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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Theresa May in Brussels Seeking Brexit Extension; Interview with President Dalia Grybauskaite, Independent, Lithuania; Trump to Recognize Israel Sovereignty Over Golan Heights; Doomed 737 Had Similar Problems a Day Earlier. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired March 21, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, banking on Brussels. Theresa May is there
making her plea for a Brexit extension. CNN is on ground. We'll be speaking to one of the European Union country leaders about what went on in
this meeting. And the investigation intensifies. The U.S. Justice Department is demanding answers from Boeing about what went wrong in the
fatal accidents of 737 MAX 8 planes. Also coming up --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LONDON FIREFIGHTER: What goes through my head? Let's just do this, let's just get inside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Running into the fire as part of our "LIFE CHANGER" series. I speak to a firefighter who risked everything to help those trapped in a
deadly London inferno.
Well, we begin with the chaos that is Brexit. With eight days till Britain could crash out of the EU the stakes could not be higher. Theresa May is
on a desperate dash to Brussels swapping a hostile audience in London for a pretty hostile audience in the Belgian capital. EU leaders are there to
discuss whether to grant her an extension to June 30th. Will she get that extension? Here's what the Prime Minister had to say earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UK: Well, I'm here today to discuss with fellow leaders our request for a short extension of article 50 to the end
of June. As I said yesterday, this delay is a matter of personal regret to me but a short extension would give Parliament the time to make a final
choice that delivers on the result of the referendum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, so much depends on how generous Europe is feeling. We may find out more in an hour. Donald Tusk and Jean Claude Juncker are due to
hold a news conference. Here's what some of the other leaders were saying as they entered the important talks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK RUTTE, PRIME MINISTER, NETHERLANDS: What is on the table is the letter from May and what she's asking for is in case the British Parliament
could say yes lock stock and barrel to the whole thing on the table, I need time to implement it and today we will vote yes on principle and Parliament
has to say yes to the whole thing. And what if scenario they would say no again, I won't speculate.
XAVIER BETTEL, PRIME MINISTER, LUXEMBOURG: This is a difficult situation because we have small things. We know are not going to work. The longest
extension we can agree with beyond the European actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's bring in one of the leaders of the EU27, the Lithuanian President is in Brussels and has been in that important meeting. Thanks
for joining us. Have the EU and the U.K. come to an agreement how long an extension will be granted to Britain before it exits the EU?
DALIA GRYBAUSKAITE, LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT: Yes, not yet. We're in the middle of discussions. I just ran out to talk with you. But what I can
say that yes, we will be granting extension but highly likely only before, today we will give only promise to extend but final date and decision will
be confirmed only conditionally if U.K. Parliament next week will vote for the deal which is agreed already on the table. If not, we will be in
trouble all of us. And again, next Thursday highly likely we're meeting for extraordinary meeting.
GORANI: So, what is the EU27 leaning toward? An extension till May 22nd or are they considering the June 30th extension May has requested?
GRYBAUSKAITE: This is still under discussion. May 22nd will be more secure for us because on 26th, we have European Parliament elections. But
procedurally, of course, if there will be positive vote and deal will be confirmed by U.K. Parliament, probably the discussions could be open for
even June 30th but today, I'm sure that we will promise only to grant the extension, but nothing else.
GORANI: So, you would promise today to grant the extension but not say how long the extension would be? At what point you would be comfortable for
Brexit to be delayed?
[13:05:02] GRYBAUSKAITE Yes, uh-huh. Even if we will -- any data today, everything will depend on condition that we are having positive vote in
U.K. Parliament. If there is not positive vote in U.K. Parliament next week, any data given today will make no sense and we need to return back to
the table and find the clear pathway how to go from this narrowly difficult situation.
GORANI: That's why you scheduled an extraordinary meeting for next week. If this Theresa May deal which has twice already been resoundingly defeated
in Parliament fails to pass Parliament for a third time, you're in a very much an unknown situation here. What happens then? What would the EU want
to see happen then?
GRYBAUSKAITE: Of course, we all would liking to have some kind of softer landing, softer exit but in that situation, if the vote is negative again
next week no, deal Brexit very likely. That's what worries us. And we hope that U.K. Parliament will take it very seriously because if we will
meet next Thursday, it is -- 29th would be Brexit at all.
GORANI: Would you be comfortable with a much longer extension up to two years to avoid this catastrophic outcome?
GRYBAUSKAITE: What we would like to see the very clear decision by the U.K. Parliament. What finally really they want. The super we will have
this decisiveness, the better to all because if they will begin battle discussions one month, one year or two years, they will make quite serious
harm to economic and political situation in Europe especially because in that situation, U.K. will need to go and to organize European elections.
This is also quite difficult and timely. They need to decide if already in the middle of April if this will not happen, we all are in trouble because
if one country is still member state and not organizing, all European Parliament elected on May 26th could be in jeopardy.
GORANI: All right. The Lithuanian President who was in that meeting there, the EU27 and Theresa May trying to agree on an extension. Dahlia,
thanks for joining us. Let's get right to the heart of the action. Richard Quest is in Brussels. You heard the Lithuanian President saying
it's likely they'll announce they are ready to grant an extension but not give a precise date.
RICHARD QUEST. CNN HOST OF "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": The date we're hearing of course, she was in the room. So, she knows better than anybody. The
date we're hearing is May 22nd or 23rd which is just about the last day because that's when the rest of Europe will be voting. What I found most
interesting about your conversation there with the Lithuanian President was she specifically said if you come back next week to this extraordinary
meeting, which just about everybody in and their brother thinks is going to take place, then a no deal Brexit is more likely. So that's what we're
hearing here. I'm joined by correspondent who has come at this upside backwards and inside out. Erin, they're going to give the British a deal
reluctantly but only to May. What's the mood?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, LONDON BUREAU: The mood is one of frustration. And exasperation I'm told from diplomats I've been
talking to. You're right. They are going to give her an extension conditioned on a win next week which as you point out seems highly
unlikely. The question being what happens next. Leaders not being drawn on that.
QUEST: From the noises that you are hearing, what is the likely outcome in the sense of the Lithuanian President just said a no deal Brexit becomes
more likely. Is no deal on table?
MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, it's the option that's currently programmed in. It's hard wired into the situation because the U.K. in order to avoid a no deal
March 29th would need to pass a law which Theresa May at this point looks like she's in no position of doing. Law being the deal itself. It looks
like it's going to fail next week.
[13:10:00] QUEST: A long extension in which Britain would have a new leader, maybe a general election, possibly a separate referendum, is that a
preferred option and the ultimate?
MCLAUGHLIN: It depends how talk to. That is a contentious issue. You hear different things from different leaders. Donald Tusk says he sees
that as a potential outcome a way to try and get consensus. No one is happy about the prospect of delaying any further. Plenty of diplomats
expressed skepticism they'll be able to figure this out six, seven, eight months from now.
QUEST: Good to see you. One of the conditions if there was to be a very long deal was Britain would have to agree to be noncontentious in the sense
of not take part in important votes on things like the budget or positions because effectively they would be squatting in the union ahead of leaving.
It's a mess, total.
GORANI: You are there Richard, Erin McLaughlin, we are anticipating in the next hour a news conference with leaders. We will be certainly armed with
more information at that point about what kind of extension they are willing to grant. I'll speak with you at the bottom of the hour with more
from Brussels. Let's us bring a European voice, Bernd Koelmel is a German member of the European Parliament. What do you think, Mr. Como, is going
to happen this evening? What is the EU prepared to grant the U.K. in terms of an extension?
BERND KOELMEL, GERMAN MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: I think it's likely that the council will decide for an extension, but I'm absolutely
sure we need not only an extension, we need a new deal for Britain. A new deal for Britain means in my opinion the EU should stop on the way from --
we need better conditions, better conditions which will give the opportunity for the Britain to the stay in the EU. This would be the best
way. At the moment, we are sticking in at a dead end. This is a lose-lose situation.
GORANI: But what do you mean an opportunity for Britain to stay in the EU? That can only happen if they hold a second referendum. This doesn't seem
likely at all at this stage. We're eight days away from Brexit.
KOELMEL: Yes, exactly. So, for this we need an extension, an extension to give the brits the opportunity to vote against but on a new basis. At the
moment, it makes no sense to vote again though we need better condition EU. It's not the right way on behavior to look always in the past and we are
searching for blame and shame. This is not helpful. We should look in the future and in the future, the brits should be part of the EU. That's clear
GORANI: Bernd, it appears the EU is willing to consider an extension but probably till May 22nd before the European elections and not till June 30th
although we don't have official confirmation. But these are the reports coming out. This would not, according to you, allow any time for
KOELMEL: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. This needs time.
GORANI: You think the EU is not doing the right thing, in your opinion here?
KOELMEL: Yes. Absolutely. The EU is wrong. The EU is wrong in a lot of positions. We see a lot of problems to look at Italy, look at Hungary. We
have a lot of the problems. This should show the council it is not the right way to go on and on and don't think about these problems. We need
solutions, solutions have to be looking for our citizens.
GORANI: All right. So, I suppose if there is no long-term extension and Theresa May's deal does not, is not approved by Parliament for the third
time, are you concerned at this stage we could see the worst case scenario, which is crashing out of the EU?
KOELMEL: Yes. Absolutely. I'm sure when the Brits leave in hard Brexit, then we will damage not only the Brits and the EU, we will damage our
future. And this means that a lot of other states will say in future, let's do like the Brits. We leave.
GORANI: Uh-huh. We, that's one of the possibilities. Do you think this will weaken the EU? Not just because it's losing a member but because
those states with euro skeptic leaders are going to try similar moves?
[13:15:12] KOELMEL: Yes. But when we think in the past, we see the EU worked wonderful in the area of economy. We had a lot of positive signals
for technical. We can do a lot together in research, et cetera. There are a lot of possibilities. We have to use it. But it is the wrong decision
to say OK, we need a social union. We need a transfer union. We need a banking union and so on. To go in the direction of an EU Superstate is not
what the people in the EU want.
GORANI: Right. Certainly, what some people in the EU are concerned with and that is fueling some euro skeptic votes and politicians and movements.
Bernd Koelmel, a German member of the European Parliament, thank you for your views and analysis on this important day. We'll have more information
what they intend on doing with regards to that extension request.
I want to bring you breaking news. The Trump administration appears on the verge of a massive changing in policy over one of the most disputed tracts
of land in the world. President Donald Trump just tweeted after 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty
over the Golan Heights. Which is of critical strategic and security importance to the state of Israel and regional stability. Let's take you
live to Jerusalem. Oren Lieberman has more. The Golan Heights annexed by Israel from Syria. Now Donald Trump is saying we should fully recognize
Israel's sovereignty over this piece of land. What's the timing all about, Oren?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's call this what this is. This comes two weeks before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes for his next
term. He could have held this till after that April 9th election but he pulled it out not only before the election but while Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo is here. Pompeo said yesterday that the U.S. policy has not changed just because of wording changes specifically the state department
referring to it as the Israeli controlled Golan Heights instead of the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. Trump changed all that and appears to
recognize Israeli sovereignty, breaking with the international community and the position of international law. No surprise here. Netanyahu
tweeting in response saying that at a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, thank you President Trump. Very clearly a
reference to the warm relation these two leaders share between each other. Hala?
GORANI: What difference does it make in terms of the election? I mean, is this something that's likely to give Netanyahu more support even though
he's really in the midst of legal crises and indictments and all sorts of accusations of corruption?
LIEBERMANN: Absolutely. This definitely give Netanyahu the boost and perhaps the boost he needs to clear clearly win the election. In recent
polls his party had dropped from 31 seats to 27 seats. The news cycle dominated by allegations of Netanyahu's involvement in another criminal
case, one which has ensnared many in his inner circle but not touched yet Netanyahu himself. That was dominating the news cycle. This wipes all of
that away perhaps reverses the trend of his Likud party seeming to lose seats in polls and will give him a boost. Two things worth pointing out.
Netanyahu goes to a pack, the conference in DC for the American Jewish lobby and been meet with President Trump. There could be another card
Trump plays on behalf of Netanyahu, the release of an American spy who spied on behalf of Israel. That would be another gift Trump gives to him
before the election. Pompeo's next stop is Beirut. Lebanon. There's certain to be absolutely furious about U.S. recognition of Israeli
sovereignty in the Golan Heights. That visit still goes through and the Lebanese perhaps may cancel it, that is sure to be an awkward visit for
GORANI: Sure. Also, Arab countries, Syria has so many other problems but it's long sought to get that territory back. It was annexed in '67 and
administered since the early '80s I believe by Israel. Now does this change anything on the ground or does everything this U.S. recognition?
Practically on ground? It wouldn't change much, would it.
[13:20:00] LIEBERMANN: So, Israel took the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967. This then became occupied territory. Israel annexed it in '81.
Does it change anything on ground? Not really. Could you argue in many ways it's not as contentious as the U.S. recognition as Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel. You're certainly to get angry reactions from Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, perhaps Jordan, as well. It will be interesting to
watch the reaction from Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain, to see how angry they are in terms of longer impact on U.S. policy in the region.
That will be key to watching here in terms of how this unfolds with those reactions.
GORANI: All right. Stand by Oren. We can go to the U.S. State Department. Michelle Kaczynski is live. This is something we could have
predicted the way the territory is described by the U.S. has changed recently. The word occupied disappeared completely. And now we have this
call by the President to recognize this annexation.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: We've seen the signs of this. We know this is something discussed. We know this is
something that Israel wanted. This timing could not be better for Benjamin Netanyahu. And you know, for a long time the U.S. would abstain from votes
in the U.N. regarding Israel. There's this yearly vote condemning Israel for its takeover of the Golan Heights. Well, had year, the U.S. instead of
abstaining they voted against it. So that was a point, something to remember and to look at. And then just days ago in this human rights
report that is put out again every year by the State Department, suddenly there was a word change. But how much weight a single word can carry
instead of Israeli occupied territory, it was Israeli controlled. So, for days, reporters have been asking the State Department and the secretary
himself, the Secretary of State himself what does this mean for policy? Just today, secretary Pompeo was barraged with questions from reporters as
he's there in Israel. What is the policy? What does this mean exactly? How will this change things? He would not answer a single question about
it. His line has been this isn't really policy change. It's just stating the facts. Yes, the word change was deliberate. But obviously, we see it
as controlled territory. We don't see it as occupied. So, we knew that there was change. And this has been very slowly evolving. But then
suddenly, it changes for real via the President and, of course, he makes this massive change via tweet, Hala.
GORANI: Right. Well, we're not surprised. As unconventional as it is, these major foreign policy announcement on social media is just the latest
one. Thanks very much, Michelle Kaczynski and Oren Liebermann. Donald Trump the U.S. President saying on his Twitter feed time for the U.S. to
recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights seized from Syria in the '67 war. And as Michele was mentioning, not a huge surprise. They
removed the word occupied to say it was Israeli controlled. Sure, to anger neighboring countries. Theresa May in Brussels asking for Brexit
extension, but also there's other news we're following for you in the wake of two deadly plane crashes, Boeing is facing a growing criminal
investigation. What U.S. prosecutors want to see. We'll be right back.
[13:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
GORANI: The U.S. Justice Department is expanding a criminal investigation of Boeing which is the builder of the 737 MAX airliners that crashed in
Ethiopia and Indonesia. Sources say there are multiple subpoenas demanding information how the planes were certified safe and marketed and how pilots
were trained to fly them. Jessica Schneider has our story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The criminal investigation into Boeing's 737 max jets ramping up after a second deadly crash in five
months. With sources briefed on the matter telling CNN that the Justice Department has issued multiple subpoenas related 0 the certification and
marketing of Boeing's best-selling plane. The criminal probe initially began last October after a lion air flight crashed in Indonesia. A
spokesperson telling CNN earlier this week that the company does not comment on ongoing legal matters. The FAA announcing Boeing will roll out
a software patch and pilot training program to address issues with the jet. Earlier it said it expected a fix by April.
DENNIS MUILENBURG, CEO AND PRESIDENT, BOEING: We're taking action to fully reassure airlines and their passengers of the safety of the 737 MAX.
SCHNEIDER: Defense Department's Inspector General also launching an investigation related to the U.S. manufacturer probing whether Acting
Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan who is an executive at Boeing and worked there more than 30 years violated ethics rules by promoting Boeing over
other military contractors.
RICHARD PAINTER, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: He clearly should not be schilling for Boeing products or saying bad things
about the competitors of Boeing at the Defense Department.
SCHNEIDER: A spokesman telling CNN Shanahan welcomes the probe and has at all times remain committed upholding his ethics agreement filed with the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you support such an investigation?
PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY: Yes, I do.
SCHNEIDER: New details emerging about the final moments of the doomed Lion Air flight. "Reuters" reports the crew can be heard on the cockpit voice
recorder desperately fighting for nine minutes to pull up the nose of the jet which kept diving toward the sea possibly due to a faulty sensor that
triggered an automatic system on board. Seemingly unaware the plane's computer was causing dives "Reuters" reports the pilots frantically scoured
the operations manual and said a short prayer before plunging into the sea. The day before the crash, the same plane had the same problem. Authorities
confirm an off-duty pilot who was riding in the cockpit was able to step in instructing crew to shut off the malfunctioning flight control system.
After being sent to maintenance, it was cleared to fly the next day.
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: I can't understand why at least it wasn't test flown or brought out on the ramp and tested again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's get to more on this story. Jessica Schneider is standing by in Washington. So, what happens next? I mean, could this turn into a big
legal case now from here?
SCHNEIDER: It already has, Hala. We see that these administrative probes are happening, the investigations overall. Now the scrutiny has turned
into a criminal probe. And it all seems to be centering around the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX jet. We've learned here in the U.S.,
prosecutors have issued multiple subpoenas to get information from Boeing about the certification process as well as its safety procedures including
training manuals used for pilots. It's still not clear what criminal issues could be front and center in this probe. We know as part of the
safety analysis for the aircraft, Boeing presents is own certification procedures to the FAA called self-certification. While it's completely
legal, it's possible that some of the statements made during that process they could be under scrutiny. So that's part of what federal investigators
are looking at and then of course, you have the department of transportation, as well. Their inspector general is looking into the whole
process around certification and doing an audit on that, as well.
GORANI: Sounds like it's just the beginning for Boeing. Jessica, thanks very much.
Still to come, tonight with eight days to go till Britain is supposed to leave the EU, a cliff edge Brexit looms. Can Theresa May secure a delay
from Brussels and if so, what is it going to cost her?
[13:30:09] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Welcome back to the program. From a special newsroom location this evening. One night only.
Let's return now to those high stakes crisis talks between the E.U. and British Prime Minister, Theresa May. With just eight days to go, the U.K.
is speeding towards a cliff edge exit on March 29th. The prime minister is hoping to avoid that though imploring the E.U. to delay the whole process
until June 30th.
But E.U. leaders are saying that any extension will come with a very hefty condition. And what might seem like an impossible task that Mrs. May gets
her deal through parliament. And there was a particularly stark warning from France's president, Emmanuel Macron.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRENCH REPUBLIC: I'm just here to say we do respect the vote of British people. We do respect what the prime minister
and the parliament are making. But we have to be clear. We can discuss and agree on an extension if this is a technical extension in case of a yes
vote on the agreement we negotiated during two years.
In case of no-vote, or no, I mean, directly, it will guide everybody to a no-deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: The French president Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Junker due to hold a news conference in half an hour. What can we expect to hear?
Richard Quest is in Brussels for us tonight.
So I was speaking to the Lithuanian president who was in that meeting. She wasn't going to commit to telling me what date the E.U. had agreed on.
Most likely May 22nd because that would be right before the European elections.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Yes. May 22nd is the date that we're seeing in the draft document that is now doing the rounds here at the
council building in Brussels.
But, Hala, let's not get hung up on whether, you know, the extension is until April the 18th, as the European Parliament press wanted or May the
22nd or April or June the 30th, as the prime minister wanted, Theresa May.
It's irrelevant. It is irrelevant, the date at which -- I mean, other than for European Parliamentary purposes.
But in terms of Brexit, it all hinges on whether she can get it through parliament next week. That is it. Period.
If she does not get it through parliament next week, then again, it doesn't matter if it's April the 23rd or June the 15th or whatever. Because, Hala,
as you are aware, on March the 29th, the U.K.'s due to leave.
And then it becomes a really simple question. Does the E.U., either force the brits to take a longer extension? Does Theresa May, or whoever might
replace, her request a longer extension or is it no-deal?
[13:35:04] And, Hala, I'll leave it this way. The most important thing of what we heard from Emmanuel Macron was that he dropped no-deal onto the
table. Very gently. But he's the first one. And we may look back as being the first leader who actually said, no-deal.
GORANI: All right. We are going to be speaking with you over the next few hours live in Brussels. Richard Quest. And you'll also be hosting your
problem "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" from the Belgian capital.
Quentin Peel is associate fellow with the Europe Program at Chatham House. He's here in London. What is your expectation for tonight, Quentin?
QUENTIN PEEL, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, EUROPE PROGRAM AT CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, it's almost as if the whole thing is rather artificial because they're
dancing around this question of a short extension of Article 50 which would only be possible if the British parliament approves the deal, Theresa
May's, deal that's on the table. And I don't think they're going to.
I think there's a very slim chance of that. So fundamentally, the real question, and if they discuss that today, will be fantastic. But is will
there be a long-term extension or some other way of avoiding a no-deal Brexit?
GORANI: And what would that other way be? Because it is a catastrophic outcome. Let's be honest here. The U.K. economy will suffer, the E.U.
economies will suffer.
PEEL: I see two potential ways out. One which would open the door to a longer extension would be this idea that's on the table in the House of
Commons as an amendment for next week which says we will let Theresa May's deal go through if she will guarantee to put it to a referendum. That
would be a genuine compromise.
The other which was mentioned today by Martin Selmayr, the --
GORANI: Quentin, let me just jump in. Quentin, sorry. But we do have some breaking news. The E.U. has agreed according to a draft statement
seen by Erin McLaughlin, the E.U. has agreed to a Brexit extension until May 22nd provided parliament passes the May deal.
This really does open the door to no-deal because if she doesn't get her agreement through parliament next week, and it was twice very badly
defeated, where does that leave the U.K.?
PEEL: Well, there's one other potential nuclear weapon to stop that crashing out. Martin Selmayr, the secretary-general of the commission
mentioned it today. So did the British foreign secretary. At the very last minute, the British parliament could simply revoke Article 50. Not
wait for a referendum, not do anything else. Just say we're taking it off the table.
Now, that is still politically a huge mountain to climb because it would be in the face of everything Theresa May has ever said. But it would be a way
of avoiding a no-deal Brexit. And that might be the last resort they have.
GORANI: Here's the issue and Richard Quest is also in Brussels and he's joining us again. Richard, the issue is that there is a majority in
parliament against no-deal. But it would have to be a bipartisan effort. Both from the conservative and the Labour Party.
And because there's been such sort of a polar stark division in the House of Parliament -- in the House of Commons, they would have to somehow join
QUEST: Hala, with respect, you are looking at these pieces in isolation. The, yes, there is a majority in the U.K. parliament for a no, taking no-
deal off the table, but it is only valid if there's something else to put in its place. And the E.U. have consistently said, no, you've got to pass
Now, the only way that becomes valid is if they ask for a very long extension so the whole withdrawal agreement goes away and you start from
scratch with a kind of the plus, a Norway Plus or one of the other variants.
You can't look at it, you know, parliament wants this or the E.U. wants that. They have to shake hands together. And at the moment, and Quentin
was alluding to this at the moment, it's parliament that's living in a dream world. They think they can just majestically barrel on regardless.
GORANI: Obviously, it takes two to tango. Yes. I get that, Richard. It takes two to tango. But the U.K. parliament does have the ability to avoid
the catastrophic no-deal outcome. It does have the tools, Quentin. I mean, right? You're saying revoking Article 50 is the nuclear option. It
can do that unilaterally.
PEEL: Yes, absolutely.
PEEL: They can do that. It's the one thing they can do without having to ask the rest of the European Union for their permission. They can stop the
[13:40:58] Now, it's still, I must say politically much the least likely, but it may be the last option on the table. Having said that, what
Richard's talking about there, the only majority at Westminster, I believe is going to be a cross party majority.
And the real problem with Theresa May's whole strategy is, she's never reached out to try and get it.
GORANI: That has been criticism, Richard, of Theresa May that if early on she had tried to reach out, across the aisle, as we say in the U.S., that
perhaps she wouldn't have and not chose and to try to appeal to the Hardline Brexiteers, we might not be here today, Richard.
QUEST: She failed to fully appreciate that the Hardline of her party was never, let me repeat that, never going to go to anything less than the most
draconian of Brexits.
And again, Quentin will know, look, let's just go through the British parliamentary leaders or the British prime ministers who are fallen on
Europe. Margaret Thatcher, John Major with his group of you know what. William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, David Cameron, and now Theresa May.
There is not a British Tory leader or prime minister that has managed to hold their own party together on this. And that was her mistake. She
should have built the bridge to Labour, to anyone else that was going to give her the majority she needed.
GORANI: But Quentin, Theresa May, she either keeps her party together or reaches out to the Labour Party for some sort of cross party deal that
would, you know, get some sort of majority backing in the House of Commons. I mean, she's almost -- she's really in an impossible situation, isn't she,
PEEL: She is, but she keeps telling everybody else you must put the national interests first. The trouble is, she has put her party's unity as
the top priority. It's understandable because she wouldn't last at all if the party splits and they might not be back in power for another 20 years.
But having said that, I don't see any way to a majority of on a deal with Brussels on leaving in a stable and civilized manner. The only option then
is what the Hardliners want which is to crash out with no-deal which would be devastating.
GORANI: Now, we are assuming she's not getting her deal through parliament next week. But what if these Hardline Brexiteers would rather throw their
support behind her and at least, get some form of Brexit, maybe an imperfect one in their minds, rather than no Brexit at all potentially,
QUEST: I was talking about exactly that to Nigel Farage, former U.K. leader, member of the European Parliament. We're on the same train coming
to Brussels. We're waiting in the taxi queue.
Excuse me. I said, Nigel, why aren't you just going to go for this? Why not -- you fought to get out of the European Union for your entire
political career. Why not just accept it and worry about the aftermath? You'll be outside then. He said, "Because it won't be the right sort of
exit." He said, "The country is moving rapidly. "He says to their point of view, public opinion is behind him. And he doesn't believe that you do
a half-baked, if you like, Brexit where somehow you could end up in a Norway Plus which he would see as the worst solution.
GORANI: Sure. Well, the Hardline Brexiteers have not really gotten what they wanted. I mean, they tried to take Theresa May down. They couldn't.
Their motions in parliament were defeated. So, really, nobody has, it seems, any lever and certainly not a majority as far as scenarios -- Brexit
scenarios going forward.
So, Richard, we will see you at the top of the hour. And in the next hour, once we hear from those E.U. leaders. Quentin Peel, thanks again.
Just to reiterate for our viewers, a draft statement seen by our reporter and circulating in Brussels. The E.U. has agreed to extend the Brexit
deadline until May 22nd.
You remember Theresa May, the U.K. prime minister had asked for a delay until June 30th. So this falls well short of that. We'll have a lot more
on our breaking story after a break. Stay with us.
[13:45:27] GORANI: Welcome back. Breaking news just in the last few minutes. According to a draft statement circulating in Brussels, the E.U.
has agreed to a Brexit extension until May 22nd. This is the day before European Parliamentary elections and not until June 30th. That was what
was initially requested or had been requested by the U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May. We're expecting in the next 15 minutes a news conference with
E.U. leaders. We'll bring you that live.
But back to Richard now. Richard who is joined by Erin McLaughlin, our reporter, who spends much of her time in Brussels with more on this
breaking news. Richard?
QUEST: Yes. And as I go to Erin, she doesn't have an earpiece in, Hala. If you have any questions for Erin, just let me know and I'll be happy to
pass them on, Because Erin has lived this. Erin has taken up residence here on several occasions, has actually -- what are you hearing?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm hearing that it doesn't seem like Theresa May's presentation tonight went over all that
well. She spoke for about an hour and a half. One, two, two diplomats who I talked to. One diplomat telling me that she really didn't answer their
questions. She was extremely evasive. She gave no clarity which is really, at this point, what E.U. leaders are craving in all of this.
QUEST: Right. But that suggests they had no choice other than to pass her, give her something, give her May 22nd.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, so --
QUEST: Look, they were never going to turn around and say, we're not giving you anything.
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. So when she left the room, that's when Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, tabled draft conclusions. And those
draft conclusions, which I'm told by one diplomat, should pass and put that May 22nd deadline on the extension, conditional on her being successful
next week which is what we've been hearing all along.
QUEST: But isn't it somewhat academic, whether it's May or June or whatever the deadline -- I mean, from her point of view, isn't it academic?
Because she's got to get it through participant.
MCLAUGHLIN: But it's not academic to them. She think she does -- there is a chance that she could succeed next week. And if she does, it will take a
while for her to complete the ratification process. So say she gets the deal over the line. A miracle happens. That occurs, then it'll take weeks
for her to complete the process, if say in June they grant a June 30th extension. If saying June, all of a sudden, the whole thing collapses,
then the E.U. is in legal limbo. They can't give her the June 30th deadline.
QUEST: OK. But no one in this building, except maybe the prime minister, believes she can get this through.
MCLAUGHLIN: No, not anyone that I've spoken to today. The problem is, there's still a chance.
QUEST: What happens? I mean, what happens next?
MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, that is the million dollar question at this point. We heard Emmanuel Macron when he arrived today that if she fails next week,
this process is barreling towards no-deal.
Now, was he been tactical? Was he trying to help her get this over the line by scaring people?
QUEST: No. The way I watched him, I think that might be the first occasion that a leader has publicly quiet sort of said we are now thinking
of no-deal. We're now -- he's put it -- he has put the nuclear option on the table in the same way that the Lithuanian president, just then, in her
conversation with Hala.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's certainly gone farther than many of the E.U. leaders were willing to go. When the other E.U. leaders arrived here, they
were asked that question. They hedged it. They said we're just going to have to wait and see because a lot of it depends on what Theresa May put
next, in terms of the request, if the deal fails.
[13:50:07] QUEST: Hala, as you can see, the environment here is, look, it's always one of those nights, it's always last minute, but there does, I
think maybe you'd agree -- I meant, Erin, there does seem to be an existential element to this.
MCLAUGHLIN: Look, they're extremely worried and frustrated and Theresa May doesn't seem to be in control of the situation. I think that's the most
concerning element of all of this. Who's in the driver's seat in the U.K.? There's not a clear answer to that.
QUEST: There you have it. Hala, it's going to go on this for some time. Yes, go ahead.
GORANI: I just have one question for you and Erin. Why are E.U. leaders playing hard ball to that extent where they're making no-deal, you know, a
real possibility by saying, yes, sure we'll grant you an extension, certainly not as long as you would like, but also conditional on this thing
that has a very small chance of happening, happening?
What's the -- what's -- why is that in their interest to be so hard balled about it?
QUEST: Right. Why is it in their interest -- why is it in their interest to be hard balled? Why is it in their interest to force her towards a no-
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, are they forcing her to a no-deal Brexit or are they showing her the cliff edge? I remember what one diplomat told me a few
months ago. Nothing sharpens the mind quite like a cliff edge. What is their strategy here? That could very well be what Emmanuel Macron was
thinking when he came out and said that earlier this morning.
QUEST: Is that just a feeling they're making it up as they go along?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's interesting because that is not the E.U. way. That is the U.K.'s way that the U.K.'s approach in all of this. One diplomat
telling me, well, maybe we should start kind of following what the U.K. does and making it up as we go along, as well. I think the scenario before
them forces them into doing that.
GORANI: Well, they didn't have to -- they didn't have to make that extension conditional. That was my question. They didn't have to do that.
QUEST: Oh, I see, right. Yes. Sorry, my apologies. What Hala is making -- saying I really, they didn't have to make it conditional on it passing
the U.K. They could have just given her -- no. They could have just given her an extension.
MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, the problem with that is that they know that that extension is not long enough to change the political dynamic on the ground
in the United Kingdom. And that's really in many minds here in their view, that's really what needs to happen.
That's not the consensus, but that's what many influential leaders seem to be saying.
QUEST: Which allows me to throw a question back to you, Hala. Do you believe that if there was any length, any different length of time, do you
believe they'd actually manage to get something through the parliament?
GORANI: We're going to have to -- we're going to have to answer that question later. I understand the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin
Netanyahu, and the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, are speaking. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: But now he did something of equal historic importance. He recognized Israel's sovereignty over the
Golan Heights. And he did so at a time when Iran is trying to use Syria as a platform to attack and destroy Israel.
And the message that President Trump has given the world is that America stands by Israel. We're celebrating Purim when 2,500 years ago, other
Persians led by Haman, tried to destroy the Jewish people. They failed then.
And today, 2,500 years later, again Persians led Khamenei, are trying to destroy the Jewish people and the Jewish state. They're going to fail
again. We are deeply grateful for the U.S. support. We're deeply grateful for the unbelievable and unmatchable support for our security and our right
to defend ourselves. And everything that you do on behalf of Israel and for the state of Israel in so many forms. So it is a distinct pleasure to
welcome you and Susan to our home at any time, but especially today.
And let me add another word about that. We had a moving visit today to the wall. I can't resist repeating this but I'm going to. I said to the
secretary that the last time Pompeo visited Jerusalem didn't end that well. But this is a different time.
Rome and Jerusalem clashed over values with a great tragedy for the Jewish people, but the new Rome, the United States views itself as a New
Jerusalem. We visited the original city on the hill. We visited the hill. There is no greater friendship than the one between Israel and the United
States and no one represents it better than Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
[13:55:13] You and ambassador freedman and your delegation are exceptional champions of our lives. I've called you so many times on so many things.
This evening, I just want to say one word, two actually. Thank you. Thank you, Mike Pompeo. Thank you, President Trump. And thank you, America. To
the people of Israel, I say [Speaking Foreign Language].
GORANI: All right. We're going to leave this news conference there. It was the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who's hosting the U.S.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
This, of course, after the Twitter announcement by the U.S. President, Donald Trump, that it is time for the U.S. to recognize Israeli sovereignty
over the Golan Heights. A territory seized in 1967 by Israel and annexed in the early 80s. Certainly controversial and sure to anger those Arab
countries in that part of the Middle East.
We are going to go to my colleague, Christiane Amanpour who is hosting her program, special hour, I believe on these E.U. talks and negotiations and
this draft statement, Christiane. That seems to indicate that the E.U. is willing to delay Brexit until May 22nd. Over to you.