Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN International - Brexit Coverage; Amazon Abandons Plans in New York City; Brexit Votes Continue. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired February 14, 2019 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Welcome, everybody, to CNN special coverage as members of parliament in the building behind me have the chance to change the course of Brexit, once again.
Hello, everyone, I'm Hala Gorani with my panel of guests. We'll get to this event in the House of Commons in just a moment -- there is the speaker, John Bercow, who is announcing one of the amendments that could change the government's motion there in anticipation of Brexit at the end of March.
First though, I want to update you on some breaking news from the U.S.; extremely significant corporate news. Amazon is saying it is cancelling plans to build its second headquarters in New York City. The plan drew fierce opposition from some local politicians, because the criticisms aimed at Amazon is it was taking advantage of tax breaks and other incentives offered by the city.
Now this is criticism as well that we've heard directed at Amazon in the United States as well as in other countries, in Europe, where you have some lawmakers and elected officials saying perhaps that company is not pulling its weight in terms of taxes. There have been some criticism that Amazon, and Christina Alesci joins me now live from New York that also it prices a out some locals when it establishes its headquarters and big offices in certain neighborhoods, where then local inhabitants are priced out. Christina, talk to us more why Amazon made this surprising decision.
CHRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a controversial deal here in New York and we just got the statement that it is definitely pulling out of this deal and it made clear in its statement that polls showed 70 percent of New Yorkers supported the plans but there were a number of very local, vocal and local politicians that did not want to see this deal happen because of the arguments that you are making. It would drive up home prices; it would basically gentrify an area and these opponents wanted Amazon to do more the most controversial part of the deal were the tax breaks and the way that the deal was structured in and of itself.
The opponents wanted to see Amazon do more for the city, perhaps invest in transportation, invest in education, invest in housing and, you know, this has been a contentious issue for both parties. But this is a huge blow to both the Mayor of New York and the governor, who up until last week were trying to reassure Amazon executives that they could smooth over things here in the city. That was not something, clearly, Amazon wanted to wait for. It decided to make the decision, itself, and just pull the plug on this.
That said, Amazon today saying in its statement that it does plan to open the Northern Virginia and Nashville offices as intended and that they are not going to reopen the search for another head quarters, but we don't know if that means that they're not going to reopen the search because they have already done the work and they're going to go back to the work they have done and reassess and see if there is another city that would be good for them or if they're not going to open up an office altogether. We're still reporting those details out.
GORANI: All right, Christina Alesci, thanks very much with the latest on that breaking news. Important to note though as Christina said, the two other plans to open offices in northern Virginia and Nashville, go ahead along with all the criticisms that some are leveling at the company that this will cause home prices to rise for some people in the neighborhood. We'll have more on that later in the program, or in fact, over the next few hours on CNN.
But back to Brexit. It is Valentine's Day, Happy Valentine's Day everyone if you're lucky enough to be off work this evening, but it could be a heart breaking for the Prime Minister Theresa May. A group of conservative Brexiteers appears to be sharpening their knives hoping to deliver a big defeat to the prime minister and the House of Commons.
You are looking at live pictures of parliament now where MPs are debating a series of Brexit amendments. And after they vote on those, they will take up a seemingly innocuous motion, tabled by Mrs. May that asks MPs to re-endorse her approach to Brexit. Some Tory rebels have indicated that they will use this opportunity to offer a stinging rebuke of Theresa May's strategy. Political Analyst Carole Walker is here. CNN's Phil Black is here with me as well. So Carole, what they're voting on now is what? Talk us through this first amendment, first of three.
CAROLE WALKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, this is the first of three amendments. It's the labor amendment. It essentially says the prime minister has to come back to parliament in a couple weeks time, by February 27th, either put down her own newly-proposed, nearly put- together deal, assuming she's got one by then for a meaningful vote, or allow the commons to vote on what should happen next.
Now, because conservative MPs are very unlikely to vote for opposition motion, it's most unlikely this one is going to pass. In a sense it's quite interesting for those of us who follow politics here that the labor header who's got plenty of divisions on his own side has put down such an anodyne, open amendment to this. We're waiting though at the end of the series of votes for the main vote on the main motion. As you mentioned there, it looks as though some of those hard line Brexiteers are going to refuse to back the prime minister. Many of them may well abstain, not vote at all and that could mean that the prime minister faces yet another defeat on this Brexit process. GORANI: And still, if she is defeated tonight, it's non-binding. She is under no obligation to resign or step down. However, she goes to Brussels with a much weaker hand, a hand that was weak to begin with.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, her whole pitch at the moment to Brussels, if it's renegotiated, that much-hated section of the withdrawal of the (inaudible) which protects the (inaudible). It's based on her argument that says look, I've got a majority; I've got a mandate. If you help me with these changes I can take the deal back to parliament and get it through.
