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New Zealand Prime Minister to Announce New Gun Restriction Proposal Details Soon; Corbyn Vows to Hold No-Confidence Vote if Brexit Deal Rejected a Third Time; Rory McIlroy Wins PLAYERS Championship; Bottas Wins Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit; Napoli Keeper Collapses During Match; Women Dominate Headlines in Skiing World. Aired 12m-1a ET

Aired March 18, 2019 - 00:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Families of the 50 people killed in New Zealand's terror attack prepare to bury their loved ones as the prime minister vows to change gun laws.

Officials say black box data from the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight show similarities to last year's deadly Lion Air crash.

And CNN talks exclusively with one of the men behind the attempted assassination by drone of the Venezuelan president and claims he discussed the attack with U.S. officials.

Hello, everyone, and thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church in Atlanta. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


CHURCH: Officials in New Zealand have begun the grim task of identifying and releasing the victims' bodies after Friday's mass shootings there; 50 people were killed in the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.

The prime minister has promised all the bodies will be released by Wednesday. Muslim tradition dictates bodies be buried soon after death.

Meanwhile, prime minister Jacinda Ardern is meeting with cabinet members on gun control after Friday's tragedy. She has vowed to toughen the country's gun laws and we should hear from her very soon.

The investigation into the attacks has spread to Australia. Police there have raided two homes in New South Wales as part of the shooting investigation. CNN affiliates 7News reports one of the homes is believed to belong to the suspect's sister. Tarrant remains in jail right now; his next court appearance is set for April 5th.

His grandmother gave her reaction to the tragedy to our Australian affiliate Nine News.


MARIE FITZGERALD, TARRANT'S GRANDMOTHER: We're all gobsmacked. We don't know what to think. It's -- you know, the media are saying he has planned for a long time, so he is obviously not of sound mind, I don't think.


CHURCH: Prime Minister Ardern and the governor general of New Zealand signed a public condolence.

The prime minister wrote this, "On behalf of all New Zealanders, we grieve together. We are one. They are us."

So let's bring in Ivan Watson, who joins us from the memorial at the botanical gardens in Christchurch.

And, Ivan, this has been the strength of New Zealand. In the face of this heinous crime, the country has chosen unity and pride in its diversity as a way to confront this hateful ideology.

And Prime Minister Ardern set that tone from the beginning, didn't she?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From the very start and she denounced the attacks, saying quite quickly that these were acts of a terrorist. These were terrorist attacks on a minority in this country.

An Islamic leader who appeared in the press conference with the deputy commissioner of police went on to say that he believed that the suspect was trying to divide people in what he described as the most beautiful and tolerant country in the world and that he had failed because there had been an outpouring of love.

And if you need proof, just look here at the botanical gardens in Christchurch where now, several days after the terror attacks, you still see people filing through. This is the first day of school since schools were on lockdown on Friday, it is Monday here.

And you can still see people in tears looking at the very heartfelt messages that New Zealanders have written for their fellow New Zealanders, from members of this tiny Muslim minority, that makes up just 1 percent of the population in this relatively small country.

One of the big challenges right now remains trying to return the bodies of the victims to anguished families. And it is clear that that task has been a bit too much for the authorities here. They have had to push back their schedule for releasing the victims for burial each day that we have been here.

The one person that was released last night, the family requested to wait for the release of another individual from that family, who was also a victim of what has been described as the most deadly terror attack in modern New Zealand history.

Countries like Pakistan have announced that Pakistan, which lost nine citizens in Friday's attack, that six of their citizens are expected to be buried here in New Zealand; three others would be repatriated. The New Zealand government says that it will be working with --


WATSON: -- many governments -- Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, for example, Bangladesh -- to try to repatriate those who request the return of their loved ones to their original place of origin.

And we've learned from one of the imams here in Christchurch, that there is expected to be a mass burial here and Christchurch in a cemetery on Thursday. We are learning a bit more about the main suspect, Brenton Tarrant, this 28-year-old Australian charged with one count of murder. More charges are expected.

We spoke to his public defender or duty lawyer who was assigned to represent him in court on Saturday. And he has said that the suspect has asked not to be represented, not to be defended by a lawyer, which is raising questions that you are hearing on talk radio here in New Zealand about the possibility of him trying to espouse his ideology in the courtroom.

So that is already a subject of debate right now. I'm going to toss it back to you, Rosemary, at CNN Center.

