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Prime Minister Faces Parliament with Brexit Vote Hours Away; Corbyn Says May Delivering All Spin and No Substance; U.K Parliament Debates Revised Withdrawal Deal; U.K. Attorney General Says U.K. Could Be Trapped in Irish Backstop; Front Lines in Final Battle Against ISIS in Syria. Aired 11-12p ET

Aired March 12, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Let us prove beyond all doubt that we believe democracy come before party factional personal


The time -- the time has come to deliver on the -- the time has come to deliver on the instruction we were given. The time has come to back this

deal and I commend this motion to the House.

SPEAKER: Order. Question is motion number 3 as on the order paper. Mr. Jeremy Corbyn.


After three months of running down the clock, the Prime Minister has, despite very extensive delays achieved not a single change to the

withdrawal agreement, not one single word has changed.

Mr. Speaker, in terms of the substance, literally nothing has changed. On 29 January the Prime Minister backed the amendment in the name of the

member for Altrincham & Sale West, calling for the backstop -- and I quote -- to be replaced with alternative arrangements.

On the 12th of February the Prime Minister said the government was seeking three potential changes to the backstop. A legally binding time limit, a

legally binding unilateral exit clause or the ideas put forward by the alternative arrangements working group.

Mr. Speaker, there is no unilateral exit mechanism. There is no time limit. There are no alternative arrangements. So let us be clear. The

withdrawal agreement is unchanged. The political declaration is unchanged. The joint statement is a legal interpretation of what is in the withdrawal

agreement. And the unilateral statement is it the U.K. government trying to fool its own back benches because the EU has not even signed up to it.

Speaker: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thank the right honorable gentleman so much for giving way. Does he not recognize that there are millions of citizens out

there who are looking to his party, cross party, to deliver the certainty that that they are trying out for? Can't he compromise. Can't he

compromise like many colleagues have done so to deliver the results of the referendum?

CORBYN: Mr. Speaker, the Labour Party has put forward very clear proposals. Very clear proposals which I'll come to later on in my speech

but for the avoidance of doubt they are about a customs union, access to market and protection of rights. We put those forward and we continue to

put those forward.

What the British people are not looking for -- are not looking forward to, is the chaos of either leaving with no agreement or the problems that this

agreement has and will therefore be strongly opposed by members of the House tonight.

MAY: I'm grateful to the right honorable gentleman for giving way. He has just said that the Labour Party put forward a set of proposals and an

alternative to the deal that the government negotiated.

Can I say to him when the deal the government negotiated was rejected overwhelmingly by this House the right honorable gentleman said that we

should listen? We have listened. The other week -- the other week his -- the other week his proposals were rejected overwhelming by this House. Why

is he not listening?

CORBYN: Mr. Speaker I spent a great deal of time listening to people. People working on the shop floor in factories, people in small businesses,

people that are worried about the future of their families. They want some degree of certainty. Her deal does not offer that degree certainty at all

and she very well knows it. Our proposals are a basis for agreement, are a basis for negotiation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thank the right honorable gentleman -- I thank the right honorable for giving way. The right honorable gentleman voted for an

EU referendum against his party at the time. He voted for Article 50. Why is now he so intent on frustrating Brexit and the will of the people?

CORBYN: I'm really not quite sure what that intervention adds to the debate. There was a referendum in 1975, yes and I voted in that

referendum. There was a referendum in 2016. Yes, I voted in that referendum. And I campaigned to remain and reform the European Union.

But Mr. Speaker, I think the government is in real problems because they're trying to fool the people into believing that somehow or other the deal

that she has offered -- the deal she offered is the only one that is available. It is not and they very well know that.

[11:05:00] Look closely, Mr. Speaker, at the government's own motion. It's a case study in weasel words and obfuscation. And I quote, the legally

binding joint instrument reduces the risk the U.K. could be deliberately held in a Northern Ireland backstop indefinitely.

There are two key words there. Firstly, it's only reduces the risk, not eliminates the risk. So it is completely achieved to fail its own goal. I

have an ally in believing this to be the case. No less a person than the Attorney General who told the press at the weekend, and I quote his words.

I will not change my opinion unless we have a text that shows the risk has been eliminated. And indeed, his legal opinion today states, and I quote.

The legal risks remain unchanged.

SPEAKER: Mr. Sweeney.

PAUL SWEENEY, SCOTTISH LABOUR MP: I thank the right honorable friend for giving me, because he's making a very powerful point about the absurdity of

this idea that there could be a unilateral exit from the backstop. That would destroy the very function of the backstop. It's not the case that

the Prime Minister has committed a major strategic blunder for our country in pandering to the ERGs that are reaching out across to build consensus.

CORBYN: Indeed, the ERG seems missing today but I'm overcome by the excitement and enthusiasm of all the members sitting behind the Prime

Minister in this debate.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker --

SPEAKER: The right honorable gentleman is not currently giving way. Members, I don't require any affirmation or contradiction of the honorable

gentleman. He's got to learn the ways of Parliament.

Jeremy Corbyn.

CORBYN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Secondly, there is the use of the word deliberately. The risk that we are held in the backstop indefinitely has not been reduced, only the risk that

we could be deliberately held in the backstop indefinitely.

The Prime Minister has said herself on numerous occasions the backstop is painful for both the U.K. and the European Union. It's something that

neither side wishes to see applied. There's been no indication from the Prime Minister that there ever was a risk of being deliberately held in the

backstop in the first place. Now I'm going to make some progress if I may. Yet in her statement last night the Prime Minister said the joint

instrument guarantees that the EU cannot act with the intent of applying the backstop indefinitely. The EU has never, ever expressed this intent.

And the Prime Minister -- neither has the Prime Minister ever accused them of this intention.

The Prime Minister has constructed one enormous great big gigantic attractive paper tiger and then slain it. But the substance already

existed through Article 178, Section 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement, agreed in November, truly nothing has changed.

The Prime Minister also claims that the joint instrument entrenches a January exchange of letters in legally binding form. Mr. Peak Speaker on

the 14th of January from this dispatch box, the Prime Minister told the House those letters had legal standing and would have legal force in

international law.

Mr. Speaker we are back again into smoke and mirrors. The illusion of change when the reality is nothing has changed. It's all spin and no

substance from the Prime Minister. The statement -- I'm making some progress if I may --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm street extremely grateful to the leader of opposition for giving me and the (INAUDIBLE) perfectly the miasma of chaos

that is eating away at this place. But doesn't he agree with me that given the chaos that's about to hit the people of Scotland who voted

overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union that should they request a Section 30 order to hold a referendum on Scotland's independence it would

be undemocratic in the extreme for the government to refuse it.

CORBYN: There is no relevant to that intervention to this debate that we're having today. This debate is about the government's proposals on

leaving the European Union.

Mr. Speaker, there is a statement in the Attorney General legal advice still holds. That the backstop would endure indefinitely until a

superseding agreement takes place. That was the case in January and it is the case today. I reiterate the view of the Attorney General, despite the

theater of the Prime Minister's late-night declaration in Strasbourg that nothing has changed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thank my right honorable friend for giving way.

[11:10:00] Is it not the case that the critical issue here is that that party cannot countenance a trading arrangement which puts both Northern

Ireland and Ireland and the European Union in the same trading arrangements. And so, whether it is today or next we can or the end of

this month or May at any time, that party opposite cannot bring forward a Brexit that people can agree on?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: We are connecting you to breaking news this hour here on CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you are live from Abu


You've been listening to battling British Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a largely empty House of Commons. It has to be said, even though there are

650 or so members. Mrs. May facing questions in the House of Commons about a revised Brexit deal. Despite practically losing her voice she has

been urging lawmakers to back her plan or risk not having Brexit at all.

We're going to continue to monitor what's going on in the chamber of the House of Commons throughout the next hour here on CONNECT THE WORLD. But

let's drill down on what we heard. That plan, Theresa May's plan on how the U.K. will exit the EU on the 29th of March, just 17 days from now. Up

for a vote in just hours from now. Let's get you straight to Julia Chatterley. She is in London outside the British Parliament. If this deal

is lost then Brexit could be lost, says Mrs. May. Really? Break in down for us, Julia? What do you make for us of what we heard?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, FIRST MOVE: Yes, I have to say, Theresa May's voice not the only thing that got lost today, as you quite

rightly pointed out. She said, look, if MPs don't vote for her deal tonight then Brexit itself might be lost. But she has been delta couple of

huge blows today.

