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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
U.K. Conservatives Lose Majority in Parliament; At Least 5 Dead as Hurricane Dorian Leaves Bahamas; Twenty Victims Recovered from California Boat Fire; U.K. Parliament Debates Seizing Control of Agenda; U.S. Tariffs On Chinese Goods Went Into Effect Over The Weekend. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired September 3, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: A very good evening from Westminster. I am Richard Quest tonight. There's high drama
in the House of Commons, the Palace of Westminster behind me.
Lawmakers are gearing up to vote and seize control of the agenda, the parliamentary diary over the coming hours. And it's part of that bid to
prevent a no-deal Brexit. So where could it all end up?
According to the Prime Minister, as warned it could end in a snap election. An emergency debate has begun. Earlier in the day a surprise for the Prime
Minister, an exceptionally rare event, an MP crossed the floor, the Conservative MP, Philip Lee, dramatically crossing the floor defecting to
an opposition party, the Liberal Democrats.
In doing so, that move cost the government its working majority of one. For his part, the Prime Minister insists an agreement with the E.U. is
still possible. Boris Johnson is now warning a vote could undermine the government's ability to strike a good deal by removing the option of
leaving without one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There's one step that would jeopardize all the progress that we've made in the G7 and around the
capitals of Europe. And that is if this House were to decide that it was simply impossible for us to leave without a deal and to make that step
illegal to force us -- that's what they want -- to undermine our vision, to force us -- that's what they want to push us to beg, to force us to beg for
yet another pointless delay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Bianca is with me. The Prime Minister uses phrases like, "Surrender." "They want us to beg." He is setting the stage with an
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He was condemned about that from Jeremy Corbyn. He said he needs to revise the way that he is speaking. It
was very much setting that populist kind of mold. He was even saying that Jeremy Corbyn was becoming an agent of the European Union and its partners.
QUEST: So I'm going to go through the parliamentary diary and agenda.
NOBILO: You do.
QUEST: You stop me --
NOBILO: I have an order paper for you.
QUEST: You have an order paper. Good. Stop me when you have comment to make on it.
QUEST: So this is what is at stake in tonight's vote. If the motion to seize control fails, Parliament is virtually out of options to stop a no-
deal Brexit; if it fails, no deal pretty much goes ahead.
NOBILO: They'll try and find another way. But okay.
QUEST: If tonight succeeds, it's more complicated. Then tomorrow the bill, if then tomorrow, they would vote actually on the bill, which will
become enacted. They can get it through to make no-deal Brexit illegal.
NOBILO: Yes, they take control of the parliamentary agenda, which is usually controlled by the government. Boris Jonathan said that if they do
that, then he wants to call an election for the 14th of October.
QUEST: Boris Johnson is opposed to any extension. If the bill succeeds, the Prime Minister could still call for an early election.
NOBILO: He could do, but we know that that's complicated, because we have that Fixed Term Parliament Act. I know that you've read that, Richard, in
your spare time, which says that he needs a two thirds majority of the House of Commons in order to get that election.
But it could be a loophole of amending that act, then you don't need a simple majority of one.
QUEST: Just that purpose. How much of a parliamentary mess are we in tonight?
NOBILO: I mean, a veritable quagmire. It just doesn't get messier than this.
QUEST: Right. So let's look at it. If tonight's bill succeeds; tomorrow, they vote again. If that wins, then the Prime Minister will probably be
looking for an election.
NOBILO: Yes. And it's going to have to bounce between the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Some complicated stuff could happen there, but
QUEST: If tonight loses or tomorrow -- or tonight wins and tomorrow loses, then we're still at the question of, what happens on October the 31st?
NOBILO: Yes, if that happens, then prorogation will still happen. So Parliament will still be suspended at the end of the week, and then we will
be in parliamentary recess. So it will make it very difficult for Parliament to then intervene.
QUEST: The feeling is what? That all roads in some shape or form lead to a general election because, Bianca, if they pass their one-clause act, or
whatever, the Benn Bill, the Hillary Benn Bill. If they pass that, that still doesn't say what happens with Brexit.
NOBILO: No, it doesn't, and there's a reason for that. It's because those who are united against a no-deal Brexit don't agree on very much beyond
NOBILO: So they don't even want to think about that. You and I were just talking about how that there's clarity at certain points and then a
complete fog over others, and they don't have agreement beyond that. Some of them want to remain in the European Union, some of them want a second
referendum. Others want a deal and just want to avoid a no-deal scenario.