CHURCH: Ivan, while you are there, I want to talk to you more about what we are seeing behind you, this memorial, this honoring of the victims here and how different it has been for so many people watching what has been happening in New Zealand.

We are used to seeing all this divisive talk from the likes of U.S. president Donald Trump, in words and action, against diversity, against emigration. This is the complete opposite, a complete contrast that we are seeing there in New Zealand.

Why is it so different in that country?

Is it because of the prime minister leading the way?

Or is this a sense within all the community, with all the people that you have had an opportunity to talk to there, this is the way that people in New Zealand lead their lives?

WATSON: I don't think I can pin it down to one factor. Certainly Jacinda Ardern's leadership has played a role; many people here saying that they're very proud of the prime minister in this moment of crisis. Perhaps it has something to do with a unique culture here in New Zealand of tolerance and welcoming people from different parts of the world, welcoming refugees as well.

And perhaps it has something to do with the fact that this is a country with a relatively low crime rate, that has not experienced acts of terror in the past, where most people believed that that kind of violence that we've seen in Europe, in the Middle East and North America, would not come to these distant shores.

But sadly, tragically, people are coming to grips with the fact that the contagion of political violence, of terrorism that has hit other countries has, in fact, landed here in New Zealand.

Now one of the measures that the prime minister has proposed, quite soon after the terror attacks, was that she vowed to change her nation's gun laws after Friday's massacre.

And prime minister Jacinda Ardern met with her cabinet today, to discuss that. And here's some facts about gun policy here. New Zealand gun laws are considered more relaxed than most Western countries outside of the U.S.

Gun owners need a license but they're not required to register their guns, they must be over 16 and pass a police background check and it is estimated that New Zealand has about 1.2 million guns. That's for a nations of close to 5 million people.

To get more on this question and a possibility of a change in the gun laws, I'm joined by Philip Alpers. He's the founding director of and a professor at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. We have not yet heard the concrete proposals that the government here will raise, what can you anticipate, what kind of measures could they put forward in response to the deadly massacre on Friday?

PHILIP ALPERS, GUNPOLICY.ORG: There have been for inquiries over 22 years, asking the same question. All of the recommendations of those inquiries were ignored and the pressure from the gun lobby, every one of them was watered down and didn't eventuate (ph).

But all of these options are now back on the table and all those inquiries pretty well agree that there has to be some sort of ban of semi-automatic firearms, which are the semi-automatic rifles, which are the weapon of choice for mass killers.

WATSON: Philip, we have learned from the owner of a business here called Gun City, he confirmed today that four of the weapons -- four weapons --


WATSON: -- had in fact been sold to the suspected gunman as well as ammunition from his business via a police process mail order process.

Also we've also learned from this online sales site, Trade Me, that it has announced, quote, "We are halting the sale of semi-automatic weapons while we wait for more clarity from the government."

So already, some moves toward trying to restrict the sale of these firearms here in New Zealand.

Will this be enough, do you think, to try to prevent future possible massacres?

ALPERS: Certainly not, on a voluntary basis; Gun City is one of the most notorious sellers of guns in New Zealand. And they certainly won't comply with any such restrictions.

The only thing that can happen is for the law to be changed to ban some of these firearms. Now I have no idea whether that will happen or not; I do not know how complete or incomplete it will be.

But then there's the other thing, which is the glaring exception in New Zealand's gun laws, New Zealand's are really pretty tight, certainly compared to the United States. Pretty well everyone is.

But they have some big loopholes, big gaps in them. And those gaps have been inserted at the insistence of the gun lobby to make sure that they do not inconvenience people. And they allowed this thing to happen in Christchurch. It was those gaps in the law which enabled the gunman to do what he did.

He is an Australian, he came from Australia to New Zealand to commit this crime. But in Australia, he would never have been able to buy those firearms. They've all been banned, confiscated, destroyed and fair market price has been paid for them by the government.

So he could not have gotten those guns in Australia.

One has to ask, did he go New Zealand because it was a soft target?

WATSON: And that is a theory that, certainly, some community leaders have proposed here, Philip. He was without a criminal record; he had a legal gun permit and the authorities say that all of the weapons he purchased were acquired legally.

However, they do say that at least one of these weapons was modified, potentially to be more lethal.

So what steps could New Zealand take to try to counter those types of modifications?

