this is bbc world news, the headlines... the winter olympics opening ceremony has taken place in beijing, signalling the official start of the games. but the run—up to the event has been fraught with controversy, with many countries staging a diplomatic boycott. just ahead of the opening ceremony, the leaders of china and russia met in beijing. xijinping and vladimir putin said they support each other�*s security and foreign policy aims. china backed russia's demand that nato halts any expansion.
downing street insists borisjohnson is still in control, after another conservative mp called on him to go. the prime minister has also seen the resignation of a fifth senior adviser. rescuers in morocco are reported to be getting closer to reaching a young boy trapped at the bottom of a well. the five—year—old, called rayan, fell down the 32—metre well on tuesday. at 10pm, reeta chakrabarti will be here with a full round—up of the day's news. first, it's newscast. confession time. we'd recorded tonight's episode of newscast, and then i went to the pub to have... ah! ..it turns out two thirds of a pint with a friend. then, of course, my phone went mad because loads of developments happened in the downing street sacking saga. so, i've popped back, laura never left. what's happened tonight? well, as one mp said to me, "it's
not a downing street nightmare, it's a downing street meltdown!" and let's say, we are now recording this at 8:15. in the last couple of hours, the prime minister's policy chief has quit. the prime minister's director of communications has quit. the prime minister's chief of staff has quit. the prime minister's principal private secretary... i always worry about getting that out correctly. civil servant. ..has also quit. so, four of the most senior people in downing street are on their way out. we were expecting a bit of a clear—out. one of them, we were not expecting. and it all makes everything feel like my wobblyjenga tower i talk about every week... yeah. ..suddenly got a lot more woogly. or shoogly, as we'd say in glasgow. shoogly! exactly. pretty shoogly. so, the news has changed a bit, but the analysis of what's going on with thejenga tower is basically still the same as we recorded a little while ago. so here's an episode of newscast we made earlier. i've always wanted to say that!
newscast. newscast, from the bbc. hello, it's adam in the studio. and laura in the same studio. and chris in stormont, in belfast, where the downpour of news has been even bigger than the downpour of rain. yes, we will come on to what's been happening in northern ireland in a couple of minutes in this episode of newscast. but first, what has been happening in downing street just this afternoon, on thursday afternoon? so, laura, the first person that resigned out of a couple was a woman called munira mirza. yes. do you want to tell us who she was and why she was so important to boris johnson? so, munira mirza was the boss of the policy unit in number 10. now, they're not the people who are making the day—to—day decisions about everything that's happening in government, but they are kind of the downing street thinking department, if you like. and munira mirza was particularly critical because she was described to me today by a former colleague of hers as "borisjohnson�*s brain". and she worked for him
for more than ten years. she's pretty much the only person who was left in downing street with borisjohnson who'd been there since his city hall days, and she chose to resign this afternoon not quietly, but very, very dramatically indeed. and ijust think it's really important to understand the context — that her departure and her decision to be critical of borisjohnson, and i think we'll show you a bit of her letter in a second, is so significant because of her personal closeness to him. and somebody who knows her well and knows him welljust said he will be in sort of emotional turmoil over this. they said, "you can't spin it. this is devastating for borisjohnson sort of personally, not just professionally." and the reason she's given for her resignation is that comment borisjohnson made to keir starmer the other day there when parliament was debating the sue gray report — which was only a couple of days ago — and he talked about how keir starmer in his previous life as director of public prosecutions had prosecuted more journalists than he had
prosecuted jimmy savile, which was a very controversial statement... well, it's false. ..because it's not, it's not actually what happened. and so, munira mirza wrote a letter of resignation that was leaked to the spectator magazine. i mean, it's an amazing letter, but here is one of the most kind of devastating paragraphs. she says directly to borisjohnson... and, laura, borisjohnson has sort of changed his tune a little bit on that accusation, hasn't he? yes, but he hasn't withdrawn it. he backtracked a bit and said this afternoon — well, i wasn't talking about keir starmer personally being not involved in prosecutions and not bothering to do it. what i meant was that he was overall responsible for the crown prosecution service at the time. but he didn't apologise, and lots of people are very cross
about him saying this. even the chancellor, rishi sunak, said very publicly — this is really unusualfor a cabinet minister to do this — he said, well, i wouldn't have said it, if i'm honest. and it's a spectacular backfire. and i think the fact of the mirza resignation really changes and, laura, it's not just munira mirza. i mean, it's resignation central. because as we record at, what, 6.30pm on thursday evening, jack doyle — another big figure in numberio — is off. and i know we've heard, haven't we, this week from the prime minister, saying — well, you know, part of this is going to be about shaking up number 10, but here seem to be resignations that are happening that he might not have been all that keen on. well, yeah, i mean, the director of communicationsjob in number 10 is really important. and it sounds like, you know, it's a bit of the press office, but it's a really importantjob in downing street. jack doyle is one of the people who'd been under fire for how the prime minister handled the fiasco around parties, starting with that message that — oh, well, there weren't any parties, and then that evolved and then that evolved and then that evolved.