The first from the Attorney General saying that ultimately despite her efforts overnight to get more assurances from the EU, nothing about the

legality surrounding that backstop arrangement that kicks in after December 2020 if a deal hasn't been reached on trade terms with EU, nothing's

change. She achieved nothing.

Fine, the political risks may have reduced. But ultimately it was the legal risks that the smaller party, the DUP, the Democratic Unionist Party,

needed in order to support this deal. They've already come out and said, look, nothing has changed as far as they're concerned. You've then got the

Brexiteers on the other side that have said, look, if the DUP isn't on board here, ultimately, it's tough for us to be on board here.

So you know, again, Becky it's looking like she's going to see a defeat tonight. The question is how big is that defeat going to be and will she

battle on? What next? And of course, we know there is another vote tomorrow to rule out a no-deal exit and the belief is that Parliament will

ultimately sign up to that. And they'll say we're going to rule out a no- deal exit here. Then what? Because she loses arguably all her leverage with the EU to go back and fight for more. I mean, what a mess, Becky. I

have no better way to say it.

ANDERSON: Right, and nobody as you rightly point out knows what happens next. You've just brought up a couple of points. And I just want the

viewers to get a real sense of what's been going on in the chamber. The Prime Minister then defending her plan. Let's remind our views that is

Theresa May's plan on how the U.K. exits the EU. She says it deserves the support of every MP. Let's have a listen.


MAY: The danger for those of us who want to deliver, to have faith with the British public and deliver on their vote for Brexit, is that if this

vote is not passed tonight, if this deal is not passed then Brexit could be lost.


ANDERSON: Right. And then of course as you rightly point out, hope thin on the ground after this massive setback earlier today. The Attorney

General saying revisions to the deal don't reduce the legal risk. That the U.K. could be trapped in what's known as this Irish backstop indefinitely.

This is the issue, of course, that's been the crux of recent negotiations. Again let's have a listen.


GEOFFREY COX, BRITISH ATTORNEY GENERAL: Such an event in my opinion is highly unlikely to occur and it is both in the interests of the U.K. and

the EU to agree a future relationship has quickly as possible. Were such a situation to occur, however, let me make it clear. The legal risk, as I

set it out in my letter of the 13th of November remains unchanged.


One of the questions that will be being asked by many people watching this, Julia, and indeed many, many thousands of Brito hello hi ns is the


[11:15:00] This is a country in chaos with what many will see as narcissistic lawmakers who seem to have absolutely no interest in what

happens now in the country and where Britain goes, going forward. What's the fallout from all of this?

CHATTERLEY: Well, the argument here is that Theresa May is still playing party politics, still trying to say to her own Party and the Brexiteers

within her Party, if you don't vote for this version of Brexit -- and this is the toughest of version of Brexit you're going to get. Then you may not

get Brexit at all.

But you can hear the people behind me. And I can hear people saying stop Brexit. And then you have people saying stop this deal. And what

ultimately will happened behind me if this vote fails tonight, is everyone will cheer. Because everyone that wants to remain in the EU will be happy

and everyone that's Brexiteer but doesn't want the deal will be happy. And ultimately, no one, not everybody can get what they want in in situation.

And right now, pleasing everybody is impossible. And that's not changed over the last two years. And I don't see how that changes as a result of

the three votes that we're going to see this week -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, Jeremy Corbyn -- who we're looking at now in the chamber -- the opposition leader, of course, of the Labour Party saying, and I quote.

After three months running down the clock, Theresa May has got not one word changed on the withdrawal agreement.

That might be true. It's also extremely convenient for a party who quite frankly many will say have provided no other alternative.

CHATTERLEY: And many people would agree with you there, Becky, as well. That it's taken a long time for Jeremy Corbyn to take some form of stance.

Remember, we were only really in this position because the Labour Party wasn't traditionally as it always been a euro positive party going into

this referendum. He kind of under duress. Suggested that ultimately, they push to a second referendum on this if they had to. But he himself has

said he'd prefer to see a deal here to push through a Brexit solution here for the U.K.

So there are a lot of people that say that actually there's been a huge lack of leadership on the part of Jeremy Corbyn. And what is the

alternative here for the U.K. population if they want to vote for a party that will ultimately keep the U.K. in the EU?

