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CNN International - Trump's Former Lawyer Michael Cohen Gets 3 Years in Prison; Theresa May Faces a Confidence Vote from U.K. Members of Parliament. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 12, 2018 - 15:00   ET


HALA GORANI, ANCHOR, CNN: Hello and welcome once again to our special coverage of the pivotal moment for the British government, for the Prime Minister of this country, for Brexit, for the entire European Union. I'm Hala Gorani. Welcome this hour. We're expecting the results of a secret ballot that will determine the political fate of Theresa May.

Now, Conservative Members of the Parliament have just held a confidence vote in their leader, Theresa May. The window for voting has closed. The vote was triggered when at least 48 Conservative MPs, or 15% of the party, submitted official letters calling for her to go, all at the height of Brexit uncertainty.

Just a few hours ago on Downing Street, she vowed to fight on.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I will contest that vote with everything I've got. The new leader time wouldn't have time to negotiate a withdrawal agreement and get the legislation through Parliament by the 29th of March.

So one of their first acts would have to be extending or rescinding Article 50, delaying or even stopping Brexit.


GORANI: Well, the magic number she needs to survive is the support of 159 members of her party. Many have publicly said they'll back her, but remember, the ballot is secret. They may say one thing publicly and then do another thing when they cast their votes.

Now, the ballots are being counted and as soon as we know the result, we'll bring it to you. CNN has the story covered around London and around the world. Julia Chatterley is here with me in front of Parliament and Richard Quest is in New York. We'll be speaking with Richard in just a few minutes and you can see there Nic Robertson is at 10 Downing Street. Matthew Chance is with protesters just a few meters away from us. Julia, let's talk about today because you had an opportunity to speak to MPs, you had pro Brexit members of Parliament, those who think that leaving is a disaster. What did you glean from your time reporting on this story today?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, HOST, CNN: It depends who you speak to. I mean, if you speak to the Liberal Democrats, they're pushing for a people's vote, they are saying, "Look, we simply we can't agree on what's best for the country here, we need to give it back to the people and for them to decide." The Labour MPs that we were speaking to today of course, quietly saying, "Look, in the end, if a confidence vote has to come from the opposition here and challenge leadership then, perhaps it will come."

Obviously, that depends on Jeremy Corbyn and th e conservatives, and I think this is what's critical for what we're seeing tonight. I believe ultimately that Theresa May will win through, she will win this confidence vote and she will continue to fight this deal, however she can adjust the language.

I also spoke to a Cabinet Secretary, Work and Pension Secretary, Amber Rudd, of course, two and again seen as a Theresa May loyalist. She said again that Theresa May will win through tonight, that she ultimately will not step up if indeed Theresa May loses tonight.

She said, "Look, I'm not even going to talk about this at this stage. This is our only option." And quite frankly, this contest, this confidence vote, is a waste of time. Listen in.


AMBER RUDD, WORK AND PENSION SECRETARY: We spent the day today losing the negotiating time that she wanted to do, to improve the withdrawal agreement. People like myself, as ministers who should be getting on with government, doing the jobs we were sent here to do. We haven't been able to do that and I want to get back to that. We are sent here by our constituents to do a job, and we need to get back to doing that rather than having this day wondering about the vote of no confidence.


GORANI: Well, she can say that, but this is a deal that's wildly unpopular on both sides of the political divide. Both Brexiteers and those who prefer to remain say it's the worst of both worlds.

CHATTERLEY: And i put that challenge to her. I said, simply if Theresa May wins this confidence vote tonight, the situation resumes. The challenges resume even if she can garner more concession here even on the language of the Irish backstop situation, we still don't have the votes in Parliament behind us, and no one can answer that at this stage, not the Cabinet and not Theresa May herself, I'd argue.

GORANI: And standby, Julia, Nic Robertson is at 10 Downing Street with more on what the Prime Minister's strategy is at this point, even if she does survive politically. What's ahead for her?

NIC ROBERTSON, INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR, CNN: Well, she'd just arrived back here, Hala, I'd say in the past couple of minutes. Her car swept up, she stepped out of the car. I have to say she looked pretty happy. I mean, not easy to read this particular Prime Minister, but she was smiling. She was smiling as she walked into the building.


ROBERTSON: So it does appear if she has had a defeat, she is wearing it very well, but that's not my takeaway. She seemed pretty happy getting out of her car and going into the building. That's the pose that she's been striking all day, but as you say, what happens next, yes, she is expected to go to Brussels tomorrow to continue talking to some of those European Union leaders.

What she is expecting to find there is that the door is closed on opening up the Brexit deal, but what she is hoping for is the word that she has talked about, reassurances, as Julia was mentioning, on the backstop agreement on the border with Northern Ireland. That's where she has to pick up with the challenge that she's had at the moment, and of course, the big challenge coming back when she does take the Brexit deal, as much as she's been able to get any extra little wording that she might want to get, anything that she's been able to get like that, when she takes that for the meaningful vote, will that become her next major, major challenge where the opposition may decide to call for a vote of no confidence in the government?

If she's done very well in the vote tonight, they might be a bit chastened to think about that. So we're still waiting for the result to see that. But many, many challenges lay ahead for Theresa May. This is far, far from down even if she has won.

GORANI: It's far from over as we were discussing, a vote of no confidence from her own party. Today, it could come from the opposition, we were discussing that with Julia. I want to get to Matthew Chance because he's been with demonstrators for the better part of this week, actually. What are they telling you about what they want? Obviously calls for another referendum, and then you have those that don't like this deal even though they want a Brexit. What are you hearing this evening?

MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I mean, there, you can see I'm with some of the stragglers, I think it's fair to call them now. I mean, what is it? Locally, five past 8:00 in evening. The last couple of days, there have been many, many more people here as people came to protest outside Parliament in preparation for that meaningful vote that was meant to be held about the Brexit deal.

Look, I mean, this latest crisis in the Conservative Party leadership has emerged and overshadowed the more fundamental crisis that of course the country is facing. We've been talking about it. It's worth reminding our viewers that even if Theresa May wins this vote tonight, and she is assured of her position as the leader of the Conservative Party, she still has got to deal with that sort of slightly difficult issue of Brexit and how she's going to get that deal that everybody hates past Parliament.

People here, the remainers as they call them, they want Britain to be part of the European Union. They hate this Brexit and they hate the plan. They want the plan abandoned altogether.

The hard line Brexiteers, they think it goes way too far and gives all sorts of undue concessions to the European Union, and that division on the streets is reflected across the country and is reflected inside the Parliament as well. So, again, a reminder that tonight, if she wins this vote, the real crisis is still ahead of her in the future.

Now, in terms of what the outcome will be, as we've been hearing, lots of her Cabinet colleagues have been expressing their support for the Prime Minister, now is not the time, they say, to rally against her. But whatever they say in public, not necessarily going to be matched in private.

I spoke to Michael Gove, one of the architects of the Brexit campaign during the referendum, asked him what he felt Theresa May's status was. Take a listen.


CHANCE: ... and the deal would go through? Has Theresa May already lost the confidence of the party, sir?


CHANCE: You say that, but don't you think that --

GOVE: I do say that, yes.


CHANCE: Do you think that you might be a better leader?


CHANCE: Do you have ambitions for the leadership at all?


CHANCE: Live Brooks tells you're a 10-1 favorite of being the next Prime Minister?

GOVE: I don't believe in betting.

CHANCE: Do you think there will even be a Brexit, sir?


CHANCE: Michael Gove there insisting that he had no ambitions to be the leader of the Conservative Party, no ambitions to be Prime Minister, also saying that the support for Theresa May was assured, but we will find out within the next hour how significant, how solid that support is of Theresa May inside the Conservative Party -- Hala.

GORANI: We sure will. Hopefully by the end of this hour. Matthew Chance, thanks very much. Julia, there is talk that perhaps Theresa May, if she survives this, will go back to Brussels and will get some sort of assurance, maybe it's a nonbinding addendum to this agreement that as Matthew was saying most people dislike in Parliament and in some cases across the country. What would that addendum look like? I mean, if it's nonbinding, what would the E.U. offer Theresa May to try to get this deal through Parliament?


CHATTERLEY: They've been clear all the way along, and the Council President, Donald Tusk was saying even said today, this is the deal. Perhaps they'll allow some language changes around the border, the Irish border, that's of course kicking in, if, indeed, we haven't organized a better deal, a firm deal post the transition period ending in 2020.

But we're only talking language changes to try and give some reassurance that that period won't go on eternally, I'm simply not confident. And no one I've spoken to today that takes and makes a vote in Parliament is confident that that will be enough to pass. And then what?

Obviously, we've got that deadline of January 21st to have this meaningful vote ultimately, and if she wins tonight and carries forward, rearranges this deal, the question is does she push it right to the back end of that date in order to focus minds and try and push it through?

GORANI: Yes, it seems like that could be the strategy. It certainly -- as the closer she gets to the fateful date, the more the choice becomes a stark one between either her deal or crashing out, which possibly is her strategy in fact, and Nic Robertson, at 10 Downing Street, you said the Prime Minister is back at 10 Downing. She was smiling. Maybe she is anticipating good news, but are we expecting to hear from her this evening?

ROBERTSON: We haven't been told to expect anything, but given that her speech this morning was unexpected after the letter to the 1922 Committee meeting the 48 votes to bring about the vote of no confidence, after that was made public, very quickly it was announced she would come out and say something.

So I think it's still quite on the cards that she'll want to say something this evening, perhaps get it on the late evening news bulletins here in the U.K. that would quite important for her. And if that happen, and I think it will be, the Theresa May that we've been hearing over the past weeks and months saying that she is going to go back, to try to get these reassurances, that this is the best deal, she was going to do her best to deliver it. She said most sincerely, she will mean it most sincerely, but it doesn't mean she'll be able to carry it off.

But if the result is in her favor, I wouldn't be surprised if we don't hear from her later this evening.

GORANI: Okay. Nic Robertson, thanks very much at 10 Downing Street. Of course, we'll get back to you very soon. Richard Quest is in New York, not next to me in London this time around. But Richard, talk to us about what -- I mean traders and markets. This is in the end going to have such a huge impact not just on the economy of the U.K., but on economies of neighboring countries or countries in the E.U., corporations that operate in both the U.K. and E.U. and currencies. RICHARD QUEST, ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: I was just looking --

the true definition of the word dilemma, a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives and that is the position Theresa May finds herself in because the real issue, Hala, on the question of markets is not March the 29th until you crash out. They are assuming something akin to that, if we look at what's being priced in.

It is the abject uncertainty over the next three months, two months, three weeks, whatever it's going to be, and that won't change. That won't change, Hala, whatever happens because ultimately tonight, if she wins big, she's strengthened going to Brussels. If she wins small, she's weakened and it's the deal as it is.

If she loses, Article 50 has to get suspended. There's no other way around it. These are the objects of dilemma she faces tonight.

GORANI: So let's talk a little bit about what the business world, what the trading world, what people who handle money need to anticipate what will happen to currencies, to the stock markets. What is their preferred scenario here? Do they want this whole thing to be called off?

QUEST: Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. They would like the Article 50 to be rescinded, which of course the UK can now unilaterally do after the European decision. They would like for everything to go back to as normal as possible. The pound that is up 1.3%, I mean, I wouldn't put too much store by this. The fact that this is probably because they believe the Prime Minister is going to win and therefore, there's a bit more certainty over how she goes to negotiate.

There isn't a deep uncertainty of a new Tory election with all that that would come with it. But let's face it, these are very, very uncertain markets, and that the whiff of bluster, they will all over.

GORANI: Richard, we will be talking all hour and in the coming hours as well once the result is out. Carole Walker, political analyst, is here, and James Blitz as well of the "Financial Times." Thanks to both of you again for sticking around ...


GORANI: ... as we continue to follow and cover this extraordinary evening once again in the U.K. And James, I want to start with you because Nic Robertson, our reporter at 10 Downing Street, our diplomatic editor, said that Theresa May is back and she was smiling, so she's probably expecting some good news in terms of her political survival.

JAMES BLITZ, WHITEHALL EDITOR, FINANCIAL TIMES: Perhaps. I mean, the ballot just finished. It takes quite a long time, this thing, and it's a bit surprising. She may have some news. I'm sure she will be told first what the result is before we are told, win, lose, whatever it is. But whether you can -- I mean, Carole, you and I have been following this for a long period of time. I'm not sure you can read that much into it.

CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think particularly with this Prime Minister, a smile on her face could mean just about anything. But, yes, James is right. She will certainly be informed by Sir Graham Brady before he makes any public announcement whether or not she has won tonight. I'm hearing from close allies of the Prime Minister, Conservative MPs, that they believe that she will win, and that she will win by a convincing margin. but of course it has been a secret ballot. This is what people are declaring publicly, and until we get those figures, we can't be certain.

GORANI: Talk to us about what kind of person Theresa May is. What's going through her mind now? From what we know of her personality.

WALKER: She is a very private person, a very reserved person, not someone who opens up hugely, even to those who are closest to her apart of course from her husband. But I think what she will be thinking is that if she gets through this, she knows that that is not the end of the crisis that she faces. She still faces the bigger task, if you like, of getting her deal, the withdrawal agreement, through this parliament.

She will, if she survives tonight, be going to that E.U. Summit tomorrow, and she knows that the numbers against her are still stacking up for a defeat unless she can get further concessions from the other E.U. leaders.

GORANI: Is this delaying the inevitable, though? I mean, can she get a deal through Parliament? It seems like nothing she can get from the E.U. is going to make this work for her?

BLITZ: No. It's going to be difficult. I mean, I think if she wins convincingly tonight, it does help her a bit, it gives her more room to maneuver. It means that she knows that she isn't going to be kicked in the next period because you can't hold this vote of confidence for another year. And it gives her a bit of momentum, but the basics aren't going to change. The deal is the deal. There will be an attempt to get a new kind of codicil or legal arrangement on the back stop. It's not going to go very far.

And so that vote when it comes, assuming she survives on the approval of the motion, it is still going to be very difficult indeed. And so the big questions haven't been resolved.

WALKER: And all indications the indications are that her only tactic to get through this is going to be to delay for as long as possible before holding that vote, perhaps into January, close to that January the 21st deadline in the hope that MPs will decide that it's better to have her deal than risk leaving without a deal at all.

GORANI: It is 8:18 p.m. U.K. time, which means that hopefully about at the top of the next hour, we will hear from Sir Graham Brady, who's the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, and the 1922 Committee is the body that has received these letters, these letters requesting a vote of no confidence. So that's hopefully what will happen in the next 40 minutes. But just one thing before we take a break and come back. This is the

withdrawal agreement. This is not the deal that is going to seal the relationship between the U.K. and the E.U. in terms of trade and other important aspects of their relationship. We're talking years here potentially, right?

BLITZ: Yes, that's right. All that is really being voted on by Parliament when we come to vote, obviously we're having the vote of confidence today, but when we come to the vote on that, it is the divorce agreement, it's the money that the U.K. pays to the E.U. as part of it inherited assets that it needs to pay off. It's the Northern Ireland situation. It's the situation regarding the 3.2 million European citizens and their rights in the U.K. That's all that's being dealt with.

As you rightly say, what is going to take years to work out is the future comprehensive trade relationship between Britain and the E.U.

WALKER: And one of the reasons that MPs decided to move against her now is that they're concerned that the whole way she's handled the negotiations over the last two years mean that when we come -- if she gets this deal through, even if she gets this deal through, even if we then get to the other side of Brexit on March the 29th, there is still this transition period when that future trading relationship is being sorted out and what they are concerned about is that she's going to give too ...


WALKER: ... many concessions again to the European Union, that they will get the sort of freedom that the Brexiteers want to make these free trade deals around the world outside of the European Union.

GORANI: Carole Walker, James Blitz, please don't go too far away. We'll be back with you soon. Still to come tonight, as lawmakers here in Westminster vote on their Prime Minister's future, we'll hear from one MP who voted remain in the Brexit referendum, but now wants to get on with leaving.

Also other news, one of Donald Trump's closest confidants, his ex- personal lawyer, will be doing some hard prison time, three years for Michael Cohen.

The Conservative MP Simon Hart joins me now. He opposed Brexit in the referendum, but he is now pushing for a pragmatic approach to leaving the E.U. and he's just cast his vote in the no-confidence initiative against the prime minister. Simon Hart, you voted to support Theresa May.



HART: I mean, it's not really a personal thing about her, it's not like we're personal friends or anything like that, it's just that I think changing the leader at this stage is actually going to just put everything back, and sort of confuse the situation even further, and more importantly, there is nobody obvious out there who can just step in now and solve all the problems.

The problems are the numbers and the majority and all those complications will remain the same. So I think it's just really bad timing.

GORANI: Do you think she'll survive?

HART: I think she will survive. I think there's lots of speculation about the margin by which she will survive. I wouldn't be surprised if it's a little bit smaller than people are anticipating just because, you know, there's a lot of guys out there saying one thing to the media and --

GORANI: It's a secret ballot.

HART: I know, I know. I am just hoping that the number of people who are being dishonest are sort of equal on both sides, but I think she probably -- and people will remember the result, not the score, so I think they will -- I think in a couple of days' time she will have survived her leadership bid.

GORANI: But where does that leave the Brexit deal? Because this doesn't mean -- surviving this vote doesn't mean she's getting that through Parliament.

HART: No, that's right, and I think the big challenge is still to come in January and I think you're quite right to point that out. I think there was -- the thing is still going, the deadline is still March 29th. We still are on course to do that. Parliament will have to sanction some kind of deal. And I think one of the reasons that I voted in favor of keeping her in the driving seat tonight is because we changed all of that.


HART: Actually, we start a process by which we could not only lose the Prime Minister, but we could lose Brexit, actually lose the government, and end up from my point of view with the worst of all worlds, which is a sort of Marxist government led by Jeremy Corbyn, no Brexit at all, and a lot of people who voted no, will be thinking, what did this people took me?

GORANI: I think a lot of people abroad and we're seen all over the world, often ask one question. Why does the U.K. not just hold another people's vote? What's the problem with that? Initially, when the referendum happened and people didn't know what Brexit they were voting for, now they've had an opportunity to get a good sense of what it means economically, and what impact it would have on their lives, put it to them again.

HART: I think there's a chance, by the way that that will still be the outcome. It might be the only thing in which Parliament can agree in due course. I am personally opposed to that because actually I really don't think that it will necessarily settle anything and it will be a huge ride, it will probably be a year if not more than a year of arguing in this building across the road about what question do you ask, how many questions do you ask, what the threshold is? What is the differential there?

GORANI: But isn't that better than making a catastrophic decision too quickly after having triggered Article 50 too quickly without having a plan? Isn't that better?

HART: There was a referendum in 2016.

GORANI: Yes, but they didn't know what they were voting for. They didn't know hard, they didn't know soft, customs union, freedom of movement -- none of that was laid out. None of it.

HART: I have more faith in voters than you do and I think the idea to say, the poor voters were too stupid and they didn't know what they were saying.

GORANI: It's not a question of being stupid, it's a question of not having the information that they have now. It has nothing to do with stupidity.

HART: Let me put it another way. There is no majority in the country for another referendum. And most importantly, in the end, this is about Parliamentary matters. Across the road here, there is no majority. We can talk about a second referendum, but it doesn't pass a majority, which it won't, then we're slightly wasting each other's time on that particular point.

So Parliament will not sanction a second or actually it would be a third referendum on this topic, because there was a referendum to go in 1975, a referendum to come out in 2016 -- so we're having referendums on this topic all along. And actually, I think we have to recognize the fact that a referendum was held, there was a result, which was reasonably clear, people did know -- David Cameron, Prime Minister at the time, set out what the risks were, what the opportunities were. People took a view.

And to say, "Oh, well, we don't like that view ..."

GORANI: I don't have to tell you and you voted remain, I don't have to tell you that remainers think that maybe the impact was not made entirely clear and that the campaign to leave was based a lot of times on exaggerations and lies.

HART: I mean, anybody followed the Trump election will know that actually every election, any part of the world, it's always typified by one party, one candidate or another making outlandish promises, boasting about a record that they didn't deserve, and people -- voters know all of that stuff. They know that actually, there was a certain amount of exaggeration. They also know that once you get into office, you're dependent on really important factor -- do you have a majority?

And there are lots of fantastic ideas knocking around about how we resolve this particular crisis, but unless you can get a majority in there, it doesn't matter. It's all talk. You have to get a majority. GORANI: And a majority is what's so difficult to achieve on any


HART: It's 650 divided by two plus one. Whoever gets that wins the game.

GORANI: Simon Hart, Conservative MP backing Theresa May this evening. We'll know soon enough. We believe perhaps at the top of the next hour, I mean, is that the expectation.

HART: Twenty minutes from now I reckon, something like that.

GORANI: All right, Simon Hart, I appreciate it. Thanks so much for joining us on CNN. A quick detour to the United States. Donald Trump's former lawyer says working for Mr. Trump was like being trapped in a mental prison. And now Michael Cohen will know what it's like to be in an actual prison.

A Federal judge sentenced Cohen to three years in prison, a harsh penalty on the man who was known as the President's fixer. Let's bring CNN's Kara Scannell with more on this, what was it like in the courtroom today, Kara?

KARA SCANNELL, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, it was a pretty dramatic day. I mean, you had Michael Cohen standing before the judge, asking for leniency, and, you know, actually becoming pretty emotional when he talked about how he was sorry for the pain he put his family through and he also apologized to the American public, saying that they deserved to know the truth.

Now, the judge said that he wanted to encourage cooperation, which Cohen did get some credit for, but he also said that the crimes Cohen committed were serious, including tax fraud, campaign finance violations, making a false statement to a bank, and lying to Congress, and he said because those crimes were so serious he wanted to send the right message and the message of strong deterrence, and that's why he had sentenced Cohen to 36 months in prison, which is about three years.

He was facing between four to five year, so the judge did give him a little bit of a break, but he was making the point to send a message and we saw there was, I think some real disappointment among Michael Cohen and his family, his children were there, his wife, his parents, his in-laws, cousins, they were all very emotionally upset after it.

They were -- there were tears, there were a lot of hugs, a lot of, you know, pats on the back. They seemed to be pretty stunned by the length of time that Cohen had got, hoping he would get less because he is cooperating with the special counsel's office, and the special counsel's office had attorneys there today saying that his cooperation was credible, that it goes right to the core of their investigation, which is Russia's interference with the election. Hala?

HALA GORANI, HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: All right, Kara Scannell outside the courthouse in New York, thanks very much. Still to come tonight, we will update you on our breaking news coverage. Theresa May's fight for political survival right here in the heart of Westminster. We'll hear from the lawmaker whose letter helped spark the whole leadership crisis, after this.


GORANI: Welcome back. Let's bring you up to speed with what's going on with Theresa May's confidence vote here in Westminster. The vote was triggered when at least 48 consecutive MPs or 15 percent of the Tory Party in this country submitted official letters calling for her to go.

The result is due in the next half hour. All of this comes at the height of Brexit uncertainty of course. And the number -- the magic number is 159, that's how many members of her party, Theresa May needs to support her. Many have publicly said they'll back her, but remember, it is a secret ballot.

As soon as we know the result, we will bring it to you. Let's bring in Robin Walker; he's the parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union and also a conservative MP. You backed Theresa May.

ROBIN WALKER, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, DEPARTMENT FOR EXITING THE EUROPEAN UNION: I have done, I've been there to vote, most early in the process --

GORANI: Yes --

WALKER: And yes, come out afterwards, still back up the EU, because I think their Prime Minister has been doing a hugely difficult job --

GORANI: Yes --

[15:35:00] WALKER: But she needs to say for it, and that's what I hear from my constituents. It was they've been contacting me all day, and from all parties, not just from my own party, to say, you know, we want to see the Prime Minister see this process through, and we want to be able to hold the government to account on the basis of a complete Brexit deal.

GORANI: But they support the agreement that she struck with the EU, the withdrawal agreement she has struck with the EU --

WALKER: And many people do. Some people don't want to see it improve further. And I think it's important that the Prime Minister has listened to the parliamentary debate, and she's going back to seek further concessions and further progress.

But crucially, what people want to see is a Brexit deal that delivers on Brexit that takes control of our laws, our borders and our money, but also protects our economy. And that's been the challenge of this process from the start. It's -- we need to make sure what we deliver and EU exit --

GORANI: How does it --

WALKER: Strike a good deal for our country --

GORANI: But how does this lay out or set up an infrastructure that will protect the British economy? So many bodies, the Bank of England predicting that this will have a huge negative impact on --

WALKER: Well, what the Bank of England were asked to look at was a --

GORANI: Yes --

WALKER: Worst-case scenario --

GORANI: Yes --

WALKER: And of course they have to do that work and it's important that they do that work. But I think actually, what we've seen is various difference in our -- it's by far the best of which is a negotiated deal. On the basis of a negotiated deal, our economy will grow and it will grow faster.

But if we were to have an exit with no deal, and even under an exit with no deal, the government's projections are a long-term, but the economy would grow. But we would take a significant hit as part of that process, and I don't think we need to take that.

We have now negotiated an implementation period, a free-trade agreement. What we were told at the beginning of this process was you could --

GORANI: Yes --

WALKER: Never get the EU to give a country that's leaving a better free-trade agreement than they give any other third country.


WALKER: That is what we now have on the table. So, I think we need to go ahead and secure that --

GORANI: But with no say in any of the rules that govern the standards of trade and the EU. As a member of the EU --

WALKER: Well, of course --

GORANI: You at least had a say.

WALKER: And of course we decided when the country decided to leave the physical project of the EU --

GORANI: Yes --

WALKER: It decided to give up that say in exchange of having control over our own laws. And I think that is something that we as politicians have to respect. We have to be very clear that we are going to take control of our own laws, and that means coming out of the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

That is something that this deal delivers, it's very clear from the --

GORANI: Yes --

WALKER: Withdrawal agreement, it separates us from the legal jurisdiction of the court of justice, and that is important.

GORANI: But what can Theresa May get from the EU that will get this deal through parliament?

WALKER: Well, I think what we heard in the parliamentary debate over the last week is a lot of people have been concerned about the so- called backstop and the arrangements which are there for legitimate reasons, which is to protect the soft border in the island of Ireland --

GORANI: Yes --

WALKER: And make sure we don't unpick the carefully -- careful balance, the commitments and the Good Friday agreement. But the concern about that is currently that people are worried that we could be trapped into it long term and that it could become in some way permanent.

Now, I don't think that's going to happen because I don't think it would be in the EU's interest to do that as Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General was arguing. But I think what we need to show is that we have a mechanism for getting out of that and that it's clear that it's not in the interest of either party to use.

So that's what the Prime Minister will be going back to Brussels and going back to member states --

GORANI: A mechanism --

WALKER: And arguing for.

GORANI: What would that look like? Some sort of promise and an addendum to the text? What --

WALKER: So what we already have in the withdrawal agreement is a mechanism of a joint committee to be able to look at things and to be able to impartially decide if there are two parties using their best endeavors. I think what we may be looking for here is some kind of addendum, some kind of a legally-binding mechanism by which --


WALKER: This could be brought to an end. But crucially, I think, you know, what we need to also ensure is that both sides are committed to moving forward with a future relationship, which is hugely in the interests of the U.K. as well as the EU to avoid putting a backdrop in place in the first place --

GORANI: I get that, but you said legally-binding. This is the first time I've heard that any addendum would be legally binding.

WALKER: Well, I think it's no --

GORANI: That would ensure that the backstop is not indefinite --

WALKER: Yes, the wording that the Prime Minister used earlier to talking to about ventures was should have legal force. I think that is right. I think what people will be looking for is that any arrangement here has legal force, and that of course means it does have an effect on the arrangements very reached in the withdrawal of the agreement.

But I think crucially, we do need parliamentarians -- and I think one process -- one way in which this process which I think was an unnecessary process --

GORANI: Yes --

WALKER: Of the day's vote of confidence, but one way in which it might prove cathartic is that we need parliamentarians to focus on the need for solutions, the need to move forward now in our negotiations with the EU. Rather than making their own personal ideological best the enemy of the good.

And I think what we've had is quite a disjointed debate --

GORANI: Yes --

WALKER: Where different people coming from different perspectives have looks to their own perfect outcome. And actually, what we're talking about now is international negotiation which only has a few months to run before we leave the EU. We need to get that right to make sure we have an outcome that works for --

GORANI: Yes --

WALKER: Our country effectively, and I think that's what we have in sight.

GORANI: You're talking about concessions and compromise.

WALKER: There has to be compromise --

GORANI: Right --

WALKER: And there has -- throughout this process, there needs to be compromise.

GORANI: Robin Walker, thank you so much --

WALKER: Thank you --

GORANI: For joining us, appreciate it. Well, ahead of tonight's vote, Prime Minister's question time, Theresa May told lawmakers it would be a mistake to go down the road that might end up with a general election, another possibility. Listen.


all, that I think that a general election at this point in time would not be in the national interest in the middle of our best solutions.

And secondly, and secondly, and secondly, as you will have heard me say before in this house, I think we should respect the result of the referendum that took place in 2016. I'll tell members on the other side when we've had a meaningful vote, we had it in the referendum in 2016.

And it's -- and if he -- and if he wants a meaningful date, I'll give him one, 29th of March, 2019, when we leave the European Union.


GORANI: The conservative MP Marcus Fysh joins me now. Well, he wrote one of the letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister that triggered tonight's vote. So obviously you voted against the Prime Minister.

MARCUS FYSH, CONSERVATIVE MP: I did, yes, we do need a new leader in my opinion to be able to set out the positive plan and the positive future for the country and to get rid of the really fear-based narrative that this government has based its whole strategy around, which will keep us far too close to the EU and effectively make us a bit like a protector or a colony of the EU on a permanent basis.

Whatever my friend who was on before, was saying that's what the legal text says and --

GORANI: Robin Walker, but critics are saying this is reckless. This is actually not --

FYSH: Right --

GORANI: This is not for the good of the country --

FYSH: Oh, I see --

GORANI: And it says that here you are triggering a leadership contest, therefore triggering more uncertainty, political uncertainty at a crucial time for your country where it needs to be, you know, united to negotiate a good deal.

FYSH: So earlier this week, the Prime Minister ran away from a vote on her plan, which she has staked her whole personal emphasis on. And that is because it's really unsuitable for the country. So in my view, the national interest is absolutely not served by even thinking about approving this withdrawal agreement as it is.

It isn't just the back-stop that is wrong with it. There are serious executive power grabs that are given by the joint committee in there, the concept of extending the transition is a dangerous one, because it means that the EU could inject very dangerous anti-competitive regulation into the U.K. economy, very bad for our financial services sector, et cetera. So there's a lot -- there's a hell of a lot that needs doing to this --

GORANI: I do --

FYSH: I'm not convinced that this leadership is going to do it.

GORANI: If Theresa May survives, is there anything she can do to convince you to back the deal? Is there anything --

FYSH: No, unless --

GORANI: She can bring back from Brussels?

FYSH: Let's see what happens in the vote. You know, I've always tried to work positively with number 10 on practical solutions for the outstanding issues that are there.

But trying to get them focused on anything other than what they've wanted to do, this sort of customs union, plus some analog of the single market has been, well, impossible. They've --

GORANI: Yes --

FYSH: Actually refused to engage in --

GORANI: So it's not just the back-stop. I mean, you're unhappy --

FYSH: No --

GORANI: With many aspects of this --

FYSH: Yes --

GORANI: Agreement --

FYSH: Yes, I am, positive --

GORANI: If it is really, it just sounds like from what you're saying that there's not much she can --

FYSH: Yes --

GORANI: Offer you.

FYSH: Well, the essential problem with it, is it gives all the leverage in the future negotiations to the EU. They have to agree to let us out of it, they have said that they're not going to reopen that legal text. So we may need to take a much more active and positive approach to preparing for any eventuality and seeking the advance free-trade agreement that they offered back in March.

GORANI: Is -- would you support the idea of extending the negotiation period beyond March 29th, in other words, not Brexiting at the end of March?

FYSH: I wouldn't, no, I wouldn't --

GORANI: Yes --

FYSH: Support that. There is enough time, but one of the reasons we have done this now --

GORANI: Yes --

FYSH: Is that there is currently enough time for a properly committed leadership to do everything that is required to make sure that our businesses are ready. You know, there might be one or two teething problems at the beginning, but, you know, I'm on our international trade committee, so I've been looking into the nuts and bolts --

GORANI: Yes --

FYSH: Of trade and customs and this sort of thing. To be frank, we are --

GORANI: And you're confident there's enough time --

FYSH: To be frank, the government hasn't been doing that amount of work that some of us back-benchers have been doing into these issues.

GORANI: Marcus Fysh, conservative MP voted against the Prime Minister this evening. The voting is closed --

FYSH: Yes --

GORANI: The ballots are being counted, the expectation is that the announcement on whether or not the Prime Minister has survived this vote will be made in about 15 minutes time. Marcus Fysh, thank you so much --

FYSH: My pleasure --

GORANI: For joining us. Quick break on Cnn, we'll be right back with a lot more of our breaking news coverage, stay with us.


GORANI: Welcome back. We continue our breaking news coverage of the no-confidence vote in Theresa May's leadership happening at Westminster. The voting was closed by the way, and the ballots are being counted. And we should hear from the chairman of the committee, that is organizing this vote in about -- I mean, look at the time, say 47, sort of about 15 minutes time or so.

Julia Chatterley has been covering this story in London throughout the day, and you've spoken with many MPs and cabinet ministers in fact about what to expect if Theresa May survives. The expectation now is that she's going --


GORANI: To survive politically because it's a rough road ahead for her.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, I mean, as well as the expectation earlier today, and that's across the political spectrum, whether we were talking to conservative MPs, Labor MPs or all the liberal Democrats. Everyone expected this to just be a temporary aberration here, and the real challenge remains, and that is when Theresa May heads over to Europe, tries to negotiate some kind of adjustment to this withdrawal deal that she has here.

And whether or not when she brings that back to parliament, she can get it agreed, and again, no one really believes that she can pass an adjusted deal through parliament here, given everything that the Europeans are saying.

GORANI: I was talking with Robin Walker who is a conservative MP, who is in charge of exiting the EU. One of the minds that has spent a lot of time thinking about the implications, about the strategy, about the agreement. One of the things he said was there could -- there's the option of a legally-binding addendum.

So that, in other words, it's not just this toothless thing dangling at the end of the agreement that perhaps this could be enough to convince MPs who do not currently back the deal because of the back- stop --

CHATTERLEY: It depends whether the Europeans are willing to do that, remember. Anything that's negotiated under article 50, which is where we are right now --

GORANI: Yes --

CHATTERLEY: That goes beyond this transition arrangement, getting us out of the EU, not the future relationship, is not legally binding. So it's whether the Europeans will be willing to agree to that, and the complications that arise as a result of that.

GORANI: Yes --

CHATTERLEY: So -- and even in that circumstance, you know, I've spoken to people today that said look, it's not just the Irish back- stop, preventing that hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

GORANI: Yes --

CHATTERLEY: There's a problem here, there are other issues to address. So again, even if she came back with that kind of arrangement, I'm still not sure she'll have the votes in parliament to get this through and doing what?

GORANI: Well, the strategy could be, you either back this imperfect deal or we're crashing out with nothing. And crashing out, whether you're a leaver or a remainer, I think there's some consensus that it will hurt the economy --

[15:50:00] CHATTERLEY: Well -- GORANI: Of this country --

CHATTERLEY: I think that --

GORANI: Pretty badly.

CHATTERLEY: That's a critical point, and I think the one --

GORANI: Yes --

CHATTERLEY: Thing we can agree on at this moment, that there is no majority in the U.K. parliament behind us to have a no-deal exit, whether that's managed or unmanaged. And as you quite rightly point out, whether it's investors, whether it's the business community, that's the worst case outcome here irrespective of ultimately what voters want.

And if you talk to the liberal Democrats here, they're the ones saying, look, voters need to have the final say here --

GORANI: Yes --

CHATTERLEY: And they're pushing for people's vote. But there's a long way from that yet.

GORANI: They don't have much influence though in parliament --

CHATTERLEY: No, unfortunately not --

GORANI: For Democrats to push anything --

CHATTERLEY: Yes, they just --

GORANI: That they support --

CHATTERLEY: Vote for those that maybe represent them.

GORANI: Julia, thanks so much, and we are almost there. We're just about ten minutes away. We're going to take a quick break, we continue to follow this story. Theresa May, will she survive, will she not survive the night as Prime Minister?

And if she goes, what does it mean for the country, what does it mean for Brexit? Hopefully we'll have all those answers soon, stay with us.


GORANI: Richard Quest, once again, this is extraordinary, really, what we're going through from -- I remember that all-night marathon coverage of the Brexit referendum that we both co-anchored together, to this point. I mean, this has just been so tumultuous.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN: It is and has, and it's not over by any means. I think tonight merely clarifies the Prime Minister, but it goes -- it really doesn't add much to the sum of understanding of how she gets that bill, that act through parliament for its meaningful say. That is the crucial -- I don't think -- you know, Hala, you have looked at this upside down round and about, and there's an argument that says that what we're seeing tonight is very much good, strong side-show to the main event of getting it through parliament.

That bill, that bill -- that act of parliament is not going to change substantially from what is there. And the real issue tonight, once the prime minister is re-established, Hala, is the real issue is what she -- whether or not she can get it through parliament.

That's the long and short of it. And if she can't, what happens then? If she can, leaving with the back stop.

GORANI: Well, I mean, of course, in its current form, this deal is not getting through parliament. And it's very unclear that the U.K. could add or propose anything that would --

[15:55:00] QUEST: You're correct --

GORANI: Get it through parliament. So therefore, the -- I mean, it is -- we're looking at a number of scenarios, one of them is another referendum. It's not --

QUEST: We're still --

GORANI: It's looking more likely now than it was just a few weeks ago. Let's put it that way.

QUEST: We're still some way off the other referendum. I think what she's doing, she's running the clock, she is going to leave it with whatever --

GORANI: Right --

QUEST: Tinkers she gets, changes she gets. She's going to leave it as late as possible to get this before parliament with everybody knowing no deal is on the horizon. It's a very risky strategy. It has pitfalls even if it succeeds, and Britain won't be properly ready to leave. But that's what I'm guessing she's doing.

GORANI: We're further ahead, Richard, we'll speak in just a few minutes. We expect --

QUEST: We will --

GORANI: Official word from the chair of the 1922 Committee who oversees the vote imminently in just the next few minutes. We will know has Theresa May survived this vote of no confidence. Stay with Cnn.


GORANI: Welcome to our continuing special coverage of the crucial confidence vote here in the U.K., I'm Hala Gorani outside the houses of parliament where we are waiting on official results of a no- confidence vote on Prime Minister Theresa May; the British Prime Minister is fighting for her political life after members of her own party triggered a vote of no confidence against her.

And let's go to that live event. Graham Brady; the chairman of the committee who oversaw the vote is speaking. Let's listen in.

GRAHAM BRADY, CHAIRMAN, CONSERVATIVE PARTY 1922 COMMITTEE: Good evening, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to thank the office of the 1922 Committee for their help, especially by --


For assistant returning officers, Carol Gillam(ph) and Charles Walker.