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Aired March 14, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, ANCHOR, CNN: Hello, I am Hala Gorani. Welcome to our continuing coverage of Brexit and amendment votes and main motions put forward by the government, a lot of news this evening.
RICHARD QUEST, ANCHOR, CNN: Come on. Tonight was --
GORANI: Brexit is delayed.
QUEST: Brexit is delayed. The Brexit -- and it is a landmark day for the Brexit timetable. Moments ago, lawmakers voted to pause the clock.
MPs acknowledge they need more time to break a deadlock on how the U.K. will leave the European Union. The motion instructs Theresa May to seek a three-month extension to Article 50 from Brussels.
GORANI: Earlier, lawmakers voted against an amendment that called on the government to hold a second referendum. The result was overwhelming, 334 to 85 -- a vote that would have given Parliament control of the process failed as well. But by a much narrower margin, just two votes, if it had passed, it would have been another major embarrassment for Theresa May.
QUEST: It is important just to clarify. The motion that was passed tonight has two legs to it. One is to ask for a three month delay if her agreement gets through. The other is to ask for or seek probably a much longer delay if it doesn't.
The Conservative MP, Bob Seely who voted tonight. Bob, how did you vote?
BOB SEELY, MP, CONSERVATIVE PARTY: I voted against all of the amendments. Slightly reluctantly, I voted in favor of the government in the free vote looking for the slight delay.
But provided we get a deal, so it is a technical delay that I'm supporting provided we get that deal.
QUEST: But this deal, it's the same deal that you have had two bites of the cherry. And admittedly, I'll grant you, you know, the majority against it has gotten smaller. What makes any Conservative leadership think they can overturn 140 majority?
SEELY: Simple answer to that and it is three letters, the DUP. The Democratic Unionist. If you can get them on the side, and if you've got the Attorney General that can provide legal reassurances and the DUP get on the side, you'll move them and dozens of Tory Brexiteers and then you're suddenly looking at a very tight margin, and with it, you then get another 20 to 40 Labour MPs from overwhelming leave constituencies.
GORANI: But what could the Attorney General add that he hasn't said already? He was quite clear that there are some political improvements based on what the E.U. has provided Theresa May when she went to Strasbourg a few days ago. But that it does not provide any legal guarantee.
SEELY: My understanding is they are looking at a form of words, I've talked to the Attorney General in the last day, I've talked to Nigel Dodds a couple of times in the last couple of days. They are looking at a form of words over the role of international treaties and what it gives us, what protection it gives Northern Ireland in its relationship with Dublin if the negotiations don't --
QUEST: This is in the Article 62, Exceptional Circumstances Exception that they are going to try and --
SEELY: Let's see what the Attorney General comes back with.
QUEST: The reading in this morning's newspapers, the guy you're actually -- the barrister who argued the argument and lost, he admits, says this international treaty, the Vienna Convention argument is not going to fly.
SEELY: Okay, let's see what happens with the Attorney General and let's see what happens with Nigel Dodds over the next few days. If there is no deal, if the DUP doesn't come on the side, then it is difficult to see a way through this impasse.
However, the easiest resolution of this problem now is a third vote because if a third vote passes or comes close, the withdrawal deal, the political statement is back in business.
GORANI: And so -- and if it doesn't pass, then you have a much longer extension here, potentially a reversal of Brexit.
SEELY: Potentially, yes. No.
GORANI: Why not?
SEELY: You sound very hopeful about that.
GORANI: I am not. I am asking a question.
SEELY: I don't think so. I certainly hope not because the progression to turning around Brexit was a second referendum at some point. Now, I am not saying that can't be back on the cards in the next few months, but tonight has killed a second referendum certainly in the short to medium term.
GORANI: But the people's vote even said they weren't in favor of this amendment tonight. They thought it was premature. A lot of Labour MPs abstained.
SEELY: Second referendum got 84 votes, whichever way you want to justify and explain that that is short of the 334 votes against. It was killed.
GORANI: Yes, but it can be revived or not?
QUEST: The mathematics you get the DUP on board with some -- you get them on board, you then get some more of your Brexiteers on board, there will always be a hard rump of Brexiteers who will not go for this.
The question is whether or not they can be overwhelmed in numbers?
SEELY: I'm going to put a slightly different spin on this. I hope it's more than just a spin, I'm charting a way through that I think is possible that you are skeptical of; however, tonight was a big hit for remainers because the second referendum, however, you want to explain it was lost overwhelmingly and the indicative vote, that sort of choose your own Brexit, you know, your tailor-made Brexit down to your individual few dozen MPs, few dozen MPs here and there, that lost as well, by a narrow margin, but it lost.
