swept up
to collect those coins. Now though, the city will count the funds. Right now, it's really --
QUEST: Right --
NADEAU: Unclear how much money, I'm sure the Catholic charity knows exactly how much money they have, but it's unclear how much they're
QUEST: Fine, do me a favor. The result of the survey by the way, 68 percent says the charity should get it, 27 percent -- sorry, 32 percent, I
beg your pardon, say the government. That's more than I would have thought. Thank you Barbie, next time you're passing, throw one in for me,
please. Barbie Nadeau in Rome.
NADEAU: OK, one or two? Thank you.
QUEST: Oh, well, yes, one or two. Let's have a one, two, and one for good measure. Thank you very much. After Cathay Pacific accidently offered a
95 percent discount on its tickets, it used a sheepish hashtag lesson learnt, they were wrong. A new problem is it's happened again. Details of
the new blunder after the break.
[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
QUEST: Cathay Pacific accidentally offered super cheap tickets for the second time, it is by accident. The "South China Morning Post" says a
business class flight from Portugal to Hong Kong was advertised for just $1,500. Now, Cnn found a flight on the same route costing nearly $11,000.
The airline is honoring tickets by anyone bought at the lower price. It says an input issue was to blame. Well, all this would be fair and good,
except on new year's day. Cathay made a similar blunder with fares from Vietnam. And of course, Cathay is getting a reputation for slip-ups and
not so little ones.
Let us never forget that one of its -- it had a computer breach of -- exposed the data of 9 million customers. And then in September, there was
the airline --misspelled its own name on the side of the plane. The "Paciic" -- there's no "f" in Pacific.
Ben Schlappig is from the blog One Mile at a Time, he joins me now from Miami in Florida. Good to see you, Ben, firstly, I mean, this -- first,
this second ticketing mistake, airline ticketing is very complicated, but two mistakes like this from the same airline in two months?
BEN SCHLAPPIG, ONE MILE AT A TIME: It is extremely common for this to actually happen. I think what is surprising is that it actually went
public. What often happens is that airlines make mistakes in the background, but as consumers, we never actually realize it because airlines
are filing millions of different fares and most of them are never actually seen by us.
So the fact that both got picked up here is really what the big story is, and in both cases I think hundreds, if not thousands of people took
advantage of these amazing fares.
QUEST: Cathay could have said this was a mistake and we are voiding the tickets and we'll give you 10 percent off -- but I mean, the airlines tend
to always honor the tickets.
SCHLAPPIG: Well, so back in the day, the U.S. Department of Transportation required airlines to honor these mistake fares. But a few years back, they
changed their policy and they no longer require that. The rule now is that if you book any other nonrefundable travel based on reliance on those
tickets, they would need to reimburse you for those things.
But in reality, they still honor these a surprising amount of time because I see if they come out quickly within 24 hours and say we messed up, most
people would understand, but I mean, this is an amazing thing that they honored.
QUEST: Ben, I know from reading your blog, the way these things move very fast. Somebody discovers it, buys it and immediately either lets you know
or goes on one of the fly talk on one of the other sites.
SCHLAPPIG: Exactly, I mean, so I was actually on new year's eve on the treadmill, and I saw an e-mail come in from a reader who advised me of this
fare. I ran up and I wrote about it right away, and within a few hours, it was on I think hundreds of different websites, and I'm sure thousands of
people booked at that point.
[15:55:00] So these really tend to go viral, which is the part that's scary for the airlines and cool for consumers because it's not totally
unattainable to take advantage of these. The question is whether or not the airline will honor it. And of course, they have --
QUEST: OK --
SCHLAPPIG: An issue where even a lot of people book it, there's a lot more risk obviously, they could be losing tens of millions of dollars.
QUEST: Finally, Ben, the Cathay had the first mistake, then the second mistake, and then they couldn't even paint their own name correctly. Look,
I know there's no comparison or connection between any of these mistakes except, arguably supervision, care to detail, that sort of thing.
Can we make that thing or is it a stretch too far?
SCHLAPPIG: I think the point can be made, but I think a lot of airlines make a lot of mistakes nowadays. I mean, airlines are not very popular
companies when you look at the data breaches that other airlines have had. There have been a lot of issues, so I wouldn't give them too hard of a
Rather, I'm just grateful they honored these fares because I look forward to flying from Vietnam to the U.S. in first class for $800 and who isn't?
QUEST: You bought one? You got one?
SCHLAPPIG: I only bought one, so that's not very greedy. I know a lot of people who bought, you know, a dozen, so they'll just spend the whole year
shuttling back and forth, you know, shoveling down caveat.
QUEST: Yes, well, thank you very much, you didn't text me about it before you bought it and give me a heads up. Thank you very much. Ben Shlappig
from Miami, we will have our profitable moment after the break.
QUEST: Eighteen months ago, tonight's profitable moment. Eighteen months ago, I sat in this very studio in this position, and watched as Britain
voted to leave the European Union. If you would have told me then that this whole thing would then descend into complete chaos and constitutional
I suppose that was reasonably foreseeable. That it should happen 75 days before the country is supposed to leave is unthinkable. But tomorrow,
Theresa May will lose the vote. If she doesn't, I'll eat my hat while singing -- while singing Matilia(ph) -- "Matilda". She will lose the vote
and it will be truly a case of what next?
And believe me if you will, nobody has any idea what comes next. There are many options, many possibilities, but as with 18 months ago when we sat and
covered it, we didn't -- we realized we were going into the abyss. Well, guess what, now the abyss is right in front of the U.K. and it is about to
step over and no one knows or has an answer about how to get out of it.
And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight, I am Richard Quest in London. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it is profitable. We'll
be at Westminster tomorrow for the vote.
The bell is ringing.