Now there is a suspicion that that majority in parliament is not quite as rock solid as the prime minister would have you believe. If she is defeated here tonight, that will prove that suspicion to be fact. And so Brussels will once again be wondering what is the point of offering a compromise because you won't be able to get it through parliament anyway.
GORANI: We expect this result. So, Carole, usually the voting process takes about 15 minutes, MPs filed out of the main chamber to cast their ballot about six, seven minutes ago. So we have another six, seven minutes to go. And this is not expected to pass, because it's being tabled by the labor party, which is the opposition party that do not have a majority in the House of Commons.
WALKER: Yes that's right. What we are seeing here is the way votes are conducted here in parliament, which is that MPs do physically have to leave their benches, walk through either the aye lobby the no lobby; aye being the yes lobby or the no lobby and that is why it takes around 14 -- 15 minutes for each vote. At the end of it, the tellers will come up to their desk at the front of the speaker and announce the result of the vote.
Yes, this is unlikely to pass tonight but it is part of this never- ending drama over Brexit. As Phil was saying though, the prime minister is really struggling to get any kind of concession out of the E.U. Donald Tusk, the E.U. President of the European Council only yesterday was saying that he is still waiting for concrete proposals from the British side.
GORANI: On what? On whether to ensure no hard border.
WALKER: On what, exactly the concessions she is seeking in order to get a deal through parliament. If she's defeated again tonight...
GORANI: But she's saying -- to be fair to Theresa May, she has been quite clear, she said, give me some sort of assurance that this backstop thing isn't open-ended.
WALKER: Yes that's right. What - what many people are worried about is it under the current arrangement with her raw deal, the backstop says that in order to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, which would be the front here between the E.U. and U.K. after Brexit, then there should be this backstop arrangement which basically ties the whole of the U.K. very closely into all the rules and regulations of the E.U. until another arrangement is found. What Theresa May is saying, well we could have a time limit to that.
We could have an arrangement whereby the U.K. could pull out of it unilaterally or we could agree on the technical solutions, tracking goods technically by remote cameras, and so on, which would mean there is no need for a border there.
She has come down hard on one of those three specific proposals and there is the sense in which the E.U. are simply getting exasperated and feel any concessions they do give may still not mean the prime minister can get her deal through this place.
GORANI: And stand by Phil and Carole. We can go to Brussels where Erin McLaughlin is tracking E.U. reaction and I wonder Erin, I'm sure you've spoken to your source officials in Belgium about how they would view a defeat of the prime minister this evening, how that would change negotiations? The clock is ticking here. She only has a few weeks to come up with some sort of deal that will get the support of parliament?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, from the E.U. perspective, Hala, defeat here for Theresa May today would simply confirm what they already surmise that she does not have a stable majority within the House of Commons to push through any sort of deal that she could reach with Brussels and that current negotiation process now under way here is at a stalemate.
We just heard from the President of the European counsel Donald Tusk just represented by the president of the European Council, excuse me was briefed by the Chief negotiator for the E. U. Michel Barnier in his tweet saying no news is not always good news. E.U. 27 is still waiting for concrete realistic proposals from London on how to break the Brexit impasse. You know, it was interesting, I was speaking to a diplomat just a few hours ago who says that he believes Theresa May's strategy in all of this is to run the clock to the end of March, where there is an expected to be a critical summit here in Brussels and then at that summit, he expects her to try to broker some sort of deal to create a time-pressurized situation to get the leaders here in the E.U. to submit to the sort of concessions she believes she needs, also to push the MPs to pass her deal as well.
And they're saying it is an extremely dangerous game and they're growing increasingly frustrated with her negotiating tactics here. They believe that she sort of turned on the deal that she had reached with them in passing or pushing that Brady Amendment a few weeks back and they're viewing her at this point in the words of this diplomat as an unreliable negotiating partner at this point.
GORANI: All right. Erin McLaughlin in Brussels, thanks you very much. We are about three, four minutes away here, Carole, so we will, of course, wait for the result of that, but the four tellers will walk up to the speaker. That's when they will announce the vote count. But, Phil, you were on kind of a tour of the U.K. a few weeks ago.
GORANI: And you had an opportunity to go to a very, very passionate Brexit supporting parts of the U.K. Has anyone, because of this chaos that you spoke to, changed their mind?
BLACK: I think that's the take away, we went to hard Brexit supporting places. We went to remain places and the overall feeling, and it is just anecdotal; there's nothing scientific about it. But we spoke to a great number of people and without a doubt, but the takeaway was that not too many people have shifted their views since they first - since they actually voted in the referendum. What that means...
GORANI: Despite all the pain that the country...
BLACK: Despite all the pain.
GORANI: How did you - how do they explain that to you?