So the ball is now back in the government's court certainly for the next few days to see if it can find a way through the DUP impasse and that is the big story from tonight. Leavers are back in business, although, be it with an extension.
QUEST: And what about the price that Europe might demand for an extension?
SEELY: It depends -- I can't speak for Brussels. Brussels has got two options. They can either think, "Yes, let's get the Brits on the side to see if we can reverse Brexit," which is highly political and they will go for a long extension or they can say, "No, we are going to be very -- we want you out. You want to leave. Let's just get divorced."
GORANI: All right. Bob Seely, thanks very much for joining us. Conservative MP.
U.K. lawmakers also overwhelmingly rejected a move to give the British public a second referendum on Brexit. We were discussing this with Bob Seely after the main motion, the British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says Parliament needs to take the Brexit deal back to the people of Britain. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOUR PARTY: And I also reiterate our support for a public vote not -- Mr. Speaker, not as political point story, but as a realistic option to break the deadlock. (END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, that is the question, will at -- is the people's vote even realistic?
QUEST: It is appropriate this evening that you and I are sitting here doing it since we were together the night of -- did you ever think that night that two years later, we will be knife edge now?
GORANI: No, I actually didn't because I thought, you know, previous referendums in the other E.U. countries, when they didn't go the way of the government, they found some creative way of asking the question again and then when the referendum didn't go their way and then they kind of reversed the decision, and I think people right after the result of that vote, you heard so many experts and economists say, "This is a disaster for the economy," that perhaps the political class, I thought might find a way to delay it or really actually negotiate such a soft Brexit that it would be a Brexit in name only.
Today, I think we're at a stage where just a few days before, there is the real possibility of something much more drastic happening, a bigger shock to the U.K. economy than we thought.
And there goes my phone.
QUEST: I'll talk to Carole and Bianca while you rescue your phone.
GORANI: Check to see if my screen has scattered.
QUEST: No, because you're being consulate if you don't pick it up, so --
GORANI: Forgive me. I'll be right back.
QUEST: You go do that. She'll cover her embarrassment, but I'll ask you Bianca, all right, what does it mean now? What are you hearing from MPs?
BIANCA NOBILO, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: What I'm hearing from MPs is mainly from the Brexiteers, they might be changing their mind on supporting the Prime Minister's deal because having this delay make some fear that period that would follow it and what would happen in an extension.
And something that's been discussed this week and between those who haven't supported the Prime Minister's deal in the past is Article 60 of the Vienna Convention, and I know that you don't like this, but this is important because it might be something that gets ERG members on the side.
That is if they can prove in the future that the European Union is reneging on its obligations in trying to negotiate fairly that Britain will be able to unilaterally leave and it's being discussed.
So the important point there is people still feel like there's life in the deal and it's worth trying to pursue one more time. QUEST: Just for the viewers who may not be so familiar with this
article in the Vienna Convention on treaties.
NOBILO: You underestimate our viewers.
QUEST: Essentially, this is a clause, this is a part of it. It's quite a short clause, I think, that says a country can ...
QUEST: ... abrogate a treaty if there are exceptional circumstances that were unforeseeable and this is going to be the one that they're going to be arguing about for the next -- surely, is this going to be, Carole Walker -- is this going to be the peg upon which they hang the next vote?
CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that there are some big discussions going on, there are divisions within the hard line Brexiteer, group, the European Research Group, and there are some who are now so worried about the prospect of a long delay, which they fear could ultimately mean that they never get Brexit, that they are inclined however much they hate the Prime Minister's deal to hold their noses and vote for it.
There are others who feel that they are being trapped, if you like, by this maneuver, that these new legal assurances cannot be worth that much because otherwise, they would have been in the original legal advice which the Attorney General delivered, and they simply feel that they have to stick to their principles and vote against the Prime Minister's deal.
Now, there is probably a hardcore, maybe 20-25 who are going to be very, very difficult indeed to sway. The position of the Democratic Unionist Party is going to be absolutely crucial. I think if they can be swayed, if they can be convinced that it's in their best interest to vote for the Prime Minister's deal, then it is possible that the Prime Minister could win.
But even if she gets that, if there's still 20 or 25 Conservative MPs who are prepared to vote against, then she needs that many Labour MPs to vote for her deal in order for it to go through. And the number that voted for it on the Labour side last time was much, much lower than that.
So I think it is still looking difficult, but there's going to be a huge amount of arm twisting and wrangling between now and when that deal comes back for a third time next week.
GORANI: Carole Walker and Bianca, stay with us. Nina dos Santos is at 10 Downing Street with more. Where is the Prime Minister right now?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: She is back in Number 10 Downing Street. She arrived around about half an hour ago using the back door, we've only seen her use the front all over the last two three days just once by my counting, but the person who has come in and out rather triumphantly is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond. He entered Number 10 Downing Street about 15 minutes before the Prime Minister waved to the press and didn't say much more, but looked in good humor.
