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U.K. Conservative Party Set to Announce Next Leader; Brexit Dominated Theresa May's Time As Prime Minister; U.K. Junior Education Minister Resigns. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired July 23, 2019 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:00:21] ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and a very warm welcome to our viewers right around the world. We are coming to you live from Abingdon Green with the CNN special coverage of the countdown to finding out who will be the next British prime minister.
I'm Isa Soares.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Richard Quest.
It's very warm here.
SOARES: Way too hot.
QUEST: It is. And that the irony is when we were all last here during the Brexit fiascos around --
SOARES: I have three coats on.
QUEST: Three coats. The mud was up to here.
QUEST: Thermals a whole lot. What a difference a few months makes, but not in the politics as well.
And just under an hour, we should know who will replace Theresa May as Britain's next Conservative Party leader, and thereby definition, the prime minister of the United Kingdom.
SOARES: Former London Mayor Boris Johnson is the odds on favorite to win the Tory race. He faces Jeremy Hunt, you can see the right to your screen, the man who replaced him if you remember as foreign secretary. Now, Johnson is a divisive figure, especially over his readiness to take a no-deal Brexit. Several ministers have refused to serve under him. For the record, Hunt also says he doesn't roll out a no-deal Brexit.
Prime Minister Theresa May's time in office, meanwhile, has been dominated by the vote to leave the European Union, a challenge her predecessor must sort out, of course, before that Brexit deadline on Halloween on October 31st. Mrs. May will take her final prime minister questions on Wednesday before she then visits the queen, Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth to formally resign. Now, either Johnson or Hunt will then visit the queen and later head to Downing Street as prime minister to give their first speech.
QUEST: Out International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson, he is with us now at Downing Street. CNN's Bianca Nobilo is at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, the QEII Centre where the big announcement will be made.
Nic, we'll be with you in just one second. Now I just want Bianca please to give me the tic-tac of the next hour.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Richard. I will -- I should describe the atmosphere as well. It's a huge amount of Brexit protesters where I am too, even some people playing the accordion. It's very noisy. Members of Boris Johnson's family have entered the QEII Centre behind me now.
I was speaking to some MPs just a moment ago. The atmosphere is really building. It's considered to be a full conclusion that Boris Johnson is going to win this.
In terms of timings, we should know who the next prime minister, the 77th prime minister of the United Kingdom, is going to be in less than an hour time. After we find that out, we'd then expecting whoever that it is, most likely Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt the foreign Secretary, to give some kind of speech, some remarks about winning this leadership contest. And then the rest of the day will most likely would be consumed with more speculation of who they're going to appoint to key cabinet positions because they're going to have to do that quickly. We're expecting some of that news tomorrow.
But we are going to have to wait for tomorrow for that man who is declared as the next prime minister to officially become the next prime minister because Theresa May has one more evening in Downing Street. She'll then go to House of Commons. She'll have her final performance in the prime minister's question time. Go to the queen, officially resign, then whoever wins the leadership contest will then go to the queen, too, and officially become prime minister.
QUEST: Right. All right. Nic Robertson, you have covered British politics for a year or two. Did you ever think Boris Johnson would actually make it? He spent so long seemingly wanting the job, politicking, conniving, scheming many would say. Now it looks like he's going to get it.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. And sometimes that's shooting himself in the foot in the process of trying to get here. Sometimes the botches have been of his own making, and sometimes a little being stabbed in the back most famously by Michael Gove who was also challenging for the leadership of the Conservative Party. This go-round as well.
So if it hasn't been himself tripping himself up, there have been others around him that he might have called friends ready to stand in his path. So, did I think it would come to this? I mean, look, it's been pretty clear in the last few weeks that it would be him. When he stepped down as foreign secretary more than a year ago, must be a couple of years now -- ago, it seemed at that moment that, you know, perhaps he'd done everything he could do in terms of high-level politics. There were certainly those that said that he didn't cover himself in glory as foreign secretary, that he hadn't really delivered on, you know, on some of his rhetoric, and that this was his opportunity in a leadership role to shine, and he didn't. Yet, here he is. So he's confounded all the critics it seems.
Although we go back to his school days and university days, there were those around him, teachers, students, who felt that this was, you know, an incredibly gifted individual who could go all the way.
[06:05: 04] You know, he's quoted when he was a child saying that he would be king of the world one day, and there was no doubt amongst those who knew him back in those days that this was a man who really had something to offer, that stood out, was exceptional and different. And he appears at the moment to be on the verge of having done it.
QUEST: Right. Bianca, are you still with me? Bianca Nobilo, are you still --
NOBILO: I am, Richard.
QUEST: -- outside the QEII Centre. If you are, we are looking inside the centre and we can see the sort of assembling around. Same question to you because you used to -- you've been very close to Westminster and you've worked for MPs. You've been in the House, you know the Conservative Party extremely well. Was there ever a feeling that there was inevitability one day Boris Johnson would become, would accede to the highest elected office in the country?
NOBILO: It's always (INAUDIBLE) wisdom, Richard, that nobody wants this top job like Boris Johnson does. And in fact, speaking to some of the members of Parliament inside the QEII Centre about 10 minutes ago, they were just reaffirming this. But for many, they thought that that day would never come and that's because, over a couple of different events in the past, Boris Johnson has quote -- to quote somebody from inside just now, bottled it on more than one occasion.
He did of course stand for leadership when Theresa May won in 2016 but he was not successful. In fact, he was thwarted by then-ally Michael Gove. So on several occasions, it looked as if it was almost within Boris Johnson's grasp but then it evaded him or at the last moment he made the wrong judgment call.
