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U.K. Election Results in Hung Parliament; May's Future as U.K. Prime Minister in Doubt; E.U. Reacts to U.K. General Election Results; ; Interview with Labour's John McConnell; Theresa May Not Stepping Down as U.K. Prime Minister. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired June 9, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[02:00:15] MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Max Foster, at the British prime minister's residence at 10 Downing Street. You're watching CNN's continuing coverage of the British election.
HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones, in Aberdeen Green at the palace of Westminster. You can hear Big Ben. It is 7:00 a.m. local time here in London.
And London, the whole country, now in a state of shock as it wakes up to the election results, this snap election called just seven weeks ago. Theresa May called it for the Conservative Party on the basis that she was saying she would get a bigger majority in parliament, and then she would be able to take Britain through the Brexit negotiations due to kick off in 10 days' time. She said give me a strong mandate and I will get a better deal for Britain. That hasn't happened. She has lost a number of seats. Labour have gained as well, but Labour haven't won. It's important to say no one's actually won overall.
Max Foster is on Downing Street with all the latest results as they're still coming in -- Max?
FOSTER: Who could imagine, Hannah, the election resulting in a hung parliament. No one predicted that. It's been a disastrous night for the British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose future now looks in doubt.
The current numbers have the Conservatives staying at the top of the pyramid. They won, technically, but they lost their majority and will not now have to join forces with smaller parties to get laws through parliament. That could be very well the Democratic Unionist Party, who have already pledge their support, but it could take more than that to save Mrs. May's job, because a month ago, this looked like a landslide for the Tories. That's why she called it. She was supposed to increase her majority going into Brexit talks. That's why she called it in the first place, now just 10 days away, with renewed strength, but that idea quickly faded as the votes started coming in.
Even still, she portrayed strength to her constituencies a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: At this time, more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability. If, as the indications have shown, if this is correct, that the Conservative Party has won the most seats, and probably the most votes, then it will be incumbent on us to ensure that we have that period of stability and that's exactly what we will do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Mrs. May speaking confidently there but not looking confident. Her chief rival in this election says it's misplaced, that confidence, even if she's not really expressing it in her face.
Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had this to say this his supporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY: If there is a message from tonight's result, it's this. The prime minister called the election because she wanted a mandate. Well, the mandate she's got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support, and lost confidence. I would have thought that's enough to go, actually, and make way for a government that will be truly representative of all the people of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Mrs. May did have a terrible night, but some other prominent figures had even worse nights as well. The former Lib Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, lost his seat. The Scottish National Party lost seats across the board. Major figures like Angus Robertson lost his seat.
Leader Nicola Sturgeon reflected on the results.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLA STURGEON, LEADER, SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY: Clearly, it's a disappointing result. We've lost some tremendous M.P.s., and particularly disappointed that Angus Robertson lost his seat.
A lot of thinking for the SNP to do. This is our second-best result ever in a Westminster election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Our Phil Black is traveling the British capitol, trying to make sense of all of this.
People are only just getting up. They will be up late as well watching the election, wouldn't they Phil. Really, the priority now is figuring out who's going to be the prime minister.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. And parts of London, like here in Battersea, made that very clear they don't want it to be Theresa May.
Labour has performed strongly in London overnight, taking three constituencies from the Conservative Party. This was one of them, Battersea. It was won by the Conservatives back in 2010. They held it in 2015. Here we are I 2017 and there's been a huge swing to Labour, and the Labour candidate has overcome an 8,000-vote difference compared to the last election, and taken this, largely campaigning on social justice issues.
But here in London there's no doubt Brexit was a big issue. This part of London, around Battersea, voted overwhelmingly to stay with the European Union, and they've voted against the party that was pushing for a strong break with the E.U. So there's no doubt a key point, overall rejection of Theresa May and the mandate she was pursuing to hardline with the European Union during the Brexit negotiations -- Max?
[02:05:38] FOSTER: Phil, we're going to take our viewers from south London, where you are, to north London. This is Jeremy Corbyn's house. The camera very firmly fixed on his door because everyone wants to hear from him. He's going to call for Theresa May to resign, no doubt, again.
How would you describe the trajectory of his campaign?
BLACK: Most unexpected, I think, is probably a fair description there are so many people in this country who thought he would never perform so well in a general election. No just people outside the party, but many people within the party as well. Within the party, from the days that he won the leadership, he has remained a fairly divisive figure because he has been a figure of the old left. He has throughout his long parliamentary career, more than 30 years, been someone who's essentially critiqued the government and the party from the back benches. He's never held a leading role. Always thought to the be the left to that hard-left fringe. Suddenly, during the leadership campaign that followed the 2015 election, he discovered this enormous capability for inspiring passion and enthusiasm in many Labour Party supporters. Labour Party's membership surged off the back of his candidacy for the leadership. He won that leadership contest. But ever since that point, there were many figures within the party, many within the parliamentary Labour Party, who didn't support him. Refused to serve in his shadow cabinet. They challenged him again for the leadership. He won the leadership yet again. And yet even still, following that, there was always this sense that he could never be embraced as a mainstream national politician. He was not someone who had the credibility and the appeal across a broader part of the electorate to be a prime minister.
The expectation going into this campaign was of a Labour wipeout. We were talking about how in those days he showed a lead. Over the course of that campaign, Jeremy Corbyn has steadily eaten away at that lead, partly because of wobbles on the Conservative side, but also his campaign has been steady, confident, increasing momentum throughout. It was observed that he spent a lot of time in Labour-held seats. He wasn't going on the attack. He wasn't going into marginals so much. He wasn't trying to take seats from the Tories. What became the overall aesthetics of his campaign was him standing before large enthusiastic crowds speaking to them and whipping up a great deal of support. That was the image that built into this sense of momentum he was able to carry through.
And even for people who didn't like the man so much, the manifesto, their policies, a lot of that proved to be very popular as well.
What we have seen at the end of this campaign, as I say, as a result that so many people wouldn't have seen coming. Indeed, Labour's Corbyn isn't the pick for prime minister this morning, but he's performed in a way that seemed unthinkable some seven weeks ago -- Max?
FOSTER: Phil, thank you.
That's Labour story there. Certainly, we now know that Jeremy Corbyn will be a big player in British politics going forward. He does have left-wing views, and that's going to be a big voice in the British parliament.
But the immediate concern is who leads the Conservative Party, because Theresa May's position looks extremely weak right now.
We're going to speak to political analyst, Carole Walker, out in Aberdeen Green.
First, can she stay in this current environment considering what she promised at the start of the campaign?
CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's very difficult, indeed, to see how she can remain as prime minister. She called this general election, which she didn't need to call, saying she wanted to get a big mandate to go into those Brexit negotiations. Instead, she has left the Conservative Party in a much weaker position, no overall majority at all. They've lost 12 seats so far, as you've just been discussing. They completely underestimated the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
She fought an election campaign which was all focused around herself, around Theresa May's Conservatives. She performed a series of U-turns during that campaign. She was seen as rather wooden, failing to engage, often with the public, not taking part in the debates. She announced a policy on social care that went down badly with older voters and Conservative voters. The Conservatives have also failed to capitalize on the collapse of the U.K. Independence Party. Their vote has collapsed. Instead of going to the Conservatives, it split evenly between the Conservatives and the Labour Party.
There are some voices in the Conservative Party who are saying that it is such an uncertain future with the Brexit negotiations looming that perhaps May should stay on. But she's in Downing Street now. She'll be talking about to her closest advisers. It does have the fearful one of those moments where as a leader you think it's really not going to be right. It's not even going to be possible for her to carry on, and she's going to face a huge backlash from many Conservative M.P.s who are absolutely furious at what she's done to the party throughout this campaign.
[02:11:22] FOSTER: We're going to bring up the shot of Jeremy Corbyn's house because we're expecting him to leave. A triumphant day for him. We're going to pick up anything he has to say.
As you're describing, this is about the Conservative Party right now and who's going to step in behind Theresa May, if she does go. Who are the likely contenders and what are the challenges they are going to face?
WALKER: The challenge will be amends. The contenders are certainly likely to include Boris Johnson, currently the foreign secretary. He had a disastrous leadership campaign last time around in a contest which resulted in Theresa May coming to power, but it is certainly highly likely Boris Johnson will be there. He always talked about how he used rugby analogy, if the ball comes loose at the back, yes, he'd be there ready to pick it up. David Davis, who's currently the Brexit secretary in charge of the Brexit negotiations, he's been pretty surefooted in that role, and I think a lot of people would expect him to stand. It's also quite possible that Amber Rudd, who only just squeaked through and held on to her seat in HJastings after two recounts, she's also seen as somebody who has been a pretty effective campaigner during all of this. And she may will decide to throw her hat into the ring. She's somebody who campaigned and voted to remain in the European Union before the Brexit referendum. But certainly, I think people would, in the Conservative Party would expect her to stand as well.
Of course, the difficulty in all of this is we've got those Brexit negotiations looming in 10 days' time. If Theresa May does stand down, it may well be that she will follow the example of her predecessor, David Cameron, perhaps she'll stay on for a period of stability to ensure at least those negotiations can begin while a Conservative leadership contest unfolds. But it was fascinating to hear her in the early hours of the morning, her own account, saying what the country needs is a period of stability. Well, that is another objectivity which she has singularly failed to achieve.
FOSTER: Carole, thank you.
Waiting to hear from Jeremy Corbyn. Waiting to hear from Theresa May as well. She'll probably need a bit more time to digest what she's going to do because there's some big questions for her.
How the night played out in the U.K. papers was pretty interesting. Several came out after the exit polls. The "Daily Mail" put it this way, "Britain on a Knife's Edge." "The Daily Mirror" headlines "Hanging by a thread." "The Times" says "May's Big Gamble Fails." As the vote count went through the night, the "Daily Mail" changed their banner to this, "Gamble that Backfired." "The Daily Telegraph" went with a similar headline, "May's Gamble Backfires." And "The Daily Mirror" changed to "Cor, Blenheimmy," with Corbyn on the front. And the "Sun," "Theresa Dismay."
She certainly is seen to be failing as a result of this campaign, and that was even before the result came through. So just to think what the atmosphere is like in the building behind me.
Earlier, the British pound took a hit because of the election. It does that in any situation with hung parliaments is a prospect. The British currency fell 1.6 percent, about $1.25. That was against the dollar obviously. We're watching the equity markets as they open in the coming hours as well in London.
How the E.U. is reacting to the election, I'm joined by Erin McLaughlin in Brussels, Belgian.
They're going to negotiate with whoever is running the U.K. But if it's Theresa May, she's coming in to it in a much weaker position than she was before and she was pretty weak before.
[02:15:27] ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. That's right, Max. And certainly, people here in Brussels waking up surprised at this election result.
I've been speaking to diplomats as well as E.U. officials in the buildup to this election and they expected Theresa May to win, although they were expecting a smaller majority than she had. Originally, set out to gain in these elections.
Now news of this hung parliament. People are digesting what this means exactly for the Brexit talks. We have yet to hear from any anyone officially from the commission or council. We are hearing from Alexander Stubbe saying we might need a time-out in the Brexit negotiations, time for everyone to regroup, from the former prime minister of Finland.
And time really is of the essence here. Keep in mind that Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the E.U. treaty in March and that puts forward this timetable, negotiations to be wrapped up within two years, and an extension on that timetable would require unanimous approval of the remaining 27 E.U. member states. These are incredibly complex negotiations. Some were questioning whether or not an outcome could be achieved within that two-year timetable. So the clock is certainly ticking, and that is something that people here in Brussels are most definitely aware of. It does look very unlikely the negotiations will actually begin in 10 days' time as was originally expected -- Max?
FOSTER: One of the messages from the progressive side of the election campaign, if I can call it that, Labour Party, for example, was what we should do is try to stay within the single market. And that voice really came through, if anything else, in terms of Brexit negotiations. Is that still a possibility, considering the deal around free movement of people? Explain how that might work in Brussels.
MCLAUGHLIN: I think that everything right now is still on the table in terms of these negotiations. The E.U. has been very clear in terms of how they want this process to play out. What they want to negotiate first is the U.K.'s orderly exit, which means the payment of accounts, the money owed, the rights of 4.5 million citizens living in Europe and the U.K. And then --
FOSTER: I want to interrupt just for moment. We're going to come back to you.
Because that's Jeremy Corbyn, who's the star of the night, really here in London. He's the leader of the Labour Party. He just left his house. He didn't say a word. Look at the scene outside his house and the cheering, really does express the atmosphere here.
This is the picture of Number 10 behind me. The atmosphere isn't the same in there. Celebrations to commiserations.
As we move forward, we'll have to hear from both of them and how they plan to shape politics going forward. But the immediate challenge is what we'll hear at that scene before you. We'll hear, we'll see a podium coming out in the coming hours and a microphone, then we'll see a current prime minister announcing whether or not she'll stay on post. People already are asking who's going to replace her, even though she hasn't confirmed which way she's going yet.
You're watching CNN special coverage of the 2017 U.K. election. The British Prime Minister Theresa May has failed to win the parliamentary majority, although she still is in power, leaving the country with what's known as a hung parliament.
Stay with us as we explain.
[02:21:05] FOSTER: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage of the parliamentary elections in the United Kingdom. A short time ago, we learned it will result in a hung parliament. Anything now can happen.
That leaves the political future of the Prime Minister Theresa May in particular doubt. Before the election, Theresa May was expected to beat Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and bolster her majority and strengthen her hand for the upcoming Brexit negotiations, but that has sadly backfired, leaving her weaker than when she started and her position increasingly untenable.
This is where the numbers stand right now. The Conservatives did come out on top with the support of the DUP, at the bottom there. They will be able to operate as a government but it will be hard getting laws through, particularly when they have such different views from Labour, which has moved firmly to the left as a result of this election.
Earlier, the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, was asked by British media if he still supports the prime minister, Theresa May. He's seen as a front-runner to replace her if she goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Still have your support, Boris? Are you still supporting Mrs. May? BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: It's early days, early
days. And I think everybody should contain themselves until they see -- hello, how are you? Here we go. Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Boris Johnson being uncommittal about his leader, Theresa May, at a very sensitive time for her. It's not going to do down well. What does that say about his thoughts about stepping into this place?
What is a hung parliament? It occurs when no single party wins enough seats for an overall majority. That at least 326 of 650 seats in the House of Commons. Without a majority, the government wouldn't have enough votes to adopt laws that other M.P.s oppose. If that happens, the incumbent prime minister remains in office until it's decided who will form a new government. There are other possible options, including a coalition government. That's where larger parties join forces and small parties join to form a majority. As the Conservatives and Lib Dems did in 2010. That was a format, a most recent example. Another option is a less-formal coalition. It's a confidence supply agreement when smaller parties agree to support the government in votes of no confidence and on budget matters. The riskiest option is a minority government where the largest party goes alone trying to win support from other parties on every single vote. But governments that have tried this before haven't lasted very long.
It's the way the parliament system works, isn't it, Hannah? It's an unusual system and it relies on having a clear majority.
VAUGHAN JONES: Yeah. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out over the coming hours and days, as well a party tries to go forward. Like you said, either a coalition or some minority together potentially with the majority government as they get those deals in one form or another.
I want to bring in Katy Balls. She's the "Spectator" magazine's political correspondent.
Theresa May has never been a politician known for having political friends. Now she needs them more than ever, right?
KATY BALLS, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, SPECTATOR MAGAZINE: Yeah. I don't think she has many right now though. There's already lots of talk in the Conservative Party about who is her successor and who will replace her. And we'll find out at 10:00 a.m. when she gives her speech whether she will try to fight on as a wounded leader or taking a caretaker role and open the way for someone to take the reins of the party.
VAUGHAN JONES: What's the feeling? Will she do that caretaker role in the interest of the public and Britain, given we have these Brexit negotiations around the corner? BALLS: We saw the speech she had to her constituency that she spoke
about the need for stability, which is maybe a little bit ironic because she called for the election. I think that suggests she will at least take on at least a caretaker role rather than just jumping ship.
[02:25:04] VAUGHAN JONES: If we do end up with a minority government, perhaps with the Tories as the largest party, and the DUP and bolstering them, what does that mean for things getting done? Can they get any laws passed?
BALLS: It means you get very little done. I think of the Tory manifesto is in the dust bin now. And the fact that they've done particular things and the manifesto wasn't popular to begin with. And --
VAUGHAN JONES: A lot of U-turns on that manifesto as well.
BALLS: Exactly, and I think grammar schools are not popular in her party anyway.
VAUGHAN JONES: She was very keen to intimate, very keen to talk about Brexit, strengthening her hand. That was the focus of her entire campaign. Many people would argue, and perhaps these results suggest as well, she didn't win that argument. She certainly didn't get that message across. Instead, the public focused on things that mattered on the domestic front, education, health. Is that where Labour have succeeded and the Conservatives failed?
VAUGHAN JONES: Party of the Conservative's problem, they wanted it to be a Brexit election. That's what made the country comfortable talking about it. Labour very successfully managed to make it an election on domestic issues. For Theresa May, the problem is, even though voters aren't voting on Brexit, you do feel it weakens her hand on Brexit negotiations, and she said she wanted this large majority before going into them and she still doesn't have the majority.
BALLS: She was, of course, a Remainer as well when we had the Brexit referendum last year. Going forward, when we look at the possible contenders for the Conservative Party leadership, if she Theresa May steps aside, who is the lineup? Does it have to be someone who is a staunch Brexiteer?
BALLS: I don't think it has to be someone who likes Brexit. I think the public who didn't like it have come around to it now. I don't think the Conservatives are saying you have to have backed Brexit. And Amber Rudd was a contender. She was part of the Remain campaign.
VAUGHAN JONES: The home secretary?
BALLS: Yeah. But I think the problem is that she has only narrowly clung to her seat. It's not just a marginal thing. You can't have a Tory leader whose seat is hung by a couple hundred votes.
(CROSSTALK) VAUGHAN JONES: What's interesting about Amber Rudd, I think I saw it on Twitter, that Amber Rudd's majority was something like 300, which is tiny.
VAUGHAN JONES: Her opposing number, Diana Abbot, the shadow home secretary for Labour, had a majority of over 35,000. It gives you some idea about the popularities the individuals are held within their own constituencies.
BALLS: Yeah, Hackney is one of the safest Labour seats in the country. Amber Rudd has surprised people because she has a more difficult seat to win Conservative votes in. No one expected her to have to cling on so narrowly, and also the number of recounts they had to do to make sure she had that seat.
VAUGHAN JONES: One final word on the polls. The pollsters have a lot of flak over the years for getting it wrong in 2015. They got it right really. They said at the start seven weeks ago it looked like a big Tory majority and that majority shrunk ever since.
BALLS: I think at the moment, the post is pointing to it. I know I did a story a few weeks ago when I found out they had lowered their internal projections and that there could be a hung parliament. People didn't really believe it. And I think now there's probably a bit more faith in polls.
VAUGHAN JONES: Plenty of people still don't believe it as well, even though that is the reality, it is a hung parliament.
Katy Balls, thanks for joining us. I appreciate it.
Max, back to you. Everyone still in an element of shock.
FOSTER: Absolutely. And there's lots of complications around this as well, because we know Chancellor John McDonnell (ph), is out and about doing the media circuits, talking about Labour, hoping to form a minority government on its own as well. We'll have to go into the weeds in this. But there's the complications around a hung parliament here in the U.K.
But this isn't done. We just don't know how it will move on from here.
Much more to come in our coverage of the U.K.'s snap election, and how Home Secretary Amber Rudd faired is coming up. That was an intense night for her.
[02:32:11] MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Max Foster, outside 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's residence. But will she be prime minister tonight? We'll have to see. We're waiting to hear from Theresa May. A recap of the U.K.'s parliamentary elections. It's an enormous setback for Theresa May. Here's where things stand right now. Certainly, she's in the lead, but losing the lead she did have, and certainly, not the lead she promised at the start of this campaign. All of this means there will be a hung parliament and parties will have to team up to form a majority. That's to get laws through.
Mrs. May's leadership with the Conservatives certainly hanging in the balance. But she won her own constituency, and others prominent Conservatives did, too. Home Secretary Amber Rudd barely kept her seat. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also won his, but that looks shaky. Now people are talking about him as the next party leader.
The Scottish National Party having a difficult night after suffering major loses, about a third of the seats it held until now. Former party leader, Alex Salmond, lost his seat to the Conservatives. He spoke earlier to supporters promising his party will fight on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX SALMOND, FORMER LEADER, SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY: So the SNP may well find itself in reduced numbers in the House of Commons but they're in a position of very substantial influence, indeed. And I know that my colleagues will seek to use that influence to keep the Conservative Party from power and to build a progressive alliance to take this country forward.
SALMOND: It's an old phrase of an old Jacobite song, "In the midst of your glee, you've not seen the last of my bonnets and me."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: What's interesting is the SNP has been weakened overnight, but their influence could actually have been increased because we're told they're working with the Labour Party in forming some sort of government,
Hannah Vaughan Jones is on Aberdeen Green trying to make sense of hung parliaments for the world.
HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: I am. Interesting hearing that from Alex Salmond as well. There have been a lot of big players in and out. We're not just talking about Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, who's had a big night.
Important to say that no one has won overall. That is what a hung parliament is all about, after all, and still a lot to play for. This is what all of the people behind the scenes have caused all the parliamentarians and the special advisers, they will try to form some kind of minority government, majority government, coalition government with all the relative parties. And I don't just mean from the Tory perspective, the Labour perspective as well.
Carole Walker still with me, just going through all the details now. If it were to be a Labour government, how would that look?
[02:35:00] CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm looking at the figures here and I think it's very, very difficult to see how Labour could run a government. The Conservatives have failed to get an overall majority, but they are the biggest party. We've only got a handful of seats left to be counted, six or seven to go at the moment. The Conservatives are on 313. Labour on 260. Even if they manage to get the support of all the SNP and all the Liberal Democrats, they're still short of where the Conservatives are. The Conservatives can probably count on the support of the small Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. That's another 10 seats. So I think it still is very difficult indeed to see how the labor party could form a majority.
The way these things works as the Conservatives are the biggest party, it is Theresa May who has first crack at forming a government. It will be interesting to know whether she's already been on the phone to Nigel Dodds (ph), the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. He's been about this morning saying, suddenly, we are very important in this parliament here. And clearly, he will be using that position to try to get the maximum possible leverage he can for his party in Northern Ireland.
So at the moment, I think the most likely scenario is still that we will get a Conservative government trying to run the country with the support of the Democratic Unionists, and then trying to get the support of perhaps the Liberal Democrats on certain specific issues, but it's going to be a tough time.
VAUGHAN JONES: Trying is the keyword as well, because they can try to form a government, but whether they can try to get anything done in government is another matter.
Carole, thanks very much.
Plenty more coming up after the short break. We'll be speaking to one key person in the Labour Party. Don't go away.
VAUGHAN JONES: Welcome back. You're joining me in Westminster. It's 20 to 8:00 in the morning local time this Friday.
Of course, everyone still trying to get to grips with the election results as they still pour it from last night.
Joining me so talk in more detail now that we know we have a hung parliament is John McDonnell, one of the key players in the Labour Party and the shadow chancellor.
John, thank you so much for joining us.
JOHN MCDONNELL, SHADOW CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY: Thank you. VAUGHAN JONES: Congratulations, first off, on a big night for the Labour Party. What conversations are you having now going forward and potentially forming a government?
MCDONNELL: We've made it clear all along that we want to serve the country. We want to form a government. It would be a minority government. And the way that it would operate is I would bring forward a queen's speech and a budget, lay it before parliament. It would ensure the policies we put forward are based on the policies we set out in our manifesto, which turned out to be really popular. And we would invite M.P.s to vote for it.
[02:40:01] VAUGHAN JONES: What about your fight against austerity measures, which you have all laid out? What about Brexit, because that is around the corner?
MCCONNELL: Yeah. Yeah.
VAUGHAN JONES: If Jeremy Corbyn goes to Brussels to fight on behalf of Britain, what kind of Brexit are you looking for?
MCDONNELL: There's sufficient interest in parliament to not go hard on Brexit. I think there's interest to gain access to the single market, tariff free. I think also there's a recognition that we have to change the tone of the negotiations. This is a point that Jeremy Corbyn have been making throughout this campaign. And that means it's a different style of negotiations. I had an office in Brussels for a period of time in my previous life as a chief executive of a local government association. I don't think Theresa May and other Conservatives appreciate it. The style of negotiations there is one where you look for mutual interests and have mutual respect. Banging the table and stomping around doesn't work.
VAUGHAN JONES: One of the problems you have is you have a tight time period.
MCDONNELL: Yes, that's right. Yeah.
VAUGHAN JONES: We're already less than two years before we have to have some kind of deal agreed. Theresa May's argument has been give me a strong mandate and I will have a strong hand going forward to fight for Britain. If Jeremy Corbyn's style is more of a negotiating consensus leader, does that mean we get to the end of this process with no deal whatsoever?
MCDONNELL: No. No deal would be a bad deal. That was the problem with Theresa May's position. The whole point of the campaign in the general election is no one really got clarity from Theresa May about what she really wanted, what her objectives were. Ours are straightforward, protection of the economy, protection of jobs, access to the single market, tariff free. The mutual interest point that I was making is that other Europeans clearly want access to our markets. There's a deal to be done here, but the nation's tone of those negotiations I think will set the timetable which will be productive rather than destructive going forward. VAUGHAN JONES: The Conservatives are going to be the largest party at
the moment. The onus is on them to form a government. If it falls to Labour to form a government, the SNP, Nicolas Sturgeon has already sorted hinted towards a possible progressive alliance. Is that something that you would work towards?
MCDONNELL: No. Let's be absolutely clear. No deals.
VAUGHAN JONES: No deals whatsoever?
MCDONNELL: No deals whatsoever. No coalitions whatsoever either. We'll form a minority government. Put our proposals forward. If those parties want to vote for those proposals, that's fine, that's up to them. But we want to ensure that we form a government that has a clear direction, and that's what we'll give
VAUGHAN JONES: But that would be a stalemate. Form a minority government and hope the people support you on your key manifesto pledges, that means nothing gets done.
MCDONNELL: No. We would be able to put forth policies, because our policies prove to be so popular with the British people. At the moment, the Tories may seek to try to form a coalition with the DUP. But I think that would be a coalition of chaos that they accused us of having. In addition to that, within the Conservative Party now, they're beginning to rip themselves apart. There are a number of Tories quietly now saying Theresa May's position in untenable, she's got to go. I think we're going to go through a period where there's bruising splits in the Tory Party. They'll be incapable of former a government.
VAUGHAN JONES: Instead of the party politics, putting that aside, if everyone is working in the national interest, if the Tories form a government alongside the DUP as well, would you support them in the public interest going forward? Would you support them on certain measures?
MCDONNELL: If they formed a government like that we'd have to hold them to account the same way we would do any government, but at the moment, I don't think they're capable of forming a government, certainly not under Theresa May. I think confidence in Theresa May is now gone.
VAUGHAN JONES: We're just hearing, U.K. media reporting that Theresa May is not going to stand down at prime minister. She is expected to give a speech in the next couple of hours. Your reflections on that? Do you think she should stay on in the national interest if you put party politics aside?
MCDONNELL: She'll be a lame-duck prime minister. She's called an unnecessary general election. She did it for party advantage rather than for interest in the country purely because she saw her party ahead in the polls. The people have not supported her, patently not supported her. So I don't think she has mandates she asked for or the confidence of the general public now.
VAUGHAN JONES: Is it about personalities though?
MCDONNELL: No, it's not about personalities.
VAUGHAN JONES: Polls showed Jeremy Corbyn might win and some of the Labour movement might win, but he's not been seen as prime minister material as Theresa May has as far as the polls are concerned.
MCDONNELL: It's not about personalities. It's about the policies she was advocating and people rejected those, and the second is about the nation of politics as well. What Jeremy Corbyn was putting forward is a new type of politics based upon consensus building. It is about being straight and honest with people. That's the nature of his character. What we found with the Conservative campaign is it reverted back to that traditional nasty party campaign around individuals, didn't advocate policies. The policies that were advocated, those U-turns, people have rejected that type of politics.
[02:45:03] VAUGHAN JONES: You go up your Conservatives all the time in parliament. If Theresa May is does step aside, but you don't think she's going to, but if she is forced to step aside, for example, who do you think in the interest of Britain should be the next Conservative Party leader and possibly then prime minister?
MCDONNELL: I don't think there's anyone capable.
VAUGHAN JONES: No one at all?
MCDONNELL: I don't think there's anyone capable of holding the Conservative police. We know that Boris Johnson already on maneuvers in terms of leadership. We know David Davis is as well. I think they're going to go for a period of time in which they will rip each other apart because they have such wide divisions, particularly around the Brexit issue within the Conservative Party. Within the Labour Party, we had our divisions over a whole range of other issues but we've come together around our manifesto. And over Brexit, we've been clear about our objectives. We should protect the economy, protect our jobs.
VAUGHAN JONES: Is Jeremy Corbyn owed an apology from his Labour Party colleagues?
MCDONNELL: No. We just move on. We've always said the vast majority, the just want to get on with the job. That's what we're going to do. We are putting the interest of the country above party or individual interests.
VAUGHAN JONES: Lib Dems have done reasonably well. They've increased their number of seats from 2015 as well. Any kind of progressive alliance at all you can see working? MCDONNELL: No. Again, we'll put forward our policies. If they want
to support an individual, that's up to them. But there will be no deals like that.
VAUGHAN JONES: Jeremy Corbyn has been known for being the leader of a movement rather than a political apparatus. If he is to go ahead and form some sort of minority government, does he have it in him to lead the nation?
MCDONNELL: No. You're just seeing the leader of the Labour Party, most probably attacked on a scale by the media and others, no other political leaders. He's come through that with calm assurance. He's held his party together. He's put together a manifesto that's proven to be extremely popular and fully costed. He's won the debate after debate during this campaign. People underestimated Jeremy Corbyn. I said this all the way through. And I think people should start to stand back now and let him be given opportunity to lead this country.
VAUGHAN JONES: Just to confirm, you are not having any conversations whatsoever with any other political parties?
MCDONNELL: No deals. No deals, no coalitions. We'll form a minority government. We're there willing to serve.
VAUGHAN JONES: John McDonnell, thank you for joining us.
MCDONNEL: Thank you.
VAUGHAN JONES: Appreciate it.
Max, back to you on Downing Street.
FOSTER: OK, Hannah.
You know, prime ministers come and go, don't they? But one figure that everyone leaves Downing Street is Larry the Cat. He's standing guard today on the doorstep. And at some point, Theresa May's going to have to negotiate her way around him and make a speech and talk about whether or not she will continue.
We're at Downing Street live.
FOSTER: We are following the very latest developments for you out of the U.K. from here in Downing Street, the focus of Westminster political classes. No political party has reached the majority to gain full control of the parliament. So all eyes on May. It's a huge blow to the prime minister, who called for a snap election because Conservatives were looking at an easy win. U.K. media are now reporting that Mrs. May is not expected to resign, but that raises all sorts of questions.
When the campaign started, her main rival, Jeremy Corbyn, didn't even have all the support of his Labour Party, but now he's pointing to the results as a sign that voters have had enough of austerity politics, especially the underfunding of important health services, for example.
Let's go to Hannah. She's over there in parliament.
It's interesting that Theresa May is going to stay in position because her position is so weakened. What sort of government do you think she's going to be able to lead?
[02:50:24] VAUGHAN JONES: This is crucial question, Max. At moment, the way things stand with the numbers, the Tories, the Conservative Party could form some kind of coalition with the DUP from Northern Ireland as well. But you have to remember, Theresa May, the prime minister herself, was the one who said if she loses her majority, she's lost her authority, and that is absolutely key. She's lost that majority. She didn't have to call an election. The snap election was called largely against her own better senses seven weeks ago. She is a stable politician who isn't known for taking a big risk, but she was advised she could call the election, get a massive majority, and really push forward the Conservative agenda within parliament, and crucially, of course, go to Brussels for those Brexit negotiations, due to start in just 10 days' time, with a strong mandate from the British public and then to be able to fight for Britain and get the best deal for Britain as well. That doesn't happen anymore. We know she doesn't have a mandate from the British public. She has lost her majority. While she might be able to form some kind of coalition, the question then is, with a minority government, can you actually get anything done?
We've just been talking to John McDonnell, the chancellor for the Labour Party, who's obviously pretty tired, but in a jubilant mood, given the fact the Labour Party did so well compared to the Tories last night. He said there were absolutely no deals the Labour Party will do when it comes to forming a minority government. They will not speak to the SNP in Scotland, for example. They will not be working with the Liberal Democrats on a progressive alliance, even if those parties were willing to talk to Labour.
The Tories, they think at the moment they could be indeed be talking to the DUP. Whether those conversations are going on right now -- May is yet to potentially decide her own personal political future.
We are expecting around 10:00 a.m. this morning, Max, to hear from Theresa May as to whether or not she will continue as the prime minister to try to form a government and to push forward with the Brexit negotiations in the national interest, or whether she'll step aside. If she steps aside, that brings in a whole other era of politics in Britain, because then we would have a leadership contest within the Conservative Party, and 10 days is not enough time to hold that leadership contest. So then you wonder whether the Brexit negotiations would be pushed back as well. You will remember the Brexit was only going to take two years. There is a cutoff point where Britain and the remaining E.U. members have to have some kind of deal in place or there is just no deal. So, so much is at stake here. The makeup of the parliament behind me, and what that will look like, who will lead it, and is what happens with Britain going forward with Europe. It's all up in the air at the moment. And at least an hour and a half before we hear the third part of what might come, and that is from Theresa May herself -- Max?
FOSTER: Pretty gloomy atmosphere in Downing Street.
Let's take you to the party, and that's Labour Party headquarters. Jeremy Corbyn is due there at any moment now, and it has to be, I can assume, a very, very jubilant mood within the building. But a mixed mood as well.
Just to describe what's been going on with the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn has a lot of grassroots support in the party, not much in the parliament. He's had run engines with senior Labour Party members but he's consistently had that grassroots support. It's a very left-wing message for the Labour Party. But it seems it resonated or perhaps it's his authenticity, because he's stuck with the same messages in his decades in parliament. He's going to be go in there and try and unite that party. Those on the left are going to be jubilant. Those in the center politics, the likes of Tony Blair, are going to be convinced to fall behind him and he has something to offer them. It's going to be interesting to see how they respond. Perhaps they can form a minority government. But if Theresa May is steaming ahead with support from the DUP, it is likely she will remain as prime minister of a Conservative government.
When she comes out here in Downing Street, she's going to have to explain how she's going to lead a party which looks fractured at this time. It's always been a split party, on European lines, for example, and post-Brexit, that sort of came out. Now it's going to split between those pushing for a much harder Brexit than she was offering. I think that's the message that comes out from this. So she has to message this somehow. But she's got support within the party to decide she might be able to stay on.
[02:55:29] Jeremy Corbyn there coming out of his car, heading into the party. Look at the look on his face. Says it all. Everyone doubted him so much, but he's had a fantastic night. And he's a major player in British politics now. And will be able to dictate a lot of government policy, even if he doesn't make the government himself. He's been around for a long time. So long, seen as an extreme voice. Now he's part of the mainstream. The left has a big voice in British politics now against the right of Theresa May's party, and she's weakened.
Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of the way. Out of the way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: So a resurgent Labour Party, but also a redefined Labour Party. The way the British parliamentary system works, it does need a strong opposition party. So that's important. I think everyone in politics believes in that. But the parliament system also depends on the main party having a big majority and getting laws through. I think it's going to be very difficult in the coming seasons for British politics to get much change going on. If you consider new laws are going to face all sorts of arguments in parliament. But also, so much focus on Brexit, and that will be a much bigger debate coming forward as well, because a hard Brexit seems likely now, the kind Theresa May was talking about. But we'll see.
And we're waiting to see hear from Theresa May herself. We'll bring it to you live, as we continue with our special coverage of the British election.