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U.K Conservative Party Set To Announce Next Leader; U.K. Issues New Warnings Over Seized Tanker; Stena Bulk CEO: Tanker Crew In Good Health. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired July 23, 2019 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[05:00:23] ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: A very warm welcome and welcome to CNN's special coverage as the U.K. waits for a new prime minister.
I'm Isa Soares, joining you live from outside the British Parliament where the Conservative Party members are getting ready to announce their new leader. That's happening in the next few hours. It is 10:00 a.m. here in London.
Now the victor of the Tory leadership contest will replace Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street. The votes already in and we expect to hear the winner named in just under in fact two hours time or so.
The clear front-runner is former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, his challenger the man who will replace him, Jeremy Hunt. Johnson is a divisive figure especially over his readiness to take a no Brexit deal. Hunt said he would serve in a Johnson cabinet but growing less of top conservatives, have already said they won't.
Mrs. Theresa May's time and office meanwhile has been defined by Brexit and she's passing on that challenge to her successor. Whether it's Hunt or Johnson the next prime minister faces a Brexit deadline on October 31st.
Well, for more I'm joined by Ian Dunt. He is the author of Brexit: What the Hell Happens Next. Ian is also the editor of Politics.co.uk. Very warm welcome to you.
IAN DUNT, EDITOR OF POLITICS.CO.UK: Thank you.
SOARES: What happens next then?
DUNT: Bad things. And -- so the problem with Boris Johnson funny enough is that actually he's strategically made the same decisions that Theresa May did.
SOARES: So you're saying -- you say that he -- this is his taking?
DUNT: Oh yes absolutely. Sorry, I'm assuming. I would assume that he's going to get over since --
SOARES: Within the U.S. elections.
DUNT: You're right.
SOARES: But, so --
DUNT: That's in 25 (ph). I think he'll get over 60 percent.
SOARES: 60 percent, OK.
DUNT: It would be an upset over when sort of starts proportion if at this stage he doesn't get it.
DUNT: The book is at the moment, have been I think a thousand one.
DUNT: I mean, he's an extraordinary bet for the top job.
SOARES: OK. He gets them. What's the challenge then?
DUNT: Well, the challenge really is to deliver Brexit. And the thing is not just deliver it but to deliver it given what obstacles that he himself has post.
SOARES: Which this, OK. Not just Theresa May posted that he himself has posted.
DUNT: No, exactly. So this is exactly the same strategic gamble that Theresa May used to have. She had say anything on the day to survive that day and she would deal with the consequences later on. Now Boris Johnson --
SOARES: Politicians in general, isn't not?
DUNT: No, not really. Very often politicians are quite careful to make sure that they don't box themselves in. And that's really why politicians always talking that kind of android way that's quite frustrating because they are trying not to say particular sentences.
SOARES: Very general when they comment.
DUNT: Yes, and trying to stay away from the danger.
DUNT: Now Boris Johnson has not done that. He is over and over again, said what the Tory Party want to hear or at least what current Tory members want to hear.
SOARES: And that is with Brexit.
DUNT: And that is extremely pattern muscular approach toward Brexit. So in any Brexit issue, he knows that his position is to take the most hard-line stance he can. That's why we saw the extraordinary spectacle of someone running to be prime minister, refusing to rule out, cancelling parliament. There was a point when there was a debate say, maybe you could just get rid of the parliament and he refused to rule it out, which historically it's been 400 years since anyone tried to treat parliament in that way from the government. The last person to try it was King Charles I. And it didn't work out very well for him. So that was a quite extraordinary moment.
Now, he's done this on a couple of other occasions.
DUNT: He's done it on unilateral exit from the backstop. The Northern Irish insurance policy and the E.U. deal and he's done it on a time limit of the backstop. And what that means is that there's essentially nothing left for him to negotiate. He's blocked off that exit. He's blocked off a general election by saying he won't do it.
SOARES: His hands are tied in many ways. Yes.
DUNT: Any avenue he goes for, it looks like is a significant drove (ph).
SOARES: OK, so that he is clearly expecting he'll get something out of Europe?
SOARES: Do you have much sense that whether Europe will budge here because they know him. They know, they've heard his rhetoric. They -- I think they were fans of Theresa May. How will this respond to Boris Johnson? Because --
DUNT: I don't know if they were for Theresa May. They were dispirited by her especially by the end. I mean --
SOARES: She wasn't dislike, let's say that.
DUNT: Suddenly towards the end she had significant problems. Because I mean she basically spend two years saying, give me this in parliament and then came back and said give me the opposite of what I asked for the last time, complete this combobulation. And Boris Johnson is not held in high esteem in Brussels.
SOARES: Correct, yes.
DUNT: But the trouble is, it goes a bit further than that. They made it clear what the deal is. If you want a relationship, if you want a withdrawal agreement and a future trade deal these are the terms. Now, the terms involve the backstop. There is never been any sliding on that. There's never been any change. If you don't want that then it's no deal. But of course his problem there is you can't get no- deal for your parliament.
SOARES: So, what is he looking at then now? He has boxed himself in as you said, Ian. And he will get to the 31st if done have this deal what are we looking at? Are we looking at a general election? Is there's something he would want to strengthen?
SOARES: Where do you think we'll go?
[05:05:00] DUNT: It's always like we have flow charts of each event and they want list or the other.