ANDERSON: Julia Chatterley is on Abbington Green, as the square is known outside of the British Parliament. It's extremely wet there today. Julia

battling the storm as well as the narrative out there joined by, of course, today on the green, CNN's Bianca Nobilo and our political contributor, and

great friend of this show, Robin Oakley, who are also outside the Houses of Parliament. Bianca, there are those -- and we are four hours ahead of this

vote and counting. There are those who say it's over. The DUP and the Euroskeptic, ERG Tory MPs have seen to that. What is extraordinary is that

nobody knows what happens next. Do you? Help us out.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well a big reason for that is the fact that MPs are still texting me saying that they haven't decided which way

they're going to voting. So if they don't know, then there's no way that I could know and even the illustrious Robin would be able to answer that

question I don't think.

What is really striking today -- and this is the calculus that the Brexiters are going to have to be making. Is whether or not Theresa May's

threat today, that it's her deal or potentially a no Brexit is a phantom concept or if that is a reality. That's what they're going to need to be

looking at. Because if we cast our minds back to how the Prime Minister has shifted her rhetoric. Originally, she said it was her deal or no-deal.

That was her ploy. Then she said it was her deal, no-deal or no Brexit. And now she saying, it's her deal or no Brexit. So if you look at that

trajectory and you're a Brexiteer, I'd be pretty concerned.

ANDERSON: Robin, Theresa May says her Brexit deal, quote, sends a message to the whole world. I'm quoting her here, about the kind of country

Britain will be. Which begs the question, what kind of country will Britain be going forward should this vote get passed tonight? And what

many people see is a country in chaos, as I was discussing with Julia. Many people would say they see narcissistic lawmakers in that House, as we

speak, who seem to have absolutely no interest in Britain's future.

[11:20:00] How do you read all of this? You have been around the block on Britain's politics.

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Becky, it is as you say a country in chaos. And it's a country which is largely despairing of its

politicians at the moment. The two major parties, the whipping system, the discipline of the parties has broken down almost completely. And a recent

poll said 68 percent of the public couldn't find themselves to support either major party.

As we were discussing earlier, Jeremy Corbyn on the Labour Party is essentially playing a sort of subterranean game. He wants Brexit to go

ahead, although most of the Party doesn't. He is a Brexiteer. He wants Brexit to go ahead but he wants the Conservative Party and Theresa May to

be blamed for it.

Theresa May has made the mistake ever since the election that she called -- which diminished her Parliamentary majority -- of failing to reach out to

the other parties and to work towards a consensus deal which might have got majority backing in the British House of Commons. Instead she proved

herself to be a tribal conservative basically appealing to the right-wing Brexiteers in her own party and trying to do a deal with them.

As a result we are left with a House of Commons which at the moment doesn't seem to be able to agree on any particular single line of action. Now, of

course, we are likely to see her vote go down tonight because with the DUP not supporting it -- as they have announced her allies in Northern Ireland

-- then the European reform group, the hard line Brexiteers, they're not going to support her in big enough numbers either. So almost certainly her

deal is lost.

We then go to a vote which gives her huge problems tomorrow on will there be -- will the House of Commons back there being no-deal, whatever else

happens? Now of course then Theresa May is faced a problem. Does she order her party to support no-deal? Does she order her Party not to

support no-deal? Because whichever way she goes she going to have people in the cabinet and in her government walking out in opposition to those two

lines. And if she says, let's have a free vote, everybody make up their own minds. Well that is a final sign that she has completely lost

authority in this Parliament -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. Yes, we may be witnessing the last rites of this Conservative Party as we speak. Certainly there are those out there who

are saying that. But look, I cannot overestimate how important that what is going on behind you is for Britain and Britons and indeed the rest of

the world. Let's talk about the people of Britain. Is there any evidence, Bianca, that Britons have actually changed their mind on whether the

majority want to leave the EU or not?

NOBILO: Becky, I speak to pollsters quite often and if you look at the trajectory of sentiment prior to the referendum and during that referendum

period and the result we see leave winning by a margin of a few percent. Now if you watch what's happened to both sentiments over these last years

since the referendum, now it seems that remain is winning by about half of that amount. So we are talking marginal percentages here.