So his allies never lost faith in him but a lot of people within the party did. In fact, his fortunes within the Conservative Party have waxed and waned over the last decade or even more than a decade. He was a very popular mayor of London at the beginning, but then lost some of that shine. He was this charismatic figure in the British press but then that served to undermine him when he was looking at the great offices of state like when he was a foreign secretary. He didn't have a particularly strong record in that job, making a couple of gaffes that we know him for.
So it's really been the mission for Boris Johnson and his team over the last year to prepare him in the minds of the party, in the minds of people in Britain, for a role that requires a gravitas and a seriousness that those who thought that this day would never come always question whether or not he had.
SOARES: Bianca, do stay with us. I want to go back to Nic Robertson at 10 Downing Street. And Nic, regardless who'll get this position, of course, we're been saying Boris Johnson is the hot favorite here to get it. There will be no honeymoon period. The hard work starts straight away tomorrow.
ROBERTSON: Oh crashingly so. Crashingly so. The tensions rising over Iran will be part of it. And, you know, obviously, as he tries to sort of align a cabinet, a cabinet whose sort of strength and support of him, you know, unblinking support of him I supposed. We might be able to say will be determined -- the level of that will be determined by the margin with which he is expected to win the leadership contest. If it's a big margin and perhaps he'll stack the cabinet with more of his favorites, less of the people who might just raise the odd question.
So you'll have the Iran issue, it's front and center. You'll have, you know, setting forward a plan for Brexit and the key meetings he may try to have with European leaders or others in the interim period before actually, negotiations begin. As well as trying to sort of establish some, you know, some fundamental vote-getting narratives if you will on social care, on health care, on schools. The issues that will win votes, if there was to be in the short term or medium term, a general election because although he's been -- he will have gotten into office over the issue of Brexit, it's these other issues that might just bring in the additional votes that the Conservative Party would need if there were a snap general election.
So on that front, the task is huge. He needs to prepare on many fronts, the tension with Iran, the longer-term thing on Brexit, and, of course, the potential general election.
QUEST: Nic Robertson in Downing Street. Bianca is at the QEII Centre. And to both of you, Bianca, please let us know the moment it looks like the result is coming. Thank you very much indeed.
SOARES: Kate Andrews, associate director of the Institute of Economic Affairs joins us now. And Kate, thanks for being here with us.
You heard what Nic Robertson was saying that the task ahead is huge. Where do you -- who do you think is going to get ahead? Is it obvious that it's going to be Boris Johnson here?
KATE ANDREWS, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Boris Johnson. Look, I'm going to disappoint, I'm not going to give a crazy prediction. I think everybody has pretty much decided it's going to be Boris Johnson. But the margin with which he wins matters very much.
SOARES: Why is that?
[06:10:05] ANDREWS: It's not that if he wins under 60 percent because there's been so much expectation about this grand win. If it's under 60 percent, it's not that he's not going to have as much maneuvering room. If it's over 60 percent, is that actually yes, he's going to have much more say with the Conservative Party at least to do what he wants to do. The majority isn't there in Parliament though which adds another layer to this.
QUEST: The problem is none of the issues on Brexit have changed since we sat here in March and April of this year.
SOARES: For years, nothing shifted.
QUEST: Nothing shifted.
ANDREWS: Nothing has changed in the words of the prime minister. You're right. In many ways, nothing has changed --
QUEST: So what makes him think that he can get either out of Juncker's last days or Von der Leyen's new days something better than she was unable to get?
ANDREWS: So even though the Parliamentary arithmetic hasn't changed, I think if the U.K. thinks have. First of all, his negotiating tactic is fundamentally different to the current prime minister's. He has said he is willing to embrace no-deal, not as a, you know, totally last case scenario but actually something that he'll be preparing for and willing to go into with an optimistic mindset to get the best out of that scenario. I think it is very likely if a deal is secured and I hope it is that it happens in the final few days, even a few hours leading up to October 31st.
SOARES: And as you and I talking here with Richard, we're seeing the cabinet ministers leaving 10 Downing Street. Of course, Theresa May held her last cabinet meeting early this morning. She will only step down as prime minister tomorrow of course.
But Kate, on the point that Richard was making, we heard from Boris Johnson the last 24 hours in his article that he wrote for the Daily Telegraph where he talked about the sense of mission, the sense of unity, he's basically saying the challenge of Brexit a bit like going to the moon. The only difference is, the moon took seven years and a quarter percent of GDP. So how exactly is he hoping to get past this huge hurdle?
ANDREWS: I think he's hoping that the E.U. will finally give the concessions that perhaps they didn't think they needed to give under a different government. Both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson interestingly have been painting that more optimistic vision. Maybe that's what you have to do in a campaign but I think there's some merit behind it.
QUEST: The E.U. though has had another six months to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. And the general view is, that the E.U. or the other 27ers are much better prepared than the United Kingdom. The latest reports on the U.K. suggest it's not well at all prepared.
ANDREWS: In some areas, no, you're right. The Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay feels that a lot has been necessary preparations, say around medicine or air travel has been addressed but none of the things that would actually help the U.K. be prosperous outside of the E.U. in a no-deal Brexit have been prepared for talks about changes to tax, corporation tax in particular, free trade deals around the world to keep the U.K. competitive. So in some areas, you're absolutely right, I don't think it has been addressed enough. But the attitude of Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson that it has to be on the table to some extent, Boris Johnson more so than Jeremy Hunt, should put the E.U. in a slightly different position now even if they're better prepared.
Everybody wants a deal. The U.K. and the E.U. both do want to get a deal.
SOARES: I supposed if you're in Europe you are hoping that Boris Johnson changes a bit of his rhetoric and pivots somewhat, becomes -- finds a bit more of a middle ground. Is that something that you think he'll be prepared to do?
ANDREWS: I think it's going to be very hard for him especially in the possible wake of an early general election to pivot on Brexit because of course the Brexit party which rose up here in the U.K. over a matter of weeks really before going into its first European election was hugely successful. And they're going to cut that conservative vote if they don't deliver on Brexit.
SOARES: He's really boxed himself in, hasn't he?
QUEST: And so there we -- the story, though, Boris Johnson -- by the way, who we're going to get the result from has left Downing Street. So we're now within the spirit of time where it will take them to go from Downing Street with the result. They'll open the envelope at the QEII Centre. They will then reveal to everybody what the result is. And Boris Johnson, though, has painted himself into a corner.
QUEST: He said October the 31st, come hell or high water.
ANDREWS: He has.
QUEST: With or without a deal. Now, you know, if Parliament tries to frustrate him or MPs refuse to go along with it, he can't say, I didn't -- I wasn't allowed to do it. We know that he's not going to be allowed to.
ANDREWS: There are a lot of options here and it's hard to see which way it goes. If Boris Johnson realizes say in early October that Parliament is going to stop this, he may himself pull that general election and decide -- and you know, that his argument will be, they are going to stop me from doing what I've promised to do for you. Let's give it back to the people.
SOARES: Outstanding option, yes.
ANDREWS: But actually I'm not sure. I mean, no-deal is still the default. And unlike last time when Parliament mandated that the prime minister go to the European Union and ask for an extension. If you're now dealing with a prime minister who isn't so inclined to, he may go. But what exactly is his negotiating tactic might be?
SOARES: Very, very quickly. Would Jeremy Hunt have done a better job? Would he be able to deliver anything, anything of change here?
[06:15:00] ANDREWS: As you say, the circumstances are the same for both. I'm not convinced that one or the other is necessarily going to be better at negotiating with the E.U. Although Boris Johnson's willingness to do more a no-deal might have a better impact.
SOARES: Kate, thank you very much. Good to see you.
ANDREWS: Thank you.
QUEST: Now we all just moments away from discovering who will be Britain's new prime minister. The issues are extraordinary.
SOARES: It has. The issues have been shifted in the last three years that we've been covering this, Richard. I feel like we've been going on and have never left. It is a momentous day. We'll find out who will be the next leader.
QUEST: I think I might have to take my jacket off.
SOARES: Go for it. It is a bit too hot.
QUEST: It's very warm.
SOARES: A little bit of (INAUDIBLE) today. We leave you here just for the time being as we go to break with images coming to you from the Queen Elizabeth II Centre. That is filling up rather quickly. We expected to hear who the next leader will be in the next 45 -- less than 45 minutes or so.
Do stay right here. We'll be back after a very short break.
QUEST: Welcome back. I'm Richard Quest.
SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares, coming to you live from outside of the Houses of Parliament where our special coverage as we find out in the next 45 minutes or so who will be the next British prime minister.
QUEST: Do you know what the temperature is?
SOARES: What is it? What is it? I don't know.
QUEST: I don't know. SOARES: I'll say high 30s?
QUEST: I don't know. One of my colleagues I'm sure will sort of --
SOARES: Start Googling away.
QUEST: High 30. It's very warm and the atmosphere, and, you know --
QUEST: -- it's not just the physical temperature but the political temperature.
QUEST: The United Kingdom is about to undergo a phenomenally exciting and some would say worrying experimenting government.
SOARES: Quite a change. And it's the race between former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. That came to an end last night when members of the U.K's Conservative Party finished voting.
Now, in the next half hour just to give you a brief of what you're expecting, we'll know exactly which two of these gentlemen have actually won. That person will become the leader of Britain's Conservative Party and then tomorrow the U.K. prime minister.
QUEST: Boris Johnson, he is far and away the favorite to win the vote which we'll see him inherit a nation absolutely in crisis on numerous issues. Brexit obviously is the long-running saw, but now, of course, there are rising tensions with Iran that have to be dealt with immediately.
SOARES: And as the new leader begins, Britain's outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May sees her career at the top of U.K. politics come to an abrupt end. Our Nic Robertson looks back on her career highs and some rather spectacular lows.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honor of my life to hold.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): 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.
[06:20:06] ROBERTSON (voice-over): 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, U.K. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS: The ayes to the right, 202. The noes to the left, 432.
JOEY JONES, FORMER THERESA MAY SPOKESMAN: She went around blithely trotting out this mantras and catchphrase of Brexit means Brexit.
MAY: Brexit means Brexit.
Brexit means Brexit.
JONES: Which suggested to everybody, hey, it's going to be OK. This is going to be like almost a box-kicking exercise. Now, it didn't prepare people for the messy nature of compromise.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): 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 the majority and May lost face. Perhaps the writing already on the wall.
She'll intone as prime minister eventually admitting her mistake.
MAY: I take responsibility, I led the campaign and I am sorry.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Even this moment of rare remorse overshadowed by misfortune. First, an interruption by a protester, then a coughing fit.
MAY: -- the economy is back on track.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): 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've worked for her say she is a woman of principle, with a deep sense of public duty. But in this fracture's phase of politics, other essential qualities were lacking.
JONES: Flexibility, an ability to be -- to reach out, to forge a compromise, to speak to people, that she doesn't necessarily have that much time for. Some of those deal-making political skills where she fell short.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): 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 turn around.
Nic Robertson, CNN, London.
(END VIDEOTAPE) QUEST: Now the last few moments, the British junior education minister, U.K's junior education minister has resigned. Anne Milton just announced, this is another MP, a member of the government who feels that they will not be able to serve under Boris Johnson or indeed serve in any administration where there will be the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.
"Having abstained in the vote last week, I've resigned from the government. It has been an honor to serve on the Conservative frontbenches, my thanks to everyone." And her last bid is, "It is important to me to be free to do what I feel is right for the country and my constituents."
That's the reference there of course that if there is Boris Johnson and it is heading towards a no-deal Brexit later in the year, then she along with many other Tories are rebelling against that possibility.
SOARES: Yes, of course. Sir Alan Duncan, you saw yesterday in the news, he said he was stepping down. We also heard from Phillip Hammond and David Gauke saying if Boris Johnson wins, they will be stepping down.
Well, earlier I spoke with a Conservative MP Nigel Evans. He is a member of the International Trade and Development Select Committees. He supports Boris Johnson. Listen to what Evans expects if Johnson becomes the next prime minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIGEL EVANS, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: When he walks into Downing Street, the only thing he doesn't have to bring in new with him are knives because he's already got half a dozen of them in his back. So he's got to solve one or two personnel problems there. And I have the opportunity then to turn to some of my colleagues and say, hey, hold on now. Conservative members have actually voted for Boris Johnson, so give him a chance. And that's what he needs, is a chance.
SOARES: What Nic Robertson was saying is that he will once surround himself when he picks his Cabinet by people who think like him. Isn't this about trying to find unity within the party, finding other people different from you?
[06:25:01] EVANS: No, absolutely. He can't just pack the cabinet full of Brexiters. I mean, the big difference between himself and Theresa May is that Boris campaign for Brexit --
EVANS: -- and believes in the mission. The problem with Theresa and I did tell her this herself, is that she saw Brexit as a problem and a disaster that needed mitigating.
SOARES: Something that was handed to her. Yes.
EVANS: That was right. Absolutely. But she knew -- she wanted that job and she knew that she had to deliver Brexit, which she failed to do and it costs her, her job.
SOARES: But you supported Theresa May's deal in the first round.
EVANS: I did. No, on the second and third.
SOARES: On the second and the third.
EVANS: That's right. On the first one, no, I didn't like it. It seemed incredibly complicated. And I think this is what the difference now is that Boris is going to change the dynamics. The conversation will change because --
SOARES: How so?
EVANS: Because he believes in the mission. So when he goes to Brussels and then again, he knows Brussels incredibly well from his days when he was a reporter in Brussels, he will be able to talk to Michel Barnier and say, come on, guys. You want a deal? We want a deal.
SOARES: But we've already heard from Europe. Europe said it's not budging.
EVANS: Yes, I know.
SOARES: It's not prepared to offer anything else. What can Boris Johnson realistically achieve that Theresa May hasn't? Is he a better negotiator?
EVANS: I mean, her part of the problem is when Brussels said to Theresa, you can't have this, you can't have that, she came straight back and said, well, we can't have this and we can't have that.
SOARES: So she wasn't a tough negotiator.
EVANS: It wasn't really -- it wasn't much of a negotiation. And so whatever Brussels wanted, she came back and tried to push it through Parliament. She tried to push it through Parliament three times, and it didn't work. So both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson have said that her deal is dead.
The -- so the withdrawal agreement is gone. The backstop between Northern Ireland and Ireland, absolutely gone. It has to go. So what they need to do is to look at different solutions to the problems that exist.
SOARES: You backed Theresa May on the second and third, but you're also for a no-deal Brexit, is that correct?
EVANS: No. What I'm for is keeping no-deal on the table.
EVANS: If you're negotiating --
SOARES: OK. EVANS: If you're negotiating, you've got to have the opportunity at some stage to walk away. If you're buying a car --
EVANS: -- and they know that whatever happens --
SOARES: And you think that you need to have that right at the very end --
EVANS: That's right.
SOARES: -- as a negotiating tactic?
EVANS: You're absolutely right. And both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson have that on the table and likely gets right, and even people like Amber Rudd, who is in the cabinet who is more of a pro-European.
EVANS: She changed her mind and said, no, you have to have no-deal on the table.
SOARES: But Nigel, that is extremely risky, isn't it?
EVANS: Well, no. I think it increases the leverage of the prime minister in the negotiations.
SOARES: Perhaps, but it's risky, nevertheless.
EVANS: Well, no. It strengthens the hand of the negotiator. If you take no-deal off the table --
SOARES: If you get what you want at the end.
SOARES: If it comes to the 31st and you don't have what you want --
SOARES: -- then you're really leaving --
EVANS: Well, that is damaging for the United Kingdom, it's damaging for the European Union. We've got a 95 billion-pound trade deficit with the European Union. We love buying their German cars. We love buying their French wines. We want to carry on doing that tariff-free and hassle-free.
SOARES: So do you back Boris when it comes to this do-or-die mission that he talks about?
EVANS: Oh yes, yes. Right. Well, what we've had over the past few months are local elections --
SOARES: Yes. EVANS: -- where the Conservative Party was hammered, then we have the European Union election as well (INAUDIBLE). We got hammered there with the Brexit Party. If we haven't left the European Union by October 31s, then, of course, the Conservative Party, the next round of elections will be next May with the local elections but, of course, the next general election as everybody thinks it's going to come sooner rather than later.
SOARES: That was -- if we don't reach a deal by the 31st, what's the likelihood? Are we looking for a new referendum or general election? Is that something -- I was reading an article by Tony Blair. He was actually saying -- I'm sure you read it, too --
EVANS: I did.
SOARES: -- it was in the Times. He was saying -- he was telling Boris Johnson not to go down the general election route. Do you think that's highly likely?
EVANS: The reason why he doesn't want to go down the general election is because the Labour Party are incredibly -- they're even below us in the polls. I wouldn't want an early election before we've left the European Union, but at the end of the day if we can't leave by October 31st and the maths in Parliament over this is three-quarters of the MPs remain voting MPs, then we would have to have an early general election.
SOARES: And you think Boris can change the maths in here?
SOARES: Not just within his own party but also within the DUP?
EVANS: Yes. But in the north of the United Kingdom, in the north -- you know, in England, the north of England, you've got a swath of Labour MPs where their constituents voted to leave. So I'm hoping that Boris will be able to change the dynamics there, too, and bring a number of Labour MPs on to vote for whatever deal he does come back for. Because a number of Labour MPs want to get out of the European Union as well, they need to deliver for their own constituents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Now, of course, we are moments away from finding out who will be the new head of the British Conservative Party, the future of Britain of course in on the line.
QUEST: Stay with us.
[06:32:45] QUEST: Breaking news from the United Kingdom and from London. We are awaiting the announcement of the winner of the candidate to replace Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party and British prime minister.
I'm Isa -- I'm Richard Quest.
SOARES: You're not Isa. You can't be 54.
QUEST: Well, I'm supposed to be reading that and he said it. It's the heat, the heat!
SOARES: The heat is getting to him. And I'm Isa Soares, coming to you live from Abingdon Green. It is 11:30. We're expecting in the next few minutes, probably the next 10 minutes or so to find out who will be the next British -- the leader of the Conservative Party. And as you and I talk, Richard, if we have those live images coming to you -- coming to us from inside QEII, that's when we'll find out who the winner will be. Will it be Boris Johnson or will it Jeremy Hunt?
There you are.
QUEST: There's a (INAUDIBLE) about this time around that you didn't really get with the last one with Theresa May when she took it. I mean, there you are, you say the past MPs, you see the party members coming together.
A reminder of --
SOARES: Is that Boris Johnson's father?
QUEST: It is. That is Boris' father there. And a charming chap.
SOARES: Very charming. I remember interviewing him about a year ago or so, and he said, oh no, Boris does not want to be prime minister. We knew that he always wanted it, hasn't he, Richard?
QUEST: We did. And only 160,000 members of the Conservative Party that actually voted. That is normal, by the way. It is normal that when there is a change of leader from the party in power, you just do it within the party. You don't do it through a general election although each side always says it should be. But as long as I can remember, it's always been done that way.
SOARES: It is an incredibly important day here in British politics. If you're following the last three years, you know what this means. Can the next prime minister bring about change? Can this prime minister deliver Brexit?
Let's go to Bianca Nobilo, she's outside the Queen Elizabeth Centre. Bianca, give me a sense of what's happening where you are. There are crowds there to greet whoever the winner is or the protests?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's both. So, all of the members of Parliament and other important political figures, (INAUDIBLE) and the like have gone into the room now. I was in the room just a couple of minutes ago. So they are all ready and waiting for the announcement.
I've seen Jeremy Hunt go in with his wife.
[06:35:02] We're still waiting on Boris Johnson and wondering who he might bring. In terms of what the atmosphere is like out here, there's protesters, there's pro-E.U. protesters to my left, there are pro-people's vote protesters to my right. There's what used to be Phil Collins music (INAUDIBLE) and some other exciting instruments also to my left. But here the mood is very much that this is a foregone conclusion.
For the Conservative Party, the governing party, there is a distinct feeling of hope and optimism in contrast to recent months and years in fact. Now that depends who you speak to because there are those like Chancellor Phillip Hammond who says he's going to resign if Boris Johnson wins this leadership contest. And others who are more associated with Theresa May that obviously aren't happy about an all likelihood Boris Johnson being at the helm of this country.
But for most members of the Conservative Party, this is considered to be a moment where they can have a clean break from these last couple of years of difficulty and drudgery within the government.
SOARES: Bianca, do stay with us. We're joined now by a Conservative member of the Parliament Daniel Kawczynski, a very well-known face here.
We've spoken several times, and you will remember last time you and I spoke. You were saying that you are backing Theresa May's deal. Now, can I ask you who you backed?
DANIEL KAWCZYNSKI, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: Well, I backed her deal out of desperation to leave the European Union. I voted against it on two occasions. But many in my constituency wanted me to back it because they were very worried about us missing the deadline on the 31st of March. I backed Boris Johnson to be a leader because he has given us an unequivocal commitment that we will be leaving the European Union on the 31st of October. He's nailed his colors to the mast.
QUEST: He's nailed his colors to the mast and made a promise that he may not or cannot deliver.
KAWCZYNSKI: Well, nailing your colors to the mast is a very important signal language to the European Union. We've had nothing but compromised --
SOARES: Is that a threat?
KAWCZYNSKI: -- prevarication -- no, it's compromised prevarication and gridlock and chaos and mayhem. We want a strong leader who is going to send a very strong message to the European Union, either accept that the current deal has failed to be ratified on three occasions and renegotiate or we are leaving on the 31st without a deal.
QUEST: Right, OK. We apologize in advance if I have to interrupt you because obviously if the chairman of the party comes out we'll go to that immediately. The real problem with what you've just said is that all of this happened at the beginning -- at the end of March. Theresa May for months said we're leaving on March 31st, we're leaving on -- and then when it got round to it, she couldn't deliver. Boris Johnson could face exactly the same problem.
KAWCZYNSKI: Oh absolutely. And we were talking about this, the Tory MPs were talking about this yesterday evening at a reception for the prime minister's leaving do. If we don't leave on the 31st of October, then this government could fall and it could spell a very difficult time for the Conservative Party. We've got to leave on the 31st of October. And then if we pull out, we want a general election as soon as possible. Go back to the people to ask them for a majority.
SOARES: And we're seeing images coming to us from inside the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, and that is Boris Johnson's family there, that's his sister (INAUDIBLE) was his father.
But, in doing so, it's highly risky, isn't it? It's a highly risky move from Boris Johnson. He's really boxed himself, and I know we've heard him talk right in the last few days, the sense of mission that getting the country together. What if he can't deliver?
KAWCZYNSKI: Well, look, what a lot of our businesses are telling us now is big British businesses saying, we want an outcome. We are fed up with the --
SOARES: Regardless of what the outcome is?
KAWCZYNSKI: Regardless of what the outcome is. Many businesses in my constituency are saying we are ready for a no-deal. We just want the certainty of an outcome, we don't want this prevarication, we don't want the setting of expectations to then to be told six months later it's not going to happen what you promised. We want an outcome, we want certainty.
QUEST: Do you think Europe either under the outgoing administration or the new one, the von der Leyen administration, do you think they will view it differently? Do you think that they will believe -- because if you (INAUDIBLE) and listen to what they've said, they didn't believe -- in the recent panorama program, they didn't believe that Britain ever intended to leave without a deal.
KAWCZYNSKI: Well, this is what has always happened. Every time the people of any European country have had the temerity to take on the European Union, be that in Denmark, France, or Ireland, they're being told they've made a mistake, they've got to vote again. And I think that this is exactly what the European Union was expecting. They were expecting the withdrawal agreement not to be ratified for us to back down another referendum and to overturn the results.
[06:40:02] I would say the mood of the British people is becoming more in trenchant because they see the way in which the European Union is treating us completely unreasonably. So views are getting more and more robust in this country and more and more determined that we pull out.
SOARES: Yet, do you expect Boris Johnson to be doing a summer tour of Europe going to see leaders? What would be the strategy in the coming months ahead then for him? KAWCZYNSKI: Well, we had David Cameron touring around Europe for two years. Look where that got him. No, I don't think -- I want Boris to go first and foremost to America.
KAWCZYNSKI: Because I want him to show what our intentions are about being a global country, reaching out to our single biggest trading partner by the way as an entity, as a single country. America is our biggest trading partner. Many of us want to see early progress towards a trade agreement with the United States of America.
SOARES: But surely if you're trying to get a deal, the first place you go to if you're trying to get out of Europe according to your terms, the first place you go to is Europe. Surely that would be in the most sensitive --
KAWCZYNSKI: Yes. You negotiate with Europe but you're also showing Europe what you can do as an independent sovereign nation in terms of bilateral trading agreements with very important countries. If we can get a trade agreement with the United States of America which is comparable to what the European Union has as an entity, what sort of a signal does that say? That says we don't need the bureaucrats in Brussels to design and implement our own trade agreements. We are perfectly capable of doing it ourselves.
QUEST: Final thought. Do you -- are you slightly depressed that another Tory Party leader has been felled on Europe? I mean, let's just go back, Edward Heath (INAUDIBLE) very well on it, John Major fell at the hurdle. Margaret Thatcher fell at the hurdle. David Cameron fell at the hurdle. Every single one of them fell at the hurdle of Europe.
SOARES: And Theresa May now.
KAWCZYNSKI: Even Duncan Smith.
QUEST: Yes. But he wasn't a prime minister.
KAWCZYNSKI: He was never prime minister but he was a leader.
KAWCZYNSKI: Look, all of this has been a toxic issue for my party. We joined the European Economic Community on the day I was born, the 24th of January 1972. So for 47 years, we've had nothing but turmoil. Why? Because this organization is moving towards a supranational estate. We don't believe in being part of the supranational estate. We believe in being an independent, self-governing, sovereign nation- state.
SOARES: As we wrap up very quickly. Tell our viewers right around the world, who is Boris Johnson? Describe him very quickly for us.
KAWCZYNSKI: Boris Johnson is a staunch proactive, effective campaigner, a man of charisma, and somebody who lifts people's souls. And that's what we want now at this time in our country.
QUEST: How (INAUDIBLE). Well, you don't describe him as being a good executor of policy. A man across the detail of policy. A man --
KAWCZYNSKI: Character and charisma is very important.
QUEST: Is that more important at the moment?
KAWCZYNSKI: Right. Absolutely -- character, character, persona is very, very important because we've been in a very -- we've been in the doldrums over the last three years. We need somebody to pick us up.
SOARES: Daniel Kawczynski, thank you very much.
KAWCZYNSKI: Thank you. Thanks very much.
SOARES: It's really good to see you.
QUEST: This is where it gets interesting, even more, interesting perhaps we'll say. We thought that they were going to do this at 40, 11:40 but they haven't. It's 11:43 and still no sign of Boris Johnson.
You're watching the CNN NEWSROOM. We are continuing our coverage.
SOARES: Of course, Theresa May preparing to bow out. And the man poised to become the U.K's new leader preparing to step in as you can see the right of your screen. We're bringing you that breaking news when it happens after a very short break.
Do stay with us.
[06:45:58] SOARES: Welcome back.
Any second now, we should know the name of U.K's new prime minister. The 77th prime minister. You're looking at live images there from where the announcement takes place at the QEII Centre.
QUEST: I was just trying to remember and I -- it's either the 13th or the 14th prime minister of her majesty the queen.
SOARES: The 14th.
QUEST: And I wonder whether we shouldn't try to name them all. But I forgot.
SOARES: I won't lose.
KAWCZYNSKI: Back to you. Go ahead.
SOARES: You'll do far better than I would.
QUEST: (INAUDIBLE) Churchill obviously, Churchill, Macmillan.
QUEST: Eden. Wilson.