SOARES: I feel like going on the circle completely on the past three years.
DUNT: Yes, that's fair. That is how through emersion, that's (INAUDIBLE). But you follow each flow chart and each of them seems to end to me with the general election.
DUNT: And so you follow the flow chart of like tries to get some of sort of deal with the Europeans. Let's say, he takes May's deal, sort of plastered up a little bit, makes it prettier, gets a bit more charismatic and tries to sell it. Parliament rubric won't work.
SOARES: The math just doesn't add up. Yes.
DUNT: Let's say he says no deal. In that case, the math here does not add up.
DUNT: He can't get it through parliament.
SOARES: Well, they already said they don't want no-deal as well.
DUNT: Right. And they've been for Brits show that they can put the muscle behind to do that.
DUNT: So then you get to the last point where you think what else can he do but hold an election, either (ph) referendum, and I think an election is less damaging.
SOARES: OK. I know you say Boris Johnson win, would Jeremy Hunt have a far better success rate in terms of delivering Brexit?
DUNT: No, he would be in exactly the same position.
SOARES: As who, as Theresa May as he would, yes.
DUNT: Yes, his position was not so different to Boris Johnson's. I mean, he was a little bit more modest about it. He was not quite rambunctious. But ultimately, how was his position different. He also ruled out unilateral exit from the backstop. He also ruled out trying to a get time limit. He ruled out staying in the single market or the customs union. Ultimately the policy is much the same and unless the policy changes, we're in trouble. SOARES: What will know is that Larry the Cat as you can see is coming in. He will remain. His problems are the same every single day trying to deal with the media taking photos of him and filming him. But on a serious note then, if we're looking at a general election, would you say the conservatives have the upper hand here?
DUNT: No, I think they are in significant trouble but then everybody else, so that should have help.
DUNT: Boris Johnson plays very well with conservative voters and conservative members.
DUNT: He's extremely alienating, more alienating than Theresa May was for people on the left, the centrists and most importantly --
SOARES: Device effect, you're right, yes.
DUNT: Yes, but also from moderate Torys. So Torys who voted to remain in referendum, they're actually a little bit cautious. They are prepared to see the result. They are a bit cautious about it. Overwhelmingly they are suspicious of Boris Johnson. He posted very badly with that.
SOARES: So that's risky going that way. It's risky. So really when it comes down to it, he needs to deliver Brexit regardless whatever ways he said.
DUNT: And for the reasons, we've already outline. He can't do it.
SOARES: We don't think he can do it unless he has something up his sleeve that we don't know but we have to give him the benefit of the doubt to see whether he can deliver.
Let me ask you about cabinet because he was saying that he wants to surround himself, the feeling is he wants to surround himself with people who think like him. He wants the same mission. It's the word that he's been using. He's sworn as (INAUDIBLE). The mission is -- the spirit of can do and this mission spirit. Who do you think -- is that right in a time when the Conservative Party is so divided to surround yourself with people who think like you, who just see your way given the country is so divided on this?
DUNT: I mean that's would not be the way that anyone else would approach it.
DUNT: You remember Theresa May was very careful making sure it was 50-50 pretty much at all time to the cabinet.
SOARES: Wasn't that plagued her, perhaps, you could say? DUNT: I wouldn't suggest that. I would suggest that you actually want potential opponents trapped in cabinet responsibility so that they can't vote against you when stuff comes up.
DUNT: The quid pro quo in that is they get to sit at the high table when they have a chance doing policy before it actually turns into legislation or actual government policy.
So that's a bit of an issue he has. Because right now, Philip Hammond, the chancellor went on TV, extraordinary sight over the weekend, went on TV and said, (INAUDIBLE) I resign. I'm going to resign (INAUDIBLE) basically.
DUNT: Rory Stewart, the International Development Secretary, another extraordinary interview where he looks --
SOARES: Yes, there's some several individual already.
DUNT: Sort of tortured but it was physically going through the motion of the moral torture that going, saying, well look, I have to stand down now, same with Alan Duncan. Now those guys were standing down. They are back bench rebels (ph) now. You can't bank them. And if you're trying to win a Conservative Party of 30 vote, there's a major problem for it.
SOARES: Do you think in that case in the end there will be more that will follow suit the minute he announces it?
DUNT: Oh absolutely. Well, first there's a lot of people need to go because they know that he's not going --
SOARES: He's talking about so many ways. So it's like let me go before I get pushed.
DUNT: Yes, and like you got some principles said either one of that. And there's others who just be a point of principle. And I think Rory Stewart be one of them. Just said look, I'm not going to work under this guy. He's not a serious guy. And I can't ever support no-deal Brexit.
The other problem that he then has is how many people will resign the Tory Whip, altogether the next station, someone figures like Dominic Grieve, very remain Tory. I'm sure that they will do that. At the time right now they are keeping their powder a little bit dry. And sort of, well hang on a minute, let's see how this plays out. But those guys are primed to do this. I would expect them to do it if it starts going down to the deal.
SOARES: Very briefly, when he has a speech, does his speech, 10 Downing Street tomorrow around 5:00 key word we'll hear from him?
DUNT: He'll be potency, muscular, Churchillian destiny, this kind of nonsense record.
SOARES: Unity, which he counts, see if he wins. Thanks very much. Good to see you.
DUNT: Thank you.
