U.K. Prime Minister Prepares to Pitch Deal to Parliament; UAE Pardons and Releases British Academic Matthew Hedges; Ukrainian Parliament
<Show: CONNECT THE WORLD>
<Date: November 26, 2018>
<Head: U.K. Prime Minister Prepares to Pitch Deal to Parliament; UAE
Pardons and Releases British Academic Matthew Hedges; Ukrainian Parliament
Votes on Martial Law After Russia Seizes Three Ships near Crimea; Aid
Groups to the U.S., Stop Yemen Suffering; Teargas, Arrests as Margaret’s
Russia U.S. Border Crossing; British Prime Minister Pushes Parliament to
Improve Brexit Deal; - Part 1>
<Sect: News; International>
<Byline: Lynda Kinkade, Bianca Nobilo, Erin McLaughlin, Sam Kiley, Matthew
<Guest: Joel Charny>
<High: Theresa May has just scored a big win in Brussels, where EU leaders
unanimously approved her plan. A British academic has been released from a
UAE jail after being sentenced to life in prison for being a spy. Top aid
agencies working in Yemen, why they say the U.S. can no longer turn a blind
eye to its role in the conflict. British Prime Minister pitches her Brexit
plan to Parliament.>
<Spec: United Kingdom; Theresa May; Parliament; Brexit; Treaties and
Agreements; Middle East; Yemen; Disasters;>
[10:00:00] LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I’m Lynda Kinkade live in Atlanta. Thanks so much for being with us.
Well, deal or division? You decide. That is the message from the British Prime Minister who is going to present on Brexit shortly. As she hopes to turn her draft deal into a done deal. Theresa May has just scored a big win in Brussels, where EU leaders unanimously approved her plan at an historic summit. But her biggest challenge will come on the Homefront. Mrs. May has two weeks to convince Parliament to back her deal. And after a cabinet meeting earlier today, that is her focus this hour. Our Bianca Nobilo joins us now live from outside 10 Downing Street. Good to see you, Bianca. The PM, of course, in full PR blitz mode right now trying to sell this deal to the British people, to the British lawmakers, as the only deal on the table.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the Prime Minister is doing exactly that. In this is not a Prime Minister who is particularly comfortable in the spotlight. She’s not known to be media friendly. She is not a fan of the big perform PR machine. But that is precisely what she’s doing, Lynda. Now she’s also singing off the same hymn sheet as the EU leaders who have also reinforced that this deal isn’t getting any better. This is the only deal on the table.
The Prime Minister has also written an open letter to the British public, incredibly rare occurrence calling on them to unite and back her Brexit plan. She is also trying to get the cabinet on her side. There is a special cabinet meeting held just a few hours ago behind me which is unusual. Cabinets usually are on a Tuesday. Now that cabinet is in incredibly divided. And she needs them on side if she plans to sell this deal to the rest of Parliament. She’s been doing radio phone-ins with questions from the public. She’s been giving impromptu speeches and today she will be addressing the House of Commons imminently as the next part of her big sales pitch to try and get her Brexit deal through Parliament.
KINKADE: As you say, Bianca, the Parliament is deeply divided, over this. And Theresa May is hoping to push through this vote on the deal, in the coming weeks. But with political opponents, and allies vowing to vote against it, at this stage, it doesn’t look like she’s got the numbers, does it?
NOBILO: No, it didn’t. People have been speaking for many month now about the fact that the Prime Minister doesn’t have the so-called Parliamentary arithmetic. That’s because she only governs by a slender majority with the help of the Democratic Unionist Party. She relies on ten of those MP’s. Now, they’ve stated that they will not be backing her deal. The opposition Labour Party also came out yesterday to say that they will not be supporting the Prime Minister’s deal either. Now that didn’t come as a surprise. But the government is still hoping they might be able to count on some opposition support. And actually, they will be briefing some Labour Party MP’s today to see if they can win them around.
But as it stands, no, the Prime Minister doesn’t have the numbers. And I was talking to an MP the other day, and he told me that really Parliament is now divided between the idealists on both sides. Those who want to see a harder Brexit and could potentially count on no deal, and then those that would like Britain to remain in the EU and prefer the prospect of a second referendum. He said there’s so few pragmatists in the middle that are willing to go for this deal, because they think it is the best thing for the country, and it is in the national interest.
KINKADE: So, if this deal is rejected, in Parliament, there is some suggestion that the Prime Minister will push to extend that Brexit deadline past March 29 of next year. Is there any indication that the EU will be receptive to that?