BLACK: Well, I think the take away from it is they have yet to feel any pain, because Brexit, itself, hasn't kicked in yet. That said, a lot of people who voted in favor of Brexit and who want it really badly, they say they are prepared to take it. They want it and they will take it regardless of the cost, regardless of the consequences under any circumstances.
And it's surprising, just how many people still feel that way. What's interesting, though, that you do meet a lot of remaining voters who on the one hand feel they would like the idea of another vote; another chance to try and, to convince people that we shouldn't be doing this. But they also suspected that may not be good for the country in terms of democracy and what it meant.
GORANI: To create more division. Anna Soubry, the Tory Remainer MPS tweeted she's pulling her amendment, which means we will only be seeing votes on two amendments this evening. Significance?
WALKER: Well what is interesting is that there were some - there was some speculation that if Anna Soubry's amendment which essentially would just have required the government to publish the evidence it has on the cost of a no-deal Brexit.
There was speculation that if that passed which it could have done, then the Prime Minister might not have put her main motion to the House; might have ducked out of a potential defeat so it may well be Anna Soubry, rather than risk that not happening has decided to pull her amendment at this stage.
GORANI: Could it mean -- can the prime minister just decide not to table the vote?
WALKER: Well she will now have to. What we will see now, we will get the results shortly of this labor amendment. There will then be a motion put down on the SNP Amendment, which would force a delay in the U.K.'s departure from the E.U. The third vote will be on the prime minister's main motion and at the moment it looks as though she is in jeopardy of facing another defeat.
GORANI: Just a reminder, it's a simple majority needed. Let's listen in for the results. (BEGIN VIDEO)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ayes to the right, 306; and the nos to the left, 322.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right, 306; The nos to the left 322. So the nos have it. The nos have it. Unlock. I now invite the right honorable gentleman Rusk Sky(ph) and Lock Harbor(ph) to move amendment aye which stands in his name that of colleagues. Mr. Ian Blackberg(ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I formally move Amendment I.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. The question, the amendment, Amendment I, be made. As (inaudible) say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of the contrary, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Division, clear the lobby.
GORANI: The Speaker, John Bercow has told MPs to clear the lobby to go vote on the next amendment which is the Scottish Nationalist Party Amendment, Amendment I which calls for what?
WALKER: That calls for a three months delay to Britain's departure from the European Union to allow, what the S&P would like another referendum. What the motion says to allow for other arrangements to be agreed within parliament.
That labor amendment we just saw there as expected was defeated. A pretty narrow majority that would suggest all the opposition MPs voted with the Labor Party. We won't know until later, potentially, did one or two conservatives vote for it as well? It is possible. We won't know until we get the full breakdown of the vote.
But as expected the Labor Amendment has been defeated. We're now on the S&P Amendment. It was interesting that at the beginning of this debate, John Burcow, the Speaker who we saw there, had a total of ten different amendments to choose from. He normally chooses those that have got the most support in parliament. But there were others put down by conservative MPs that said things like, "Let's have a battle with Parliament with a whole list of options and see which option gets the most support."
But those amendments were not selected this time around. I should say, though, as we move on toward the next thing, the next leg, even if the prime minister does lose tonight, that is not necessarily fatal for her deal. But it does spell huge danger for her and she's going to have to come back on February the 27th and then put down what she hopes by then will be a newly arranged deal with the European Union as we have just been hearing, that is far from certain. GORANI: Yes, the last two weeks haven't produced huge changes. The
best predictor of future behavior and future results are past results and past behavior, what can she get? That's the big question. I want to tell our viewers though and you as you toured the U.K. made that point. You went to remainder parts of the U.K. and this is the Scottish Nationalist Party Amendment.
In Scotland, there was a very, very high majority, a strong majority to remain in Northern Ireland as well. I mean, so these parts of the U.K. feel a bit cheated. They think, "Why am I having to be extracted from the E.U. when my part of the U.K. can suffer so greatly from Brexit?"
BLACK: That's why Scotland, in particular is interesting, because of course, the first minister there, Nichola Sturgeon, has initially not quite so much at the moment, initially said this could be grounds for yet another referendum on the issue of Scottish independence, because we're being dragged out of the European Union against our will. She hasn't commented on that recently. We know that to be her belief. So this is one of those arguments used against Brexit going back to the campaign that a vote for Brexit could ultimately result in the breakup of the United Kingdom and where we stand right now, there is certainly still, perhaps ultimately, a possibility.
GORANI: It's interesting. We have to take a quick break. We will be back on the other side, we have a few minutes before the results are announced. Phil Black, Carole Walker, stay with me, as I mentioned a quick break. It's actually a lovely evening this evening; a beautiful sunset in London. Last time I was here, it was raining buckets. So let's count our blessings. We'll be right back. Stay with CNN.