However the Prime Minister just said in Parliament that she didn't think that the opinions of people in Britain had changed. So there doesn't seem

to be the grounds swell of support for a second referendum that you'd expect. Seeing is that Labour have actually given it conditional support

and the House of Commons hasn't been able to agree on anything.

But, Becky, I think testament to the confusion that's happening in the country, as well as in Parliament, is what happens when you have two Party

leaders that are essentially fighting for things which we know they don't believe.

Can I just cast our viewers minds back to the fact that Theresa May who is putting no-deal firmly on the table as she voted to remain -- tepidly --

but campaigned for remain during the referendum campaign. And Jeremy Corbyn is a career Euroskeptic. He's voted against Maastricht. He's voted

against the EEC. He is a Euroskeptic, even though he did support remain in the referendum. And you have him who is supporting a second referendum or

a softer Brexit. So, yes, people say that politicians don't always act on what they believe. But here is a very singular example of two politicians

supporting causes which historically they haven't.

ANDERSON: You make a really good point and one we should be reminded of on a regular basis. Look, Robin, we've got viewers who will be watching the

chamber today. This is Bill Cash speaking, a proper Euroskeptic if there ever was one. We've got a chamber which looks half-full to me, on a day

which is historic for the U.K. Is that acceptable?

[11:25:00] That not every single lawmaker is in that chamber arguing about how they feel on behalf of their constituents? Surely can't be right that

not every single MP is in that chamber?

OAKLEY: No, it's not right, at all, Becky. And there should be a far better turnout on a crucial day like this. This is a day and a vote which

can decide the whole future course of this country. And particularly the generations to come. And many people have very strong feelings about

Brexit one way or another. And particularly about how it's going to affect their children and grandchildren. This is a long-term decision being taken

about the shape of Britain to come. And really all those MPs should be in there and should be participating in this debate in a very active fashion.


OAKLEY: But, you know, it has been curiously lacking today in passion. And the only two moments of passion that we got I felt from Theresa May

were firstly when she talked about not wanting a second referendum and saying that that would solve nothing. And secondly, saying if we have an

extension and put off the whole business of Brexit. And there's no way we're getting out on March the 29th it seems to me now. Because of the

sheer technicalities that still have to be gone through.

She was passionate again by saying, oh, if we have an extension of Article 50 and postpone the decision that solves nothing and it puts strength in

the hands of the EU rather than the U.K. I think at the end of all this, if we go into an extended period, the longer it goes on, the softer the Brexit

will be. Which is why the hardline Brexiteers have got a hard decision to make. The longer it goes, the softer that Brexit will be. And this is a

moment to decide Britain's future --


OAKLEY: -- for a long, long time to come -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, and the bigger the risk for Brexiteers of a People's Vote and a second referendum. Robin, always a pleasure. Bianca, thank you.

Your analysis and insight have been terrific. We've got a lot more on what is a very important day in a very -- on a very wet Abbington Green at

Westminster ahead, as Parliament nears a vote on Theresa May's revised Brexit deal. It may all sound very complicated. Bottom line is, this is

massively important for Britain and its future role in the world. That coming up after this.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. If you are just joining us you are more than welcome on what is an historic day for the U.K, an extremely important day

on what is an absolutely massive story. As the United Kingdom tries to figure out how to break out of the European Union. Right now we are just

hours away from one vote that could determine everything. Lawmakers -- and this is live out of the chamber in the House of Commons as we speak -- set

to decide whether or not to leave the EU with the Prime Minister's deal -- a deal which has been attacked from pretty much every angle you can think

of. And remember, all this as we are just 17, one, seven, days away from D-day or B-day, Brexit day, as it were.

The U.K. is set to officially leave the Union on March 29 if lawmakers go ahead and reject the deal, what happens next is anybody's guess. Naturally

the markets -- the financial markets mulling this over. We are taking a look at how the pound -- it's holding up actually against the dollar right


But I can tell you just remember, before June 2016 that figure was around about 1.7 on the U.S. dollar. Fell to around 1.35 on the day of referendum

when Britain voted to leave the EU. And it's hovered around the same level. Currency traders really waiting to find out what happens in this

vote later on tonight. Nina dos Santos is at Downing Street. Erin McLaughlin has reaction from Brussels. Political analyst, Carole Walker,

joining us too. Let me start with you, Nina. It's over. The DU P and the Euroskeptic Tory MPs have seen to that say many. What we don't know really

though at this point is what happens next. Correct?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT. Yes, that's right. Well also remember that Jeremy Corbyn there from his dispatch box said that essentially

nothing had changed. And he had an ally in those arguments and that of course was the Attorney General of the government. And it was his decision

to come out with his statement earlier today and explain to the House that essentially the U.K. in accordance to his previous statement is -- may well

can't avoid the situation of getting trapped in the never-ending situation with of a backstop with Northern Ireland that has turned all the parties

firmly against Theresa May's deal.

