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Theresa May Suffers Historic Defeat in Vote As Tories Turn Against Her; Democrats Grill Barr On Mueller & Independence From Trump; Venezuelan Natl. Assembly: Maduro "Usurped" Presidency; May Faces No-Confidence Vote After Brexit Defeat. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired January 16, 2019 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to a special edition CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Max Foster in London, where Theresa May's government is reeling after Parliament soundly rejected her Brexit plan. The defeat was the worst in modern British history and the British prime minister's Brexit deal has gone down in flames.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS: The ayes to the right, 202. The nos to the left, 432. So the nos have it. The nos have it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Now Theresa May faces a no confidence vote in the coming hours. Her political future is uncertain as the path forward for Brexit. Ms. May has three days to lay out her plan B. She's expected to meet with leaders in Brussels soon, seeking further concessions and she's offering cross party talks with members of Parliament to find a way forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, the house has spoken and the government will listen.
Every day that passes without this issue resolved means more uncertainty, more bitterness and more rancor.
The government have heard -- has heard what the house has said tonight but I ask members on all sides of the house to listen to the British people who want this issue settled and to work with the government to do just that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: The results of tonight's vote is the greatest defeat for a government since the 1920s in this house. This is a catastrophic defeat for this government. After two years of failed negotiations, the House of Commons has delivered its verdict on her Brexit deal. And that verdict is absolutely decisive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Hadas Gold is in Downing Street; Melissa Bell is standing by in Brussels.
Hadas, plan B, she'll work on that over the next couple of days.
Any idea what it might look like?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm sure we'd all love to know what that looks like, Max. Just a few minutes ago we saw a member of staff of Number 10 Downing Street behind me, shining the famous black door on Number 10 but there's no way o put a shine on what happened last night. That was a crushing defeat for Theresa May.
As Jeremy Corbyn noted, it is the worst defeat since 1924 and the government then lost by 166 votes. Now May is trying to scramble and figure out what to do next.
You noted, she's talking to members of Parliament and finding some sort of consensus and go back to Europe and say if you can give me these things, then I can get this over the line. But that seems unlikely because the numbers aren't there on the consensus.
All of the issues we've been talking about for the last few months, the Irish backstop and customs union, are things the members of Parliament are still concerned about. It is not clear that the European Union would be open to reopening negotiations.
The business community is concerned about this. Yesterday, the pound that fell to $1.27 before the vote strengthened a little bit up to $1.28. This is part of what some analysts told us might be because the business community is hoping in a way that Brexit may actually be delayed and perhaps not even happen.
That's not clear that would actually come through. There are some talks about extending the deadline, extending the Article 50 deadline beyond March 29th. The business community would prefer to use -- most of them would prefer to have some sort of deal at a minimum. They don't want a no deal scenario.
Theresa May's schedule today, she'll start with Prime Minister's Questions and then she has a debate on the no confidence vote tabled by Corbyn. That will happen at 7:00 pm tonight.
FOSTER: Melissa, if the European Union does agree to reopen the deal it is difficult to see how there will be a deal palatable to Parliament because of the scale of the defeat is so huge. It has to be a big move on behalf of the European Union. MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. But essentially the message fairly unanimous coming from European leaders this morning in the wake of the vote at Westminster from the head of the European institutions as well, is essentially not that -- not that it is up to us to decide whether or not to reopen the negotiations.
The ball is very much in the court of the British. The message coming from Europe this morning is, look, we now learned what the British Parliament is against. Tell us, figure out what it is for and then come back and talk to us about the --
BELL: -- way forward.
This message is from the European leaders and also from Michel Barnier, who's led the negotiations on the behalf of the European Union. He said look, it is up to Britain to tell us the next steps. He asked by a journalist whether he trusted Theresa May. He walked away and didn't answer the question.
Even as we look ahead to the next few days, the conference spoke today, the cross-party negotiations are meant to happen and in order to figure out what Theresa May can come back to Europe with in terms of something that may hold on the British side and possibly talks with the European Union again before she gets back to the Commons next Monday to present plan B and get a vote on it.
What we've seen over the last couple of years are these very difficult negotiations and a great loss of trust really from the Europeans with regard to the British. These are negotiations into which they've put a lot of time and effort and there was a great deal of unity on the part of the European Union.
Most unusual unity on the E.U. that they managed to speak with one voice. They've gone to all of this trouble only to watch it fall apart at the legislative level. So the real message is, guys, get your act together and then let's see what could be done. For the time being, it is difficult to see how Theresa May can get that act together in time.
FOSTER: OK, Melissa, thank you, also Hadas Gold.
A supporter of Ms. May's deal, Conservative MP James Heappey joins me now.
There's fewer of you than we thought.