GORANI: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage. We are outside the British houses of parliament, where lawmakers are debating a series of Brexit amendments. The vote is underway on the second amendment. There was a third one that was pulled just a few minutes ago. This is the Scottish Nationalist Party amendment and it's one that calls for Article 50 to be revoked before March 29th. That's when the U.K. is due to leave the European Union and officially Brexit. Joining me for analysis is Jack Blanchard, the Editor of POLITICO's "London Playbook," an essential daily digest. Political Analyst Carole Walker is here as well. Jack, what do you expect this evening?
JACK BLANCHARD, EDITOR OF "LONDON PLAYBOOK": Well it's not looking very good for Theresa May right now. We've just heard in the last few minutes that a group of Tory Euro skeptic(ph) MPs have been the bane of her life the whole time. They are hard Brexiteers are not going to vote with her tonight when we get to the main vote. That means she looks likely to lose.
Now that is only a symbolic vote. It's not going to wreck all her plans, but the message she is trying to send to Brussels at the moment is she can actually get a majority in parliament. She can get the MPs behind her, if they'll just move a bit on the Bexit deal. So to lose another vote tonight, even a symbolic one in this way, but it was supposed to be endorsing what she is trying to do is not a good look for the prime minister.
GORANI: And what would it take for these hard-line Brexiteers to be on board, Carole?
WALKER: Well I think it sounds like it was too late for that. They were meeting very late on in the day within the last hour or so to decide what they were going to do. At the start of the precedings earlier on today, the Brexit minister was going as hard as he could to try to say to them, look this option of a no-deal is still on the table. It's very important you back the prime minister now. They've decided not to support her at this stage and the government, itself, has upped the stakes on this. We've had a senior administer and international trade secretary was saying this morning on air, look, if the prime minister loses this, it will really weaken her hand when she goes back to negotiate with the E.U. so should they raise the stakes?
GORANI: She didn't speak in parliament. Is that a way anticipating potentially a defeat to try to send the message that this is really not that big a deal?
BLANCHARD: I mean the thing with today, it wasn't supposed to be a big deal. This was supposed to be easy street for the prime minister. It's not a binding vote. All it really does is re-endorse the vote from two weeks ago, which she won. It was supposed to be a state forward end of the week, do this and then go back to Brussels and carry on with the renegotiation. Instead, unless something changes in the next few minutes which really she's running out of time because the vote is now immanent, she's not going to win.
BLANCHARD: She's not going to win. So they'll push themselves down. They'll say, "OK, it didn't matter. Nothing has changed, I can go back to Brussels." But the E.U. are looking at this, already doubting that if they do change the deal, really doubting that she's going to get it through parliament. They'll just look at this and think once again you cannot command your own parliament. Why should we even bother to try and renegotiate because you're still going to lose in the end.
GORANI: But this is what I was asking Carole before, I mean even if she wins this evening, what - why would it be in the E.U.'s best - from their perspective best interest to offer big concessions at this stage? But is it strategically speaking, I mean in terms of how they're managing these talks?
WALKER: Well we know that the E.U. really want a deal because there are economic consequences for many E.U. countries as well as the U.K. They're clearly not quite as serious.
WALKER: But clearly, beyond that, what is driving the E.U. negotiations is they want to protect the remaining 27 E.U. countries, their arrangements, their customs unit and their single market. I think despite their concerns about a no deal that concern about what happens in the future for the rest of the E.U. is trumping everything else. Yes, if she does go down to a defeat tonight, it is going to make it even harder for her to come back with anything at all fresh that she can offer her MPs in two weeks time.
GORANI: I'm not trying to contradict you, but even if she wins, her hand is so weak, Jack.
BLANCHARD: You are right.
GORANI: Regardless of what happens this evening.
BLANCHARD: The card that she has to play; the card that the U.K. has always been nervous about playing is that no deal is bad for everybody. It's kind of a kamikaze strategy to use it as a threat but it is there and there are plenty of people in her party who think that the right thing to do now is just walk away.
Now that would be - now most economic analysts say that would be bad for the U.K. It would also be very bad for Germany, horrendous for Ireland. You know it's not in their interest for that to happen.
GORANI: But more damaging for the U.K.
GORANI: More damaging - so for the U.K. to use this as a - as a bargaining position to say if you don't give you more, I'm going to hurt myself.
BLANCHARD: They're going to hurt us all.
GORANI: I'm going to hurt myself way more, though, right?
WALKER: Theresa May does have one other possible escape route to this which is that she knows that a senior labor MP, Yvette Cooper is planning - she was thinking of doing it this time around, she's now going to in a couple weeks time to down an amendment which would say right, us, the MPs are going to take control of the parliamentary timetable from the government, put through a bill which will compel the government to delay Brexit if we are approaching that point where there isn't going to be a deal and the U.K. is going to...
GORANI: But is there a majority for this?
