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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
U.K. Parliament Votes On Alternatives To May's Brexit Deal; Turkey's President Downplaying A Stunning Defeat For His Party At The Polls; Vietnamese Woman Accused Of Killing The Half-Brother Of North Korea's Kim Jong-Un Has Escaped Death; Venezuela's Embattled President, Nicolas Maduro Has Announced Plans To Ration Electricity In Response To Recurring Power Outages. Aired: 4-5p ET
Aired April 1, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
RICHARD QUEST, ANCHOR, CNN: You are most welcome to Westminster tonight. I'm Richard Quest.
HALA GORANI, ANCHOR, CNN: I'm Hala Gorani. We are, where else? Outside the Houses of Parliament tonight where we are waiting the results from the latest votes on alternative Brexit plans from Member of Parliament, and Richard, this is important because for the second time, Parliament is trying to unite and force Theresa May's hand on Brexit and we are waiting for the results of votes that took place a short time ago after MPs again took over the order of business in Parliament.
QUEST: They did. They're trying to find an alternative to the Prime Minister's Brexit withdrawal deal. Now, we know the Opposition Labour Party has told its MPs to support three out of the four options on the table. Two would lead to a softer Brexit, the third would mean a referendum on any deal.
GORANI: Right, and the DUP, this is the Northern Ireland party declining to support any of the choices. Now, if Parliament can't agree, the power goes back to Theresa May and rumors are swirling, she might bring back her deal for a fourth vote or even call an early general election. Not a popular option though, you said even among her own Party. What if she doesn't win? What if her Party fails to win a majority?
QUEST: Well, I'm more interested as well in the question of what do they do with whatever comes out of this process? How do they attach it to her deal? And then -- well, you need to consider what's on the paper tonight.
GORANI: Sure, so there are four -- because you'll remember, last week there were eight alternatives. Today, there are four alternatives to Theresa May's Brexit deal for MPs. So, Richard you went over these last hour.
QUEST: I did, I did. Forgive me as I --
GORANI: Motion C, the Customs Union; Motion D is the Common Market 2.0; Motion E is basically another referendum and Motion G is Parliamentary supremacy or Brexit safety net -- those are the options.
QUEST: It's been a long day. It's been a long day. And I've got to keep saying it, but it has got colder tonight. So what do we -- what is going to happen?
BIANCA NOBILO, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Richard always starts with the easy questions. Well, I think we are going see a majority for one of the softer Brexit options. This Common Market 2.0 has the most attention on it today and that's because it's been tabled by a Conservative, Nick Boles, but Labour have said they're going support it and some of the SNP, the third biggest Party in the House of Commons is also going support it.
It is a controversial amendment though for the Prime Minster because half of her Conservative Party aren't enthusiastic about the notion of remaining that closely aligned with the E.U. So the question will be after what we see tonight, what will the Prime Minister's options be?
QUEST: Customs Union though versus the Common Market, the Customs Union is very much watered down. It's basically just a Customs Union between the two sides as opposed to something much, much deeper. There's a big difference there, Carole Walker.
CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there is. I think what's really interesting tonight, Richard, is listening to this debate, every single MP arguing passionately for their own particular route is saying, "This is the way to break the deadlock. This is the way to get through the impasse." All this does is move us on to the next impasse.
But to go back to your direct point, the Customs Union you've just talked about, this Common Market 2, it is becoming a member of the European economic area and essentially the big difference there is you'd also effectively be a member of the single market and what that means is you have to align your rules and regulations with the European Union.
I mean, it is much easier for businesses to trade within the European Union, but of course, your freedom when you come to try and forge trade deals around the world are severely restricted, and MPs who have been strongly backing Brexit are going to say, "Well, if you're tied to all the rules and regulations you're tied to the E.U.'s tariffs through a form of Customs Union, that is not Brexit." And they are strongly opposed to that.
So that is why the key point, which as Richard was saying is what happens after this?
GORANI: But let's also remind our viewers procedurally here, these are indicative votes. They're not binding in the sense that the government can choose to ignore what MPs, even if they are in their majority have voted to adopt here.
NOBILO: Given that the Prime Minister is struggling to get her legislation through the House of Commons, she has to pay attention if she wants to pass her withdrawal agreement or a political declaration, she needs to pay attention to this.
NOBILO: So yes, du jour, they are not binding, but by de facto, they are. She needs to pay attention.
GORANI: But there are still dates that are in the calendar. There is a time line that is very clearly before us. There's April of course. That's the hard Brexit if the deal is not adopted and then there's May 22nd, the day before the two-day European elections if the deal is adopted. Is there time to incorporate any of these suggestions from Parliamentarians?
WALKER: Well, look, this is a horrendously complicated process and will present the Prime Minister with a horrendous dilemma because if for example, MPs do coalesce around this Common Market 2 option, there will be some in her party who will say, "Well, yes, I think that the government should embrace that. The government has got to listen to what Parliament is saying because we've been asking Parliament to come up with a solution." There will be others who will say, "Look, we went into this, we stood at the last general election. Theresa May has said time and time again saying no to a Customs Union. We needed a deal which controlled our borders."
The other problem with Common Market 2 is you have to allow freedom of movement for E.U. citizens. So if she were to then reject it, she will get walkouts from either side. Whichever way she turns, she faces walkouts. What she is hoping she might be able to do would be to say to MPs, "Look, if you back my deal, all these sorts of options can be renegotiated as part of a separate political declaration."
So you have the withdrawal agreement, you get the withdrawal agreement bill through, but you put off all of these wider questions for the next stage of the negotiations.
GORANI: I do wonder if there is going to be so much concern, Richard, and all of you from you and the hard Brexit supporters. They're going to say, "Look at these indicative votes. Maybe one will get a majority." And they're going to say, "Oh my goodness. This is really just a Brexit in name only if I don't support the Prime Minister's deal." And there you have some sort of political 180 miracle from one of the most --
NOBILO: That's what some MPs were hoping -- that I spoke to today.
QUEST: The numbers are there. Remember, sorry. The last MV3, meaningful vote three was after they already saw the way things were going.
NOBILO: That was when there wasn't a majority.
QUEST: But you didn't have the wit much more to realize that that was the way the wind was blowing.
NOBILO: Well, some lawmakers I was speaking to today are hoping that will be the straw that break the camel's back and gets the reticent ERG on side.
GORANI: Among Theresa May's supporters.
NOBILO: Exactly, so if there is a majority for something which is really soft, which demonstrates that if you don't support the Prime Minister's deal, it can only get softer. And just to demonstrate how precarious the Prime Minister's existing support is, Richard Drax, who is a Conservative MP who was sort of pushed into the aisle lobby to support the Prime Minister last Friday, he said in the House today, "I made the wrong call." Basically, I wish I hasn't supported the Prime Minister. So that's one down. She's already 58 votes short and now, she just lost somebody else publicly today.
QUEST: Right, while we are talking about all of this softer Brexit, and all of this sort of -- we need to explain what that actually is and why. Now, MPs are voting on four Brexit proposals and it includes this softer Brexit that we are on about, Common Market 2.0 is the slogan it's called. It is Norway plus, some people call it; Norway plus option. And it's the very softest form of Brexit pretty much you can get.
Under this, the United Kingdom would leave the E.U., but stay very closely aligned to it. It would do so through membership in the single market in some shape or form. Now, it would have to abide by the full freedoms of movement -- goods, services, capital and people. The U.K. will have to apply to join the European - the EFTA, European Free Trade Agreement.
In theory, it would be allowed to negotiate its own trade deals; a plan also of course for a customs arrangement that avoids a hard border on Ireland. Such a deal is unprecedented. So there's no guarantee it could be achieved.
Now, if you're hearing all of this and wondering, well, if you have got all this, why bother leaving at all? Well, for good reason. Britain's Environment Secretary Michael Gove, has started as possible successor, says the same thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL GOVE, BRITAIN'S ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY: Members of Parliament have some important decisions to make today. I think one thing is clear, which is that we have to leave the European Union in good order. Members of Parliament won't vote for no deal and indeed no deal would be bad for our economy and bad for the Union.
But also staying in a Customs Union or accepting single market would mean that some of the manifesto pledges that were made at the general election would be compromised. The best way forward to honor to votes of 17.4 million people and also to safeguard our economy is to get behind the Prime Minister's approach. We need to make sure that we leave in an orderly fashion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:10:05] GORANI: Here we go, Alberto Costa, a Conservative Member of
Parliament who backs the Prime Minister's deal is here with us. So you met -- I'm reading here from my producer, you met with the Prime Minister today to discuss the votes. Talk to us about that.
ALBERTO COSTA, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, CONSERVATIVE PARTY: Well, thank you, Hala and Richard for having me on. I regularly meet with the Prime Minister and other colleagues, but, yes, I met with the Prime Minister today. There's nothing unusual about that. But we discussed this evening's votes, and having spoken to my association executive -- I'm the MP for South Leicestershire which is an east midlands constituency in the heart of England and like many constituencies, they voted to leave the European Union.
So what I discussed with the Prime Minister was what can I do to help get her deal across the line? And I concluded, and I can only speak for myself, I concluded that voting for a Customs Union tonight would help to get the Prime Minister's deal across the line. Why do I say that?
Firstly, an indicative vote is not legally binding on the government and it might encourage some of my colleagues who have not voted for the Prime Minister's deal to vote for it and indeed, Labour MPs as well to vote for it.
QUEST: If you vote for the Customs Union tonight, how do you then attach it to the Prime Minister's deal to then take it to Europe? What do you do with it?
COSTA: So it's not the Customs Union and I know this might appear semantics, it's our Customs Union. In other words, it is not defined. It's an agreement on tariffs. The way that it is attached to the withdrawal agreement would be this. The withdrawal agreement would be brought forward and a commitment can then be given by the government in order to entice Labour MPs to vote for it. A commitment can be given by the British government that the political declaration, that is the future talks that we're going to have with the E.U. will incorporate as part of its frame work an agreement on tariffs.
GORANI: Is there a time -- is there a time for this?
GORANI: This is an agreement that took more than two years to negotiate, at the last minute, 11th hour you're going to add a component to it.
COSTA: So it's not a withdrawal agreement. No, it's not the withdrawal agreement. That's a closed agreement. It's the political declaration, which is an add-on to the withdrawal agreement.
QUEST: Right, but hang on, you've still got to get Europe to agree to include the political Customs Union, or a Customs Union in the political agreement.
COSTA: Well, Donald Tusk tweeted only a few days ago that he wants to hear from the House of Commons, so the House of Commons tonight will speak and if -- and it's an if -- if the House of Commons voted for our Customs Union, then we'll want in that political declaration an agreement on tariffs.
GORANI: I was going to say, you met with the Prime Minister, and I guess on most of our viewers' minds would be the question, the obvious one, which is in what frame of mind is she because she has suffered defeat after defeat? She is looking at potentially trying to get that deal through Parliament the fourth time, how did she seem to you?
COSTA: Theresa May as an individual is -- I don't personally know where she gets the energy from, but she's extremely focused. If you ever met Theresa, you will know exactly what I'm talking about.
But for the benefit of your viewers, she is absolutely adamant that we should leave the European Union with a deal. She wants to respect the referendum result and in my party's manifesto, it said that we would leave the European Union and seek a deep and special partnership. Well, we have got that in the withdrawal agreement.
GORANI: But she's not discouraged at this point? I mean, really most people I think after so many defeats -- and she has Members of her own Party who are kind of eyeing the top job, therefore her job.
COSTA: Well, I wouldn't blame the best of us of having a few glasses of whiskey. There was no whiskey present in Downing Street today.
QUEST: Okay, and before we go, those who say she is stubborn. She hasn't listened to anybody throughout the process. She has barreled on regardless and actually she is the author of her own misfortune on this.
COSTA: Well, I think if you ask the British public, I think most members of the British public will say, actually, what is her strength? Her strength is her determination, and in politics and in a situation like this, we need somebody who is absolutely focused, but she does respect the House of Commons.
If the House of Commons tonight has voted for some form of Customs Union, not their Customs Union, a Customs Union, I'm quite confident the Prime Minister will take that into account in order to get her withdrawal agreement through.
GORANI: Well, we are going to be asking our reporter what the European Union, not a European Union thinks of all of this. Alberto Costa, Conservative Member of Parliament, thank you so much for joining us.
Erin McLaughlin is in Brussels. Erin, the view from there?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It was interesting listening to your guest there, Hala, because a Customs Union is actually already within the withdrawal agreement, and it's called the Northern Irish Backstop, and so E.U. officials, E.U. diplomats here are saying that they would be open to amending the political declaration to include some sort of Customs Union that that negotiation could be simply wrapped up in a matter of days.
That being said, there is deep skepticism here in Brussels that anything concrete will emerge out of these indicative votes tonight. I was just on the phone with a diplomat who told me, quote, "Our expectations are so low, they (meaning Westminster) can only exceed them." So that gives you an idea of where people are here at Brussels given the fact that the withdrawal agreement was defeated in a crushing fashion by 58 votes last Friday, described to me by some as a sort of water shed moment, perhaps in this entire processs.