You heard her say repeatedly in the House of Commons, that, well look, if you don't back my deal you won't get a deal at all. And that's a real

issue for the Conservative Party that currently occupies number 10 Downing Street.

I was speaking to a few Tory Party counselors who were queuing up to get into Downing Street because here it's still operations as normal. We've

even seen the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, arrived for a reception here. So they're trying to make it look as though it's

business as unusual, Brexit notwithstanding. But the real question here is if the Conservative Party doesn't manage to deliver Brexit well that could

really fracture it potential for generations of Conservatives to come.

So for this reason Theresa May is being accused of playing party politics rather than putting the future of her country in front of them. Now

obviously, the question in evening, Becky, in a few hours, will be not so much will she lose now but by which margin?

[11:35:00] And from there on what we'll see potentially is one of two things happening. We know that as of tomorrow if the deal is voted down

for a second time by MPs, they will be vote on whether or not to go for a no-deal or rule that out. And then potentially the on the same day or day

after that, we could also have MPs voting on whether or not to ask for an extension from Brussels. If that happens, Theresa May will go to the next

EU summit on 21st of March and potentially ask for more time. We don't know how much she'll get though.

ANDERSON: Well and that's a very good question that Erin may or may not be able to answer at this point. There are so many unanswered questions on

that. What we do know is -- you know, baseline as far as European leaders are concerned is that most if not all wish this had never happened. Nobody

it seems in Europe wanted this Brexit. They hate the idea of the union beginning to fall apart as it were. There is a lot of fractures behind the

scenes. To some extent this whole Brexit deal is kind of is putting a plaster cast over at the moment. So what can the EU offer Theresa May?

Anything at this point to help her out?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Becky I'm having a sense of deja vu every time we reach one of these critical point, a critical vote in

Westminster. I'm asked what more will the EU give? And every time EU officials, EU leaders say there is nothing more to give. The tank is

empty. You know, we heard from Jean-Claude Juncker in that joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May last night. He said

that there are second chances in terms of politics. But there are no third chances. There are no more concessions the EU is willing to offer. There

will be no more reassurances on top of reassurances.

You know, I was just speaking to one EU source who was telling me just how frustrated people here are in Brussels. The view from Brussels is that the

EU has compromised in all of this enough. Take the backstop. The EU's position originally was that the backstop would apply to Northern Ireland

only. It was seen as a huge concession to Theresa May and her government to widen the backstop, to include the whole of the U.K. That is something

that Theresa May fought for in negotiations, now at the center of this impasse. So the feeling here is there is not more to give. They're not

moving. They're not going to compromise the fundamentals. And fundamentals to the EU of this backstop protects the island of Ireland. It

protects the peace process. And it protects the single market. That's not going to change.

ANDERSON: Nic's in Londonderry or Derry as it's often known. Theresa May got a bit of support today from the leader of Republic who kind of fancied

what she had been able to pull off with the European Union, with regard to this backstop. Even though we've been told by the Attorney General it's

not legally binding. How do you think support from the Republic might help if at all the British Prime Minister's argument today as she awaits to see

how these British lawmakers vote?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Becky, it's a double-edged sword. Isn't it? Because, you know, on the one hand, the

fact that Leo Varadkar came out and said that Ireland, part of the European, was willing to listen to Britain, was willing to listen to and

respond positively as much as it could to its requests for further assurances. You know, this was sort of very much an indication of, you

know, European willingness to help Britain, that it is, you know, that it is trying to give Theresa May something. But it's a double-edged sword.