ALPERS: That modification is a joke. When these guns were classified as military style semi-automatics, back in 1992, the gun lobby ensured that several things could not happen. That is that magazines could not be confiscated.

So all he needed to do was swap out the seven-round magazine from his semi-automatic rifle, which is the New Zealand maximum for the number of rounds you are allowed to carry in a semi-automatic and swap back in a 30-round magazine.

Those magazines are not restricted in New Zealand, you can buy them very easily in private sales and online. And so the moment that he plugged that magazine into the gun, which is just a simple as putting a cigarette into a cigarette packet, he created an illegal firearm. It became a military-style semi-automatic.

So you can see what a joke that law is. And that would have to be one of the things that would need to be changed.

WATSON: And there are reports that he was in possession of an AR-15, this rifle which seems to be the weapon of choice for mass murderers in the United States in a number of notorious incidents that have taken place there.

Philip Alpers from the University of Sydney and from, thank you for sharing insight and expertise on this issue.

And we will certainly be watching closely for any announcement from the New Zealand government after the cabinet meeting about what particular policies they are proposing as they have announced that they plan to make changes in the gun safety laws in this country as a result of this terrorist attack.

That's it for me here in Christchurch. Back to you, Rosemary, at CNN Center.

CHURCH: Thanks, Ivan.

And as soon as that news conference gets underway, we will bring that to our viewers. Appreciate that.

I want to turn now to another big story we're coverage now and the Ethiopian -- oh, OK. We're going to go to this news conference. Let's listen in now, New Zealand's prime minister.

JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: -- details once we have worked through the in principle (ph) decision that the cabinet has made today.

I want to also acknowledge that when Australia found itself tragically in a similar position to what we find ourselves now --


ARDERN: -- they took 12 days to make the decision; we have taken 72 hours.

There's still some detail that need to be worked through, I want to do that but still move as quickly as we can.


ARDERN: No, I absolutely always knew that there would be this kinds of issues to work through. It's, I think, incredible that we've been able to bring together the information needed for the in principle decision that's already been made. Now it's about making sure that some of the details and implementation work is prepared.


ARDERN: Again, these are the kinds of issues that add layers of complexity to issues around gun control, law changes and management. Of course, if you reflect on what Australia did, that was involved, those will all be details I will be announcing in the very near future.


ARDERN: Absolutely. We are of one mind. We are absolutely united as a cabinet. But you've got the leader here. He can speak for himself.

WINSTON PETERS, NEW ZEALAND MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: This was a cabinet decision and that will be as your total answer.


ARDERN: Again, of course, we are not making the announcement today.

PETERS: You didn't hear me, you didn't hear my answer. This was a cabinet decision and that's the total answer.


ARDERN: It's the committee; I don't think, to be clear, I'm not sure the select committee went down into the range of issues that have been canvassed between ourselves around issues of availability. So I'm not -- happy to put the question but I don't think that was part of the select inquiry, to the best of my knowledge.


PETERS: Can I just answer that question?

ARDERN: Yes, go ahead.

PETERS: As well as he is (ph). We (INAUDIBLE) -- we were at the time not a government (ph) and seriously concerned about the access of the gangs to illegal -- high-power illegal guns. The resulting (INAUDIBLE) is after 1:00 pm on the 15th of March, our will changed forever and so will some of their laws.

ARDERN: Absolutely.

Sorry --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- tell us about the spike in (INAUDIBLE) or violent incidents that have been seen (INAUDIBLE) the attack?

ARDERN: One of the horrific things that of course I have learned in a very short period of time around events that other countries have experienced before, is that this is a trend that occurs -- has occurred in regions that have experienced these kinds of horrific attacks.

We are looking to the lessons that have been learned in other jurisdictions around the patterns that tend to follow, retaliatory messages, suggestions of copycat activity. These are patterns of behavior. So our agencies are live to that, you'll see the police are taking a

precautionary approach with their presence and their activities. It's also one of the reasons that we remain with the threat level of high just to ensure that our agencies are live to some of those patterns we see internationally.



ARDERN: I don't -- I don't have anything that quantifies that. Certainly the -- our agencies are taking all information seriously. They are taking a precautionary approach. They're focused on ensuring the safety of New Zealanders. That is our number one priority.


ARDERN: Sorry, sorry?


ARDERN: We've -- I've had still the same information; I don't believe I received an update to the one that we received, I believe last night, that indicated at that time they had removed -- and it would, I'm sure, no doubt, be a higher number now -- 1.5 million versions of the occasions where the video had been loaded.