KAWCZYNSKI: (INAUDIBLE) yes. Wilson.
SOARES: This is a test for all of you.
QUEST: Callaghan. Thatcher. Major. Major to Blair. Blair to Brown. Brown to Cameron, Cameron to May, May to --
SOARES: You think that Boris won.
KAWCZYNSKI: Well, I voted for Boris so --
SOARES: He is -- as Daniel is saying he is a clear frontrunner, Boris Johnson, but he's also, Richard, as we've been saying here on the show, a very divisive figure, is he not?
QUEST: He is. That divisiveness is what's really going to be seen out over the next few days. His challenger is the man who replaced him as foreign secretary, that's Jeremy Hunt.
Now, he has said he'll serve in a Johnson cabinet. It's rather pathetic actually the way he prostrated himself the other day at the hustings. Just sort of almost to say, oh, I could serve this man. Well, he hasn't even just (INAUDIBLE) lost to him yet.
But a growing list of top conservatives says they will not serve.
SOARES: We know Sir Alan Duncan said yesterday he won't run.
SOARES: We also heard from Phillip Hammond, as David -- David Gauke, the justice secretary. He said -- both said in fact that if Boris Johnson wins then they will step down.
QUEST: Before we go, are you expecting a ministerial call at any level?
KAWCZYNSKI: Well, I think most conservative MPs are hoping for a call of some kind. But wanting we forgot to say --
QUEST: Will you be by your phone for the next 48/7 hours?
KAWCZYNSKI: I would like to be a junior minister, yes. Yes, so I'm hoping for a call although it's obviously we have to wait and see what the prime minister says. But one thing we forgot to say is he will be our first prime minister to been -- to have been born in America.
SOARES: Very true.
QUEST: Yes. Well, he renounced -- he has renounced his U.S. citizenship over some (INAUDIBLE) which speak more volumes don't you think?
KAWCZYNSKI: Well, I don't know anything about that. I know that he was born in America.
QUEST: Yes, he was.
SOARES: (INAUDIBLE) key impact. Let me show you the live images that we've got coming in from Queen Elizabeth II Centre. Richard was saying we're expecting in the break -- we're expecting the announcement to come 11:40. That hasn't happened. You're seeing that row there, Boris Johnson's father as well as his sister. I assume that's -- who is --
KAWCZYNSKI: That's his brother.
SOARES: That's his brother.
KAWCZYNSKI: Jo Johnson, yes.
SOARES: That's his brother. So all there waiting for the announcement to come, as expected any moment now.
QUEST: One has to say, I mean, his father -- I mean, I've interviewed Boris Johnson many times. And the word charming doesn't really do him justice. He always tries to get the best answer he can.
SOARES: He really draws you in, doesn't he as a character?
QUEST: He reminds me of what they used to say about the queen, you know. He has that ability to make you feel you're just the person he was hoping would walk in the room to have a chat with.
KAWCZYNSKI: I think he won -- didn't he win "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" in the jungle which is a famous television program?
KAWCZYNSKI: He was on that and I think he won it. Yes.
SOARES: Daniel Kawczynski who is a conservative member of Parliament joining us now. But, you know, we've seen Boris campaigning these last few months but he's wanted this since he was 30. He wanted this for 40 years, doesn't he? Churchill was his hero, this is what he's ever dreamed of. KAWCZYNSKI: think everybody has tried to keep him away because they didn't know how to handle him. David Cameron asked him to become mayor of London. Let's not forget that he won London which is a very --
SOARES: Two terms, right?
[06:50:02] KAWCZYNSKI: Yes, two terms. But very labor city. He won London when the conservatives were 17 points behind in the opinion polls against the stalwart of Ken Livingstone and he held onto London twice.
QUEST: The beauty of Boris Johnson from your party's point of view is he's a personality. In a sea of mediocrity of political grayness, he stands out.
QUEST: As a person. And that will go a long way if he has to call an election.
KAWCZYNSKI: Absolutely. And, you know, I've had people coming up to me in my constituency at the council, at the hospital, at the fire station, quite extraordinary. People coming up to me and saying, are you going to be voting for Boris? We want Boris.
No member of the public is enthusiastic about politicians. They normally despise politicians. They want to keep away from politicians. This guy has got something else. People are actually interested in him.
SOARES: He's a bit of a Marmite character too, isn't he? I mean, it's -- he doesn't (INAUDIBLE) everyone's taste.
KAWCZYNSKI: You're not going to please everybody, but there is amongst a certain percentage of the electorate a genuine interest in him and in his persona.
QUEST: Thank you. Dan, don't go too far away because we do need you still here, sir.
Bianca is outside the QEII Centre. Bianca, they should have announced this what, 10 minutes, 12 minutes ago. What's going on?
NOBILO: Well, they're late, Richard. That's what's going on. So we are expecting to hear from the chairman of the party, he'll make a statement and then the announcement will be made by the chair of the 1922 Committee. But we haven't seen Boris Johnson publicly. Jeremy Hunt did arrive through the front entrance. He stopped for a moment and talks to the media with his wife. But no eyes on Boris Johnson yet from outside the centre. He may have come in through a less- public entrance, Richard.
But to what your last guest was saying, that is the sense that I got here from speaking to members of Parliament. That there is something special about Boris Johnson in their eyes. He might not be the detail-orientated politician of choice, he may well have made many gaffes but it is that charisma, that kind of political, electoral stardust that was described by one of his supporters this morning that sets him apart.
And I even remember back when I started working politics over 10 years ago that that was the effect that he had on people then, just as he does now. Even though his fortunes have sort of risen and fallen within the Conservative Party, this does seem to be the moment. The apotheosis of all of that, that Boris Johnson who is always been set on becoming prime minister, and then looked as if he was never going to get there, may finally have achieved his lifetime's ambition.
SOARES: And Bianca, do stay with us. I want to bring in Nic Robertson who is at 10 Downing Street. And Nic, apologies in advance if I have -- or myself or Richard will have to interrupt. We're waiting for the announcement of course who will be the next leader of the Conservative Party.
If -- we're talking in great detail about Boris Johnson because the bookies really have put him as the hot favorite. What about Jeremy Hunt, does he even have a chance here?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Look, he's up to his armpits if you will on the -- he's up to his armpits if you will on the foreign policy issue, Jeremy Hunt is. This is an area that Boris Johnson while he was foreign secretary too. But you might argue that as the country is in such sort of a crisis and a rising state of tensions with Iran that you might want to keep some stability by keeping Jeremy Hunt around. So there's a possibility there.
I think it's interesting that the bookies today are also now giving odds on Boris Johnson being the shortest who ever lived British prime minister. They seem to be taking also -- there will be some effort to bring him down by his own hand or by other hands or by him calling a snap election or whatever. That may not go his way.
Look, the smart money is on, he's not going to try doing that just yet. He's going to deliver Brexit as the first order of business.
But it just shows you what the bookmakers are looking at now. Giving such probable not particularly financially worthwhile odds in terms of punters on Boris Johnson because he's so much -- he used to be a shoo- in. They're now looking for other ways to fleece the public if you will of their hard-earned money. And that would be on how long Boris Johnson can actually last. And that, of course, is going to be one of the narratives here because there are so many questions a divided party, a divided government, a divided country, and a seemingly impossible task ahead of him.
SOARES: Impossible task. Huge hurdles but nothing has really shifted. The maths here hasn't changed, Nic. So how exactly is Boris Johnson going to attack this?
ROBERTSON: You know, he's probably gone from a situation where Theresa May had those hardline Brexiters, the 30 or so that will always going to stand against her in the deal as she proposed it. Boris Johnson with what he proposes may have 20, may have 40 potentially Conservative Party members who are going to try to thwart him if he tries to go the no-deal Brexit route.
[06:55:09] You know, Theresa May said many months ago that we are in uncharted territory and I think it's very difficult to predict how all this will go. There will be those within the party that will want to give Boris Johnson the opportunity to prove himself. (INAUDIBLE) that they're going to want to see what conversations he has with European leaders, what conversation he has in Brussels.
But if you listen to the narrative coming from European leaders, there is no margin for maneuver over Brexit as Boris Johnson imagines it. The op-ed that was penned by the deputy prime minister in Ireland just recently spelled that out. The deal as it stands on Brexit with the European Union is fixed. No changing it.
QUEST: Nic, thank you. Please don't go an inch away because we'll be back with you. Where we're looking at now is inside the QEII Centre. Not surprisingly the -- they're going to milk this for all it's worth, the Tory Party. And that's exactly what they're doing. And they are -- we're seeing at the moment, the -- a video being played. It looks as though --
SOARES: They -- if we -- I'm -- we can hear -- I think we can hear they're playing Churchill's speeches, Thatcher's speeches, too. Can we try to listen in? I think that's --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our future is in our hands. Together.
SOARES: -- speeches of Theresa May from Margaret Thatcher. Cameron as well, as well as Winston Churchill. These are the speeches they're playing out right now as we wait to find out.
QUEST: And the interesting thing there is who will write the next chapter it just says. There are two men --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen --
QUEST: -- Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, and former -- and here we go.
Here's the chairman of the party, the chairman of the Conservative Party.
BRANDON LEWIS, CONSERVATIVE PARTY CHAIRMAN: Good morning. And this morning marks the culmination of a contest who has shown the very best of our party. Our values, our ideas, our people, and our organization. A party that is fundamentally strong and united in its common purpose. To deliver prosperity, opportunity, fairness, and security for everyone in our United Kingdom.
I've been hugely proud as chairman of everyone in our party throughout this election. The voluntary, the Parliamentary, and professional party working together to deliver a fair and an efficient election. We've held hustings in 16 towns and cities right across the United Kingdom in every region and in every nation. Our candidates have covered some 3,000 miles, taken over 400 questions, and answered hours and hours worth of questions in interviews, culminating in that fantastic event at the XL just last Wednesday. And we've welcomed thousands of our party members and friends and family to hear directly from our candidates. In their first for a political party, we held an online live hustings open to everyone in our country and indeed, beyond.
I want to pay tribute to the team at CTHQ in particular for running both the membership ballot and these fantastic hustings. And I also want to thank my Parliamentary colleagues for their support through that process. In particular, the members of the 1922 Committee, brilliantly led by Charles Walker and Dame Cheryl Gillan who have been of (INAUDIBLE) throughout this process. And have given us such an efficient, professional and effective start and run-through this process.
And to all of the members of the Conservative Party, thank you. Those members, our friends, our family, and our colleagues have undertaken a solemn duty in choosing our next leader. Who will be this country's next prime minister? They've engaged constructively, thoughtfully, and positively in the process. A chance to choose our leader is a privilege. And I believe our party has risen to that task.
And finally, I want to take this opportunity to say a thank you to our current prime minister, Theresa May. Her leadership of our party and our country over the last three years. Something that was never going to be an easy task.
It is now paramount that we come together. That we unite as a party for our country. To deliver in the national interest. To get behind our new leader and our next prime minister. To deliver on the results of the referendum, and to deliver for the whole of the United Kingdom. And we are a party that does that best when we are united. And that's a party that will be led by one of our two fantastic candidates that we have seen out on the roads over the last few weeks.