NOBILO: Well, if we think about what the EU leaders have been saying over the past few months, they are still really saying that they want Britain to remain in the EU. And that would be their ultimate option. That’s their preferred option. Donald Tusk just last week said the no Brexit scenario was the best scenario as far as the EU is concerned. So, there is an indication that they might be willing to continue talks with the U.K. But in terms of the extension of Article 50, that would require the unanimous approval of the 27 EU member states and the U.K.
Now, that is something that will be met with a lot of resistance from inside the Prime Minister’s cabinet and from the Brexiteers in her own party. It would however be essential to prevent a no deal scenario if Theresa May doesn’t get her Brexit deal passed because let’s not forget, that the default is, if Theresa May’s deal doesn’t go through that Britain is still leaving on the 29th of March 2019. But extending Article 50 would be vital if there was to be a second referendum.
[10:05:00] Now, those by no means the most likely option. But there is a big campaign for it in the U.K. and cross-party support from MP’s. But to have that kind of referendum, Lynda, as we did in 2016, it takes time and it actually takes legislation going through Parliament. You have to decide on the question, et cetera. So, extending Article 50 would be necessary in the event of the second referendum too.
KINKADE: It could get very complicated in the coming months. Bianca Nobilo, good to have you with us. Thanks so much.
Well, it has been a very busy few days in Brussels as we were just discussing. Our correspondent Erin McLaughlin was following all of the developments there and has this report.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lynda, the Sunday summit was a somber occasion. It’s no secret that European Union regrets Brexit. Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, went so far as to call the day a tragedy and it was a heavy heart that the 27 remaining leaders signed off on that so-called divorce deal. And while they were united in their sadness, they were also united in their message to the United Kingdom, that given the negotiating constraints on both sides, this was the best possible deal Theresa May could have reached. The Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister, went so far as to direct that message at British lawmakers. Take a listen.
MARK RUTTE, DUTCH PRIME MINISTER: The situation is that there is no plan B. This is the deal on the table. And if anyone would think in the United Kingdom that by voting no, something better would come out of it, they’re wrong. This is the best we can get to, for both the European Union and United Kingdom. And if there was anything better, I can tell you Theresa May would have got it.
MCLAUGHLIN: It was a sentiment echoed by the British Prime Minister Theresa May during her press conference. It remains, of course, to be seen whether or not this is an effective strategy to get this divorce deal across the line at Westminster. Whether British lawmakers are actually listening -- Lynda.
Erin McLaughlin there.
Well, stay with us here at CNN. We will bring you Theresa May’s speech to Parliament as it happens. That’s in about 20 minutes or so.
We’re turning to the Middle East now. Where a British academic has been released from a UAE jail. Matthew Hedges was pardoned after being sentenced last week to life in prison for being a spy. Well, a UAE official says Hedges will likely leave the country sometime today. Our Sam Kiley is following the story for us from Abu Dhabi and joins us live. Sam, he was facing life in prison. No doubt a lot of relief from his wife and his family.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, immense relief, not only for his family, but also for the United Kingdom and the United Emirates in terms of their bilateral relations. These two nations, are very, very intimately entwined, and yet almost not by blows but came to the diplomatic equivalent of certainly the British suggesting when he was jailed, there could be unspecified bad consequences for the Emirates following his life sentence.
Now, the Emirates insist that he was a spy but that he is been given clemency following an appeal by his family on the 47th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom for the Emirates, which falls this week. Traditionally, there are a number of pardons being issued, some 780 or more, were issued. Today, as part of that, and Mr. Hedges was lucky enough to be wrapped in on that.
They came up with some video evidence that they presented from his alleged confession, as part of it, it shows him in court being asked what is his rank in MI-6. To which, Lynda, he replied, captain. That’s problematic because there are no ranks in MI-6, no military ranks and therefore that kind of claim should be questioned. On top of that, he’s also shown saying that he was both an MI-6 analyst and then later on talking as if he was a field operator which is two entirely different jobs. The latter requiring many years of training and indeed language skills in developing agents on the ground. Mr. Hedges does not speak Arabic.
Nonetheless, the Emirates insist they have additional evidence both electronic and documentation to indicate he was a spy. Something that he and his family and the British government flatly reject. But ultimately, this has been I think a skilled diplomatic solution, stroke fudge, to the whole issue, that was really undermining a very important bilateral relationship not the least in the field of intelligence. The United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom work hand in glove inside Yemen. Not just with regards to fighting the Houthis but more importantly from the British perspective in terms of continued operations against Al Qaeda cells there in Yemen -- Lynda.
