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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN International Special Brexit Coverage. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired March 14, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": That you could use the whole argument, this is democracy in its action and it's messy and here we go. Let's listen in.
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER, HOUSE OF COMMONS, UK: On the motion I begin by calling the honorable member from Totnes, Dr. Sarah Wollaston, to move amendment H formally.
MP DR. SARAH WOLLASTON, INDEPENDENT, TOTNES, UK: Formally.
BERCOW: Thank you, I remind the House that if amendment H is agreed to, amendments I and E fall. The question is that amendment H be made. Say, aye.
MINISTERS OF PARLIAMENT: Aye
BERCOW: Of the contrary, no.
MINISTERS OF PARLIAMENT: No.
BERCOW: Division. Clear the lobby.
QUEST: And so, we are well and truly off to the races, appropriate phrase being underway for those who follow it. This is grand stakes.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Just to remind our viewers what it is they are voting on. This amendment seeks an extension to article 50 to give enough time to hold a second referendum on whether or not to leave the EU. Carole. Likely to pass or not?
CAROLE WALKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I would say it is unlikely to pass at this stage. I think at the moment there is still a majority in the House that feels they have a responsibility to deliver on the verdict of the first referendum in 2016 and it's a moment to go back to the people. Even the officials people vote can pay saying they don't think it is the moment for them to be voting on this. I think the reason they are saying that is because they don't expect it to go through at this stage. I should make it clear of course for what it's worth the government is working against this. It is telling them not to go for it. Interestingly enough the opposition leader has been under huge pressure from his own party to give his backing to a second referendum it's not something that the Labour Party have been gunning for at this stage.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It reminds me that if there any Sherlock Holmes fans out there, he would always say when you eliminate the impossible whatever is left however improbable must be the truth. I feel like the people's vote are trying to wait for that moment. Let's eliminate everything else and it will be obvious all we can do is put a back to the people.
GORANI: What you were left with. Because what you were saying Richard that I found interesting is we know what they don't want at this stage. They don't want May's deal. They don't want no deal. What do they want? Do they want an extension? What is the deal they will agree on or not or a majority will agree on?
NOBILO: The problem with this process of elimination. The next amendment we see is the one on indicative vote, the fact that the prime minister didn't first test the waters with Parliament and see what there is a consensus for. Instead, she's brought back a deal. Now we are eliminating it. You wouldn't get somebody to decorate the whole thing and then say, what don't you want? That's such an arduous process, much more protracted and difficult to undo what's already been done.
QUEST: There is about 14 minutes left of the vote. It takes that long and we have team coverage across this story.
GORANI: Right. We have Phil Black getting the view from Sunderland in northeastern England. Nina Dos Santos is at 10 Downing Street. Erin McLaughlin is reporting from EU headquarters in Brussels right now. Nina, the Prime Minister left about 45 minutes ago you were saying?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Yes. That's right. It is a different turn of events. She was making full use of the back entrance and much to the disappointment of the awaiting photographers. She appeared to be in a good mood. She smiled to the crowd. There was a crowd of school children that had come to see her. She made a big point waving. That is probably going to be the thing you might see in newspapers today this evening or tomorrow morning. Depending of course how it goes. As Carole was just pointing out there are four amendments that have been selected. It appears one of those amendments that sought to make sure she wouldn't be allowed to bring her withdrawal agreement, the so-called Brexit deal, that she feels is the best deal for the country back for a third time.
[13:05:00] That amendment may well have been pulled. It may be we are not dealing with four amendments after all. And a crucial one at the end there could allow her to come back and give it one final push. Getting those Brexiter MPs within her own party who are so hard to please on her side say to say, well, look, if a House votes for a delay there may be no Brexit at all, you might as well go for my deal. The cabinet met earlier on this afternoon, they met for about an hour to an hour and half, leaving some of them, especially those 11 to 12 MPs who decided to abstain embarrassingly for the government from her vote yesterday evening. Often leaving in pairs, I should say. But of course, they are still very much part of the cabinet, it is a divided cabinet, a divided Number 10 and a divided house in government that we see this evening.
QUEST: Thank you, divided Westminster and cabinet may be, Brussels most definitely is not. Erin McLaughlin is there. What do they want out of tonight?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, LONDON BUREAU: Richard, you say they are not divided. In fact, based on conversations I have been having at the prospect of the U.K., their divisions on that very topic. We were hearing from EU institutions, key voices, the chief Brexit negotiator that if the U.K. wants an extension, whether it be long or short it needs to be very precise in terms of that request, an extension to what kind of Brexit does the U.K. have in mind? We are hearing from Donald Tusk saying that if Theresa May asking for longer extension the EU should be open to allow space in the U.K. to come to some sort of consensus. He took to Twitter earlier this morning saying the following, saying during my consultations I will appeal to be open to a long extension if the U.K. finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build a consensus around it. I was speaking to a source earlier today about his thinking on this. The source was telling me this is genuine. He thinks this is the best way forward if Theresa May can't get this deal across the line. A short extension risks the possibility of a no deal Brexit. And Tusk in this tweet is thinking long-term best interest for both sides of the channel.
GORANI: Erin McLaughlin in Brussels, thank you. We are hearing as Erin was saying and rightly, there's division at Westminster. In terms of EU leaders certainly if it was a test of their unity, they succeed in showing at the leadership level they remained quite unified with a single message to the U.K. it is kind of interesting to see the different reactions to this Brexit debacle over the last several years. Our panel is still here. Richard Quest, Hala Gorani,
QUEST: You are not surprised.
GORANI: No one has wandered off yet. And Carole Walker.
QUEST: While we wait for this. I keep having to explain to friends over sees that this really is unique. That to see a full-blown constitutional crisis. The only one that's not been involved is the Queen.
NOBILO: She has sort of weighed in in her very, you know, sadly restrained way. She talked about bringing the country together in her last few speeches she has made. She definitely eluded to it. It is pretty unique not just because of the element of the constitutional crisis. Let's take last night. Ministers abstained on a government whip. That doesn't happen. When it happens, they usually face severe consequences. They don't in this situation. The Prime Minister doesn't have a majority. The government is hanging together by a thread. All of the things that have been unthink able are now thinkable.
WALKER: It is unprecedented. I started working here more than 20 years ago in the dying days of John Major's government. He struggled with diminishing tiny majority. He had his own euro skeptic rebels to deal with. At the time people said he was facing problems. It was hugely chaotic. It was nothing like the scale of confusion and the complete lack of authority that you're seeing at the moment. Of course, what you had at that stage was a very strong opposition. You had Tony Blair emerging as the new Labour leader, there was a strong powerful and increasingly popular leader providing an alternative vision. What we are seeing is divisions and uncertainty. What is so extraordinary is despite all of this the most recent polls have still put the Conservatives well ahead in the polls.
[13:10:00] GORANI: It shows you the disarray the Labour party divided as well. Sunderland, you and I both anchored the breaking news referendum results on CNN.
GORANI: It was the first to announce the lead result. The Labour party provided as well. You and I both anchored. It voted 61 percent in favor of leave.
QUEST: That is one that became the talisman for the rest of the night.
GORANI: That's right. This is where we find Phil Black. Our producer was helpful. She sent me a few things. A large amount of unemployment is an issue there. But Nissan is a key employer and Nissan has announced potential production cuts. Has that changed anyone's mind?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You are right, Hala, this is kind of an iconic Brexit city because it was the first to declare to Britain and the world that Brexit is coming by that result that you described. But also, from another point of view, from a certain point of view, some people believe this is the city inner region that has shot itself in the foot by backing Brexit so strongly.
Manufacturing is very big here. It has done very well out of the frictionless trade with the EU. Being a member of the EU allows, it exports a lot and it imports a lot. There are lots of complex supply chains. Parts and components crossing the borders frequently. Nissan is the key example there.
It is the biggest employer in the region. 7,000 people are employed at Nissan in Sunderland. It has already recently announced it is not going to proceed with planned investment that was see it manufacturing a new model there in the future. There are people here who were really worried. They believe it could be the first economic hit to this region brought on Brexit which many people here do support.
Walked the streets of Sunderland. You will meet many people who are already frustrated that they haven't got Brexit a long time ago and they are certainly pretty irritated and angry they believe the process is being frustrated. No deal being taken off the table and the possibility of delaying the actual Brexit date. We will be talking to people through the night as the votes unfold getting their reactions. I can tell you if Brexit is delayed there is going to be disappointment and irritation. More than that there will be a real sense of anger and betrayal as well.
GORANI: Thanks very much. Yes. So, we had four amendments that were choSEN. One of them might not be voted on. QUEST: Right. The last one. The second and third ones fall if this
one passes anyway. If this one falls it will be interesting whether or not the proponents of those amendments do decide to continue. They have a certain importance about them. As we saw last night the amendment suddenly shifted the tenor of the debate.
WALKER: Absolutely. What we saw last night was that the Prime Minister's carefully worded motion, which was saying that Parliament would not want to leave without a deal was toughened up by a result on a previous amendment the government decided to vote against the original government motion because it had been amended, changed, toughened up to an extent which the Prime Minister didn't want. There was chaos and confusion. Several failed to comply with the whipping instructions. There has been an absolutely furious backlash from MPs who wanted to keep the prospect of the no deal Brexit on the table.
NOBILO: Because the government's authority as well is just disappearing by the weekend means it means that Parliament is moving into that power vacuum. And that is why amendments are important. Allowing them to shape the process like the one that comes after this for a series of indicative votes, for Parliament to shape what happens next. That's why they are so significant.
GORANI: If the third time around her deal is voted down how can she remain in power?
WALKER: I think we would have said that after the first defeat when she went down with the biggest ever defeat in the UK on a major --
GORANI: We are two weeks away from Brexit here. You fail today negotiate a deal. Parliament has told you three times now that they don't want your deal. At what point do you say I don't have the authority anymore?
[13:15:00] QUEST: I think we are long beyond the authority but I think she has got to see this through. There's no point in her -- is there any point in her going now without have been at least got over the hurdle of March 29.
WALKER: Well, it could be taken out of her hands. If on the third attempt her deal is defeated again which is certainly possible at the moment, huge efforts being made to get conservative MPs, if that fails, if the Labour party tries to call another vote of no confidence they said they would not rule out voting with opposition to bring down the government. We are in hugely uncertain and unpredictable times.
QUEST: They are voting. They are voting on this first amendment H as it is known. The Tellers are moving into position.
TELLER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, UK: The aye's to the right, 85, and the no's to the left, 334.
BERCOW: The aye's to the right, 85. The no's to the left, 334. The no's have it. Unlock. Order. No. Not now. We'll do it according to order later. We now come to amendment I. Mr. Hilary Bend move the amendment for A.
MP HILARY BENN, LABOUR PARTY, LEEDS CENTRAL, UK: Formally.
BERCOW: Thank you. I now call Lucy Powell to move formally her amendment to amendment I to formally thank you. The question is that the amendment to amendment I be made. Say aye
MINISTERS OF PARLIAMENT: Aye.
BERCOW: Of the contrary, no.
MINISTERS OF PARLIAMENT: No.
BERCOW: Division. Clear the lobby.
GORANI: So that first amendment they are requesting a delayed Brexit and a second referendum defeated by 334 to 85.
NOBILO: And that is why the peoples vote did not want this to happen today.
GORANI: Yes. A resounding defeat.
WALKER: For now, at least a second referendum has been decisively rejected by --
QUEST: Hang on a second. Large numbers of people all over this country. When you speak to them in bars and restaurants and whatever. They always say we want a second referendum. What we need is a second referendum.
GORANI: Here you this number now which is 334 to 85. Is it premature that's the question. Is it premature to ask them to ask Parliament to vote on this now?
GORANI: What the people were saying is the same of what they were saying we wouldn't be in this predicament.
WALKER: The polls do suggest at the moment there's no overwhelming majority in favor of another referendum, much of it depends on what you ask people. Do you think people should be given a say, they say yes. If you say should a government rerun that was won three years ago in 2016 you'll get a different result.
GORANI: Right. They are voting on --
QUEST: An extremely complicated amendment to an amendment. Which pretty much tells you all you need to know about it. We don't need to concern ourselves about the details of this. We'll take a short break.
[13:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
GORANI: Welcome back to our special Brexit coverage of the latest votes in the British Parliament. Joining us now is Joey Jones, he is a former spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May, and the former deputy political editor of "Sky News," hi Joey.
JOEY JONES, FORMER SPOKESPERSON FOR PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY, AND FORMER DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR OF "SKY NEWS": Hello, how are you?
GORANI: Every time I see you, I ask you the same thing. What is going through her mind right now, you know her?
JONES: Every time it is like how can I get through another few minutes and another few hours and hope by grinding on eventually the outcome is the one she has aspired to. She is probably also wondering when she next opens her mouth her voice will actually come out.
QUEST: The decision and the thoughts bringing back this thing again for a third go at a meaningful vote, if promotion is past today, that is one of the things that will be the next thing. I understand persistence but at what point does she come up with the idea? It's finished, it's dead. It's not going any where.
JONES: I think the only reason it does betray say lack of imagination on the part of Downing Street and it also suggests they have got nowhere else to go. It might work. When I didn't think a couple of days ago that when the votes came in that there was really any realistic -- desperate the idea of having another vote. Yesterday it felt like a change the dynamic.
Basically, the idea, I think it dawned on people on the Brexit wing of the Conservative Party and also on the DUP that if they don't vote with the Prime Minister at some point, they get a very, very, very different Brexit to the one they hope for or indeed a very, very long extension. It basically scared the hell out of them.
GORANI: But the strategy putting this for a third time to a vote, you have to make up a deficit of almost 150 here. This is not just a couple undecided MPs who may have voted against the government. How do you begin to do that in a few days?
JONES: You have to get the DUP. If you can get the DUP on side then a large number will swing. Each single vote in term of its swing.
GORANI: The deal won't have clanged.
JONES: No. It won't. The stakes will have changed. The context, background, the fear will have changed. That's the thing that might concentrate minds and might eventually when Theresa May the day. It does seem implausible. I completely get that.
QUEST: Pretty much from the day that she moved into Downing Street, the Prime Minister has said, Brexit means Brexit. Once she fired off article 50, it became Brexit means Brexit. We are leaving the European Union on March 29. We can say categorically tonight probably the U.K. is not leaving on March 29th.
JONES: The only way we would leave on March 29 is by falling out accidently and crashing out. That's what nobody wants. It is still in statute. If we don't reach a deal or agree in extension then we fall out. In a managed situation it can work out. QUEST: So, they have to pass this tonight. She has to go to Brussels and get an extension. At the same time there's Commons. Getting rid of article 50, the legislation for article 50 is a five-minute job and a one clause bill through the House. It could be done in a moment.
GORANI: And it could be done unilaterally without the --
GORANI: Revoking article 50 doesn't require the agreement --
JONES: Even the transition agreement requires some I's to be dotted and T's to be crossed that have not been managed.
QUEST: My point is that tonight this is the first time that it looks like Britain is not leaving on March the 29th.
[14:25:00] JONES: I think it felt like that for a couple of days, but yes, absolutely, it will start to dawn on people that what they anticipate and what they have been promised is not going to happen. They all thought you would be if you're on the leave side cracking open the champagne that has been in the cellar for a long time. Or if you are on the remain side may be drinking something stronger. Instead they will have to wait.
GORANI: Joey Jones, former spokesperson for Theresa May. Thank you for joining us, as always.
GORANI: So, to Northern Ireland our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is in Londonderry and the Prime Minister of Ireland is at the White House as he is traditionally on St. Patrick's Day. Donald Trump sort of says Theresa May got it all wrong. But it was Northern Ireland that proved the most difficult part of the whole deal.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's not the first time Donald Trump criticized Theresa May to sort of praise her the following day. Remember the headlines in the "Sun" newspaper last summer when he came to visit and he said that Theresa May should have been tough and negotiated tough with the European Union. No secret he doesn't like the European Union. He said this also talking about trade with the European Union sitting with Leo Varadkar, the Irish Prime Minister. Somewhat embarrassing for the Irish prime minister.
You know who else is in Washington at the moment? That's Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, you just heard Joey Jones there talking about the DUP and if you can lead the DUP to support the withdraw agreement you can turn and change the minds of many of those ERG members, the European Research Group members, the hard-line Brexiters if you like that are still standing out against the withdraw agreement.
The DUP are becoming more and more central to all of this. They met yesterday. Some of their Westminster contingents met yesterday with the Attorney General Jeffrey Cox to listen to his legal advice, remembering two-day days ago that it was his statement that beefed up the numbers that actually voted against in that vote on Tuesday. Voted against the withdrawal agreement.
So, if he is able to change the DUP's mind that becomes significant. The DUP, they are in a very difficult position. Number one they take a very tough position. They are absolute in their view that the -- their connection to the United Kingdom mainland cannot be diluted by having an affected border along the Irish Sea which is how they view the backstop agreement at the moment.
How can the Attorney General assuage them of their concerns? It is hugely important and hugely critical right now. The DUP will also be guided by the fact that people vote for them in the belief they are keep them firmly in the union with the United Kingdom.
And there are local council elections coming up here at the beginning of May. So, if there was a moment and this is a party not given to giving political ground. If there was a moment where they might give some political ground, this really isn't it. And for them that connection to mainland UK is almost an existential issue for them.
So that is the conundrum that the DUP face at the moment and that is in many ways why the focus is so much here on Northern Ireland as we enter the closing stages or what may not be the closing stages of this Brexit process.
QUEST: Thank you. We'll be back with you when we understand what's happening. The results of the latest vote in just a moment.
[13:30:29] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back here in Westminster. M.P.s are locked into another night of voting to decide on the future of Brexit. They've just voted down a proposed amendment that would have indicated support for a second referendum. Lots of abstentions on the Labour side.
They're not looking at whether M.P.s should take control of the Brexit process as opposed to the government dealing with negotiations. One - four of the amendment -- sorry, once all four, the amendments they've been voted on have been looked at. Lawmakers will then have their say on delaying Brexit altogether.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: We are deep into the weeds of parliamentary process. For instance, we are just waiting for the result of an amendment to an amendment. And as I understand it, Carole Walker and Bianca, the amendment -- the main amendment is quite important. This amendment for the amendment is basically just a time scale difference to it.
CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: The main amendment which will be the next vote that we come to would allow M.P.'s to seize control of the parliamentary business from the government in order to legislate for a delay to Brexit. QUEST: Here we go.
WALKER: This is whether it should be time limited.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes, 311, the noes, 314. Thank you.
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: The ayes has the right 311. The noes, left, 314. So the noes have it. The noes have it. Unlock. Order.
The question is the amendment aye be made? As many as there better then say aye.
BERCOW: Of the contrary no.
BERCOW: Division. Clear the lobby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Right. So now, we are getting to the actual amendment. Just remind us, Carole, you have it there. So you can tell us what it is.
WALKER: Well, it is a lengthy amendment and essentially what it says is that normally, governments control the parliamentary timetable. What M.P.s are voting on, what they're debating on. This would say that for a specified amount of time M.P.'s would be able to decide the business of the House. They would use that to legislate to ensure a delay to Brexit.
But what is quite interesting is that that amendment to the amendment which just went down means that there's no time limit on this.
WALKER: So where this amendment to pass, it would essentially say that the government had lost the power to control the parliamentary timetable.
Now, the government has already said that this would be a constitutional wrecking ball. So if it does find its chance go through it is unlikely, but impossible. But if it does through, then that is yet another huge blow to the prime minister's authority and her control of what happens.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And on top of that when we're always asking the question, why does this matter beyond the U.K. and in the U.K. for years to come? It's because this sets a precedent. It's really significant to have the executive relinquished power or have power taken from them in this way by parliament. It's so unusual, especially on the key policy of the government. So this is a way in which Brexit is shaping, potentially, the future of how parliament reaffirms the conductive.
GORANI: So they are now streaming out of the chamber. They're voting on whether or not to allow M.P. to take control of the Brexit process without a time limit attached to this amendment which is significant.
Carole, the likelihood this will pass, in your opinion?
WALKER: I would say it's unlikely, because I think that most M.P.'s will recognize the dangers that the anchor has just been talking about that any future government, whatever hue, would find it incredibly difficult to get its business through.
Because at any moment, M.P.'s could say, well, actually, we're not having that. We're going to impose our own priorities on the government. It would make it a nightmare for any future government to try to get its policies legislated on.
So it seems very unlikely that it is going to pass. The government is working strongly against it. But that was failed last night, so it is certainly possible that it could fail again.
[13:35:03] QUEST: Good moment for us to go to Downing Street. Nina dos Santos is in Downing Street. The home of the prime minister and the chancellor of the -- the cabinet's office is in Downing Street.
And the prime minister, she soldiers majestically on, but she's in deep trouble. Her government is in deep trouble. Her premiership is in deep trouble.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And discipline is also something that is getting increasingly hard to maintain for the party whips during these last three days. There's a lot of speculation now for this particular amendment that they're voting that some duty ministers may decide to defy the party whip and to decide to abstain from that vote. So not take the government's advice, party manager's advice and say you should be voting in accordance to what we dictate.
Now, this is obviously a scenario that we saw quite embarrassingly yesterday evening with junior and some -- even senior ministers actually cabinet -- front benchers -- important be to the cabinet deciding to abstain from voting yesterday in that no-deal Brexit vote that we saw yesterday.
And those particular cabinet ministers who decided to abstain yesterday, embarrassingly for the government, actually turned up to the full cabinet meeting here. About 10 or 11 of them turned up here earlier on today and left in pairs of abstainers. If you like.
So you can really physically see the fractures within the cabinet, within the government, and also within parliament itself. So that is something that obviously Theresa May, when she comes back to Number 10 Downing Street will have to consider. What is interesting, and I've been talking about this anecdotally over the last few days, is that today was really the last day of these three crucial votes this week. The last day, the parliamentary week, it was the first day though in the last three days that we've seen Theresa May actually face the press and all of the cabinet ministers face the press over the last few days when they've gone in and out, they've entered very furtively. The prime minister has been making ample use of the back entrance, as you said. You can get in and out of Number 10 Downing Street, Richard, through the cabinet's office.
And so we have seen these furtive glimpses that are very divided cabinet. She made a show of it for the last vote today. And let's see how it's going.
Although I should point out, it's one thing I do want to point out though, as we look at these divided votes, Richard, one of the issues that people in this country getting increasingly angry about is they say it wasn't just Number 10 that decided to activate Article 50 two years ago without a plan. It was all of the M.P.s inside the House that actually agreed to usher in that legislation.
So voting against parts of these, parts of the legislations try and delay it now and take no-deal off the table yesterday is slightly contradictory to what happened two years ago. Richard.
QUEST: Right. But the prime minister, Nina, the prime minister never hesitates to remind the House, doesn't she? That it was M.P.s that shows throughout -- they not only chose to activate Article 50. M.P.s also then decided to move forward with the date.
Dos Santos: Yes. You're absolutely right. And I think the real question here is when you speak to people across the U.K., across the streets of London and all of the people behind you, Rich and Hala, who congregated upon Westminster and taken time out of their lives for the last two years to protest for the situation that we're facing, not just inside Number 10 Downing Street, but in the whole of our political sphere in this country is that it's this contradiction here that is coming to its climax when it comes to Brexit, as we get closer to March the 29th.
And it's contradiction of activating Article 50 without a plan with these red lines being drawn in the sand that now have to be undone. It's that that is causing the moment of crisis that we see not just inside Number 10 Downing Street. Not just inside the parliament, but also among the voting public as well.
GORANI: Nina dos Santos at 10 Downing Street. Don't go very far because we'll be getting back to you throughout the evening.
When we come back, we'll talk with the deputy chair of the British campaign group called "People's Vote." Our special coverage on Brexit continues.
[13:40:42] GORANI: We are outside the U.K. parliament for another night of voting.
Joining us now is Hugo Dixon. The deputy chair of the People's Vote who supports a second referendum. Welcome.
HUGO DIXON, DEPUTY CHAIR, PEOPLE'S VOTE: A new referendum.
GORANI: A new referendum which would ask --
DIXON: it's very different from the last one.
GORANI: Which would ask what question?
DIXON: Well, it remains to be seen, but certainly stay in the E.U. has to be one of the options on the ballot paper and then some specific and deliverable form of Brexit needs to be on the other side of the ballot paper.
That's why it's very different from the fantasy referendum of 2016 three years ago. Then there was not a specific or deliverable form of Brexit. There was just Boris Johnson, our former foreign secretary's cake and eat it. Unicorn type of Brexit.
GORANI: Tonight, M.P.s soundly defeated the amendment that called for a second referendum or another referendum.
DIXON: Yes. Yes.
GORANI: By a lot.
DIXON: But we were not supporting that amendment.
QUEST: But why not?
GORANI: Why not?
DIXON: Why not? Because what we think is that parliament is trying to deliver on the mandate of that referendum of 2016. They are trying to find a good form of Brexit. They have not been able to do that. But there are some of them who think that Theresa May's Brexit is a disastrous form of Brexit. That was rejected two nights ago. Crashing out with no-deal. That was rejected last night.
But there are some M.P.'s who think that if the government abandoned its red lines, there might be a good form of Brexit hiding there somewhere under the sofa, in the garage, up in the attic, we think they won't find it, but they have every right to try their best. And I think that is only when they have finally exhausted all of their explorations that it's the right time to ask the people, do you still want this bloody Brexit?
QUEST: What do you do if there's no government plan or that there's no accepted parliamentary agreement? Because the amendment that we just -- the amendment that we just heard that went down just talked about needing or wanting a second referendum. The prime minister's has said there's no need for a second vote or a second referendum. DIXON: Yes. But she's also said that that might well be a possibility. And what we're voting on, the big vote today is on extra time because the government, the prime minister has wasted time. She has been kicking the can. I don't know if that's an American expression, just endlessly kicking the can, again and again. We should have got this thing over and done with ages ago, but she keeps on --
WALKER: I think you said you want to stop it though, sir.
DIXON: We want to stop what?
DIXON: Well, I want to stop Brexit. People's Vote campaign is campaigning for a new referendum, giving the people the choice whether they want Brexit or whether they want to stay. But once we know that all of their parliamentary exploration is finished. But this prime minister, she has wasted so much time.
GORANI: You have critics on Twitter now.
GORANI: In fact saying, when is the right time? It's not the right time. We don't have a critical mass in parliament. It's too early, it's too --
DIXON: It's all about a critical mass in parliament. It is about parliament has to finish --
[13:45:01] GORANI: But the reality is this was soundly defeated.
DIXON: We were not supporting this. Parliamentary procedure is very, very complicated. But the big picture is the public is unhappy with the prime minister's deal. The public does not want to crash out with no-deal. They are warming to the idea that there should be a new referendum, but they want to see whether the M.P.s can miraculously come up with something out of their further explorations if the government abandons its red lines.
I think they will fail. Because all forms of Brexit are bad for this country. They are bad for our prosperity. They are bad for our power. They are probably bad for peace in Northern Ireland. And they're frankly bad for the people.
So whoever way you at it, we think that there's not going to be a good form of Brexit at the end of this process. And at that point, Richard, that's when it should go back to the people. And we are having, as you probably know, a big march on March the 23rd when we're hoping to have lots of people, just here in Parliament Square, a couple of 100 yards up the street. And that is when we're going to be getting the people -- and tell the politicians --
QUEST: In accordance --
DIXON: Put it to the people.
QUEST: Well, we look forward to that. But for the time being, the government's vote tonight, even if it's a long -- if there is a long extension, the government said it's because they want to explore what might get through. What might be -- we're just waiting for the - for the result of this amendment to come through.
Is that the moment when you come in and say, have the referendum in a longer extension?
DIXON: Yes. I mean, I think if the government goes to the European Council, that's the summit in weeks' time and asks for a long extension. And if our friends in the E.U. give us a long extension, I hope they will. That's -- when we're in that extension, then we will have the time for the end piece to explore properly whether there are any good forms of Brexit, once you abandon Theresa May's red lines.
WALKER: But it was a pretty extensive vote against a second referendum. Yes. That's quite a setback for you.
DIXON: That is not at all. We were not backing this amendment at all. I mean, we made very clear that were not backing this amendment at all.
GORANI: But you need political appetite and support to get the second People's Vote through, right?
DIXON: Of course.
GORANI: But you don't have it, neither from the Labour Party, nor the conservative party.
DIXON: No, we do. The Labour Party said very clearly that they were up for supporting the People's Vote but not now.
GORANI: Right. Not now. If all other alternatives fail, then that could take a very long time.
DIXON: Hala, honestly, today's vote is about extending the Article 50 process delaying Brexit. It is much better if M.P.s focused on one big issue at a time. Two days ago, it was the government's deal. That was voted down. Yesterday, it was no-deal. Today, it is about extra time.
At some point in the future, we believe will be the right time at the end of the process to ask
GORANI: But that's more uncertainty for the country.
DIXON: Well, I can tell you this can be a hell of a lot of uncertainty if this government's deal ever manages to find its way to the statute. But it will be a decade of uncertainty. Because those people in that House of Commons, they cannot agree on anything and they will not be able to agree on the future form of relationship with the E.U. They will be fighting like ferrets in a sack for years. So that is where you all ending up with uncertainty. Our proposal offers a prospect for clarity and closure.
GORANI: So kicking the can is an American expression, but fighting like ferrets in a sack is a first for me. Is that a U.K. one?
WALKER: It is a very British expression.
GORANI: I've been in place --
WALKER: Lot of ferrets fighting like crazy in the sack over there over the last few days.
GORANI: OK then.
QUEST: It's interesting. Kicking the can translates across the Atlantic.
GORANI: It does, of course.
QUEST: Yes, it does. But ferrets in sacks.
GORANI: Not so much.
QUEST: it's a good one. Nice to see you, sir.
DIXON: Very nice to see you, Richard. Hi, Hala. Very nice to see you. Very nice to see you. Take care.
QUEST: Do we have time? I think we probably do just about. We are waiting. And Erin McLaughlin, we're going to come to you, but obviously the usual proviso. We will interrupt you if they tell us come back.
Are the E.U. -- is the E.U. watching this with a gust in horror?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I would say that's a -- that's a fair assessment, Richard. They're certainly watching things closely and they're having a debate of their own about the question of a longer term extension.
Everyone seems to agree here in Brussels that should Theresa May ultimately be able to get this deal over the line in Westminster. That they would be willing to grant a short-term technical extension, a benign extension in the words of some diplomats to allow for the completion of the ratification process.
To many here in Brussels, that's seen as the best possible outcome of this entire mess. Should she come to that summit next week in Brussels and ask for a longer term extension? There's differing views here as to whether or not the E.U. would be willing to grant that and under what conditions.
[13:50:12] Earlier in the week we heard from key voices within the E.U. institutions. We heard from Guy Verhofstadt, the chief Brexit coordinator for parliament. We heard from Michel Barnier, the chief Brexit negotiator for the commission saying that if they grant a long- term extension, they really want to know specifically what vision Theresa May and the U.K. has in mind for Brexit.
This morning, we heard from Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council with a different view. Let me just pull up for you what he had to say on Twitter. He said quote, "During my consultations ahead of next week's summit, I will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the U.K. finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it."
That raised some eyebrows here in Brussels. Some arguing that he was simply trying to help Theresa May get her deal over the line through that tweet. Because it essentially will scare many Brexiteers. Worried that a longer term extension would mean simply no Brexit at all.
But I was speaking to a source close to Tusk and he was telling me that he was genuine in this thinking. He thinks that in the event, she can't get the deal over the time, a longer term extension is in the best interest of both sides of the channel.
QUEST: All right. Erin.
GORANI: OK. Erin, I believe we're about to hear the results there following the vote on this amendment there calling on parliament to take back control of the Brexit process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The aye to the right, 312. The noes to the left, 314.
BERCOW: The ayes to the right, 312. The noes to the left, 314. So the noes have it. The noes have it. Unlock. Order. We now come to Amendment E in the name of the leader of the opposition. Right on the gentleman to move the amendment formally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I shall move, Mr. Speaker.
BERCOW: Question is in Amendment E be made. As men (INAUDIBLE) say aye.
BERCOW: Of the contrary no.
BERCOW: Division. Clear the lobby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, that was close, wasn't it?
QUEST: Tow votes, what a significance.
WALKER: Voted down by a very slim majority much closer, I think, than many people would have thought. And that vote means that M.P.s have failed very narrowly to seize control of the parliamentary timetable from the government.
Interestingly enough, during the debate earlier, Theresa May's deputy said to M.P.s that she would give them time to explore various different options trying, I think, to prevent people supporting this motion.
And I think that appears to have paid off. But by the narrowest of margins and if the prime minister, all static, would have been a very serious blow indeed.
NOBILO: The story of this week, so far, as well, has been one of declining party discipline, in the prime minister's own party. So it'd be interesting to see the breakdown which we should get imminently on all parliamentary acts. We should get one if they didn't have one.
And that will tell us how many of the prime minister's own party did or did or did not vote for this. So the first amendment, none of the prime minister's own M.P.s voted for that, so she's managed to keep them in line.
This does mean that parliament hasn't succeeded in getting control of the process and not significant. Because listening to the debate today, a series of indicative votes was considered one of the only ways that a consensus could be reached.
But as Carole says, David Lidington, the de facto deputy prime minister said in the chamber that if the prime minister wasn't able to secure a deal next week, after the meeting of European leaders, they would give the House of Commons a series of indicative votes on various scenarios. So that probably is what managed to save it for them on this occasion.
WALKER: By the narrowest of margins.
GORANI: We are going to take a quick break. Do stay with us. We have a lot more after this.
[13:55:12] GORANI: Right. They are now voting. The M.P.s are voting. We will update you on what they're voting. It is an amendment proposed by the opposition Labour Party that basically says that's of Article 50 postponed and let's go in a different direction. It's likely to be voted down. At least the government is against it. But that's what's happening in the House. Now, let's go to the real world.
GORANI: Right. The real world and more specifically Sunderland, which voted 61 percent in favor of leave. Phil Black joins us live from there. So much chaos and potential delays now, Phil. What are people telling you there in the heart of leave country?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala. We're about to talk to one. We are in (INAUDIBLE) we're broadcasting live from the (INAUDIBLE) Sunderland where as you say 61 percent of people backs Brexit in the referendum.
Since then, journalists like me have been coming to this town. It's sort of like an iconic state. This is a Brexit city. To try and understand why people feel the way they do about the European Union.
And what's interesting now is how they feel about the process undergoing, in parliament, as we speak. To talk about that, I'm joined by Jeffrey Nelson (ph). A Brexit voter.
Jeffrey, as parliament is debating all of this and going through this long process, they've taken no-deal off the table. They're talking about delaying the Brexit result itself. How do you, as a Brexit voter feel as this is unfolding and you're watching it from that distance?
JEFFREY NELSON, BREXIT VOTER: We voted to leave. It's a personal view. I'm not wise to lose any party. But I do believe that, especially the other party, and the Conservative Party, the members have not backed the law and beliefs. We voted as a country to leave Brexit, to leave Europe.
BLACK: And you're satisfied with the progress?
NELSON: Oh, no. I'm unsatisfied with it.
BLACK: And so if there is a delay tonight, if they push it back by a few months or perhaps longer, that could be the result. How will people like you in this city feel?
NELSON: Totally disappointed. In a sense that it took two years to actually get what Theresa May -- now, is coming into the free air all the backbenches. The people who didn't really want Brexit to begin with. And now, muddy waters and a completeness mess of it. You should have backed the whole institution without any equivocation. It should have been backed in every single regular party should have meant to give the people's issues.
Now, what I believe is it's all political. It's based on infighting of the Conservative Party. It's based on infightings in the Labour Party. Work for a guy with who's in the Labour party who I don't believe represents the true belief of the work and process.
Otherwise, you would have backed Brexit, you would backed through some here. You have worked together getting over it. We saw basically infighting. And now when we see -- when Theresa May put out -- after ridiculous what she did. She put out, if you like --
BLACK: It's all pretty messy. It's all incredibly messy. That's what you -- that's what you're saying.
NELSON: It's incredibly messing the words of -- and the normal person.
BLACK: And I'm sorry to cut you off there. But, Hala, Richard, that's the sort of thing we're hearing here. Disappointment is the word.