welcome to newsday. reporting live from singapore, i'm mariko oi. the headlines... downing street is in turmoil, afterfour senior aides to borisjohnson resign — within hours of each other. will covid disrupt beijing's winter olympics? we take a look at the tight restrictions imposed on chinese citizens. president biden gives details of how the head of the islamic state group was killed during a raid by us special forces in syria. and america says the kremlin has plans to broadcast fake images of the ukrainian army shooting russian sympathisers as a pretext for an invasion. live from our studio in singapore. this is bbc news.
it's newsday. it's 8am in singapore, and midnight in london — where downing street is in turmoil following the resignation of four senior aides to borisjohnson. director of communications jack doyle confirmed his exit shortly after the departure of policy head munira mirza. two more senior figures followed. ms mirza quit over the prime minister's false claim that the leader of the opposition was personally responsible for the failure to prosecute notorious paedophilejimmy savile, when he was director of public prosecutions. our political editor laura kuensseberg reports. applause borisjohnson managed to keep a blackpool tram on track today. yet it's not clear tonight where his leadership is really going. "that went well, thank god for
that," the prime minister said. he might need prayers to create a sense of stability in his government, though. the communications director, jack doyle, walked out of his job tonight. a major role in any number ten, but the message had gone badly wrong. the chief of staff, dan rosenfield, who was brought in to create order, is on his bike and going too. the third exit, martin reynolds, the prime minister's senior civil servant, who invited around 100 people to a garden party. and the explosive fourth exit, his friend and political confidant of more than ten years, munira mirza. chief of ideas, "boris�*s brain," one former colleague told me. she has notjust gone, but has left dynamite in her wake — slamming the prime minister's comments linking the leader of the opposition to jimmy savile early this week. she wrote...
this is what he'd managed to say. i'm talking not about the leader of the opposition�*s personal record when he was dpp. and i totally understand that he had nothing to do personally with those decisions. i was making a point about, erm, his responsibility for the organisation. not an apology for the false claim he originally made on monday. this leader of the opposition, a former director of prosecutions, mr speaker, who spent most of his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute jimmy savile, as far as i can make out, mr speaker! an untrue allegation that appalled victims and some mps on the prime minister's own side. keir starmer was the boss of the crown prosecution service whenjimmy savile was not charged.
but sir keir had no individual involvement in the case. and unusually, the chancellor was happy to show a public split. being honest, i wouldn't have said it, and i'm glad that the prime minister clarified what he meant. who, as well as grappling with the economy, is grappling with the government's reputation. hi, laura, how are you? he lives and works under the same roof where lockdown gatherings took place. for the record, chancellor, you knew nothing of any of these gatherings? even when it happened outside that window, you knew nothing? as i said — people think i'm looking outside the window, i spent half my time in the treasury, as well as working here. but what i was focused on at that time, you know, as were many people, is making sure that we could help the country through a period of enormous anxiety. you walked into the cabinet room at the end of boris johnson's birthday celebration — did not happen? you're asking about something over two years ago, i walked into a meeting with a group of people as i do all the time.
do you worry, though, that this has damaged the public�*s confidence in the government that you're part of? yes, i think it has, and i can appreciate people's frustration. and i think it's now the job of all of us in government, all politicians, to restore people's trust. some of your colleagues want the prime minister to go. if that were to happen would you run to replace him? no, that's not what i'm focused on, and of course... that's not my question — would you do it? some of your colleagues want you to. well, that's very kind of them to suggest that. but what i think people want from me — and what your viewers will want from me — is to focus on myjob, and the prime minister has my full support. but support for the bigger of this double act may not last forever. chaotic days are one thing — a loss of credibility quite another. laura kuenssberg, bbc news, downing street. votes are being counted in the southend west by—election in essex.