WALKER: Well, it is possible that when we come back in two weeks' time, there will be enough MPs or all parties who will be sufficiently worried about no deal, but Yvette Cooper could put that through.
GORANI: Of course...
BLANCHARD: She would and there are conservative ministers. There are conservative cabinet ministers, very senior ones who privately say that if we are headed to no deal, I will resign to pull this measure, to stop it from happening. The irony of that is, that although Carole describes it as an escape route for Theresa May, and it is. It also completely pulls the rug on this one negotiating strategy she's got left which is no deal is bad for all of us. If no deal is off the table, then you really are right, why would they shift at all?
GORANI: And the only other problem is of course that it would only require Theresa May to ask for a delay to Brexit and the rest of the E.U. have to agree to that. If they don't see any prospect of a deal arising, it may well be that they don't think that delaying the date of Brexit...
GORANI: But do you need an act of parliament to delay Brexit? It has been trying in legislation.
BLANCHARD: She would have to go back to the E.U. They would have to agree and all 27 countries would have to agree so there would be a whole other...
GORANI: But on the U.K. side, I mean.
WALKER: And she would have to get that through...
BLANCHARD: Well on -- on both sides. If she's instructed to do it by parliament, then she would do. We would have had that vote. So I think -- that does feel like that's why we are leaded at the moment. But that vote on that is going to be another two weeks away and as you know, anything can happen in two weeks.
GORANI: Well, we have one - we have a bit of reliability in our lives and predictability and that is that we know we meet every two weeks on everything. By the way there are two tellers now. We're waiting for all four to line up there and announce the result. A reminder of yours(ph), the first Labor Amendment was defeated. The vote was 306-322.
Now this is the national Scottish Nationalist Party Amendment which calls for the Article 50 to be revoked before Brexit day, which is March 29th and the expectation, Carole, is?
WALKER: the expectation is that this will also be defeated because very few, if any conservative MPs would want to vote for an opposition motion. So it seems almost certain this will be defeated. But the other amendment that we had been expecting...
GORANI: Oh, let's go to parliament now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to vote 93 the nos vote 315. The ayes to the right 93, the nos to the left 315; so the nos have it. The nos have it. Unlock.
Order. I understood from the right honorable member from Brokstow's(ph) exchange with the parliamentary undersecretary of state for exiting the European Union that the right old lady was not minded on this occasion to move her amendment - that is to say Amendment E. Is my understanding correct?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is Mr. Speaker of this occasion but I'm sure we could sort it all out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Not moved. In that case colleagues, we come now to the main motion as on the order paper. The question is the main motion as on the order paper. As many (inaudible) say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of the contrary, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Division. Clear the lobby.
GORANI: So there have you have it. The S&P Amendment defeated unsurprisingly 93-315. And now the piece de resistance: MPs voting on the main motion asked to reiterate their support for Theresa May. If she loses, Jack, it's a bad night.
GORANI: And a very lonely potentially Valentine's Day for the prime minister.
BLANCHARD: Indeed, it's a heart breaker for her and the thing is she has been defeated in parliament a lot. Normally - in normal times if you can remember them, governments don't lose votes in parliament. They do what they want. They win, they win. This is a prime minister who has gotten used to losing. She doesn't have a majority. She's lost -- probably more votes than any prime minister I've ever seen, in a sense, this is one more embarrassment to go with all the other. They will be watching it in Brussels, and they'll be saying, "You cannot control your parliament. You cannot get anything through. Why should we change our position when you are going to lose anyway? And they may have point.
GORANI: We're going to take a break. Jack Blanchard, thanks very much. Carole, stay with me. We'll have more from Westminster after this.
GORANI: Well, that's what's going on outside of Westminster. It's 5:33 p.m. local time. Welcome back to our CNN special coverage. We are outside the Houses of Parliament. As I mentioned these scenes very passionate; banners and demonstrations and protesters on either side of the issue. MPs have been debating a series of Brexit amendments. There was a Scottish National Party Amendment that was defeated as well as the Labor Party Amendment.
Now they are voting on the underlying motion and that's one that could make or break the prime minister's Brexit strategy. The government is asking for something quite simple. It should be a walk in the park for it, but these days nothing is easy for Theresa May. The government is asking parliament to -- to back what they had back to two weeks ago and allow Theresa May to continue to renegotiate a deal with Brussels.
Now, it should have been as I mentioned a rubber stamp vote. Now hard line Brexiteers are threatening to use it as a weapon against Mrs. May. Joining me here on Abingdon Green, Political Analyst Carol Walker is still here with me. Now we have Lord
David Hannay. He was the permanent representative to the EEC under Margaret Thatcher and he joins us on this momentous occasion and a very, very historic period for your country. What do you make of what's going on this evening? What do you think of news to the government?
DAVID HANNAY, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE E.U.: Well, it's a weigh station on a long road.
