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Formal Divorce Process from EU Begins; Merkel Vows to Protect EU Citizens in Britain; Love for All, Hatred for None. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired March 29, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:16] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, so what happens next now that the British prime minister has officially pulled the trigger on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This is a historic moment from which there can be no turning back. Britain is leaving the European Union.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: No turning back. We speak to both sides of the debate, from her own ruling party.
Plus, Europe is sad and none too pleased. What are its red lines? We talk to German MEP Manfred Weber, a close ally of Chancellor Merkel. And
imagine this happening a week to the day after that attack on parliament.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour live from Westminster.
Britain is at a great turning point. British Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament today indeed it's being compared to Henry VIII yanking
England away from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534.
Since the people here voted by a slim margin in June to leave the European Union, we've heard the prime minister's off repeated mantra that Brexit
means Brexit. And we've heard her own Brexit Minister David Davis insists that the UK will enjoy, quote, the same economic benefits outside the EU as
it could inside.
But now that Brexit is official, Chancellor Philip Hammond offered this warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILIP HAMMOND, CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: Not being members of those entities has some consequences. It carries some significance. And the
European Union understands that. And I think the fact that we've set that out very clearly has sent a clear signal to our European partners that we
understand that we can't cherry pick. We can't have our cake and eat it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And after months threatening simply to walk away without a deal if they could not get one on their terms, the British government now
concedes that that would not be ideal. They're keen to avoid a damaging hit to the economy.
May's Article 50 letter was hand delivered to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council in Brussels. He says their immediate goal is, quote,
"Damage control." And he expressed his personal sadness over the day's developments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: There's no reason to pretend that this is a happy day. Neither in Brussels, nor in London. After all,
most Europeans, including almost half the British voters, wish that we will stay together, not drift apart. As for me, I will not pretend that this is
-- that I am happy today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So let the negotiations begin. It's probably fair to say that the implications of Brexit have been more hotly debated since the
referendum than before.
Did the British people know that they were voting to leave the single market? That the rights of 4.5 million citizens were at risk? And a huge
divorce bill might have to be paid.
I'm joined now by Anna Soubry. She's a conservative MP who voted to remain in the EU. And also Kwasi Kwarteng. He's also a Tory but he voted for
Welcome both of you to the program. We spoke, in fact, on the referendum night.
I want to ask you, because you're for all of this.
KWASI KWARTENG, PRO-LEAVE CONSERVATIVE MP: Sure.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of your own chancellor saying today that we cannot cherry pick? We cannot have our cake and eat it.
KWARTENG: I think that's realistic. But let's not pretend that we both have a large amount of mutual interests and we should re-emphasize that.
The prime minister made it very clear that we are leaving in a spirit of friendship and we will always cooperate with the EU. We want to see a
deal. We want to see a free market, free trading deal. And I think that's absolutely possible.
We're not enemies. We're friends. But the nature of the relationship is evolving. And that's something which we were expecting to see as a
consequence of Britain.
AMANPOUR: I'm really actually surprised to hear you to say don't pretend we have a lot of mutual interests in common, because the prime minister
said over and over again, we want to be great friends of the EU.
KWARTENG: Forgive me, the words may have come out wrong. I said we have a lot in common.
AMANPOUR: I'm sorry. OK.
KWARTENG: We can't pretend that we don't have lots of mutual interests. I think there is a deal to be done. I approach it in a spirit of openness
and I think we can actually make some progress.
AMANPOUR: So your colleague has been reasonable, but you have said that you think -- I think you actually said that we have lost the plot, thinking
that we can get a trade deal that's as good as the one we have now. And that it can all be done in two years.
[14:05:00] ANNA SOUBRY, CONSERVATIVE MP: But it's four deals. We got to sort out the EU citizens and our citizens that are living in the EU and get
that sorted out.
And I hope, goodness, that will be done quickly and I know the prime minister wants to make that happen.
KWARTENG: Yes, absolutely.
SOUBRY: We've also got to get a deal on security. And I don't think that that should be too much of a problem, because obviously it's in our mutual
benefit. We all want obviously to have a good relationship when it comes to security and obviously the EU wants reciprocal arrangements. That
shouldn't take a lot of time. We should be ideal.
But you're still talking about 18 months in reality. And then, of course, we come to the real difficulty, because we want to spent trade deal, and
that is going to be extremely difficult to achieve in 18 months. And we wanted to spoke customs deal.
Of the two, customs is really concerning British business even more possibly than losing that fabulous, not just access but that membership for
the single market.
AMANPOUR: Given what Anna Soubry is saying, I want to play for you what David Davis, who is the official Brexit minister, said just two months ago
in response actually to a question from you. Let's just -- let's just roll it and we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID DAVIS, BRITISH POLITICIAN: What we've come up with is the idea of a comprehensive free trade agreement and a comprehensive customs agreement,
which will deliver the exact same benefits as we have there. But also enable my friend to be able to go and form those trade deals with the rest
of the world, too, which is the really upside of leaving the European Union.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So is he dreaming? Is he Pollyanna? Is your side just on winner here.
KWARTENG: I think the goal is to wish two things. Does the membership of the single market, and there's access to the single market. Now as a
matter of fact, a country like China, lots of countries -- the United States, they all have access to the single market. That's exactly what we
hope to achieve on very favorable terms in the course of negotiations. And it's different from a Canadian deal because Canada started from outside the
EU. We already were in the EU. So our terms, our conditions, are exactly the same as the EU. So it shouldn't be more difficult to reach a deal with
us than was the case with Canada.
SOUBRY: But, of course, look, the thing everybody has to be real about, is if you are a member of a club and you say I'm not going to be a member of
this club, I'm leaving, but actually I'm allowed to come along occasionally and maybe I can use your changing room -- oh, and can I have some of that?
And actually it's not going to pay as much. In other words, you want still to have the benefits of the membership but actually not being a member.
AMANPOUR: Do you feel that you're going to be proud to do that. Do you think that the club is going to punish, you know --
SOUBRY: I don't. I really don't. I think that we have to be real. They're not going to give us as good a deal as we have now. Otherwise, why
still have this --
AMANPOUR: Actually, you made it up very clear. You're leaving. You're not going to get --
KWARTENG: The issue that Anna hasn't mentioned is the fact that we're the second biggest contributor to the club. There are 28 countries. We
contribute the second largest amount. So, clearly, if you are in a position where you are contributing the second largest out of 28, you do
have levers to pull, you do have cards to play and that will be part of the negotiation.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you something that will go on -- we'll move on with this in a moment. But I want to ask you what you first mentioned, because
Barnier -- Michel Barnier -- the Brexit negotiator, and frankly just about every citizen watching what's going on in parliament, wants to know will
the 3.5 million Europeans here be guaranteed their rights and will the 1 million also Britons living elsewhere in the EU be guaranteed their rights?
And the European Union want to have this settled by the end of this year.
I mean, is that even possible?
SOUBRY: When there's a will, there's a way on that. Because they can't see -- we'll be technical. People want that to happen and that shouldn't
be a problem.
Of course both sides of this debate, nobody has suggested that we're going to drive people away.
AMANPOUR: And that would be a catastrophe for the economy, wouldn't it?
KWARTENG: It would be a disaster for our reputation.
SOUBRY: But I mean, for me, I'm a great believer in the huge positive benefits of immigration. And I think the truth is that we have a
government that has decided controlling, introducing immigration is more important than the economy. And that is a great failing. We need to make
the positive case for immigration here in this country. It's why so many people I'm afraid to say, not you, but lots of people voted to leave
because they were saying we don't want immigrants. That's bad.
KWARTENG: I don't think that's quite right. I mean, my constituency point of view, people understand immigration. They understand from my own
parents who were immigrants that came here in the 1960s. So people understand that. But -- and 60 percent of my constituency voted to leave.
But they also appreciate that we needed to have some degree of control. 5 million people have entered Britain in the last 20 years. The population
has gone up by 5 million and people felt that was unsustainable.
SOUBRY: But, Kwasi, look at the results in Nottingham, where they are declared by ward. And the wards that actually voted in the biggest numbers
to leave were white, working class wards. This is the uncomfortable truth. You're not allowed to talk about these things anymore or you're accused of
being a racist more so.
KWARTENG: But you're accusing them of being racist.
[14:10:00] SOUBRY: No, I am certainly not. I am talking about the fact that they -- and nobody has ever explained to them the positive benefits of
AMANPOUR: That will be the next great debate for leaders all around the world, because I gather that you're committed to this issue and presumably
EU leaders are, too.
What about the idea about no turning back as the prime minister said today? We've had on our air today, earlier, Lord Kerr, who actually wrote Article
50. And Tony Blair as you know is a very prominent remainer and he believes that whatever the prime minister comes back with should be put to
Can we just play what the prime minister said -- former prime minister and have you both talk about it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The government has said its aim is to deliver it with exactly the same benefits as the relationship we have
now. I personally think they're going to find that extremely difficult, very challenging. And, you know, I think there is the possibility, at
least, in my view, that the British people, once they start to see the actual terms of Brexit and what it means, and its consequences, that they
may change their mind.
That I think if they do, it's open to them to change their mind because right now, we know we've decided to leave, but we don't yet know the terms
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Does he have a point? We know we decided to leave but we do not know what's at the end of this tunnel.
KWARTENG: I think people would feel that the second referendum will somehow reverse the result.
AMANPOUR: Another type of referendum. A referendum on what the prime minister comes back to.
KWARTENG: Another referendum.
KWARTENG: Not on the same question, but on -- I think they should be careful what they wish for because I think a large number of people, even
on the remain side, just want to get on and finish this process. But I think Tony Blair is slightly out of touch.
SOUBRY: I think we have to be honest about this and we have a democracy. And if the people of this country say that they have changed their minds
and it would be open -- I mean, I've had enough of referendums. But this is a democracy. And what we mustn't allow is for hardliner Brexiteers who
ideologically driven to vow stop the stamp on the British people and say no, this is the way we're going to do it. If people change their minds,
all options are open to me, because this is revocable in my opinion.
AMANPOUR: There are two other big issues that have been talked about as early issues that need to be decided. I wonder which one you think is most
important. Either the size of the Brexit divorce bill, or how do you deal with Ireland and Northern Ireland? A hard border or not between what is
still the EU, the Republic of Ireland and what will be Brexit more than Ireland?
KWARTENG: My understanding of this is that the money will come quite quickly to the surface. We're talking about large amounts of money. I
mean, as I've said we have a second biggest contributor, something like 10 billion euros a year on that contribution. So I think that will be very
much part of the initial, ongoing discussions.
SOUBRY: I agree. The money will come first, but nobody should underestimate the very serious problem on the border between Northern
Ireland and the republic is, and how that is going to be fixed. That's why I believe in the single market. Because if we embrace the single market,
that's great for business. It sorts out the Scotts, that job is done, and it will sort out Northern Island.
AMANPOUR: Doesn't look like you're going to get it, though.
SOUBRY: We keep on making the argument.
KWARTENG: Very well.
AMANPOUR: Kwasi Kwarteng --
AMANPOUR: Thank you very much indeed.
And after a break, the view from Europe where leaders have survival on their minds, as the deal making begins, we go to Malta, where the
continental big wigs are gathering right now. That's next.
[14:15:30] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
The United Kingdom has taken its first step into the unknown while many in Europe have watched on with dismay. That sentiment was clear on the front
pages of European newspapers today. The French daily "Liberation" lamented "We Miss You Already," while Germany's "Die Welt" simply said, "Farewell."
But here in Britain, the mood was jubilant. At least in the pro-Brexit tabloids. "The Daily Mail" hailed the UK's newfound freedom. The "Sun"
projected its "Dover & Out" headline onto the white cliffs of Dover which look out towards the shores of France.
The 3 million EU citizens, living in the UK might not recognize that triumphant term. Their future now hangs in the balance. Today, the German
Chancellor Angela Merkel said that guaranteeing their rights is now her priority.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): For many people in Europe, Great Britain's intended departure from the EU is collected to very
concrete worries about their own personal future. This goes especially for the many Germans and European citizens living in Great Britain. Therefore,
the German government will work intensively to make sure the effect on everyday life of those people is a small as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: My next guest is a close ally of the chancellor. He's also a German MEP and the head of the largest political group in the EU
parliament. He's described Brexit as a historical mistake.
Manfred Weber joins me now live from Malta. And welcome to the program. Given that you have described it as a historical mistake, just tell me your
gut reaction as the, you know, turning point was made today with Article 50?
MANFRED WEBER, GERMAN MEP: Well, frankly speaking, yes, it's an historic mistake. But let's start now, because we are waiting since nine months.
We saw a lot of uncertainty from the London's point of view.
Here during the last nine months, we always know what Britain don't like. And now let's start what they like, what they can achieve during the next
nine -- during the next two years. We are ready as Europeans from a European point of view. Let's start now.
AMANPOUR: Do you take any comfort -- my previous guests, both members of the prime minister's Tory Party said, absolutely, their priority must be to
keep the status of the EU nationals leaving here and vice versa in Europe.
Is that something that you think you can actually do by the end of this year?
WEBER: That is the first priority. We have a lot of uncertainty among the 4.4 million citizens who are concerned, who live today in uncertainty about
their status and that we have to immediately verify.
Citizens should not be political -- part of a political game. We should create certainty for them. That's why it's good to hear this from London.
And we can immediately do so to create this certainty.
There are two more points. One point is for us as European parliament. And you know, the European parliament will be on the continental side the
parliament of consent. So we have to say, yes, it will treat you at the end.
For us a second priority is about Northern Ireland. We are very worried about the peace process. And the third point is about the bill, about the
money which we have to put on the table.
AMANPOUR: Well, one of my guests just said, you know, we give something like $10 billion a year, or euros rather to the EU, and we're not going to
be doing that anymore. They didn't suggest how much they would be prepared to give as a payment to get out of the EU.
What is Europe's red line right now?
WEBER: It's too early to talk about complete figures. There are speculative figures on the table. But one thing is already clear, those
who promised the British people that this Brexit will be a very efficient thing for the budgeting Great Britain are liars. So that is not true. It
will be very costly for the British side to leave the European Union, because they agreed on the lot of things during the last years and even
decades to give the contents of its expenditures, and that's why they have to contribute even when they leave the European Union.
AMANPOUR: This business about having to have this done within two years, is that even possible, given the lack of negotiators Britain says it has
right now, given the break deal that apparently you're not going to start serious negotiations until September at the earliest.
Are these issues -- these massive issues able to be resolved within the, you know, within the two-year period.
[14:20:00] WEBER: Nobody can predict this. We are in a total new world. The first time we are doing these negotiations, and you have to have in
mind that we are talking about more than 20,000 different regulations we did during the last decades in this European Union.
I think the idea of all this -- you can call it Democratic approach was to make our life better, to breakdown boarders, to breakdown walls as European
Union, to make the daily life of people for consumers, for those who are traveling all along Europe to make the life much more comfortable and much
more secure for them. And now we are building up again walls. We are building up, again, boarders, like probably between Ireland and Northern
And this is a totally wrong development. That is what I criticize when I say this is an historic mistake. The whole development goes in the wrong
And when we talk about the freedom of movement, about those who are traveling all over Europe, you know, that was a dream of previous
generations that we are not blocked by politicians where we should live. That I myself can decide whether I want to earn my money and I want to live
and I want to contribute to the economy.
I think this is a dream which we want to defend. And the 27 EU member states want to defend this and it's a tragedy that we have to rebuild now
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, would you -- would the EU accept Britain back with open arms if somewhere along this process they decide that, hang on a
second, it's not going right and we just want to not go through with this Brexit?
WEBER: It's an absolutely voluntary decision by the British citizens. They decide about their future, whether they are in or out and they can
turn around if they want, but we don't speculate on this.
We have for the moment interest of the 450 million EU citizens in mind and not anymore. Let me use a picture. Not anymore interest of the city of
London in mind. We will defend now our interests. That is what we have to do.
And practically speaking, we will face during the next month and years what Europe is all about. During the last years, nobody explained in Great
Britain, what is Europe, what are we doing there?
For example, you want to leave the European Union, you are leaving the research union. This will be damage for Cambridge. Or you are leaving the
question of exchange of data on criminals, on the share information data system. You are leaving this. The Brits are leaving this. And that is
damage for all of us, but mainly for the British side. So everybody can experience during the last -- during the next years of negotiations what
Europe is all about. And it's better to reform Europe than destroy or leave Europe.
AMANPOUR: Just very quickly because I'm out of time, you mentioned the intelligence and that kind of cooperation. Theresa May earlier today said
that they want to remain part of Europol. Is that something that's reasonable?
WEBER: Well, I hear now several times that Theresa May and the British politicians tell us where they want to stay in Europol. It's obviously an
EU institution Europol. They want to stay in a lot of questions, on the research union. I mentioned this already. And a lot of other fields.
So I ask myself, what means Brexit? Brexit is not cherry picking, I have to say. To use positive things and leave the rest to the others. Either
you're in or you're out. Britain decide to go out, that means you go out and you will not have anymore the advantages of this European Union.
AMANPOUR: Manfred Weber, thank you so much for joining us from Malta, German MEP.
And next, this Brexit break-up also puts shared security, as we just said, top of the agenda and it comes exactly one week after the Westminster
attacks as police and faith leaders and ordinary citizens today come here to remember the dead and the wounded. We imagine real healing.
Remember Islam understood the Canadian project, where we saw young Muslims go door-to-door answering questions about their faith. Well, the organizer
tells us why he's here now. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, it is sobering to think that just a week ago parliament behind me and West Minster Bridge was scenes of a crime.
Today, though, it was a sea and a scene of unity. At exactly 2:40 p.m. when the attacks began, as the metropolitan police remembered their brave
colleague who was killed in the line of duty and faith leaders came out to say, again, not in my name. And ordinary citizens mourned three of their
own who are mowed down on the bridge. They did it in silence and with flowers. And some wearing T-shirts designed to reach out and help with
We spoke to organizers Ayesha Malik and Safwan Choudhry. They are Muslims whose motto is "Love for all and hatred for none." Actually, Saffron and
his friends started the "I am a Muslim, ask me anything campaign" in Canada.
SAFWAN CHOUDHRY, SPOKESMAN, AHMADIYYA MUSLIMS: To see this horrible attack take place at a time where I was coming to London to attend a peace
symposium was heartbreaking, to land here and see all the union jacks were lowered was quite saddening.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): And here, like you have in Canada, you have your faithful here, in their blue T-shirt saying "I'm a Muslim, ask me
Why? Why do you feel the need?
AYESHA MALIK, AHMADIYYA MUSLIM UK: I think, Christiane, there's always a silver lining, right? I spoke of the horror we felt. But we also saw
amazing humanity, and the MP that tried to resuscitate the injured policeman.
So there was humanity at every step. It is our principle to have sympathy for the whole of mankind. And I think our motto, which is here on the
banner today is a simple one, which is "Love for all, hatred for none." And I think in times of adversity, we want to show our solidarity. And the
"I am a Muslim campaign" is just to show people that here we are, we are Muslims, but we are like you. And we want you to know that Islam is about
love and compassion and not acts of terror.
AMANPOUR: When the residents find a bunch of people in T-shirts saying "I'm a Muslim, ask me anything," what do they do? Do they laugh? Do they
says what are you doing here? Do they actually ask you important questions?
CHOUDHRYL: Well, just a moment ago, a lady was here today said, can I hold your hand? And I think that was a very powerful symbol.
CHOUDHRY It shows the humanity of who we are, and that is why I mentioned that in Islam, we're taught service to mankind as part of your faith, and
we're here to show precisely that.
AMANPOUR: Such an important message on this day as we end our program for tonight. Thanks for watching and goodbye from Westminster.