Because he also said that these agreements did not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, that they did not diminish the backstop. And for the Democratic

Unionist Party here in Northern Ireland -- this is the other edge of the sword if you will for Theresa May. They prop up Theresa May's slender

majority. They would look upon comments like that by the Irish Prime Minister as potentially -- you know, as potentially counter to their long-

term interests. And their long-term interests are this, which is keeping Northern Ireland part of the United Kingdom. Which means they have

concerns and would look beyond the statements and worry amongst themselves potentially.

Is there something in there from the European Union and the Irish Prime Minister that would lead to believe that somehow Ireland covets -- the

Republic of Ireland covets Northern Ireland and will ultimately be a path to a united Ireland. That's long been their concern.

But, you know, as we've heard from them today, they have said -- the Democratic Unionist Party have said, that what the agreements are so far

that Theresa May has achieved don't go far enough.

[11:40:00] At they think that it's possible that Britain could still be stuck in a backstop.

And I have to say, you know, the comments from the Prime Minister today when she said we are going to give additional sort of guarantees or

additional input to the people of Northern Ireland in terms of their assembly at Stormont, that the assembly itself would be able to vote

whether or not that the backstop could be extended. And also that the executive in Northern Ireland assembly would have an input on the

North/South relations. This is their sort of relations between the North of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The bottom line here, Becky, is that what she said rather overlooks the fact that the political assembly in Northern Ireland, the power sharing

government hasn't been working for two years and may well not be up and running several more years. So those words were well meaning but they

would ring rather empty. The bottom line for the key players for Theresa May here is, what she got didn't go far enough and what Leo Varadkar in the

South, the Prime Minister would have said would have perhaps given them concern. Because Ireland would have been seen to be acting in good faith.

And of course, this is the path to getting out of the backstop is to prove that European Union/the Irish government would have been somehow acting in

bad faith. And today he stood up and said, we are acting in good faith and this is us on the record saying it.

ANDERSON: Carole, we are what, three and a bit hours away from this vote. This the first of a potential three votes this week. We could easy will be

looking at the last rites of the Tory Party here, some are saying. As well as the end at some point of Theresa May's premiership one assumes. You

could argue -- you could argue that she has done as the Prime Minister what was expected of her. He she's gone out. She's negotiated hard and she's

got what the -- she squeezed the life of out of the European Union who is desperate for no one to actually leave this grouping. The point is though

that she seems like she's not going to get support from other lawmakers in the U.K. who haven't come up with any better solution. What do you make of

all of this?

CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Becky, you watched the Prime Minister there struggling hoarsely threw her statement. She's been on her

feet for about an hour and 45 minutes now. And you do see a Prime Minister who really is now running out of road. Over the last dramatic 24 hours she

made that dash to Strasbourg, that meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker. She came back with what she said were these new legally binding assurances. It

is worth saying that the Attorney General, the government's legal adviser said that there were now new legal obligations on the European Union.

There is now a new legal mechanism that could help the U.K. get out of the backstop under certain circumstances, if the European Union were seen to be

not negotiating in good faith. But that basically --

ANDERSON: Good faith. Yes.

WALKER -- if the negotiations between the two sides break down, then, yes, the U.K. could still be trapped in that backstop. It is worth pointing out

that those reassurances have changed some minds. There are at least 10 perhaps a dozen Conservative MPs who have come out publicly and said, look,

I voted against the Prime Minister's deal last night. I am prepared to support her tonight.

But set against that, the vast majority of those hardline Brexiteers in the ERG and crucially the Democratic Unionist Party are saying that they do not

intend to support her. Yes, it looks as though the Prime Minister is heading for another historic defeat tonight. And then, you know, this

looming political crisis is really about to come crashing down. Because if and seems likely the Commons votes against a no-deal, it votes for an

extension, well the EU has made it clear that it doesn't really want to see an extension beyond May 25th because of the European Union elections. As

you've been hearing from Erin a little earlier, the EU has already been saying, look, no more concessions, no more clarifications. This is it.

This is as god as you're going to get.

ANDERSON: What a mess. To all of you, thank you. What, three hours, 15 or so minutes away from that vote. As Carole points out, very unlikely

that the Prime Minister will get her way with this. And what happens next is entirely unclear at this point. Can't belief I'm saying it.