HANNAY: It's been going on for a long time. Many people would say too long. It's still got quite a long way to go and this will not be the definitive decision, the vote being taken just now. Watch out for the votes on the 27th or 28th of February; they'll be really important.
GORANI: If the prime minister is defeated this evening on her motion what does that mean do you think for the talks?
HANNAY: Well if the (inaudible) to being defeated on the 27th or 28th...
GORANI: Yes, and then what?
HANNAY: ... on something much more substantive because what's likely to be up before parliament then is an actual law, a statute which will compel her to avoid no deal and compel her to ask for more time. If that passes, then we're in a different ball game.
GORANI: Who is going to be, have the most influence? The hard line Brexiteers or those who want to - who are absolutely adamant the worst thing that could happen to the U.K. is to leave without an agreement?
WALKER: Well the problem for the prime minister is that because she hasn't got an overall majority, she needs help from both sides. What she has been doing over the last couple of weeks, she tried to reach out a bit to the Labor Party to get labor MPs to support her. She didn't get traction there because she wasn't prepared to offer a customs union(ph).
She went back to trying to appease the hard-liners in her party. She needs a coalition of support. One thing that is quite interesting is that it does seem as though there is a majority in parliament overall of MPs who want to avoid leaving without a deal. But what is important to remember is that at the moment the default position is if Theresa May doesn't get a deal, then it's a no-deal Brexit. There has to be an act of parliament through a change agreed with the E.U. if that is going to be avoided. So it does look as though when we come back in two weeks' time, when Theresa May has said she'll put down a new substantive motion, that would be another really big crunch point in this process.
GORANI: So we will have an important result to look forward to this evening. Are you concerned the U.K. will leave without a deal? HANNAY: I am extraordinarily concerned. Whether I am or not, a lot
of businessmen are concerned. The accumulating evidence in the last week of the damage being done to the economy by this possibility being faulted by the government is pretty big. The Nissan agreement in Sunderland axed. The ferries that were going to save us from no deal, nonexistent. The growth forecast down by half a percent. These are pretty substaintial numbers and there are plenty of others. Ford is relocating a lot to continental Europe. This is really bad news and this is not just bad news for businessmen, it's bad news for the people who work in those businesses and who make their living from them. GORANI: How do you explain then when we go back to Brexit to parts of the country that voted very firmly for Brexit, very few people have changed their minds?
HANNAY: Well they didn't vote firmly for Brexit.
GORANI: No in the parts of the country. I'm not saying nationally.
HANNAY: Yes, I'm so sorry -- parts of the country.
HANNAY: Yes, well, I don't know. You will only find that out. Will you have a second referendum.
HANNAY: The pundits will always tell you that if you ask people a yes or no question out of the blue...
HANNAY: ...you can't trust the answers. The only answer that matters is when it counts. Now that is of yet over the horizon. It's a possibility, but it's not yet a probability. But that is the -- those are the numbers that count and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that people are changing their minds as well as some that they're not. The present pulse as you know are giving 54 remain, 46 leave. That's pretty big.
GORANI: Certainly the Ugaff(ph) tracking poll shows there may be a bit of a shift there, nationally.
WALKER: When you look at the polls, there is a slight shift towards May. But overall the picture is not so very far different than it was on the eve of the referendum vote back in 2016 when all the polls were suggesting that remain was going to win and lo and behold it was a vote to leave.
I think what is interesting is what you're seeing in many of those areas that voted leave. People voted leave for a whole mixture of reasons, but part of it was a kick against the establishment saying that they don't want to be governed by unelected Eurocrats. They feel that they delivered that vote, that they want their politicians to put that through and this sense that they may be then denied the Brexit that they voted for. In some places, hardening of their views.
GORANI: You could argue the Brexit campaign was run on sometimes straight up lies, on promises that were never meant to be kept such as what would happen with the money the U.K. would save from not being an E.U. member and so therefore could you use that as a justification for another referendum? Do you think that's a possibility?
HANNAY: I think - one of the things you could say is if we have another referendum, then people will know what Brexit means. The Prime Minister has been saying for two and half years Brexit means Brexit. Well now you know what it means and it doesn't look very - it doesn't look very attractive.
GORANI: I want to remind our viewers what they're seeing by the way Carole before we move on and this is really the important vote for the prime minister. This is a vote on a motion that simply is asking MPs to reiterate their support for her Brexit strategy and if she loses this evening, this would mean when she goes back to Brussels she's looking even weaker than before.
WALKER: That's right. This was supposed to be a formality. The motion simply says that parliament reiterates the position that it voted for two weeks ago. But what has happened is that many of those hard line Brexiteers are very concerned that two weeks ago there was a non- binding motion that was agreed that says that the prime minister should avoid a no deal Brexit.
Now, she has been insisting that formally that has not ruled out but many of those hard-line Brexiteers are absolutely furious at the way this whole process has being conducted and it looks as if they are prepared to withdraw their support tonight. Yes, if the prime minister then has to go back to Brussels over the next couple of weeks, E.U. leaders who are already exasperated with what they see as her going back on a deal, which they thought they had agreed. They're losing patience. It will undermine her ability to negotiate a deal for the U.K.
GORANI: I am looking behind me, because about an hour ago, there were a lot of Brexit means Brexit -- We Voted To Leave banners and right now it's a sea of European flags. So I don't know if each group of supporters on either side of the issue have their time behind the TV cameras. But they are certainly making themselves heard.
WALKER: Passions are running high.
GORANI: Absolutely. One teller is back. We're waiting for all four to line up in front of the speaker and we will hear the results of this vote on Theresa May, the government motion there asking MPs to say give me another chance. Because, really, this is Lord David Hannay, this is really the prime minister asking MPs to give her another couple weeks to come one something. Right?
HANNAY: Yes. She's got another couple weeks. This vote is not going to stop her having another couple of weeks but it is a precursor to a much more serious vote in two weeks time. So I don't think she will like it if she loses. WALKER: I think the other thing this is going to underline is how
much party discipline has broken down.
GORANI: All four tellers - all four tellers, let's listen.
WALKER: Let's listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recount. Recount. Vote. Vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'll try again. Order! Order. The ayes to the right 258, the nos to the left 303.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right 258, the nos to the left 303, so the nos have it. The nos have it. The final order Jeremy Corbyn.
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER OF THE LABOUR PARTY: Thank you Mr. Speaker. On a point of order, tonight's vote shows there is no majority for the prime minister's course of action, indeed and with Brexit.
Yet again her government has been defeated. The government cannot keep on ignoring parliament or plowing on toward the 29th of March without a coherent plan.
She cannot keep on just running down the clock. I'm hoping that something will turn up that will save her day and save her face. So it is surprising that the prime minister is not even here to hear the results of this vote. So, Mr. Speaker, I was going to ask her to come to the dispatch box now and admit that her strategy has failed.
And come forward, bring forward to the house a coherent plan - a coherent plan that can deal with the stresses and anxieties that so many people all over this country are feeling that can be brought to this house so that we can make some progress forward together to bring people together and prevent the catastrophe of a no deal exit on the 29th of March. It's surprising, as I said, Mr. Speaker, the prime minister is not here. Is there some way by which you could encourage her to return to the dispatch box and tell her to tell us what her plan actually is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll come to the right honorable gentlemen it is not obligatory for the prime minister to be present on this occasion. Other representatives of the treasury bench are here and if the Secretary of State for Brexit in the European Union wants to take the dispatch box, it's open for him to do so, but he's not obliged to do so or if the government chief whip wants to do so, judging from a secondary position ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... harm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... wants to be along to the box he's welcome to do so but he has declined to do so. No, there's nothing incumbent upon them. They've been invited but they're not obliged to do so. No, no, we come now to a point of order (inaudible) the gentleman has made his own point in his own way with force of a lack of (inaudible). It's on the record for others to study. A point of order Mr. Ian Blackford.
IAN BLACKFORD, Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is a significant defeat for the government. At the end of the day the prime minister should be here to accept her responsibilities on the part of this government defeat. Where is she? Mr. Speaker, i wonder given the significance of this defeat tonight, what powers are opened to us to force the government to bring forward this meaningful vote to next week? People in the United Kingdom won't accept it. And finally, can I thank those members that had the courage to vote with us tonight to extend Article 50, members of all parties. But I want to ask the question, where was the front bench of the Labor Party in extending Article 50?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) Point of order and in responding to the right honorable gentleman, I am seeking to be helpful to people interested in our proceedings who are not members of the house, therefore, I will, if I may, as I hope you would expect, treat of the factual inquiry that the leader of the Scottish National Party in this house put to me.
What can be done, as he put it, to bring forward or to expedite the meaningful vote? The short answer to that is that it is not within the gift of the chair to do so and it is not for members of this house who are not a part of the executive branch to do so. The meaningful vote is brought about as a result of statute and in accordance with statute and the statute decrees that it be done by a minister. So that will happen when a minister is ready to bring forward that vote. However the right honorable gentleman knows there are various times other opportunities for debates and votes and the right honorable gentleman is not an innocent in these matters. He is well versed in parliamentary procedure and he will know the opportunities are open to him and other colleagues across the house and other members in other parts of the house will similarly be so conscious. We'll leave it there for now. Point of order Mr. Tom Brake.
TOM BRAKE, MP, CARSHALTON AND WALLINGTON: Mr. Speaker, I suspect that if the secretary of state in opening this debate had said that he was going to honor what parliament voted for on 29th of January, in other words, ruling out no deal, he may well have won this vote.
GORANI: Lord David Hannay is here with me. He was a permanent representative to the EEC under Margaret Thatcher. Carole Walker is here as well. The prime minister defeated this evening and defeated by a big margin of 45 votes - 258 to 303. And Lord Hannay, all she was asking was for MPs to reiterate the support they had given her just two weeks ago.
HANNAY: Yes. Well, it shows how the ultra Brexiteers in her own party will stop at nothing to stick a knife into the prime minister if they don't like what she is doing. And they don't like the deal she struck. They were the reason why this huge majority three weeks ago against her deal and now they've repeated this. And they seem to be prepared to stop at nothing to damage her quite seriously.
GORANI: All right. Thanks to both of you. And stay with me, Carole. A bad night, a bad Valentine's Day for the prime minister in the U.K. Her motion asking her MPs or asking MPs, I should say in parliament, to reiterate support for her Brexit strategy defeated. We'll be right back with more of our special coverage after this.
GORANI: Welcome back to our special coverage. It is a bad night for Theresa May. MPs in parliament have defeated her motion asking them to reiterate their support for her Brexit strategy and she lost by quite the margin, by the way, 45 votes. Joining me here on Abingdon Green is Carole Walker our political analyst who is still with me as well as Nina Schick who joins me now as well with more analysis. Nina, what do you make of the fact that the prime minister was so soundly defeated?
NINA SCHICK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's expected and again I think it's important to point out that what's going on in parliament to date really it's white noise. It has got nothing to do with the negotiations that really matter and those are the talks between Theresa May and the other party in this negotiation, the E.U. 27. So it's just a humiliating defeat for the prime minister at a time when she has already painted herself into a corner. She has hardly anywhere to maneuver. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down and nothing has really changed at the top table where the decisions will be made.
GORANI: All right. What do you make then of what this means for her negotiating position in Brussels?
WALKER: I think it's severely weakened. The government, itself, has raised the stakes on tonight's votes. It should have been a simple formality. The government would have thought it would get through tonight's vote and that in two weeks time the prime minister would hopefully somehow get something out of the E.U. side she can bring back to parliament.
Instead, we've had senior cabinet ministers saying, "Oh, unless parliament votes for this, the prime minister is going to be undermined and weakened in the next round of negotiations." And that is precisely what has happened so when the prime minister goes back to the E.U. side now.
WALKER: It's very difficult for her to say, look, if you can just give me some changes to this backstop to prevent order on the island of Ireland. Then, don't worry I'll get it through given what she's been through tonight.
GORANI: Maybe the fact that she's defeated tonight gives her, look; I'm trying to look at this from a different perspective. What if she goes back and says, "Look, I was defeated tonight but just give me a little bit and I'll get the next one through. Just compromise a bit on the backstop and I can get the support I need."
SCHICK: The E.U. was always willing to compromise on the backstop but the question is, what does that compromise look like and what is your interpretation of compromise? So if it is what the ERG and ultra Brexiteers are demanding, that there has to be a time limit or it's removed completely from the withdrawal agreement. That was never going to be an option.
GORANI: What do you think they are going to give?
SCHICK: I think they can do a keyhole surgery on the withdrawal agreement where they basically reiterate what has actually already been said...
SCHICK: ... saying that we don't want this to come into place. We all try to find other solutions and maybe every six months, we can review the situation. There is precedence for international agreements for the E.U. and non-E.U. countries, from they have an agreement and agree to review it. But that is not a time limit and definitely not completely withdrawing the backstop.
GORANI: Nina, for our international viewers, what they are seeing, I think a lot are asking, why is the ultra Brexiteer faction of the Tory Party setting the agenda, when they don't represent a majority in parliament and don't represent a majority in the country?
SCHICK: Well, I this I that Theresa May made a big mistake when she decided to vote for the Brady Amendment. She was basically voting against her deal that she negotiated with 27 other heads of state over two-an-a-half years. I think her big fear what has often been the case in the whole E.U.-U.K. debate is the unity of the conservative party. She wants to make sure the ERG wing does not split off. But I mean if you look at the developments now, it seems inevitable that they will split off ...
SCHICK: ... because aside from the hardest Brexit they want. I don't think anything else will appease them.
GORANI: All right Nina Schick and Carole Walker. We'll be back in one hour. We'll have more special coverage as well as the rest of the day's top news stories. There's a lot going on. We brought you at the top of the hour breaking news on Amazon deciding not to open its second headquarters in New York City, a big deal in the corporate world. You'll remember the plans with some fierce opposition from some local politicians who claimed Amazon was taking advantage of tax breaks. That's criticism we've heard here in Europe as well.
A lot more ahead, I'm Hala Gorani, thanks for watching. Stay tuned, more on CNN coming up.