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New Tropical Depression Forms off Florida's Coast; CEO of Seized Tanker Talks to CNN; U.K. Conservatives Announce Party Leader; Europe Braces for Brexit. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 23, 2019 - 06:30   ET



[06:33:21] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We do have some breaking news for you because South Korean fighter jets have fired hundreds of warning shots at a Russian aircraft that flew over the Sea of Japan. So South Korean defense officials say the Russian plane entered South Korean airspace twice during a joint Russian/Chinese military exercise.

We are just learning that Japan also scrambled fighter jets in response to this incursion, they say. Moscow is furiously disputing this account. They insist its aircraft were operating over neutral waters.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: Meantime, the Trump administration is changing immigration rules to speed up deportations without a hearing. The new expedited removal procedures, as it's called, covers undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who cannot prove they have lived here continuously for at least two years. Previously the fast track rules only covered undocumented immigrants caught within 100 miles of a land border and within two weeks of arrival. The ACLU says it will challenge the plan in court.

CAMEROTA: All right, the rain last night in the northeast was epic. Torrential rain left behind ankle deep water in Brooklyn, as you can see on your screen. Cars were stuck in flood waters in New Jersey. And here's a miserable scene. A downpour floods an underground subway platform. Yuck. Thousands still without power in the Northeast as this new tropical depression threatens Florida.

So CNN's meteorologist has his hands full.

Chad Myers, what is your forecast?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: As always, cold front does run through New York City today, drying it out. But there's a lot of rain up there. Flooding from Yonkers all the way over toward about Bridgeport. We'll watch that for you for the next couple of hours.

But we do have a new tropical system trying to develop across parts of the Bahamas. It should stay away from the East Coast of the U.S.

[06:35:05] This weather is brought to you by Xyzal, all night, all day allergy relief.

So let's get to it. Cooler air is on the way, and that cooler air is going to catch this tropical depression number three that should be Chantal at some point in time. But it's going to push it away from the U.S. Maybe a few showers for the Carolina coast, somewhere on Wednesday or Thursday night. Other than that, that's it.

This is how the map goes. There goes Chantal or three and it catches up with this cold front and gets pushed offshore. Now, it's a cold front that will dry things out as well. It will feel so much better behind the front. Even though there's some showers along the front, it will feel so much better.

New York City going to be even below normal for a couple of days. D.C., 83 for tomorrow. And a pleasant week all in all as that cold front continuously changes our forecast from where we were, at heat index of 110, now we don't have a heat index at all.


GREGORY: Chad, we'll take that.

When -- by the way, we want to know when Chantal becomes Chantal. That's what I want to know, when it officially becomes Chantal.

MYERS: All right.

CAMEROTA: Alert us.

MYERS: I will.

GREGORY: Chad, thank you very much for some of that better news about cooler air.

Meantime, we're minutes away from a leadership announcement that will likely determine the next prime minister of the U.K. Will controversial leader Boris Johnson secure the top spot? We'll have more on that coming up.


[06:40:40] GREGORY: Now to a CNN exclusive.

Tension with Iran continues to escalate following the seizure of a U.K. flagged ship by the Iranians last week. Iran released this short clip of what it says is the crew of the ship.

CNN's Melissa Bell live in Sweden this morning with her exclusive interview with the CEO of the company operating this seized tanker.

Melissa, good morning.


It is a British flagged ship, as you said, but owned and operated by a Swedish company that is based here in Gothenburg in Sweden. We got to speak to the CEO of the company yesterday, Stena Bulk. Erik Hanell squarely contradicting what Tehran had said were the sequence of events that led to the ship's seizing.


ERIK HANELL, CEO, STENA BULK: Iran has said that its been in Iranian waters, but as far as we see and it's confirmed that they were not.

BELL: Iran also claims that it was violating maritime law. What is your response to that?

HANELL: I mean, everything we see, and we see quite a lot from the ship, we -- basically everything. There's nothing that shows us that we have been violating any kind of laws and the national seaways laws or anything like that.


BELL: I also asked him, David, what kind of communication he had managed to establish with Iranian authorities, and the answer was very little. Repeatedly the company has tried to reach out to Iranians to try and organize the rescue of the ship or indeed to get access to its crew. All that Teheran has done, he said, was acknowledge receipt of the request but hadn't formally answered it.

So you see, in all those days, they really haven't managed to establish any channels of communication. Clearly that is a priority for them and they're continuing to try and do it through British and Swedish authorities. But although that cooperation is going well he said, he did contradict what the British foreign secretary had told British lawmakers yes -- yesterday about the fact that the ship had not given sufficient advanced warning to the British navy in order to allow its rescue before it reached Iranian waters. Erik Hanell said that as far as he was aware, that had not been the case and it would surprise, him said, very much.

He also warned of the longer term dangers for trade for the global economy if this particular strait, this particular Strait of Hormuz is part of the world, this shipping lane that is so crucial to international commerce, comes to be seen as dangerous as it seems to be becoming.


GREGORY: I'll take it, actually, Melissa. Thank you so much. Melissa bell in Gothenburg (ph), Sweden, this morning.

Lawmakers in the U.K. are selecting the new leader of the conservative party. That person will likely succeed Theresa May as prime minister. That is coming up next.


[06:46:54] CAMEROTA: All right, we do have some breaking news right now. Yes, that is an empty podium for a very good reason, because Britain's governing conservative party is about to announce their new party leader as Theresa May resigns as prime minister tomorrow. So we are waiting for that announcement and CNN's Bianca Nobilo, who is live now in London with the breaking details.

This is running a tad late. We were hoping to know by now, but how's it looking?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are running just a touch late. I've been inside the exhibition center behind me where the announcement is going to be made. We've seen Jeremy Hunt, one of the contenders to leader of the conservative party, go in there. Boris Johnson is the man that all of the conservative members are going to be looking at today because in all likelihood, Alisyn, he is the person who's going to win this contest and so become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom. He's been the darling and favorite of the governing conservative party for many years now. But it's always been touch and go as to whether or not he could actually grasp the top job because he had a history of bobbling it at the last minute. He is fairly gaffe pone, has been likened to the U.S. president as well in his political maverick kind of style.

In fact, just the other day, President Trump said that he had spoken to Boris Johnson rather preemptively as he's not yet the prime minister here in the United Kingdom, but the two men get along well. So that's going to be a huge focus of his premiership if he does indeed get that nomination today.

So we're just going to see whether or not the announcement is coming in the next couple of minutes. Then we should hear that Boris Johnson, in all likelihood, becomes prime minister. Then tomorrow is the day where the prime ministers will switches over and Theresa May will go to the queen to officially resign and then Boris Johnson will follow her to officially become prime minister and then move himself into 10 Downing Street.


GREGORY: I'll take it here, Bianca, thank you. A pretty raucous scene there. Sounds like a live aid concert, not an announcement of a political party.

CAMEROTA: There's a lot of music and shouting.

GREGORY: Yes. So, anyway, the big question in all of this, whoever's the next prime minister, expecting to be Boris Johnson, what will Brexit, that divorce from the European look like -- actually look like in practice if Boris Johnson becomes the next prime minister?

CNN's Nic Robertson is live at 10 Downing Street with some perspective on that.

So, Nic, we know that Boris Johnson was actually an architect, was the initial front man of the idea of this divorce of the U.K. from the European Union. What is the expectation?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, sure, I mean this is the issue that failed the last two prime ministers. Johnson is expected to be more divisive than Theresa May. The party is already divided. One of his primary jobs coming in, obviously to pick the new cabinet, but there will be many people in his party, as well as the cabinet, who don't support the do or die Brexit strategy, the leave without a deal come the 31st of October. A so-called hard Brexit is his position on that. So that is going to be a big challenge for him.

He will have a few other issues. There's a possibility of a general -- snap general election sometime in the near future. He'll have to set a couple of issues on the health service and education straight to win a few extra votes there if it comes to that.

[06:50:04] But the big issue that he's going to walk into here is the rising tensions with Iran. The government's position right now is to seek a coalition of security support in the Persian Gulf from Europe rather than the United States. Boris Johnson has said that one of his primary missions, one of his first things he'll want to do in office, is go see President Trump. Will he turn the Britain to work with the United States in the Gulf? That's if the United States will have it. Those are the challenges he faces.

CAMEROTA: All right, everyone is waiting with baited breath.

Nic, thank you very much. We'll come back to you as soon as it happens.

So, of course, we're awaiting this announcement, as you can see on the screen, of the leader -- the new leader of the conservative party in the U.K. It has all sorts of implications of course for the U.S., as well as Europe. So that decision, next.


GREGORY: As we have been saying, the conservative party in Britain is about to select a new leader of its party. Boris Johnson is favored to win, which would set him up to likely become the new prime minister.

[06:55:04] So what does that mean for the future of Brexit?

Joining us now, Peter Westmacott, the former U.K. ambassador to the United States.

Ambassador Westmacott, it's so good to see you and hear from you this morning.


GREGORY: So help our audience understand, even if we'd been following Brexit, which, again, is that official divorce of the U.K. from the European Union, tell us about Boris Johnson. Who is he? What does he represent? What does he have to do with the future of Brexit?

WESTMACOTT: Boris Johnson is quite a chameleon. He's a politician who's got great charm, extraordinary public recognition, has created a role of something of clown, charlatan, joker, even liar. He has always had lots of high profiles, and now he seems to be on the verge of getting his heart's desire, which is the keys to number 10 Downing Street. And he will become the prime minister.

What's going to be difficult for him is that he's going to have to move beyond. He's going to have to change a gear, David, from having been the clown, the guy who ruffles his hair and makes sure he looks like a mess and plays the fool and tells not very good jokes, which don't translate for foreigners, which he tried as foreign secretary. He's now going to have to assume responsibility with some really difficult issues, There's Brexit. There's Iran. There's the economy. There's a whole series of issues. And so it's a bit (INAUDIBLE) clearly able to do all these things, but we will learn a great deal from, first of all, the size of the majority he gets (INAUDIBLE) to be announced. And (INAUDIBLE) to help him navigate the United Kingdom through the really difficult coming months, especially on Brexit. That will give us some clues as to how well he's going to try and do this job.

GREGORY: Yes, and on that point, Peter, so people understand, the big deal for not just the economy in the U.K., but the broader economy in Europe and indeed the world, is if the European Union is saying right now to the U.K., look, Brexit is going to happen. We're going to have this split. There's no new negotiation. Boris Johnson has said, no, maybe we can get better terms.

If he's not able to get better terms, what is the damage of that, of just all -- what is called a hard split?

WESTMACOTT: Yes, Boris will -- will try to get some minor improvements to the package which Theresa May tried and failed to sell to the British parliament after it had been agreed in Brussels. Now, I'm hearing from Tory's that I -- conservatives that I talk to that Boris' heart isn't really in the idea of trying to get some improvements because the substantive changes that the British parliament will want are probably nonnegotiable. So he is planning, I hear, to be moving towards a no deal Brexit on or around the 31st of October.

Now, there's plenty of things that can change between now and then. Parliament will try to block a no deal Brexit because it would be very destructive to the British economy, damaging for Europe. It will create all sorts of budgetary and constitutional and other crises quite apart from the economic damage. But the chances at the moment are quite high that Boris Johnson tries to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union, as I say, around the end of October with no deal. And that will be, I think, very damaging to the British economy, which is why so many British politicians are not going to go along with that.

Can they stop it is another debate. There's a -- there are questions as to whether parliament has that power or doesn't have that power. Boris will want to deliver Brexit one way or another. If it's easy to do it with a revised deal, he'll take it because it's less disruptive. But if he can't, then he sounds ready and willing to go over the edge of a cliff, as some people put it here, with a no deal Brexit.

GREGORY: So, Peter, let me get your take then as we -- as our viewers are watching in the center of your screen the conservative party in London preparing, we believe, to announce that it's official that Boris Johnson would become the head of the conservative party and therefore prime minister.


GREGORY: But, Peter, so give me your take on a Boris Johnson prime minister, his relationship with President Trump and the United States. What's that relationship like? We have this area of tension, obviously, with Iran, where there's very much a U.S. view of how to deal with this, and a European view of how to deal with it.

WESTMACOTT: Yes. Well, earlier on, during the campaign for 2016 elections in the United States, Boris was quite critical of candidate Trump, calling him stupid, (INAUDIBLE) ignorant and not fit for office and all sorts of other stuff. But then plenty of people have done that.

Clearly what's happened now, fast forward three years, is that Boris Johnson and President Trump seem to have good chemistry, a good relationship. The president called him up the other day. I imagine we'll be delighted if he, as expected, announced as prime minister very shortly. And my guess is he will want to (INAUDIBLE) can help Boris make (INAUDIBLE) his mission.

[07:00:00] The president is (INAUDIBLE) very keen on Brexit. Boris Johnson says he's determined to drive Brexit through. That may be helpful, although personally I've never taken.