They see it being very difficult for her, being Theresa May, to be able to overcome that 58-vote defeat. They don't see many places for her to be able to go in this picture, so they will be watching what happens tonight very closely hoping that Parliament will be able to coalesce on something concrete to be able to bring forward to the E.U.
GORANI: All right, so you've got all of these people waiting and wondering. They must be starting to lose their patience and their calm. The likes of Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker are -- I mean, they have been patient to the nth degree.
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, and Jean-Claude Juncker today said that his patience is wearing thin, and the worry being given the obstacle, so there's many people here in Brussels who are surprised at just how difficult a fight is there in Westminster.
Many of them are saying that views as a result are hardening with respect to a longer term extension and remember, last week what the E.U. was saying is really, they only see two options left on the table - a long extension or that dreaded no-deal possibility. We always heard from President Juncker earlier talk in a sense of history, reflecting on the 2016 referendum laying blame, so to speak on former Prime Minister David Cameron.
The fact that Cameron refused to allow the E.U. to campaign on behalf of remain is a big sticking point still with Juncker to this day. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISION (Through a translator): We were forbidden from being present in any way in the referendum campaign by Mr. Cameron, who is one of the great destroyers of modern times because he said the Commission is even less popular in the U.K. than it is in other E.U. member states. That's quite a task to be less popular in the U.K. than anywhere else.
If we had been able to take part in this campaign, we could have asked and also answered many questions that are only being asked now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: You could hear there the sense of frustration that in this 11th hour, only now are Members of Parliament there in the U.K. having a debate about the E.U.'s relationship with the U.K. going forward.
QUEST: Erin, thank you. Erin McLaughlin is in Brussels and will be up as long and later as the rest of us are, actually later because it's an hour ahead there in Brussels, as we continue to watch and wait. We'll take a break. Amara Walker is in CNN Center.
AMARA WALKER, ANCHOR, CNN: Richard and Hala, thank you for that. Still to come tonight, Turkey's President downplaying a stunning defeat for his party at the polls. A full report from Istanbul is just ahead.
A. WALKER: Hi, everyone. I'm Amara Walker. Our coverage of the Brexit votes will continue in just a moment, but first some other stories we are following tonight. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suffered a major setback at the polls. His Party lost control of the capital, Ankara in local elections, Sunday and it is on track for defeat in Istanbul as well.
Mr. Erdogan had campaigned relentlessly, sometimes addressing up to eight rallies a day. Here's what he told his supporters on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (Through a translator): I believe the only reason we couldn't get the results we wanted in some cities is that we couldn't express ourselves enough to our nation and we failed to win their hearts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
A. WALKER: Now these elections were widely considered a referendum on President Erdogan himself. He is playing down the losses, but as CNN's Arwa Damon reports, there's no doubt that voters were sending a message.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ARWA DAMON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Turkey's President's Party did not quite have the sweeping victory it was best known for, but the President himself is still touting how well his Party and its coalition did across the country. But still, there has been a very serious and deliberate message delivered by those who took to the polls.
The loss of major cities -- the capital Ankara, the country's political seat lost to the opposition party's mayoral candidate albeit by the slimmest of margins really underscores many voters' grievances and key among those are grievances that have to do with the economy. The lira has been in a downward tumble, inflation is in double digits and unemployment at 10% -- 20% among youth, not necessarily a new phenomenon, but it's on the rise and Turkey's President, despite what he says is going to have to pay very close attention to his countrymen's grievances.
This is something he himself did acknowledge, vowing that both he and his Party would do more to try to better the economy and other issues that the country is facing, but this is still a potentially devastating blow. Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
A. WALKER: After the first round of voting in Ukraine's presidential election, a television comedian is in the lead with 90% of the votes counted. Volodymyr Zelensky seems headed to a runoff against Ukraine's incumbent President. Now, Zelensky is a star of a popular TV show in which he plays a nobody who accidentally gets elected President.
The Vietnamese woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korea's Kim Jong-un has escaped death after being granted a plea deal and it looks like she won't serve more than a few months in prison. It is the latest twist in one of the strangest assassination stories you will ever hear.
CNN's Ivan Watson has the latest from Hong Kong.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's dictator was one of the most brazen assassinations in recent history taking place in Kuala Lumpur Airport in February of 2017 and the weapon was VX nerve agent.
WATSON: And now, the trial appears to have wrapped up and the key suspect has reached a plea deal. This is a Vietnamese woman named Duan Thi Huong who pled not guilty to charges of murder and now amid pressure from the Vietnamese government, the prosecutors offered her a lesser charge of, quote, "voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means" to which she did plead guilty. The judge said she is a very lucky person today and gave her a sentence of three years in prison -- three years and four months. Her attorneys believe she could be released as early as May.
There was another key suspect in Malaysian custody and it was an Indonesian woman name Siti Aisyah. She was abruptly released last month when prosecutors suddenly dropped murder charges against her and was back home free in Indonesia in less than 24 hours. That came amid high level lobbying from the Indonesian government to set her free.
Both women faced the threat of the death penalty in Malaysia for this alleged assassination. Their defense was that they believed they had been tricked that they were participating in some kind of a reality TV prank show when they smeared a substance on the face of the Kim Jong- nam in the airport.
Their defense attorney say the real criminal here are four North Korean agents wanted by Malaysia and Interpol who fled shortly after the murder took place and their whereabouts are not known at this time. It is unlikely that they will ever face justice or an investigator, and meanwhile, these two women who are no longer facing murder charges, they never actually testified in court to explain to the public their interactions with the North Koreans who stand accused of organizing this assassination in the first place. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
A. WALKER: All right, still to come, we are waiting for the results of the votes on the Brexit alternatives. Where Britain ends up is really anybody's guess. Hala and Richard will take over from outside the Houses of PARLIAMENT when we come back.
GORANI: Welcome back to Westminster. Parliament is trying to find a way forward on Brexit, not for the first time. Politicians are still arguing over whether they should hold a second referendum. Here is what MPs said earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMILY THORNBERRY, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, LABOUR PARTY: I think that basically anything that now gets through Parliament is going to be controversial, and so I think probably the best way of dealing with this is to say to the people, now that you know what leave means as opposed to the kind of all unicorns and all the silly rainbow promises that you were given before -- this is what leave could look like. Do you want that? Or do you want to remain? And that I think is probably the best way of going ahead.
MICHAEL HOWARD, FORMER U.K. CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER: The people who want a second referendum are people who want to reverse the decision that made in the first referendum. Nobody who wants to leave wants a second referendum. They are bad losers. They lost having said that would the one and only referendum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: That was Michael Howard, the former leader of the Conservative Party, who voted to leave, by the way but who believes that there should be -- it is very interesting, by the way, Matthew Doyle is here with us, the former political director of Prime Minister Tony Blair. You believe there should be -- that the U.K. should leave in April and then spend a year discussing a trade relationship -- hard Brexit, but then a negotiation.
MATTHEW DOYLE, FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR OF PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: Right, and that's because ultimately what a lot of the Brexiteers are suddenly starting to realize is the most important thing is that they just want to leave. As soon as they get us out, then the path back in becomes virtually impossible. So therefore for them, what they're suddenly starting to worry about
on the Brexit side is that -- have they missed their moment by pursuing this ideal of the perfect Brexit? Have they actually missed their chance?
QUEST: What do you think? Do you think that the options are now so limited, but that one of them that has been removed is that of a no- deal Brexit?
DOYLE: Yes, I do, because I think ultimately however much Parliament says, "Oh, we don't want European elections," or we don't want the uncertainty of the future, there still aren't the numbers in Parliament for a no deal Brexit, so therefore, it will choose extension over no deal.
QUEST: And if the Prime Minister -- I mean, she still has got 170 members of her own Party who wrote to her today saying we want a no deal Brexit. So the way in which Parliament would force her against it is not clear.
DOYLE: Correct, so I think what you'll see tonight is another set of slightly more, but still ultimately inconclusive votes on the way forward, because, you know, the reality is that what Parliament still hasn't been willing do in sufficient numbers is for people to give up their -- if you like their ideal scenario and replace it with the practical solutions. I think you'll see some of the options tonight do better, but I still don't think you're going see anything winning with a significant clear majority.
GORANI: I was going to say, the Labour Party -- I mean, your Party with a -- sorry, the Conservative Party that is propped up by the DUP, but still in control and the Prime Minister of the Conservative Party. How is the Labour Party so unable to capitalize on the chaos across the aisle? What's wrong with it right now?
DOYLE: Because fundamentally, the Labour Party leadership has a different view on the fundamentals of Brexit to a lot of the Labour Party members and I would argue to the Labour voters out there in the country. Look, it's no secret that the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn has never been a big pro-European to put it mildly, and so therefore, his enthusiasm for being a consensus builder around an alternative just hasn't been there.
He instead, he's been talking about somehow trying to get a better version of a Brexit deal, but that still means you're leaving.
QUEST: Bearing in mind what -- you know, there are lots of Labour MPs in leave constituencies but they voted remain. Is there not some justifiable point that says the House is not representative? Most of the MPs voted for remain, large parts of the country voted to leave.
DOYLE: That is true in a very pure sense. However, the fact of the matter is, we have a Parliamentary system and so therefore, you either take the view, that yes, there was the vote of the British public ...
[16:35:08] DOYLE: ... but the MPs are also entitled to come up with their own
ideas as well. However, what I fundamentally believe is the way in which you bridge those two positions is by going back to the people for a public vote. And that's why ultimately, I still believe whether through what I would argue is the more flawed version, which is another general election, or what would be my personal view as the best way of doing it is that Parliament debates these different options, it comes up with its preferred version of Brexit and it then goes back to the British public to get that confirmed.
GORANI: Do you have the time? I mean, there are dates that are just unmistakably ahead of us.
DOYLE: Which is why I think we are going to end up with an extension. I think an extension is inevitable now.
QUEST: What would you put on the other side of that? The confirmatory vote concept? Come up with the idea, put it to a vote? What would be on the other side?
DOYLE: It would be the version of Brexit the Parliament can agree on versus remaining in the European Union.
QUEST: Don't you think you have to put no deal Brexit on there as well? Because that is the cleanest form of Brexit in the eyes of many purists.
DOYLE: In the eyes of many purists, exactly as you put it, however, this is not the view of Parliament and one of the fundamental problems which is why we can't have this debate is that if you go back to the original vote in 2016, the cause of so much of the division and the debate was that in that referendum campaign, what leaving meant wasn't properly defined. And so therefore, you have got politicians but in all sorts of different ways trying to define a Brexit mandate that in reality wasn't given.
GORANI: We haven't once mentioned the backstop.
QUEST: Well, I'm sure it won't be far away.
DOYLE: But just very quickly on the backstop. The Customs Union which may well come out on top tonight does not solve the problem --
GORANI: Would solve that issue -- it would ...
DOYLE: No, because you don't have regulatory alignment when it comes to certain goods for example in the agricultural sector or on certain safety standards.
GORANI: But there are certain industry --
QUEST: But it might be enough to get you into the transitional agreement -- two-year transitional period.
GORANI: And then you would have industry groups negotiating. DOYLE: But this goes back to where we started, the fundamental
problem is, do you ultimately want to leave not knowing what the future relationship is going to be like? And I don't think MPs --
QUEST: I don't think you have a choice on that.
DOYLE: I don't think MPs will be willing to give the government that sort of blank check.
QUEST: I don't think you have a choice on that. The way it was set up, Article 50, or the way it's been interpreted means that's exactly what you want to do. You leave with a vague idea of the future relationship and then you negotiate the future relationship.
DOYLE: But not without certain fundamentals being guaranteed and that is why from the DUP on one hand, when it comes to the relationship for Northern Ireland, for others who are concerned about the border, for others who want to know what it means for business and so on, there are too many uncertainties still.
GORANI: Matthew Doyle, thank you very much. Thank you. Appreciate it. A lot more to come. CNN has fanned out across England in both sides of the Brexit debate. They agree on one thing, as one person told us, it is a mess. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Well, it's been a long road to Brexit here in the U.K. and elsewhere and the finish line may or may not be in sight. But what are people far from Parliament saying? Nina dos Santos is in Winchester which voted to remain in the European Union. What are the hopes and dreams of Winchester residents this evening, Nina?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, it depends who you ask, but a fair amount of them are in favor of remaining, Hala. You know, this is a part of the U.K. in the south that's a very wealthy and influential town. There's an elite boarding school around the corner from this cathedral behind me, the ancient well-known cathedral where Jane Austin is buried and that boarding school trained many of those MPs who are currently debating the future of Brexit itself.
And a lot of the people of Winchester about 58 percent to 59 percent of them voted to say inside the E.U. when that referendum was held. On the streets of Winchester today, we found some leave views, some remain views, some people who changed their mind but they were united in saying that it's up to the politicians to sort out this mess right now as soon as possible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a mess and if politicians didn't all come together and just refuse on everything that Mrs. May puts to them, perhaps it would be a fairer vote. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democracy is a fluid thing and now people have
seen more and more the consequences of what they voted for. I believe they should have a final say of saying whether this is something they want to go forward for.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time to leave, but no, I don't care. You know, because there's so much infighting with MPs and everybody arguing and people turning against people. It's just a vote that should have gone one way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Well, in fact, Hala, their local MP, Steve Brian is one of those three recent Cabinet Ministers who decided to resign from the front bench in protest partly at the hardline Brexiteers sway over the government's policy when it comes to Brexit, and just the fact that some of his other colleagues haven't voted for Theresa May's deal. He twice voted for Theresa May's deal and announced that he espouses the view of potentially this Customs Union which obviously has some hardline Brexiteers in the Conservative Party really, really upset.
So again, here on the streets of Winchester, just like in so many other remain and split parts of the country that we have been touring over the course of the last week and a half if you like, there really is just a sense of exhaustion and a sense of concern that a no deal Brexit could really be on the cards in about 11 days' time from now if Westminster can't find some way of unifying to work the country through this -- Hala.
GORANI: Thank you, Nina in Winchester.
QUEST: To the next part of the country. Hadas Gold in the heart of leave territory, Stockton-on-Tees in the Northeast.
HADAS GOLD, REPORTER, CNN: Richard, Stockton-on-Tees voted more 60% in favor of leaving the European Union in that 2016 referendum and this is an area, the surrounding area in the northeast that has really been hit hard in the last few years especially with the closure of a major steel plant here a few years ago where thousands of people lost their jobs.
Right now, the unemployment for this area is double the national average and people here partly blame being a part of the European Union as to why they think this area hasn't been able to completely reinvigorate itself. They believe that E.U. regulations put a stranglehold on businesses here being able to develop and to reinvigorate what they see could be a good future for this region.
We spent the day yesterday in Hartlepool just up the coast speaking to locals there about what they see as the process and what they think should happen going forward. Take a listen.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need to get a move on with Brexit. It's been going since 2016. I think Theresa May is stuck in a rut. She needs to just make a decision, not just sit and squabbling like children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out. Let's get out. We survived Two World Wars. We are fighters and we'll -- yes, we'll go down, but we'll climb out again.
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GOLD: And so Richard for a lot of people here, they see Brexit as their salvation, as a way because they feel as though this place could be so much more. But they feel as though they need to leave the European Union before they can get all of that potential future started --Richard.
GORANI: All right.
QUEST: Many thanks indeed.
GORANI: We'll be back in just a moment. Amara Walker picks up our coverage after this short break.
A. WALKER: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Amara Walker. We are continuing to monitor the latest Brexit votes in Westminster, but for now, some other stories we are following on CNN at this hour. Venezuela's embattled President, Nicolas Maduro has announced plans to ration electricity in response to recurring power outages. Part of that involves calling for the working day to end at 2:00 p.m. beginning today.
Anger about the chaotic economy is growing across the country. People are taking to the streets, even in areas that support the government. They are growing ever more desperate for food, medicine, electricity, and even for clean water. Hospitals have been especially hard hit by the blackouts. CNN's Paula Newton reports on the risks doctors and nurses are taking by speaking out.
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PAULA NEWTON, CORRESPONDENT, CNN (voice over): Take a close look. This is an emergency pediatric ward in Venezuela. Overcrowded, unbearably hot, run down, rudimentary treatment everywhere you look. And from nearly every bed and every child, a harrowing story. Like this one.
Natalia Rojas has not named her baby girl born in early March during the first country-wide blackout. She's restless, feverish, doctors suspect meningitis, but there's no way to find out.
"She needs several tests," Natalia tells me, and a scan of her little head, as she puts it, but it can't be done here. Scans, x-rays, the blood lab haven't been operational for months.
We have been given exclusive access to two pediatric wards by outraged medical staff who say they can take no more. There are shortages of everything medicine and medical supply, not even the special formula that malnourished Enibar (ph) is so desperately in need of. As we walk through abandoned wards with decrepit equipment, there is no sanitation, no water, little power.
NEWTON (on camera): These conditions, you have to understand, are normal in Venezuela. We have seen them again and again in hospital after hospital.
NEWTON (voice over): And now this, brush fires just outside the hospital. With no water, they are left to exhaust themselves, smoke and ash coming in through the windows.
NEWTON (voice over): CNN contacted hospital administrators and the Venezuelan health ministry about the conditions and did not receive a reply.
"When we have an emergency," she tells me, "We have no way of resolving the situation in most cases. We have to improvise. It's like we're combat doctors."
And doctors here tell us they're at war in more ways than one. This pediatrician says she does not want to be identified for fear of reprisals. She says doctors and other medical staff are threatened with dismissal and sometimes even physically abused if they speak out.
It's been three years since Dr. Ronnie Vilasmul (ph) risked his career to give me a rare look inside a crumbling Venezuelan hospital. Since, he has not only been fired for speaking out, but just a few weeks ago he tweeted that authorities have come to arrest him after he met with a visiting U.N. mission to raise the alarm about hospital conditions. He is still in hiding.
DR. FEDER ALVAREZ, VENEZUELAN DOCTOR: It's definitely become worse.
NEWTON (voice over): Dr. Alejandro Crespo (ph) is a friend of Dr. Ronnie's and he says there can be no debate, Venezuela's health system has collapsed.
ALVAREZ: You can ask the mothers and they're not going to lie to you. To have their kids dying in a hospital bed because the lack of medicine and they can do nothing.
NEWTON (voice over): Medical staff tell us they feel as if they're sent into battle every day knowing they will lose, leaving weary patients to plead for their children's care. As Venezuela's political conflict rages, this remains its front line.
Paula Newton, CNN, in Aragua state, Venezuela.
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A. WALKER: It's just heartbreaking. David McKenzie joining me now from Caracas with the latest. And David, when see -- I mean, just from Paula Newton's report and we know that the suffering is so widespread in that country. This is not a political issue. This is a human issue and it makes you wonder how Maduro continues to keep support on the ground. I mean, he must be losing it quickly.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, he is losing support. We have been to neighborhoods in Caracas which would have traditionally been supporters of the regime, and they certainly are saying they are fed up with the lack of electricity and water, the basic survival that they need to go through is becoming more and more difficult in the capital. But it is also about politics.
And just a few moments ago, the Supreme Court, Amara, put down the decision, increasing the pressure on Juan Guaido, the opposition leader. They say that they are asking or instructing the constituent National Assembly to remove his immunity that he has as a member of the legislature here in Venezuela and are announcing a wrath of sanctions and possibly freezing his bank accounts. It would seem that they are trying to increase the pressure, the loyalist parts of this regime, to eventually potentially arrest the man who says he is the interim President and which more than 50 countries agree on that point.
So the politics is continuing, and Maduro is digging in, and he seems immune or at least immune to the suffering that is going on in the streets here in the capital and elsewhere -- Amara.
A. WALKER: And David, explain to us what happens during these major power outages. I think there have been four already this month, and what the Maduro regime is saying about it, because they are placing the blame on the west, on the U.S. saying that it is orchestrating these electricity outages.
MCKENZIE: Just as recently as yesterday, Nicolas Maduro, the President, said that these outages were to be blamed on the Trump administration, saying, well, they didn't invade, but they took care of our electrical system. And I am paraphrasing there.
The real problem people face is just basic survival. Just here in the capital, the subway system has shut down. People are cramming on to busses. Nicolas Maduro is saying that he will have rotational electricity to try and stop these massive blackouts cutting across the whole country it seems.
The water, though, is the biggest issue I have to say. We have seen lines all over the place around the capital, people are getting dirty water, also streams from the mountain to try survive. Some people telling me they haven't had water for three, four days. That really rises the level of discontent against the regime, but with the generals -- and as you saw, as I mentioned, the Supreme Court backing the President.
The power structure of this country are very much behind the President, and so he might feel more comfortable than the humanitarian situation would suggest, Amara.
A. WALKER: And lastly, and quickly, David, I mean, you would imagine with what's happening under Maduro, this would strengthen Juan Guaido's position politically. Are people even talking about that or are they even talking about politics at this point?
MCKENZIE: Yes, they are talking about politics and it's more, at least in my experience over the last few days, the politics you're hearing is just to get the President out, even people who used to support him, but closely. Now that's not by any means a nationwide phenomenon. There are still people who are loyal to the President, even ordinary Venezuelans, but you do get the sense of rising discontent because of the real suffering they are going through.
But again, the power structure of this country is such that the President can hang on for a long time. He's also saying that the threats by the U.S. and particularly from President Trump and the National Security Adviser have been hollow because they don't actually believe that the U.S. is willing to send in troops or intervene militarily here. That's something many activists or many analysts I should say also, say it would be a bad scenario for this country -- Amara.
A. WALKER: David McKenzie, we really appreciate reporting live for us there on the ground in Caracas, Venezuela. We will be back with Richard and Hala outside Westminster in just a moment from now. I am Amara Walker at the CNN Center, our special coverage of the Brexit votes continues next.