Of course, in the direct aftermath they removed the offenders' Instagram and Facebook accounts. They are continually to automatically remove but also, I believe, manually, in some cases, as I understand, remove any replica of that video, in any form, whether it's cut or in film (ph).

The point that I would like to make, though, is now, obviously, there's been a proliferation that's -- of its availability, 1.5 million times. The fact that only 1.2 million of those times has been automated tells me of course they are powerless to take a very direct approach to instances of speech that incite violence or that incite hate.

And I would --


ARDERN: -- call on our social media platforms of all variety to demonstrate the kind of responsibility that both lead to these events -- and that includes those who perpetuate the messages in the aftermath. There's a lot of work that needs to be done.



ARDERN: Sorry, have they...?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has Facebook indicated to you -- (CROSSTALK)


ARDERN: I've certainly indicated the -- I've seen the condolences for New Zealand. I've indicated that they are working very proactively on the sharing of videos and content in the aftermath. They've acknowledged some of the systems that they have already around what dove to (ph) hate speech. My view is there's more can and should be done.



Do you have any more details -- ?

ARDERN: No, no, I believe the police haven't been out to really verify that. I know that there was, I believe, an anecdotal suggestion of that. Look, all I would say is that I would exercise caution for anyone who is considering investing at this point. Simply wait a few more days. Have some certainty.



PETERS: I spoke to her the other day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did she speak to you about the willingness to (INAUDIBLE) Brenton Tarrant?

PETERS: No, we didn't talk about that. We talked about their offer to provide us with every support, every effort they possibly could, alongside their feelings of sincere condolences about the tragedy that has happened and the terrorism disaster that happening here.


ARDERN: No. Or certainly I can't speak for myself. I have not.



ARDERN: -- if you don't mind, just take clear (ph) and then I'll come back to you.

Who was it?

Who would you prefer?


PETERS: Yes, go ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) some of the livestream in his election campaign, do you think that is acceptable?

PETERS: Well, look, I have made it very clear to Vice President Mevlut Cavusoglu, who is their foreign minister, just yesterday, last night, that anything of that nature that misrepresents this country, given that this was a non-New Zealand citizen, imperils the future and safety of the our people and our people abroad.

And that is totally unfair. In short, we made it very clear that we oppose terrorism, whatever shape and form might be and that we are for a free and open society. And we had a long dialogue on the need for any other country -- or Turkey, for that matter -- to ensure that our country, New Zealand, was not misrepresented.

We did not start or bring about this disaster. And they clearly understood that.



Has that changed?

ARDERN: I haven't asked that specific question or received any alternative advice (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) considered a national day of warning (INAUDIBLE)?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- people want to see something despite --

ARDERN: Oh, my apologies if I didn't make it clear, absolutely. There will be -- there will be a national commemoration and a service held in order for all New Zealanders together to gather and acknowledge the terrorist attacks on Friday. It will absolutely be the case.

What we want to ensure is that we allow the time and the space for families to be able to bury their loved ones. And keep in mind that some have not yet received their loved ones.

And so our concern was that this Friday may not have allowed some of that process on their side to be completed. So that was -- that's the decision. That is why it will not be this week. We are looking to see the date as soon as soon as we can. I anticipate making those announcements in that regard very soon.

I just also want to make sure that I talk to the community in Christchurch and particularly the mayor and Christchurch city council.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) discuss (INAUDIBLE) the possibility of a moratorium on gun (INAUDIBLE)?

ARDERN: Of course. We had a range of conversation around the implementation of that in principle decision. I intend to make announcements on that in the very near future. And as I've said, it will be before our cabinet meets next Monday.



ARDERN: I saw those reports and specifically have asked that question of our agencies. They acknowledged that those agencies have met the individual who has made those statements, that they have in the past had conversations around a perception around there being unfair targeting.

And that has been the focus on some of those conversations. They've also given me the assurance that any specific issues that have been raised, any leads, any threats have always been followed up on.

However, it is not enough for me to simply pass on the assurances about agencies under these circumstances. And that is why cabinet has made the decision there will be an inquiry. And it will exist to look into this very issue because the public deserves answers to those questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should there be a royal commission (INAUDIBLE)?

ARDERN: Yes. So just to be -- we haven't made a specific decision around the nature of the inquiry. So there are three options: royal commission, public inquiry and ministerial inquiry.

There's very few differences between the first two. The third one gives you a little bit more ability to manage timelines and a few more options around the management of classified information.

But actually, as I've said, what we will be looking at, we're making a decision over the nature of the inquiry as timeliness, public confidence and dealing with classified information.

Those are some factors we need to keep in mind. Actually, some of the critical elements are around the ability to look into these agencies exist across all three options.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) unable to come to the (INAUDIBLE) -- come to (INAUDIBLE) today with (INAUDIBLE) details (INAUDIBLE) decision (INAUDIBLE)?


ARDERN: No. No, absolutely not, there isn't. Simply put, there is probably a reason it took Australia 12 days. I think the fact that we are here, giving you now an assurance that we have made a decision as a cabinet, we are unified, there are simply details to work through. These aren't simple areas overall (ph). And so that's simply what will be taking the time to get right.


ARDERN: Certainly my intention is for the minister of police to share certainly the intent of where we are heading, the decisions that cabinet has made. And it will be up to them whether they choose to support or not. From the indications and reporting I've seen from the conversations I've had with the leader of the opposition, I imagine they will be supportive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) seeking to meet with you.

Have you received their request (INAUDIBLE)?

ARDERN: Oh, I haven't received their request; I don't know the nature of what he would like to talk about. But I consider all requests that come to me on a range of issues. But as I say, I haven't seen it.

OK. Take the last couple of questions.


ARDERN: No, I think what we have to acknowledge, the deputy prime minister is absolutely right on this case. The primary suspect here, the person who has been arrested for this terrorist attack, was not a citizen of New Zealand.

However, that is not to say that there are not those who live in New Zealand who hold values and ideas and use language that is completely counter to what the vast majority of New Zealanders believe. And so I don't think that we can ignore that. We cannot ignore that.

If we are to continue to ensure the safety of our Muslim communities and others, the 200 ethnicities that live in New Zealand, we have to be live to the fact that there are those who do not share our values of openness, of diversity, of compassion. And that is something we are going to have to confront as a nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime minister, (INAUDIBLE) advertisers, companies.

Are we considering or considering (INAUDIBLE) Facebook.

Government, (INAUDIBLE) industry (INAUDIBLE) on Facebook, is (INAUDIBLE)?

ARDERN: Yes. You'll forgive me but this is just not an area that we have today invested some thinking and time into. We have been quite focused still on the operational issues; of course, decision-making around policy changes and so on.

I have -- we have certainly raised our areas of concern around the spreading of messages and videos and so on, and we'll continue to do, so but we just simply haven't looked beyond that at this point. [00:30:17] Look, I'll take last question, then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- that announcement's gone around the world. Hundreds of thousands of (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ARDERN: Yes, I have spoken to him since then. All right. Thanks everyone.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Listening there to New Zealand's Prime Minister Ardern. Standing by was her deputy there, and they were talking on the subject of gun control in the wake of these attacks in New Zealand.

And she said, "We are are one mind, absolutely united on the need for gun controls and will be announcing new gun restriction proposals very soon." She said that they were in agreement in principle, but that the details need to be worked out.

And she referenced Australia, of course, in its massacre more than 20 years ago, in the wake of that. And amnesty was announced. She is not going that far at this point; still needs to work out the details.

We'll take a very short break. We'll be back in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone, to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church.

I want to turn to Brexit now, and though British Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to hold a third vote on her deal this week, there are signs it won't happen. Mrs. May was expected to stage another vote on her deal Wednesday. If it's passed, the prime minister would ask for a short delay on the exit date to June 30.

[00:35:07] But if her deal is rejected a third time, by law, Brexit is slated to happen on March 29 unless Mrs. May secures an extension.

Now, in "The Sunday Telegraph," the prime minister pleaded for unity, saying this: "I am convinced that the time to define ourselves by how we voted in the 2016 referendum now must end. We can only put those old labels aside if we stand together as democrats and patriots pragmatically making the honorable compromises necessary to heal division and move forward."

But two of Mrs. May's government ministers say a third vote may not happen this week, because the plan still doesn't have enough support. Take a listen.


PHILIP HAMMOND, BRITISH CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: It's a work in progress, and obviously, we're talking to a lot of colleagues about what the way forward is. And clearly, if we don't get this deal through, we are almost certainly going to have to fight a European Parliamentary election, almost certainly going to have to have a longer extension, almost certainly not going to be able to gain access to the headroom, the fiscal headroom that I talked about in the spring statement.


CHURCH: Meanwhile, British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says his party will not vote for the prime minister's deal. Instead, he vowed to call a no-confidence vote on the government if the deal is rejected again.

Well, for more on this, CNN's European affairs commentator, Dominic Thomas, joins us now live from Los Angeles. So good to have you with us.

So Dominic, Britain is fast running out of time, it has to be said. Will the E.U. grant it an extension to June 30, or will Britain crash out of the E.U. with no deal in place on March 29? Or are they looking at new elections? Where is this all going?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, there -- exactly, Rosemary. There are so many different options on the table.

All that we do know is that, unless Parliament convenes over the next 10 days and decides to revoke Article 50, in other words, to cancel Brexit, the default position is that the U.K. will be leaving the European Union on the 29th of March. And when you leave, there are only two ways to leave: with a deal or without a deal.

And what we've been seeing over the past few days and weeks is the Parliament weigh in on a number of non-binding amendments in which they have rejected a no deal; a second referendum; the leader of the opposition's model for Brexit; or the Parliament taking over and, through a set of indicative votes, controlling this.

So what we are left on the table, remarkably enough, is yet again Theresa May's deal. No matter what happens, whether the Parliament actually gets a vote on this deal and passes it or not, the European Union will have to decide whether or not to grant an extension.

Theresa May is clearly facing an uphill struggle to get this vote through. It has already suffered two defeats, one by a margin of 230, the next by a margin of 149. And even in the vote last week that passed on her motion, which was to ask for an extension, 188 members of her own party voted against it, and all ten DUP members who are supposed to support her.

So what she's trying to do now with this threat of either a no deal or the potential of a no Brexit, or I think, to hold these European elections, is to try and scare people up into voting for this particular option. And that's what we're going to see playing out as the week comes along.

CHURCH: Right. And that's how it looks, isn't it, that we've got the top government minister saying a third vote might not happen this week, because May's Brexit deal doesn't have enough support. But with just 12 days to go to the March 29 deadline, they're surely going to run the risk of crashing out of the E.U. with no deal at all. And that looks like a strategy, doesn't it?


CHURCH: To take this to the very brink so that lawmakers will be forced to vote for Mrs. May's deal for fear of crashing out.

THOMAS: Yes. And at both ends of the political spectrum, you can see the way that this strategy would work. Of course, the big concern for the Brexiteers is that Brexit never happens. But that -- but the Theresa May deal is not what they've been dreaming about every waking moment of every waking day. What they are interested in is breaking the alignment with the European Union, and her deal doesn't offer that.

And so in many ways, going into a period of lengthy negotiations and kind of post-Brexit discussions, keeps their hope alive; and it also keeps the hope alive of those that wish to remain in the European Union, in a way that the Theresa May agreement does not.

What really is the question here is what the European Union would be grant an extension for. Clearly, if the Parliament approves, in the end, Theresa May's deal, which has been negotiated with the European Union, they would provide an extension to allow for the legislation to go ahead.

But if that does not happen, the European Union has said all along "We'd need some really good excuses and really good reasons." We've seen them, essentially, the Parliament reject the idea of a second referendum. She's already survived, the prime minister, that is, two votes of no confidence. So there's very little kind of significant, meaningful movement there.

[00:40:08] And as far as the European Union is concerned, do they offer an extension for, say, one whole year in order to allow the U.K. to better prepare for, let's say, a no-deal scenario? Or do they allow them to participate in these European elections and continue the process of negotiation? That is a very risky proposition for a European Union --

CHURCH: Right.

THOMAS: -- that is already facing a -- what is going to be a significant rise in far-right political parties coming into the Parliament. The last thing the E.U. wants, I would argue, is for the vote on May 23 to serve as a kind of second referendum for Brexiteers in the U.K. --

CHURCH: Right.

THOMAS: -- who could potentially send all their folks to Brussels and provide -- and really sort of disrupt the mechanisms there. So there's a lot for the E.U. to decide here, as well, and a lot of risk for them.

CHURCH: Yes, there is. Yes, and it's already said it won't offer an extension without a deal, and there's no deal just yet.

Dominic Thomas, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

And we'll be right back.

THOMAS: Thanks, Rosemary.