SOARES: Thank you. Let's get more. International diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins us now from 10 Downing Street. Regardless of the outcome, we have a new resident.
[05:10:04] And, Nic, we were just seeing live images of Larry the Cat taking it all in his stride as if nothing would happen today, quite the contrary.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, yes. I mean Larry can afford to lounge around county because he's the only permanent resident at Number 10. The only thing he needs to check on is who has the cat food in the cup board and going to make sure that somebody's got to open it and to give it to him.
Look, whoever steps in there has got the huge and pressing issue of Iran. And we heard from the Foreign Secretary just yesterday saying that he wants to turn towards the European Union, to European partners for a security alliance in the Persian Gulf right now to protect shipping there.
You have the Foreign Minister of Iran overnight, Javad Zarif, saying very clearly and saying -- giving this message that Boris Johnson clearly, he thinks, he knows who's going to be the next prime minister. He said Iran wants to have a normal relationship with Britain but make no mistake, if you start the war you won't be the one to stop it. So very sort of threatening language there, coming from Iran. Boris Johnson is going to step right into the middle of this.
And of course, you know, the country under Theresa May is on a track to look to the European Union for support. The Foreign Secretary saying very clearly that he doesn't want to go but it's not going to follow with the United States on a maximum pressure on Iran.
Indeed, President Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both made it clear Britain needs to look to itself in the first instance for security in the Persian Gulf.
So Boris Johnson who has been a fan of President Trump over the years, is he going to try to turn to freshen up that special relationship? To inject his charisma in cajoling into conversations with President Trump to win more support or is he going to turn to his European partners who is trying to leave on one hand but asked for assistance on the other? So these are very pressing serious issues and of course many other tests coming in.
SOARES: And perhaps, the biggest test, Nic, is Brexit. And as you pointed out in the previous hours we were talking, is the challenges that Theresa May, the hurdles that Theresa May faces, the ones that plagued her, I think it's fair to say will continue to plague Boris Johnson. How do you see from what we've heard from him and we saw -- we read his article this week in the Daily Telegraph comparing the mission to that of Brexit to that the landing in the moon, how do we think he'll try to deliver us? Who will he surround himself with in terms of cabinet too?
ROBERTSON: The indications are because he's said and because some of the hard-line Brexiters may hold him to his word on this but Boris Johnson's word is at times his undoing. So this may be a very quick venue on of who he's going to keep his word with or not. But the issue of the potential for hard Brexit is he going to look as we expect him to for a Cabinet members who are going to support him on that do or die-hard Brexit 31st of October, no deal we're leaving regardless. Or will he perhaps have people in that will voice other opinions within Cabinet as your last guest was just talking about.
So, you know, people like Dominic Raab who was a contender for the leadership, who was a hard-line Brexiter will be looking for a cabinet position. Jacob Reese-Mogg, again a hard-line Brexiter, supporter of Boris Johnson and potentially a figure that Johnson would have to battle with in the Commons if he doesn't have him on board with the tack that he takes over Brexit. And Reese-Moggs supporters as well. Reese-Moggs could he get a position cabinet? I think that widely expected.
So these are some of the people but we don't know. But there will be pressing issues. I think, Brexit for sure, but Boris Johnson's also going to have to think that there's a potential for a general election in the moderate to near term. And therefore he'll need to address some of the social issues, social care, health service, schools. These issues matters to voters as well as Brexit.
So he's going to look to ministers who will try to deliver on what he will sees as the way forward, the speedy way forward on those issues as well.
SOARES: Yes. And for many people up and down the camp, should Brexit really overshadowed some of those social issues so I'm sure he will tack into that. Nic Robertson, outside 10 Downing Street. Thanks very much, Nic. We'll touch base with you in half an hour or so.
It is, of course, the final countdown in the U.K. as British Prime Minister Theresa May mark her last full day in office. A party prepares to announce who we had chosen as her successor. We have the latest coming to you next.
[05:17:28] SOARES: Now British politics is undergoing a "Titanic" shift as the country prepares for a new prime minister. The Conservative Party will announce who has won their leadership contest in less than two hours from now. Boris Johnson is widely expected to win over competitive Jeremy Hunt. Something that could see the U.K. turn towards a hard Brexit. But it's worth noting Hunt has not ruled it out either. Whoever wins will replace current Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday. The candidate was chosen in a vote by the 160,000 Conservative Party members just a sliver of really the British electorate.
And while the U.K. waits for leadership change, it's currently tied up and escalating diplomatic feud with Iran. Britain's Foreign Secretary calls Iran seizure over British flak tank in the Strait of Hormuz, an act of state piracy. He says, the U.K. is beefing up its military presence in the Gulf and wants Britain's allies to help.
Meantime, Iran's Foreign Minister has a special message for Boris Johnson. The man whose favor to replace Theresa May as prime minister. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, FOREIGN MINISTER OF IRAN: I think it is very important for Boris Johnson as he enters 10 Downing Street to understand that Iran does not seek confrontation. Iran wants to have normal relations based on mutual respect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, CNN's Christiane Amanpour spoke exclusively to former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown about the escalating tensions between Iran and the West. He says Boris Johnson could play a key diplomatic role in resolving the conflict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON BROWN, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER OF UNITED KINGDOM: I think Boris Johnson should be very much aware that the background to this is the failure of the American administration to stay with the Iranian deal. And I think the background to this is also that Britain must remain solid without European partners.
