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Brexit Talks with EU to Begin in Early 2017; U.K. PM's Vision for Post-Brexit Britain; The Next U.N. Secretary-General; Former U.S. Military Commander on Syria
Aired October 5, 2016 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, the British Prime Minister lays out her vision for Britain after Brexit. Promising it will be fairer for
everyone. What does that mean for immigration?
The controversial beating heart of the EU referendum.
Joining the program, Craig Oliver, communications chief to the former Prime Minister David Cameron.
Also ahead, poised to become the new U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. As former high commissioner for refugees, could he wrangle a
fair deal on the crisis gripping Europe?
And the former C.I.A. director and the military commander David Petraeus on how to stop Assad.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
It is the moment Britain has been waiting for, a clear coherent vision for its post Brexit future. Today, Prime Minister Theresa May laid out that
vision at the Tory Party Conference.
She spoke of opportunity, change, revolution and reform. Promising to build a country that's fairer, more outside Europe and yet more global.
And there were warnings for Europe, too. No to any more EU laws or justice for Britain. And above all, yes to the UK taking back control of
immigration. And she hit out at the anger that's been directed by some at Brexiters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: They find your patriotism distasteful. Your concerns about immigration parochial. Your views about
crime illiberal. Your attachment to your job security inconvenient. They find the fact that more than 17 million voters decided to leave the
European Union simply bewildering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But simply bewildered is how some businesses are feeling about what looks like a philosophical shift in the Tory Party. Including this
clan to force them to reveal how many foreign workers they're hiring over British staff.
My next guest Craig Oliver was director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron. He has just published a book about those difficult
days during the referendum at Number 10. It's called "Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit." And he joins me now.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.
CRAIG OLIVER, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON: Good evening.
AMANPOUR: So Theresa May talked about those 17 million people. She sounded very much like a staunch Brexiter up at that speech. She was for
remain. What did you make of that speech?
OLIVER: I think what's interesting about Theresa May's position at the moment is that she was for remain. But she was quite equivocal during the
campaign. It felt like a 51-49 decision for her.
So when she was going forward during that, we found it quite frustrating, quite difficult because she was a very senior politician.
And the media would say, well, it fits on your own side that this is unequivocal about it. Why should anybody else trust her? That was a
I think what she's got now, though, is that she wants to demonstrate to people that she is going to deliver Brexit, and people don't want to think
that she's going to back-slide on that. She wants to be absolutely clear particularly with the right wing of the conservative party that she will
deliver it. She's not a remainer at heart any more.
I would be careful in thinking about -- in some of the things that she said about all the remainers are still concerned. I think it's a little unfair
to say that they're just a bit metropolitan elitists to --
AMANPOUR: Yes, because there are 16 plus million people who actually voted to remain in the EU.
OLIVER: They are. And I think that there is also legitimate concerns that remain about what's going to happen. We must remember that actually
Britain is still a member of the EU on exactly the same terms as they did on 23rd of June now.
AMANPOUR: To that end, I want to ask you about that. Because we've had Brexit means Brexit. We don't -- still not sure what it means. And yet
the prime minister decided to announce when she would pull the trigger by the end of March, 2017.
There's been quite a lot of criticism in the financial press saying that she's showed her hand without getting anything from the EU at all now.
Without knowing what might be given or not. Did she walk into a trap there? Is that a clever thing to have done to say when she's going to pull
it since it's, you know, after that two years we're out?
OLIVER: I think she realized it was almost inevitable that she was going to have to do it by that period. You would have ended up in a ridiculous
situation, where in 2019, you would have elected a whole of MEPs in this country, who would have only been in office for a few months. So she kind
of recognized that she had to do it.
For me it's not that she's revealed too much. I think, actually, she's not revealed very much so far. That's probably the right way to handle it.
You don't want to say, you know, get hand of Poker, you know, what's in your hand.
But the real problem that she's going to face is, one, as a government, the whole bandwidth of this government is going to be taken up by Brexit. And
she's also got the irresistible force of those who want to complete end freedom of movement and to be able to control immigration in this country
against the movable object. And people are saying, hold on a minute, we need to have as much economic access to Europe as possible.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you then, because you know, we've had this sort of backlash to some of this stuff that the Home Secretary Amber Rudd said
in her speech.
Now maybe it's been misinterpreted. That this whole idea of publishing the names of foreign workers, of trying to favor British workers. Obviously
one understands trying to get British people employed.
But can you explain how that's going to go down? Is that a smart thing to be doing at this point?
OLIVER: I mean, I would describe it as quite a populist thing to say. But then there's just the reality on the ground. So let's for example take the
fruit picking industry in Kent.