turnout is just over 24% in a seat that should be held by the conservatives. that's the third—lowest turnout for a uk by election since 1945 no other main party took part in the poll — a mark of respect because the previous mp, david amess, was stabbed during a constituency surgery last october. a result is expected in the next couple of hours. the winter olympics are getting fully under way in beijing, with the opening ceremony in a few hours�* time. almost 3,000 athletes from 91 nations will compete, with over 100 gold medals to be won. but the run—up to the games has been fraught with controversy. many countries have announced a diplomatic boycott of the event, citing human rights abuses in china. and there are covid cases inside beijing's "olympic bubble." our china correspondent robin brant has the very latest. she is one of china's olympians
of tomorrow — maybe. she hadn't even been born the first time the olympics came to town. but now, the six—year—old skater is inspired by the games. translation: it's very - exhausting, but she presses on. she won't leave until she's learned how to do all the moves. she doesn't quit. she can't go to any of the events, though. she can't get close. the winter olympics is happening in beijing, but almost everyone here is excluded from it. translation: it's sad we can't go to see the games in person. | we'll have to watch them on tv. china is in the middle of a renewed battle to try to maintain zero covid in this country, and it's decided not to sell any tickets for the games to members of the general public, so everyone who queues outside venues like this in the weeks ahead is going to be hand—picked — a member
of the ruling communist party, or someone who works at a government—controlled company. it's notjust covid measures keeping people away. there's confrontation over china's human rights record. senior officials from the us, the uk, and more than a dozen other governments aren't coming to the ice rinks. the olympics is just sport, though, say some looking on. translation: | think sports | are sports, and they shouldn't be mixed with politics. the games belong to everyone, and we should all participate and watch. politics is just politics. this is the official slogan of the games. and these children are singing about it in this propaganda video, released last month by the government in xinjiang, a place where china denies it's committed genocide. a former olympian who's close to america's athletes this
time told me why some of them are nervous about sharing this moment. i had one athlete tell me that they've had nothing in the lead—up to these olympics — they've had not a single team meeting about sport and their athletic performance. every meeting they've had has been either about covid protocols or about athlete safety, personal safety in beijing. i don't think a single athlete is going to speak out at the games — and nor do i think they should. if i were there i would be keeping my mouth shut because the risk is just too great. and this is really a failure of the international olympic committee. it's a failure of leadership that athletes are in this position. in many ways, this looks like a normal olympic games. there are updated rules in place to allow athletes to express their concerns — away from the tracks, slopes, rinks and podiums. but what is always a cold gathering feels much more frosty this time round. this is a games defined by the big fissure on the world stage, with china on one side
and the us on the other. and inside the bubble, athletes trying to get on with their sport. robin brant, bbc news, beijing. and with the opening ceremonyjust hours away, a little later in the programme, we'll hear from someone who's planned not one, but five of the big events. president biden has been giving details of how the leader of the islamic state group was killed during a night raid by us special forces in syria. the president said that abu ibrahim al qurashi — also known as hajji abdullah — blew himself up, along with four members of his family, as us troops approached the building. 13 people including children died in the raid — no us casualties were reported. the bbc�*s state department correspondent barbara plett usher reports. in a corner of northwest syria where a forgotten conflict simmers, america reminded the islamic state group that its leaders were still a target.
the raid took place in the dead of night and lasted two hours. us special forces landed in helicopters near the home of the is leader, hajji abdullah. those close by described a night of terror. translation: when we got out of the house, we saw aircraft - flying over our heads. and after ten minutes, we heard them shouting, "give yourself up, the house is surrounded." some civilians living in the same building were safely evacuated. but women and children were among the dead. us officials blamed the militants — they said hajji abdullah blew himself up, killing his family in the blast, and that his deputy barricaded himself on the second floor with his wife — both died in a gunfight. us forces were expecting the suicide bombing. it's happened before when a militant leader is cornered. as our troops approached to capture the terrorist, in a final act of desperate cowardice, with no regard to the lives of his own family or others in the building,
he chose to blow himself up — notjust with a vest, but to blow up that third floor rather than face justice for the crimes he's committed, taking several members of his family with him, just as his predecessor did. president biden monitored the raid from the situation room — like former presidents targeting formerjihadist leaders — getting reports in real time from his top military officials. hajji abdullah took over the islamic state group after its previous leader died in a us raid. he'd kept an extremely low profile, but was accused of coordinating global terrorist operations. his death is a blow to the group which had been trying to make a comeback in syria and iraq. the only american casualty was a helicopter. us forces destroyed it before leaving the area — they said it had mechanical issues. but otherwise, they're claiming this operation a victory in the forever war against islamist extremism. barbara plett usher, bbc news, washington.
jonathan schroden is an analyst at the military intelligence think tank cna. he explained haji abdullah's significance to the islamic state group. sure, so al qurashi was the leader of the islamic state, the central part of the islamic state which is largely based in syria these days, but also has tendrils into iraq. and so, he was the leader that took over after the death of al—baghdadi in another us special operations forces raid about two—and—a—half years ago. his death today will likely affect the islamic state in two ways, one short and one long. the immediate impact is likely to be some amount of disruption of the group's activities. any time an organisation undergoes a leadership change, especially a forced one, there will be some amount of disruption. that said, i expect that disruption to be relatively short—lived as isis is a very well—organised terrorist group, and they've likely got some form of a succession plan
and place already. the long—term potential is there, though, for change to the islamic state insofar as, again, any time you get a new leader of an organisation with the breadth of the islamic state, that new leader comes in with a different set of views, potentially a different set of priorities. so it remains to be seen what longer—term changes we'll see in the isis organisation, but i would expect there to be some. you said they might already have a succession plan — has there been any response from isis or an indication as to who may take over? there's any number, you know, probably a dozen or so different isis lieutenants who could step into that position. i don't know, i haven't seen any indication yet that they've selected or announced a leader to step in. but i wouldn't expect it to take very long for them to make that announcement. when al—baghdadi was killed, it didn't take them very long
to announce al qurashi as his successor. so i would expect a relatively quick announcement of who the new head of isis will be. you're watching newsday on the bbc. still to come on the programme: a pretext for an invasion? the us says the kremlin has plans to broadcast fake images of the ukrainian army shooting russian sympathisers. this is the moment that millions in iran have been waiting for. after his long years in exile, the first hesitant steps of ayatollah khomeini on iranian soil. south africa's white government has offered its black opponents concessions unparalleled in the history of apartheid. and the anc leader, nelson mandela, is to be set free unconditionally. three, two, one. the countdown to the critical moment — the world's most powerful rocket ignited all 27
of its engines at once. and, apart of its power, it's this recycling of the rocket, slashing the cost of the launch that makes this a breakthrough in the business of space travel. two americans have become the first humans to walk- in space without any lifeline to their spaceship. - one of them called it "a piece of cake". - thousands of people have given the yachtswoman ellen macarthur a spectacular homecoming in the cornish port of falmouth, after she smashed the world record for sailing solo around the world non—stop. this is newsday on the bbc. i'm mariko oi in singapore. our headlines... downing street is in turmoil, afterfour senior aides to borisjohnson resign within hours of each other. president biden gives details of how the head of the islamic state group was killed during a raid by us special forces in syria.
let's turn to the ukraine crisis — and an american claim that russia is planning to stage fake events to justify taking military action. here's pentagon spokesman john kirby outlining the plot. one option is the russian government, we think, is planning to stage a fake attack by ukrainian military or intelligence forces against russian sovereign territory, oragainst russian—speaking people to therefore justify their action. as part of this fake attack, we believe that russia would produce a very graphic propaganda video, which would include corpses and actors that would be depicting mourners, and images of destroyed locations as well as military equipment at the hands of ukraine or the west — even to the point where some of this equipment would be made to look like it was western—supplied ukrainian equipment.
russia says it is not planning any false flag operations and has previously dismissed all suggestions that it's planning any military action. meanwhile the us started making good on its promise to deploy additional troops to europe. these are some of the 2000 soldiers who'll be heading to germany and poland, with others already in germany heading to romania. and in europe — there has been another flurry of diplomatic visits to kyiv and moscow... turkey's leader — president erdogan — was the guest of ukraine's president zelensky. the turkish leader said his country would remain neutral — but offered to mediate with russia. meanwhile, vladimir putin hosted the president of argentina. moscow insists — they have no plans to invade ukraine — here's our moscow correspondent — steve rosenberg. the one sentence i've found myself saying a lot in recent years is, "relations
between russia and the west have reached a new low." and then they go and get lower and lower, and the tension gets higher and higher — until you get to where we are today, with russia amassing troops near the border with ukraine, launching a string of military exercises, demanding security guarantees from the west and america sending troops to europe. one question i'm asked a lot on air is, "what is vladimir putin planning? what is he thinking? is he planning a major escalation in ukraine? is he planning to dismantle the european security order as it is? is he planning to carve out a new sphere of influence for russia?" now reporters are supposed to have all the answers, aren't we? but sometimes, you just have to put your hands up and say, "i don't know." i don't know what the kremlin�*s aim is here. there's been so much speculation — all we can do, really, is to follow events on the ground, follow all the diplomatic activity, what's being said by political leaders, and see how the situation develops.
let's take a look at some other stories in the headlines. an oil production and storage vessel has exploded off the coast of nigeria. it's not clear what caused the blast, or if any oil spilt into the sea. the fate of the ten crew members on board is unknown. peru's new prime minister, hector valer, has rejected allegations of domestic violence amid calls for his resignation. he was sworn into office just this week. peruvian media have since published details of a police investigation against him five years ago, with claims that he had kicked and punched his daughter and his late wife. mr valer strenuously denies the allegations. an operation is under way in morocco to rescue a young boy trapped in a deep well. the five—year—old, called rayan, fell down the 32—metre well on tuesday evening in a village in a rural northern province.
he's said to have suffered some injuries, but remains conscious. just before we go, let's turn our attention back to what is the big event in the region here today — that is the official opening ceremony of the beijing winter olympics. they are, of course, years in the making. so how does it all come together, and how will covid shape the way events are managed? ric birch has directed and produced five different olympic opening ceremonies, including beijing in 2008. i asked him how he thought this ceremony would pan out. well, you can't make any changes to the show for politics, or it would be impossible to do it. you have to think in terms of creativity and cultural icons of the society that you're working in. in the introduction, i heard about having a hand—picked audience of party
functionaries and hand—picked party members — that means the audience themselves will be incredibly stiff and not responsive at all in the way that a normal general public audience is. so i think that in itself makes the ceremony unique. indeed, and you've worked with the chinese authorities for the 2008 games — what messages would you guess that beijing would be keen to stand amid all these tensions? well, in 2008 — the same creative director is in charge night as was in 2008, and he's a master of the tightrope between politics and creativity. and it won't be any different this time. the government doesn't frame its requests by having a party functionary come and say, "you must do x, y and z". it's implicit, i guess, and he knows his way around that very well. so the challenge in doing
a ceremony in china in creating that ceremony is how to deal with, indeed, the politics, which you can't touch on, and at the same time explain something of the history and the cultural values of the country — which are incredibly rich, i mean, this is a society that goes back at least 5,000 years with written records, and the complexities and creativity that's been involved needs to be reflected in the ceremonies. and at the same time, it's framed in the politics without ever mentioning them in any way. so that's the challenge. i don't think me, as a foreigner, could do it at all. my role in beijing was really to advise him on the international impact of different parts of the ceremony — how it would be understood, how it would be interpreted by people around the world. so the chinese creative team would be tossing out different ideas,