But what he can do to persuade President Trump to look again at conditions in which he might sign a deal with Iran, is in my view very important. I am told whether it's right or wrong that Iran would accept tougher conditions, that they would move to a higher level of inspection earlier if that were something that America would press for. And this may be the basis on which this deal can be solved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: We have team coverage on this developing story. Matthew Chance is in Khor Fakkan United Arab Emirates. Melissa Bell is in Gothenburg in Sweden which she spoke with the CEO of Stena Bulk, of course that's a company operating to seas British tank. I want to start with Matthew, if I may.
[05:20:04] Matthew, we just heard a few seconds ago from Iran in fact from Javal Zarif saying Iran is not seeking any sort of confrontation. Explain into our international views in then what exactly is it seeking here? MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the
Iranian Foreign Minister says that what he wants with Britain is a normal relationship based on mutual respect. But the fact is is that normalization has not happened at the moment. It does not showing any signs of it happening. You've got Britain announcing a military force that is going to set up to help police the very dangerous waters behind me here in the Strait of Hormuz. And of a course that seized British flag tanker is still very much being held by the Iranians, just a short distance from here along with its crew.
CHANCE (voice-over): This is the first glimpse of the crew detained on board the British flagged oil tanker seized in the Strait of Hormuz.
Iranian state television shows what it says are some of the 23 men from India, Russia, Latvia and the Philippines appearing to look well and in good spirits. Even as their ship the Stena Impero is confined to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas under close military guard and flying an Iranian flag from its mast.
British officials said their response would be robust. And now the country's Foreign Secretary has laid out the next steps, announcing a European naval force in the region to protect international shipping.
JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: If Iran continues on this dangerous path, they must accept the price will be a larger western military presence in the waters along their coastline, not because we wish to increase tensions, but simply because freedom of navigation is a principle which Britain and its allies will always defend.
CHANCE: And as this crisis develops, Iran has further ratcheted up tensions with another, announcing what it says is the breakup of a CIA spy ring. Iranian state television casting it as evidence of America's maligned activities. Iran says some of the 17 Iranian citizens arrested will be executed.
Iran has, of course, been the subject of U.S. intelligence efforts but President Trump and his Secretary of State are pouring cold water on the latest allegations.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I would take with a significant grain of salt, any Iranian associate about actions that they have taken.
CHANCE: But there's little doubts about the firm grip Iran and its elite revolutionary guard now has on this British flagged tanker or on the fate of its crew now pulls in a geopolitical game with no end in sight.
CHANCE: Well, going back to that British maritime force, the British Foreign Minister, they're making it clear was not going to be part of the U.S. maximum pressure policy and that's being interpreted in some circles as a further illustration of the differences and of the rift between the United States and Britain on that issue of Iran. Back to you, Isa.
SOARES: Melissa, to you, we heard Iran in the last couple of days claiming that it violated maritime law. I know you've been speaking to that with the CEO in an exclusive interview. What did he have to say to this?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was very clear on his question, Isa. All of the equipment on board, all of its radar equipment enabled him to say categorically that the ship was not in Iranian waters when it was captured. And that it had not been involved in any breach of maritime laws as Tehran has claimed.
But of course, it's been a very trying time for him. He is of course the CEO of the company that is the operator and owner of the tanker. It was a British flagged ship, of course, but belongs to a Swedish company with that international crew on board. And he's had remarkably little luck in having any kind of meaningful exchange with Iranian authorities about what's happened and more specifically about the fate of that crew.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIK HANNELL, CEO, STENA BULK: I run a request we have sent recently yesterday was that we should have access to the crew and I have confirmed that they have received the request but we're still waiting for a reply. So it's not dead silence in that respect to us but communication back is very, very limited.
BELL: What do you know about the fate of the crew?
HANNELL: We see the position through the technical means we have. We have heard through third sources and we have seen on the news, of course, that it looks like the crew is in good health considering the circumstances. So, of course, a lot of psychological pressure on them, I'm sure. But it looks like they are, you know, in reasonably good health.
[05:25:05] Nevertheless, of course, the most important thing for us is to confirm it ourselves as well and do make sure that -- I mean, we want a direct line to them and talk to the crew and make sure that they are in good shape and for sure -- also make sure that they get connected to their relatives as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: I also asked him about what the impact. It might be longer term on things like trade, the economy, shipping, because the impact so far has been fairly slim. This is all very recent that's happening as we speak. He said that it would be very damaging to many countries, particularly, and to the global economy as a whole.
Going back to what we were just talking about there and hearing about from Matthew about what the British foreign secretary is calling for, a sort of alliance that will enable European allies to protect ships as they head through that strait, that is clearly something that the allies are going to have to consider now given what's happened over the course of the last few days, Isa.
SOARES: Thank you very much then. Melissa Bell, coming to you live from Gothenburg in Sweden.
And we are drawing ever closer to knowing who will be chosen as the next British prime minister. My colleague, Richard Quest takes over next. We keep a close eye, of course, on the transition happening at 10 Downing Street. Will we be back with you in half an hour or so. Do stay right here with CNN.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: Another good day to you and a warm welcome on what is an extremely hot day just by Westminster. You're watching CNN special coverage as Britain and the U.K. waits to hear who will be its next prime minister, the new prime minister. I'm Richard Quest outside the Houses of Parliament.
