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CNN International - Theresa May Wins Confidence Vote. Aired 4- 5p ET
Aired December 12, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GRAHAM BRADY, CHAIRMAN, CONSERVATIVE PARTY 1922 COMMITTEE:
The result of the ballot held this evening is that the parliamentary party does have confidence --
BRADY: -- does have confidence in Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party.
The number of those cast in favor of having confidence in Theresa May was 200 and against was 117. Under the rules set out in the constitution of the Conservative Party, no further confidence vote can take place for at least --
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: the Conservative Party does have confidence in Theresa May, their prime minister. She has survived this vote, 200 in favor, 117 against, a majority of 83.
This crucially means no confidence votes can be mounted against the prime minister for a year. Julia Chatterley is here and she's been covering the story today. Carole Walker, our political analyst is here, as well and Nic Robertson is at 10 Downing Street.
Carole, I want to start with you. She must be breathing a sigh of relief. It won't last long though, because the hard work begins in earnest tomorrow once again.
CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: She will be breathing a huge sigh of relief. I think Downing Street will be happy with the result. It is a convincing margin of victory and she needed 159 votes to be sure that she could stay in her job. She's got 200.
But don't forget there are 117 Conservative MPs who said they have no confidence in her to lead their country and to lead their party. That is a significant faction of the Conservative Party.
If you look at the figures there, that's over a third of her party said that they did not want her to continue to lead the party. That, I think, is the scale of the difficulty she faces and, yes, as you suggested, she is just back to the other bigger problem, which is how to get the country out of the European Union, how to get Parliament to support her withdrawal deal.
She'll go back to Brussels, to talk to other E.U. leaders in the morning, knowing they're not going to give her, sufficient for her, to be able to win over enough of her own MPs and let alone her political opponents to get that deal approved in Parliament.
GORANI: Julia, let's talk about what she might expect. I imagine E.U. leaders are relieved that there's not going to be a leadership contest, a leadership content during this crucial negotiating period.
So what is their thinking in Europe?
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: I think the Europeans also, if we come to the heart of this, don't want to see a no-deal exit. So they will be relieved about the continuity and the negotiations can continue here.
But even as late as today, we were hearing from them that this is the final deal and we now have clearly 117 members of the Conservative Party that are saying, quite frankly, why they didn't have confidence in Theresa May?
But also that they didn't have confidence in this deal, this withdrawal deal.
And the big question becomes what are the Europeans willing to provide to reshape that deal?
GORANI: Obviously, it's not a crushing victory but it's a lot more than 159. I'm sure a third of her party wanted to oust her but it could have been a lot worse.
I mean, in a way, does she come out strengthened or weakened from this?
WALKER: I think she will be strengthened because, over the last few weeks, there has been that sword hanging over her, that question of whether those 48 letters were going to be sent in to trigger the --
WALKER: -- confidence vote that we saw tonight. She is now freed of that. She now knows she cannot be challenged for another year.
She now knows she cannot be challenged this side of the Brexit date of March the 29th next year. She will be able to focus on trying to get the agreement, trying to get sufficient reassurance from other E.U. leaders to try to win over enough MPs and not just in her party but in the opposition parties to try to get parliamentary approval for that deal. And that's a significant moment.
GORANI: Stand by for a moment because we have a live shot of 10 Downing Street. I don't know if the expectation is that the prime minister will say something this evening and I just want to show our viewers.
It is the expectation, I understand?
That is --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we are expecting her to make a statement.
GORANI: And the door is open. Oh, it's been opening and closing all day. So we've had false alarms.
CHATTERLEY: I was just going to throw in there, she can't be challenged by her own party for the next year but she can be challenged, of course, by the opposition party if they get their act together at this point and we have to take it now to January 21st. At some point she'll come out with some adjustment, perhaps in the language of this deal and she'll have to bring it back to Parliament and try and get that vote through.
And if she can't do that at that point, then the clock is clearly ticking down and then what, at that stage?
Does she then face a second of Parliament here to challenge this deal?
WALKER: But there are a significant number of MPs in her party, who now think she should use this moment, where her authority is at least reinforced somewhat, given the situation that we've been going through, to put that deal to the vote next week.
And if it gets defeated now, she can't be thrown out by her own party, then there the MPs across all parties who don't want a no-deal Brexit to support her deal and if it is defeated, then to go back to Brussels again and say, look, this deal has been killed off and you've got to give me something more.
GORANI: Stand by, the Conservative Party just announced it does indeed have confidence in their leader and prime minister Theresa May with the majority of 83. Theresa May has survived this no confidence vote.
Nic Robertson is at 10 Downing Street.
What are you hearing where you are about when we expect the prime minister to make an appearance, Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Very soon. The big lights are on and the microphones are out. Everyone is waiting and she's expected to come out and comment.
I think in keeping with what we heard this morning and what we've been hearing from her over recent weeks and months, she will continue. She will continue and likely go to Brussels tomorrow and perhaps stay there until Friday and try to get whatever reassurances that she thinks she maybe ought to get about the backstop deal and the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
This, of course, the key, key issue and she's been told many times that the Europeans are not going to open up the Brexit deal she has at the moment. However, they have indicated there may be something that they can give here.
But as you've been discussing there, that would very likely seem to fall short of providing satisfaction across the house to get that meaningful vote passed in the Houses of Parliament, whatever that may be, before the 21st of January.
But when she steps out here, we'll hear from herself and we'll get a sense of her mood and how she judges this slender majority of 83, not so slender but not as big as it could have been.
GORANI: She defied expectations; certainly, she has survived challenges.
What -- is it possible that the prime minister would float the idea of extending the negotiation period of not Brexiting at the end of March in order to negotiate something that could pass Parliament?
ROBERTSON: You know, she hasn't indicated that's an option she's going to move toward and every indication from the European Union there's nothing else that she can get that's going to require an extension for her to want to go down that path.
However, she has indicated and I think we got a sense of that in her speech in Parliament today, that the conversations that she is re- engaging and the reassurances that she's talking about that she wants to get from the E.U. and European leaders, that may play out over a little bit of time.
There had been a sense going into her decision on Monday to delay the meaningful vote that was supposed to happen on Tuesday, yesterday, that there might be a meaningful vote by the end of next week.
I think that seems to be very unlikely at the moment. So, you know, a sense that there is more time to play on this for Theresa May but not to the point so far of extending beyond the 29th of March at the moment, let's say, that seems to be the position.
GORANI: Nic, we'll go back to 10 Downing as soon as we see Theresa May walk out that door. So --
GORANI: Nic was saying there's no indication that the prime minister is considering, seriously considering the idea of extending this negotiation period. But here's my question.
How could she not?
I don't understand how -- because at this point it doesn't appear as though Europe is going to make any concessions on the main points that are angering and not satisfactory to Brexiteers. You need more time to come up with a deal.
WALKER: She has said time and time again, we are leaving the European Union on March the 29th of next year.
GORANI: She also said she would call a general election.
WALKER: Of course. Absolutely, but I think it would then be very difficult indeed for her to try to seek some sort of extension and I think there would only really be a sympathetic ear in Europe for any kind of significant extension beyond a month or two if there were to be a significant event here in the U.K., either a general election or a referendum.
Theresa May is trying to avoid both of those things. I think what we're seeing here is that Downing Street are managing things crisis to crisis, day by day. They will undoubtedly be hugely relieved and pleased tonight.
Cabinet colleagues are describing this as a convincing victory but they know that the fundamentals of the withdrawal agreement have not changed. They were back where they are, where they were 24 hours ago, and still face a huge challenge to get that deal through Parliament.
GORANI: Julia, by the way, Jacob Rees-Moog is still calling for Theresa May to resign. So you were mentioning 117 who voted against her, they are fervently against her.
CHATTERLEY: We know he was number one on the list and obviously has tried this before and he's failed. And now he just has to be quiet, actually. He simply won't but he also said he wouldn't step up and be the next leader.
You know what?
If you want to challenge Theresa May you have to do that. I think the real challenge here now -- and you've laid this out -- it comes down to brinkmanship. The Europeans have played this game many times with other countries. The clock now is ticking and it goes down to January 21st, where we have to have a meaningful vote and then the next is March 29th.
The question is, as she lets that clock tick down and negotiates with the Europeans, does that focus minds here in the U.K. to come to the conclusion that if we don't see some kind of an agreement or some kind of deal, then the likelihood of either a no-deal exit is increasingly likely here?
And that brings the markets under pressure, too.
GORANI: What about this timetable?
There is so much pressure placed and it is somewhat -- the critics of Theresa May say it's her own fault. She triggered Article 50 without a firm plan and now we're in this mess because the clock is ticking and we don't have an acceptable deal for everyone that is anywhere near achieving a majority.
WALKER: And she's not prepared for a no-deal exit.
GORANI: Exactly right.
So therefore, is there any kind of consensus for giving this country giving itself more time at this point?
WALKER: I think that what the prime minister is determined to do is to try to hit that Brexit date of March the 29th but how she gets there, yes, you're right, is very hard to see how she delivers that.
The tactic seems to be to delay, to put things off, to put off the vote on the meaningful vote on the withdrawal deal perhaps into January and to try to win over not just her own side, when she knows those are implacably opposed to her deal, but to look at moderate Labour MPs to say, look, do you want to risk leaving the European Union without a deal, which is what many Brexiteers would indeed be quite content to happen and hope that she can win over enough on her own side.
And the other difficulty is the Democratic Unionist Party that was supposed to be supporting her government and we know they're implacably opposed to the deal as it stands because it puts even tighter restrictions on Northern Ireland than it does on the rest of the U.K.
GORANI: The pound, by the way, is up.
Do we have the graphic?
It was up about 1.3 percent on the day in anticipation of a win for Theresa May in this no confidence vote. Let's take a look at what it's doing now.
It's off the session high, just a hair's breadth under 1.26 or so against the dollar. Europe traders made the prediction that it would be a much worst case scenario for them for the pound if Theresa May were ousted.
CHATTERLEY: No, we're trading, it went bouncing around 18-month lows here. I think we have to bear that in mind. We are down 15 percent, 16 percent since the referendum. There is a lot of bad news in the price and you can see a little bit of a pop higher as we saw today, with the belief that she would get through this confidence vote.
But I think for many people I speak to right now, they are just saying you have to sit on your hands, if you've short the pound here, if you've sold the pound here, fine. You stick with it. Trading around this, all we can anticipate is volatility. Game --
CHATTERLEY: -- not over yet and who knows what the outcome of the next few weeks is going to be?
GORANI: Volatility within the lower bands. As you were saying, 18- month lows.
CHATTERLEY: I'm not predicting direction.
GORANI: Well, absolutely, because the political situation is so unpredictable and officer these are what traders and investors look at.
WALKER: Well, of course, and we've had previous prime ministers -- think back to Margaret Thatcher in 1990 -- she won the first round. She came back, she said I fight on. I fight and win. She was out within two days.
I don't think anyone is expecting that to happen this time. Everyone knows that Theresa May has shown that she believes that it is her duty to stay in place and fight on and do everything she possibly can to try to get the country through this crisis, through at least the first stage of our departure from the European Union.
There are huge difficulties facing her but, you know, it's over two years since she was described by a former chancellor, George Osborne, as dead woman walking after the election where she lost the Conservative Party's majority and she's been written off so many times.
GORANI: She's been written off by people who themselves have lost their jobs, which is kind of interesting. Maybe she's finding some comfort in that today, despite her situation.
I want to go to Richard Quest, by the way.
Richard we're expecting imminently the prime minister to come out and address reporters after winning this no confidence vote.
But what lies ahead for her is very uncertain.
RICHARD QUEST, CNNMONEY EDITOR AT LARGE: She's back to where she was yesterday essentially with a problem of how to get to Brussels, what are they going to give her and can she railroad it through Parliament?
This has been a very nice side distraction on the way but nothing really changes and whether or not this -- is in many ways it's the mediocre win. It's not strong enough for her to go to Brussels and demand something with a full mandate and she's not weakened because she just scraped through.
She has that sort of halfway house and the other leaders will know that, believe me. If you think about Mark Rutte and how he was in the Netherlands and you think of Macron and you think of Merkel and the Bavaria vote and all she's been through, these are the experts knowing exactly how strong she is and how far she can force any issue.
And she doesn't quite have a begging bowl but she certainly doesn't have a tank with which to railroad something through.
I wonder if any margin of victory would have allowed her to demand anything from the E.U. at this stage, by the way. But Richard, we were talking with Julia about investors and the pound and, in the end, this is going to come down to, in this country, I think, how Brexit will impact ordinary people, businesses, industries, the currency.
This is really what's going to matter down the line. Once it starts hurting, if it does hurt, that's where politically you might see movement.
QUEST: Essentially, the FTSE is where it was at the turn of the century, give or take. It is 7,000 level, give or take. And it hasn't -- you've had the ups and the downs. But it really hasn't done that much.
What surprises me, Hala, is how the markets have withstood this and my gut feeling is that if things start to turn really sour over the next few weeks, then we'll reverse.
The market is trade into what it's seen. It has enthused in some cases at what it's seen. The pound has survived. But let's remember how it fell the night of the referendum. It is entirely possible that -- if this goes sour, the markets, the London market is in for a very, very nasty time.
GORANI: All right. Well, I mean, the expectation is that this is going to be difficult.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, the expectation is that this is going to be difficult --
GORANI: -- as far as traders and investors are concerned.
CHATTERLEY: -- exactly to his point. The sterling, if the pound hadn't weakened so much and supported the international earnings of some of these exporting companies, as well, then perhaps the stock market would be lower, too.
But I think Theresa May has to be strategic here. He's got all of the challenges of going back to Europe now and asking for adjustments, even if it's just the language to this deal and she has to work out where she can get those votes from.
To your point, Hala, she has to look at the opposition here and look at Labour MPs and go, what can I do to the contours of this deal to bring in other members from other parties in order to support this deal, if not my own?
WALKER: That's right. And when you look at the wider economy, we know that businesses and business leaders have been --
WALKER: -- crying out for what they want to know with certainty. They're asking Theresa May something she's not able to deliver at the moment. They say not only that they don't want the upheaval of either without a deal and the upheaval and the uncertainty of the Brexit date being changed.
But they also want to know what the future trading relationships are going to be and we're still such a long way from that.
GORANI: Here's the thing, Julia, you mentioned something that's very important to note is Brexit hasn't happened yet and yet the damage is already being felt. The center of gravity of some big industries is shifting. You have jobs moving.
Despite the fact, obviously, that unemployment is fine in this country and inflation isn't a huge problem but you do have some damage already being done to the economy and uncertainty is always hurtful to businesses and industries.
CHATTERLEY: How do businesses invest?
How do they make investment decisions?
GORANI: And you can't quantify what hasn't been spent.
CHATTERLEY: Absolutely not. We've already seen the numbers impacted by that, too.
WALKER: But if you listen to pro-Brexit economists and business men, they will say that part of the problem at the moment has been firms holding back from investing, holding back from taking on staff because of the uncertainty.
And their argument is that once Brexit is delivered, that could unleash a lot of those sponsors that have not been invested until now. But, yet, it --
GORANI: -- the longer they hold onto the funds, the more it's an issue. And also migration and the end to freedom of movement, there are many businesses that will suffer from that as well.
CHATTERLEY: Well, I think that's a critical issue. I think the other thing is, even with the contours of the deal that is on the table, they have some degree of clarity to 2020, it's beyond that, if we're in a backstop situation, then the problem is that the U.K. remains so close to the E.U. that the things that the government promised, like cutting corporate taxes, like deregulation, things that would support the economy or support businesses, simply are not allowed because you're still complying with a lot of the rules in the E.U. here. So even at this stage beyond 2020, businesses do not have the clarity for support that perhaps they need. And that's one of the critical issues, I think, that the Brexiteers have with this deal right now.
GORANI: We are any minute now going to see Theresa May emerge from 10 Downing Street to make a statement after a good night for her, I guess, before the hard work once again begins tomorrow.
Matthew Chance is outside Westminster. He's been with protesters all day.
I don't know how many are still there.
How are they reacting to this May win?
Oh, you look quite lonely out there right this second, Matthew.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's only the stragglers left, I'm afraid. They've dissipates somewhat. But I managed to speak to some of them.
And you know what, the interesting thing is that the leadership crisis in the Conservative Party doesn't exactly cut to their main concern. This -- 24 hours ago, we didn't have this problem in this country. There was another crisis that they were all protesting about, which is the crisis about Brexit.
And that has not changed. Those divisions remain amongst the protesters. They remain across the country. And crucially for Theresa May, of course, they remain inside Parliament, as we've been discussing.
I think if you can relate this leadership vote to her strength in Parliament, what it shows, I think, is that there are 117 Tory rebels that would be prepared potentially to vote against her in any vote she gives Parliament when it comes to her Brexit plan.
We're still a long way from Theresa May's plan, whatever incarnation is takes after she's had further consultation with European Union bigwigs, from satisfying either wing of her party, either the Remainers that think it goes too far or the Brexiteers who think the plan does not go far enough.
And so we're back to the crisis we were in 24 hours ago, which is how on Earth is Theresa May going to get that Brexit deal through facing such division in Parliament and across the country -- Hala.
GORANI: All right, Matthew Chance, thanks very much. We'll get back to Matthew a bit later.
David Morris, Conservative MP, joins me now.
David, you supported Theresa May and you support her deal.
DAVID MORRIS, CONSERVATIVE MP: Yes, I did.
MORRIS: I support the deal because everything except for the backstop is quite clear. Everything's going to be devolved back to the U.K. But the backstop is a legal requirement. It was in Article 50. Shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone.
The problem with the backstop is that it has an indefinite period to it. So we have to come across some way of getting rid of the backstop. The DUP are lobbing very hard to get this done.
MORRIS: I don't know how they're going to do that. That's above my pay grade. So we have to address this to get this Brexit deal.
GORANI: You think that's it?
Because those who oppose the deal say this is not even -- doesn't even start covering why I don't like this deal.
There's also the fact that we're tied in some sort of customs union with the E.U., with no say over the rules and then we become this vassal state to the E.U.
And this is criticism I'm hearing from people who don't like this deal.
MORRIS: Well, that's right. Yes, there's no clarity on when we're actually leaving. Got the negotiation period and then this backstop. If we go into the backstop. But you've got to appear like this, if everything's been devolved back to Westminster from Europe, if that's the case, why would the Europeans want to keep us in some kind of limbo indefinitely?
It's not in their interest to do that. So it's a trust thing. You've got to trust the Europeans and they have got to trust us and I do think somewhere along the way we'll reach that equilibrium.
GORANI: OK, what happens next with the prime minister now that she's won the no confidence vote?
She's relieved, clearly. We expect to hear from her any minute now. But this is not solving her biggest problem. We're back to where we were just basically 24 hours ago.
MORRIS: Even if you change the lead, the matter is still the same. What is interesting though is she was not actually elected by the Tory Party, parliamentary party membership, more than what she did when she went before them the first time to become prime minister.
So you know, she's actually gained more support. It is surprising. My chairman, he's just texted me all of the figures through. And a third of the party have got no confidence in the prime minister. But I think a lot of that comes from the jitters over saying she was going to step down before the next election because even that's not clarifying. GORANI: Yes.
Yes, Julia, indeed, so we were talking about 117 votes against.
How will Brussels look at these numbers?
CHATTERLEY: I think Brussels will view it as a relief in many ways because they have continuity over the leadership and negotiations. It can continue and we don't have to go through days and days and days of leadership contests. And they've made it very clear all of the way along.
And I think this is the big challenge here, that this deal is not going to be rearranged in any fundamental way. It's just going to be a language change. And if I can go back to the point that you were making, about the backstop.
Isn't it important for the government to take a stand and say it's not optimal for the E.U. to allow this existing relationship --
GORANI: Theresa May is walking out now. She will make the long- anticipated statement after winning the no confidence vote. Let's listen in.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I am pleased to have received the backing of my colleagues in tonight's ballot. Whilst I'm grateful for that support, a significant number of colleagues did cast a vote against me and I've listened to what they've said.
Following this ballot we now need to get on with the job of delivering Brexit for the British people and building a better future for this country. A Brexit that delivers on the votes that people gave, that brings back control of our money, our borders and our laws, that protects jobs, security and the union, that brings the country back together rather than entrenching division.
That must start here in Westminster with politicians on all sides coming together and acting in the national interests. For my part, I've heard what the House of Commons said about the Northern Ireland backstop. And when I go to the European Council tomorrow, I will be seeking legal and political assurances that will assuage the concerns that members of Parliament have on that issue.
But while delivering Brexit is important, we also need to focus on the other issues that people feel are vital to them, that matter to them day to day, the issues that we came into politics to deal with, building a stronger economy, delivering first class public services, building the homes that families need.
We owe it to the people who put us here to put their priorities first. So here is our renewed mission, delivering the Brexit that people voted for, bringing the country back together and building a country that truly works for everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you get your Brexit deal through?
GORANI: A brief statement by the prime minister. She has won a no confidence vote. Certainly she is relieved this evening. She acknowledges that a sizeable portion of her part voted against her in this no confidence vote, 117 in fact, 200 in favor. She needed 159 in order to survive this.
She achieved that and it was not a crushing majority and perhaps she wanted more of a mandate from her party that she didn't get. She said that --
GORANI: -- she repeated the fact that she would have to work hard on a deal that could pass through Parliament and acknowledged the questions, the uncertainties and the dissatisfaction surrounding what is called the backstop, the insurance policy to maintain in order to maintain a soft border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and then reiterated some domestic policy goals as well.
David Morris, Conservative MP, supports the prime minister. He's here with us.
Julia Chatterley has been following the story today as well.
David, your take on what we heard from the prime minister.
MORRIS: Well, it's business as usual. That's coming across loud and clear. She said very much the same speech. I didn't hear it but I had it translated for me and it's the same speech in the 1922 committee tonight, when she addressed the MPs.
I think the party now, the Conservative Party needs to get a grip with itself and have a long, hard look in the mirror and say, look, she's going to be with us now and she's not going to be running the next general election.
She said that.
GORANI: So she's promised.
MORRIS: She said she's not going to be in the next general election. But I think she wants to see Brexit through. She's a woman of duty. That's plain to everybody and she has a lot of stamina and vigor. So, you know, I think we'll let her get on with sorting out the Brexit issue and we look at other areas after that.
GORANI: OK. We've got to get to a break. We'll be right back. Julia Chatterley; David Morris, Conservative MP, thanks so much for joining us. We'll be right back after a quick break. Stay with us.
[16:35:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)
GORANI: Hello. I'm Hala Gorani in Westminster in London where the prime minister Theresa May has tonight survived a confidence vote. The result of the secret ballot was announced about 35 minutes ago. There were 200 votes in favor, 117 votes against.
The pound jumped against the dollar on the news of the results, although it is still wallowing at 18-month lows. And you can see the pound is up about a percent against the dollar.
Tonight's outcome means the prime minister is protected from another party leadership challenge for the next year. The vote came slap bang in the middle of Ms. May's battle to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.
Let's get through Bernard Jenkin, he's a Conservative member of Parliament and leading supporter of Brexit.
Thank you, sir, for being with us. I appreciate it. You must be disappointed.
BERNARD JENKIN, CONSERVATIVE MP: I am disappointed. I think this will make life more difficult for the Conservative government. This was a vote of confidence of just Conservative MPs. More than a third of Theresa May's MPs voted against her.
GORANI: She acknowledged that, by the way, in her statement and that was one of the first things she said.
JENKIN: Well, I think that was generous of her and I congratulate her on her victory. But the problems that we're concerned about, that her deal doesn't deliver Brexit and that her deal has alienated her coalition partner, because, of course, 317 MPs in the House of Commons is less than half the MPs, we don't have a majority.
So we have to have an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland and they hate this deal.
GORANI: Yes. And they're not the only ones. But let me ask you this.
What's the alternative?
Why would you or anyone who doesn't like this deal be able to negotiate a better one with Brussels?
JENKIN: Partly because I think Theresa May has run out of negotiating credibility with the European Union. She's actually put her signature on this deal that she can't get through the House of Commons.
GORANI: But why would you do a better job?
JENKIN: A fresh prime minister would have had the opportunity to say we're starting again and would have said, with this support of the DUP we will leave the European Union without an agreement if necessary, because the problem with the agreement that the U.K. has been offered so far, we can unilaterally leave the E.U. just by serving notice.
These new arrangements for leaving the E.U., we can't leave those without the permission of the E.U.
GORANI: Time is ticking.
GORANI: It's also a question of much time you have to negotiate a better deal. Article 50 was triggered when some would argue it didn't need to be.
JENKIN: Some would argue --
GORANI: You didn't have a plan.
JENKIN: That's one of the reasons why Theresa May has rather lost credibility.
Why did she ask Parliament to help her invoke Article 50?
When it turned out 15 months later, the government hadn't agreed with itself what it was going to try and negotiate.
GORANI: Why not extend the negotiating period at this point, give your country a chance to negotiate a better agreement?
JENKIN: There might be a case for that but the real problem, you know, is we have 52 percent of our voters who voted leave. Not 52 percent of the MPs. Most of the MPs want to be -- remain in the European Union. This is really in the beltway, outside of the beltway.
JENKIN: And gradually, even though the MPs will say we accept the referendum result, we accept the referendum result, they don't.
GORANI: So you'd rather leave --
GORANI: -- you'd rather leave without a deal than create a scenario in which you have more time to negotiate?
JENKIN: Yes, I would, because actually --
GORANI: A lot of people would listen to you and say that's not in the best interest of the country.
JENKIN: Well, we would have some short-term problems -- GORANI: It's political.
JENKIN: Well, the result of the referendum was political. It was a decision to take back our independence as a sovereign state. But as you know, the United States of America would never agree to join something like the European Union, where lawmakers in a foreign country -- OK, you've got one guy at the table. But they make your laws and there's a court that can overrule --
JENKIN: -- your Supreme Court and all kind of regulations and laws that are applied in your country that you can't control. That's what it's like being in the European Union. You would never accept that.
GORANI: But was there ever a law that was imposed on your country by the E.U. that you disagreed with?
GORANI: Such as?
JENKIN: Well, for example, they have created something called the working time directive. This sets minimum working times. Now everyone wants to have sensible minimum working times but we have a National Health Service. It played havoc with our National Health Service. It caused mayhem in the National Health Service. So we've never recovered.
GORANI: So these are rules and regulations from the E.U. that you disagree with and want to be free from.
JENKIN: In a normal democracy -- and this may seem unusual, odd that I have to explain this to an American -- in a normal democracy, your country makes its own laws. As a member of the European Union, we do not make our own laws. They're made for us by a majority of other member states in the European Union.
And if we vote against those laws, there isn't anything that we can do about it. That's not a democracy. That's what British people voted against. They want it to be a free and democratic and independent state once again, like the United States of America, like Canada, like Japan and like many other countries. And most countries aren't in the European Union. They're absolutely fine.
So we've got a problem --
GORANI: They don't have a 40-year relationship that they have to unravel, either.
JENKIN: Yes, but I mean, we just -- if the United Kingdom left without an agreement, there would quickly be an agreement because, you know what? The European Union sells about twice as much stuff to us as we sell to them, so if they want to keep on selling us BMWs and French cheeses and French wines and Italian wines and all of these things that they make, Italian washing machines, all of the things that they make, they sell into our country.
GORANI: We'll see what happens and there is a very difficult choice to be made between Theresa May's deal and perhaps even leaving with no agreement.
Bernard Jenkin --
JENKIN: Thank you very much.
GORANI: -- thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
We'll be right back on CNN with more of our special coverage. Stay with us.
GORANI: Well, here was the moment when Graham Brady, the chairman of the Conservative Party 1922 Committee, that oversaw the vote of no confidence against Theresa May, announced the result of the vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRADY: The result of the ballot held this evening is that the parliamentary party does have confidence --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And minutes later, the prime minister had this to say on the steps of 10 Downing Street.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAY: This has been a long and challenging day but at the end of it I am pleased to have received the backing of my colleagues in tonight's ballot. While I'm grateful for that support, a significant number of colleagues did cast a vote against me and I've listened to what they said. Following this ballot we now need to get on with --
MAY: -- the job of delivering Brexit for the British people and building a better future for this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's bring in Conservative MP George Freeman.
Mr. Freeman, you voted for Theresa May.
GEORGE FREEMAN, CONSERVATIVE MP: Because I think triggering a Conservative leadership election tonight would have been a complete distraction from the real challenge, which is that we've got three months to find a deal.
And the default, the legal default is a no deal, which would be very damaging to the U.K., very damaging to our Irish partners and very damaging to Europe.
GORANI: Well, Sir Bernard Jenkin, who was here before you, said he'd rather leave without a deal.
FREEMAN: Yes. Better I would classify as a religious zealot on Brexit. For 30 years, his overriding mission in politics has been to pull out of the European Union and I think he'd actually like the European Union to fail.
And I do not share that view nor do most of our colleagues. So the moderate voices of the Conservative Party tonight has triumphed in saying we have to get on and try and negotiate a deal that works for everybody.
GORANI: So does that mean that the hard Brexiteers will be, you know, less of a force in your party?
In the end, they're the ones who got David Cameron into the mess that he got himself into by calling a referendum, right?
I mean, are they the ones now who will be slightly more --
FREEMAN: I think they've overplayed their hand. I think many people like me, I was for Remain. I was in business before I came into Conservative politics. I was a business minister under David Cameron.
We've all compromised and I've accepted that we're leaving the European political Union. I've accepted that and I think the Brexiteers have overplayed their hand tonight. And the Conservative Party has said enough, actually. We need to get on and find a deal.
GORANI: Here's my question, why do you accept the inevitability of Brexit?
You haven't left yet.
FREEMAN: Why do I accept the inevitability of us leaving?
FOREMAN: Because I think the British Parliament are very clear. I think those people who think, oh, we'll have a second referendum, I know this view in Europe is common and many of my European friends say to me, oh, you know, Britain will change its mind.
I honestly don't think that's the case. I voted Remain so I'm not saying this as someone who thinks about getting my way. I'm just -- I'm afraid. I think the British public have decided that we should leave the political union and a political party that tells them they're wrong, will never recover.
So the challenge is for us to find a Brexit which is orderly, which is moderate, which is sensible. Now my hardcore colleagues like Bernard Jenkin are against it but I think there's a majority in the House of Commons for it.
GORANI: But you say that the party that will go against the people's wish to exit the political union would be damaged irreparably.
Is your party not damaged irreparably as it is?
FREEMAN: Yes. And I think the Labour Party would be absolutely damaged if it were in the same place.
GORANI: I mean, as it is.
Is it not damaged irreparably --
GORANI: so divided. Bernard Jenkin, for instance, I mean, his discourse is so different to yours.
FREEMAN: Yes. I'm agreeing with you.
GORANI: -- people have tweeted me are outright lies, like that the E.U. imposes lies on the U.K. They're saying it's outright lies. And so you are a member of the same party as Bernard Jenkin.
How do you reconcile that?
GROSSMAN: Well, shock, horror, the Conservative Party is divided by Brexit. The country's divided by Brexit. The Labour Party, by the way, is equally divided by Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn is playing a clever game up north, where there is a very strong Labour Brexit vote and he plays the Brexiteer.
Down south in London, in the liberal Labour Party, he plays a Remainer. In the end, the country is divided. And I'm not sitting here telling you tonight this is a moment of unity and triumph at all.
I'm simply saying to you that we'll now get on with the job and, remember, the legal backstop is no deal. I think that would be very damaging for our economy and for Europe.
GORANI: Lastly, as we wrap up these two or three hours of coverage, the special coverage of the no confidence vote and Theresa May, where does your country go from here? FREEMAN: Look, I think this is politics and there's a lot still in the balance. If we get this wrong, I fear this will be the beginning of a very dangerous moment in British politics, where we get a left- wing Trump, if I can put it like that.
And I think Jeremy Corbyn --
GORANI: -- in the person of Jeremy Corbyn?
FREEMAN: Yes. I mean by that, a populist sort of anti-Westminster, anti-democratic, left-wing nationalist. We haven't seen that in Britain before. But I think the mood in this country is very fragile. Now that's why, as a former business minister, a Remainer, a one- nation Conservative, you may be surprised that I am so adamant that we have to deliver Brexit.
That's why because I think if we don't, we could trigger something far, far worse. So I think if we get it right, if the Conservative Party delivers Brexit with the support of --
FREEMAN: -- cross-party MPs, colleagues like Bernard Jenkin will be livid but the nation will say, good, that's what we wanted. And then I think we'll choose a new leader. Tonight the prime minister gave me the undertaking I needed, which was that she won't go on and on.
And I think if we choose a new leader in the summer, who inherits withdrawal and can then shape our new relationship in the spirit of a new generation, a renewed Conservative Party for a reunited country, we could get back on track.
GORANI: Well, but it's years away. The final agreement, a real trade deal, the real relationship that will define trading in goods and services, the banking sector, the pharmaceutical sector, the chemicals industry, all of that is years away.
What do you tell businesses who still don't -- who are reluctant, they're reluctant to spend and to invest now because they don't know what will happen?
FREEMAN: That's why I think the withdrawal agreement is so important because it provides business with the reassurance that they need. And that is, I mean, I joined the Conservative Party. I would have joined a business party if there was one. I'm business conservative to my bones.
Now you are dead right. It's just a withdrawal agreement. We then have to frame a longer term relationship. Now I wanted us to do that against the backdrop of a sensible agreement, not come to the head of a no deal.
So let's get through the withdrawal agreement, get ourselves into a safe place and then the really difficult work begins of what is our future?
What is Europe's future as well, by the way?
Europe is facing terrible crises. And I want Europe to resolve those crises. And it has its own immigration issues. The Eurozone has its own issues and the European economic growth trajectory isn't strong enough.
And those are the issues we really ought to tackle.
GORANI: Certainly they have their issues, the 27 other countries in the E.U., just as yours does. Just as many countries around the world these days do.
George Freeman, member of Parliament, chair of the Conservative Policy Forum, thank you very much for joining us.
We'll take a quick break and we'll come back with more of our special coverage.
GORANI: Welcome back. Before we go, a short recap of our top story. Theresa May has won the confidence vote of Conservative members of the British Parliament. There were 200 votes in favor to 117 against. She can not be challenged now by her party members for the next year.
Carole Walker and Julia Chatterley are here with me to wrap up our special coverage.
Carole, I want to start with you.
Your thoughts on this evening?
WALKER: Well, she has survived. She did face a serious challenge tonight. There were more than a third of her MPs who voted against her. That's not a confident nor a comfortable position for a prime minister to be in. But certainly her cabinet have rallied around her and her supporters are saying this is a convincing margin of victory.
She now cannot be challenged for another year and she can get on with the Brexit process without constantly worrying about whether she was going to face this challenge that we saw today.
But the fundamentals remain very, very difficult, indeed. She's got to get this withdrawal agreement through the Houses of Parliament and she's essentially back where she was 24 hours ago. She's still in her position. But there's no way that she has really been fundamentally strengthened in that wider battle.
GORANI: But she won.
GORANI: Is she not strengthened in that sense?
I know she traded one headache for another for 24 hours but she came out the other side. And I wonder how Brussels and European leaders will react to this. They must be comforted on some level.
CHATTERLEY: She is strengthened in the sense that she doesn't face a challenge from within her own party for the next year. She maintains her leadership of the party but she remains prime minister. She can now go to Europe and say, OK, we've wasted 24 hours. You've seen the challenge I face here. You've seen the fact that I have had to delay this vote and what can you give me?
The problem is they've made it clear all of the way along that they're not willing to fundamentally change this deal; they're only willing to change the language. And the key is what now with those 117 that voted against her will be willing to support this deal as the clock ticks down and we come toward facing off in a situation of a no-deal exit here?
WALKER: And when she stood on the steps of Downing Street, she talked about how she would go back and get legal and political reassurance from those other E.U. leaders. It was interesting that she made a point of saying that she listened to those who had voted against her leadership.
She knows how difficult it is going to be to get her withdrawal agreement through Parliament. And it was interesting that she used that word "legal reassurance," because the Democratic Unionists, that are supposed to be supporting her government and many of her own MPs are saying that, look, unless the right language is written into the legal text of that divorce deal, then they're not going to be prepared to support it.
What they don't want to be is locked into too close of a relationship with the European Union without a way of getting out of it.
GORANI: But, Julia, European leaders -- and this may be a negotiating tactic -- but they quite clearly said, from Donald Tusk all the way to Angela Merkel, we're not renegotiating this.
CHATTERLEY: Absolutely. And they're really good at playing brinksmanship. So they'll be sitting there, going, you can come begging and we'll see how that far that gets you.
Remember, under Article 50, anything that we're negotiating at this stage is about withdrawal. It's not leading binding in terms of the future arrangement. So again it comes back to what concessions the Europeans are willing to give her here and, quite frankly, why should they at this stage?
We're still at high risk I think of her coming back with some kind of adjustment to the language, putting it to a vote here in Parliament and that not passing. And then what?
The clock's ticking down and the vote before January 31st and March 29th is the date.
GORANI: And then, what?
We'll have to end it there for this hour.
WALKER: Plenty of drama to come.
GORANI: Thanks very much to both of you. I really appreciate having you on the program for our special covering. And we'll have more on this breaking news story in the coming hours.
I'm Hala Gorani. "CNN TODAY" is next.