[10:10:00] KINKADE: Certainly, a diplomatic win for Britain and for this young academic and his entire family. Do we know when he will be able to go home?
KILEY: The Emirates are saying that he will be released as soon as the relevant paperwork has been processed. There are -- I think I’m right in saying there were no direct flights from here to the U.K. tonight, so he may well fly tomorrow or he may be put on the first flight out of here via some other location. I think the Emirates are very keen for him to go home and for this whole issue to be put behind them and their relationship with the United Kingdom.
KINKADE: Absolutely. No doubt. Sam Kiley, good to have you across this story for us, thanks so much.
Now to another story that we are following, international concerns over a standoff between Russia and Ukraine. In the past hour, Ukraine’s Parliament has been voting on implementing martial law. Ukraine accuses Russia of firing on and seizing three of its ships near Crimea.
Take a look at this video. It was released by Ukraine’s interior minister. It claims to show a Russian border ship ramming into a Ukrainian vessel. Now, Russian state media report the ships had entered Russia’s waters illegally. Our CNN’s Matthew Chance joins us now from Moscow. And, Matthew, this is certainly a major escalation in the tension between Russia and Ukraine. The Ukrainian Parliament, as I mentioned, are considering using -- imposing martial law. What could that look like?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that’s always a big step, Lynda, imposing martial law, and it is certainly a step that hasn’t been taken so far by Ukraine. Despite even at the height of the conflict, that it was fighting with Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country where thousands of people were killed. It didn’t take this measure.
But you know, it is a sign of just how seriously this situation in the Sea of Azof and in the Kerch Strait, that stretch of water between the Russian mainland and the Crimean Peninsula, that standoff is becoming that Ukrainian Parliament are debating this now, after a recommendation by the Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko. What it would mean is a certain curtailment of civil liberties. It would mean that more power would be diverted towards government institutions. And the Ukrainian government has said it would be for a limited period of 60 days.
One of the concerns that has been expressed is that this is President Poroshenko taking advantage of the military situation for his own political ends. Because he is facing an election campaign that’s taking place next year. He’s trailing very seriously in the polls, and the idea that this renewed confrontation with Russia could bolster national opinion around him. It is something that could bolster his support. And so, this is a degree of cynicism, I think, when people look at this developing political situation in Ukraine. Nevertheless, the situation is very serious. Ukrainian navy says that six of its sailors were injured and another couple of dozen of them have been in detention as a result of these confrontations on the Sea of Azof there.
KINKADE: It is interesting timing nonetheless. We know the U.N.’s security council has agreed to hold an emergency meeting in about an hour from now, to discuss this. What’s likely to happen? Are Western governments likely to side with Ukraine here? And what could that mean for Russia?
CHANCE: Undoubtedly, Western government on the Security Council is divided but Western governments are bound to side with Ukraine. In fact, there has already been expressions of support from the European Union. And from the Western military alliance, NATO, for de-escalation, calling on both sides to deescalate in this ongoing confrontation. And of course, there is every possibility that if the de-escalation does not take place, the stage could be set for a ratcheting up of sanctions. I think the only sort of break on that is a sense in which despite the fact that there’s been broad-ranging sanctions imposed by the West, by the United States, by its allies in Europe, on Russia, for its annexation of Crimea back in 2014, for support of rebels in eastern Ukraine and all the rest of it.
That does not seem to have changed Russian policies significantly. It may have curtailed the Russian economy but it doesn’t seem to act as a break on Russia’s territorial ambitions in the region. So that may actually hold Western powers back from taking further measures. The fact that it is simply not having the desired impact.
[10:15:00] But nevertheless, they will have to be seen to be doing something, and sanctions is a favored strategy of achieving that -- Lynda.
KINKADE: All right, Matthew Chance, good to have you across this story for us, thanks so much, we’ll speak soon.
Still to come, on CONNECT THE WORLD, we will talk to a former British ambassador to Russia about the next steps he sees in the face-off between Russia and Ukraine.
But first, a dire warning, from the top aid agencies working in Yemen, why they say the U.S. can no longer turn a blind eye to its role in the conflict. Stay with us.
KINKADE: Welcome back. You’re watching CNN and this is CONNECT THE WORLD. I’m Lynda Kinkade.
Top aid groups working in Yemen are issuing a dire warning to the U.S. government. Act now to stop the grueling war there or share the blame for the mass famine that’s unfolding. The NGO’s say if the fighting continues, 40 million Yemenis, half the country’s population, are at risk of starving to death. CNN’s Sam Kiley has more on the desperate pleas from those aid groups.
KILEY (voice-over): An electronic pulse tracks Nasi’s battle with death. Her insides were torn out, in an air strike, carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, that supported and armed by the U.S. and U.K. The bombing killed three of her sisters and wounded two more in Hodeidah.
MAGED GHALEB, FATHER OF AIRSTRIKE VICTIMS (through translator): We are calling on all of the honorable people of the world, all people from all religions, anyone who has a heart to stop this bloodshed. We cannot take it. Yemenis and their children are being murdered in cold blood.
KILEY: A bipartisan bill that demands an immediate end to fighting, and to the U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s campaign is being considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And is getting support from five of the U.S. biggest charities that are working in Yemen. They published a joint letter calling for an end to support to Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, in the war.
ABBY MAXMAN, CEO, OXFAM AMERICA: The U.S. has been, over the course of the conflict, over 3 1/2 years, involved in supporting the Saudi-led UAE-backed coalition in Yemen.
[10:20:00] And it has perpetuated the war. The U.S. has been an arms broker, while trying to be a peace broker, which is a difficult thing to do both.
KILEY: At least 10,000 people have been killed in this war. Many of them hit in air strikes like the Saudi attack on a bus that killed dozens of children, with an American bomb. The U.N. has called for a cease fire. But there are no signs that the two biggest arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and the U.K., are going to join Denmark, Finland and Germany, in stopping the flow of weapons. And while the war wages on, aid agencies say that 14 million people are threatened with famine and the U.N. says 400,000 children are on the brink of starvation. Sam Kiley, CNN, Abu Dhabi.
KINKADE: Well, Joel Charny is the executive director of the Norwegian Refugee Council in the U.S. He signed that scathing letter, alongside the CEOs of four other major aid groups working in Yemen. He joins me now from Washington. Good to have you with us. I just want to start by sharing a paragraph from that letter with our viewers.
A letter that you signed, that says, we have no means left to avert a catastrophe in Yemen. Every humanitarian effort can no longer prevent mass starvation, if the war is not brought to an end immediately.
Now, this letter basically says do something or be complicit. This is what these aid groups, yours included, are saying to the United States.
JOEL CHARNY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL USA. Yes, we’re at a state of desperation. But it’s not we who are most desperate. As you saw in that clip before, it is the people of Yemen. They’re begging the world to do something. I’ve been part of a group that has been engaging at senior levels of the U.S. government on this issue for over a year. And they continue to assure us that they’re doing everything that they can.
But we don’t see any progress. We don’t see an end to the bombing. We don’t see an end to our difficulties in getting relief supplies in. The ports continue to be blocked. And fundamentally, unless this stops, hundreds of thousands of people are going to be at risk of famine. And we’re saying to the U.S., now is finally the time to act.
KINKADE: And we have seen so many horrific pictures of children, toddlers starving to death. And I just want to alert our viewers to a recent report from “Save the Children” which says 85,000 children may have died from hunger, or disease, since this war began. It says, blockades in the port of the city of Hodeidah, as well as the increase in air strikes, is making the delivery of aid extremely difficult. The group goes on to say that unlike children caught in the cross fire, children are suffering from malnutrition and famine have a chance to be saved. The big point here, this is a manmade crisis, right?
CHARNY: Absolutely. It is not weather-related. In normal times, Yemen depends on foot import for 90 percent of its food needs and the war has just completely disrupted the Yemeni economy. Another thing that has not been done is the payment of civil servants. So, teachers, doctors, other medical workers, who would normally have cash in their pocket to buy food, they don’t have that cash. So, we see an economy in free-fall, in addition to the impact of the conflict, and that’s why we’re facing a famine situation in the country.
KINKADE: And we know that peace talks are set to take place in early December in Sweden and there is meant to be a vote calling for a two-week cease fire. That needs to happen straight-away, right?
CHARNY: Absolutely. It needs to happen immediately. And again, that we’re seeing from the U.S. and the reason for the letter fundamentally is that we see a divide, or a schizophrenia within the U.S. government, where we talk to people who say this ending the famine in Yemen is our top priority. We are doing everything that we can to stop the conflict. But then you get a statement from the President out of the White House, a week ago, that more or less gives a pass to the Saudis, not only on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, but also a pass on their role in creating the famine situation in Yemen. The rationale being that Iran is the number one enemy of the United States, Saudi Arabia is an ally, the Emirates are allies.
[10:25:00] And it’s more important that the U.S. maintain that allegiance as opposed to really giving a message that, to the Saudis and the Emirates, that their conduct is unacceptable, stopping the famine is indeed the number one priority of the U.S. That message can work. We saw that last December, when the President issued a statement asking the coalition to end the blockade of Hodeidah, and within a couple of week, they did that. We need a similar unequivocal message now related to all of the causes of the famine that the Yemeni people are facing.
KINKADE: We have seen, time and time again, peace talks fail. They are meant to start up again soon. What can we expect, and how important is it to put the humanitarian disaster at the forefront of this?
CHARNY: The parties need to own their responsibility. It is not just the coalition. It is also the rebel forces as well. Everyone needs to focus on the humanitarian catastrophe that’s looming, and act in a way that is fundamentally responsible for and in solidarity with the condition of the Yemeni people. Whether we’ll get that is difficult to predict. The pessimists have been right month after month. But what we’re saying is, the U.S. does have the power, does have the leverage, to turn this situation around if it chooses to exercise that leverage.
KINKADE: All right. We’ll see how this all plays out. But great to have you on, incredible letter, and ask our viewers to read it as well. Joel Charny, thanks so much. The executive director of the Norwegian Refugee Council in the U.S.
CHARNY: Thanks for having me.
KINKADE: If you would like to help the victims of famine in Yemen, you can head to our web site, under “CNN IMPACT YOUR WORLD”. You can search for Yemen, we put together a list of organizations helping to deliver critical food aid.
Well, live from Atlanta, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come, scary moments, the U.S. Mexico border, as police used tear gas, and riot shields to push migrants back. We are going to have a live report from the scene when we come back.
[10:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KINKADE: You’re watching CNN and this is CONNECT THE WORLD. I’m Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.
A reminder of our top story. As I speak, the British Prime Minister is beginning a campaign to pitch her Brexit plan to Parliament. Theresa May is set to address lawmakers at any moment now. And we will bring you that live when she does. May, of course, needs the approval of lawmakers to turn her draft deal into a reality. And she faces some pretty strong opposition from all sides of the political spectrum. She does, however, have the support of the EU, which approved the deal at a special summit in Brussels on Sunday. Well, EU leaders unanimously approved her plan at that summit. So, we will go back to Parliament when we see Theresa May appear.
Chaos and clashes along the U.S./Mexico border. About 500 migrants from Central America rush the border on Sunday trying to cross into Tijuana into the United States. U.S. border patrol fired tear gas at them and Mexican police used shields to forcibly push the migrants back. Well, the U.S. has closed the border completely to keep them out. Mexican police arrested several dozen of the migrant, and they are due to be deported back to their home countries.
When things calm down, the U.S. reopened that border crossing. I’m going to get back to that story in a moment. First let’s go to British Parliament where Theresa May is speaking.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: -- on the conclusion of our negotiations.
SPEAKER: Order. Order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, sort out the seating arrangements. Well done.
SPEAKER: There is a long afternoon that lies ahead. Let’s have a bit of quiet and respectful order for the Prime Minister.
MAY: With permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the conclusion of our negotiations to leave the European Union.
At yesterday’s Special European Council in Brussels, I reached a deal with the leaders of the other 27 EU Member States on a Withdrawal Agreement that will ensure our smooth and orderly departure on 29th March next year; and, tied to this Agreement, a Political Declaration on an ambitious future partnership that is in our national interest.
Mr. Speaker, this is the right deal for Britain because it delivers on the democratic decision of the British people.
It takes back control of our borders. It ends the free movement of people in full once and for all, allowing the government to introduce a new skills-based immigration system.
It takes back control of our laws. It ends the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the U.K. and means instead our laws being made in our Parliaments, enforced by our courts.
And it takes back control of our money. It ends the vast annual payments we send to Brussels. So instead we can spend taxpayers’ money on our own priorities, including the 394 million pounds a week of extra investment into our long-term plan for the NHS.
By creating a new Free Trade Area with no tariffs, fees, charges, quantitative restrictions or rules of origin checks, this deal protects jobs, including those that rely on integrated supply chains.
It protects our security with a close relationship on defense and on tackling crime and terrorism, which will help to keep all our people safe.
And it protects the integrity of our United Kingdom, meeting our commitments in Northern Ireland and delivering for the whole U.K. family, including our Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies.
Mr. Speaker, on Gibraltar, we have worked constructively with the governments of Spain and Gibraltar -- and I want to pay tribute in particular to Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo for his statesmanship in these negotiations.
[10:35:00] We have ensured that Gibraltar is covered by the whole Withdrawal Agreement and by the Implementation Period. And for the future partnership, the U.K. government will be negotiating for the whole U.K. family, including Gibraltar.