The current, the incumbent Theresa May, she's holding her last cabinet meeting as prime minister. Within the next hour and a half or so, a conservative leader will formally end her premiership tomorrow. And one of these two men will replace her.
[05:30:00] On the left is the far and away favorite, just about anybody and everybody believes it will be Boris Johnson who is the former foreign secretary. On the right, his rival and current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Now, whoever wins inherits a country absolutely in crisis, on a variety of issues and let just not forget there will be no honeymoon.
There is Brexit which is a running sore that needs to be dealt with by the end of the year, certainly by end of October. And, of course, the latest crisis du jour, the rising tensions with Iran.
And with me Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor for "The Sunday Times." I don't think I'm being uncharitable when I say that -- I mean, that there'll be no honeymoon. It's straightened and deal with.
CAROLINE WHEELER, DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR, THE SUNDAY TIMES: Well, no time straightened and deal with. But there's already the question of whether or not Boris Johnson even has a majority to take over tomorrow when he's due to take over the reins of the premiership.
We had a very significant resignation yesterday in the form of Alan Duncan who then tried on his departure to set up an emergency motion raising the very question about whether Theresa May could indeed handover to Boris Johnson. She has to demonstrate to the Queen when she has that audience that her successor has the full confidence of the House.
QUEST: Now, let's just spend the moment looking at this because we always consider it to be a foregone conclusion. You've got to go back sort of that Ted Heath on Harold Wilson and MacMillan to really understand those times when there was a question of whether or not the person designated actually could command a majority in the House. What's the Tories majority?
WHEELER: So the Tory majority at the moment is four. But of course, you have to build into that, the fact that they're propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party. Now, there's also a question mark about what happens there because their mandate actually expires in July. So they need to negotiate a new deal in order to prop up a conservative majority.
Now, we also have the issue of a conservative MP yesterday, losing the whip over some allegations. He now faces a court case, which means they can't count on him among their numbers.
And there's also a by-election coming up in Brecon and Radnorshire, which many expect the Liberal Democrats to win which potentially reduces that majority yet further. So there's a question mark about --
QUEST: But on their own, on their own, the Tories on their own --
QUEST: -- have?
WHEELER: A majority of four.
QUEST: Which is dwindling?
WHEELER: Which is dwindling all the time.
QUEST: And so, Boris Johnson -- I mean, the Queen, I supposed the likes of you and me love to delve into the constitutional ramifications and possibilities. But the reality is the Queen will be presented by Theresa May with Boris Johnson commands a majority of the party and the House.
WHEELER: That's correct. And that will happen tomorrow. But as I say, if we were to see another two conservative MPs, perhaps either resign the whip or as has been speculated even cross the floor the to join the Liberal Democrats and the Liberal Democrats have been briefing hardly that they're in discussion with up to six Conservative MPs who have indicated that they are so disenchanted with the idea of a Boris Johnson premiership, that they may be persuaded to leave the party.
QUEST: But the Tories would still be the single largest party.
WHEELER: But they would also -- but they wouldn't have the majority. So you can still be the party of government --
QUEST: That's happened before, absolutely.
WHEELER: -- and yet you are a minority government, but make it all the more difficult.
QUEST: Right. So Boris Johnson is almost certain, I mean for purposes of our discussion, is going to be anointed by his party and then for by the Queen tomorrow will be invited to form a government. What's his first order of business? Is it Brexit or is it Iran?
WHEELER: Well, I think the first order of business is for him to create his first cabinet.
QUEST: Of course.
WHEELER: So, he needs to create a system whereby he has those people around him that he can rely on to tackle what's going to come, which as you rightly said involves Iran and Brexit.
In terms of the order of those priorities, I think he immediately needs to get on the front foot in terms of Iran. There's been lots of questions even from former cabinet ministers suggesting that the current administration have taken their eye off the ball in this respect.
And he will want to be going in and showing that he has the majority -- he has confidence of his senior team when dealing with this very thorny issue. But after that, you're absolutely right, Brexit then becomes the key priority.
QUEST: And for a man known not to love detail --
QUEST: I mean, you read the report of when he was mayor of London and when he was at the foreign office, but you don't have to love detail to be a good prime minister. The modern interpretation of it means you get your hands dirty but you can be a strategic leader and successful.
WHEELER: And that's what many of his allies would point to, that he was actually the mayor of London for eight years. You know, many of his allies point to the fact that he was very successful of that. And in fact, he's going to use some of those people that he surrounded himself in the mayor of London in his top team in Downing Street.
So we can expect the likes of Eddie Leist (ph). He was one of his key Chief of Staff people in the mayor of London position to go into Downing Street even temporarily to help to advise him when he's dealing with these thorny issues.
[05:35:07] QUEST: Right, OK. So, the -- it all happens. Boris Johnson becomes prime minister. Iran is obviously -- is Jeremy Hunt likely to get a job? Is he -- I mean, he's all but prostrated himself in front of Johnson saying I can serve the man.
WHEELER: Well, I mean it's interesting to see his language. His language chose that last testings that we saw.
QUEST: It was a bit cringe worthy.
WHEELER: It was a little bit cringe. It was a little bit like shaking hands at the end of a football match and kind of slapping each other on the back and walking off.