What you can probably expect from the Prime Minister and her Chancellor this evening is for them to explore making some phone calls, you would have thought for the Prime Minister's point of view probably to the big wigs in Brussels like to Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission also Donald Tusk who convenes those heads of state meetings as the President of the European Council.
Because of course, as part of the plan where we go from here for Theresa May is that she's hoping to bring that final push for her deal to Parliament to have a meaningful votes for the third time on the 20th of next week, 20th of March.
So mid-next week, just one day before heading to that E.U. Leaders' Summit to try and throw herself at the mercy of the E.U. to try and ask for an extension. Now, the question then becomes will it be a short extension or a long extension? As you've been discussing over the last couple of hours, the E.U. especially Donald Tusk from the European Council appears to be suggesting that the E.U. would be amenable to giving a long extension.
But of course, it is up to the 27 heads of state of those individual countries to all agree to that unanimously.
When it comes to the Chancellor, as I said he's been a very prominent figure here on Downing Street, and also next door at Number 11 Downing Street, where his official residence is coming in and out, meeting business leaders, presumably you can expect and we've seen this after we've had these big votes, the Chancellor having conference calls with leaders of business, leaders of business lobbies, and so on and so forth.
So perhaps we may hear some sort of reassuring tones there from the Chancellor towards the business community, some of them breathing a temporary sigh of relief, as indeed the government will have done with the way how things have gone in the House of Commons today.
It's been a really difficult political week, and there was some small slivers of victory here with those amendments having been shot down, but what it tells us at the moment is a lot about what Parliament doesn't want.
The crucial thing though is that that attempt to wrest control of this process from Number 10 Downing Street was only shot down by the slimmest majority of two votes.
And that again gives us an indication of just have divided everything is at this difficult hour just a week or so away from when Brexit is supposed to happen.
GORANI: Nina dos Santos at Downing Street, thanks very much. We'll have a lot more on Brexit after the break. That's it for me though, Hala Gorani.
QUEST: Don't worry, I am going to soldier on. Somebody has to get on with this Brexit business. The British Parliament votes to pause the clock. I'll be here alone, but there will be plenty more on the other side of this break.
QUEST: Now we really do need to understand exactly what all this means. It has been devillingly complicated and arguably nobody really knows what happens next. So hopefully the Labour MP, Peter Kyle who is with me who supports a second referendum and joins me now.
PETER KYLE, MP, LABOUR PARTY: I'm here so that you could tell me what's going on.
QUEST: I mean, how did you vote tonight?
KYLE: I voted against the government tonight and I voted for extension of Article 50 and I extend -- and I voted for indicative votes. But on those things, we were defeated. But it looks like the government caved well on most of the meaningful things anyway.
So the government is going to lose control of the agenda as it goes forward. But it is going to do so in a way that looks like they're trying to have a semblance of control.
QUEST: It doesn't really matter one way or another in the sense that the Prime Minister now has to go to Brussels and ask for an extension, correct?
QUEST: And with that framework in mind, when this comes back, are you in favor of a longer or a shorter extension?
KYLE: We need an extension with a purpose. That's the challenge we've always had. So what I've been suggesting is a compromise agreement which allows her bill to pass through Parliament, but on condition that we withhold consent until it has had the consent of the British public.
So that for me is the purpose that we need.
QUEST: But your second referendum and you only got 84 or 85 votes.
KYLE: No, no, no, we didn't engage with the vote. I abstained on the vote and I'm somebody who's been supportive of the People's Vote Campaign all the way through. Tonight's vote was not about the people's vote. We have to understand that.
The People's Vote Campaign that we support, the campaign is out here now screaming and shouting all the time campaigning for what? They didn't support the vote in Parliament today. This was not a People's Vote Campaign. It was called by a small number of MPs. The vast majority of MPs didn't engage with the vote at all. QUEST: When those two options -- and the Prime Minister's plan is
going to come back next week. Now if that plan comes back and it fails, then she's going to go to Brussels to the Council ...
QUEST: ... and ask for a longer extension.
KYLE: That's absolutely correct. And the issue you have to understand here is that Britain can't dictate how long that extension is alone. It has to be negotiated --
QUEST: Right, but they are not going -- but the E.U. is not going to give the U.K. a short extension unless there is a reason to doing so.
KYLE: I agree absolutely, fundamentally. So we have to figure out what we're going to do in that time.
QUEST: So you want a long extension.
KYLE: I want an extension that is long enough to do what we need to do, to figure out what we need to do. So let me just tell you this because at the moment, we are crashing from pillar to post and nobody in Parliament is doing anything different.
The Prime Minister comes back with the same deal. Remainers vote against it, the ERG and the hardline Brexiteers and DUP from Northern Ireland, they all vote against it. So the same proposition, everybody else acting exactly the same way. Remainers like me acting in the same way.
So what I'm suggesting is to break the gridlock in Parliament, allow her bill to pass through Parliament providing we can get this out of Westminster and back into communities up and down the country and allow them to say whatever they want the deal or not.
QUEST: Find, sounds good. But how do you do it? Because let's say she'd make -- you pass -- let's say you don't pass her bill next week. So you go to Brussels to ask for a longer extension then what happens?
At the end of the day, the country has had two years to decide and has failed to do so.
KYLE: We are arguing on the same sides, so next week she will bring the bill - her deal back on Tuesday. I and Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield in the northeast of England will lay down an amendment to that final deal, which seeks to amend it so that it allows the bill to pass through Parliament providing it has a confirmatory vote amongst the people.
So she can then go back next weekend with a purpose that Parliament has instructed me to come back and get enough time to allow us to reengage the public again, to get this Brexit back into the communities in the U.K. and this has been agreed by all three branches of the European Union.
QUEST: And is the date -- is it next Tuesday? Or is it next Wednesday?
KYLE: We are expecting it next Tuesday, but it could be Wednesday. They haven't announced it, but it is all -- by all likelihood going to come back next week. And it will be the third time she's brought it back. She's not altering the deal. Nobody is changing positions. So we are going to get the same result again.
What I'm proposing is a compromise. As somebody who is ideologically opposed to her deal, I will allow it to pass through Parliament providing she agrees to go back to the public again one final time.
QUEST: You just have to make sure the Speaker accepts your amendment.
KYLE: I have every reason to believe he will because he's so reasonable. Just like you are, Richard. Thank you for having me along to explain it all again.
QUEST: Clearly, you've been at the lobby bar before joining me here. Good to see you, sir. We need to understand exactly what Brussels would or would not allow.
Erin is in Brussels this evening. All right, do we have a reaction yet from Commission or Council?
MCLAUGHLIN: We have a reaction from the Commission, Richard, the spokesperson texted me the following statement saying, "We take note of tonight's votes. A request for an extension of Article 50 requires the unanimous agreement of all 27 member states. It will be for the European Council to consider such a request giving priority to the need to ensure the functioning of the E.U. institutions and taking into account the reasons for and duration of a possible extension."
So pretty neutral reaction there from the European Commission. This vote -- the outcome of this vote was pretty much expected here in Brussels. They saw this happening given the arithmetic there in Westminster, so they've been debating this question over a possible extension, a short extension, a long extension.
When it comes to the topic of a short extension, E.U. leaders seem to be very much in line with Theresa May's thinking that if she's able to finally get this deal across the line at Westminster, then they would grant a short quote, "benign" in the words of some E.U. diplomats, technical extension to allow for the ratification process to be completed. So there seems to be agreement here on that topic.
On the question of a longer extension where there's a healthy debate playing out here on that topic, you have leaders from the institutions such as Michel Barnie, the Chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt who is the chief Brexit Coordinator for Parliament, their view is a long extension should only be granted if the U.K. can come forward and say precisely what that extension would be for.
Then you have the viewpoint of Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, also Simon Coveney, worth mentioning the Irish Foreign Minister coming out today as well saying he would be in favor of a longer extension to allow the United Kingdom more time to figure out some sort of consensus.
QUEST: Erin, thank you. Keep watching, keep listening and keep finding out how they make of what the views are over there.
QUEST: Look at the day of sterling. Sterling is off the day's lows. It's still lower on the day. It's been a volatile week amid the Brexit vote.
Andrew Percy is a Conservative Party MP. He joins me now. Good to see you, sir. How did you vote? You voted obviously with the government tonight?
ANDREW PERCY, MP, CONSERVATIVE PARTY: No, I voted against delaying Brexit, but on every other vote, I voted with the government. I understand why the government wants to delay. But without --
QUEST: So you voted against your own Party.
PERCY: Yes, it was a free vote in fairness.
QUEST: So why did you vote against it?
PERCY: Because I don't think we should just have a delay unless we have a purpose for it and the purpose I want is that we get the Prime Minister's deal through and then we probably would need a short delay to enable that --
QUEST: But that was the first leg of the Prime Minister's motion?
PERCY: But we haven't got the deal through yet. I keep voting for the deal. Some of my colleagues, fellow Brexiteers who say they want Brexit keep voting the deal down sadly.
QUEST: Isn't it true that the Prime Minister and the government has lost control of this whole process in Parliament?
PERCY: Well, no actually, because we had a vote to do that this evening, which was defeated. There was an amendment to put Parliament in control of the legislative framework in Parliament. And that was defeated.
You know, the government this evening managed to defeat very heavily a vote on a second referendum with an overall majority and so actually, the government I think remains in control, but yes are things messy? They must certainly are. Does that mean that the government isn't going to end up getting its way? No, that's not clear yet.
QUEST: It would be the most extraordinary political Houdini act if the Prime Minister gets this through next week.
PERCY: I mean, it would, but we are in two very bizarre times in politics. It is not impossible that the Prime Minister could get this through. The fact that there is a delay being voted for, the fact that a lot of people who want this hard Brexit are finally starting to realize they're not going to get that, I think does concentrate minds which means that the promises deal will have a better chance next time. It doesn't mean it will go through, but it will have a better chance.
QUEST: All right, what's the Prime Minister going to ask for when she goes to Brussels next week?
PERCY: Well, it will depend on the vote next week because the emotional --
QUEST: It's going to lose.
PERCY: Well, we don't know that yet, do we? Because there are --
QUEST: They're going from -- you lost by 200 and something last time, 149 this time, I mean it's going to lose.
PERCY: I mean all of us should -- we don't know. I mean, you know, there are colleagues who are seeing now, but now the House has voted against the no-deal Brexit, are seeing that they're not going to get what they desire out of this process, so they're in a position now that it's either the Prime Minister's deal or they may not get Brexit at all.
So it is perfectly possible the government will lose, but it's not impossible the government could win it next week --
QUEST: Just to clarify, you're a remainer or Brexiteer?
PERCY: I'm a Brexiteer.
QUEST: A stronger Brexiteer.
PERCY: Yes, I absolutely believe in it. But I've always believed we should leave on a negotiated deal.
QUEST: Tonight, for the first time, there is a chink in the armor of Brexit.
PERCY: I don't think so. I think actually, the reverse is true, because what has the House done by an overall majority has rejected a second referendum. So that can't happen. That can't fly.
So I think that what is more likely to happen as a result of the votes this evening is more people will vote for the Prime Minister's deal.
QUEST: Our previous guest MP said, no, the mind wasn't focused on a second referendum for that.
PERCY: This is rubbish because an overall majority of the house, 334 members voted against the second referendum. Even if every other --
QUEST: Indeed, sir. In these circumstances --
PERCY: No, no. I mean, come on. There were other Labour MPs who don't want a second referendum who didn't vote against it tonight because they knew it wasn't a real risk. So I suspect that at best, a second referendum could get would be made, maybe 150 votes in the House of Commons.
If Labour went for it, maybe 200, but an overall majority of the House this evening voted against it. It is not going to happen.
QUEST: Your Brexit is one stage further tonight after the Prime Minister had consistently said Brexit means Brexit and the United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union on March 29. It will not.
PERCY: I think you're right on that. But that doesn't mean that the Prime Minister's deal is less likely. I think the Prime Minister's deal after the vote yesterday is more likely. It doesn't mean it's going to happen. But it's more likely because my fellow Brexiteer colleagues have to wake up and smell the coffee and recognize, if we don't leave through the Prime Minister's deal, we are not going to leave.
QUEST: Do you think and obviously the far right of the Brexiteers will never go along with this, do you now believe that the middle Brexiteers in your Party will?
PERCY: I reject the phrase far right because they're not far right. They just have a very strong view on Brexit, but I think this group, the ERG split into three different groups. And I think the middle group who so far have voted against the Prime Minister's deal, some of them are starting to recognize that they may have to come on board now.
QUEST: Good to see you, sir.
PERCY: It's a pleasure to be here.
QUEST: Thank you very much indeed. We will continue after the break. We'll have some more news including of course the investigation into the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines jet on Sunday.
Experts in France now have key pieces of data that could provide major clues. This this CNN.
[15:30:00] RICHARD QUEST, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: So a reminder of the dramatic scenes that occurred this evening in Westminster. British lawmakers have voted in favor of delaying the Brexit process. Theresa May has been instructed to seek an extension of the March 29th deadline from the EU.
An extension that will require unanimous approval from the other 27 member countries. Parliament also resoundly rejected holding a second referendum. Now, we must move to other news of the day. An investigation into the crash on Sunday of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302has taken a major step forward.
The flight data recorders have now arrived in Paris at the BEA's headquarters. It's the French accident investigation bureau. Three U.S. investigators are also there to assist in the downloading and analysis of data. There you see the boxes. They are built to withstand the most tremendous forces, but even there you see just how damaged they are.
Anna Stewart is in Paris tonight. Anna, they've arrived, there's an assessment being made. When will they actually start opening and dealing with it?
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Yes, they arrived this morning, and you can see the BEA right behind me, Richard, in the dark. And this is one of fewer than a dozen laboratories that can analyze and interpret data from black boxes.
Now, as you said, they arrived here this morning, obviously, the exterior is fairly damaged, but we won't know how damaged they are on the inside for several days. Now, today, the BEA tweeted to say that they were doing coordinating meetings today, the technical work on the boxes would begin in earnest tomorrow. And in terms of preliminary investigations, it takes up to 30 days, possibly less, Richard.
[15:35:00] QUEST: Right, so they will -- do we have any -- do we know how we're going to get the information from them because last I checked, the Ethiopians had not been very forthcoming at holding press conferences. And yet, the BEA says that it will be up to the Ethiopians to provide the information. So do we know?
STEWART: That remains the case, the BEA have said that it will be up to Ethiopian authorities to make any statements regarding the investigation. And we believe that will be the situation going forward. It is slightly confusing because sometimes the BEA gives these statements, but that generally is when a crash has happened on French soil, that is not the case here. This is essentially been outsourced because this is one of the world's best laboratories to analyze this data.
QUEST: Anna Stewart in Paris, when there's more on that, please come back to us. Meanwhile, airlines in the United States are scrambling to keep planes moving and passengers on the move after the grounding of 737s in the country -- 737 Max. There are 72 Max aircrafts in the fleet with U.S. carriers, and this is what the radar showed on Wednesday as the Max's in U.S. airspace landed and stayed on the ground on the government's order.
President Trump says the pressure is now on to Boeing to figure out what went wrong and get the planes flying again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, I hope it's going to be for a short period of time, and I hope it's -- look, they have to find out what it is. The biggest thing is they have to find out what it is. I'm not sure that they know. But I thought that we had to do it, we had to take a cautionary route.
It's a great company, it's a truly great company, and hopefully they will figure it out very quickly. (END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: The 737 Max is key to many airlines growth and cost reduction plans. The developments are the last few days coping up airlines executives to rethink their decisions. First, the CEO of Garuda in Indonesia says his airline may cancel its orders for 737 Max.
European budget carrier Norwegian is demanding Boeing pay compensation for lost flight time. Other airlines are expected to do the same. And the FitchRating agency is watching how the crisis is playing out and warning that some scenarios could result in weaker credit profiles for Boeing or its suppliers.
Peter Goelz is with me, he served as managing director of the NTSB. Peter, so let's take this point by point. Boeing is obviously at the head of all of this. But the FAA certified this plane. And the FAA now has two occasions, the 78 and the 73 Max where their certification has been found wanting.
PETER GOELZ, FORMER MANAGING DIRECTOR, NTSB: There's no question that the spotlight is on the certification process. I expect the Congress of the United States, particularly the House of Representatives to hold hearings on the certification process, delve into the issue of designated engineering representatives and to look at the whole process of how these planes are fast tracked into the air.
QUEST: At the end of the day, and I guess I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm not going to get party political point, but Boeing now has two planes, new planes that have been grounded. Airbus does not. As far as -- I mean, you know, Airbus has got planes that will never make any money, but it hasn't suffered what Boeing has.
It must be embarrassing and caused Boeing to wonder what's gone wrong when the 78 and the 73 both have to go through this.
GOELZ: Well, I think that's -- I think it certainly has caused you know, consternation in the C-suite as they say. The 787 Dreamliner, after they got the lithium battery issue straightened out has been a good performer. It flies profitably and regularly.
The 737 Max, that is going to be a challenge for Boeing to keep those orders. They've got 5,000 of them online, and boy, they're going to have to do some fancy dancing with their future customers to keep them lined up.
QUEST: The airlines need the planes. It's not a question of the airlines deciding not to take them, they need them for their growth. Is it likely do you think that airlines cancel orders and switch say to Airbus, bearing in mind the costs involved? If you're a 73 fleet, you're going to stick with it.
GOELZ: Yes, I don't think anyone who is an 737 fleet is going to switch to Airbus. The cost in terms of training and spare parts is simply too enormous. Now, they are going to lean on Boeing to lower the price and to provide more add-ons, better training, you know, better price on spare parts, that sort of stuff. [15:40:00] The 737 Max for its initial years is not going to be as
profitable as they had once hoped.
QUEST: Peter, good to see you, thank you. We've got much more we'll talk about on this still to come. The scourge of modern day slavery is a truly global problem and that requires a global response. We'll show you how people around the world and how companies are making a difference and people marking my Freedom Day. And how can you spot the signs of human trafficking? We'll discuss that in a moment.
QUEST: Today marks a major global celebration of freedom. From Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong to here in the United Kingdom, people are marking My Freedom Day. Young people are raising their voices against modern- day slavery. Here's some of them on your screen at the James Modern Academy in Abu Dhabi.
And at the Royal Orchard School in Enugu in Nigeria where people are shouting out what freedom means to them loud and clear. Hilton says it is doing its part to remove the risks of modern slavery from the hospitality industry. They call it travel with purpose as part of the initiative.
Training has been done at every Hilton Hotel to help employees spot the signs of human trafficking. Katie Fallon is the head of Corporate Affairs at Hilton. She was also a top legislative aide to President Obama. She joins me now from Washington. And exactly what is it that your staff are being trained to watch out for?
KATIE FALLON, GLOBAL HEAD OF CORPORATE AFFAIRS, HILTON: First, Richard, I want to thank you for giving a platform to such an important issue. Human trafficking must be stopped, and at Hilton, we're playing our part across our operations, our supply chain in the communities.
In all 5,600 of our hotels around the world, we have mandatory anti- trust seeking training, and as part of that training, our employees are told to look out for guests who are attending our hotels with a big group that seemed disoriented or disconnected from their group, sometimes intoxicated.
[15:45:00] Those guests often -- that group will pay only in cash, in cash transactions. There will be a lot of activity coming and out of that room. And you know, basically, we advice our team members, if you see anything suspicious, say something, and we empower them to have the confidence to report all incidences that they see. And we also empower them to increase awareness among our guests as well.
QUEST: Now, this is something that is -- has turned into bipartisan if that's the word between all of the various hotel companies. So none of you really -- so it's not like it's -- none of you really need to suffer from an issue where at the end of the day you're selling dreams and holidays and hotels and luxury experiences. It's not exactly on the same page as discussing human slavery and trafficking, is it? FALLON: Absolutely, Richard, and when it comes to the protecting and
strengthening human rights, there's absolutely no competition in the hospitality industry. In fact, we've all come together to form a collaborative called International Tourism Partnership, it's a form that we used to share our training, to share best practices, to swap intelligence and to make sure that we're all joining together with the rest of the travel and tourism sector to put an end to this problem.
QUEST: As for Hilton, how far are you looking at this within your own company? I mean, you know, the sort of the supply chain that you adopt, the laundries that you use -- I mean, it's not just -- there's two sides for a hotel, there's two sides for the equation, aren't they? There's the guest experience when it comes to this issue, but there's also your own corporate side.
FALLON: That's absolutely true, Richard. In 2015, we actually did an audit of our entire supply chain to find out where we had risk, and instead of waiting for something bad to happen, we took proactive measures to show up on our vulnerabilities which we identified in the labor-sourcing markets.
And particularly in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. So we were opening a hotel a day across the world and any owner that wants to fly a Hilton flag in that hotel has a special obligation to standby our commitment to not engage in any labor-sourcing or contracting that engages in human rights abuses --
QUEST: Right, but Katie --
FALLON: Right --
QUEST: Final question, final question now. This is -- this is not just about paying lip service to it, isn't it? Because I know many companies in many areas where people talk a good talk, but actually, you know, when you put it to the test, it all falls apart. So how much commitment has Hilton put into this?
FALLON: We're making a huge commitment, Richard, this is -- we launched goals just last year, our 2030 travel with purpose goals to double our social impact around the world because we think that by investing in our communities around our hotel, we can root out the root causes of modern slavery and human trafficking.
And we co-founded a program called the Global Freedom Exchange to create anti-trafficking ambassadors at the grassroots level and the communities where we operate. And to date, we have 127 young women around the world who are doing grassroots advocacy to fight against trafficking in their communities with our support in 50 different countries.
We also -- if we do not --
FALLON: Sorry, Richard --
QUEST: No, please, finish, please I thought you'd finish, forgive me, I thought --
FALLON: Oh, sorry --
QUEST: You'd finished, please do finish.
FALLON: We do not -- we make sure that we're not signing any contracts with any labor supply, vendors or owners downstream all the way through our value chain that engage in labor sourcing that -- practices that are against our values.
QUEST: Katie Fallon, thank you very much, we'll talk more about it. It is a subject close to my heart and close to this particular program, so thank you, Katie, for joining us.
FALLON: Thank you, Richard.
QUEST: And we continue in a moment. The Brexit timetable has been turned on its head. Parliament still doesn't have a plan, a minister who quit Theresa May's government will be telling me or trying to explain what comes next.
[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
QUEST: Now, welcome back, Carole Walker is here with -- coming towards the end, has some final thoughts on this. Carole Walker, this was a free vote, but nonetheless, it all ended up a bit all over the place and many members -- anyway, you tell me.
CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this was a relatively good night for the Prime Minister, particularly when you weigh it against --
QUEST: Yes --
WALKER: The disasters of the last few days. She has seen off the vote to have a second referendum, she has seen off by the narrowest of margins, a move for back bench MPs to seize control of parliamentary business, and her motion has passed. But it's worth --
QUEST: Right --
WALKER: Noting first of all that this is not the motion that she wanted. She made it clear that she did not want to have to delay Brexit, she's now had to put down the motion for that, and more than 180 --
QUEST: All right --
WALKER: Of our own MPs including eight cabinet ministers voted against it.
QUEST: One of those who voted against it, a Conservative MP, some guy who is a former university minister, he resigned over the Brexit deal last year, tonight, how did you vote?
SAM GYIMAH, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: I voted with the government tonight, because I have been saying since January that the reality of our position is that we're going to need an extension to article 50. Judging by the debates in the House of Commons, the votes, the results in votes, we are not ready to leave on the 29th of March --
QUEST: No, but what sort of extension do you now want? Do you want the short one, pass the deal or do you want the long one?
GYIMAH: Well, what the government is saying is that there will be a technical extension, which is a misnomer, a technical extension implying that it would have got its deal through, and all we'll need is --
QUEST: No, that's not -- that's not what this -- the government says that they're going to go for a shorter extension --
GYIMAH: Yes --
QUEST: And then it goes onto talk about a longer extension.
GYIMAH: A longer extension.
QUEST: So it's one or the other.
GYIMAH: I think we'll be looking at a long extension rather than a technical extension because I don't see Theresa May's deal passing the Commons. It's been defeated heavily twice, unless something substantially changes about that deal, I don't see how she get -- manages to move people in support of it.
She would like to brow-beat parliament by saying it's either going to be a long delay or you could lose Brexit. But that strategy so far has failed, I don't see it succeeding ultimately.
QUEST: But you'd agree perhaps that's a longer delay makes Brexit less likely.
GYIMAH: Well, even if we left on the 29th of March under the terms of Theresa May's deal, we would have a two-year transition period in which we will be in the EU, but we would have given up our voice veto as I said --
QUEST: No, that's irrelevant with respect because you would have been outside the EU by that point, you would have actually left the EU even with the transition. But I'm saying does the ability to leave the EU become more distant if you go into a long extension? There is a difference between a two-year transition and a one-year extension.
GYIMAH: I think the key thing is we need to guard as a country what we want. And it is not -- parliament is deadlocked. There is no a prime majority for any of the options, and we need to work through it. And there is a -- there's a scenario by the one that you outline. But if we do need to work through it rather than run through exit when we're clearly not ready.
[15:55:00] WALKER: Isn't the fact that the Prime Minister had to put down a motion seeking a delay. Doesn't that represent a complete failure of her negotiating strategy and indeed of parliament to try to get some form of deal?
GYIMAH: Well, it is a failure of her negotiating strategy, but that was apparent three months ago. The moment she had to move the first meaningful vote and not hold it, because she thought she would lose it. The timetable was out of the window.
The government didn't openly admit it until two weeks ago. In terms of parliament solving this and parliament being deadlocked, you can't blame parliament for a situation where the government is insisting the only thing that can be discussed is its business. We ended up having to vote today just to have a debate.
And then given that, parliament is a debating chamber, it is shocking that we have to have a vote to have a debate on Brexit options. But the executive has huge control over all the paper and what is debated. And at times like this in terms of foreign policy, it becomes apparent how huge that power is.
And we saw that over Iraq when Tony Blair said to parliament, you know, it's either you vote to go to war or you're going to have Saddam's missiles here. We're having the same thing, vote --
QUEST: Sure --
GYIMAH: For Theresa May's deal or something bad will happen.
QUEST: So you predict next week her vote -- her agreement loses.
GYIMAH: I think it's extremely unlikely given what we know now that it will get through. If it's the same deal and people are voting for it a week afterwards --
QUEST: Right --
GYIMAH: I struggle to see how it gets through.
QUEST: Good to see you, sir, thank you very much indeed.
GYIMAH: Thank you very much.
QUEST: We'll continue in just a moment. This is CNN.
QUEST: Some breaking news to bring you. Breaking news out of Israel. The Israeli military says two rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory. Don't know, there are no reports of any fatalities. That is the live skyline that you're looking at of Tel Aviv tonight.
I was just hearing from some people in Israel that the sirens sounded, nobody seemed to make much difference or head off to shelters, but it was two rockets, one of which was intercepted, the other appears to have landed without causing injury.
And that is our special coverage from Westminster, I am Richard Quest. What a night. I mean, today was the first day there perhaps was a chink in the armor and the Brexit seemed a little bit further away as the government won its motion to seek an extension of article 50.
I'm Richard Quest , "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper, that begins right now.