CHURCH: Let's end this hour a little happier, right? It was a first for the New York City half-marathon, which was run Sunday in Manhattan. Guide dogs named Westley, Waffle and Gus took turns pacing a blind competitor along the 21-kilometer course. Thomas Panek's team, as he calls it, finished the race in just under two hours and 21 minutes.

Panek is president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind. The Golden Retriever runners are specially selected to navigate curbs, stairs and other tricky terrain and to ignore traffic noise.

And they did it. Well done. Impressive bunch there.

And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. WORLD SPORT is coming up next, and I'll be back at the top of the hour with more news from all around the world. You're watching CNN.


KATE RILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome along to WORLD SPORT. I'm Kate Riley at CNN Center.

We're going to start with the winner of the PLAYERS Championship, and on Sunday the northern Irishman Rory McIlroy tasting victory after a stellar second half of that final round at Sawgrass in Florida.

Rory speaking to the media afterwards, saying he's playing some of the best golf ever, as we are now just weeks away from the first men's major of the year, the Masters.

Well, to the action on Sunday now and Rory hitting the longest drive of the day, the coming on the 16th hole some 647 yards here. He followed that up with a brilliant nine iron, and he comprehensively took care of business on three of the four par-five. Rory making birdy on five of his final 10 holes. It was an impressive display, to finish on 16 under par.

His impeccable tee shot on the 18th to seal the win, making this his 15th on the tour, and the first of the year. And fitting that his win comes on St. Patrick's Day, as well, McIlroy claiming his first win in over the year and maiden title in the PLAYERS Championship in what was an up and down Sunday.

All right. Moving on to Formula 1 now, and the season is now underway.

It was Lewis Hamilton, the reigning world champion, who had pole position in Australia. However, it didn't go according to plan for the British star after a highly dramatic start to the big race in Melbourne.

Well, Hamilton making a slow start here. He would come to regret that, and it would be his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who took the lead from the lights.

And events further back in the field were just as compelling. Ferrari came into the season with high hopes, but they struggled as fourth place finishers. Sebastian Vettel at one point asking his pit crew, "Why are we so slow?"

Well Mercedes dominated all weekend, the finish driver Bottas cut a frustrated figure last season. He didn't win a race at all that year. So he'll certainly have enjoyed his moment.

Over in the English Premier League now, and we have a new leader atop the table in England. Liverpool are seeking their first top-flight title since 1990, and the Reds have returned to the summit above Manchester City after a tougher than expected test as relegation threatened Fulham at Sunday at Craven Cottage.

So the City were in FA Cup in action this weekend. It was Liverpool knowing that a win against the Cottages would put them back on top.

Sadio Mane set them on their way midway through the first half, but Fulham did not give up the fight. They made the most of a defensive lapse from Virgil van Dijk and his keeper Alisson, and it was the former Liverpool playmaker Ryan Babel, of all people, equalizing 16 minutes from time.

Liverpool kept pressing, though, and after Fulham's keeper needlessly conceded the penalty, James Milner made it 2-1, and the points head back to Anfield.

In the meantime, the draw for the next month's English FA Cup semifinals have taken place, with Wolverhampton Wanderers facing Wallingford, and the favorites, Manchester City, meeting Brighton.

Well, the Premier League club, a sensational match on Sunday against second-tier Millwall, who incredibly had a two-goal lead until two minutes from time. Alex Pearce broke the deadlock in the 17th minute.

Nine minutes later, it was Aiden O'Brien had joyfully made it 2-0. Just look at those celebrations there!

But the EPL club were far way from being done. Young Dutchman Jurgen Locadia pulled one back in the 88, and then five minutes of stoppage time, well, an absolute howler from the Millwall keeper, David Martin, allowing Solly March's effort to find its way into the net for 2-all.

Millwall had a monster (ph) of an extra time. And then it came down to a penalty shootout, and it's Jake Cooper who crucially misses for Millwall. Brighton win an enthralling contest, 5-4 on penalties.

All right, then. She's the birthday girl who's got cause to celebrate more than one milestone this week. We catch up with the American superstar of the slopes, the one and only Mikaela Shiffrin.


CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: We're here at the Skiing World Cup finals in Andorra with a very special lady.




[00:52:00] RILEY: We are back with a concerning storyline out of Italy's Serie A this Sunday. This following an incident involving Napoli's on-loan keeper, David Ospina, who suffered a head injury and was then stretchered off during the match with Udinese.

Well, the Colombian keeper, who's on loan from Arsenal, initially suffered the injury early in the match after colliding with an opponent.

However, after playing on with a bandaged head, the 30-year-old then fell to the ground shortly before the halftime break and just after Udinese had tied the game, 2-all.

Well, the South American was taken to hospital, where his club say he's being observed and assessed.

All right. Over in Spain's top-flight La Liga, where Barcelona are not running away with the lead title after Sunday's win over Real Betis. The Catalans are now 10 points clear of second-place Atletico.

Now a goal doesn't get much better than this and who other than Lionel Messi to add this spectacular free kick to his already glowing resume. From 25 yards out, he bends the ball flawlessly into the upper corner. Keeper's fully outstretched. He still can't even get a finger to it. What a goal from the Argentine, then.

He wasn't, though. Just before the brave counterattack from Barce here, Suarez with the heel pass. Messi flicking it with the outside of his boot past the keeper and then, 5 minutes from time, he gets his hat trick using the most delicate of touches onto the board to trip the keeper.

Barce win this one 4-1.

Well, the last few days have not been exactly great if you're a Bayern Munich fan. The Bavarians were dumped out of the Champions League by England's Liverpool, prompting star striker Robert Lewandowski to declare he felt his team played too defensively at times against the Reds.

Well, on Sunday, the reigning champs returning to league action against lowly Mainz. And certainly, nothing defensive about this performance. Lewandowski was among the scorers, but the key storyline here a Bayern

hat trick for the Colombian star James Rodriguez, who was the headline act in this thumping 6-0 victory.

The South American, whose future in Munich is reportedly far from certain, helped himself to two in four second-half minutes. Bayern looking for a seventh straight Bundesliga title.

All right, then. In a week that saw the American skiing sensation Mikaela Shiffrin turn 24, things just keep getting better and better for her in the heat of competition where she really does appear to be in a class of her own. Shiffrin won two more World Cup races in Andorra this weekend, the Giant Slalom and the Slalom, establishing a single -season record.

CNN's Christina MacFarlane reports now on what has been a truly incredible campaign for the American woman.


MACFARLANE(voice-over): It's a rare thing in sports for the women to eclipse the man, to dominate the storylines and lay claim to the biggest stars. But this season in alpine skiing, the women have stolen the show.

Before anyone had any even pushed out of the start gate for this World Cup season, the biggest story of the year broke.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lindsey Vonn has confirmed that this last season will definitely be her last.

[00:55:07] MACFARLANE (on camera): The sport's most global name leaving as her body began to say, "No more." Sadly, it wasn't the good-bye season she'd dreamt of.

(voice-over): One injury setback after another began to take its toll, until even America's greatest skier was forced to admit defeat.

LINDSEY VONN, RETIRED SKIING CHAMPION/OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: There will be long-term effects. I will have arthritis. I will have joint pain. I will have a lot of pain in a lot of different places. But I still want to finish on my own terms.

MACFARLANE: And so she did, by skiing through the pain in her final race at the world championships in Are, Sweden, to secure one final accolade, a Downhill bronze.

(on camera): So Vonn enters retirement as the most successful female ski racer of all time, with 82 World Cup wins, tantalizingly close to Ingemar Stenmark's 86.

But already, there's another young ski racer with that number in her sights.

(voice-over): With 60 World Cup wins, Mikaela Shiffrin can already stake a strong claim to being one of the all-time greats. This season, record after record has fallen at her feet.

The first skier to win races in all six disciplines. The first to win Slalom gold in four straight World Championships, and no one has one more Slalom titles.

But most impressive of all was smashing the World Cup record, with 17 wins in a single season.

SHIFFRIN: It's a little bit hard to summarize all that, but it's been an amazing season! Every step of the way, it was like a logistical nightmare, and just a lot of going, going, going, and after every race move on to the next race. And every now and then we took some time to stop and kind of celebrate a little bit, or just taking the emotions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mikaela Shiffrin!

MACFARLANE (on camera): It's hard to know how Mikaela Shiffrin can top this record-breaking season, but surely, the target next is chasing Lindsey Vonn's 82 titles. And after that, for this 24-year- old, anything is possible.

Christina MacFarlane, CNN, Andorra.


RILEY: Yes, and thanks to Christina for that report.

And that does it from us here at WORLD SPORT. Many thanks for watching. I'm Kate Riley. The news is next.