QUEST: So isn't the Prime Minister right when he says, we have no options. I mean, you're just once again telling me what you don't want. But, you
know, something has to give here. I mean, you know, and this morning, I was on the Heathrow Express this morning. And I was just chatting to a
gentleman from -- who had just come back from holidays. And all he said is all I want is this solved one way or another.
NOBILO: But that's how the British people feel en mass. Obviously this is, this is the area where you get the crucible of all of the frustration
But across the board, there is apathy. There's frustration. I speak to business people who say that they would have been fired if they were given
a task three years ago and still hadn't delivered it. They don't really understand why the government can't get their act together and deliver what
they promised, but even just now in the chamber, Jacob Rees-Mogg now leader of the House was saying that Parliament gets it sovereignty from the
So we have to respect the referendum result. It doesn't really matter what you parliamentarians think, but then other politicians would just disagree
and say no, we have more information now and you're incorrect.
QUEST: But the issue here, we could end up well into the weeds of parliamentary procedure, and Erskine May, which I know --
NOBILO: Is really a --
QUEST: Which is never far from your bedtime reading.
NOBILO: No, never.
QUEST: But if we do, let's says there's a vote of no confidence.
QUEST: Or at least the Prime Minister tries to get a vote of confidence or tries to get an election and he can't. What happens? Can we see a
scenario where Boris Johnson, this one-clause act goes through, so he is obliged by law to seek a delay? He said he is not going to seek a delay,
and he can't get an election. Then what happens?
NOBILO: Well, even if a government had a stonking majority and then they didn't respect a parliamentary act -- that would be unimaginable. The fact
that he now doesn't even have one, Parliament won't countenance that and Boris Johnson has been saying he wants to respect the law.
QUEST: But this act doesn't have -- well --
NOBILO: But that's why we're coming back to the election. Because at the end of the day, he can say we might not respect what Parliament does, but
we're returning to the issue of the election because that's a legal and political recourse to change things.
QUEST: We shall leave it for the moment while you go and find out more what's happening now. Thank you. Now join in the conversation. Get out
your phones and go to cnn.com/join.
Tonight, which Brexit outcome would be the best for the United Kingdom, a Brexit deal with the E.U., a no-deal Brexit or a delay of some kind or a
second referendum? Now, they're not mutually exclusive because of course, a second referendum could lead to a Brexit deal with the E.U.
But as we look at it tonight, as you stand here, well, as you watch tonight cnn.com/join. Vote now and you'll see the results on your screen.
In Europe stocks closed lower. Investors are grappling with Brexit uncertainty and the trade fears. Shares fell for the first time in four
sessions with reports ECB might soon cut rates as part of a stimulus package to pad your losses. The rally wasn't enough to flip the markets
into the green. You see that across the board.
The pound of course was also sharply lower, almost a three-year low. We'll talk about that in a moment. The day's development sent the pound against
-- the move -- well, it initially moved higher against the dollar after the government lost its majority, but it had fallen $1.20 and it touched its
low levels ever since.
So you can see where we are. Sterling has been on the slide since the beginning of the year. The prospects for smooth exit fading. The parent
is off 20 percent since the referendum.
Joining me is Vicky Pryce, Economist for the Center for Economic and Business Research. Good to see you, as always. Tell me -- talk to me
about the underlying market sentiment that's moving the pound and the FTSE.
VICKY PRYCE, ECONOMIST FOR THE CENTER FOR ECONOMIC AND BUSINESS RESEARCH: What is going on -- a lot of noise.
QUEST: We have a lot of noise. Big helicopter. Yes.
PRYCE: Big helicopter. So this is a great location to be doing this thing. The percentage that the markets and are putting on the likelihood
of leaving without the deal has increased quite considerably since Prime Minister Johnson took over and that is reflected visibly extending what
happens to the pound.
Now of course that we may even have an election and the markets are rather worried about the implications of that. You've just been discussing this
and the diverse possibilities that exist. So the markets don't like it because they know full well that no deal if that is indeed where we end up
with maybe a strike then to Boris Johnson would mean that we're going to probably be moving into a recession.
PRYCE: The likelihood of the economy slowing down even more, moving into contraction is one that worries the markets inevitably. And that's what's
going on in terms of exchange rates.
QUEST: And of course, this morning, the rate goes down on the back of the prorogation and the possibility of the government, and the general election
comes back up this afternoon. But where is its value, so to speak, in the sense that the long term -- the long term economic outlook for this country
is uncertain, at best.
PRYCE: It's not just uncertain. I mean, the likelihood is that we're going to be doing a lot worse than we're doing at present. We had a
contraction in GDP in the last quarter, which nobody really expected was going to be happening.
We have stagnation in this quarter. The Bank of England and others, including the Office of Budget Responsibility, which works with the
Treasury here has said that if we leave with a no deal, it would be at least a two percent fall in GDP next year. That's very bad news for
business, of course. It is very bad news for anyone in the markets betting on the U.K. doing well.
QUEST: So the Bank of England, I mean, following the Feds lead, in this sense, should be thinking of cutting rates.
PRYCE: Oh, not only cutting rates, but also intervening a lot more significantly by putting much more liquidity into the markets as it did --
PRYCE: QE, term loans, cheap loans to businesses to keep them going particularly if there is a no deal because there's going to be huge panic.
QUEST: Do you believe the QE bullet still has power? I know there's a lot of debate now, but actually, once your shock had gone, it really -- it
probably wasn't as effective as we like to think it was.
PRYCE: I think it was quite effective. I think without QE, we would have had a much slower growth in the world economy, much slower growth in
Term loans also help if you are giving subsidized lending to businesses. Remember that that stopped, certainly in the U.K. about a year ago. It
stopped in Europe as well. And what everyone is now contemplating, the Central Bank is they're going to start all this again, because they can see
that the economy is slowing down.
We see inflation for example, in the Eurozone, coming down very significantly. So the targets that the Central Banks have to meet just
cannot be met.
QUEST: Are we starting to see now some of those doom and gloom prognoses coming true? I saw some manufacturing numbers from the U.K. for the last
quarter that were quite terrifyingly low. Similarly, for confidence numbers.
PRYCE: And it's not just for the last quarter, it is the last few months, the last month itself. We just got the construction figures. We showed
another negative four. So that's a big issue, because the construction is quite an important part of the economy.
Manufacturing in decline. Services only just about keeping up, and that's a serious problem. Consumer confidence falling. So if you add it all,
then you've got depression coming actually in the UK.
QUEST: Okay, sort of tricky question, this one, but you'll know where I'm going in that sense. In this scenario, some would obviously prefer a deal,
some would prefer to remain; others say, "No deal and let's go." Does it really matter?
At this point, don't we just -- or doesn't the U.K. just need to do one of them and be done with it?
PRYCE: That's what it needs to do for the moment, which is not have a no deal. So that's the first thing that needs to happen. That's why they're
all voting about that.
QUEST: No, but what I'm saying, Vicky, what I'm saying is, you know, at least even if there was a no deal, we would know which way this thing is
PRYCE: It's true that uncertainty is not good for business. But if you have a no deal, which means a serious slowdown if not contraction, then
business investment isn't going to come up at all. It's already been declining for the last year, so you don't want a solution which is just
bad, because that's bad for the economy.
What you want is one of the other solutions, a deal or not leaving at all.
QUEST: Good to see you. Thank you very much indeed. The last hour of trade on Wall Street, the markets remaining in the red has investors are
reacting to weak U.S. manufacturing data and the new tariffs between the U.S. and China.
Almost the worst of the day, 330 points. Techs and industrials are the worst. Goldman is off two and a half. Boeing is down on the possibility
that the 737 MAX stay grounded until Christmas.
The S&P 500 and the NASDAQ are off one percent. It is the first trading session since U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods went into effect over the
weekend. Beijing has since retaliated. There are new levies on U.S. goods, and they filed the complaint with the WTO.
Matt Egan is following it. Now, Matt, the crucial thing is that over the weekend, and with your long holiday in the U.S., these tariffs came in
somewhat under the radar. They've been telegraphed, but actually they just sort of "in they came."
MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Well, Richard, well, listen, Wall Street does not like the tariffs. Wall Street does not like this trade war
because much like Brexit, it's bringing about so much uncertainty.
So we saw us stocks open lower after the holiday weekend after the United States and China exchanged more blows in the trade war. But that was
really expected. We knew those U.S. tariffs were coming and we knew China was going to retaliate.
What I think is really interesting is that U.S. stocks hit session lows. At one point, the Dow was down more than 400 points, after we got real
evidence of how the trade war is impacting the economy. The ISM manufacturing report showed that U.S. factory activity slowed to a three-
year low, it outright contracted in August.
Most concerning was that new export orders fell to the weakest levels since 2009, back during the Great Recession and manufacturing executives really
pinned the blame on the global slowdown and the trade war.
I have to read you Richard, there was one quote in particular from a chemicals executive who said that there's an undercurrent of fear regarding
the trade wars and a potential recession.
Now this executive was talking about the business environment. But Richard, I really think it applies right now to the stock market as well.
I think we're seeing a lot of that anxiety about the trade war and the recession play out.
QUEST: Matt, as this continues, well, it even picks up speed as obviously that you now have the tariffs in the U.S. and in Europe, we have a slowdown
in Germany, and Brexit is getting worse. Isn't a recession starting to look inevitable?
EGAN: It's certainly coming into view. Again, a lot of it has to do with how paralyzing the uncertainty is, right? Because we can we can kind of
quantify the direct costs of the trade war and maybe in some ways of Brexit. But we can't really add up all of the losses incurred by
businesses that don't know what to do whether or not to invest in the future or to lay off workers was really telling us that the U.S. Economic
Policy Uncertainty Index, which is really closely followed on Wall Street, just hit a three-year high.
And the other problem, of course, is that even though Peter Navarro, he told you just late last week that a lot of this is the Federal Reserve's
fault, the Fed doesn't really have up much ammo left right now. I mean, rates are already very low. Rates are not the problem.
And so it's hard to see how even the Fed really cutting rates is going to solve what ails the economy right now -- Richard.
QUEST: Matt Egan. Matt, thank you. The debate continues in the House of Commons, the Father of the House, Ken Clarke, is speaking. He is a man who
has been named as perhaps a caretaker Prime Minister if there was to be a vote of no confidence.
Behind me, the crowds are, I would say they are medium to large. They are relatively good natured. They're singing whenever the television cameras
turn towards them.
And as the battles heats up, what next for a no-deal or how the Parliament works through? And we're getting a full glimpse of the full extent of
Hurricane Dorian's unprecedented damage in the Bahamas, the country's tourism based economy. We'll hear from the top executives in just a
QUEST: Good evening from Westminster where MPs opposing a no-deal Brexit are trying to wrest control of the parliamentary agenda. The British Prime
Minister Boris Johnson has said the country is prepared to leave the E.U. on October 31st, no matter what.
Jeremy Corbyn however, said some MPs want a no deal to get closer to the Trump administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, LABOUR PARTY: Many on the benches opposite would relish a no deal. They see it as an opportunity to
open up Britain to a one sided trade deal, which puts us at the mercy of Donald Trump and the United States corporations. Some will increase the
wealth of a few at the expense of the many.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Sir Peter Westmacott is a former U.K. Ambassador in Washington. Do you think there is any -- I mean, there is a real danger for the Prime
Minister, is there not, if he is seen to be too close to Donald Trump?
PETER WESTMACOTT, FORMER U.K. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: I think there is. But I think we are at a pretty important moment now for a number of
reasons. Since he became Prime Minister, what Boris Johnson has done is raise the stakes by doing his prorogation of Parliament, which has upset a
lot of people because it looks like state of hand.
And rather curiously for somebody who may be facing a general election is threatened to deselect and remove the whip from a good 20 odd very senior
members of his own party. And when you've got a majority of one down to naught today, that's a slightly odd thing to do. And Conservatives that I
talked to are a bit puzzled about the tactics of it.
So the stakes are raising and the moment of truth over whether we are doing no deal or no Brexit or a deal of some sort, is beginning to come to the
On your question about with Trump. Yes, and of course, what I would say I'm afraid to disagree with Jeremy Corbyn is that the whole business of a
free trade deal with the United States is in a sense neither here nor there. It's not going to really make any difference to us if we leave the
European Union with or without a deal.
QUEST: Well, except, you know, the numbers better than I do. The U.S. is our single largest trading partner besides the European Union collectively.
WESTMACOTT: Yes. It is.
QUEST: So a free trade agreement, whilst not replicating a single market of the E.U. would go a long way to reducing some of the pain.
WESTMACOTT: We do 180 billion pounds worth of trade with the United States every year, more than with anybody else by miles. But the average tariff
on our trade with America is two percent. We don't really need a free trade deal.
And if we started negotiating one, guess what? The imbalance of many of the tariffs that exist at the moment would be abolished. It will be much
more in America's favor and that cannot be a deal with America that doesn't include importing all American agricultural products.
So it would be really hard to do that. And the idea that a tiny tweak to our trade with America, which might be 0.2 of one percent of GDP over a
decade, would offset the 40 percent tariffs that will go on our exports to the European Union of food and drink and agricultural is I'm afraid, you
So it's a nice thought and I passionately believe in trade and investment with America. But a free trade agreement is not going to make any
difference at all.
QUEST: The E.U. courts have done a standstill, a gap standstill whilst the negotiations on the future relationship took place.
WESTMACOTT: Theoretically, it could have, but the trade policy wonks, Richard would say that that only applies during a negotiation rather than
when you're trying to unwind one when you are already a member of the trading bloc. It is entirely clear that that is true.
QUEST: Right. But I guess what I'm really saying is that the E.U. makes up the rules and always has done as and when they like and you know this,
you're an Ambassador. So they make up -- they can shoot it to any way they wish if they'd wanted to. And if they'd wanted to interpret Article 50 so
that this mess didn't happen by negotiating the free trade agreement as they have done, they could have done it.
WESTMACOTT: The E.U. can't overturn the WTO rules, which are the fundamental building block of international trading relationships. You are
right in a sense that the European Union could have negotiated differently. But we went along partly, I'm sorry to say because the United Kingdom began
the Article 50 process without knowing quite what it wanted.
We went around with a sequencing, which actually meant that we were not in a great position to negotiate a free trade agreement.
QUEST: What are you hearing from your colleagues, your former colleagues, anybody involved? What are they telling you in those nice, quiet
conversations that are beautifully undiplomatic?
WESTMACOTT: The British ones or the foreigners?
WESTMACOTT: The British ones, many of them, I'm sorry to say are in a degree of despair, but doing what they're told, which is to prepare for no
deal. Many people that I talked to of every nationality are deeply worried that Boris might mean it when he says he is prepared to do no deal.
Because most of us think this will be extremely destructive, and foreigners cannot quite believe that we're daft enough to do this damage to ourselves.
QUEST: But let me put it another -- at the opposite point of view that I was saying to Vicky Pryce, you may have heard me -- the gentleman I spoke
to on the Heathrow Express returning from his holiday. He just wants it done. And he just wants -- you know, he said, he voted remain, but he
really doesn't care now. He wants over.
WESTMACOTT: Yes. And it's a perfectly legitimate point of view. We spent three years going around in circles, with uncertainty, business investment
down and all sorts of problem.
QUEST: And we're no better off.
WESTMACOTT: And we're no better off. This is exactly right. So we do want to get it done. But we don't want to get it done badly. If we jump
over the cliff, we land on the rocks, Richard.
QUEST: I hear what you say. It's been a -- but every option like tonight, they're discussing, let's assume they win tonight and tomorrow, they manage
to get their one clause bill, which then gives or mandates the Prime Minister to ask for a delay. But what happens after that delay? Isn't
Boris Johnson right when he says, "Fine, tell me what happens after my next three months delay"? The arguments haven't shifted one jot.
WESTMACOTT: More delay doesn't solve anything and of course, he might not even get that delay. The European Union might not give us a further delay,
even if he is mandated to go and ask for one or he might not like the conditions which they attach to it.
So that is by no means in the bag, regardless of how the vote goes tomorrow. But you're right, three more months is three more months of
delay. But what a lot of people would say is there is a deal out there. Theresa May's Parliament didn't like it. It can be tweaked with.
Some of the things that Boris Johnson has said have got to be changed completely -- the withdrawal agreement, the backstop -- it's not realistic,
but let's find a way of doing a deal which limits the damage to our national interest and get it done.
Your point, by all means, let's get it done. But let's not get it done wrongly.
QUEST: He would -- I mean, we are going in circles in the sense of this. By the way -- as a diplomat, how do you keep your cool and calm when you
just want to hit somebody over the head with a blunt decanter?
WESTMACOTT: I think you probably bite your tongue or you might be the right sort of disposition that you don't shout. Somebody in the White
House told me 20 years later that I had shouted at her once. I didn't believe it. But she said, "You really did." And that was when the United
States government gave visas to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness before they'd laid down their weapons. That was the only time in my career
apparently when I lost my cool.
So something about lack of courage or biting my lip or temperament.
QUEST: If you ever lose your temper -- thank you very much, sir. Good to see you. We will have more. This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Tonight, we
are live at Westminster.
RICHARD QUEST, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Hello, welcome, there's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment. When we'll be looking at the
Bahamas and discussing just how this beautiful islands recover. After you look at the aerial damage and you realize what tourism is such an important
part of the country. We'll be talking to the country's top tourism official.
Also, I was speaking to Sweden's former Prime Minister Carl Bildt. Europe is working out exactly what to do. You think the U.K. parliament's got
problems. Now imagine being Europe and wondering how on earth you negotiate forward with this bunch who can't even decide what it is they
want or let alone find a way to do it.
All of that comes after I've updated you with the global news headlines. This is CNN and on this network the facts always come first. The U.K.'s
ruling conservative party has lost its working majority in parliament. Conservative MP Phillip Lee crossed the House of Commons to join the
opposition Liberal Democrat Party as Boris Johnson was speaking.
Mr. Lee said he was leaving the Conservative Party because the government is in his words pursuing damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways. Hurricane
Dorian is now slowly moving away from the Bahamas after pounding the island for hours and days. The hurricane killed at least five people there and
caused catastrophic flooding.
The Prime Minister of the Bahamas says it's a historic tragedy. Now, the hurricane is heading towards but it's not expected to cross into the
southeastern United States. Officials are suspending the search for more than a dozen people missing after a boat caught fire off California.
The bodies of 20 people so far have been recovered, 11 women and nine men. The fire began as passengers on the three-day scuba diving trip slept below
deck. The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced sanctions targeting Iran's space program. He says the technology can be used for
nuclear missiles. The sanctions target Iran's civilian space agency and also two research organizations.
America's largest retailer Wal-Mart says it is going to stop selling ammunition for handguns. Wal-Mart says it will no longer allow people to
openly carry guns into its stores. Last month, more than 20 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas.
MPs are debating in the house behind me whether or not to take control of the parliamentary agenda from the government. If they do, Brexit becomes
ever more complicated. Nic Robertson is in Downing Street. Just, the government is expected to lose tonight, bearing in mind that it doesn't
have a working majority, and at least 10 to 15 of its own party have said they'd vote against it.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: That's what's expected, and if that happens, then they'll begin to debate on the motion
tomorrow, and they'll have to go through history-reading, both in the lower house and the upper house, if you will, the House of Lords, House of
So, there's a whole process to go through it, it will be an expedited process. So, clarity should emerge in a couple of days. However, what is
very clear is the deep divisions over this issue, not just on the -- not just on the subject matter itself, but on the procedural nature of it.
The way that -- the way that it's being handled, the Speaker of the house has been criticized by some of Boris Johnson's key lieutenants. But where
does this leave the Prime Minister? The anticipation is that he would call a snap general --
QUEST: Right --
ROBERTSON: Election if he is faced with the road block. And to that point, Jacob Rees-Mogg; the leader of the house was quite visibly goading
the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn into supporting Boris Johnson in that, calling for a snap election because currently, that seems to be --
QUEST: Right --
ROBERTSON: The only way that the Prime Minister could achieve it.
QUEST: OK, Nic, either way, let's put it -- let's get down to brass tacks, if we may. Either way, the parliamentary way forward for those trying to
do no-deal, the parliamentary way forward for a general election. Neither is obvious nor clear.
ROBERTSON: They're not. So, you're talking about dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions of brass tacks here, to be perfectly honest. I mean,
we don't know the way that this is going to go because we haven't been -- Britain hasn't been down this path before.
You have constitutional experts within parliament there questioning what the speaker is doing, questioning whether or not they should even be --
this motion should even be allowed to go to -- essentially be allowed to go to a vote because they say that the -- because the government has --
essentially has the right to continue on its path and not have parliament interrupt it.
Boris Johnson has said this will cut off the legs of his negotiation with the European Union. He's been challenged -- and his part has been
challenged many times today to show the evidence that they are making the progress the Prime Minister says he is making. This is going to get
convoluted, but it's absolutely clear, it's going to become incredibly divisive, points of order argued out.
But this is the sort of debate, if you will, these argument are the ones the MPs have been waiting to have, and now they're doing it with alacrity.
QUEST: Yes, well, the alacrity you talk, which you speak is because if they don't get it done before parliament is prorogued later this month,
then everything gets lost. Yes, you can keep certain things on the table into the next session, but by and large, all the previous work is gone.
So, though -- so those who are trying to hobble the government don't have much time.
ROBERTSON: They don't. They essentially have until the end of the week. The expectation is that there will be a vote on the motion this evening,
but tomorrow, the debate will continue, will take precedence, will continue and that this can be expedited.
Phillip Hammond; the former chancellor of the Exchequer believes he and the rebel MPs within the Conservative Party can provide the support that's
required to win the vote and they believe that they have enough time to get this through if they push hard --
QUEST: Right --
ROBERTSON: And that's the intention and that's the expectation right now.
QUEST: Nic is in Downing Street, Nic, thank you. For two days, Hurricane Dorian pounded and blasted away at the Bahamas. No wonder the Bahamian
Prime Minister described it as a national tragedy. Look at the damage involved of historic proportions. We'll be talking to the tourism
officials after the break.
QUEST: Extraordinary scenes of devastation there. This is the Bahamas following two days of being pounded by Hurricane Dorian. The Bahamian
Prime Minister has been making aerial assessment -- extraordinary levels of destruction, ruination, flooding, misery as a result. Now, the Category 2
storm sat over the island for 48 hours, destroyed homes and killed at least five people.
And that number, once you can imagine when you finally get underneath all that wreckage and see what's behind. Tourism accounts for 60 percent of
the country's $9 billion economy. Joy Jibrulu is director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, she joins me now.
Joy, we've met many times at various events and my heart goes out to you tonight at the suffering and damage to your country, to your beautiful
JOY JIBRILU, DIRECTOR GENERAL, MINISTRY OF TOURISM & AVIATION, BAHAMAS: Thank you very much, Richard, and thanking -- thank you for allowing me the
opportunity just to speak on what you rightly described as utter devastation and destruction. It is truly heartbreaking.
QUEST: Joy, I'm not going to try and put dollars before lives and we know the death numbers are going to rise. But your job is to think to the
future and that has to be what you can rebuild relatively quickly so that, you know, the practicalities, Joy, you've got to get some tourism back at
JIBRILU: That's right, and actually, one of the advantages of the Bahamas, even as we look to the fact that Abaco and Grand Bahama are our second and
third largest centers of population and tourism in terms of visitor arrival numbers and activity, following the capital of Nassau.
But with the Bahamas being an archipelago, it means that we have so many other island destinations that ostensibly remain open for business,
including Nassau and Paradise Island, which is our largest island. And so, so many people have reached out and asked in which ways that they can help.
And one of the messages is that tourism is so important for the livelihood, for the economy, the wellbeing --
QUEST: Right --
JIBRILU: Of this country. And also, to help the future growth, so to continue to visit those islands that are open will be a starting point.
QUEST: What do you need now? What do you need for Abaco and for Grand Bahama? And I assume some of those other islands have been marginally
affected by rain and flooding. What's the biggest demand that you need now?
JIBRILU: Richard, such an excellent question, and I put it to someone, that the people of both Abaco and Grand Bahama who have lost everything, I
mean, when we say everything, it is actually hard to comprehend. So, I said to someone who asked me that question, imagine what you use from the
moment you wake up in the morning until you go to sleep, and things that we just take for granted.
So of course, the immediate supplies of fresh water. On Abaco water table has been contaminated, so, there's no portable drinking water. But water
is essential for life and every aspect of it.
But they need food, they need canned goods and one thing that we have learned, people send canned foods and they forget to send can openers. So,
you're talking about basic practicalities. I mean, you need -- they need toothbrushes, tooth paste.
You know, we always remember babies who need feeding formula and diapers, but we have such large population --
QUEST: Right --
JIBRILU: Of elderly people and they also have their specific sanitary needs as well. So, it runs the gamut, but of course, they want some type
of cot to lie their heads on at night, tarps --
QUEST: Yes --
JIBRILU: To cover themselves against the persistent rain --
QUEST: So --
JIBRILU: Everything that you could imagine. There is nothing that's too small or too big that is not desperately needed on the islands of Abaco --
QUEST: Right --
JIBRILU: And Grand Bahama.
QUEST: And if we look at Nassau and if we look at the other islands, the level of damage that was there because that will be significant for you,
bearing in mind what you were saying about how -- Nassau obviously with the cruise ships and the shipping that's coming here, the ability for that part
of the economy to still function.
JIBRILU: That's right. And so, you know, it is through it all, there are blessings and one of the blessings is that our cruise port in Nassau is
still open, the airport, the main gateway into --
QUEST: Right --
JIBRILU: The Bahamas remains open. All our hotel offerings from the big resorts to the globally well known, whether it's lanches in Bahamas,
they're all open. So, employment continues. And what is key about that, the people who live in Nassau --
QUEST: Right --
JIBRILU: All have families, who live in these out islands. So, the fact that Exuma --
QUEST: Of course --
JIBRILU: And in the United Kingdom and Europe, Exuma is known, it's the home of the swimming pigs, that is untouched, Long Island, they remain
open, literally remains open. And so that we can lend much needed support from a local level. Notwithstanding that this -- the destruction, what has
taken place is bigger than even the totality of the Bahamas --
QUEST: Right --
JIBRILU: And Richard, just allow me to say thank you to the world for reaching out the kindness, the empathy from governments, from private
sector, from individuals, saying how can we help? Because I think this has touched a nerve, that this is what nature at its worst can do.
QUEST: Joy, I wish we were talking on happier circumstances, but I will see you in Nassau a month after next as -- when we come to have a look and
see exactly how you are faring and how you're recovering. Looking forward to that, Joy, thank you for joining us, for taking the time to talk to us
tonight. This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, we'll have more after the break.
QUEST: If most British people don't know what's happening with Brexit, imagine the level of confusion for the European Commission as it tries to
work out what the next steps will be coming from London. Not surprisingly, the commission's spokesman said it was best to be prepared for any
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MINA ANDREEVA, CHIEF SPOKESPERSON, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Our working assumption is that there will be Brexit on October 31st, whether it's the
most likely scenario, I would say that it's a very distinct possibility which is precisely the reason why we do launch this final call tomorrow for
everyone to be prepared in case a no-deal Brexit occurs which remains and is not our desired scenario.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Carl Bildt is with me, former Prime Minister of Sweden, joins me from Stockholm. Good to have you, Mr. Bildt. The level of confusion and
permutations for way out this mess has just got ever more complicated. What should Europe do while all this takes place?
CARL BILDT, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF SWEDEN: I mean, not very much to do. I wait and see. I think some people are still struggling to trying to
understand what might be coming out of London. A lot of people have just given up because it gets too complicated and too unpredictable and too much
turmoil and too much turbulence and uncertainty.
And the only thing that Europe can do, the EU is really to prepare for the different conditions. If there's an agenda and reel from the U.K.
government, from Boris Johnson to have a deal of some sort, based on what - - and besides, and you see they're ready for them. If there's a crashing out with all of the negative consequences you request, you're ready for
QUEST: But if, for example, Boris Johnson is told to go and ask for a further three month delay, whether he does it or not, would Europe be
minded to grant a further delay? If you remember, the last time they were asked this in the Spring, the French said, well, not really, and any future
delay has to have something else attached to it.
BILDT: Yes, and I think obviously, it'd be the attitude. There will be a great reluctance to have a further delay. But at the end of the day, EU is
not going to throw the U.K. out. The EU does not want the U.K. to leave. The EU -- one would like them to stay at the end of the day.
But if there's a prospect for some sort of solution or some sort of new arrangement in the U.K., that makes it possible to have a withdrawal
agreement that is decent, then I'm quite certain at the end of the day, they'll agree to further delay.
QUEST: From your understanding, is there anybody in the EU quietly and privately saying, oh, for goodness sake, let's just ditch the backstop,
let's get rid of it or find a way of fudging it so that Johnson can get the agreement through parliament?
BILDT: Not really, because I mean, that boils down to the fundamental principle of not abandoning the member state. The issue of the backstop of
the Irish border, the Ireland peace agreement is a question of not only the principles, but also solidarity with the member state of the Republic of
And the other 26 members are not going to throw Ireland under the bus on this. There's got to be a solidarity with whatever position on this that
the Republic of Ireland takes. And add to that, it impacts also the very principle of the integrity of the single market.
BILDT: That being said, if there are any new ideas from U.K., I'm quite certain they will listen to them. I understand the word from Russians
QUEST: Right --
BILDT: Is that they haven't heard anything new.
QUEST: Bildt, thank you for joining us tonight from Stockholm, good to see you, sir. Now, tonight's profitable moment, a thought before I leave you,
I didn't think I'd be sitting in this chair once again watching the level of parliamentary machinations to this extent.
But the more I think about it, the more inevitable it actually probably was. The arguments have not changed since you and I sat here in the
Spring. It's still a question of, if you don't have a no-deal Brexit, what do you put in its place? Bearing in mind the withdrawal agreement is not
acceptable to large parties -- in a number of parties in parliament.
It's six of one, half a dozen of the other. It'd be damned if you do, it'd be damned if you don't. And the level of confusion has merely multiplied
with a new Prime Minister who seems hell bent on a no-deal Brexit or potentially going for a general election.
But even then, it's impossible to see how you get there without more chaos and confusion. Tonight, I wish I could offer you some idea of the way
forward. I can't. So, it merely remains for me to say that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight, I am Richard Quest in London. Whatever you're up to
in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable.