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Interview With Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis; Interview With Shadow Chancellor Of Exchequer Rachel Reeves; Interview With National Review Editor-In-Chief Rich Lowry. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 23, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everyone, welcome to Amanpour. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, GREEK PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Hope defeated pessimism, and unity defeated division.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In a world first since he handily beat the opposition, I asked Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, how he turned the nation from
the sick man of Europe to success story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL REEVES, SHADOW CHANCELLOR OF EXCHEQUER: I'm here in the U.S. to say under a Labour government, Britain will be open for business and that we
will restore our economic dignity, both at home and abroad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The U.K.'s finance minister in waiting pitches back to cool Britannia, a Britain open for global business.
And enter Tim Scott.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for president of United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: As the Republicans' only black senator enters the presidential race, Walter Isaacson asks Rich Lowry, the editor-in-chief of the National
Review, who could beat Donald Trump to the nomination?
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
And we begin with the rehabilitation of Europe's former problem child. Greece has come a long way since it stood on the brink of bankruptcy a
decade ago after years of painful austerity measures, tax hikes, pension cuts, and huge bailout checks. Its post pandemic economy is now outpacing
the eurozone average.
And, despite a spying scandal, rising inflation, and a traffic train crash that caused the death of 57 people, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis'
center-right party tapped into underlying optimism, especially among younger voters to win a convicting victory on Sunday. And he joins me now,
exclusively in the first interview since his party's election win on Sunday.
Prime Minister, welcome back to the program.
KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, HELLENIC REPUBLIC PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Thank you, Christiane. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, can I just ask you, because I don't know whether you were surprise, but everybody else was surprised that not just that you won a
majority, but a thumping majority. Were you taken by surprise?
MITSOTAKIS: Well, first of all, I was expecting a victory of my party. We've done probably better than many people expected. We still have not won
an outright majority, that is why we will require a second election on the 25th of June with another electoral law.
But I think that the results have been extremely encouraging. We have delivered our main commitment, which I undertook four years ago, and I
think the Greek people have rewarded us, not just for the progress that the economy has made, but also, they bought into our plan for a future. For a
Greece that is much more prosperous, that is going to get closer to Europe when it comes to wages. And overall, it has been, I think, a convincing
electoral victory on our side, and of course, I am very happy about it.
AMANPOUR: So, despite what everybody is calling a success story and the growth that we talked about in the economy and all that you've put into
motion, on a granular level, according to E.U. statistics, almost a third of Greek people still are at risk of poverty. You obviously know that.
What will be your -- if you get a second term, which you expect to, what would be the way you will make the macroeconomics actually trickle down to
actual people's livelihoods?
MITSOTAKIS: Well, first of all, Christiane, we have to realize how painful the crisis was for Greece. We lost 25 percent of our GDP, and it is not
easy to make up for all this lost ground. I'm very happy that the economy has been growing much faster than the eurozone average and it has been
growing faster on the back of significant increase in investment, in productivity, in exports and innovation.
And, of course, in order for us to bridge this gap with Europe, we need to deliver even faster growth than what we have achieved so far. I think we
know how to do it. We have to turned Greece into a very attractive investment destination. We have lowered taxes. We have brought down
unemployment by more than 6 percentage points. We have leveraged the country's significant comparative advantages, and I do intend to continue
down that path should the Greek people place their trust in us again.
For us, the most significant priority is to bring up wages. I fully understand that wages how are still low Greece. The cost-of-living crisis
has taken its toll. Yes, we have lower inflation in Greece than in most other European countries but we still need to do more to support disposable
income, but we cannot do that by mortgaging our future, and that is why it is particularly important for us to remain on a path of fiscal
I am really proud about the fact that we have delivered high growth rates, while at the same time, bringing down our debt as a percentage of GDP. And
that is why nobody, Christiane, today, is talking about Greece as being a problem within the eurozone. If you look at the way that our bonds have
been trading. We still have not reached investment great, but our bonds are essentially trading as if we are already there.
And I do expect to be able to deliver the investment great milestone to the country, assuming we have a strong government after the elections of the
25th of June.
AMANPOUR: So, let me talk about that, because you have to get through, I think, a few hurdles before the 25th of June. First and foremost, it is
clear that your migration policies resonated with the people in your country. However, it has probably not escaped your attention that the E.U.,
the commissioner for migration has sent a message to the Greek authorities for a full and independent investigation of what was broken by "The New
York Times," which is the allegation that your government basically illegally allowed the sort of setting adrift some migrants in the Aegean.
And I want to play a video that I know that you have seen, which is what the E.U. -- sorry, "The New York Times" got exclusively from the actual aid
worker in question, which shows migrants, these migrants being put onto a truck and them being put onto a boat, then onto a coast guard boat, and
finally being set adrift in the -- on a raft in the Aegean.
So, my first question to you is, will you order your government to make a full and independent investigation of what happened?
MITSOTAKIS: I have already done so, Christiane. I take this incident very seriously. It is already being investigated by my government. So, that's a
very straightforward answer to your question.
But I want to also make a broader point about migration, which I think will be of interest to your viewers. Back in 2015, 75 percent of all of the
illegal migrants who arrived into Europe came to Greece. We essentially had an open border policy, and this put the whole sort of Schengen (ph) zone in
Europe under tremendous pressure.
I've been advocating since I came into power for a tough but fair border control policy, and I can tell you that the less people we have at sea, the
less risk we have of people dying at sea. And I am very, very happy that we have significantly reduced the -- we have essentially killed the business
model of the illegal smugglers. We have fewer people, significantly fewer people arriving on Greek island.
But at the same time, we also are able to shelter them in humane facilities. We have significantly accelerated our asylum procedures and we
have also addressed a very painful problem, which was the issues -- the issue of unaccompanied minors, which we also inherited when we came into
power four years ago.
So, I think we have an overall comprehensive migration policy, and I think we've also made the case to Europe that you cannot have a comprehensive
European approach to migration unless you control your external borders. At the same time, you need to open legal pathways to migration, but you need
to crack down on the smugglers. They are the ones responsible for putting people at risk at sea. And frankly, this is something that my government
simply cannot tolerate.
AMANPOUR: Can I just be absolutely clear that you do not approve, or whatever the correct word is, your government does not willingly engage in
setting these vulnerable people adrift in the sea --
MITSOTAKIS: Absolutely. Absolutely not.
AMANPOUR: -- including children?
MITSOTAKIS: Absolutely not. I want to be absolutely clear about that. I've made numerous times the distinction between what you showed, which is a
completely unacceptable practice, and between our obligation, which we feel is within the scope of the European regulation of actually intercepting
people at sea on our seaboard with Turkey and then asking for the Turkish coast guard to actually come and pick these people up.
So, I know the Greece has been getting its fair share of criticism when it comes to pushbacks, but very few people are actually addressing the issue
of push forwards, and that, by push forwards, I mean, the activities undertaken by Turkey, by the Turkish coast guard, to aggressively push
people, desperate people on basically inflatable boats that should never be sea worthy to sea and pushing them into our territory waters.
AMANPOUR: So, then, let me ask you about Turkey, because clearly, there have been frosty relations between you and President Erdogan, who also is
in the midst of an election campaign, and will also face a second round.
Not so long ago, the two of you, you know, about a year ago, after an argument about weapons sales, he said about you, he no longer exists for
me. You have admitted to "very, very difficult moments with Erdogan." You immediately rushed to help after the earthquake. Have relations been
normalized in -- between you two?
MITSOTAKIS: Well, first of all, let me point out, as you said, that we were the first to send our help teams to Turkey after the devastating
earthquake. And I think it is very important to preserve the good people to people relationship, and I think this gesture really helped us a lot to
build some positive momentum between our two countries.
I cannot comment, you know, on the outcome of the Turkish elections. They will also -- they're having a second round. We're also going to be having a
second election, but I also know that the Turkish foreign policy is not going to change from one moment to the next. Turkish foreign policy over
the past years has been revisionist. What they call their Blue Homeland doctrine is clearly threatening Greek sovereignty and Greek sovereign
rights, and we have an obligation to defend the sovereignty and our sovereign rights.
At the same time, I will be the first, Christiane, to always make a gesture of goodwill towards Turkey, hand out, you know, my hand in a gesture of
friendship. I think there is a way of resolving our main issue, which is the delimitation of a maritime zones in the Aegean and the Eastern
Mediterranean as long as we adhere to international law.
We've been able to delimitate our maritime zones with Italy, we did the same with Egypt. There's no reason why we counted the same with Turkey, as
long as we agree that we need to adhere to good neighborly relations and use the toolkit of international law to solve our disputes.
So, I would hope that if -- you know, after the next elections, President Erdogan continues, and I also have the honor to serve my people as prime
minister, that, you know, things will -- could continue to improve. But at the same time, I am not naive and I know that the foreign policies of
countries don't change from one moment to the next.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you again, it's an issue that I think affects both Turkey and Greece, particularly -- especially around migrants? So, as you
know, for many years, the E.U., you know, gave Turkey a bit of a pass and also a lot of money to keep, you know, Syrian refugees and others there
rather than let them come into Europe.
It is said that the E.U. has also created so-called the Mitsotakis exception regarding migrants coming into your country, because you are
stopping them coming from further into the E.U. Do you see it that way? I mean, you're doing certain things that maybe other countries might not have
been, you know, so praised for and yet your country is?
MITSOTAKIS: Well, Christiane, I have an obligation to protect my borders. My borders also happen to be the external borders of the European Union.
And if you turn the clock back to March 2020, when President Erdogan, you know, willingly tried to instrumentalize a plight of tens of thousands of
migrants and tried to push for them into Greek territory, we defended our border. And two days later, we had the entire leadership of the European
Union at the Greek-Turkish border applauding what we did because, at the same time, we're not just protecting the Greek border, we're also
protecting the European border.
And I think there has been a gradual change in the European policy at the level of European Council, recognizing that we need to protect our external
borders if we want to have a zone of free movement of people within the European Union. We simply cannot live in an environment where we let
anybody come in because then, eventually, what you will see is what happened in 2015 and you will see border closures within the European
Union, which is exactly what happened. And I never want my country to be facing its similar situation again.
So, I think that there has been a change at the European level recognizing the need to protect our external borders, while the same time making sure
that we streamline our internal migration policies, that we work together to send people back, those who have entered the European Union illegally.
But also, I will stress this, because this is, for me, extremely important, to make sure that we have legal pathways for migrants who want to come to
work in the European Union. Let me just give you an example in Greece, we're bringing down unemployment very, very quickly. We are already in
need, for example, for agricultural workers, and are much more preferred to have bilateral arrangements with countries of origin where people could
come to Greece and work legally without having to undergo the torture of a very, you know, treacherous trip.
So, they come to Greece legally. They work here legally. They are insured. And they can return to their country. This is a win-win proposal, and we
need to work much more towards that goal.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about your second term priorities, because the train crash was tragic. The loss of life was just tragic. It also, for many
people, highlighted some of the major infrastructure issues. You know, you've done a lot with apps and reconfiguring people's relationship with
government but they say, hang on a second, underneath there's a lot that needs to be done, whether it's in schools and the inequality piece. What is
your domestic priority for a second term should you get one?
MITSOTAKIS: I have big ambitions for our second term. And I know that in order to transform, you know, a country such as Greece, you need at least
two terms in order to be able to do that. We need to continue to have growth rates that are significantly higher than the eurozone average, which
means more investment, more job creation, but at the same time, also very much advocating a very progressive agenda when it comes to public health,
public education, and the reduction of inequalities.
If you ask me what is sort of my one overarching priority, it would be to deliver higher growth rates by reducing inequality at the same time. And we
have actually reduced inequality over the past two years because we have offered targeted assistance during the pandemic and during the cost-of-
living crisis to those who required it the most.
At the same time, I am really pushing our green and digital agenda. And of course, the modernization of the state, as you pointed out, is a big
priority for the second term. I think that we've done incredible things when it comes to facilitating the interaction of Greek citizens with the
state in terms of using technology, but we know that there's still lots of issues when it comes to the hard-core public sector that we need to
address, and this will certainly be one of my priorities should I have the opportunity to serve for a second term as prime minister.
But I think what is important to understand when it comes to the recollection is that we have basically been able to defeat, you know, the
populist opposition for a second time in a row. And I think that it is proof that, at the end of the day, if you deliver results for people, you
know, the populist narrative, you know, the fantasies of easy solutions over tangible results, this is, I think, an encouraging message for
everyone, certainly in Europe, that if you can actually deliver real change for people, people will reward you in the ballot box.
And for me, this has been the most encouraging message of this election. Not only do we increase our, our share of the vote, our actual number of
votes but also, the opposition, the populist opposition was essentially destroyed in this election. We have a 20-point margin. We gained twice as
many votes as they did.
So, I think there's something happened in Greece which, I think, will resonate across other liberal democracies when it comes to this sort of
inherent fight between people who are focused on offering solutions and those who are just engaged in the lovely politics of offering empty
AMANPOUR: All right. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, thank you for joining us and we will hopefully have this conversation again after the
next round. Thank you very much, indeed.
MITSOTAKIS: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Now, it has certainly been a turbulent year for the U.K. Three prime ministers, a new monarch, a cost-of-living crisis, and the worst mass
strikes in decades. Inflation in the U.K. at over 10 percent is the worst in Europe and much higher than here in the United States.
And while the IMF has delivered better news today, upgrading the U.K.'s growth forecast, the average citizen there is likely to still feel the pain
as they try to make ends meet. The ruling conservative party recently took a pounding in local elections. And the main opposition, Labour Party, as
seen by many as a government in waiting. But what is their vision for rebooting Britain? I found out from the party's shadow chancellor of the
Exchequer, Rachel Reeves. Here in the United States to sell that vision.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
Rachel Reeves, welcome to the program.
RACHEL REEVES, SHADOW CHANCELLOR OF EXCHEQUER: It's great to be here.
AMANPOUR: You are here in the United States, meetings in New York and Washington. You have said that your aim is to restore our economic dignity
at home and abroad. How and what do you even mean?
REEVES: Well, the U.K. economy has had a few challenges in the last few years. A botched Brexit deal, a response to the pandemic where we are still
smaller as an economy than we were before the pandemic. The U.S. economy, for example, is about 5 percentage points bigger than it was before the
AMANPOUR: How do you account for that?
REEVES: We haven't built that strength and resilience in the U.K. economy. And also, that link between hard work and fair reward for too many working
people has broken down, and that's posed real challenges for us --
AMANPOUR: Are you talking --
REEVES: -- in terms of bouncing back.
AMANPOUR: Are you talking about the strikes that we are seeing? Is that what you mean, the --
REEVES: Well, the cost-of-living crisis is really hurting in Britain.
REEVES: We have, this year, forecast to have the highest inflation out of the G7 economies.
REEVES: At the moment, inflation in the U.K. is more than 10 percent.
REEVES: It's less than 6 percent here in the U.S. And I know it will feel like it here as well, but it is in double digits in the U.K. And, you know,
as well as that, we had last year the drive-by prime minister of Liz Truss and her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, who sent our financial markets into
turmoil. And now, it feels in Britain that were in a sort of path of manage decline, and I want to shake us out of that.
And that I hope to be the next chancellor of the Exchequer with the labor government and, of course, we will have an election almost certainly in the
U.K. next year. And I'm here in the U.S. to say under a Labour government, Britain will be open for business and that we will restore our economic
dignity, both at home and abroad.
AMANPOUR: So, for people in the United States and around the world, when you say open for business, do you mean you will be more like the Blair new
Labour government or are you trying to get away from the -- what some people call a far-left previous opposition of Jeremy Corbyn? What does that
mean, open for business?
REEVES: Yes. So, you know, I'm a huge admirer of what Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did, but it was a quarter of a century ago now and there are nuances
needed for new times, the challenges. But also, the opportunities that we face today are very different, and Tony and Gordon would be the first to
The challenges of the climate emergency and the transition to net zero, the tensions between the two new superpowers of the U.S. and China. Russia's
illegal invasion of Ukraine and the impact that has had on energy markets, the growing emergence of A.I. and automation, all of those things require
REEVES: But for me, it requires an active state, working in partnership with business to seize those opportunities, and I want to see some of those
opportunities for Britain. Today, I was at Governors Island, here in New York, looking at some of the really exciting, innovative stuff that is
happening in the U.S. in responding to that climate emergency.
The Inflation Reduction Act is encouraging investment in the U.S. And I hear that all the time from businesses in Britain that this is a real pull
factor today because of what the U.S. government is doing, and how they're prioritizing that investment. Well, Britain has great strengths in areas
like carbon capture and storage, green hydrogen, floating offshore wind, we could be global leaders.
But we've got a government today that fails to embrace those opportunities and I want to be the next Labour chancellor, but I want to be the first
green chancellor of the Exchequer, encouraging that investment and those jobs because with challenges come opportunities, and there's an opportunity
to shape markets and create those jobs and investment of the future, and I want to do that for Britain.
AMANPOUR: In order to do that, you have to be elected. You've just had some local elections, which went very well for your party, but not quite the
number that would mean you could get into government without a coalition. Why is that, given what many polls say, what many people say, after 12
years of Tory rule, people are exhausted, you've mentioned all these economic problems under the Tories, what do you still have to do to
actually win and get people's confidence?
REEVES: Yes. So, there's two key things. We need to reassure people that we are a changed party, a change from the previous leadership of the Labour
Party, and under Keir Starmer we are showing that we are responsible with the nation's finance, that we are pro-business, pro NATO, strong on
defense, doing all of those things, and also, setting out a compelling vision for the future, because when I go around Britain I see huge ambition
that families have for themselves, that businesses have, that people have for their communities, but we need a government that matches that scale of
ambition, because if we have that, there's no end to what Britain can achieve.
So, that reassurance is important, but that hope, giving people their hope, giving people their future back, because too many people in Britain have
had that hope knocked out of them the last few years. And Kier Starmer may determine to give them that back.
AMANPOUR: You're a former Bank of England official, so you know exactly what you're talking about on the economy. Many ask, what would a Labour
government do to make themselves business friendly? Are you going to raise taxes, for instance, on corporations, on all the things that business
people would ask about? How will you find the money to do what you are saying? Because it looks like the purse is a little bit empty in the U.K.
REEVES: So, first of all, economic stability is absolutely essential. I know that from my time at the Bank of England, that any economic strategy
and any plans for growth have got to be built on a rock of economic financial stability, and we haven't had that stability and certainty in the
U.K. for quite a while now.
But then, also, the public sector, the state has got to be there to leverage in the private sector investment. And many businesses say to me,
we want to invest, but we need to know what the vision, what the mission is of the government. We need some stability to know where we are going,
stability on regulation, stability on taxes, stability on the government's priorities as well. But we can unlock that investment.
I was talking to date U.S. investors who have big stakes in the U.K. economy, and one of the things they say to me is that our planning rules,
our relationship with Europe all make the U.K. a less attractive place than it was a few years ago. So, we need to sort out all of those barriers to
growth. And again, I'm determined to do that because we can't miss out on these opportunities.
I don't want to find, in 20 years' time, that we are importing our gas because we didn't invest in hydrogen, we are importing our steel because we
didn't invest in green steel, and we are importing our cars because we didn't build the electric vehicle supply chain that we need. And if we do
those things, Britain can succeed. And I am determined, under a Labour government, with a Labour government, we will succeed in doing these
AMANPOUR: Do you think you have to sell the green policy or do you feel people in the U.K. are ready for that? Because, you know, it's highly
possible that politicized, especially here in the United States.
REEVES: Yes. So, look, when I think about the climate transition, I think about the opportunities that that will bring. Opportunities for good jobs,
paying decent wages, with security, and with dignity and respect in parts of the U.K. that haven't had that for too long. Former industrialized
communities, coastal communities.
And look at some of the things that President Biden is doing, trying to turn the Rust Belt into an electric vehicle belt. We need that sort of
thing in Britain, because at the moment, there are something like 40 electric vehicle battery manufacturing centers in progress or already up
and running in Europe. Only one of them is in Britain.
Now, at the moment, we are a net exporter of cars, but we won't be in a few years' time unless we build those batteries and we build that supply chain.
And there's no time to waste.
And as a chancellor, you absolutely have got to know when to say no to colleagues, when they come up with spending proposals --
REEVES: -- and you've got to get a grip on that day-to-day spending, because only then will you be able to make the strategic investments,
alongside business, in those industries and innovations of the future, because there's a lot of innovation in the U.K., we're not always so good
at turning it into successful businesses and then keeping those businesses in Britain.
AMANPOUR: So, the Voldemort of British politics is Brexit, and you haven't really addressed it other than to say that it has created a net outflow of
investors, of foreign investors, places like across the channel, France, for instance.
What are you going to do? I feel that the Labour government -- or sorry, the Labour Party is still nervous about articulating a vision forward using
the issue of Brexit or how you're going to get around what you, yourself, criticized as an exceptionally bad deal that was made with Europe and
whether you think Rishi Sunak's new deal, the Windsor Framework, is -- has landed and it's working well?
REEVES: Well, look, there is no going back. We are outside of the European Union now and under a Labour government, that will continue and we will not
reenter the single market or customs union.
AMANPOUR: Why? Polls have changed.
REEVES: Because stability is so important. And what we need to do now is to make the new situation work for British businesses and ultimately, families
in Britain. There's a number of things that we can do to get that deal to work better. And in 2025, there is an opportunity to review the Trade and
Cooperation Agreement with the European Union and we've set out some of the ways in which we want to make change that will work better for Britain.
So, for example, our services sector is barely covered by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, despite the fact that we are the second biggest
exporter of services in the world. So, we want to have the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
Another sector that, again, Americans say to me, Britain is great at this, the cultural industries, the arts, but under the framework we've got with
the European Union today it makes it really hard for artists to tour around Europe because of the bureaucracy and the visas that are needed.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes. And sports players.
REEVES: We need to sort that out.
REEVES: Absolutely. And we need a better --
AMANPOUR: Can they be sorted out? All of that --
AMANPOUR: -- without a Brexit?
REEVES: These things can --
AMANPOUR: Without rejoining the E.U.?
REEVES: These things can absolutely be sorted out. Take a veterinary agreement to help the flow of food and animal products between the U.K. and
the rest of Europe. New Zealand has got a veterinary agreement with the E.U., they're on the other side of the world. Britain doesn't have a
veterinary agreement despite the fact that they're our nearest neighbors and trading partners.
These things, with goodwill, by rebuilding trust, they absolutely can be sorted. And we are determined to work with our friends in the European
Union to get a better deal in Britain's national interest.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you? Because right here, obviously, you can see that there's an immigration political dilemma at the border. You can see that
it's happening in Europe. The Greek elections have just happened and they're very happy with the way their government has stopped most migrants
Obviously, the U.K. has a very troubled and vexing problem that is causing huge amount of problem, even the archbishop of Canterbury has raised his
moral voice against what the government is doing with those people coming over in small boats, shipping them off to Rwanda, or at least that's their
What can a Labour government do to make a proper, you know, joined up immigration policy that's also humane, knowing also that you actually need
REEVES: Yes. So, I would say a couple of things. First of all, on the issue of small boats. We need to be processing asylum claims. When people coming
into Britain, at the moment, asylum seekers are put for a year, two years, in these temporary hotels and hostels. It is inhumane and it costs
taxpayers an absolute fortune.
REEVES: So, we need to speed up the processing. If people have a right to be in this country, they should be integrated and given support to do so.
That don't have a right to be here, they should be sent back to their home country. But this deal with Rwanda, not a single person has been sent
there, but it's already cost us tens of millions of pounds. It's another example of this Tory government having a lot rhetoric, but without the
practical things that are needed.
Another issue in the U.K. that you rightly point to is problems in -- for businesses in accessing workers with the skills that they need to succeed.
And of course, we've got to have a visa system that works with businesses so that they can get the skills. But we also need to be training more
people up in Britain to do the jobs that are available.
And one of the problems we've got in the U.K. is that our NHS, which is something we are so proud of in Britain, but at the moment, there's a
waiting list of seven and a half million people waiting for hospital procedures, and many of them are unnecessarily out of work, whilst there
are waiting, often in pain for appointments and procedures.
And so, we need to get our NHS working properly to help people get the treatment they need and then get back into work, because the number of
people in the labor market in the U.K. has fallen since COVID. A lot of people haven't returned to work --
REEVES: -- and we need to do everything that we can to ensure they are back in the workplace, because businesses tell us that one of their biggest
challenges is to recruit and attract that talent that they need to make the success of their businesses.
AMANPOUR: Finally, you talked about you wanting to be the first female chancellor. Will it make a difference? How will you feel that being a
female is a game-changer?
REEVES: Well, the U.K. have had a chancellor of the Exchequer for 800 years now and not a single one of them have been women. And --
AMANPOUR: Despite having three female prime ministers?
REEVES: Indeed. And it is the one job in British politics that still no woman has occupied. And if you look here in the U.S., of course, your
treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, is the first woman to be the treasury secretary in the U.S. So, it will be another glass ceiling if that's
something I can smash in the U.K.
But let's just take one issue. In 1970 in the U.K., Barbara Castle, as secretary of state for industry, introduced legislation on equal pay. It
meant that companies could no longer pay men and women a different rate for doing the same job. Here we are 53 years later and we have equal pay
legislation, but the gap between what a man and woman are paid is still 15 percent. I want to be the chancellor of the Exchequer that closes that
gender pay gap.
And in part, that is because I am a woman and I see these issues every day in the lives of women right across the U.K. and globally as well. So, I
think having a woman chancellor of the Exchequer will be a game-changer and will be -- it will mean the issues that have for too long been neglected
will rise to the top of the political agenda again.
AMANPOUR: Rachel Reeves, shadow chancellor, thank you very much for being here with us.
REEVES: Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And now, turning to U.S. presidential politics. The Republican race in the United States is well underway. The candidates are stepping up.
Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, is expected to join later this week, after South Carolina's senator, Tim Scott, threw his hat in the ring yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Running for president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But in so far, the GOP primary field is still dominated by the former president, Donald Trump. So, what will it take for Republican
candidates to beat him to the 2024 nomination? Editor-in-chief of the conservative editorial magazine, the "National Review," Rich Lowry, joins
Walter Isaacson with some answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And, Rich Lowry, welcome to the show.
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, NATIONAL REVIEW: Thanks for having me.
ISAACSON: It's a busy week for the Republican primary. You got possibilities of a few people getting in. But let me start by sort of
telling our viewers where you're coming from. You're very much been a traditional conservative who is a protegee of William F. Buckley for more
than 25 years, editor-in-chief of the great "National Review." And if I remember correctly, you were very resistant to a Trump candidacy back in
2016. Tell me what you felt then, whether you've come around? What do you feel now?
LOWRY: So, yes, we ran a famous cover against Trump because the Iowa caucuses. In 2016, a bunch of folks on the right, making the case against
Trump, and we ran a very tough editorial posing his nomination. I think if you look back at it, there's some things we were wrong about. We didn't
really believe a lot of his assurances that he's be conservative on certain important conservative policy and priorities, and he was, from the most
part, when he was president, but our concerns about his character and about the effect he would have on the conservative coalition have proved doubt.
So, we are -- again, when he got it this time, we ran an editorial just with one word title, no, and we were open to most of the alternatives, but
oppose Donald Trump.
ISAACSON: You seem to be favorable to Ron DeSantis in some of your columns in "Politico," "New York Post," and other places. When he ran originally in
2018, he was pretty much a traditional conservative. He has now embraced -- and correct me if you think I'm wrong -- more of the cultural culture of
resentment, not just sort of the optimistic conservatives, some of Ronald Reagan. What do you make of that? Is that a good strategy? And is it
something that you are comfortable with?
LOWRY: Well, a couple aspects of that. Is it a good strategy? Yes. If he's going to beat Donald Trump, he's going to have to run at Trump from the
right. He's got to always have to keep in mind, which he'll never forget, I think, that some observers sometimes forget, the people he needs voted for
Trump twice, they like Trump, they feel defensive of Trump, they hate and distrust Trump's enemies, those are the voters that he needs to win over.
Now, in the substance, a lot of it, I think, has been terrific down in Florida. And where I draw the line is government should have an influence
over government institutions by definition. So, government should determine how we run our public schools, their public schools, including public
colleges and the universities within limits. You know, you need to honor free speech and some other principles.
The edge case, of course, that has gotten a lot of tension is Disney, which is not a government entity, of course, it's a private company, but it is
the beneficiary of, really, a massive government favor in the form of the special district, and that's what DeSantis threatened and retaliation to
things that Disney had said, and now is embroiled in a legal dispute that will go on for years.
ISAACSON: But it seems that he's targeting them simply for their political views and political speech. Doesn't that make you uncomfortable as a
LOWRY: It does. That's a really bad aspect of it. Again, it's a special government favor that if Disney had said 50 years ago, whenever this
district was set up, you know, by the way, in several decades, we'll become a woke company or sympathetic to sort of progressive ideologies and oppose
legislation to stop children from being taught inappropriate sexual material at a very young age, K through 3, they never would've gotten the
special district. So, I think that's what makes it a little different.
And I think it's a very bad thing for a country that corporations are so eager to weigh in on culture, cultural war type issues. It would better if
ISAACSON: Why is that?
LOWRY: I just think it adds to the divisiveness and it's not the role of --
ISAACSON: But shouldn't private companies, ever since General Motors, 100 years ago, feel that they have a part of society and part of the discourse?
LOWRY: Yes. I mean, it's -- they have the right to do it. I'm just saying it's a bad thing, it adds to divisions in our society. It adds to the sense
that everyone has to take sides on everything.
ISAACSON: Well, wait, wait. Let me push back on your bet on this thing. It seems like Ron DeSantis is doing more to add to the divisions than Disney
did. I mean, he's the one who has taken this into a pretty strong cultural warrior thing.
LOWRY: I don't know. So, who's the aggressor if children are being taught about gender ideology in second grade?
ISAACSON: Disney has not a right, you don't think, to have its opinion on these subjects when its employees live there?
LOWRY: No. That's not what I asked. So, if we're into who's on offense and who's on defense, if you have woke school administrators or teachers who
think it's appropriate to teach very young children, that aren't their kids, you know, are being sent to school just to get an education,
consensus education, if they are being taught any version of, you know, how you can change your gender, supposedly, and all that at a very young age,
is that -- who's being the aggressor? They are being taught that who is the aggressor and who's on defense.
ISAACSON: Well, the governor has done many things that involve these cultural issues, including teaching of gender and sexuality in schools, but
also, equity, inclusion, pushing back on that. I just read that even the NAACP issued a travel warning. Do you think, since you said you're worried
about people stoking up cultural divisions, that some of this should be tamped down a little bit?
LOWRY: Well, with all respect, you didn't answer my question. If a small child is being taught in a public-school sort of cutting-edge gender
ideology type material, is that OK? Like, everyone should be fine with it or is it OK for the government just to say, don't teach that? And is it
really so offensive and a terrible if the government says, don't teach K through three kids gender ideology? Let's teach them math, let's teach them
English and how to read. Why is that so radioactive and toxic in your mind?
ISAACSON: I think the voters have the perfect right to vote on those things. It's -- I'm not arguing one side or the other. I get to be the
interviewer here. I was just wondering why Disney doesn't have the right to say its own opinion.
LOWRY: It does have its right, but does it also inherently have a right to a huge special favor from government?
ISAACSON: All right. In terms of the Republican primary, it's not just a question of ideology, but sometimes, it seems of temperament. The question
of those who are a little bit stronger in the cultural issues, a little bit more about the resentments that people understandably feel in this country.
On the other side, we have somebody like Tim Scott coming in, who is, I think, almost as conservative as anybody else, but is running with a
different temperament. What is your take on that?
LOWRY: Well, I think Trump, one reason why they like him is the combativeness, right? The willingness to fight and that sometimes, you
know, it ends up being a permission slip for all sorts of things you wouldn't want him to say or do, and it's a big question whether people are
into -- more into Trumpism, the substance, you know, which is very -- being very tough on the border and immigration policies, being tough on China and
trade, being -- having a tendency towards noninterventionism, or are they into the persona and the affect and the style?
And, you know, what DeSantis is trying to do is a version of Trumpism without the -- with all those -- without the personal characteristics. Tim
Scott is just a totally different phenomenon. More of a throwback to a Sonny (ph) sort of Reagan type conservatism. Although, you know, people can
have an overly rosy view about Reagan who's, you know, very tough and excoriating about the other side as well, even though he did it with a
I think Scott has -- you know, has great promise. We will see. You know, it looks like it's a two-man race, but very often, this early in a primary,
you end up being surprised in what looks like is going to be the early dynamic does not pan out at the end. So, there -- it may be that Scott
finds some running room here.
ISAACSON: What do you think that DeSantis needs to do in order to catch up to Trump? He seems quite behind now in the most recent polls and not really
LOWRY: Yes. So, he's had a bad -- and certainly, in terms of national polling, bad several months. Trump has had a great several months. The
inflection point clearly was the Alvin Bragg indictment, this politicized indictment that wouldn't have been lodged against anyone who wasn't named
And there's a rally around the flag effect among those Republican voters, that's when Trump sort of routinely getting above 50. There have been a
couple polls last week, week and a half, where Trump has been above 60 and DeSantis has been in the teens.
So, I think DeSantis' team is glad to finally be in this thing, to actually be -- have him be formally a candidate and traveling the country and making
a case for himself. But he's an uphill climb. I mean, he's taking on the 800-pound gorilla who looks like in January. Well, maybe the 800-pound
gorilla will shed some pounds, and maybe he's only 450 or 400, 500-pound gorilla, but now, it looks like maybe, you know, 1,000-pound gorilla.
Though people have gotten used to the idea of DeSantis running. But this is an audacious project. Taking on this guy no one else has beaten, everyone
else has been humiliated by, and thinking you can find a way to take him down.
ISAACSON: So, what way would there be to take him down if you're a DeSantis supporter?
LOWRY: Well, first of all, tactically, clearly, it's all about Iowa where Trump has been softer, or at least, not as strong in the polling we've
seen, and there may be some souring among evangelicals, certainly evangelical leaders about Trump. So, DeSantis is going to have to focus
heavily on Iowa.
He needs to find issues where he can attack Trump from the right, on his pandemic response, for instance, abortion policies and other potential
flare-up. But he's not going to win, you know, with the just sort of making a never Trump case against Donald Trump, that's a very small slice of the
Republican electorate. He needs to win these voters who are very conservative, sympathize with Trump, make the case, you know what, he
didn't do a lot of things he said he was going to do, he very well could lose yet another national election with bad consequences, and I'm more
conservative than he is on X, Y, and Z.
ISAACSON: You said that maybe that DeSantis could take on Trump from the right when it came to abortion politics. Tell me how you think abortion
plays out, both in the Republican primaries and then the general?
LOWRY: Yes. So, in the primaries, you know, pro-lifers have a very strong position, again, especially in Iowa, and the heartbeat bill that DeSantis
signed is going to be a benefit to him. The question is, in a general, can that be used against him? And I think it's an open question how many of
these candidates, including Trump and DeSantis, are going to actually endorse federal abortion restrictions and where do they come down there on
the spectrum? How many weeks?
It wouldn't surprise me if DeSantis comes out for a 15-week federal ban and maybe Trump gets pushed into doing the same thing. It's -- you know, that's
going to be a major issue in the campaign, obviously. Polling for a 15-week abortion bans tend to be fairly strong, but, you know, you would end up
restricting at least some abortions, not a lot, but at least some in places like New York and California that are very strongly pro-choice. So, that's
going to be -- would be a major flash point.
I think, you know, you saw Republican governors in 2022, Brian Kemp in Georgia, Kim Reynolds in Iowa, there's -- the governor of Ohio as well,
signing six-week bans and winning handily. It just -- it depends on the place, it depends on the quality of the candidate, but he's going to have
to be prepared to defend himself on this stuff obviously. And that's the last thing Republicans can't duck and cover on this issue.
ISAACSON: Let me read something I saw on one of your columns. You said, Republicans at the national level right now are scared. You can hear it in
their silence on the issue of abortion after the judge in Texas struck down the FDA approval of what is sometimes known as the abortion pill.
Tell me how that's going to play, do you think, and why were you saying that Republicans are scared of this issue?
LOWRY: Yes. One, they clearly had not thought through what the post-Roe environment would be, what their consensus position would be, to the extent
it was possible to come up with one. And some of them would just prefer this to go away. It's not going to go away, you know? The Democrats won't
let it go away. Among other things, they want, what, maybe for ballot measures, if I'm not mistaken, in 2022 in various states over abortion
policy, and Democrats won them all. And they're putting them on in a bunch of other states, including most significantly in the near term here, Ohio.
So, they're not going to let Republicans just, you know, mumble and look at their shoes and evade this issue.
Plus, it's a hugely consequential moral and social issue. So, you shouldn't be trying to evade it. So, I think sort of strategic shrewdness and some
courage are called for, and Republicans should say that they are pro-life and they want a country that was willing to welcome every child and they
will fight for that. But in the interim, you're going to have to take some intermediate steps. You have to have the three exceptions that everyone
talks about. And depending on the state, you know, how restrictive you're able to be, it depends on the political environment in the states and you
hope to move the ball forward from there.
But from pro-life perspective, the optimistic argument is that Roe, this 50-year battle to overturn this misbegotten Supreme Court decision would
finally achieve victory in Dobbs. There are more restrictions on abortion, the abortion rate has diminished somewhat than ever before, and Republicans
still won the House. It doesn't mean that there's not a lot of work to do, it doesn't mean there are a lot of -- aren't a lot of vulnerabilities, but
just running and hiding is not an option.
ISAACSON: Early on, Governor DeSantis, in fighting off the immigration influx that it happened, was sending people up to Martha's Vineyard and
other places. To what extent do you think he can make a strong case against our immigration policies and how is that going to play in the primaries?
LOWRY: Well, the -- this is an issue where I think Trump fundamentally transformed the party and, in my view, changed the party for the better.
Just making -- being an immigration hawk almost as necessary as being pro- life to survive in Republican national politics. I think the border, you know, it's been a mess. He inherited Joe Biden a stable situation, threw
away a lot of policies that actually worked and were humane, and we've been reaping the whirlwind.
Now, the DeSantis, you know, operation, sending these immigrants to Martha's Vineyard, obviously, a political stunt to make a point. The large-
scale busing though from places like Texas and Arizona, I think, one, has been fine on the merits, because they asked these migrants, well, where do
you want to go? And they say Chicago and New York. They say, OK, this is the bus.
And by demonstrating to blue cities that are, in theory, sanctuary cities, that this is a real problem, that these folks, they're desperate, but they
also are a burden to public services and to the taxpayers. The City of Chicago has declared an emergency, over 8,000 illegal migrants arriving
since last August. Just 8,000. You know, a city of 2.6 million. What do they think is like in the border? What do they think it's like in El Paso?
So, I think that's actually -- that policy has really brought home that point. And we wouldn't hear, you know, the mayor of New York, Eric Adams,
saying, we need to close the border and do a better job at it unless New York now has skin in the game the way border cities do as well.
ISAACSON: Do you think there's room in the field where somebody could get traction by running against Trump in the Republican primaries and who would
that most likely be?
LOWRY: Running against him?
ISAACSON: Yes. Sort of Chris Christie tried it a bit. Sununu. Go ahead.
LOWRY: Yes. Sort of having that as humane rationale. I'm doubtful. You know, I think it's important to make the case against him on a number of
fronts, especially -- and this is going to be tricky, you know, for someone like DeSantis, who wants to win over a fair amount of these MAGA voters,
you've got to be willing to sail off of 2020. Because if you didn't lose in 2020, what electability case do you really have against him, right?
He's -- he was -- he's not a loser, he's a victim, and maybe he should be the rightful heir to the nomination yet again to write this wrong. So, I
think that's a key area where you can't dance around. You just got to say, the election was legitimate. He lost and the problem is that he could lose
ISAACSON: Rich Lowry, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.
LOWRY: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, throughout this program, focus on broken immigration systems and decades of it, from here to the U.K., to Greece and elsewhere.
Finally, though, tonight, the Mekong region in Southeast Asia is one of the most biodiverse parts of our planet. And researchers have just identified
nearly 400 new residents. These are a few of the new species, but the discovery comes with a stark warning as well from the World Wildlife Fund
that human activities, like deforestation, are damaging their unique habitats and pushing them to the brink of extinction. It is a reminder of
the beauty and the peril of our natural world, and the vital need for us to protect it.
That's it for now. If you ever missed our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. On your screen now is a QR
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And remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.