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Saudis Seek Death Penalty for Five Suspects in Khashoggi Murder; U.S. Sanctions 17 Saudi Officials Over Khashoggi’s Murder; Donald Tusk:

November 16, 2018



<Date: November 15, 2018>

<Time: 15:00:00>

<Tran: 111502cb.k40>

<Type: SHOW>

<Head: Saudis Seek Death Penalty for Five Suspects in Khashoggi Murder;

U.S. Sanctions 17 Saudi Officials Over Khashoggi’s Murder; Donald Tusk:

“No-Brexit Scenario” Still Possible; Brexit Supporter Criticizes Theresa

May and Her Deal; Theresa May Comes Out Fighting Amid Political Turmoil - Part 1>

<Sect: News; International>

<Byline: Hala Gorani, Elise Labott, Erin McLaughlin>

<Guest: Nigel Huddleston, Antony Phillipson, Rushanara Ali, John

Longworth, Mark Littlewood, Jack Blanchard >

<High: Saudis seek death penalty for five suspects in Khashoggi murder.

U.S. sanctions 17 Saudi officials over Khashoggi’s murder. European Council

President says a no-Brexit scenario is still possible. Brexit supporter

criticizes Theresa May and her deal. Theresa May comes out fighting amid

political turmoil.>

<Spec: Saudi Arabia; Jamal Khashoggi; U.S.; Donald Tusk; Jacob Rees-Mogg;

Theresa May>

<Time: 15:30>

<End: 16:00>

HALA GORANI, HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Hello and welcome. I’m Hala Gorani, live from Westminster in London. We continue our breaking news coverage. After a day of derision, dissent and dismay in some cases, Theresa May has just one thing to say about her Brexit plan, “I am going to see this through.”

The British Prime Minister is still standing after a day of multiple resignations from some of her top lawmakers and Cabinet members including the Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab. There was also a letter of no confidence sent by leading Brexiteer, Jacob Rees-Mogg but if you were expecting Mrs. May to admit defeat when she stepped out before an eagerly awaiting press conference a few hours ago, well, think again. Here’s why. Listen.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Leadership is about taking the right decisions, not the easy ones. As Prime Minister, my job is to bring back a deal that delivers on the vote of the British people, that does that by ending free movement, all the things I raised in my statement, ending free movement, ensuring we’re not sending vast annual sums to the EU any longer, ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, but also protects jobs, and protects people’s livelihoods, protects our security, protects the Union of the United Kingdom.

I believe that this is a deal which does deliver that, which is in the national interest. And am I going to see this through? Yes.


GORANI: Translation, I’m not resigning, unless I’m forced to. We’re covering all sides of this story. Nic Robertson is at 10 Downing Street and Bianca Nobilo is with me here outside Parliament. And Nic, I’ll start with you.

What does - because Theresa May certainly has a lot of opposition within her own party and there are those within the Tory Party who would like to unseat her and replace her with a very firm and passionate lever, a Brexiteer. How does she plan to navigate this over the coming days?

NIC ROBERTSON, INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR, CNN: She appears to plan to navigate it by believing that she can if challenged. It would take those 48 letters from people like Jacob Rees-Mogg to trigger from the Conservative Party a challenge to her leadership. She would have to win that by getting more than 50% of the vote of the conservative MPs, if she was able to do that, which she seems to believe that she can do, she would then go to the European Union and I should add the caveat having of course first replaced her Brexit Secretary who resigned earlier today that she still hasn’t done by almost close of business it seems today.

She would have to do that, go to the European Union, get the deal signed off on and then she would have to come back and believe somehow despite hearing from the leader of the Labour Party today, the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party today, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and so from hearing from a number of Democratic Unionist politicians who ostensibly support and give her the majority in Parliament, all of these people today saying that they wouldn’t be able to do that. That their parties wouldn’t be able to support her.

So she clearly must calculate that she believes somewhere along the road in the meantime before early December when this might happen, that she could change minds and it’s not clear how she plans to do that.

When she came out to give the press conference earlier and you just played a very defining, if you will, defiant moment to all of those critics that she has. She began by saying it’s a privilege to serve in high office. And the room sort of went electric because it sounded hike she was about to embark on some kind of resignation speech, and it was completely the opposite.

She believes that she’s doing the right thing, and I think that is her guiding light at the moment. She’s in the thick of the battle. She’s not considering other options, taking each challenge as it arises, Hala.

GORANI: Yes, Nic Robertson, absolutely. When she said those words at the beginning of the news conference, you know, we thought perhaps this was an indication that she was about to resign. Of course, she didn’t. Quite the contrary, she said she was going to see this through, and Bianca, how will she see this through? Because she can’t do this on her own. She needs to get this Brexit deal through Parliament.

BIANCA NOBILO, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: She needs to do a couple of things. She needs to appoint a new Brexit Secretary, we don’t know who that is going to be. I was keeping a close eye on the door there behind Nic just to see if anybody’s going in and out, and we need to keep an eye on that.

She also has always this looming threat of a leadership contest over here and I’ve been speaking to some MPs, all of which are Brexiteers that would like to see the Prime Minister go, saying that they are expecting that threshold of 48 letters which would trigger the vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister by next week, so possibly not this week.

GORANI: Now, you don’t need just 48 votes to oust her. You need much more than that.


NOBILO: Precisely, and this I think is why they haven’t moved. So it’s 48 votes to trigger a leadership contest, but then you need 159 votes of the Parliamentary Conservative Party to topple a Prime Minister, and even though the Brexiteers know that they probably have that number of 48, they definitely don’t have the number of 159. So then, Hala, what they could risk is calling a leadership contest or a vote of no confidence rather and then Theresa May wins that.

GORANI: And then they can’t challenge her for a year.

NOBILO: And they can’t challenge her for a year, and then she will be able to continue with her Brexit plan for that length of time. But then, of course there’s this other check, which is Parliament.

So even if she stays in post, she’s then trying to do the impossible and get a deal, which as we saw today in the House of Commons, does not have support from any side.

GORANI: If you’re going to topple a Prime Minister, you’ve got to pick your moment. It is about good timing. Yes, I’m sure they’ll take advice from you on this one. Thanks very much, Bianca and stay close because we’ll be coming back to you with more of our breaking news coverage and more analysis.

Members of Parliament had a chance to question Theresa May’s plans earlier and they really did question her. They were - she was essentially pummeled because lawmaker after lawmaker hammered her plans. Listen to how it all went down.


STEVE BAKER, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: It is completely intolerable and I feel confident that even in the unlikely event that legislation for it reaches this is House, it will be ferociously opposed.

MARK FRANCOIS, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: The stark reality, Prime Minister it that it was dead on arrival at St. Tommy’s before you stood up. So I plead with you, I plead with you to accept the political reality of the situation you now face.

PAT MCFADDEN, BRITISH LABOUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Is it not the case that far from taking back control, this is the biggest voluntary surrender of sovereignty in memory? And it is time to think again.

JULIAN LEWIS, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Can the Prime Minister describe any sure away of frustrating the referendum result and ultimately remaining in the European Union than to accept a Hotel California Brexit deal, which ensures that we can never truly leave the EU.


GORANI: Let’s bring in a leading voice in the Brexit camp and UK business now, John Longworth is Chairman of Leave Means Leave and the former director of the British Chamber of Commerce, and he joins me now. So you’re unhappy with this Brexit draft text, I take it.

JOHN LONGWORTH, CO-CHAIRMAN, LEAVE MEANS LEAVE: I think unhappy is an understatement. This is the worst deal in history for the UK. It would leave the UK effectively a colony of the European Union without any means of escape. We would be tied into all the things that the Conservatives promised that we would not be in their manifesto for the last election and also of course, the Labour manifesto said the same thing.

GORANI: Do you think no deal is a better option?

LONGWORTH: Absolutely. No deal is no problem. It’s not the best option. The best option would be for us to actually agree a free trade arrangement with the European Union before we leave. But if we have to leave with no deal terms, it’s not a problem. It would save 39 billions pounds which is 600 pounds for every man, woman and child in the UK and actually billions more because the red book the challengers have produced at the last budget showed additional funding for EU. It would give us the freedom to make trade deals. We could reduce tariffs and boost the economy and reduce the cost of living for ordinary citizens.

GORANI: But leaving without a deal, you do accept, though, that leaving without a deal just in terms of trade, trade that’s been resting on the foundation of EU membership for four decades would be chaotic. You don’t expect that?

LONGWORTH: No, complete nonsense.

GORANI: But you have industry groups that are saying even just ports, just crossing the channel tunnel without an agreement would be a disaster.

LONGWORTH: It’s absolute nonsense. We’ve got foreign owned multinationals mainly French and German owned companies saying because it’s in their national interest to do so.

GORANI: Well, you have British industry groups as well saying this.

LONGWORTH: Most of the people who have been vocal on this have been foreign owned multinationals. The only British companies that have been vocal on it are those that depend on government contracts, so there are obvious reasons why they are supporting the government.

The fact of the matter is there will be no problem bringing stuff in because the only way in which there will be any shortages in the UK at all would be if the UK government stopped things coming into the UK and they’re not going to do that. And in terms of exports, the head of the Calais Port said they would go bust if they didn’t handle much goods.

And there are plenty of other ports in Europe that would do so if Calais didn’t - Rotterdam and Antwerp for example.

GORANI: But just logistically speaking, where there are no checks today, if there are checks on every vehicle entering tomorrow --

LONGWORTH: But there won’t be.

GORANI: What will happen there now - if you’re outside of the customs --

LONGWORTH: No, hang on. Don’t you understand how trade works? The World Bank itself said that only 2% of goods worldwide even between countries that have no trade deals are ever checked at borders. The fact is, it’s all done through e-documentation. There’s no need for any checks. It’s all complete nonsense.


GORANI: So this is all - this is a project fear from the freight companies?

LONGWORTH: This is project fear from the government and remainers. The fact is that we can trade with the European Union perfectly well, and don’t forget, only 8% of British companies - 8% have anything to do with the EU trade at all, 13% of the economy.

GORANI: But what percentage of the British trade is with the EU?

LONGWORTH: The percentage of exports is 43%.

GORANI: That’s right.

LONGWORTH: But that’s immaterial because it’s only 8% of the economy. Eight percent of businesses actually trade with the EU, that means 92% of the British businesses are hampered by the EU and held back. The Chancellor threatened that if we had a no deal exit, he would reduce corporation tax. What a threat. Why is it corporate Britain clamoring to have a no deal exit?

GORANI: All right, well, John Longworth, thanks very much. I mean, what would - if she wins, if she gets this through, if Parliament or her own party I should say, is not able to oust her, they don’t get enough votes to force a no confidence situation on the Prime Minister, this deal will stand, won’t it?

LONGWORTH: No, because Parliament will vote it down, almost undoubtedly, Parliament will vote it down. And then the default position is a no deal exit unless we negotiate a free trade arrangement, which actually Barnier has offered us. He offered it to me 18 months ago when I was talking to him, 18 months ago. There’s no reason way that can’t happen. If Theresa May in some way tries to keep us in the European Union --

GORANI: He offered it to you when you were the director --

LONGWORTH: No, no. when I went to see him as Chairman of Leave Means Leave.

GORANI: Right, okay.

LONGWORTH: So the fact of the matter is, if we stay in the European Union, we will end up in the situation where democracy in this country will be broken. There will be no trust in the establishment. There have been riots on the street.

GORANI: Okay. John Longworth, thanks very much for dropping by. We really appreciate your time this evening. John Longworth, the Chairman of Leave Means Leave. And here is where the UK’s three main parties stand on this. Labour accepts the vote to leave the European union. The Liberal Democrats say they believe Britain is better off in the EU, so they are fighting for an exit from Brexit, and then the Conservative Party, which just gives you an idea there politically of how everyone is positioned.

Hard line Brexiteers say the draft deal gives the EU too much control. There’s another perspective to consider of course, that’s the EU’s, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council endorsed the agreement but said Brexit is a lose-lose situation for both sides. Listen.


DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: Of course, I don’t share the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm about Brexit as such. Since the very beginning, we have had no doubt that Brexit is a lose-lose situation and that our negotiations are only about damage control.


GORANI: All right, and the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier urged British MPs to take responsibility and back the deal.


MICHEL BARNIER, EU CHIEF NEGOTIATOR: What we have agreed at negotiators level is fair and balanced, it takes the UK’s positions, organizes the withdrawal in an orderly fashion and ensure no hard border in the island of Ireland and lays the ground for an ambitious new partnership.


GORANI: Let’s find out what the Institute of Economic Affairs thinks of the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan. The IEA’s Director General Mark Littlewood is with me now. So what do you make of what we heard from the Prime Minister today? First before we get to that, what do you make of the draft text?

MARK LITTLEWOOD, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Well, I think it’s very problematic. My own personal analysis would be, it’s almost the worst of both worlds that you sort of get all of the downsides of EU membership pretty much whilst also surrendering your seat around the table.

GORANI: But there’s no payment to Brussels, none of that ...


GORANI: The Prime Minister has promised exiting the common agricultural policy, the common fisheries policy.

LITTLEWOOD: But the real big upsides of Brexit, people disagree about how big these upsides are is to escape the regulatory orbit of the European Union so Britain can frame its own regulations and to be completely free to strike trade deals. Now, there’s a huge argument amongst politicians and economists about how big are those upsides, but those are definitely the big, big upsides. Not really the payment to the EU every year. I mean, it’s meaningful, but it’s not colossal.

And I think the problem with the proposal put forward is it doesn’t give us those upsides. It locks us into the EU even though we’d be formally divorced from it.

GORANI: Is it better to adopt this deal, the May plan, or no deal at all?

LITTLEWOOD: Well, people say no deal at all. I think that’s a slight overstatement. I find it almost inconceivable that there will be literally no deal. There might be a very, very --

GORANI: But the clock is ticking.

LITTLEWOOD: The clock is definitely ticking. There might be some very thin mini deals. I mean, to give you an example, we probably need some sort of memorandum of understanding about air traffic control, just to make sure that there weren’t colossal problems at the airport.


LITTLEWOOD: That will be some very sort of thin deal, and I think those will be quite easy to get across the line, so the question is what can we now agree? I mean, having chewed up more than two years since the referendum, we now have a position, whatever you think actually of the merits or demerits of the Prime Minister’s position, it seems that most people are saying the Parliamentary math just isn’t there. I mean, it’s just - will not pass the House of Commons.

GORANI: It doesn’t appear to be there. Yes.

LITTLEWOOD: So no deal becomes much more likely. I think the government making sure that all of our contingency plans for that are in place, it becomes a higher priority than it might have been a year ago.

GORANI: Do you agree with John Longworth who we just spoke with who is the Chairman of Leave Means Leave that no deal is no big deal?

LITTLEWOOD: I think it isn’t a huge deal. I think that some of the things that was said about if Britain votes leave, we’re going to sort of immediately witness the economic apocalypse did not turn out to be true. No deal is not my optimal scenario. I think it would be much better to have a free trade agreement in place with the European Union, but I don’t believe it’s like total disaster as long as the contingency planning is there. I think there will be some glitches and some problems --

GORANI: But I’m sure you’ve read, like we all have, the heads of big corporations, of banks, of freight companies, of border control companies saying you cannot leave without a deal because the entire trade relationship between the UK and the EU has rested on membership in the European Union, and now you remove that framework. How do you expect it to seamlessly and harmoniously continue after that?

LITTLEWOOD: Well, sure. I mean, the heads of big corporations always tend to favor the regulatory status quo, unsurprisingly. And I think what they might be concerned about is if we just say, “Well, we’re leaving with no deal and no guidance and no guidelines and we’re not really going to tell you what the regulatory framework is,” but if for example, which wouldn’t be particularly difficult, it wouldn’t even need to be negotiated, if we said unilaterally on our side we are going to observe all of the following protocols.

For example, we’ll allow any EU single market product into the UK market just as we did pre-membership.

GORANI: But forgive me, you need - but this takes time ...

LITTLEWOOD: Well, it doesn’t take --

GORANI: ... at least hundreds and hundreds of those little sort of mini reciprocal --

LITTLEWOOD: ... well, it needs to be reciprocal. That’s my point. There is quite a lot we can do unilaterally to ease the problem here. I mean, we can’t insist what the French do at Calais, but we can control what we do at Dover.

So I think my advice to the government would be control the controllables and guidance about if we do get to a no deal scenario and having made such scant progress over the past couple of years, and with there only now being four months to go, that has to be a likely outcome and preparing for that is now I think especially important.

GORANI: You say scant progress. You’re unraveling a 40-year relationship. It takes two people sometimes longer to divorce than two years. Did the Prime Minister not do everything she could with what she had? It’s an impossible task some have said.

LITTLEWOOD: It’s a difficult task. I certainly don’t envy Theresa May her job. I mean, not just the complexities of extracting --

GORANI: She wants to keep it, though.

LITTLEWOOD: She definitely wants to keep it, but the complexities of extracting this is awfully high, and obviously, the politics involved for her. She doesn’t have a majority for her party. Many in her party take a very different view to her. So it is complex. But look, we’ve seen some fairly major constitutional changes across the world over my lifetime that haven’t taken this long. I mean, the reunification of Germany, for example, a highly complex thing. But that was gotten over the line relatively quickly. The division of Czechoslovakia in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.

Now, I’m not necessarily - I don’t think Brexit is actually as complicated as those things I’ve just mentioned, so if they were achievable in a reasonable time period, I think the challenge here is actually clear thinking and some political will.

GORANI: All right, Mark Littlewood, the Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs, thank you so much for joining us on CNN. Just three paragraphs in the 580-page draft Brexit plan address the city of London and that has some investors on edge. We’ll have the business reaction to the day’s events, next.


GORANI: Welcome back to Westminster. Brexit is serious business, but there was laughter in Parliament today. Listen as Theresa May made her main points to MPs.


MAY: Mr. Speaker, what we agreed yesterday was not the final deal. It is a draft treaty. It’s not. It is a draft treaty that means that we will leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way on the 29th of March, 2019, and which sets the framework for a future relationship that delivers in our national interest.


GORANI: Jack Blanchard is the London playbook editor for POLITICO and he joins me now. So we were just talking during the break, you said this is how she is, she just hangs on, she just continues to work through the pain, if you will.

JACK BLANCHARD, LONDON PLAYBOOK EDITOR, POLITICO: She’s like a machine, this Prime Minister. We really haven’t seen anything like this. She’s the opposite of David Cameron who was a very laid back figure and he used to sort of swan through events and sort of, like an essay crisis Prime Minister, they used to call him. He just do it all at the end.

She just keeps going and keeps going. She did three hours in the Commons today, a long press conference this afternoon. We now hear she’s going to do a radio phone in first thing tomorrow morning. She just does not stop. She’s seen what she has to do and she is going to sell it hard now.

GORANI: And will she survive this, do you think?

BLANCHARD: I mean, will she survive tomorrow? Honestly, I’m not going to pretend that I know what’s going to happen. But what I would say is that Theresa May has come up against obstacle after obstacle these last few years. There have been times when it seemed like she could never survive and she has just carried on regardless. And so yes, my instinct is that she will do that again, but honestly, she is now at the mercy of events, she is at the mercy of her Cabinet, so you can’t say for sure.

GORANI: So but it is even if there is a no confidence vote that is put forward, are there enough votes in Parliament to actually unseat her? Because that’s a whole other calculation that you need to make.

BLANCHARD: Absolutely. It needs more than half of tor Tory MPs to vote her out for her to lose if that vote happens, and as things stand, I don’t think there are that many Tory MPs who want her out. I think the idea for a lot of Tory MPOs of having a very divisive battle for the leadership at a time of national crisis would just seem almost insane, and so, a lot of Tory MPs I have spoken to are against that idea.

What I would also say though is that things can change. You know, if more members of the Cabinet resign tomorrow, there become grounds for a lot of opinion against her, maybe one of them announces that they want to be Prime Minister and there is some support that suddenly goes behind them --

GORANI: Who would want to be a Prime Minister?


GORANI: I mean, it is just a poison chalice right now, isn’t it?

Tory MPs These are politicians. They love it, right? They want to be it, but I mean, yes, it’s a thankless task at the moment.

GORANI: Any possibility of another vote on this, on Brexit, another referendum?

BLANCHARD: That to me looks very unlikely. I don’t really see how you’d get there. The Prime Minister is dead set against that as an idea. People around her have said they would rather have a general election than have another vote on Brexit. And I think that is actually a more likely outcome because when Parliament is this dead locked, it cannot make a decision. That’s how it is looking.

The obviously answer is not to have another referendum, but you change the Parliament, right?

GORANI: What if because we’ve seen polls indicate that a majority of Brits now would vote to remain. What if it becomes that number increases more and more at every poll? Then politically ...


GORANI: ... but yes, but then politically, then you could have MPs and Theresa May herself maybe even consider that it’s in her political best interest to follow that popular --

BLANCHARD: I mean, it’s possible and things can change quickly. Right now, that to me is not the most likely circumstance. I think there are other routes out this that look more likely. But you know, it’s tricky. There isn’t anything obviously that can happen at the moment. If anyone who sits in one of these seats over the next few days and tells you they know what’s going to happen, they are lying to you.

GORANI: Well, you know what, no one has.

BLANCHARD: That’s good.

GORANI: Jack Blanchard, thanks very much. Editor, POLITICO London Playbook for joining us here on CNN. We appreciate it.

The drama surrounding Brexit and Theresa May’s Cabinet is sending the pound plummeting. And plummeting is a little bit dramatic, to be honest. It lost 2%, it bounced back. Sterling is now at around $1.27 and a half, so $1.27 forty five, no panic there, but clearly some concern. Anna Stewart joins me for more on the market reaction. Anna.

ANNA STEWART, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, I’d say that the anxiety investors were feeling, particularly in the short run up before Theresa May actually spoke when no one knew what she was going to say, there were fears that she would resign, that was when we saw sterling drop below the 2% mark for the day.

So that was a significant daily drop as you said there. A dollar twenty seven isn’t the lowest we’ve seen sterling in the whole Brexit story over the last couple of years. Interestingly, lots of stocks got hit today. The FTSE 100 normally rises when sterling drops because most of the companies make their profits in dollars, but some of the sectors which are more susceptible to risks over UK economy problems were hit really badly.

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