WHEELER: There was a kind of sense that the frisson had ended there. What the Johnson camp had been briefing to some journalists is that it will depend on the margin of victory. If there's perhaps less than 10 percent margin of victory, he may be persuaded to give Hunt one of those top jobs.
I think as some people are predicting, it could be up to 80 percent of Conservative Party members have voted for Johnson. He will have more of a mandate to stamp his own authority on the team.
QUEST: But all those people who have said they won't serve, whatever --
QUEST: -- I mean, does Johnson have an experienced bench from which he can pick?
WHEELER: Yes, he does. I mean, there are people that have gone on a bit of a journey with him. The likes of Amber Rudd, for example, he's the working Pensions Secretary here --
QUEST: He could be Home Secretary.
WHEELER: -- who could be Home Secretary again. But, I mean, she was somebody who said initially I would never ever serve in a cabinet with somebody that was going to takes us towards a no deal. She seems to have had a bit of an epiphany now when he's saying that she could support him.
But, yes, I mean, there are certainly people. For example, Iain Duncan Smith, he was a former Conservative Party leader who many are now expecting could be given one of those top roles.
QUEST: The great officer of state. Thank you very much. It's going to be an exciting day.
WHEELER: It is.
QUEST: Thank you very much, indeed.
International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson is in Downing Street and the seat of it all. The view is -- I mean, well, first of all, it's pretty brutal the way this thing goes over the next 24 hours, isn't it? She resigns tomorrow. She leaves. He arrives. There's no elegance in the transfer of power in Downing Street.
ROBERTSON: Well, it's been telegraphed and it's been coming for so long, hasn't it Richard? And there is a sort of a moment ignominy, if you will, where you have to leave the building for the last time and everyone knows it and there's no going back. Certainly, she would not be expected to get a cabinet position from Boris Johnson.
But, you know, it's been coming. You know, she will in fact to descend. There were sort of -- you know, she was just getting a little bit emotional when she did give her speech outside of here a few weeks ago when she indicated that she was going to step down. So, you know, maybe that's been hand already.
But, yes, I mean, it's tough. But he comes in, he's full charging, full steam ahead. He's got an idea of what he wants to do. He's got an idea of what his agenda is. He's got an idea of those his cabinet positions seat in line to fill on who he would like to put in those positions. And then he has to begin to execute on it.
QUEST: And he comes with huge amounts of baggage, I mean, all that leaders do. You don't get to the top of the profession without having baggage. Theresa May did, of course, from her time as Home Secretary. But he comes with more than most.
ROBERTSON: Sure. Look, he's got the baggage of being untrustworthy in certain areas. He's got the baggage of sort of promising and then failing to deliver. But he brings more than just the baggage. Everyone, of course, is a sum of many parts.
And part of what he brings is his charisma, his intellect, his ability to charm people. I mean, this is one of the reasons the why the Conservative Party had finesse him. They picked him because they think that he could help them pick up the votes that they would need to win the next general election, particularly if there were one soon.
So, yes, there is all of that baggage that Boris Johnson who is the comedian, who puts his foot in the mouth. Remember him standing up there in parliament and speaking about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who is currently being held in an Iranian jail, a British-Iranian national, and Boris Johnson saying things that he later stepped backwards from. But it really countered against this very tense diplomatic situation and Iran is one of those issues that he's walking straight into.
The Iranian foreign minister last night had a message for Boris Johnson. He guess figures that Boris Johnson will be the prime minister, saying Iran wants to normalize relations but at the same if you start a war you won't be the one to end it, so a very clear warnings for Boris Johnson.
And Johnson having to choose now, does he turn to Europe, as the foreign secretary said last night, to help shore up British security for ships in the Persian Gulf or will he do what perhaps his instincts might have said before turn to President Trump with his maximum pressure on Iran?
These are going to be decisions that are going to be absolutely immediate, absolutely under the spotlight. And, yes, he has baggage in both hands and on his back on that issue alone.
[05:40:07] QUEST: Well put, Nic, very well put. But as one could argue would say, yes, being the foreign secretary. So at least he understands his way around these issues. Well, some would say not. Nic, we've got much more to talk about, and you'll be with us throughout the next couple of hours as we do wait for that result. It should be in about an hour or so from now. This is the CNN Newsroom on Theresa May. Now she was very well-known for dancing which is most unusual for a pastor's daughter. The Minister's daughter like to have a ball. She may have danced her last. And the next person who will be boogying into number 10, could be about to step up about a boogying Boris. Our special coverage continues because the news never stops. Don't go away (ph), this is CNN.
QUEST: Welcome back. It's CNN special coverage of the British Conservative Party's Leadership Conference. Around an hour from now we will expect to find out who will be the party's leader and by definition that becomes the next UK Prime Minister.
The finalists are the former mayor of London, Boris Johnson and the Foreign Secretary, the current Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Johnson is the odds on favorite to replace Theresa May as PM. And we expect her to visit the Queen and formally resign.
The new prime minister is effectively being chosen by a group, the Conservative Party that does not look much like British Society as a whole. For starters, the 160,000 member make up about one-third of 1 percent of the country's electorate. Here's what else our researchers have called the party's members project has found out.
Nearly all 97 percent of the membership is white. More than 70 percent of the Conservative Party members are male. Around 60 percent are at least 55 years old. And nearly half live in the south of the country outside of London.
Isa Soares spoke to John Rentoul. He is the Chief Political Commentator for The Independent and asked shouldn't the UK have a general election instead?
JOHN RENTOUL, CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, THE INDEPENDENT: Whenever the British got -- this is the way the British constitution works. If a Prime Minister goes in between election then the party that they represent chooses a new leader --
RENTOUL: -- and the, you know, it happened with Gordon Brown replacing Tony Blair not so long ago.
RENTOUL: And the Conservatives at the time were demanding that we should have a general election.
SOARES: Well this --
RENTOUL: Now the Labour Party is demanding we should have a general election. SOARES: This leader, if it is Boris Johnson, everyone expects it is, I assume you do too, is really following the will of the people and that is to leave the European Union. He's promising a do or die to leave by October 31st.
SOARES: What's your take on it? How realistic is it because the mass inside (ph) hasn't changed.
SOARES: He still has a minority government. There's --
SOARES: -- a huge divisions within his party. Can he unite the party? Can he deliver on this promise?
RENTOUL: Well I don't think he can. He may do.
RENTOUL: But I think the odds are against it.
[05:45:02] And I think the most important thing about that Conservative Party membership in the country as you say, older, white male but also very, very hard Brexit. They support leaving without a deal. Now that is not something that is supported in the House of Commons.
SOARES: As we've seen time and again.
RENTOUL: Exactly. And it's something that Boris Johnson has promised to do if he can't get a deal through the House of Commons.
Now, I don't think he can get a deal through the House of Commons. I don't think he can get a no deal through the House of Commons. And therefore he's --
SOARES: So where do we --
RENTOUL: --going to hit a brick wall.
SOARES: OK. So he's going to hit a brick wall. Are we looking then a new referendum? Are we looking at a general election? Because when we heard -- we saw the last-- perhaps the last ten piece by Boris Johnson writing in the Daily Telegraph where he compared his mission of trying to deliver Brexit, compare it to the mission of going to the moon.
SOARES: It only took something like seven or eight years to actually go the moon from the U.S. perspective and cost 4 percent of GDP, may I add too. How do we -- RENTOUL: I will say it was possible.
SOARES: And it was possible. How -- was he left with then if he can't deliver, if he can't convince Europe to budge in any sort of way? What would be the best thing for the Conservative Party?
RENTOUL: Well, you're absolutely right. We would then be looking at a referendum, another referendum or a general election. And I think --
SOARES: He would go for what, a general election?
RENTOUL: Probably go for a general election because the problem with the referendum is he has to get the legislation for a referendum through this House of Commons. Now, that's going to be difficult. So I think he needs to change the House of Commons. He needs to ask for his own mandate, a mandate to deliver a do or die Brexit.
RENTOUL: And go to the country and ask the voters to support that.
SOARES: His speech tomorrow, if he does win of course, that takes place tomorrow about 5:00 o'clock or so outside of 10 Downing Street. It will be a momentous speech. It is a speech that everyone always remembers. Margaret Thatcher --
SOARES: -- always we know -- her speech the way it was written with a scissor in there, it's still -- we still quote it today.
RENTOUL: We do.
SOARES: What do you think he will be tapping into? Unity, cohesion, bringing the country together that kind of -- that spirit of mission that he talks about.
RENTOUL: But also what he talks about all the time in his Daily Telegraph articles which he's been using as a platform for the past few months of a can do spirit, as you say, you know --
SOARES: Harkening back --
RENTOUL: -- if you can put people to the moon --
RENTOUL: -- we can do Brexit. You got to believe in Britain. It's going to be --
SOARES: He has a point though, doesn't he?
RENTOUL: Yes, I mean, I think there will be a bit of optimistic uplift that people will like. I mean people will like someone who says, you know, never mind all of the compass and the criticisms. We can do this, we are a great country.
So there will be some of that. But it's no use in the end, him hoping that sheer force of will and personality is going to deliver Brexit. But it is a bit more complicated.
SOARES: What have we heard from Europe? Has Europe said any -- changed its tune in anyway? Because Europe knows him, Europe knows exactly. They've heard his rhetoric.
SOARES: I'm guessing they would expect his rhetoric to change somewhat as he meets them? What exactly can Europe do at this point?
RENTOUL: Well, there were suggestions in the newspapers over the weekend that Europe was offering him an olive branch. The word is going to be a slightly softer tone in negotiations. But I mean, personally, I don't see why European leaders should offer Boris Johnson whom they don't particularly like. And I mean at least --
SOARES: Compare to Theresa May. I mean Theresa was liked. Yes.
RENTOUL: -- they respected Theresa May.
RENTOUL: They thought she was sincere and she was doing her best. They don't think that about Boris Johnson. I don't see how they're going to offer Boris Johnson things that they weren't prepared to offer Theresa May.
SOARES: And, you know, my previous guest was talking about how Boris Johnson has so many knives stuck in his back from within his own party.
SOARES: How is he going to unite the party? Because that's going to him trying to get votes through, to getting the Mass on his side out here.
RENTOUL: Yes. I mean, there, he's got a very difficult choice to make. Does he go for a hard Brexit cabinet --
RENTOUL: -- where he only appoints people who voted to leave three years ago or does he try and bring in all the factions of the party.
Now, so far he's tended towards the hard Brexit side is saying that, you know, anyone who joins his cabinet is going to have to sign up to being willing to take us out without an agreement.
SOARES: We will expect perhaps today to hear leaks or starting rumors of who his cabinets, so beginning of his cabinet might be --
RENTOUL: Well, I hope so because otherwise we have --
SOARES: -- maybe right enough.
RENTOUL: -- (inaudible) to take.
SOARES: --besides what you've already written which is Boris Johnson at great length. But we'll hear some members of his cabinet and their key roles. But what about, I mean, in terms of what we've seen in the last three days, three or four, three people I think who decided that if he's nominated, these people will step down, right?
SOARES: Do you expect more to follow suit? Do you think --
SOARES: -- others to resign?
RENTOUL: Yes. I think as soon as the result of the leadership election is announced. And it's confirmed that it's Boris Johnson, I think that is the moment for people who have their doubts about him to make their position known.
[05:50:06] We saw Alan Duncan --
RENTOUL: -- the junior foreign minister jump the gun rather yesterday --
RENTOUL: -- taking for granted the results of the leadership election. But I think he will be followed by others today. And we know that there are cabinet ministers who are preparing to leave office as soon as Boris Johnson comes in.
QUEST: Isa Soares there. And I have to say looks rather comfortable without the shirt, without sort of the tie and the jacket. I know the fair is the temperatures here in London getting ever warmer. I might be going al fresco before we're finished.
Now, you're watching CNN Newsroom. Still to come, Britain's Theresa May is bowing out. But troubles with tenure, number 10, completely dominated of course by Brexit. She had many plans and policies and it at all founded on the European Union. Next, we'll find out who succeeds her.
QUEST: The voting ended yesterday at about 5:00 o'clock and now we're waiting for the results of the Conservative Party leadership contest. Everybody is expecting the result to be Boris Johnson has likely beat the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. And becomes leader of his party and in doing so by definition he becomes prime minister of Great Britain.
If and when that happens he has his work cut-out for him. There's an issue of a cabinet reshuffle. A combination of those who will serve and won't serve and those he wants. The next big issue, of course, Brexit.
The former London mayor is a hard core Brexiter, at least he has been for the last three years. And he have to deal with the complex issue of Iran. That's probably more pressing. That is on the cards and the agenda right at the moment.
Whether the final pick, whoever it is, one thing is certain, Brexit has taken out Britain's second female prime minister, Theresa May. CNN's Nic Robertson has this look at Theresa May's time at number 10.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I will shortly leave the job that has been the honor of my life to hold.
ROBERTSON: The great survivor of British Politics, finally admitting defeat. Three years after taking over from David Cameron, Theresa May brought down by the very thing that ended Cameron's career, Brexit.
MAY: The need of course to negotiate the best deal for Britain in leaving the E.U. and to forge a new role for ourselves in the world.
ROBERTSON: The task of navigating the U.K.'s departure from the E.U. defined and ultimately sunk May's leadership. With her Brexit deal, she made political history in all the wrong ways, losing a vote in Parliament by a historic margin.
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS: The Ayes to the right 202. The Nays to the left 432.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She went around bluntly trotting out this mandrins, catch phrase of Brexit means Brexit.
MAY: Brexit means Brexit. Brexit means Brexit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which suggested to everybody, "Hey, it's going to be OK, isn't it? It's going to be like almost a box kicking exercise." That didn't prepare people for the messy nature of compromise.
ROBERTSON: This monumental Brexit task made all the harder after May called a snap election in 2017, her plan to strengthen the government's hand in negotiation with Brussels. Instead it backfired spectacularly.
The Conservative Party lost their majority and may lost face, perhaps the writing already on the wall. She'll (inaudible) as prime minister eventually admitted her mistake.
MAY: I take responsibility. I led the campaign and I am sorry.
[05:55:08] ROBERTSON: Even this moment of rare remorse overshadowed by misfortune. First, an interruption by a protester then a coughing fit as the letters began to drop-off the wall behind her. For May's critics the perfect metaphor for her disintegrating leadership. Never appearing fully comfortable in the public eye. May's stiff demeanor earned her the unflattering nickname the "Maybot".
Nevertheless she made a virtue of her political handicap, owning her awkwardness never shying away from an opportunity to dance in public. Those who worked for her say she is a woman of principle with a deep sense of public duty. But in this fractured phase of British politics, other essential qualities were lacking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things like flexibility and inability to reach out to forge, compromise, to speak to people that she doesn't necessarily have much time for. Some of those deal making, political skills where she fell short.
ROBERTSON: Ultimately it was this inability to strike a Brexit deal that cost May her job, making her the second consecutive British Prime Minister to be brought down by Brexit, a daunting legacy for the next number 10 resident to turnaround.
Nic Robertson, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now, we're waiting to see who is going replace Theresa May. There is still someone at Downing Street with little care for politics and that one of course is Larry the cat. He's relaxed about the imminent result. More interested in finding some shade to lounge about, looking for Larry and the outgoing prime minister.
The shakeup won't see him leaving any time soon. And talking by the way of find some shade. Well, to tell you how hot it is, my iPad suddenly says temperature. iPad needs to cool down before you can use it. It says it all.
After the break we'll continue our special coverage of the Conservative Party leadership contest. We'll be at the QA2 (ph) Center which is just up the road where there's going to be the results will be announced. Isa Soares will be back with me in just a moment because the news never stops. Neither do we.