Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Trump Administration to Brief U.S. Lawmakers on Intel; Zarif to CNN: U.S. Has Broken Promises; Qat, Yemen's Most Popular Drug is Starving Its People; British Prime Minister Discusses New Plan to Leave European Union; May Says Customs is Most Difficult Issue in Brexit; May; MPs Will Be Asked to Vote on Holding New Referendum. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired May 21, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Hi. Welcome. Great to have you along. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Curnow here in Atlanta, CNN'S
So we begin this hour over tensions between Iran and the U.S. In Washington top security officials are preparing to brief lawmakers on Iran. The U.S.
President though has issued mixed messages, with Mr. Trump first threatening Tehran, then appearing to dial back by calling on leaders to
speak over the phone. Tehran is calling on the U.S., though, to show some respect. The Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif exclusively told CNN that
America is playing a very dangerous game by sending military to the Gulf and also by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. Well Zarif spoke to our
Fred Pleitgen who's in Tehran. Well CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, is standing by in Abu Dhabi. Get to you in just a moment,
Nic. But Fred, do talk us through this interview. Because he said some very interesting things.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He certainly did say some interesting things and of course very up to date considering
the current situation in the Middle East in this Persian Gulf area specifically. One of the things that I asked him about were these
perceived mixed messages that seemed to be coming from the Trump administration. Where a couple of days ago President Trump said that any
sort of fight between the U.S. and Iran would lead to the official end of Iran, as he put it. And then yesterday coming out and saying that he
wanted talks with the Iranians and wanted the Iranians to call him. Well Javad Zarif told me under these current circumstances that there would
absolutely be no talks between the Iranians and the Trump administration.
The Iranians say, first of all, they would want some of this maximum pressure that the U.S. is exerting on Iran to be lifted. Here's what he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We are not willing to talk to people who have broken their promises. Because we talk to people. We
did not believe that our nuclear program, our nuclear energy program required us to provide any concessions or provide any confidence building
measures. But we engaged. We acted in good faith. We negotiated. We reached a deal. But what the United States is saying is that if we make a
deal, whatever we can get you in the negotiations through the deal is fine. Whatever we cannot get you we'll come back to try to get you. This is not
the way serious countries deal with each other. The United States may be used to doing that with clients but they cannot the that with Iran.
PLEITGEN: How dangerous do you think the situation is currently in the Persian Gulf with the us aircraft carrier on its way, B-52 bombers? Now at
the same time from your side saying, look, we don't want an escalation but it will be painful if there is one.
ZARIF: Well there will be painful consequences for everybody if there is an escalation against Iran. That's for sure. The United States is
engaging in economic warfare against Iran. It has to stop. Economic war means targeting Iranian people. That has to stop. The United States does
not have the legal position, does not have the moral position, does not have the political position, does not have the international position to
impose economic war on Iran.
Iran is not interested in escalation. We have said very clearly that we would not be the party to begin escalation but we will defend ourselves.
Now having all these military assets in a small waterway is in and of itself prone to accident, particularly when you have people who are
interested in accidents. So extreme prudence is required and we believe that the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So a dangerous game there, the words from Javad Zarif coming in an interview that we had earlier today. One of the other things by the
way, Robyn, that he also said because I asked him about those tanker attacked that happened in the Persian Gulf area. He absolutely once again
denied that the Iranians were behind those. But as you can see still a very dangerous situation and time in the Persian Gulf region.
I think one of the thing that became clear in all of this is that even if this current standoff starts easing a little bit, the fundamental issues
between the Trump administration and Iran certainly are nowhere near being solved. That maximum pressure campaign and the Iranians continue to say at
this point in time they are unwilling to negotiate with the Trump administration because they think it's a policy of coercion. And they say
that's not any sort of time that they would be willing to negotiate with the U.S. -- Robyn.
CURNOW: OK, thanks so much for that the view there from Tehran. And Nic Robertson, I want to go to you because we understand in the coming hours
that top security officials are going to be briefing lawmakers on Iran. But then we've also been hearing Democrats saying that some of the
intelligence is being twisted -- and that's a quote -- to make the danger seem worse than it is.
[11:05:00] Is there a concern that intelligence is being interpreted in different ways?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Certainly that's what the view that's being expressed there from some in Congress. And that's
something that we understand Secretary Pompeo, the acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon,
General Dunford. That they're all going to go to these members there and address those concerns. Of course, what we don't know is how they're going
to address those concerns. We've got an idea of what they may say from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo before these meetings a short time ago
indicating that they haven't formed complete conclusions yet about for example the attack on those four ships off the coast of the Emirates nine
days ago now. They haven't formed an exact opinion about that. But he also said very clearly that they're beginning to believe that Iran could
have been behind it. This is how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's quite possible that Iran was behind these and will continue to develop the situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: So the acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan went onto say, look, what we see here is that Iran is a risk. We're going to continue to
manage that risk and make sure Iran doesn't make any mistakes. So I think there you have the sort of store set out for what they're prepared to say
publicly at the moment. And likely they're going to amplify that behind closed doors. Can they set those concerns aside and lay them to rest?
It's not entirely clear.
But there also seems to be sort of some nervousness here in the Gulf region with allies here about mixed messages they're getting from the White House.
And the former secretary of defense was speaking here last night to a very select group of people including the head of defense forces here, including
the Crown Prince. And he said very clearly, you know, if you think you're sort of seeing chaos in Washington, don't be misled by that, that's
democracy. But he also said, you know, it may certainly cause a lot of concern for our friends to look at this and say, is America coming apart at
the seams. And his message was absolutely not. We need to stand firm together. The United States and its Gulf allies need to stand firm
But really the very fact that he addressed that point, I think, underscores a little nervousness here about perhaps what they perceive as not quite
joined up action or statements coming from this administration.
CURNOW: And who are you specifically referring to when you say nervousness here? I mean, where does Saudi and Israel, for example, fit in terms of
cheerleading any sort of American aggression or how would that look?
ROBERTSON: You know, I think right now, I mean, Israel's been particularly quiet over the last number of days. Saudi Arabia has also sort of kept,
you know, it believes as well like Secretary of State Pompeo was saying that Iran was probably responsible for the attacks on those four ships off
the coast of the Emirates. There's no evidence being presented for that but that's the conclusion they are coming to here.
So I think when they talk about the partners here, specific General Mattis who's speaking with -- or former Defense Secretary Mattis -- rather to give
him his fill title -- was an Emirati audience. But the message of course is received much more broadly in the region here. The position that is
emerging behind the scenes is very much in keeping with the longer-term strategic aims of the United States Gulf partners here, Saudi Arabia, the
Emirates, to keep up this pressure on Iran but to keep a managed pressure that doesn't blow up into some kind of military escalation. But very
clearly, they have very clear and deep concerns that that's a possibility.
CURNOW: OK, thanks for that perspective there. We're going to have to leave it there. Nic Robertson, thank you.
Now, tensions between Iran and America and the allies are more than just sort of abstract political grandstanding. CNN has gained rare access to
the country where those tensions are a matter of life and death. Yemen where millions of people are facing famine. So why is the country's
biggest crop not food, but a drug? Sam Kiley went to find out. Here's Sam's report.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They chew it here, they chew it there, they chew it pretty much everywhere. Yemeni
studies show that up to 90 percent of men and 70 percent of women are daily users of qat. It has an effect similar to amphetamines.
[11:10:00] And amid dire predictions of famine in Yemen, it's the nation's biggest crop.
(on camera): This is Sanaa's qat market.
4,000, 10,000, 15,000, 25,000.
KILEY (voice-over): That's $5 for the cheapest bag of qat.
(on camera): You could feed a family for a whole day for the price of your cheapest qat. Do you think it makes sense for a Yemen that has no food,
for everybody to be chewing? Doesn't make sense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A simple family can spend less than $5 to eat.
KILEY: So is it surprising then that Yemen is having a problem with hunger?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not problem. It is a disaster. It is a disaster.
KILEY (voice-over): Yemen is torn by war. The north is under siege. 12 million Yemenis will be fed by the U.N.'s World Food Program this year.
Houthi rebel ministers are aware of the problem.
(on camera): Well it's very simple, most of your land is given over to growing drugs, not food.
HUSSEIN AL-EZZI, HOUTHI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): I agree with you. This is a bad habit that we should get rid of. This is
indisputable. We have government programs to combat growing qat. We remove qat trees and plant coffee bean trees instead.
KILEY (voice-over): Yemen's mountain farms and terraces have been taken over by qat. It's so important to Yemenis that it's delivered the day it's
picked throughout the country, driven at breakneck speeds to consumers. Up to a third of all agriculture is dedicated to the plant, which consumes a
third of all water for farming.
(on camera): 25 years ago this whole valley was planted with wheat. The farmers say that's just one crop a year. Now they get four crops a year
from this narcotic. And in times of war a cash crop is what really counts.
MOUNIR AL-RUBA'I, FARMER (through translator): We only make a profit from qat. Other crops don't cover our home expenses. This is the only crop
that would cover our daily and annual expenses.
KILEY (voice-over): Yemen's agricultural ministry estimates that Yemeni's spend 12 billion a year on the drug. That's about three times the amount
the U.N. says it needs in aid for Yemen. These figures speak for themselves.
CURNOW: OK, we're going to have to interrupt that Sam Kiley report. I want to take you to London. Theresa May is speaking apparently giving an
update on Brexit.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: -- it was and is to deliver Brexit and help our country move beyond the division of the referendum and onto a
better future. A country that works for everyone.
Where everyone has the chance to get on in life and to go as far as their own talent and hard work can take them. That is a goal that I believe can
still unite our country.
I knew that delivering Brexit was not going to be simple or straightforward. The result in 2016 was decisive, but it was close.
The challenge of taking Brexit from the simplicity of the choice on the ballot paper to the complexity of resetting the country's relationship with
27 of its nearest neighbors was always going to be huge.
While it has proved even harder than I anticipated, I continue to believe that the best way to make a success of Brexit is to negotiate a good exit
deal with the EU as the basis of a new deep and special partnership for the future.
That was my pitch to be leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. That is what I set out in my Lancaster House speech and that was
what my Party's election manifesto said in 2017.
That is in essence what the Labour Party's election manifesto stated too. And over 80 percent of the electorate backed parties which stood to deliver
Brexit by leaving with a deal.
We have worked hard to deliver that -- but we have not yet managed it. I have tried everything I possibly can to find a way through. It's true that
initially I wanted to achieve this predominantly on the back of Conservative and DUP votes.
In our Parliamentary system, that is simply how you normally get things done.
I sought the changes MPs demanded.
I offered to give up the job I love earlier than I would like.
And on 29th March -- the day we were meant to leave the EU -- if just 30 MPs had voted differently, we would have passed the Withdrawal Agreement.
And we would be leaving the EU. But it was not enough.
[11:15:00] So I took the difficult decision to try to reach a cross-party deal on Brexit. Many MPs on both sides were unsettled by this. But I
believe it was the right thing to do. We engaged in six weeks of serious talks with the opposition, offering to compromise. But in the end those
talks were not enough for Labour to reach an agreement with us. But I do not think that means we should give up.
The House of Commons voted to trigger Article 50. And the majority of MPs say they want to deliver the result of the referendum. So I think we need
to help them find a way. And I believe there is now one last chance to do that.
I have listened to concerns from across the political spectrum. I have done all I can to address them. And today I am making a serious offer to
MPs across Parliament, a new Brexit deal.
As part of that deal I will continue to make the case for the Conservative Party to be united behind a policy that can deliver Brexit. 9 out of 10
Conservative MPs have already given the Withdrawal Agreement their backing and I want to reach out to every single one of my colleagues to make the
very best offer I can to them.
We came together around an amendment from Sir Graham Brady -- and this gave rise to the work on Alternative Arrangements to the backstop. Although it
is not possible for those to replace the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement, we can start the work now to ensure they are a viable
So as part of the new Brexit deal, we will place the government under a legal obligation to seek to conclude Alternative Arrangements by December
2020 so that we can avoid any need for the backstop coming into force.
I have also listened to Unionist concerns about the backstop. So the new Brexit deal goes further to address these.
It will commit that, should the backstop come into force, the government will ensure that Great Britain will stay aligned with Northern Ireland. We
will prohibit the proposal that a future Government could split Northern Ireland off from the UK's customs territory. And we will deliver on our
commitments to Northern Ireland in the December 2017 Joint Report in full. We will implement paragraph 50 of the Joint Report in law.
The Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive will have to give their consent on a cross-community basis for new regulations which are added to the
And we will work with our confidence and supply partners on how these commitments should be entrenched in law.
This new Brexit deal contains significant further changes to protect the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and deliver
Brexit. It is a bespoke solution that answers the unique concerns of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland.
But the reality is that after three attempts to secure Parliamentary agreement, we will not leave the European Union unless we have a deal that
can command wider cross-party support. That is why I sat down with the Opposition.
I have been serious about listening to views across the House throughout this process. That's why when two Labour MPs, Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell,
put forward their proposals to give Parliament a bigger say in the next phase of the negotiations I listened to them.
So the new Brexit deal will set out in law that the House of Commons will approve the UK's objectives for the negotiations on our future relationship
with the EU and they will approve the treaties governing that relationship before the Government signs them.
And while the talks with the opposition did not reach a comprehensive agreement, we did make significant progress in a number of areas. Like on
workers' rights. I am absolutely committed to the UK continuing to lead the way on this issue. But I understand people want guarantees. And I am
happy to give them. So the new Brexit deal will offer new safeguards to ensure these standards are always met.
We will introduce a new Workers' Rights Bill to ensure UK workers enjoy rights that are every bit as good as, or better than, those provided for by
EU rules. And we will discuss further amendments with trade unions and business.
The new Brexit deal will also guarantee there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU. And we will
establish a new independent Office of Environmental Protection to uphold the highest environmental standards and enforce compliance.
The new Brexit deal will also place a legal duty on the Government to seek as close to frictionless trade with the EU in goods as possible, subject to
being outside the Single Market and ending freedom of movement.
In order to deliver this, the UK will maintain common rules with the EU for goods and agri-food products that are relevant to checks at the border.
[11:20:00] This will be particularly important for our manufacturing firms and trade unions, protecting thousands of jobs that depend on just-in-time
The most difficult area is the question of customs. At the heart of delivering Brexit lies a tension between the strength of our ambition to
seize the new opportunities that Brexit presents, and the need to protect the jobs and prosperity that are built on an interconnected relationship
with other European economies.
This ambition should not be divisive. There are many people who voted to Leave who also want to retain close trading links with Europe. Just as
there are many people --like myself -- who voted to Remain and yet are excited by the new opportunities that Brexit presents.
Indeed I believe one of the great opportunities of leaving the European Union is the ability to have an independent trade policy and to benefit
from the new jobs and industries that can result from deepening our trade ties with partners across every continent of the world. But I've never
believed that this should come at the expense of the jobs and livelihoods that are sustained by our existing trade with the EU.
And to protect these, both the Government and the Opposition agree that we must have as close as possible to frictionless trade at the UK-EU border.
Now the Government has already put a proposal which delivers the benefits of a customs union but with the ability for the UK to determine its own
trade and development policy.
Labour are both skeptical of our ability to negotiate that and don't believe an independent trade policy is in the national interest. They
would prefer a comprehensive customs union -- with a UK say in EU trade policy but with the EU negotiating on our behalf.
If we are going to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and deliver Brexit, we must resolve this difference.
As part of the cross-party discussions the government offered a compromise option of a temporary customs union on goods only, including a UK say in
relevant EU trade policy and an ability to change the arrangement, so a future government could move it in its preferred direction.
We were not able to agree this as part of our cross-party talks -- so it is right that Parliament should have the opportunity to resolve this during
the passage of the Bill and decide between the government's proposal and a compromise option.
And so the Government will commit in law to let Parliament decide this issue, and to reflect the outcome of this process in legislation.
I've also listened carefully to those who have been arguing for a Second Referendum. I have made my own view clear on this many times. I do not
believe this is a route that we should take, because I think we should be implementing the result of the first referendum, not asking the British
people to vote in a second one. But I recognize the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue.
The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum.
And this must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified.
And if the House of Commons were to vote for a referendum, it would be requiring the government to make provisions for such a referendum --
including legislation if it wanted to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement.
So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal: You need a deal and therefore a Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen. So let
it have its Second Reading and then make your case to Parliament.
Finally, we cannot expect MPs to vote on the same two documents they previously rejected. So we will seek changes to the political declaration
to reflect this new deal.
So our New Brexit Deal makes a ten-point offer to everyone in Parliament who wants to deliver the result of the referendum.
One, the government will seek to conclude alternative arrangements to replace the backstop by December 2020, so that it never needs to be used.
Two, a commitment that, should the backstop come into force, the government will ensure that Great Britain will stay aligned with Northern Ireland.
Three, the negotiating objectives and final treaties for our future relationship with the EU will have to be approved by MPs.
Four , a new Workers' Rights Bill that guarantees workers' rights will be no less favorable than in the EU.
Five, there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU.
Six, the UK will seek as close to frictionless trade in goods with the EU as possible while outside the single market and ending free movement.
[11:25:00] Seven, we'll keep up to date with EU rules for goods and agri- food products that are relevant to checks at border protecting the thousands of jobs that depend on just-in-time supply chains.
Eight, the government will bring forward a customs compromise for MPs to decide on to break the deadlock.
Nine, there will be a vote for MPs on whether the deal should be subject to a referendum.
And ten, there will be a legal duty to secure changes to the political declaration to reflect this new deal.
All of these commitments will be guaranteed in law -- so they will endure at least for this Parliament. The revised deal will deliver on the result
of the referendum.
And only by voting for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at Second Reading, can MPs provide the vehicle Parliament needs to determine how we leave the EU.
So if MPs vote against the Second Reading of this Bill -- they are voting to stop Brexit. If they do so, the consequences could hardly be greater.
Reject this deal and leaving the EU with a negotiated deal any time soon will be dead in the water. And what would we do then?
Some suggest leaving without a deal. But whatever you think of that outcome -- Parliament has been clear it will do all it can to stop it.
If not no deal, then it would have to be a general election or a second referendum that could lead to revocation -- and no Brexit at all.
Who believes that a General Election at this moment -- when we have still not yet delivered on what people instructed us to do -- is in the national
interest? I do not. And my views on second referendum are well known.
Look at what this debate is doing to our politics. Extending it for months more -- perhaps indefinitely -- risks opening the door to a nightmare
future of permanently polarized politics.
Look around the world and consider the health of liberal democratic politics. And look across the United Kingdom and consider the impact of
failing to deliver on the clear instruction of the British people in a lawful referendum.
We do not have to take that path. Instead, we can deliver Brexit. All the changes I have set out today have the simple aim of building support in
Parliament to do that.
I believe there is a majority to be won for a Brexit deal in the House of Commons. And by passing a deal we can actually get Brexit done -- and move
our country forwards. If we can do so, I passionately believe that we can seize the opportunities that I know lie ahead.
The world is changing fast. Our young people will enjoy opportunities in the future that my generation could never have dreamed of.
This is a great time to be alive. A great future awaits the United Kingdom. And we have all we need as a nation to make a success of the
2020s and the 2030s. But we will not do so as long as our politics remains stuck in an endless debate on Brexit.
We all have to take some responsibility for the fact that we are in this impasse -- and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to get out of
it. The biggest problem with Britain today is its politics. And we can fix that.
With the right Brexit deal, we can end this corrosive debate. We can get out of the EU political structures -- the Parliament, the Commission, the
Council of Ministers that are remote from our lives -- and put our own Parliament back in sovereign control of our destiny.
We can stop British laws being enforced by a European court and instead make our own Supreme Court is genuinely supreme.
We can end free movement and design an immigration system based around skills that work for our economy and society.
We can stop making vast annual payments to the EU budget and instead spend our own money on our own priorities like the NHS.
We can get out of the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy. Design our own systems around our own needs and resources.
We can do all of these things. And by leaving with a deal we can do so much more besides.
By reaching an agreement with our EU trading partners we can keep tariff barriers down and goods flowing friction-free across borders. Protecting
jobs and setting our firms up for future success.
We can guarantee workers' rights and environmental protections.
With a deal we can keep our close security partnerships -- and keep working together to keep people safe.
We can ensure that the challenge of the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is met in a way that works for people on both sides.
This is a huge opportunity for the United Kingdom. Out of the EU, out of ever closer union, free to do things differently.
And doing so in a way that protects jobs, protects our security, maintains a close relationship with our friends and works for the whole United
[11:30:04] It is practical. It is responsible. It is deliverable. And right now, it is slipping away from us. We risk losing a great
This deal is not the final word on our future relationship with the EU -- it is a steppingstone to reach that future. A future where the people of
the UK determine the road ahead for the country, we all love. This deal lays the groundwork -- and settles many of the core issues.
But in the years ahead, Parliament will be able to debate, decide and refine the exact nature of our relationship with the EU. Some will want us
to draw closer, others will want us to become more distant. Both sides can make their case in the months and years ahead.
The key thing is, decisions will be made not by MEPs or Commissioners or the EU Council -- but by the United Kingdom Parliament, elected by the
British people. That is what being an independent nation state is all about.
Those debates, those decisions, are for the future. What matters now is honoring the result of the referendum and seizing the opportunity that is
right before us.
So we are making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament. That is now the only way to deliver Brexit.
Over the next two weeks the government will be making the case for this deal in Parliament, in the media and in the country. On what is best and
right for our country now and in the future. And on what the majority of British people of all political persuasions want to see happen.
Tomorrow I will make a statement to the House of Commons. And there will opportunities throughout the Bill for MPs on all sides to have their say.
But I say with conviction to every MP of every party -- I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too.
We've been given a clear instruction by the people we are supposed to represent. So help me find a way to honor that instruction, move our
country and our politics forward, and build the better future that all of us want to see.
Now there's a little time. Some questions from the media -- Laura.
LAURA KUENSSBERG, BBC NEWS: Thank you, Prime Minister. Laura Kuenssberg, BBC News. As you said at the beginning of your speech, you've had nearly
three years but the opposition parties have already said they will not vote for this deal. Isn't it simply too late now for you to be offering a
compromise and many MPs simply don't want to listen? And secondly can you confirm that if this Bill is lost, you will resign?
MAY: Well on the second part of your question, Laura, that was last week's news. And I set out with the chairman of the 22 what will be happening.
On the first point that you make, I would say to every MP that I've set this out and I'll make a statement in the House of Commons tomorrow. We
will be publishing the Bill. Wait and look at the details of the Bill and think about the importance of delivering Brexit. Because this is the way
we can ratify an agreement and ensure that we leave the European Union. That must be at the forefront of our thinking. As I said, I think this is
the opportunity we have to do just that. So look at the details of this Bill. As I say, I've compromised. I ask others to compromise too. So
that together we can do what the British people voted for in the referendum and leave the EU. Beth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prime Minister, whatever happens now with your Brexit Bill, you have promised to stand down as Prime Minister. Would you like to
see a Brexiteer replace you, or do you think that would just prolong the polarization of politics that you've just spoken of?
MAY: Nice try, Beth. But in my view is, I'm not going to comment on the future leadership election. That will be a matter for the Conservative
Party in all of its parts. Robert.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime Minister, I'm over here.
MAY: Yes, don't worry, I'm just scanning the other. Sorry I'll give you my full attention, Robert.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pleasures that await you. You have said, Prime Minister, that you will give MPs the opportunity to vote on whether to have
a so-called confirmatory referendum. Does that mean you are giving a commitment to vote on whether to have a so-called confirmatory referendum.
Does that mean you are giving a commitment that if they vote for that referendum there will be a referendum?
[11:35:00] And you've also said, look, you will give MPs a vote on whether the U.K. should remain in a permanent customs union without the ability to
negotiate trade deals with other countries. Again, is this a commitment that if they vote for that, that is what a Conservative government would
MAY: Well as I said in the speech, obviously as we take these issues through the House of Commons, what the House of Commons will be saying is
what they want to see in the final Bill. And if you want a deal, it's about ratifying the Bill. I have to pick you up, Robert, on the fact that
you said that I had said there would be a compromise solution of a permanent customs union on the table. No, I didn't. I said a temporary
customs union which would enable a future government to take the customs arrangement in whichever direction it wish to do so. Francis.
FRANCIS ELLIOTT, THE TIMES: Francis Elliott from "The Times". You said that you're going to take the case to the country over the next two weeks.
There are rather important elections on Thursday. When will we actually see the Bill and 37 clauses? Are you committing to publishing the Bill
MAY: We'll be publishing the Bill in the next few days. And as I say, I would ask people to wait and look at the details of what is in the Bill.
And as I say, this is the opportunity that people have to deliver on Brexit. What does the bill do? It enables us to get out of the EU. It
enables us to take back control of our money, our borders and our laws. I think that's what people voted for. That's what this bill would enable
people to do. Pippa.
PIPPA CRERAR, MIRROR: Thank you, Pippa Crerar from the "Mirror". Prime Minister, you came into Number 10 promising to deliver Brexit and put the
issue of Europe to bed once and for all for the Conservative Party. How successful do you think you've been in doing that?
MAY: Well, Pippa, obvious I've just said in my speech, I haven't yet delivered Brexit. This is about -- what I'm doing today is about setting
out what I believe is a new Brexit deal that can command a majority across the House of Commons and that can enable us to do just that. Because it's
not just my responsibility to deliver Brexit. I believe it's the responsibility of the whole of the House of Commons to deliver Brexit. We
gave the British people the choice in the referendum.
The government at the time said it would abide by the decision. The House of Commons voted to trigger Article 50. The House of Commons passed the
initial Withdrawal Act that set the scene for us being able to withdraw when we had a deal. And that new legislation would be necessary to put
that deal into place. And now we have the opportunity of confirming that Brexit by passing this Bill. I'll take one last question from Jason.
JASON GROVES, DAILY MIRROR: Jason Groves from the "Daily Mirror". Some of your colleagues seem to be opposed to this not because necessarily what's
in it but because it's you who's doing the asking. What would you say to those who now think it's your duty and in the national interest for you to
step aside and let someone else have a go before this whole thing gets even worse?
MAY: On that issue of myself -- as I said to Laura -- you know the situation as was set out last week following my discussions with the
Chairman of 22. But look, what I say this isn't just about me. If it was just about me and how I'd voted, we'd already have left the European Union.
Actually this is about a responsibility across the whole of the House of Commons for us to come together and find a way of delivering on the
instruction people gave us. People want us to leave the EU. We need to deliver that. This deal enables the House of Commons to do that, to come
together to support the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and ensure that we leave the European Union. Thank you.
CURNOW: Last ditch effort there by Theresa May. She's trying to get common ground, as she says. In many ways she's trying to also cajole and
prod and perhaps even beg not just the House of Commons but also Britains across the country.
Well Nic Robertson joins me now. Nic, you're in Abu Dhabi but you've been following the twists and turns of Brexit for the past few years. What do
you make of what Mrs. May has just said? She says it's a new deal. Is it?
[11:40:00] ROBERTSON: She's certainly framing it that way. When it's punished in the next couple of days and she said, we can get to look at the
fine print and work that out just how different it is. But the way she sold it I was very struck at the beginning where she said, she made that
point that if just 30 MPs at the last vote had voted differently, then the outcome, she said, this would already be passed. And I get the sense that
she sort of sliced through the issues there that she was say saying that make this different.
She said she'd listen to the Unionist MP's in Northern Ireland. And that there would be guarantees that there wouldn't be -- Northern Ireland would
not end up in a separate customs union type situation to the rest of the United Kingdom, i.e. their concern about becoming a lesser part of Britain.
She had addressed their concern. She thought, I'm not sure frankly from what she said there that that's enough to bring them on board. But that
would be 10 of those 30 votes that she talked about. She talked about the opportunity of this confirmatory referendum. That MPs would -- if you vote
for this, then you can get to vote for that. And you can have if there's enough support in the House, then you can have essentially a second
referendum or a referendum on the Withdrawal Agreement as it stands.
That's a concession to some. Will it bring a few more across? You know, but the lines about frictionless trade, these lines have been said before
about the environment, about workers' rights. These I don't think are going to be particularly big draws. These have been heard before.
Her statement as well, the thorniest of issues that we all know and we've all talked about so much is the backstop. And she said, look, we will make
sure that we deliver on this issue by December 2020. Which means the backstop which was a fallback and insurance policy wouldn't come into
effect. So that was her sell there to those MPs that have been holding out because they don't like the backstop arrangement.
Now all of that said, of course the MPs are in a very, very clear position, as is everyone else in that room. As is everyone in the U.K. now that
there's going to be a new Conservative Prime Minister and the bookers are giving the best odd on Boris Johnson. And the talk of the moment is about
a no deal Brexit.
So you will have MPs who come for the day of the vote who may wait simply say I'm not going to vote to pass this through now because I'm going to get
a Prime Minister that's more to my liking within a few weeks. And they will give me a new set of options and maybe this odd Brexit deal.
Of course, there will be others potentially who will be scared by that possible outcome. Who support the Prime Minister. But at the moment, you
know, it's clear what she's trying to do, win over those last 30 votes. It's not clear she's going to get them from this.
CURNOW: Yes, she paints a picture of a nightmare future if they fail to deliver. Stand by, Nic. Phil Black is joining us from London. Hi, Phil,
I mean we've spent so much time on air talking while you were traveling around the U.K. You went to a lot of small towns who voted in or out. As
you listen to Mrs. May talking about one last chance, a serious offer. How do you think those words are going to resonate in all corners of
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well I guess it depends on which corner of Britain you're talking about, Robyn, and just tell people feel in that
particular corner. We know that there is a good chunk of the population that just wants Brexit done as quickly as possible. And it grew tiresome
with this endless failing process long ago. That said, there are still people -- remember a good chunk of the population that voted to Remain --
some 48 percent. And within that now still many people who are campaigning actively for the idea of a second referendum. To try and overturn that
result or at least give people the chance to reconsider.
This package of changes that Theresa May is suggesting is essentially something that is designed to appeal to pretty much everyone or to enough
people in enough camps in the hopes that she can secure a majority that will get it through Parliament. She said at the beginning, her initial
plan was to rely on her national political allies. Essentially her fellow Conservative MPs, members of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern
Ireland. That didn't work. It was voted down conclusively three times.
Now she has suggested substantive changes to the Withdrawal Agreement that create enough little morsels that she hopes will generate enough cross-
party appeal to peel away support from all across the House.
Firstly, she's hoping to persuade Conservatives and members of the DUP to vote by those assurances regarding Northern Ireland -- which Nic was just
talking about there. She's also appealing to opposition parties -- particularly the Labour Party, which her government has been involved with
in serious talks to try to seek a compromise for some six weeks. Now she says those talks didn't come to anything. We know that they collapsed a
few days ago.
[11:45:00] But they got close on a few issues. And so, that's why she's talking about including guarantees for worker's rights and environmental
protections, ensuring those things stay close or in line with what the EU mandates.
There's also this key issue really of the future customs regime. As she said, this is a key tension at the heart of trying to determine what any
future Brexit regime should look like. She is suggesting in this Withdrawal Agreement -- what she's calling a New Deal -- a compromise that
would see a customs union in place temporarily but with future governments able to change that if they want to do so.
That's a compromise because what her Conservative Party doesn't want is maintaining a customs union. What the Labour Party does want is
maintaining a customs union. This essentially says customs union for the moment but a future Conservative government could in theory change that.
And then of course, there is usually her offer of a second referendum or the possibility of one -- at least a vote on holding one -- if members of
Parliament vote with a majority for this new deal as what's known as the Second Reading. Because it is beyond that that members of Parliament could
then seek to make further changes and could then hold what she would say would be a mandated vote on holding a second referendum -- or a referendum
I should say, to confirm whether or not this deal should proceed.
Now that's controversial too because there are people who want to push for a second referendum. Who may feel that at the moment in Parliament there
is a support for one. And so they don't want to be trapped into a vote on one now. Certainly one not a final vote on one.
But look, all of this, all of these little details, these little morsels. As I say, they are designed to try and gather support across the House in
what is very likely to be Theresa May's very last effort or attempt to secure a Withdrawal Agreement support in Parliament. Because she's already
said she's going to set a timetable for leaving office after this next vote takes place -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes, and she said it right at the top, didn't she, Phil. That it has not been very simple delivering Brexit. It certainly hasn't. She just
underscored that. So Phil and Nic will stick with us. We'll be right back after this short break. You're watching CNN.
CURNOW: We are and have been watching events in London as Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has made a last-ditch effort to try and persuade MPs to
come on board with what she calls her New Deal. We have this covered. Nic Robertson joins me now from Abu Dhabi. Of course Nic normally based in
London. He has been following this all along. Phil Black and Anna Stewart in London as well.
[11:50:00] Anna, I want to come to you because we heard Mrs. May talk about a number of opportunities. But she also spoke about inconsistency
still going into the future. She spoke about a nightmare future as well. What does that mean for markets?
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well it's interesting you know, Robyn, because looking at the pound it's actually much higher. It really popped on that
speech. It was slumping around a four-month low this morning. It was actually beneath the $1.27 barrier. So that was fairly interesting today.
And that was really on the back of talks breaking down between the two main parties which had many investors worrying that a hard Brexit was looking
more likely. Now you see it back up about $1.27.
And I think this is actually investors reacting on the news that MPs will vote on a second referendum. And if there was to be a second referendum,
perhaps there would be softer Brexit options. Perhaps there would be a no Brexit option. And I think that's what we're seeing today. A very quick
reaction here from investors. Perhaps there would be softer Brexit actions or no Brexit actions.
CURNOW: And Nic Robertson, to you. With that in mind, is there justification for the sort of optimistic response that we're seeing there
with the pound?
ROBERTSON: You know, I felt the night -- and I was standing there outside Downing Street -- the night the votes were being counted during that
referendum and there was that huge sudden dip in the value of the pound against the dollar. As it became clear that it was going to be a Brexit,
the vote is clearly going to say that. Then it sort of changed and dropped again. And it has been in the early days of Brexit a better barometer than
perhaps it is today. I mean, it does seem from a political diplomatic perspective that the markets here are -- you know, sometimes lag the
reality, if you will. That they spike on concerns or come back up because it all seems good because this sound positive today.
But the reality is we really haven't seen full reaction from MPs about this. We haven't been able to read the full Withdrawal Agreement. Though
it hasn't got to a vote yet. And it doesn't matter if it loses by one or 100. If it loses, it loses. And then that's the thing that's going to
have the serious longer-term impact on the sterling. Although I think -- and Anna would probably agree -- the markets have pretty much baked in a
good degree of uncertainty around the sterling by now.
CURNOW: Phil Black, just talk us through this second referendum or a vote on a second referendum. Just layout the scenarios here.
BLACK: What she's describing, Robyn, is a situation where Parliament can or will have to vote on the idea of a second referendum. But first
crucially they've got to vote for this deal, what she's describing as a New Deal first.
CURNOW: So it's a carrot.
ROBERTSON: Yes, well as With Theresa May always. A mix of carrot and stick. She's offering all these little carrots all over the place today,
but then also backed up by some stick-ish language if you like. And these are mantras we heard from her lots of times now. Where she's saying if you
don't vote for this, you risk greater uncertainty, you risk the potential of no deal or you risk uncertainty caused by Parliament fighting off a no
deal. Which it's shown that it's willing to do. Or you risk the possibility of another general election or another referendum which could
see Brexit going away entirely. And then the further erosion of trust and faith in the British political system and further divisions and so forth
that we've seen ever since the referendum.
She's couching this very much as carrot and stick. Those little morsels designed to try and attract broad possible support to peel away individual
votes across the Brexit spectrum. But then at the same time again warning of potentially seriously dire consequences if this deal is voted down once
and for all.
CURNOW: Let's just take a listen to some of the words that she's just been saying and also crucially the tone that she took. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
May: The revised deal will deliver on the result of the referendum. And only by voting for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at Second Reading, can MPs
provide the vehicle Parliament needs to determine how we leave the EU. So if MPs vote against the Second Reading of this Bill, they are voting to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Anna Stewart to you. She mentioned also a customs union and kind of also again sat on the fence on that. How is that going to go down?
STEWART: This is the real big sticking point. Isn't it. Customs union, she certainly isn't agreeing to a permanent customs union which is what the
Labour Party wanted -- the main opposition party here. For business this speech will have done absolutely nothing. I would've thought for business
leaders who want certainty, it certainly doesn't provide any more certainty whatsoever.
It doesn't provide much new, I don't think, in terms of the deal if you are a business leader here. And I would say, see the pound reacting. But
we're seeing these kind of market reactions are very quick, very swift.
[11:55:00] But in terms of the reaction will get from business leaders following the speech, it'll be very, very different. Because they are
having to make realtime decisions on hiring, on making capital expenditure and they have been unable to now for months, years in fact, ever since the
referendum took place.
CURNOW: Yes, there's the pound there as you been speaking about it. Nic Robertson to you, the capitals -- even Brussels, the capitals of Europe,
will they find anything in this speech to make them optimistic that some sort of deal is in the works?
ROBERTSON: No. I mean, look, it's become clear to the European capitals even before the Brexit vote but certainly since that Britain's undecided,
they're indecisive, they can't figure out the way they want to move forward. And this is just another version of that. So I don't think
there's anything here that's new for Brussels.
Obviously, they would love to see this vote get passed. They don't want Britain to leave but they don't want any more messing around. And they
know if another Prime Minister comes in who would push for no deal Brexit that could be disastrous. I do think by the time you get to the vote next
week -- not next week, the week after, you're going to have gone through the European elections and the outcome there can be shading opinion about
Theresa May within her own party.
CURNOW: OK, thanks to you all. We're certainly watching an event, a process that seems never ending I think for many people. It is both a
political and economic story. To all of you, Phil, Anna and Nic, appreciate all of your expertise and reporting on this one.
So as we've been showing you here on CNN, Theresa May has put forward what she calls a New Deal. Is it? We'll continue to monitor that.
I'm Robyn Curnow. You have been watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks so much for joining the team and I here at CNN. More news, of course,