and i, along with others, would be saying, "emphasise this, this part is unkonwn, so we need to explain it more, or not use it." so the content of the ceremony this time — i don't think he has an additional adviser, and i don't think he needs one — and the role of the ceremonies this time is not perhaps to introduce china to the world — which was very much the role in 2008, to show how far china had advanced and how rapidly it had developed. and i think it really, really impressed the world and maybe shocked some atjust how creative and superb the ceremonies were. this time, they can rest on their laurels, as far as that goes. i think the areas to look for will be possibly space — china's space programme has developed a lot since 2008, technology — they are very involved with artificial
intelligence which might involve drones, so we might see a pretty high—tech ceremony. rick has produced five different olympic opening ceremonies, including la in 1984 in beijing in 2008. we will have a lot more coverage on the winter games as they begin later tonight in beijing notjust on tv, but also on our website as well, on all the geopolitical tensions, human rights abuse allegations and controversies. check them out, as well. following the massive oil spill in peru last month, veterinarians are nursing a number of rare hambuldt penguins back to health. 12,000 barrels of crude oil spilt into a marine biodiversity hotspot after a refinery was hit by waves linked to a volcanic eruption on tonga. zoologists say many of the penguins arrived at lima zoo very stressed. the penguins have been bathed, watered, and fed
to aid their recovery. the government has called the oil spill the country's worst ecological disaster. that's all for now — stay with bbc world news. hello. we're seeing a real change in weather type at the moment, as a cold front is spreading its way across the uk, and that will be bringing us a colder and windier spell of weather into friday, with some wintry showers around, too. here's the cold air streaming in behind this cold front, which is working gradually south—eastwards. still bringing some rain, even some sleet and some snow on the back edge of that, too — particularly for the likes of the pennines, the peak district, and over the high ground of wales, as well. but mainly to the south of that, it's going to be falling as rain. but a cold morning friday morning across scotland, northern ireland and northern england. so some icy stretches around and wintry showers falling on that cold ground. so, do be prepared for some icy stretches on any untreated surfaces during friday morning. but some sunshine working in across parts of northern england, wales, and the southwest,
and eventually that rain and sleetiness will clear away from the southeast, too. so then, we're all in the clearer spells on friday — some sunshine, but also plenty of showers streaming in on that brisk wind. so, gusts will be about 30—40 mph, perhaps as high as 50 mph in the north west. and wintry showers over the higher ground of scotland, northern ireland, and northern england in particular. temperatures between only about 4—9 celsius, and feeling colder when you add on the wind chill, as well. overnight friday night, we've got clearer skies, 1—2 wintry showers, some rain and hill snow working into the northwest later in the night. but under those clear skies, we'll be seeing quite a cold start to your weekend, with quite a widespread frost. so, heading on into saturday, then, after that cold start, the next weather front streams in from the atlantic — and you can see quite a long weather front here, the first area here bringing some wet and windy weather initially to the northwest of the uk on saturday, and this frontal system marks the divide between milder air in the south and colder conditions towards the north. so, with the arrival of that
wet and windy weather, there'll be some snow once again over the higher ground of scotland, patchy rain working slowly south into england and wales, but probably east anglia an dthe south east remaining dry all day with temperatures around 10—11 celsius here, but turning colder with more snow showers packing in across the north. into sunday, and wintry showers once again across the northwest of the uk. early rain should clear away from parts of southern england to leave us all in sunnier skies, but feeling colder once again with that northwesterly breeze and highs around about 5—11 celsius on sunday. bye— bye.
this is bbc news. we'll have the headlines and all the main news stories for you at the top of the hour as newsday continues, straight after hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. russian forces continue to gather close to ukraine's eastern and northern borders, and still the world waits to see what vladimir putin's endgame is. if the goal is to wring security concessions out of the us and its nato partners, does he have any chance of success? well, my guest is gabrielius landsbergis, foreign minister