Return to Transcripts main page
Hala Gorani Tonight
Boris Johnson Loses Second Vote in Parliament; Power May be Shifting in Parliament; No Aid Yet Reaching Bahamas. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired September 04, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Spec: Europe; Treaties and Agreements; Boris Johnson; Legislation; Politics; Policies; Caroline Spelman; Jeremy Corbyn; Storms; Disasters;
Police; Military; Aviation; Real Estate; Health and Medicine; Foreign Aid; Asia; Youth; Protests; Carrie Lam; Justice>
HALA GORANI: Hello and welcome. I'm Hala Gorani in front of the British Houses of Parliament this evening.
RICHARD QUEST: I'm Richard Quest. An extremely eventful couple of hours, four hours or so as events go from one to the next to the next. History
will be made. We are in uncharted territory.
GORANI: Well, the parliament will be taking a key vote on a bill that could change how and when Britain leaves the European Union. And by the
end of today, we could know will the U.K. break off from the European Union October 31st at any cost and will the British people go back to the polls?
QUEST: It is a pivotal moment for the United Kingdom and for Europe as a whole. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is getting his own plan in
order. And he's warning that if this bill currently being debated is passed tonight, which seems likely, according to the numbers so far, then his
response will be a general election --
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Right --
QUESTION: -- he was in parliament.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: Mr. Speaker, I know he's (ph) worried about free trade deals with America. But there's only one
chlorinated chicken that I can see in this house, and he's on that bench.
JOHNSON: Will he confirm again? Will he confirm? Will he confirm that he will let the people decide? Let the people decide on what he is doing to
this country's negotiating position, by having a general election on October the 15th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, the battle lines are clearly drawn. The stakes are high, obviously, for Britain, but also for the E.U. I'm joined by our Bianca
Nobilo and political analyst Carole Walker. You're both joining us.
Bianca, bring us up to speed today.
GORANI: What should we -- what are the big headlines of today for our viewers, just joining us, regarding Brexit and what's happening in
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So all eyes at the moment are in the House of Commons' chamber over this bill, where parliament has taken
control of the agenda, wants to stop Boris Johnson from being able to leave the European Union without a deal.
Actually, what they're saying is that parliament would have to agree on a no-deal or agree on a deal before the 19th of October. And if they haven't
done that, then Boris Johnson would have to ask for an extension.
Now, he has maintained, he would never do that. We also saw Boris Johnson face off against Jeremy Corbyn for the first time, his first Prime
Minister's Questions. Wasn't received that well, most people thought it was a little bit of a flop. Yes, there were some zingers, like the
chlorinated chicken --
NOBILO: -- and saying that he was Caracas.
GORANI: He used an -- also, some choice words as well --
NOBILO: Yes, he swore, he did, which is not parliamentary practice, but he was quoting somebody else. And now, we're watching that showdown happen.
We're expecting this bill to go through with a comfortable majority, aided in large part by rebels from his own party.
And then just finally, Boris Johnson has been addressing the 1922 Committee of his own party this evening, reiterating that Britain needs to leave on
QUEST: Carole, I think we're going through what would be, if this was a normal bill, the committee stage before the bill comes back to the whole
house for a reading. But it is going to pass tonight.
CAROLE WALKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It does look as though it will go through all its stages in the House of Commons. We've just seen, earlier
on this evening, the prime minister, suffering another defeat by 29 votes on the initial vote on this. Another Conservative rebel voted against the
government. We're told that she, Caroline Spelman, is going to be spared from being booted out of the party as others have been.
But the bill does also still need to clear the House of Lords. And what is interesting is, that we are hearing that Conservative peers in the House of
Lords are gearing up for something, which is called, wonderfully, a filibuster.
And what this simply means is that they will talk and talk and talk and talk, and hope that they can simply talk for so long with so many different
points that they're going to make -- there are some 90 or so peers ready to do this -- that they can continue so long that the bill runs out of time
and does not become law.
Now, the government's business managers in the Lords are going to try and timetable it. What we're seeing there is another battle of the rules and
conventions of the House of Lords.
But the next thing that we're going to hear, after Boris Johnson suffers probably a third defeat in the last couple of days, is he's going to stand
up in the House of Commons and tell us how he hopes to get a general election.
GORANI: But --
NOBILO: But if viewers did think that the House of Commons was archaic and complicated, then just -- just wait for the House of Lords.
GORANI: Yes. In fact, I think one lord showed up with his duvet in a suitcase, expecting fully to spend the night.
Big picture here, Bianca, what are we seeing on our screen?
NOBILO: That's the inside of the House of Commons, not particularly well populated because this has been going on for some time. And there will be
another vote, as Carole mentioned. But it's going to sort of go between the houses of the House of Lords and House of Commons.
But I think the most important thing, if we zoom out of today, is the fact that Boris Johnson has now faced two votes as prime minister. He's lost
GORANI: Both, yes.
QUEST: Does that matter in the sense that these were votes he was going to lose. In the -- I mean, in the bigger picture, you know, the fact he keeps
-- it didn't matter to Theresa May, that she lost by the largest majority in history.
NOBILO: Oh. Oh, but --
WALKER: Well, she's no longer our prime minister.
NOBILO: I -- I --
GORANI: I was going to say, it had quite the impact.
QUEST: Well, but (ph) she kept going.
NOBILO: Right (ph), good point (INAUDIBLE) --
GORANI: She was sitting in the back benches, chuckling yesterday.
NOBILO: But Boris Johnson, to those who support him, has a magic and a charisma and a hope that is associated with him and the Brexit project,
that Theresa May never really had, other than the very beginning of her premiership --
GORANI: But his performance -- his performance today --
NOBILO: -- so this is -- this is damaging.
GORANI: -- was criticized. He seemed sometimes unsure of himself, he repeated himself. There was a bit of stumbling as well.
GORANI: To me, having heard him speak publicly many times before, he didn't seem confident. What do you make of what happened today?
NOBILO: He's not a great performer at the dispatch box. And that's why I mean that today has been damaging, because Boris Johnson does have this
sort of sparkly aura, to those who support him within the Conservative Party.
Not only has he had two crushing losses that are going to make his life very difficult, he's also had a massive backlash to the fact that he has
removed the whip from 21 well-respected --
NOBILO: -- members of the Conservative Party. And as you say, a really shaky performance at PMQs.
WALKER: And, Rich, did you ask, "Does it matter?" I think it shows just how difficult a position he is in. He has now lost two really significant
votes in the House of Commons. He's probably about to lose another one.
It shows you that it's going to be almost impossible for him to get his Brexit plans through. Because with those 21 Conservative M.P.s -- former
Conservative M.P.s, who he's kicked out of the party, if they all vote against him instead of for him, that means he could be 40 votes short of
what he needs to get any piece of legislation through.
And when you talk about the Brexit plans, it's not just the approach to the E.U. in principle --
QUEST: But the --
WALKER: -- he's got to get through legislation on immigration, on farm payments --
QUEST: Oh, but Carole, Carole --
WALKER: -- on a host of different issues. And without a majority, he's going to struggle to do that.
QUEST: The -- the former chancellor, Philip Hammond, speaking in the House, when he said that he didn't want to let the -- he'd rather boil his
NOBILO: Yes, that was quite a punchy sound bite.
QUEST: -- then -- from Philip Hammond, who's extremely punchy. Now, (INAUDIBLE) had (ph) been (ph) at the leader of the opposition, into power
(ph). But he also said, this is not about bringing down the government. So one imagines that -- let's say, for example, how those rebels will vote
tonight, assuming this first bill goes through, gets its third reading in the Commons, how they will vote tonight on the prime minister's motion
under the Fixed Parliaments Act.
WALKER: Well, I think that is the big challenge and the big question. They all say that they don't -- all Conservative M.P.s say that the last
thing that they want is to bring Jeremy Corbyn into power. The question is, we are heading towards a general election. The situation we've got,
where the government doesn't have a majority, can't govern, can't get its business through, is simply not going to continue.
What we've got is a battle over the sequencing, over the maneuvering, with the opposition party saying that they want to lock in a law that would
prevent Boris Johnson taking the U.K. out of the E.U. without a deal, before they will agree to holding a general election. And they want to
prevent him using a general election to leave on October the 31st, before a deal has been agreed.
GORANI: Let's -- by the way, these last two days have been a lesson for me in British insults, very colorful. Boris Johnson saying to Jeremy Corbyn,
asking him not to be a big girl's blouse? What does that even mean?
QUEST: What it's -- I mean, it's --
GORANI: What is a big girl's blouse?
QUEST: Big girl's blouse -- well, look --
GORANI: And is this offensive to blouses or to the girls or --
WALKER: It's a slightly derogatory comment.
GORANI: -- what?
QUEST: It's a sort of a -- what he -- if anything, his performance in Prime Minister's Questions time, would be described as juvenile --
GORANI: Let's -- by the way --
QUEST: -- his comments.
GORANI: -- I want our viewers to hear this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY: He's desperate, absolutely desperate to avoid scrutiny.
JOHNSON: Call the election, you great big girl's blouse.
CORBYN: And --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, we subtitled it for our viewers' convenience there. But, yes. That was -- and it -- this has been today, really, the last two days.
A character like Boris Johnson obviously is going to inject some, you know, theater into the proceeding.
But I'll get back to you in a moment, Carole, because we need to go to 10 Downing Street, where Nic Robertson is standing by with more on what's
ahead for the prime minister this evening.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the expectation is that after the vote, he is expected to begin to explain how he will
bring about a general election. The current rules would say that he would have to come with a motion, saying that there should be a general election.
He would need a two-thirds vote to support him on that.
There was -- is a suggestion that's floating around, that he will try to use some mechanism to get around the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, that would
mean he would only have to have a simple majority, 50 percent plus one, inside the House of Commons, to pass that motion.
You know, it seems very much that the prime minister has lost the initiative. And the longer that he has -- the initiative isn't in his
hand, the weaker he looks.
So from the opposition's point of view, given all the points that Carole was making about why they won't support him and to -- you know, to help
give him the two-thirds vote that he needs to bring about the general election, it's in the opposition's gift, if you will, to leave the prime
minister for the longest possible time, in this weakened position where every time he comes to the dispatch box, his morale and his spirit is
perhaps undermined, and his performances aren't up to par, and a different image of Boris Johnson appears.
So it will be in the prime minister's best interest, that if this new legislation is passed, that it very quickly becomes law and he very quickly
makes it clear that whatever hurdles were in the path of the opposition -- and right now, he's been caught, essentially, saying that they are
preventing democracy working because he wants to call for an election and they're the ones that are blocking it.
But if he removes those hurdles that they say are in the way, then it gets more quickly to being able to call for that referendum. So he will have to
provide the opposition in that case, with the guarantees that they're looking for. And have the legislation blocking a no-deal exit locked in
That is, if he calculates that's the best way to do it. And if he does calculate that being sort of left in a weakened position for a period of
time does not make him look stronger, going into the elections.
QUEST: The reality is, though, he's going to lose tonight. And the test becomes, what happens when he does, if, as expected, go for his Fixed-term
Act to try and get -- and there, he needs two-thirds. How the rebels will vote.
And one wonders, Nic Robertson, have you heard anything of how Downing Street is expecting them to vote?
ROBERTSON: I don't think that they can expect the support of the rebels, not in the -- not in the immediate term, not until -- look, the rebels are
voting the way they're voting because they don't believe that the country should leave the European Union without a deal.
So they're going to want to make sure, just the same way that the leader of the opposition is saying that he doesn't want to support the prime minister
in a call for a general election until the legislation that is under debate and under vote right now, until that is passed and locked in place and
guarantees are given, that the prime minister won't try to use a general election as a device to, essentially, hold proceedings and then have the
general election appear after that 31st of October deadline, when the country has left the European Union.
The rebels are in the same position. They've joined forces with the opposition, specifically for that purpose so it would seem that they are
not going to be in a position of supporting the prime minister until the opposition is ready, because they're on the same line on this issue.
GORANI: All right. Nic Robertson, thanks very much. We'll get back to you very soon.
In parliament earlier today, Jeremy Corbyn accused the prime minister of hiding the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, like possible increase in food
prices, for instance. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORBYN: We are less than 60 days away from leaving the E.U. with no deal. The prime minister has had two days in office before the summer recess, and
then planned to prorogue parliament. Yesterday, he lost one vote, his first vote in parliament. He now wants to dissolve parliament.
CORBYN: He's desperate, absolutely desperate to avoid scrutiny. He has no plan to get a new deal, no plan, no authority and no majority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, Bianca and Carole are here. Does -- so the -- it's difficult for Jeremy Corbyn to say he does not now want a general election,
GORANI: When, for a long time, he's said this is what he wants because he feels confident that the Labour Party would do well. How does he play this
now, with his supporters?
NOBILO: Well, how the Labour Party are positioning themselves is, that they don't want an election on Boris Johnson's terms. As you point out,
for three years, Jeremy Corbyn's maintained that an election is Labour's preference, to break the impasse and to resolve this crisis.
Well, he's also advocated a second referendum. And we know that an election at this time would also function as, you know, a second referendum
by proxy anyway. And now, he doesn't want either of those things right now. The concern being, as Carole mentioned, they don't want a no-deal
Brexit to happen in the immediate aftermath of an election.
And, crucially, this is a political point now in terms of their electoral advantage. They know that if this bill passes and Boris Johnson's hands
are tied and he can't have a no-deal Brexit and he has to ask for an extension, that is going to poison him electorally in key seats, which he
needs to mop up from the Brexit Party (ph).
GORANI: Yes, it's --
NOBILO: -- and that will help Labour.
GORANI: It's all about the strategy now, and fine-tuning that strategy to, I suppose, harm Boris Johnson politically and electorally as much as
possible before any general election.
WALKER: Well, look, both parties are saying that this whole issue of a general election and the timing of a general election is about the
importance of Brexit, and whether or not we leave, and what are the terms on which we leave.
Boris Johnson is saying it's absolutely vital, we keep no-deal on the table. If the opposition are going to thwart him, then he needs an
election beforehand to try and sort that out. The Labour Party are saying, "Look, of course we want a general election, but we're not going to allow
an election if it's going to just simply allow Boris Johnson to manipulate what happens over Brexit."
But there's politics in this too, there is absolutely politics in this too. Because what Boris Johnson wants is to go into an election saying, "I'm the
one who can deliver Brexit. I'm the one who can do this. it is the Labour Party that is standing in the way and trying to thwart the will of the
people, as expressed in the referendum in 2016."
And Labour want to go into a general election, ideally -- the other side of Brexit, so that they can say, "Look, we're going to talk about other
things, we're going to talk about jobs, we're going to talk about the rights of workers --
WALKER: -- "we're going to have a whole new approach to the economy."
NOBILO: Their position on Brexit, now, it's even more confusing than it was a couple of weeks ago.
QUEST: But can Boris Johnson get his election tonight? He needs -- you'll have the arithmetic, I can't remember what two-thirds of 650 -- is it two-
thirds of the House or two-thirds of those voting?
NOBILO: Well, two-thirds meant -- I'm afraid, shit (ph), I don't know the answer to that. But two-thirds in the Fixed-term Parliament Act is what he
needs. But many people within the Conservative Party that I've spoken to said that they're looking at what Theresa May looked at, back in 2017, when
she called the snap election, which is potentially amending the Fixed-term Parliament Act, where you'd only need a simple majority of one in order to
call a snap election. So that would circumvent needing the two-thirds majority.
But given that Boris Johnson technically lost his majority yesterday, reduced it to zero when Phillip Lee crossed the floor of the House, and
then expelled these members of parliament from his own party, he's now got a majority in minus-21, at least. So it isn't sure whether or not he'd
even get a simple majority --
WALKER: And it's hard to see how those Tory rebels, many of whom are now going to be fighting to see whether they can somehow stand in their (ph)
seats, got to decide whether they're going to stand as independents, going to face huge battles between their local parties and the party centrally.
Are they going to want to vote to bring on an early election? That is highly doubtful.
NOBILO: There's also no confident vote, for (INAUDIBLE) --
NOBILO: -- as another mechanism.
GORANI: There's going to be a lot. We'll discuss it all.
But I understand we have, now, Patrick Oppmann on the phone, so we have to get to the Bahamas. The Bahamas, sending hundreds of police officers and
soldiers to the Abaco Islands. The Caribbean nation is struggling to deal with the devastation.
Patrick, can you hear me on the phone? We wanted to get to you as quickly as possible because communications are so shaky right now. What are you
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, they are. I am at the one and only airport in Freeport, the same airport I flew in several
days ago. It's a ruin. Large portions of this airport are completely destroyed. This entire airport, we know, was under water.
We're leaving the airport right now. And to the side of the road is a small Cessna, I think it is, or a Piper. It was picked up and thrown like
a toy. It's destroyed, it's upside-down, it was under water.
You go into the main terminal, the domestic terminal here, and there's a wing and a wheel of a plane that the storm waves picked up and threw
through a wall, into the airport. I've never seen anything like it in my life. I didn't know what it was until my producer, Jay (ph) Garcia (ph),
pointed out to me. And we were all just there, looking, going, "How is that a plane? How did it get thrown into the airport?"
On the domestic side, there are no walls to the airport at all. The international side, we were not able to get into. There was a security
guard there who said it's dangerous to go inside. They're still working on getting officials out here to do a damage assessment. We were able to peek
in, though, because it's open on one side, and you can see that there is heavy flooding that has taken place at the airport.
The runway itself was under water for several days. We walked out onto the runway because there are now very few fences around the runway, it's open
on almost every side. There was debris almost -- over every -- almost every inch of the runway. I can't -- you could not land a plane there now,
it would be very difficult to land a helicopter there.
But, you know, possible because we did see a helicopter on the other side - - a Coast Guard helicopter on the other side of the runway. We couldn't tell what they were doing, they did not appear to be unloading anybody or
loading anything in.
But the main runway, the one runway is just covered in debris. It must have endured heavy damage because it was under water for days.
We tried (ph) to get out (ph) of here -- we've tried now, for several days, and we were unable because there was so much water in this area, it was
completely flooded although we are miles from the sea.
We finally got out today, and the devastation is terrifying because this is the main link to the outside world. And it will now be even more
complicated for people who need to leave, who are injured, to get out and for aid to come back in.
GORANI: Yes. And that was going to be my question, Patrick. Because aid groups and agencies need to come in now, to help people. Because I
understand, some people are still stuck. They're hiding out, they're seeking refuge on rooftops, in their attics even, and they have not been
rescued. What's the -- when will aid agencies be able to actually make it in to some of these most affected zones?
OPPMANN: You know, we've been seeing planes for the first time this morning -- because the conditions have finally, only today, cleared up --
overflying the island all day. And people kept saying, "Are they landing? Are they landing?" And now, we know there's no way for them to land.
There's a woman in the building where we've been riding out the storm, who fell and broke her hip, she's been (ph) evacuated. She was -- you know,
her family was trying to get off this island. Unless she used a helicopter, I'm not sure where they would land, really, at this point.
There's no way out. Or perhaps by boat, but planes are the easiest way to get in a lot of aid and people. And (ph) the (ph) easiest (ph) way to get
a lot of people out.
And the airport, at this point, seems completely unusable. We didn't see, other than some security guards, any officials there. On the domestic
side, there were Bahamians walking (ph) around in the terminal, which is a ruin, taking photos and they were just in total complete shock.
I know with Hurricane Matthew, it took days for the airport to get up and running. I think with Hurricane Dorian, it's going to be much longer. We
were all hoping that the situation would change and aid would start pouring in here. This seems like a bit of a setback. Maybe boats can come, maybe
helicopters can come, maybe they'll clear the runway. But an island that has been devastated, the airport has, perhaps, the worst devastation of any
place that I've seen.
GORANI: Patrick Oppmann, reporting from Freeport in the Bahamas. Thanks so much. We'll be getting back to you, Patrick, in the coming hours, with
more on the devastation there -- Richard.
QUEST: As we continue tonight, the first vote has taken place of an amendment. We won't waste our time going into it because it was rejected.
But this is the way it's going to be for the next few hours. We'd expected the second -- the third reading, almost, we expected some sort of finality
on this bill, but that seems some way off so they're running behind time. It's going to be a long, long night. We'll be here throughout, with our
GORANI: All right. And we'll also have the very latest from Hong Kong. The chief executive there, Carrie Lam, withdrawing the controversial
extradition bill. Protestors, though, are saying this is too little, too late. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Hong Kong activists say they will continue their protests despite a major concession from the government. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie
Lam withdrew controversial legislation that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. In a televised address, Lam suggested she's also
willing to listen to other concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE LAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, HONG KONG: After more than two months of social unrest, it is obvious to many that discontentment extends far beyond
the bill. It covers political, economic and social issues including the oft-mentioned problems relating to housing and land supply, income
distribution, social justice and mobility, and opportunities for our young people, as well as how the public could be fully engaged in government's
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now, the protestors say the Hong Kong government must fulfill all of their demands. CNN's Paula Hancocks tells us more.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the five demands from protestors here in Hong Kong is now being met. The chief executive,
Carrie Lam, saying that she will fully withdraw the controversial extradition bill, the entire reason that these protests started in the
But pro-democracy activists that we have spoken to say it is too little, too late. I spoke to one pro-democracy lawmaker who said this should have
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carrie Lam is three months late. If she had said that the bill would be completely withdrawn three months ago, things would have
been settled, the whole town would not have been turned upside-down. It is way too late, way too little for now.
HANCOCKS: I also spoke to a lawmaker who was pro-Beijing. He was in the meeting with Carrie Lam. And he said that he was the only one that stood
up and said that one of these demands being met is simply not enough. He said there had to be a second compromise, which was an independent
investigation of the police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The focus has now completely shifted to allegations against police, allegations against protestors, people are getting divided
within the community as to who's right, who's wrong.
HANCOCKS: What most people agree on at this point is that this is very unlikely to stop these protests. This is unlikely to have too much of an
impact when it comes to people coming out onto the streets of Hong Kong.
And what we have seen, in recent days, certainly over last weekend, is that these protests are becoming more violent. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Hong Kong.
QUEST: As we continue tonight, more on today's Brexit vote in parliament. M.P.s are trying to force the prime minister to seek a delay in the
withdrawal. We're watching the developments. We have all the latest.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Welcome back, we're watching the U.K. Parliament on a pivotal day for Brexit. Yet another pivotal day for
Brexit. M.P.s in the House of Commons have been voting amendments ahead of the key vote on a bill that would prevent a no-deal Brexit and could
trigger a general election next.
Month -- but, Richard, the bill could be bogged down in the House of Lords.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Yes. I'm just watching how all the speakers doing. And the -- this is it. The speaker looks like he has just
called the third reading of the bill.
QUEST: Remember, you name the bill. Not its first reading. You have a small debate on it. That's its second reading. You then have a committee
stage which is the committee of the full house, that's it. And then you have a third reading.
Hugo Dixon is with me, the deputy chair for the People's Vote. And so this is it, isn't it? From the Common's point of view. If it passes here, then
it passed its -- it's commonsense parliamentary procedures.
HUGO DIXON, DEPUTY CHAIR, PEOPLE'S VOTE: Yes. And we saw at the second reading and you explained (INAUDIBLE) procedure. There was a majority of
29. So I don't think there's any real doubt that it's going through the House of Commons this evening with a thumping majority.
GORANI: But as we were telling our viewers then without getting into too much detail, then there's the House of Lords and the potential of a
DIXON: Yes, there is. But I don't think that that's going to succeed either. So I think that there's very little doubt now that this bill is
going to become law, either right at the end of this week or very early next week, and that will force the prime minister.
DIXON: Whoever is the prime minister, because it may not be Boris Johnson by then, to ask the E.U. to delay Brexit if, by October the 19th, there
isn't either a deal that's going through parliament or parliament disagreed to no-deal.
Now, neither of those is remotely likely. So if this goes through, unless the prime minister breaks the law, he will have to ask for a further delay
QUEST: What would happen if he didn't? I mean, you just said -- unless he breaks the law. I find it inconceivable that the prime minister would
break the law like that. But this bill doesn't have a sanction in it.
DIXON: No, it doesn't. And as you say and you find it inconceivable. I would have said a week or two ago, I would have found this inconceivable.
But actually, we had only at the last weekend, we had Michael Gove who was a very important minister in the government, actually, refusing to answer
the question of whether the government would abide by the law.
And this is why, I think, that the opposition doesn't trust a word that the government is saying.
GORANI: He did though that back, somewhat. But, Hugo --
DIXON: He did.
GORANI: -- you told our producers you believe the chances of stopping Brexit have never been higher.
DIXON: Never been higher since the referendum of three years ago.
GORANI: Right. Explain.
DIXON: Well, because I think that the wheels are falling off Boris Johnson's government. I mean, he has had one defeat. He's only have one
vote in the House of Commons yesterday. He lost it. We expect him to have two defeats today. One on this bill that we've been talking about and then
third on his desire for an early election.
DIXON: He has had 21 senior M.P.s, many of them or most very senior M.P.s --
GORANI: Cabinet ministers.
DIXON: Former cabinet ministers, a leadership rival of only two months ago who might have been the prime minister today, and a grandson of Winston
Churchill, kicked him out of the Conservative Party. He has lost his majority in Parliament.
But the Labour Party, the opposition, has, in my view, I mean, isn't quite clear of what they're going to do. But I think that they have decided very
sensibly to let Boris Johnson stew in his own juice, and not actually allow him to have a snap election but to force him to go to the E.U. and ask for
GORANI: He said come what may. I won't do this.
DIXON: Well, he said it one thing but he haven't done. So you can't, honestly, Hala, I mean, he's an old friend of mine. You can't believe what
Boris Johnson says.
QUEST: Let's just boil this down to the basics. Tonight, by the end of the week, tonight, the commons and then the Lords, by the end of the week,
will have mandated the prime minister into the terms to ask for delay.
QUEST: He can't get or is unlikely to get an election, because it can't get two-thirds.
QUEST: Therefore, he's stuck between the rock and a hard place and he does one of three things, he breaks it all, he goes to Brussels, he resigns.
DIXON: Yes. I think that's right. And I don't think breaking the law will actually do him much favors. Because if he breaks the law, they will
immediately, probably boost him out of office. Because there's still is the opportunity of having a vote of no confidence and they can do that. If
you do that, you can get rid of him --
GORANI: But then you get an election.
DIXON: No, you don't necessarily get an election. What you can do is you can put in an emergency caretaker prime minister who would immediately go
and ask the extra time from the E.U.
So I think breaking the law won't do him any favors. And what is this idea? A conservative. So for conservative breaking -- that's supposed to
be the party of law and order.
QUEST: So what is the answer tonight?
DIXON: Well, I think the answer is that he is -- we went on family television, I would say he was -- I think I can say he's f'ed. I think
that's -- I think he is in a bind, and he has nowhere to go and he had been incredibly badly advised by his core advisor, this man, Dominic Cummings,
who isn't even a conservative who has encouraged him to do.
He's extraordinary, extremist state, which have lost him the support of the center ground. Even Brexiteers within the Conservative Party at their
meeting of M.P.s today. When some M.P.s said it was good to kick them out, that person -- that person who said that was booed by other people.
GORANI: I just want our viewers to -- who might not have been watching the prime minister's question time, exchanges throughout today to get a sense
of how just colorful, over-the-top ,and in some cases, I have to say, some surprising language was used by the prime minister.
Let's listen to just a portion of the exchange between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The Shadow Education Secretary says that their economic policy is like quite, Mr. Speaker, by your lead, shit
or bust. I say -- I say it's both. I say it's both, Mr. Speaker. What this - what this country needs -- what this country needs is sensible,
moderate, progressive, conservative government. And to take this country out of the E.U. on October the 31st. And that is what we are going to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Wow. I think this is the first time that word has been used by a prime minister in the House of Commons.
DIXON: Yes. I think, unfortunately, passions are running incredibly high here, not only in parliament but outside parliament. And it's not
surprising because the future of the country is at stake, and also the future of our democracy is at stake. It's not only now a matter of --
whether Brexit happens or Brexit doesn't happen. It's also -- I mean, this thing is suspending parliament for five weeks. It's extraordinary.
But I'm afraid Boris Johnson, as I say, he is an old friend of mine. I've known him for almost 50 years. He has been losing parliament. Parliament
is not behind him.
GORANI: How do you know him? You say you've know him.
DIXON: We were at school together from --
GORANI: Were you school friends?
DIXON: Yes. He's still is a friend of mine. I mean, you may think it's a bizarre, but he still is a friend of mine. And some part of my mind, he is
still a friend of mine.
But I think he has been deeply misled and he has made -- as we all know, that he didn't really believe in Brexit, in the first place. But once he
took that decision, that fateful decision, in early 2016, he has been riding a tiger and it is too dangerous for him, he feels, to get off the
QUEST: Well (INAUDIBLE) no one thought though. This was going to happen regardless. I mean, even if he decided not to borough parliament for five
As the October 31st deadline got closer, the rebels and those against their Brexit, were inevitable of a no-deal Brexit. We're going to do this
DIXON: Yes. I think that's right. But I think that the majority that we've seen yesterday and will see today, was bigger, as a result of these
extreme tactics, the suspension that threats to kick out these people like the follow through of the House says the man who was the Chancellor of
Exchequer, Ken Clarke.
GORANI: Ken Clarke, yes.
DIXON: He's the longest serving M.P. These things, actually, rather than cowing and subduing the opponents, they're actually stepping their spine.
And these are heroes. I've wrote yesterday that the people who put their names to this bill are heroes. And I've been, you know, communicating with
some of them today. And actually, rather than feeling down about being kicked out of a party they love, they feel there's a spring in their step,
because they are fighting for something which they think is meaningful, and which matters to the nation rather than putting petty personal interests
GORANI: Hugo Dixon, deputy chair of the People's Vote --
QUEST: Good to see you.
GORANI: -- thanks so much for joining us.
There are protesters -- these crowds are a little smaller today, certainly not as noisy as they were yesterday.
Hadas Gold is watching the protest for us. What are people telling you where you are not too far from where we are sitting right now?
HADAS GOLD, CNN INTENTIONAL BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, we are on Parliament Square, which is just outside of Westminster. And the rally, the People's
Vote rally just wrapped up a few minutes ago. And there's a few hundred people here. But as you said, they're definitely a smaller protests than
what we've had in previous nights.
But one thing that's been notable to me and speaking to protesters both tonight and last night, last night when they're a little bit more
rambunctious, when they blocked Westminster Bridge for some time, was actually you're seeing some more newer protesters. People who haven't
necessarily been out before. And there's a lot of angers towards Boris Johnson, specifically.
I actually spoke to one 24-year-old accountant just a few minutes ago. He actually said he was okay with Theresa May, he had accepted that Brexit had
happened, even though he had voted to remain and he was even OK with the deal that she had done.
But that when Boris Johnson suspended Parliament, and the way Boris Johnson is going about, what he thinks is barreling towards a no-deal Brexit, he
thinks that they're at the cliff's edge, that he needed to come forward now. And that is what you're hearing from a lot of the protesters here.
A lot of the rally goers, they planned to be here every night with the foreseeable future. They really think that Boris Johnson is causing them
to go towards that cliff edge, and they are really against Boris Johnson, almost as much as they are against Brexit.
GORANI: All right. Hadas -- oops. I'm sorry. We're just -- we're just readjusting the lighting situation here, live T.V. for you.
Hadas, what are protesters willing to do if they feel that no-deal is on the rise? I mean, in other words, are we likely to see bigger crowds? I
mean, because these crowds are vocal, they're passionate, but they're still small.
GOLD: Right. So there has been a call for a bigger protest this Saturday. And that's when lot of the protesters here said that they expect much
bigger crowds so people have time to plan to come in on trains from around the country. Because keep in mind, a low London was a very pro-remain
area. There's other remain areas around the country that planned to come and protest in front of Parliament.
But it's just been really fascinating to talk to people here about what they are willing to do. You did hear some speakers who called on people to
come on to the streets every single night and call them to start shutting down streets, start shutting down bridges like we saw with Westminster
Bridge briefly last night. So we'll have to see whether they will take that extra step to really start blocking the streets.
I do have to know, I haven't seen too many pro-Brexit protesters or people who are on the other side. You see some people with placards. This is
pretty much been a rather pro-remain protest. And I think that is a reflection of where we are. We are in Central London. It was a pro-
But when you travel around the country, Hala, when you travel, you go to the pro Brexit area. You just talk to people there. For the people who
voted for Brexit, they're OK with the Boris Johnson way of doing things because they want a hard Brexit.
GORANI: E.U., I don't know.
QUEST: All right. Hadas Gold is in Parliament Square, where the protesters seem to have assembled and then left. Thank you.
The European Union is taking a wait and see approach to events going on in London. There's no indication E.U. is willing to budge. Here's what the
commission's chief spokesman had said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MINA ANDREEVA, CHIEF SPOKESWOMAN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: I will not comment on all the internal developments right now in the United Kingdom. There
are democratic processes in our member states that we respect. So let them, you know, unfold right now. And then depending on what is the
outcome, we can see what the next steps are. From our side, nothing changes, because we remain available to work constructively with the prime
minister to engage on any concrete proposals that he may submit. As long as they're compatible with withdrawal agreement and then we take it from
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. Watch -- wait and see, I should say, is what the E.U. is doing.
Nina dos Santos in Brussels. You've been speaking to sources there, what are they telling you about what's happening in London?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTENTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, the real route that seems to have broken out across the channel and over here is how
substantive these negotiations or let's put in technical talks to give them their full name, really, have been.
We saw the U.K.'s (INAUDIBLE) for the prime ministers, so the top foreign civil servant, if you like. David Frost arrived here at the European
Commission, he spent about five hours in meeting room with the likes of Michel Barnier, who's spearheading the commission's efforts to try and get
that Brexit deal. And they both came out tightlipped. But we did see Michel Barnier, for the first time, in five days, break his silence.
And although he didn't give much detail away about what have been discussed, the key thing was that he said Europe was ready to present a
united front. Here's a snippet of what he said just recently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL BARNIER, E.U. CHIEF BREXIT NEGOTIATOR: My meeting with the United States, now the Parliament (INAUDIBLE) just want to tell you that the E.U.
will remain in a circumstances vigilant, united, and calm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Now, that seems to be coated language. But if we had to choose between no-deal, which we're already, economically, preparing for
because the E.U. at commission level, so at the most senior level, earlier on today, also had meetings to try and unlock hundreds of millions of U.S.
worth of emergency funds to protect the economies. The remaining 27 member states.
If we had to choose between no-deal, yes, that will be bad for us. But between that, and sacrificing the single market, the single market wins
every single time and that is an indication that the E.U. will try at its best to protect the single market and its fundamental values.
Now, Michel Barnier made those comments as he was leaving this building and heading towards the building nearby which was the European Parliament,
because as part of these procedures, after these types of talks, the European Commission has have to go and then brief the parliament, which
will have the say on anything, any kind of deal that goes through.
And, in fact, we have heard from a member of the Brexit Steering Committee in the European Parliament who will be briefed on these negotiations. It
is the leader of the Greens Block inside the European Parliament, Philippe Lamberts, who's been saying, "For all the P.M.'s bluster about getting a
deal, there are no negotiations going on, real negotiations going on in Brussels despite the E.U.'s door remaining wide open. It is now clear that
Johnson's disingenuous strategy is designed to push the U.K. over a no-deal cliff edge and to cement his own position regardless of the costs of the
So you can hear the acrimony here. Many of the sides, clearly, very far apart. The real thing here appears to be among the European communities
that the U.K. could try to brief some M.P.'s that it might try and do a separate bilateral deal with island, therefore, by parsing the E.U. island,
of course, is completely intransigent on that point.
And you'll likely hear more about bilateral votes (INAUDIBLE) or deals briefed on the sidelines from number 10 over the days to come. Richard,
QUEST: All right. Thank you. And we're watch -- well, we're all watching at the moment is the House, which by my reckoning, started voting in the
half past (INAUDIBLE) and it looks like -- here we go, two of the talents look like they are assembled at the front.
GORANI: It's been about 15 minutes. Bianca and Carole are here with us.
So we should expect -- so this is a simple majority vote. If this bill passes, it becomes law. And the law would compel the prime minister, is
that correct? Am I going --
CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if the bill it passes, it does. But this vote is only the end of its common stages. The bill's also got to
get through the House of Lords. And we were talking earlier about the fact that there are going to be all sorts of attempts to try to slow down and
thwart its progress through the House of Lords with one pair bringing in his duvet (INAUDIBLE) for a long session.
There are around 90 conservative pairs who are prepared to talk at great lengths in order to try to ensure that they talk for so long that it runs
out of time to get it passed.
GORANI: But the chances of (INAUDIBLE)
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What this does mean though, when this does passed, it is the queue for Boris Johnson to then
lay down his motion calling for an early general election. So that's been the promise that he's made. That if parliament succeeds in taking back
control and passes this bill which would tie his hands, even before the House of Lords, then he's going to save the Parliament, give me that snap
QUEST: All right. This hole is just being dug deeper tonight. Because not only are we getting further away from any resolution on Brexit, but now
if -- he can't even get a general election.
Walker: It does lead us back to another yet stalemate. I mean, I think angst, really, Richard, is that we are going to end up with the general
And what we're hearing from some of those who are close to the prime minister, some of those M.P.s who are loyal to him, is that the prime
minister does think that he's got a way of getting round this requirement to have a two-thirds majority so that he can press ahead with the general
And we are expecting that after we've had the results of this particular vote, which is the bill passing its common stages, that the prime minister
is going to --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two hundred ninety-nine.
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: The ayes to the right, 327. The no's to the left, 299. The ayes have it. The
ayes have it. Unlock. Order. Yes. Point of order, Mr. Hilary Benn.
HILARY BENN, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Thank you very much indeed, Mr. Speaker. The House has spoken this evening.
BENN: If the other place passes the bill, then I say to the prime minister that this House expects to uphold the law and to fulfill the obligations
that will be placed upon him by this bill and prevent this country from leaving the European Union on the 31st of October without a deal.
May I also, Mr. Speaker, thank the clerks for their assistance.
BENN: The honorable gentleman, Mr. Dorset West (ph) and others for their great help. And they are also joined my right honorable friend, the member
for hope and (INAUDIBLE) in most warmly applauding the bravery and the courage of many on that side of the House, who have stood by their
convictions in the national interests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Point of order, this is (INAUDIBLE). Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given the house has now approved the bill as amended.
Could I trust the government to, as roughly as possible, publish the withdrawal agreement bill which really does require the proper and robust
discussion in this place?
BERCOW: Well, the honorable gentleman has made his own point in his own way, and it is on the record, and we're indebted to him. The third
division's motion with the move formally. Thank you (INAUDIBLE). All in favor, say aye.
BERCOW: (INAUDIBLE) no. I think the ayes have it. The ayes have it.
Order. We come to the motion on the early parliamentary general election to move the election, I call the prime minister.
JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, Mr. Speaker, the House of Commons has passed the bill devised by the leader of the
opposition, I see -- not in his place. But -- and -- he's characteristically evasive, if not frit, Mr. Speaker. It's a bill that
effectively ends the negotiations. A bill that demands an extension, at least, until next year and perhaps for many more years to come.
And the bill that they insist Britain (INAUDIBLE) yes, to the demands of Brussels and hands control to our partners. It's a bill designed to
overturn the biggest democratic votes in our history in the 2016 referendum.
And it's therefore a bill without precedent in the history of this House seeking as it does to force the prime minister with a pre-drafted letter to
surrender in international negotiations. And I refuse to do this, Mr. Speaker. And it's clear that there is that for any one way forward for the
The House has voted repeatedly to leave the E.U. and, yet, it has also voted repeatedly to delay actually leaving. It is voted for negotiations.
And today, I'm afraid it is voted to stop, to scupper, any serious negotiations.
What this -- what this bill means is that parliament or the -- the right honorable gentleman, the leader of the opposition who is still not in his
place, Mr. Speaker. And I really don't know where he is. He refuses to give battle or at least engage in argument tonight. Perhaps, that's a sign
of how he intends to pursue things in the weeks ahead.
The right honorable gentleman -- the right honorable gentleman, his bill, I'm glad he's now favored the House with his presence, Mr. Speaker. The
right honorable gentleman's bill, amongst its other functions, is to take away the right of this country to decide how long it must remain in the
E.U. and handed that power to the E.U.
And I'm afraid it is time -- that is what it does -- that is what it does - - and I'm afraid it is time for this country to decide whether that is right. Their country must now decide whether the leader of the opposition
or I, go to those negotiations in Brussels on the 17th of October to sort this out.
Because everybody will know that if the right honorable gentleman were to go there, were to be the prime minister, he would beg for an extension. He
would accept whatever Brussels demands, and we would then have years more divert and delays, yet more arguments over Brexit and no resolution to the
uncertainty that currently bedevils this country and our economy.
And everyone know -- everyone knows by contrast that if I am prime minister, I will go to Brussels and I will try to get it, and believe me, I
know that I can get a deal.
But if they -- Mr. Speaker, if they won't -- if they won't do a deal, I think it will be imminently sensible for them to do so, and as I say I
believe that they will. Then under any circumstances, this country will leave the E.U. on October the 31st.
Mr. Speaker, it is completely impossible for government to function if the House of Commons refuses to pass anything that the government proposes.
And in my view, and the view of this government, there must now be an election on Tuesday the 15th, of October.
And invite the right honorable gentleman to respond to decide which of us goes as prime ministers to that crucial council on Thursday, the 17th of
October. I think it's very sad that M.P.s have voted like this.
But if I'm still - I do -- I think it's a great dereliction of their democratic duty, Mr. Speaker. But if I'm still prime minister after
Tuesday, the 15th of October, then we will leave on the 31st of October. We -- I hope a much better deal. The leader of the opposition now has a
question to answer.
He has demanded an election for two years while blocking Brexit. He said, only two days ago, that he would support an election. And now, parliament
having passed a bill that destroys, even if you have governments to negotiate, is he now -- is he now going to say that the public cannot be
allowed an election to decide which of us sorts out this mess?
I don't want an election, the public don't want an election, the country doesn't want an election. But this has left no other option than letting
the public decide who they want as prime minister and I commend this motion to the House.
BERCOW: Order. The question is that there shall be an early parliamentary general election. I call the leader of the opposition, Mr. Jeremy Corbyn.
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER OF THE LABOUR PARTY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is the second time I've replied to a conservative prime minister seeking to
dissolve parliament to call an election, because they didn't have a deliverable Brexit policy.
Although I'm not condemning the right honorable member for made in head by comparing her to a successor, she at least, made detailed speeches setting
out her Brexit policy, even if we fundamentally disagree with them.
This prime minister claims he has a strategy. But, he can't tell us what it is. The bigger problem for him is that he hasn't told the E.U. what it
is either. And if prime minister's question time today as with the statement, yes, he was unable to say whether he's even made any proposals,
whatsoever to the E.U.
And it's basically a policy that's cloaked in mystery like the impress' new clothes. There really is absolutely nothing there.
And the naked truth is that the reality is deeply unpalatable. A disastrous no-deal Brexit to take us into the arms of a trade deal with
Donald Trump that vote for America first and Britain is a distant second.
The prime minister knows there is no mandate for no-deal, no majority support for him in the country, and no majority for it in this House. The
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the co-convener of the vote leave campaign said in March, this year, we didn't vote to leave without a deal.
Even the leaders, even the leaders, even the leaders of the leave campaign are absolutely clear that the referendum confirmed no mandate for no-deal.
No-deal. No-deal, no deal. No-deal is opposed by every business group, every industry body, every trade union, and by this House as today's votes
and others have shown.
Mr. Speaker, we want an election, so we look forward to tapping this government out.