JAMES HEAPPEY, CONSERVATIVE MP: No, last night in the voting lobby, I looked behind me and it was conspicuously empty. It is apparent that the result was going --
FOSTER: So you were as shocked as everyone else last night.
HEAPPEY: I honestly thought maybe some last-minute reflection or a bit of Westminster arm-twisting --
HEAPPEY: -- exactly, could have been -- could have brought the majority down.
We would have been in an extraordinary situation where people like me would say, lost by 150, what a triumph.
I mean 220 is a thumping. There's absolutely no dressing that up as anything else but. But because the opposition didn't move their amendments, no one yet been able to find a majority for anything else. So I think the deal is pretty much dead. It has to be at least the basis of which whatever comes next is built.
FOSTER: Why did you support it?
What's your view on Brexit?
HEAPPEY: I voted to remain, the easiest, of course, but on balance I thought that was the right thing to do. But my constituency and the country disagreed with me.
FOSTER: So you're from a Brexit constituency --
HEAPPEY: -- I took a view in the referendum I was voting for me but out here I have a responsibility to use my judgment and also represent the views of my constituents. And that has made me a pragmatic Brexiteer and I haven't drunk the Kool-aid and now thinking that a hard Brexit would somehow be the Elysian Fields, as Jacob Rees-Moog would make it out.
But I do think I have a responsibility to deliver Brexit. Perverse, of course that in the lobby voting for Brexit last night, we're far more conservative Remainers than Brexiteers.
FOSTER: You provide a very interesting example because this is the ultimate clash, the parliamentary democracy versus the direct democracy in the referenda. And you're in that situation where you believe in remain. Your constituencies don't. You've got to somehow balance those two.
How -- what sort of considerations are going through your mind and how much will Theresa May carry you through the process?
HEAPPEY: For me, most important thing is to keep faith with what was expressed democratically in the referendum --
HEAPPEY: -- well, that was three years ago but they're also manifestos in the general election 18 months ago, similarly unequivocal about what we would do on Brexit. We've got to deliver that. Not to do so would be to risk disenfranchising millions and millions of people and many of them in my constituency, who live in small, rural market towns, on the coastal parts of my constituency, feel they were not being listened to for years, decades perhaps.
This was the moment to have their say. To ignore them would invite them to vote for people and policies that could take the U.K. in an even more damaging direction.
So I think what the PM has got to do, clearly now, after last night's result is to -- to take people like me, who are pragmatic and want to see this done in the most appropriate way for our economy and for our society, reach out across the house, arguably she could have been doing that a year or so, and see whether a cross-party consensus could be found.
But the Dominic Grieve amendment from earlier in the week means she only has three days to do this.
FOSTER: As soon as she moves toward Jeremy Corbyn's position or the Labour position, she'll lose her cabinet.
HEAPPEY: That's the balancing act that she's got to do.
HEAPPEY: I think she's in an almost impossible situation. But she's clearly determined to give it another go.
She has got to be careful as she reaches across the aisle that she doesn't leak Brexiteers from the other end of the coalition she needs to build. But not everybody is going to get everything they want out of this process.
For all that Theresa May needs to do, colleagues in the House of Commons will start to understand, it is not going to be their perfect outcome.
FOSTER: Probably what our big failure has been, this idea, this sense that she hasn't reached across the aisle sooner, she now has three days to come up with a plan and to speak to them. She put herself in this corner, is that fair?
HEAPPEY: I think it is clearly a situation of her making. I think there's strategy in that. There was a big party management issue that seemed to say to 100-plus members of the Parliamentary Conservative Party, we're going to do this without you. It would have been a very divisive thing to do that would challenge the longer term stability of the government.
But we're now drinking in a last chance saloon. By the way, beyond Westminster, millions of people watching this and saying just get the heck on with it. So we have to sort of -- the public won't indulge the paralysis of this place for too much longer.
FOSTER: We're heading to Brexit effectively, aren't we at this point? There's paralysis there. And the European Union has said they won't budge.
HEAPPEY: Well, many viewers around the world will be used to political speakerships and we don't think what John Bercow (ph) is doing is particularly out of the ordinary. Normally, I would say yes; by law we're heading for a no deal Brexit if we can't secure a deal.
But the Speaker has said that the rules do apply and he's going to do what he thinks is right and that means that anything is possible.
FOSTER: Which is Parliament taking over.
HEAPPEY: Well --
FOSTER: We appreciate your time. Thank you very much for joining us.
We'll be back with a look at the economic impact of all this Brexit uncertainty.
FOSTER: To Westminster, whilst we've been embroiled in all the chaos of this, some markets seem pretty indifferent to the Brexit vote last night with a defeat expected. Asian markets pretty mixed; Hong Kong Hang Seng and the Shanghai Composite largely flat. Analysts saying some investors are now assuming Britain's exit from the E.U. will be delayed.
Before Parliament's vote, the pound had fallen below $1.27 but the losses were erased --
FOSTER: -- afterwards, in fact the pound rallied to $1.28. John Defterios in Abu Dhabi is going to help explain this. Also Kaori Enjoji at the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
John, why aren't the markets worried about the fact that we're actually heading towards a no deal, crashing out Brexit?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Max, I think one would say international investors are going numb the pain of U.K. politics. That's a very cynical view. But the outcome, nevertheless, is the same, as you suggested here.
We're looking at the pound/dollar rate very carefully. And there has been a trading band of 128.40-148.60 basically not moving whatsoever after a two-month high on Monday. So this has been almost ignored in terms of the risk.
But I'll tell you why. There's seems to be more options on the table. Three key options. Number one on the list when it comes to risk and uncertainty, it has to be a hard Brexit taking place on March 29th. That seems less likely, at least that's the view of the market today.
The second option is that you extend that deadline to give some flexibility also for the European Union as well.
The third option here you have the confidence vote for Theresa May. And then perhaps the second referendum which goes in favor of remaining where they are. That's within the European Union.
Goldman Sachs suggested the last hour here you could have a softer Brexit as one option or perhaps no Brexit at all. But this doesn't remove all the anger or the angst that we see within British industry.
We have a quote here from the British Chamber of Commerce, which wraps up where British industry has been now for the last couple of years. This comes from Adam Marshall, the director general, suggesting, "There are no more words to describe the frustration, impatience and growing anger or the growth of anger amongst business after 2.5 years on high-stakes political roller coaster ride that shows no sign of stopping right now."
Business is worried about the supply chain being able to get products from continental Europe. There are worries about a shortage of nurses because we get nurses from -- from the continent as well. Even the legal structures going forward and business travel, can you go into Europe freely because of the Schengen agreement that's now conversely ruling Europe?
That's not clear. So British industry is saying, you have this debate. It introduces uncertainty and we have more options but we have to have clarity as the last guest suggested.
FOSTER: Kaori, at what point do markets like the Tokyo stock market get worried about -- about the effects of Brexit, not just on the U.K. but also the European Union and the biggest trading partners?
KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Max, I think you have to separate the direct market impact and the consequences on Japanese business. The main reaction we had, the subdued reaction we saw in the equity and currency markets, can be explained through a couple of things.
They have the upcoming no confidence motion and the consequences of what will happen from here on are varied. The impact is going to be serious. I think for the short term, investors want to play it safe and not take positions.
This is not to say that this is -- this is -- that no one in corporate Japan wanted to see. It is sending jitters through the business community. One of the biggest business organizations here in Japan issued a statement today, warning Japanese companies to make contingency plans in the event of a worst case scenario.
The Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has been very supportive of Theresa May's Brexit plan and the government here has been unusually vocal about the consequences, the dire consequences they may face in the deal -- in -- in the event of a no deal. There are about a thousand Japanese companies in the U.K. They have
invested billions there. One example is the auto industry, produces 1.7 million cars a year. Half of that is made by the top three Japanese car companies, Toyota, Honda and Nissan. They're making contingency plans and they too are worried about logistics.
What if the parts don't come in?
The just in time fabled Japanese manufacturing system could be under threat.
FOSTER: OK. Kaori, thank you very much indeed; John as well.
Joining me now CNN political contributor Robin Oakley.
It's difficult predicting anything right now. But if you could get your crystal ball out and give us a few scenarios of what might happen today and in the coming days.
ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the scenario number one today is the no confidence motion called by the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and no confidence in Theresa May and her government. All the expectation is Ms. May and her government will survive because the Brexiteer rebels in her own party and the Northern Ireland MPs who voted --
OAKLEY: -- against her deal will rally to her support in a no confidence motion.
But if a few MPs cross the line and if the no confidence motion is passed, there's 14 days for the Conservatives -- to come back to Parliament with -- with a -- another leadership or another plan, which would enable them to pass a second confidence vote.
If that, too, went down, we would be facing a general election.
Where would a general election take this country at the moment?
What would May's Brexiteers do?
Could they support her in the general election and what about the Labour Party?
Labour Party is becoming more of a party of Remainers. In the last election, they voted to uphold Brexit.
So complications there, too.
FOSTER: I should point out that the Labour Party is split now between Corbyn and -- and Blairites, the more centrist MPs. They don't -- what I'm hearing is that the centrists have been -- don't necessarily want an election right now because it would mean Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister. That's even more to Theresa May's side today.
OAKLEY: Another big element, I think, in all this, Max, is that Jeremy Corbyn, the moment he's used this weapon in his armory, calling a no confidence vote --
FOSTER: He only gets one --
OAKLEY: --- he only gets that one go -- well, then, actually they could go on endlessly. Unlike the party vote against Theresa May, party confidence in her, she will stay for a year while she passes that. The Labour Party can go on calling no confidence motions.
But the problem for Jeremy Corbyn, he was virtually instructed by his own party conference, have a go at getting a general election through a vote of confidence, if that doesn't work, go for a second referendum.
Now Jeremy Corbyn, a eurosceptic at heart, doesn't want to be the person blamed for having a second vote and upsetting all the Brexiteers in his own party and across the country. But he will come under increasing pressure for Labour to get behind a second referendum. If the Labour Party does, there's quite a few Tory rebels here --
FOSTER: How many Conservatives would go with him on that?
OAKLEY: It is difficult to tell at the moment. But an increasing number, I think.
Remember, the Liberal Democrats, the (INAUDIBLE) MPs, the Scottish National Party MPs, they're in favor; the Welsh nationalists, many of the minor parties are in favor of a second people's vote. So there's building pressure for that.
FOSTER: If that happens, then the European Union will likely grant a delay in Brexit.
OAKLEY: That's one of the few things that one can see the European Union being willing to have Article 50, the means of taking Britain out of the European Union, revoked or suspended to a later period, perhaps in July or something like that, allowing time for a second referendum.
FOSTER: What do you think is the most significant thing about the vote last night?
OAKLEY: I think the sheer scale. Theresa May was not just beaten last night. Her withdrawal plan was absolute crushed in the biggest defeat in parliamentary history, I think. For the government's main platform and its main policy of the day.
Remember, everything in this government has been concentrated on Brexit and the withdrawal deal for the last two years. So many other issues facing the country that are just neglected, social care for the elderly, all of the transport difficulties. There's so many problems facing this country, as any other major democracy these days.
All of those have been on the back burner while Brexit has come to the fore.
Where are we now?
We're in total chaos. There's no majority in Parliament for any alternative plan to Theresa May's plan. But her plan has been completely and utterly defeated.
FOSTER: This gridlock we're seeing in Washington has been known for years. Are we heading that way?
OAKLEY: Yes, although slightly different kind of gridlock. But, yes, gridlock it is. But I think we can say that the one thing there's potentially a majority for in Parliament is not leaving with no deal.
Only last week we saw Labour and Tories getting together on a controversial amendment that the speaker wasn't expected to allow, to say the House of Commons would not support the giving of funds to the government for a no deal scenario.
So potentially there's a majority in Parliament for not leaving with no deal. But that doesn't take us all that far.
FOSTER: No, it closed off all of the routes ahead.
FOSTER: OK, Robin, thank you.
Rosemary, we're trying to make sense of this for you but we can't at the moment.
FOSTER: We're going to keep up to date with all of the updates.
CHURCH: Absolutely. We will come back in a moment. Max, thanks for that.
We want to turn to another big story we're following in Nairobi, Kenya, right now. Special forces are battling armed terrorists, who attacked a hotel and office complex. At least 11 people have died in that assault.
It started Tuesday afternoon with two explosions, one in the parking lot of the hotel and the other was a suicide bombing in the hotel's foyer. The blasts were followed by hours of heavy gunfire and the situation is still not under control. The Islamist militant group al- Shabaab said it carried out the attacks.
Let's go to Sam Kiley. He joins us now live from Nairobi.
Sam, as we just reported, this is still ongoing.
What is the latest information you have on the attack and where things stand right now?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The conflict really, a gun battle has been ferocious all morning. We got on the ground at 7 o'clock. It is half past 10:00 and there have been every hour very heavy exchanges of fire, automatic weapons being used and also grenades, either lethal grenades or stun grenades being thrown by Kenyan special forces.
They're being backed up by American special forces also on the ground working very closely with them. There are also reports that the British has some special forces on the ground.
This was supposed to, according to the Kenyan government around midnight last night, to have been all over. But it most certainly isn't. This morning there have been a number of new evacuees, people who have been rescued from inside the building.
One was brought out wounded and taken away in an ambulance. There have been a steady flow of reinforcements and more ambulances into the landscape, the road just behind me.
So this is an ongoing situation. At least 11 dead, according to our own confirmed sources. We spoke to a security source, who was on the ground last night, who saw with his own eyes two groups of dead, of five and six. The Kenyan police are reporting to the Associated Press that the death toll is now at 15.
People on the scene last night -- and I don't think things would have changed very much given the level of gunfire that we've heard this morning -- anticipate the death toll will be much higher.
That said, there's a concerted effort to close this down. It comes on the third anniversary of Kenya's single biggest loss of war, which was at the hands of al-Shabaab in Somalia, where Al-Shabaab have been resurgent, even though they're heavily attacked by the United States in drone strikes and other air operations.
They've been very successful in their own terms on the ground, driving all but nonessential U.N. personnel out of the capital, Mogadishu, with mortar attacks over the Christmas and New Year period.
So there has been talk about what the Kenyans might do next. I think it is premature. But they're supposed to be drawing down their operations inside Somalia against Al-Shabaab. This is a signal the terrorist group wants the world to know that, even though it is four years or more since they had an attack here in the capital, Nairobi, it is certain not a spent force -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: Sam, why is it taking so long for Kenyan military and police and along with American and British help to contain and control this situation?
How many militants are we talking about here and how do authorities plan to deal with this continued threat coming from al-Shabaab?
KILEY: We've seen video evidence and I've spoken to eyewitnesses on the ground, four surviving members, at least last night, of the attack force. One was killed in the suicide bombing in the lobby.
This is a very complex environment. It's not just one hotel. It's referred to as the Dusit2 but it's a sprawling complex of a number of buildings, office buildings. It is clearly relatively easy for a small group of determined suicidal attackers. So long as they have enough ammunition and grenades, they can hold out for a fairly long time.
I think the Kenyan special forces are inching forward for we have heard long, sustained bursts of gunfire, we suspect, from the terrorists. But they're inching forward and minimizing casualties.
I think the other issue is they've been surprised by how many civilians remain trapped in the buildings -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: Sam Kiley there in Nairobi as this continues. We're waiting for police and military and American forces and the British, they're trying to bring this under control. We will, of course, stay on top of the story.
[02:30:00] Again, many thanks to our Sam Kiley there in Nairobi. Let's take a short break. But just ahead, we are live in London where it's all about high drama in high politics and there could be more fireworks in the hours to come. Britain's Prime Minister faces a no confidence vote after her crushing Brexit defeat.
We will get Theresa May's view from her former spokesperson. That's coming up in just a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour. The British Parliament is said to hold a no confidence vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's leadership in the coming hours. Lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected her Brexit deal with the European Union on Tuesday. It was the worst defeat at Westminster in modern history.
In Nairobi, Kenya, Special Forces are still trying to get control after a deadly terror attack at a hotel and office complex. Kenya's president says at least 14 are now dead and adds that all terrorists have been eliminated. The Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab says it carried out the deadly attacks. A former aide to Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman says the drug kingpin once paid a $100 million bribe to Mexico's former President Enrique Peaa Nieto. The testimony came out at Guzman's trial in New York.
Earlier in the trial is spokesperson for the president called the accusation there were bribes false. All right. Let's head back to our Max Foster in London trying to come up with some answer. Just so many questions and the wake of Theresa May's historic defeat. So of course the big question, what comes next, Max?
FOSTER: Yes. Well, she's fighting for her political life. We know that after her Brexit deal suffered a crushing defeat here in parliament. So what happens next? Well, a no confidence vote is expected around 7:00 p.m., London time on Wednesday. If Mrs. May survives that vote, she'll have three days to come up with a new Brexit plan because parliament won't be see meeting on Friday that the new blueprint expects to be presented on Monday.
At some point, the prime minster is expected to meet with European leaders in an attempt to renegotiate the Brexit agreement. If Theresa May doesn't survive the no confidence vote, that would likely lead to a general election and possibly a new government. Britain is still scheduled to leave the E.U. on March the 29th with or without a deal. So that's what we're heading for currently. The U.K. could try to extend that deadline. But it would require approval by other E.U. members.
[02:35:03] I'm joined now by Theresa May's former spokesman Joey Jones. I mean have we ever had a situation where there's been such a resounding defeat on a key policy for a prime minister and they carry on?
JOEY JONES, FORMER SPOKESMAN OF THERESA MAY: No, I think quite a lot of the newspapers and the media have timelines of the greatest defeats ever and this is -- this is the number one. It's a record that -- an enviable record and not one that she would have wanted to claim. These are extraordinary times. I mean coming down here this morning, I've never seen the sort of media attention (INAUDIBLE) as busy as this --
JONES: Well, but, I think you're wise because this could grind on for a very long time and the stakes are high. At any moment, actually, I woke up this morning having -- obviously gone to bed a few hours earlier thinking, well, you never know Theresa May might have resigned overnight (INAUDIBLE) she would have done. But at any moment, the twists and turns are so unpredictable. You can just -- you can't judge what might come next.
FOSTER: Give us an insight into her way of thinking because, you know, previous prime ministers in similar situations would have stepped down. Why isn't she stepping down?
JONES: Because she believes and her advisors are telling her and senior cabinet ministers as well that it doesn't actually change the dynamic. It wouldn't actually move things forward. It wouldn't break the long-term in which we find ourselves and it would create additional uncertainty. Now, having said that, I still think there's a -- if you like a point of honor for politicians when they are seem to have been so resoundingly defeated, it's pretty hard just to take that on the chin and keep plugging away.
But that is the sort of stamina and resilience she has demonstrated over the past few months. The challenge is that now the task that she has set herself demands more than that. It demands a lot of political subtlety and the ability to reach out across the aisle if you like in the House of Commons --
(CROSSTALK) FOSTER: -- welcomed by those opponents, but they're also saying it's
so late to be doing that. And, now, she just got three days to get a deal together with them.
JONES: That's right. It is incredibly late. We're right up against the deadline. And, yes, everybody I think is increasingly believe in that deadline might get pushed back. So time is perhaps not as critical as one might imagine. What is critical is that this is way out of her comfort zone talking to people like, well, John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor (INAUDIBLE) Jeremy Corbyn, and even the SMP. She really hates that sort of thing. She really hates that.
And but even Downing Street last night, they were still laying down the same old red lines that to be honest would prohibit, would make any sort of compromise with her political opponents impossible. So on that basis, I think it's very hard to see how that forge away forward.
FOSTER: So in discussions with Jeremy Corbyn for example, if she's going to make any progress there, she has to move towards his position somehow --
JONES: One would imagine so.
FOSTER: Take us inside the cabinet though and the impact that would have there because they're not going to go with her on that.
JONES: That's right. So that would -- in effect, well, some of them would. In effect, that would end up softening Brexit, so you'd get a Brexit that was -- well, closer to the status quo. And that's what people like Boris Johnson, David Davis have always said would be a betrayal of the vote -- the referendum vote. On that basis, I think there are big questions for the leaders within the cabinet. The leader, the most important of whom for Theresa May's authority as well as the government is Michael Gove.
And it was not worthy that Michael Gove made probably the best speech from the government (INAUDIBLE) over the course of the five-day debate. Big questions for him. But for all of them if they -- if they end up feeling either that they can't pursue the strategy, or that Theresa May is not equipped to be the person fronting that strategy then they need to move pretty fast. Otherwise, if they end up binding in and then the whole thing blows apart then you could end up with a conservative party split.
FOSTER: One option suggested is that she would call her own general election which would effectively be a referendum and a vote on her Brexit deal. Is that a way forward?
JONES: Well, that in some ways would -- it sounds quite similar to the language that she actually used when she did call a general election from a position of great strength, a general election that ended up significantly weakening her. This would be calling a general election from a point of catastrophic weakness. It's hard to see what -- (CROSSTALK)
FOSTER: -- between parliament and the country right now. Don't you think?
JONES: Yes. I -- but it's interesting that as we -- rightly because it's so important for the country and the U.K. economy and more broadly obsessed about Brexit. I think that many viewers and I've spoken to a lot of my former journalist or colleagues who say that the view is just say, we're bored with this. Can we move on? Can we just get this done? And can we start thinking about something different? So the disconnect actually is a challenge -- challenging one for politicians because they've been entrusted with the task that the public (INAUDIBLE) of the public are actually pretty (INAUDIBLE)
FOSTER: (INAUDIBLE) talking about how she's going to win this vote tonight as the (INAUDIBLE) conservatives will be on sides. But could the tension be a point where actually they would vote against her, some of those conservatives because it reached its crisis point and they need to unlock something?
[02:40:06] JONES: I would be surprise. I think that it is clear that some on the conservative party would contemplate voting with Jeremy Corbyn which is an unbelievable step for a conservative M.P. because it would bring down their own -- their own government, but only if they were right up against the brink of an outcome that they hate. So you could get some people on the leave side who felt that if they were being precipitated into an outcome that they just could not stomach that they would go down a no confidence route.
Equally, if no deal was upon us, then there are some like -- on the very much on the -- on the remain side, so you (INAUDIBLE) groups that would be look at as potential candidates for rebellion. Today though we're not at that point, so I would be surprise. But I wouldn't rule anything out.
FOSTER: You can't at the moment. That's extraordinary thing. Joey, thank you very much indeed for your insight. Rosemary, we're getting that. We're getting some insight into exactly what might happen today. But until that happens, you can't really rely on any event.
CHURCH: No. We are witnesses to history right now and watching it as we're live. Thank you so much, Max. We'll come back to you very soon. We'll take a short break. Still to come, hours of questioning focused on the Russia investigation, President Trump's choice for attorney general faces skeptical Democrats. Plus, Venezuela's parliament wants to be rid of President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition trying to oust him is now gaining international support.
We'll have that and more when we come back.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. U.S. President Donald Trump's choice for attorney general spent eight hours trying to reassure senators of his independence during his confirmation hearing. If he's confirmed, William Barr will oversee Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. And as Jessica Schneider reports, that was a focus for lawmakers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's pick for attorney general asserting his independence on his first day of confirmation hearings.
WILLIAM BARR, NOMINEE TO SERVE AS UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am not going to do anything that I think is wrong and I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong by anybody whether it be editorial boards, or Congress, or the president. I'm going to do what I think is right.
SCHNEIDER: But Democrats pressed William Barr and demanded assurances when it comes to the Mueller probe.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Will you commit to providing Mr. Mueller with resources, funds, and time needed to complete his investigation?
FEINSTEIN: Will you commit to ensuring the Special Counsel Mueller is not terminated without good cause consistent with department regulations?
SCHNEIDER: Barr, stressed his 30-year friendship with Robert Mueller, and how he disclosed the close bond to the president.
BARR: and we said, "Oh, you know Bob Mueller. How, well do you know Bob Mueller?" And I told them, "How well I knew Bob Mueller, and our -- and our -- you know, the Barr's and Mueller's were good friends, and would be good friends when this is all over, and so forth.
SCHNEIDER: Barr also committed to releasing what he says he can of Mueller's results.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: When his report comes to you, will you share it with us as much as possible?
BARR: Consistent with the regulations and the law, yes.
SCHNEIDER: But Barr, later clarified. Mueller's actual report wouldn't be released. Instead, the Attorney General's Office would release their own summary.
The nominee left a lingering question though when he blasted fired FBI director James Comey's decision to announce no charges against Hillary Clinton.
BARR: If you're not going to indict someone, then you don't stand up there and unload negative information about the person. That's not the way the Department of Justice does business.
SCHNEIDER: Would Barr released a report addressing all of Mueller's findings even if it included no wrongdoing.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Do you see a case where the president could claim executive privilege of -- and say that parts of the report could not be released?
BARR: Someone might raise a claim of executive --
LEAHY: That'd be pretty --
SCHNEIDER: While leaving room for the president to redact, Barr categorically rejected the president's power to edit any report.
BARR: That will not happen.
SCHNEIDER: And Barr cast doubt that he would ever fire Mueller even for good cause.
BARR: And I'd have to be pretty grave and the public interest would essentially have to compel it because I believe right now the overarching public interest is to allow him to finish.
SCHNEIDER: Barr batted away questions and concerns about the 19-page unsolicited memo he sent to the president's lawyers. Saying his point was not that the president could never obstruct justice. And that he didn't do it to curry favor with the president.
BARR: So, if I wanted the job and was going after the job, there are many more direct ways of me bringing myself to the president's attention than writing an 18-page legal memorandum.
SCHNEIDER: Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly has declared Nicolas Maduro's presidency, illegitimate, and wants to take control. The White House has indicated it supports such a move.
Mr. Maduro began his second term as Venezuela's president last week. We get the latest now from Stefano Pozzebon in Caracas.
STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN JOURNALIST: The star clouds ahead indeed herein Venezuela, where the impasse between the latest life power and the executive power held by Nicolas Maduro, doesn't look like deescalating anytime soon.
On Tuesday, the latest live in power, the Venezuelan Parliament passed the emotion that declare Maduro, a usurper of the presidency and granting amnesty for any soldier who rebel against their commander-in- chief and effectively take arms against the Nicolas Maduro.
Also, Tuesday, CNN was able to confirm that President Trump may consider the new president of the Venezuelan Parliament, Juan Guaido is the new legitimate Venezuelan president because of this constitutional crisis that we've been covering for the past week, or so.
And we can also confirm that Vice President Pence had a phone conversation with Guaido and stated the support from the United States. Very initiative by the Parliament here in Venezuela.
On his end, the Nicolas Maduro is adamant that his rule is legitimate. And just to deliver a stronger message to those members of the armed force who may consider defecting, today he attended an event the Minister of Defense where he received pledges of allegiances by the armed force.
And the situation might escalate even further because next week on January the 23rd, to mark the anniversary of a rebellion herein the 1958. Both the opposition and the government and their supporter will take on the streets to support their motion. For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Caracas.
CHURCH: Well, North Korea's top negotiator will visit Washington beginning on Thursday. Sources familiar with the denuclearization talks say Kim Yong-chol is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Now, this comes just days after President Trump sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Will Ripley has our report.
[02:49:41] WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: CNN now confirming some major developments in U.S.-North Korea diplomacy. We know that Pyongyang's former spy chief and top negotiator Kim Yong- chol will be traveling to the United States capital of Washington in the coming days.
My colleague Kylie Atwood reporting that he is expected to overnight in D.C. And then meet with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and possibly, with the U.S. President Donald Trump.
Now, we recall it was back in June, on June 1st that Kim Yong-chol made a day trip to Washington after flying into New York. At that time, he met with President Trump. He gave him a large envelope with a letter from the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. And it was just 11 days after that meeting that Trump and Kim met for that historic summit in Singapore on June 12th.
It was the first time that a sitting U.S. president sat down with a North Korean leader. And while both sides seemed to get along very well, they signed a vaguely worded joint statement promising to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the denuclearization talks in the months that have followed, essentially have gone nowhere. They fell apart.
Probably, the low point was over the summer when the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang only to leave and just hours later, be blasted by North Korean state media, accused of making gangster-like demands. I know from the North Korean side, they feel that President Trump is going to be the one that they need to negotiate with directly, and that is why the North Koreans have been pushing for this second summit.
It seems as if the United States is also willing to make that happen. President Trump has certainly indicated that he wants to sit down with Kim. Where and when still yet to be determined. We have had locations such as Hanoi and Bangkok floated around.
In fact, my colleague Kylie Atwood reported that in the letter, that I was told was delivered to Kim over the weekend after it flowed to Pyongyang, President Trump proposed those locations for this second summit. It's still not clear if the North Korean side is willing to accept that or what their timeline is.
Also not clear if the two sides have agreed on any pre-conditions in terms of how the denuclearization process is going to play out. We know that the U.S. side wants North Korea to start giving up their nukes right away. We know the North Koreans want the Americans to provide economic relief in terms of lifting sanctions.
Both sides have really dug in their heels on those issues and that's been the reason why talks have ground to a halt. Could they be willing to compromise? Frankly, they're going to have to if they're going to make any progress. Perhaps, we'll get some answers after these meetings in the coming days in Washington with North Korea's top negotiator Kim Yong-chol. Will Ripley, CNN, Tokyo.
CHURCH: After a short break, we'll go back to London. And the uncertain future for Theresa May ahead of the fast-approaching Brexit deadline. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.
FOSTER: Welcome back to Westminster where we're trying to get to the bottom of exactly what will happen today. We know there will be a vote of confidence in the prime ministers today.
That was after Parliament roundly rejected Theresa May's Brexit Deal. We know what M.P.'s are against. And that's -- that deal, the question perhaps as uncertain is Mrs. May's political future. Nick Glass has been looking at what the events that transpired. But also taking a slight look ahead as well.
NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A month or so late, but finally, yes, finally, a day of reckoning. The prime minister had postponed the Brexit vote once before, just before Christmas.
THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: I wondered what the history books --
GLASS: Now, after a total of eight days of fractious debate, there was no avoiding it. No more delays, just a last plea for Mrs. May to save her deal. She was on her feet for over 20 minutes.
MAY: Mr. Speaker, this is the most significant vote that any of us will ever be part of in our political careers. After, after all the debate, all the disagreement, all the division, the time has now come for all of us in this House to make a decision.
[02:55:19] GLASS: Mrs. May, again argued her case. But the House was in raucous, combative mood. The speaker had to quieten things down.
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, UNITED KINGDOM: Order. The House must calm itself. Zen. Restraint. Patience.
GLASS: The prime minister had already made a point of attacking the man across from her, the Labour opposition leader.
MAY: Because he has failed in his -- in his responsibility. In his responsibility to provide a credible alternative to the government of the day by pursuing from the start a cynical course designed to serve his own political interest and not the national interest.
GASS: By the end, she was almost having to shout.
MAY: We each have a solemn responsibility to deliver Brexit and take this country forward. And with my whole heart, I call on this House to discharge that responsibility together, and I commend this motion to the House.
GLASS: Mrs. May must have already known what was about to happen. She only had to read the morning newspapers. How big would her defeat be? We didn't have long to wait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right, 202. The no's to the left, 432.
GLASS: The Brexit motion lost by 230 votes. Simply the largest government defeat in modern British parliamentary history. Jeremy Corbyn rose to his feet.
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER OF THE LABOUR PARTY: I have now tabled a motion of no-confidence in this government.
GLASS: And in his excitement, off came the glasses.
CORBYN: And I'm pleased -- I'm pleased that motion will be debated tomorrow. So, this House can give its verdict on the sheer incompetence of this government and pass that motion of no-confidence in the government.
GLASS: Voices are evidently being strained on all sides, and there'll be more to come. And hopefully, one day, some clarity about Britain's future in and out of Europe. Nick Glass, CNN, at Westminster.
FOSTER: We'll be following events, of course, here all day today right up to the vote of confidence, which we expect to be about 7:00 local time tonight. Thanks for watching this special edition of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. Rosemary Church and I will be back with more news after this short break. You're watching CNN.