Coming up next, several more countries grounding Boeing 737 Max planes after the deadly crash in Ethiopia. We are going to get you the very

latest on that after this.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. Britain has joined a growing number of countries now grounding Boeing 737 Max

aircraft after the deadly crash in Ethiopia on Sunday. They don't want to take any chances, as investigators try to figure out what caused an

Ethiopian Airlines flight to go down minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa. 157 lives were lost from 35 nations. And we are seeing many, many

heartbreaking scenes like this. A mother asking, why, why her daughter had to die?

As I say the victims came from 35 countries, including nearly two dozen United Nations staffers. This is the second time in less than six months

that a Boeing 737 Max affect has trashing crashed. Well Boeing has just issued a new statement just moments ago.

It says and I quote, safety is Boeing's number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the Max. We are understanding that

regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets.

And we'll continue to follow that story of course as we get it. Suffice to say, Boeing shares down once again today on the Dow Jones. And that's a

big, big company that -- this is going to sort of undo waiting, as it were, on the Dow Jones. It certainly helps to flatten that market if not pull it


Well in eastern Syria CNN's Ben Wedeman and his crew have put us right up on the frontlines of the final battle between the Syrian Democratic Forces

and what remains of ISIS. This has been now weeks in the making. Just a short time Ben filed this report with the latest on that fight.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tuesday dawns over Behrouz to the echo of gunfire. Overhead, a war plane on the

prowl. The battle rages on in the junk yard, all that's left of the once feared, so-called Islamic state. Its black banner flutters in the wind.

White phosphorus rains down. Setting tents on fire. And yet there are still signs of life inside the camp. For now.


[11:50:00] ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman reporting there.

We have this week been bringing you some remarkable images from Ben and his team on the fight to rid Syria of the last of the so-called ISIS caliphate.

The Syrian civil war has forced many people to flee that country over the last eight years. And you are about to meet one such girl who was forced

to leave. Nina Al Jundi has down syndrome. But that hasn't stopped her from realizing her dream. She is one of more than 7,000 athletes coming

here to the UAE this month for the Special Olympic World Games. It's believed to be the largest sporting event on the planet this year. And we

will have extensive coverage starting with a look at one of the leading gold medal contenders in the pool, Nina Al Jundi.


NINA AL JUNDI, SPECIAL OLYMPICS ATHLETE FROM SYRIA: If I get gold medal, I will be happy. Super happy. I feel good from swimming. For the Olympics

I went to many place. Dubai, Abu Dhabi. Egypt, Athens, Damascus. I'm remember from Syria, my coach, friends, my center, I need to go back.

First, we warm up.

SOUAD AL JUNDI, NINA'S MOTHER: In Syria, people used to for example, when we go to restaurant or a place, public place, people used to look at her

because she is different of course.

NINA: I feel happy, I am travelling.


ANDERSON: Good luck to Nina this week. The games start on Thursday. On for a week.

Still ahead, our breaking news, tonight, looming uncertainty for Britain's Prime Minister and the country as the Attorney General deals a major blow

to her EU divorce plans chances. More on that coming up.


You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. We've got breaking news this hour. And we will continue to be in breaking news coverage as we move

towards what is a crucial vote in the Palace of Westminster tonight. As we speak, lawmakers debating Theresa May's latest Brexit deal ahead of that

vote, as I say, hours away. It's been just eight intense weeks since the last meaningful vote, as it's called, when the Prime Minister's deal was

overwhelmingly defeated by Parliament.

On Monday Mrs. May declared a breakthrough after revisions were made during a last-month meeting with the EU. Her Attorney General warns those

changes do not provide a legal guarantee that U.K. can get out of the so- called Irish backstop unilaterally.

[11:55:00] Although there are some that say his decision today certainly ought to help the Prime Minister's cause somewhat. But the Prime Minister

herself warning if her deal is not passed today, Brexit could be lost for good.


MAY: The danger for those of us who want to the have faith with the British public and deliver on their vote for Brexit, is that if this vote

is not passed tonight, if this deal is not passed then Brexit could be lost.


ANDERSON: She's nearly lost her voice. Will she lose that vote? Well we'll know in just a little more than three hours from now. CNN, of

course, will bring you coverage on what is a historic day once again in Britain and as we move through the day.

And remember, you can always follow the stories with the team here is working on throughout the day by going to our Facebook page. That's I'm Becky Anderson that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching.