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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Theresa May's Government Survives A No-Confidence Vote; Theresa May Asks Opposition Politicians to Meet with Her to Find A Solution. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 16, 2019 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: But today, obviously, we can't second guess or try to go through her mind or how tired or not she is, but she

seems more subdued to me today.

CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: What's interesting about the event the last few years, yes, there are many crises, but few surprises. When you

think about the fact her internal leadership -- her internal vote of no confidence was telegraphed for ages, the failure of her deal, telegraphed

for ages, this tonight has been telegraphed for ages. She has the ability to power and

expect these things.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: It looks as if the debate is coming to an end. The order papers are being waved. Oh, oh.

GORANI: Why do they wave the order papers?

QUEST: It's a sign of -- can explain that in just a moment.

WALKER: Let's listen to the speaker for one moment.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: The question, the question is that this House has no confidence in her majesty's government. As many as are of that opinion

say, aye.

MINISTERS OF PARLIAMENT: Aye.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: Of the contrary, no.

MINISTERS OF PARLIAMENT: No!

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: Clear the lobby.

QUEST: I'm trying to think who the last speaker would have been who would have announced a vote of no confidence.

WALKER: 1979.

QUEST: Who would have been the speaker in those days? Viscount Tonypandy? Bernard Weatherill would've been a speaker in those days.

WALKER: I'm racking my brain to think who that was. We'll check quickly in a moment.

QUEST: The division is now underway. It will last about 11, 12 minutes, and then the result.

WALKER: And that's right. MPs will be physically -- you can see them there, filing through the different lobbies on either side, the aye or the

no lobbies. If the ayes are the bigger number, that means the Labour Party has succeed and Theresa May has lost. But because, as we were saying, all

those conservative MPs who voted against the deal yesterday, are now saying they will vote to keep the government in power. And because, crucially,

the Democratic Unionist Party say that they are going to prop up the government, that should give the prime minister a narrow majority. She

should survive this.

GORANI: You're watching CNN just for all of us joining at the top of the hour. What you are seeing are MPs in the Houses of Parliament in Britain

filing out of the main chamber. They are going to cast ballots. Either in support of a motion of no confidence or against it. If the no's win, then

Theresa May is safe.

QUEST: Can we explain? The way in which they're walking out and what happens,

they go through different doors. This is not -- there's no electronics involved in this.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, no. This is the old-fashioned system. In Parliament, a vote is usually referred to as a division. What

you're seeing is Parliamentarians literally dividing into the aye lobby, those voting in favor of the motion. Those who want to see Theresa May's

government fall, and those in the no lobby, voting for the prime minister and keeping her --

QUEST: Does it matter if they leave -- the ayes to the left and no's to the right.

NOBILO: They go in alphabetical order and mark their names on a ballot. They're counted in the order of their surnames. They make sure it's

counted. They approach the bench in front of the speaker. If we look carefully, the person facing on the right facing the speaker will be the

person who has told the largest number of votes. So, the winner of this motion.

GORANI: So, in about ten minutes, I guess.

WALKER: That's right, each division takes about 14, 15 minutes. And what is interesting here is that although you would think that this would be an

obvious move from the leader of the opposition after a shattering defeat to call a vote of no confidence. It doesn't look as though Jeremy Corbyn is

going to succeed in this. And after that, what is interesting is he is going to come under renewed appreciate of those in his own party, you

failed to get a general election. Let's now push for a second referendum.

QUEST: This morning the opposition finance minister speaking, basically rebuffed the idea or wouldn't commit to it as to whether this failure to

get an election would be the grounds for the Labour party talked about all options open at their last conference.

[14:05:00] WALKER: That's right. What is still open to the Labour party is to have another go at this, to have another vote of no confidence. So,

if next week Theresa May comes back with her plan B, which will look rather like plan A, and if she can't get support for that, if she gets defeated

again, Labour could try again to defeat the government in a no confidence motion. One senior Labour politician described it to me as a war of

attrition.

GORANI: Unlike the vote of no confidence from her party, this is limitless the number of times they can do this?

NOBILO: The vote of confidence in the party can happen once a year whereas this can happen whenever.

GORANI: Nic Robertson at 10 Downing Street. Nic, we assume here based on every MP we've spoken with and the predictions that we've heard throughout

the last 24 hours, that Theresa May will survive this. So, what happens after that for her?

NIC ROBERTSON, CHIEF DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I think then she is freer to focus on that very pressing issue of the plan b. As carol says, pretty

much at the moment, people expect her plan b to look a lot like the plan a. But that will be where she will focus her effort, this reaching out across

party lines as she said, to people, it appears, who would be sympathetic to where she is at already, might be able to add a little idea or something,

reach out within her own party to find a broader consensus, reach out again and talk more with the Democratic Unionist Party to try to find out

precisely if there just is any wiggle room at all, or what it might look like. And I think everyone who knows the D.U.P. can understand very

clearly, wiggle room is not something that they deal with, but on the issue of the backstop and how that affects North Ireland's potential relationship

going forward with the rest of the United Kingdom critical for them. What sort of discussion can Theresa May have with them that can perhaps just

open up a small potential parsing of words, something that will give her just enough movement to perhaps have this new -- the new plan B, the old

plan a modified slightly, to go back to the E.U. and find something. This is going to be the focus of her effort. Of course, as we've heard from

members of the European Parliament, we've heard from E.U. leaders, they are already looking for something more substantial. That's their

expectation from the prime minister so there will be pressure on her for that, so no doubt calls across the channel to Brussels and beyond

potentially, to scope out more detail, what the Europeans are thinking. But really, I think in the moment, to get through today will be a good

feeling for her given the last couple of days. She'll get through, she needs to hear it then she can double down and focus on the main job.

GORANI: Nic, you say that. But what satisfaction can she get with -- all right. So, she wins a no confidence vote. But she still knows 100

something of our MPs voted against her a few days -- weeks ago in the no confidence vote in the party. She lost heavily. I mean, she's clinging on

through political shenanigans.

ROBERTSON: Yes, but that's been her position all along. And we don't seem to have seen something yet, or somebody that's cracked her perception of

how she needs to handle this. And that's perhaps the vital point here. That perhaps in these consultations with members of her party, she perhaps

won't come across that single person who is going to convince her she needs to change her mind. But steady drum beat after drum beat after drum beat

you must come with something different. What the European Union is looking for, being part of the customs union, there is such a wealth of members of

her party who countenance that, see it as a cheat, not a real Brexit. What room for maneuver does she have with them? You know, to your point, I

think Theresa May finds herself in an incredibly difficult position. Her critics will say, you painted yourself into this position. Certainly, her

negotiating partners in Brussels are saying we heard it from the Irish prime minister today. You put yourself in this position. You created red

lines. You didn't have enough consensus on this before. So, this is asking for a very, very big lift for her to make the fundamental changes

that seem to be incumbent on her, given, again, as we continue to hear, no real consensus within her party, within Parliament over what will precisely

work.

[14:10:00] GORANI: Nic Robertson at 10 Downing Street, thanks very much. Theresa May, she has the weight of 28 nations on her shoulders tonight as

she has over the last two years, trying to negotiate a deal that could get through Parliament. She failed in just absolute fantastic staggering

fashion. As Nic is saying, she faces a of 28 nations on her shoulders tonight as she has over the last two years, trying to negotiate a deal that

could get through Parliament. She failed in just absolute fantastic staggering fashion. As Nic is saying, she faces a vote of no confidence in

the government. She is expected to win, which -- that's better than losing, I guess, right?

NOBILO: Even the ones that have put in letters of no confidence against the prime minister last year publicly have said, of course I'm backing her.

GORANI: Nothing unites -- as we were saying, a party more than a vote of no confidence.

QUEST: So, Erin Mclaughlin in Brussels, what will they make of the fact -- and I'm speculating here, and I'll apologize I have to cut into you. At

the moment, we have a minute or two. What will they make of the fact this does give her a bit of umph -- not much, but a bit of umph to say my party

and Parliament are behind me?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, LONDON BUREAU: Yes, but how much umph will be the question there, Richard. There are serious

doubts whether or not she has the authority to be able to reach cross-party for the kinds of solutions the E.U. sees as necessary to resolve this

impasse that she's lost - authority as a result of that crushing defeat yesterday. And the minute she tries to make any sort of concessions in the

direction of the opposition, well, there could be another confidence vote that she could lose. So, there is a real worry here in Brussels she's

politically handicapped. They're watching and waiting to see how this plays out. They expect her to survive tonight's vote. They're hoping on

Monday she comes forward with some sort of magic bullet that resolves all of this. There is deep skepticism in Brussels that she'll be able to do

that which is why they're planning for a no deal scenario. I was speaking to the senior E.U. official. He was telling me he believes the markets

have been complacent on the possibility of a no deal. He does not share that complacency at this point.

GORANI: All right. Erin, thanks very much. We're minutes away now, minutes away from the result of this vote in Parliament, and we're seeing,

Carole and Bianca and Richard, some of the MPs shuffling back in.

WALKER: That's right, they are shuffling back in. I think if Labour were to be on the brink of defeating the government, you would see a lot of

excitement on the Labour side by now. There's no sign of that, which is a hint and indication, of course, we can't be certain until we see the result

that Theresa May may well survive numerator another day. You are talking there about whether or not she will get a boost from this. She will

somehow manage to scramble over. And the difficulty Theresa May faces if she does genuine try and reach out across Parliament to some of the MPs to

try to meet their concerns, to try to move closer to a customs union where the U.K. would remain much more closely tied in with the rules of the

European Union, she's going to immediately face huge backlash from the Brexiters in her party and potential more resignations from her cabinet.

And that is part of the difficulty that she faces in the days ahead.

QUEST: Once we've heard the result, we need to explore, not new because we are waiting for this result and would be side tracked. We need to explore,

not now, because we are waiting for the results and we don't want to be sidetracked, but we need to explore whether the prime minister -- at what

point she abandons that cluster of far-right Brexiters in her own party and has to get this through with the help of the opposition. Which in the

United States is not -- it's not pleasant, but it's not unknown for Republicans to have to call upon Democrats to get a vital piece of

legislation.

GORANI: In recent years that has been a very rare occurrence.

QUEST: But before --

GORANI: Before, Yes, you have to get legislation passed if you want --

NOBILO: I haven't spoken to many Conservative, retired Conservative MPs or grandees or even former Chancellor Norman Lamont. They all tell me she can

ultimately abandon her party because it would cause a split. She needs to decide either what Carole was just outlining, that she's going to go cross

party and reach out to Labour and go for a Brexit involvement in the single markets and Customs Union or she's going to work with her party and try and

somehow bring Brexiters and wavering on the same side.

[14:15:00] GORANI: It's almost an impossible task. You either hard Brexit or your Norway style, there is no majority for either. And whatever you

do, it will divide parties and the country.

QUEST: The House was built, Carole Walker, the House was built for nights like this. There are not enough seats for every member of Parliament

comfortably. The chamber was rebuilt after it was hit by a bomb after being hit by a bomb in the second world war. It was very deliberate wasn't

it? To keep it intense for moments just like this.

WALKER: That's right. Unlike some Parliaments which are built in a circular configuration, you do have Tories one side of opposition and

opposition MPs on the other.

QUEST: Let's listen in.

MINISTERS OF PARLIAMENT: Here, here.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: Order. Order.

RECORDER OF THE VOTE: The ayes to the right, 306. The no's to the left, 325.

MINISTERS OF PARLIAMENT: Here, here.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: The ayes to the right, 306. The no's to the left, 325. So, the no's have it. The no's have it. Point of order. The prime

minister.

THERESA MAY, UK PRIME MINISTER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that this House has expressed its confidence in the government,

your honor.

MINISTERS OF PARLIAMENT: Here, here.

MAY: I do not take this responsibility lightly, and my government will continue its work to increase our prosperity, guarantee our security, and

to strengthen our union. And, yes, we will also continue to work to deliver on the solemn promise we made to the people of this country, to

deliver on the result of the referendum and leave the European Union. I believe this duty is shared by every member of this House, and we have a

responsibility to identify a way forward that can secure the backing of the House. To that end, I have proposed a series of meetings between senior

Parliamentarians and representatives of the government over the coming days. And I would like to invite the leaders of Parliamentary parties to

meet with me individually, and I would like to start these meetings tonight. Mr. Speaker, the government approaches these meetings in a

constructive spirit and I urge others to do the same. But we must find solutions that are negotiable and command sufficient support in this House.

And as I've said, we will return to the House on Monday to table an amendable motion and to make a statement about the way forward. The House

has put its confidence in this government.

MINISTERS OR PARLIAMENT: Here, here.

MAY: I stand ready -- I stand ready to work with any member of this House to deliver on Brexit and ensure that this House retains the confidence of

the British people.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: Point of order. Jeremy Corbyn.

JEREMY CORBYN, LABOUR PARTY LEADER: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last night the House rejected the government's conclusion of its

negotiations with the European Union.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: Order. I called the prime minister on a point of order. And the prime minister was heard, and she was heard in relative

tranquility, and certainly with courtesy. And the same courtesy will be extended to the leader of the opposition and to others who seek to raise

points of order. That's the way it is. Jeremy Corbyn.

CORBYN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last night the House rejected the government's deal emphatically. A week ago, the House voted to condemn the

idea of a no deal Brexit. Before there can be any positive discussions about the way forward, the government -- the government must remove -- must

remove clearly, once and for all, the prospect of the catastrophe of a no deal Brexit of the E.U. and all the chaos that would come as a result of

that. And I invite the prime minister to confirm now the government will countenance a no deal Brexit from the European Union.

[14:20:00] SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: Point of order. Mr. Ian Blackford.

IAN BLACKFORD, SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY LEADER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I welcome the offer of talks from the prime minister. I

think it's important, Mr. Speaker, that all of us recognize the responsibility that we have. And on the back of the defeat of the

government's motion last night, we have to work together where we can to find a way forward. I commit the Scottish National Party to work

constructively with the government. However, I do think it is important in that regard

that would make it clear to the prime minister in the spirit of openness in these talks, that the issue of extending article 50 of the people's vote

and avoiding a new deal, they have to be on the table. We have to enter these talks on a basis that we can move forward and achieve a result which

will unify all the nations of the United Kingdom.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: Thank you. Point of order. Sir Edward

SIR EDWARD DAVEY, BRITISH LIBERAL DEMOCRAT LEADER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. From the Liberal Democrat position we want to engage in talks with her

majesty's government. It is important the government makes clear that no deal is not an option. It is very, very important. The prime minister --

actually, to be fair to her earlier today didn't do, rule out extending article 50. It is important to that the House has that chance to think and

come together. Finally, I ask the prime minister will she and sure Mr. Speaker, this House takes control of its own business as we go through the

next days and weeks.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: Point of order. Mr. Nigel Dodds.

NIGEL DODDS, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY: Mr. Speaker, on the result of the motion of no confidence tonight, it demonstrates the

current confidence that is currently in place between -- I'm always, I'm always -- I have to say I'm always delighted when more opponents illustrate

the strength of that relationship we have and what it's delivering for Northern Ireland. And when the people of Northern Ireland see that

investment in education and health and infrastructure, they will thank this Parliament and thank this party and this government for that extra

investment. Can I say this?

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: Point of order. Mr. Stone, very unseemly behavior. Normally you behave with great dignity in this place. Calm yourself, man,

get a grip. Nigel Dodds.

DODDS: Mr. Speaker, thank you. Can I say however that the confidence and supply arrangement is built upon delivering Brexit on the basis of our

shared priorities. For us that is the Union, and we want to deliver Brexit taken by control of our laws, our border and our money and we leave the

European country as one country. Let us work in the coming days to achieve to achieve that objective.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: The gentleman feels he must. He has been represented by his right honorable friend. I believe he wants to briefly.

No, no. The general spirit as well as Mr. Carmichael.

ALISTAIR CARMICHAEL, LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: Mr. Speaker, the motion that will be brought on Monday will be amendable. And can I seek your guidance about

how we, on this side of the House and indeed on that side of the House as well who want to see this matter put to a people's vote might on Monday be

given the opportunity to do so, including the opportunity given to the leader of the opposition now that we know there is not to be a general

election.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: I thank him for his point of order. If it is an amendable motion, of which the prime minister on behalf of the government

has been given notice, manifestly, there will be an opportunity for people to table amendments and we will see what happens. The right honorable

gentleman wouldn't expect me to make a commitment in advance, but I know what he thinks and I heard what he said. Become now to the adjournment,

the whip to move.

PARLIAMENTARY WHIP: The House to now adjourn.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: Thank you. The question is this House do now adjourn?

[14:25:00] QUEST: So, the House now adjourns. We need to understand what that vote was all about. And you got the numbers.

GORANI: No against the motion 325, in favor of the motion 326 which means the government survives. Interestingly, as we were discussing while

listening to the opposition politicians there, they are laying out their red lines as to what they're negotiating their positions are. And the one

unifying argument is take no deal off the table.

WALKER: It was extraordinary immediately after surviving that vote, the prime minister sought to reach out to her political opponents, supposedly

in this grand, public gesture having apparently not prepared the ground beforehand. And invited them to talks tonight to try to find a way

forward. But the opposition parties immediately started putting down their own preconditions. Jeremy Corbyn saying, well, fine, let's have talks, but

first of all, you've got to take the prospect of no deal off the table. Theresa May has been saying throughout this process, no deal is better than

a bad deal. Many of her Brexiters would be furious if she did that. You have the S.M.P. and Liberal Democrats, saying oh yeah and by the way, we

have to make sure, as they put it, the people's vote. Another referendum on the table. That will infuriate the prime minister's side. You can

already see the prospect of this wonderful cross-party consensus to try to find a way through this is not exactly got off to a very promising start.

NOBILO: I have to mention Nigel Dodds, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party reminded her standing up there at the end that she relies on

the support of his party, the ten MPs, in order to command the confidence in the House. She is in a confidence and supply agreement with them.

Otherwise she couldn't govern. A clear demonstration of every single problem the prime minister is facing right now.

WALKER: And indeed of course, It wouldn't have been certain of victory tonight if the Democratic Union hadn't voted with the government.

QUEST: This invitation to talks does sound like the sort of thing that perhaps should have happened 18 months ago, not 73 or 74 days before the

end event. It's difficult to see, without going in circles which inevitably one does. It's difficult to see what they come up with.

NOBILO: when you consider that the EU new from the beginning what their negotiating mandate was, and the U.K. has struggled to try and find what

theirs is throughout. That tells you why we are at this impasse in this entire project trying to find our way through broker.

GORANI: path It tells you inevitably the negotiation period will have to be extended.

WALKER: Even Theresa May today has on the record in the House of Commons has said she does not intend to revoke or to delay article 50. She has

suggested again today in the Houses of Parliament, that Britain will be leaving the E.U. on March 29. What is fascinating to remember that the

default position the U.K. does leave on March 29. If this process goes on, pretty unpromising start that we saw here tonight, here is still the

possibility Britain could, by default, end up leaving without a deal.

QUEST: We need to take a break. We will have more. There is more world news to bring to your attention, events taking place both in Kenya and in

Syria will need to be digested. Of course, tonight in London, everybody wonders, perhaps when we woke up, this has been a distraction that's what's

next.

GORANI: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:35:40] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The big news this evening, Theresa May lives to fight another day.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Over the last few moments, the prime minister's government survived the vote of no-confidence that was put

forward by the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn. It was a narrow margin of just 19 votes. And more than had been expected, it must be said, and this

is the moment it happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right, 306. The noes to the left, 325.

ALL: Hear, hear.

JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: The ayes to the right, 306. The noes to the left, 325. So the noes have it.

The noes have it. Unlocked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: So, Mr. Corbyn has failed in his attempt to force a general election for now.

Meanwhile, Mrs. May immediately seized on this victory, saying her government commands the confidence of the House to find a solution to

Brexit.

The prime minister also said she wants to start talks with leaders of the opposition parties tonight about finding a way forward.

Our guests, the conservative M.P. Geoffrey Clifton Brown. It's so good to see you, sir. And Matthew Doyle, the political director for the former

prime minister, Tony Blair. We also have Nic Robertson at Downing Street. Erin McLaughlin is in Brussels.

GORANI: All right. Sir Geoffrey, let's start with you. What is your -- what happens now with the prime minister? Did you support her deal in the

House of Commons yesterday?

GEOFFREY CLIFTON BROWN, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: I did support her deal in the House of Commons. I'm a Brexiteer. And I would

naturally have voted against the deal. But I voted for it because I wanted to give her the numbers to be able to carry on.

Now, this endorsement today, you say it's small and unexpected. But it's actually 19. It's about our natural majority in the House. She will now

carry on. She will have talks with the political parties, the leaders, and then she'll go back to Brussels and try and renegotiate.

GORANI: What can she get from Brussels that will satisfy her party and also a majority in the House?

BROWN: Well, I think what satisfy the DUP, which is critical, to get them voting for us, is some form of legal declaration that the backstop will

last a limited amount of time. That seems to be the real crunch point.

GORANI: Well, the E.U. won't deliver that though, will they?

BROWN: I think we will. I think we will. If it's a case of no-deal or delivering that, I think Brussels will deliver that.

MATTHEW DOYLE, POLITICAL DIRECTOR FOR THE FORMER PRIME MINISTER, TONY BLAIR: I don't agree because I think that these fundamental questions on

issues like the Irish border and the principles that you've seen with the 27 working together on this, aren't going to change.

What we have seen tonight is a very welcome suggestion from Theresa May that she will reach out to the other parties. I think viewers will find it

bizarre that she hasn't done this sooner within this process.

There's only one skill that you ultimately need in politics and that's the ability to count. And it should have been blatantly obvious to her that

she was never going to be able to get a deal through parliament relying on her own party.

QUEST: It is still almost impossible to see how -- to see how you progress without extending article -- just simply, Geoffrey, on logistics, even if

you wanted to do something else. You need to get the foot off the neck.

BROWN: We'll have to wait and see. I mean, the next week or two.

QUEST: Are you in favor of extending it?

BROWN: No, I'm not. But if it did ultimately result in a deal. So that we were leaving the European Union on the 29th, somewhere fairly soon

thereafter, I would be in favor of that. But I would much prefer to go Brussels, get clarification on the backstop and come back with a deal

that's acceptable to the house.

QUEST: She got clarification on the backstop, with respect.

BROWN: It wasn't not legally binding.

QUEST: Well, in the sense that it pointed out that the written -- the written -- the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration were to

be read together.

BROWN: The problem was it wasn't legally binding. And my colleagues do not trust the European Union to deliver on those effective phrases and what

they said. It has to be legally binding and that is the only way that's going to bring the DUP back to the table to support us.

[14:35:07] GORANI: The opposition parties were very clear tonight. They had a pretty much a unified message. They want no-deal off the table.

They're happy to talk, they're happy to discuss options and roads ahead but no-deal needs to be off the table. Why wouldn't it be off the table?

BROWN: Because the legislative position, at the moment, passed by the House of Commons in the last three months, under the Withdrawal Act, is

that we leave the European Union on the 29th of March with or without a deal.

Now, to alter that, requires new legislation to amend it. And until we've got talks and we can establish a majority for that in the House of Commons,

it won't happen.

QUEST: You can't. That's the problem. That is the problem. There is no ability for the House of Commons to get a majority seemingly on anything at

the moment.

BROWN: Well, they keep claiming that there's a majority in the House of Commons against a no-deal. At some point fairly soon, I suggest next week,

that vote will have to be tested.

GORANI: OK.

DOYLE: I think that's right, the way forward to here has got to be a series of indicative votes after Theresa May has had these conversations so

we can at least start to test the will of the House.

But there's one thing that the conservatives have to recognize. This has never been about a failure of negotiation on Theresa May's part. This has

been about the fundamental un-deliverability of the promises that were made in the 2016 referendum.

GORANI: Matthew Doyle, stay with us. Sir Geoffrey Clifton Brown, we want to thank you, because we'd like to get to our Nic Robertson who's at 10

Downing Street, with more on the road ahead as Theresa May, today, can celebrate, maybe not, but at least there is some sense of relief, I think,

for her tonight. And the road ahead for her, what is her next big task now? What's the next hurdle for Theresa May?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I think we can say very simply her road ahead actually lies right here. Of course, it

does, this is where she lives, this is where she works. But why do I say that? It's because she's invited tonight the leaders of the other parties

to come and meet with her. So it would naturally see that she would be having those meetings here where we see Jeremy Corbyn turn up here.

Immediately running into the challenges as you've been outlining, these are going to be the big hurdles for her. Jeremy Corbyn says yes. Yes, but no.

I only come and talk if you will take that no-deal Brexit off the table.

As M.P.s similarly having conditions that they want. They would like to be able to see the possibility of a second referendum, a people's vote, if you

will. So these meetings, obviously, going to be key. Building blocks, if there is going to be consensus going forward on where Theresa May might be

able to find some common ground to help move a withdrawal agreement along.

But again, and your panel has all been saying this very clearly. Whatever she comes up with still has to be palatable to the European Union. It

still has to be something that they're prepared to do. And they've already said that the best agreement is on the table.

So where does her road go? It goes here tonight for those meetings. And as your panel has also suggested very likely, back to Brussels. But no

shortage of -- no shortage of hard work. And the problem is there's a shortage of compromise. And we're going to see that time and time again, I

think in the coming weeks.

QUEST: Nic Robertson is outside Downing Street where the prime minister will return tonight. Conservative M.P. John Whittingdale is with us now.

John, good to see you. You voted against the deal and you obviously voted for the prime minister tonight. But what do you expect realistically can

come out of these talks with parties that basically feel she's ignored them until now?

JOHN WHITTINGDALE, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Well, it is obviously sensible that she talks to a wide range of opinion across the

House of Commons. But I think it's actually Jeremy Corbyn made it pretty clear, the difference in view between the labor party and the most

conservatives is substantial.

What I hope yesterday will achieve is to send a message to the European Union that the deal in its present form simply is never going to pass

parliament. And therefore, we need to make some changes which make it acceptable.

QUEST: The European -- on that probable, come back to -- the European Union today have basically said nothing of the kind. They have -- they

have said today -- you have to tell us what you want.

WHITTINGDALE: Well, I think it is quite simple, actually. Anybody listening to that debate will know that the reason the Parliament

overwhelmingly rejected it was this Northern Ireland backstop, which is the provision which means that we stay in the customs union until the E.U. say

we have permission to leave. That has to come out of the withdrawal agreement.

[14:40:11] It can be part of the negotiations in the course of the next 21 months. But if it is in the withdrawal agreement, it's legally binding

now.

So what we are saying is, yes, let's still talk about this, but just take it out of the -- of the text as it presently stands. If they did that, I

think the DUP, our allies and Northern Ireland would support it. And I think a large number of conservatives would support it.

QUEST: And you'd support it?

Whittingdale: I would want to look up the text, obviously. But, yes, that is my principal objective.

GORANI: Is that the one element that a deal goes on?

WHITTINGDALE: There are a lot of things about the agreement I don't like. But at this stage, we are only talking about the withdrawal agreement being

set in stone. The rest we can continue negotiating in the course of the next 21 months. But take that out and everything changes.

GORANI: Matthew Doyle, former political director for Tony Blair. The opposition parties, today, made it quite clear what their red line is.

They want a no-deal option taken off the table. Do you think that's something that will gain traction?

DOYLE: Well, I think no-deal option has to be dealt with and taken away, because I don't believe any prime minister would be reckless enough to

allow this country to go through a no-deal situation.

What Theresa May actually could have done a long time ago was, however, look at having a different set of red lines. She picked her red lines on

the basis of trying to keep the conservative party together.

Actually, she could have caused real problems for the Labour Party if, for example, she'd been willing to move on some of the issues around a customs

union and so on.

I don't agree with John that basically this comes down to just resolving the Northern Ireland question. There are far more fundamental issues at

stake here as the only way that you're going to get a deal and that is going to have to be on a cross party basis.

GORANI: And John Whittingdale, are you happy taking the no-deal option off the table?

WHITTINGDALE: Well, the problem is to spend 18 months telling us that no- deal is better than a bad deal. And actually, if you want to get the right deal, you have to say there are certain things which is that are so

unacceptable that if we persist with those, we will walk away without a deal. I'm afraid if you say --

GORANI: But that's cutting off your nose to spite your face, isn't it?

WHITTINGDALE: No. But if you go into a negotiation and say we must have a deal in all circumstances. And obviously the likelihood of your persuading

the other side to give you what you -- what you want is vastly diminished. You've got to retain the option of walking away if you cannot get an

acceptable deal.

DOYLE: But that then makes your Irish backstop position make no sense. Because the whole point of the backstop is that it is an insurance

mechanism to ensure that the U.K. negotiates in good faith on the future agreement. And you and others said during the campaign that getting that

future agreement would be no problem.

WHITTINGDALE: Well, we believe that there is an easy solution to the Northern Ireland border and that is something that we put forward. And

even the prime minister has said she's confident that the backstop need never actually be implemented.

QUEST: Right. On that note, thank you.

DOYLE: Thank you.

GORANI: Thank you to both of you.

A lot more to come this evening. We'll check some of today's other big stories including an attack in Syria that killed American troops. ISIS is

claiming responsibility. CNN is on the ground in Syria live. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:45:26] GORANI: Welcome back to the Houses of Parliament. We'll get back to our special coverage of the confidence vote in the government here

in just a moment.

But first I want to bring you some other headlines we are following. And big news out of Syria as well. Before we get to that, though, a quick

update on what's happening -- no, we'll get that in a moment.

I want to bring you an update on what's happened in Syria. There was a suicide attack in the northern Syrian city of Manbij. ISIS is claiming

responsibility. As a result, American service members have lost their lives.

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, of course, in December announced that American troops would be withdrawing very quickly, saying

that ISIS was defeated. The fact that ISIS has claimed responsibility for this would suggest that it is not defeated and still able to mount some

very deadly attacks.

Clarissa Ward, our chief international correspondent, is on the ground in northern Syria. So, Clarissa, talk to us about what happened in Manbij and

what this says about ISIS's capability in that part of the country still.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Hala, we're starting to get a bit of a picture of what happened. But really, everyone

here is being very tight lipped. U.S. military also being very tight lipped. We know that U.S. servicemen were killed in this attack. We don't

know how many of them were killed.

It took place at a restaurant near the center of town. We had actually just been on the ground shooting video just a couple hundred yards away

from the restaurant where this explosion took place. I don't know if you have seen or you're showing right now our viewers that incredible

surveillance footage that shows the moment of the blast. An orange fire ball literally engulfs part of the street. This was a massive blast and it

speaks to the very real capabilities that ISIS still has.

We have also just been on the frontlines or right next to the frontlines further southeast of the country towards the Iraqi border. And the battle

is still very much ongoing, Hala. There were mortars fired -- being fired off by Kurdish-led forces on the ground. There were airstrikes being

called in by the coalition. And there are several towns that remain to be liberated.

But what the commanders were telling us on the ground was that even when you liberate these towns, that doesn't mean necessarily that you can change

the mentality of the people who are there, and that doesn't mean that you don't have sleeper cells.

Manbij, which by the way, is nowhere near the frontlines, was liberated back in September of 2016. But I can tell you, even based on our trip

there the other day, still very tense. We happened upon a funeral for two local security officers who had been killed by a road side bomb. These

kinds of incidents are happening regularly and there is a very real sense of fear and concern here that when the U.S. leaves and the power vacuum

opens, it will be ISIS that steps into fill the void, Hala.

GORANI: So is that -- is there any chance that an attack like this, the fact that ISIS claimed responsibility for this, is showing that it is still

able to mount very deadly attacks, in fact, killing U.S. troops, that this will in any way change the calculus on the ground that there could be from

Washington, a desire to maybe reconsider this decision?

WARD: Well, a number of Kurdish forces who we've encountered throughout the day have asked us just that. Does this change anything? Does this

mean the U.S. will reconsider its position?

Judging by what we heard from Vice President Mike Pence earlier this morning, it doesn't change the calculation. He said the caliphate has been

crushed, ISIS has been defeated. Based on what we have seen on the ground with our own eyes, Hala, that is not the case. But we have not heard any -

- we don't have any reason to believe that the White House is going to change its mind.

President Trump has been quite emphatic that he wants to bring back troops from Syria, U.S. troops. He believes that the war against ISIS can be

fought from the skies and offering support to coalition members on the ground and allies on the ground.

The reality, though, is anyone who has been to Syria knows it's much more complex than that, Hala.

GORANI: All right, Clarissa Ward in northern Syria. Thanks very much. With more on this breaking news story in Syria, suicide attack in Manbij in

northern Syria that has killed many people including American troops and some dramatic video there. CCTV footage showing the moment that the blast

went off. We'll have more on that in the coming hours.

[14:50:06] And when we return back to our special coverage, Theresa May's government has survived a no-confidence vote. The plan for Brexit, though,

remains unclear.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: And a warm welcome back on a cold evening just outside Westminster. An extraordinary -- I mean, each day brings new developments that are quite

mindboggling even for those used to watching the machinations of British politics.

GORANI: Some good news for the Prime Minister, Theresa May. She survived a vote or her government survived a vote of no-confidence brought forward

by the opposition party.

Let's bring in Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former U.K. foreign secretary. Defense secretary and a conservative M.P. until 2015. Thanks for being with us.

MALCOLM RIFKIND, FORMER U.K. FOREIGN SECRETARY: Thank you for inviting me.

GORANI: You are a remainer.

RIFKIND: I voted remain, yes.

GORANI: Do you still believe that --

RIFKIND: When I was foreign secretary, I was described by the French newspaper Le Monde as a euro skeptic moderate. So I rather like the

moderator.

GORANI: So what the moderate means where you think --

RIFKIND: It means I'm pragmatic.

GORANI: No. Yes, indeed.

RIFKIND: Sorry, I didn't have much French you're familiar with.

QUEST: She's French.

GORANI: It's my name.

RIFKIND: I apologize.

GORANI: What I meant -- what I meant to ask was, by moderate, by modere, where do you think your country should go next and in terms of Brexit?

RIFKIND: In all seriousness, I think arising out of last night, in some ways it's being cathartic, what happened last night.

GORANI: Yes.

RIFKIND: Because the sheer size of the majority that defeated the prime minister's deal has in a sense put, for example, the so-called Irish

backstop, it's known the dust bin. It's not going to be part of any alternate agreement. Although the Irish requirement will have to be met in

some other way.

So what I think is going to happen, I make a prediction that we will seek a delay of the date of Brexit, not a long delay, but a delay from the end of

March to the end of July. And the Europeans will probably agree to that. And then we spend the next two or three weeks, not just by -- what the

first preference of M.P.s are, but what they could live with. That's much more important.

QUEST: The Europeans, we hear though, would only agree an extension if there was an idea of what Britain was going to do. What you're basically

saying is we want an extension so that we can do what we should have been doing for the last 18 months.

RIFKIND: No. It's not as much of a problem, as you may fear or may hope. I don't know, depending your point of view.

No. It's not going to take that long to identify what M.P.s can live with. We're dealing with 600 people. They're all in one building. You can have

what are called indicative votes. And you ask them two questions.

First of all, what's your first preference? And that probably is not going to produce 50 percent for anyone of these several preferences. But you

then see if you can get your first preference, what could you live with? And that's much easier because that would, first of all, show that a large

majority of the House of Commons could not live with no-deal.

GORANI: The opposition parties have all said the same thing tonight which is they've asked Theresa May to take no-deal off the table as an option.

Will they be able to convince her to do that or the Conservative Party to do that?

RIFKIND: I think placing preconditions to even talking to each other is pretty dumb. And I don't think that will survive. But the people who take

the ultimate decisions will not be the leader of the Labour Party or the prime minister. It will be the ordinary members of Parliament.

[14:55:05] As they've shown over the last few weeks, they don't always agree with our party leaders and they will, if necessary, enforce a

decision that reflects the majority view.

QUEST: Do you remember the last vote of no-confidence in the House?

RIFKIND: Well, there have been lots of them, but I can remember the last one that actually won.

QUEST: Right.

RIFKIND: Which I was there at the time. When Callaghan lost by one vote.

QUEST: Somebody was away.

RIFKIND: Well, there was an Irish member, an Irish nationalist who normally didn't vote and the Labour Party bust a gut to get him across to

London. And when he arrived at Heathrow Airport, he was asked by your guys, what are you going to do in the vote tonight? He said, well, I've

decided I'm going to abstain. And he said, well, you've never come to London for the last two years. Why are you coming over there if you're

going to abstain? He was an Irish MP which may or may not be relevant. His answer was, it's such an important occasion. I thought I better

abstain than present. And that's what he did and the government lost by one vote. Margaret Thatcher became prime minister.

QUEST: (INAUDIBLE) yes.

GORANI: All right. Sir Malcom Rifkind, thank you very much. Thanks for coming on. And we will be right back. Richard and I will be back with CNN

special coverage after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END