Now if you were to go and interview a lot of those people who run that industry there, they would say there's a reason why we have so many foreign
workers coming into this country, we need them. We need them as part of the economy. We can't get the British workers to do that job. It's a
complex issue that sometimes gets boiled down to very, very black and white terms about British jobs for British workers, and that kind of thing when
actually it's a little more complex.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you, because the whole immigration thing, you know, Cameron and the remainers stayed away from immigration and focused
more on the economy. You've seen the top remainers, for instance a big donor, Roland Rudd who was very angry at you saying, you know, the spin
doctor, Sir Craig Oliver gagged the pro-EU camp from talking about immigration.
OLIVER: I don't think it was a case of gagging them from talking about it. It was -- what I think Roland with those comments sort of revealed that he
didn't really understand the nature of the research we had done during the campaign.
And what happened was kind of had a third of people who said that they were going to stay in the EU come what may and we're going to vote that way. A
third of people has said they want to leave come what may.
And campaigns don't focused on people who completely made up their mind. They focus on the people who were going to swing it and make a difference.
But when you spoke to those people, they were saying that they would be persuadable that if it hit their pocket, that they were concerned about
And I think the other thing that you need to understand about it is what we were struggling to do is trying to present to people that you're very
concerned about immigration, we understand that you. But you need to see the EU as a package of measures which benefit us. Access to the single
market, the customs union. That kind of thing.
AMANPOUR: OK. Some people regret that David Cameron and the messaging was not as sunny as you describe it in terms of really showing people what the
EU did for them. But also you've written in your book, you know, you said that our reading of the polling was that the economy would trump
immigration, it didn't.
So you yourself accept that you kind of got it wrong?
OLIVER: I think yes. Look, there are two things that I think you need to separate out here. Would I have changed the campaign so that everybody was
going around singing ode to joy and is there everything fantastic about the EU. No, I would not.
AMANPOUR: So you would have made it more joyful and more sunny?
OLIVER: No, that's not where people were. But the issue in our country was you had 40 years of nobody really doing the PR for the EU. And to
suddenly persuade them that this was a great institution and that an impact on their lives is great, they just weren't in that space.
There was endless research that went into that. Where I would agree, and I think we did make a mistake was we believe in what James Carville said in
the first Clinton campaign, it's the economy, stupid. And we thought that that was the closes thing to an iron-ore (ph) politics.
And we put all our chips on the idea that economic risk would trump all other arguments. It didn't. When immigration came to the fore, we didn't
have enough to say on that. But not because we should have been talking positively about it. We didn't have enough to say about how on earth are
we going to control this? Because the EU after all demands freedom of movement.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you, finally, Theresa May has listed a whole load of policy objectives that seem to totally counteract what your boss, the
former Prime Minister David Cameron was about. How do you feel about that and should people be wondering what the Tory Party is standing for right
OLIVER: I slightly disagree with the premise of your question is. I think what she's done is --
AMANPOUR: Shifting the end for posterity.
OLIVER: She has tested this. Well, Phillip Hammond said he hadn't really done that. What he's done is basically said this is probably going to be
more boring, because he's worried about the future because of Brexit. But I think what Theresa May was trying to do is define herself today in a very
OLIVER: Policy-light. I don't think that there are many policies in her speech at all. And there's very few things which demonstrate the direction
she's going in.
What she wanted to do, which is perfectly just met is set herself up. How do I want people to see me? What do I say about myself? And said to
herself again, yes, my former boss David Cameron. They just met. But let's not pretend that this was a policy-heavy speech. There was not very
much in there that says --
AMANPOUR: So we still don't really know what it means when they all say Brexit means Brexit?
OLIVER: We don't know what it means, Brexit means Brexit. And we don't know what it means in terms of how it's going to be focused on ordinary
people as far as the rest of the policy goes.
AMANPOUR: We do know, however, that Phillip Hammond has predicted two years at least of economic turbulence and a roller coaster.
OLIVER: Yes. And I think that's what's interesting is Phillip Hammond is quite set apart in this government from other ministers.
AMANPOUR: Very interesting. Craig Oliver, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
AMANPOUR: So as the politicians talk, the refugees are still desperate and they are still coming.
Look at these latest pictures from the Mediterranean. Refugees' plight set out in stark relief. They are crammed on to rickety boats, babies are
being pulled from the sea and these are the lucky ones, the survivors.
The world's worst refugee crisis is just one of the challenges facing the next U.N. secretary-general. The winner has just been announced.
And coming up, a rare interview with the U.S. former military commander on how to stop the Syria war and end the refugee crisis.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
We now know who the next U.N. secretary-general will be. After a long race, Antonio Guterres, the former U.N. HCR chief has emerged the winner at
a critical time as the massive migrant crisis and the Syrian war are seriously threatening global stability.
Richard Roth joins us at the U.N. with the very latest.
Richard, let me ask you first, was Gutierrez a surprise winner, given that so much focus was on the idea of having a woman this time around?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: The biggest surprise was that it sort of happened today. But Gutierrez was the leader after five
different rounds of straw polls. But yes, for months, years we've heard, it's eastern European's turn, Eastern Europe's region turn and let's have a
woman. But all the other women candidates were failing in the straw polls.
We had a new candidate from Bulgaria, replacing an earlier Bulgarian, Irina Bokova just last week. So the thought today was let's see how she does
versus Gutierrez. But today was significant because it was the first time big five countries could veto someone giving a big hit, whether to get in
or get out of the race.
It is Antonio Guterres, let's listen to the U.S. and U.K. ambassadors as to why he's the right person.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I think this is a day of unity and it is a day where we have come together around someone who is seen as
the most qualified, the most experienced, best person for the job.
MATTHEW RYCROFT, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I was clear all along that although it is high time for a woman, all things being equal.
Nevertheless, the most important thing for the U.K. was the qualities of leadership of this position, and I think it's fair to say that Antonio
Guterres has come through this new and improved and more transparent process at the top of the, at the top of the league.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: The Security Council on Thursday will formally recommend Guterres to the general assembly, which gives its seal of approval.
So he's the next man, the next secretary-general starting January 1st. Kristalina Georgieva did not fare well. Just in the race, she didn't even
get nine votes of approval in the next test straw poll that we had today.
Christiane, back to you.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, Richard, you know, the others, particularly the women who were in the running, Christiana Figueres, the former U.N. climate
chief says "Bittersweet results. Bitter, not a woman. Sweet, by far the best man in Antonio Guterres."
And the others, Irina Bokova and Helen Clark have send their congratulations.
But on the substance, given that he has this experience as UNHCR. Given that the global refugee crisis is one of the most serious facing us right
now, does there seem to be some hope that his leadership might, I don't know, spur some action where it's been incredibly lacking around the world?
Particularly in Europe.
ROTH: Considering the division and the security council, what was surprising is that Russia didn't decide to veto after saying there should
be an Eastern European candidate. They resolved this relatively quickly. Though Turk and the Russian ambassador said there was fatigue about this
You look at his vision statement, which he gave in April, which I've look through. When you hear lofty goals, and he talks about dignity, peace,
justice, solidarity, tolerance, diversity but he's the only person, by the way, of the candidates I believe who ran a country, Portugal. And as you
mentioned, ten years at the helm of a U.N. major agency refugees. Big migrant progress now. So they felt he's the one.
He was very personable and open in his Q&A session. All the candidates went through with the general assembly.
Who knows? Will he be free to speak out against a top five permanent member country and denounce some action? They didn't want that in Ban Ki-
Moon after Kofi Annan. Let's see if Mr. Guterres is able to navigate that.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. Let's see if that pendulum towards more direct action swings again.
So Richard Roth, outside the U.N., thank you very much.
And as the U.N. gets ready to actually formally elect its new leader, the U.S. is getting ready to do the same. Top of the next president's agenda
will not be just the refugees, but what is causing this crisis, by far the biggest cause the war in Syria.
And few people are better equipped to discuss how to implement a winning U.S. Strategy than General David Petraeus. America's former C.I.A.
director and the former military commander in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And I spoke to him just moments ago as he was wrapping up a speech on security right here in London.
AMANPOUR: General Petraeus, welcome to the program.
DAVID PETRAEUS, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Great to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: You've been giving a security talk. You're here in London. Can I ask you the big news of the moment, Syria and the bombardment of Aleppo?
Do you -- do you feel that Aleppo could fall? And what would that look like?
PETRAEUS: Well, I think that in fact Bashar Al-Assad and his Russian, Iranian, Lebanese, Hezbollah and other supporters are intent on
depopulating Eastern Aleppo, which contains somewhere between 250,000 and 275,000 citizens.
They bombed hospitals. They bombed civilian locations. This is a horrific situation. And again, it is quite clear that they are going to destroy
this part of the city, if they have to, to depopulate it.
AMANPOUR: And you described it in epic terms, likening it to the after- effects of the Rwanda genocide.
PETRAEUS: Well, indeed. You recall that. You recall the numbers there. You recall very clearly, of course, Srebrenica, given your work in Bosnia
during that time.
There is a little bit of sort of Grozny rules going on here. And the wanton destruction is really quite horrific.
AMANPOUR: So, general, you brought up Grozny. Obviously, the specter of Islamism is something that terrifies Russia. That appears to be their
What would you do to figure out how to get the U.S. and Russia, or some kind of ceasefire that's meaningful for Syria?
PETRAEUS: Well, first of all, I'm not sure that you could claim the individuals who are trapped in Eastern Syria are Islamic extremists.
Certainly we all, Russians, Americans, virtually all the countries of the world abhor the Islamic extremists, the Islamic state and the Jabhat Fateh
al-Sham, al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. And, of course, we are intent on defeating them.
We'd like to do that in a coordinated fashion with Russia. But what Russia is doing in Eastern Aleppo cannot be construed as going after just the
Islamic state or again the al Qaeda affiliate. This is again going after a population that is trapped in that part of the city.
AMANPOUR: So what happens next? In your view, how does this get solved?
PETRAEUS: Well, clearly, this is what is being examined right now by the national security team in the United States. And I'm sure that there are
discussions about no fly zones, about actions that could possibly ground the Syrian air force, safe zones and so forth.
And there have been discussions of this before, of course. And these have not been adopted in the past. But this is a level again of just wanton
destruction. That is quite beyond anything that we've seen in a war that's already so terrible that 400,000 Syrians have been killed and over half the
population has been displaced internally or externally.
And indeed sending a tsunami of refugees into Europe, where you have domestic political repercussions that are quite considerable as well.
AMANPOUR: And you've said also, today and in the past, that the U.S. has to lead. What is not going right in that leadership role that you're
calling for? What should be done by the United States now?
PETRAEUS: Well, to be fair, I think the effort against the Islamic State and the al Qaeda affiliate is gaining momentum. It is making progress that
is impressive. Islamic State will be defeated in Iraq. Mosul will be cleared. The governance issues are more challenging in my view, post ISIS,
that will be the real challenge.
And then with respect to Syria, of course, it's commonly said there's no military solution to this situation. I'm not sure that Bashar Al-Assad and
Vladimir Putin embrace that notion. It appears to me that they are trying to impose a military solution. And at the very least there has to be a
military context within which diplomacy is possible. And we have not been able to establish that context in the past because we have not in a sense
confronted Bashar Al Assad, his elements, these -- those elements that are supporting him. And that of course includes Russia.
And I'm not trying to sound provocative here. I'm not trying to sound bellicose. I think that is a reality. And that is the kind of very grave
consideration that is being discussed I'm sure in the White House.
AMANPOUR: Can you imagine what that kind of context would look like? In other words, what could the U.S. do that would do what you hope? And that
is, you know, settle this situation in some form or fashion?
PETRAEUS: First, I think there has to be an actual assessment of what is actually possible. And then there's going to have to be some very hard
discussions about whether or not we use our considerable military capability to take steps to, for example, ground Bashar Al-Assad's air
force, if he continues to drop barrel bombs on his citizens. And this could be done in a fairly straightforward manner with cruise missiles and
other stand-off weapon systems.
AMANPOUR: Your prescription there, General Petraeus, as a former commander in the region. We thank you very much for joining us tonight.
PETRAEUS: Pleasure to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And, indeed, you'll recall that General Petraeus was the architect of the surge in Iraq that crushed the extremism for a period
there in Iraq.
And as the planet, of course, cries out for a calm and steady pair of hands, we imagine a world where he or she who bores will win. That's after
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, the old English saying thought to be an even older Chinese curse goes like this, "May you live in interesting
Well, after the year of Brexit, the refugee crisis, Syria's heightening civil war, North Korea's nuclear ambitions and the U.S. presidential
election like no other, it seems that people have had enough of interesting.
Because tonight we imagine a world bored to tears and loving every second of it.
The French conservative candidate Alain Juppe is fighting to win his party's presidential nomination and he is up against the former president
Nicolas Sarkozy. So flashy that he was once called Mr. Bling, Bling.
The low-key Juppe took to the air waves defiantly defending the run of the mill saying, "Do we expect the president of the republic to make you laugh?
This type of argument is absolutely unbearable. We don't ask French people to pick someone to go on a desert island with. We ask them to choose who
will drive the country." That's Juppe.
Now voters around the world are taking note.
In the UK, the competent and unflashy Theresa May triumphed over the blustery, flappable Boris Johnson. The former London mayor and now May's
foreign secretary watched his boss wag her finger at him at the Tory Party conference earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAY: Do we have a plan for Brexit? We do.
Are we ready for the effort it will take to see it through? We are.
Can Boris Johnson stay on message for a full four days? Just about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And in the United States, the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton leads the polls for now despite being known as a policy
wonk. And less of a media star than her volatile realtor and reality TV opponent, Donald Trump.
Indeed, the latest debate kudos for cool, calm and collected go to his running mate, Mike Pence. His VP debate performance last night was thought
to be steady, formal and mild-mannered, clearly boring is biting back, for now.
That's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at Amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.