so, it's not completely surprising that mr doyle is one of the people who is on his way out. but for it to happen like this, just a couple of hours after munira mirza has gone, it really creates this sort of sense of instability and, also, this sort of sense of what might be next. and i had a message from somebody who knows both of them this afternoon, giving a kind of sense of what. .. particularly the munira departure creates this sense of sort of foreboding. and just listen to how they described it. they said, "the apocalypse is preceded by all sorts of things you never expect to happen. the moon turns red and the sun goes black. munira leaving boris had to be on such a list." 0h! if only this studio had windows, so i could see what colour the moon is! imagine! but isn't there another way of looking at this, though? in that borisjohnson said to his mps on monday night, and the thing that is one of the things that helped to save his skin that night when things were looking really
dicey, was when he said — don't worry, everyone, there's going to be a massive clearout in number 10. i'm going to bring in new people. i'm going to listen to you backbenchers a lot more. aren't these just two people that you could think would maybe be on the hit list if you wanted to refurbish number 10 in a personnel way? well, they're clearing themselves out, aren't they? yes, we don't quite know what happened with jack doyle. i mean, i think it would be fair to say that he had a target on his back for some time, and he mayjust have thought — you know what, i don't want to hang around any more, and we don't know yet the private conversations that took place. i think the munira mirza role is different. her resignation is different because she's chosen to publicly attack him. and you can't really spend that that way, you _ and you can't really spend that that way, you can't say disgruntled or never liked — way, you can't say disgruntled or never liked him in the first place — none _ never liked him in the first place — none of— never liked him in the first place — none of those things wash. no, they don't. and actually, one former tory adviser made exactly that point. they said, "you cannot spin this because he's lost one of the few people inside number 10 who knows him well and is
an ideological ally. and second, because this criticism, which is damning, comes from within, and you simply cannot paint that as nonsense from the media or his political opponents." what about his political neighbours? well, yes, because rishi sunak has had a very busy day today. he did a statement in parliament. he did a press conference on tv. and he did an interview with laura kuenssberg, bbc political editor. the least interesting of all of those things! well, actually, there are some very interesting bits in it that we didn't get elsewhere, and some instagram chat. but the reason he was talking was on the occasion of ofgem, the energy regulators, announcing the new level of the energy price cap, which will kick in from april. and basically, it's going up by more than 50%, which takes it up to £1,971 a year, which is several hundred pounds higher than it was before. and it's going to be painful for a lot of people. the government's trying to sort of spread some of the pain a little bit, or make the pain a little bit less bad. there's two things going on here. actually, there's three things going on, isn't there?
there's going to be a £200 rebate on everyone�*s bills in october, which people will then pay back in 40—quid instalments over the next five years, when government — fingers crossed — they hope bills have gone down and gas prices have gone down. then the second bit is a rebate on people's council tax bills, people who have got council tax bills in bands a to d. and then, the third thing is a fund for local authorities to give money to other people who haven't been covered by those other things. and you went to number 11 downing street to hear all about it — one of the first people to hear all about it. and it's £9 billion in total, which is a huge package. but there is also no question at all that people are really going to feel that the cost of living is something they're really struggling to cope with in the next few months. i think the chancellor is very well aware of that, and it was one of the things he tried to get across this morning. but, you know, still a very tricky position for any government to be in because people are really going to get hammered. well, this is the fiscally responsible approach to take to solving this problem, in my view, and there are two
components to the support that i've outlined. one of them, the bigger one, is repayable. so, the 200 rebate, £200 rebate, that people will receive in october will be repaid — but overfive years, starting next april, at £40 a year, so that will pay for itself. and the other component of it, which is direct cash to families, is genuinely one—off. and you would expect me, in all my planning, to make provisions for things like this. and that's when i talk about the importance of getting our borrowing and debt down. part of the reason i talk about that is so that we can respond when we need to to situations like this. but in future years, this is going to have to be paid back. i mean, what happens on energy if prices stay high? well, taking a step back, it's important to think about why, why are we in this situation with higher energy prices? and the factors are entirely global in nature. we had a very difficult, long winter last year, which depleted gas stores. we've had disruptions to other sources of energy like nuclear and wind. and we're now seeing very rapid
demand for gas in asia. now, i sadly don't have the ability to control any of those things, and i don't have a crystal ball about what might happen in the future. but what it would be wrong, actually, and dishonest for me to stand here and say to people that we don't have to adjust to higher energy prices. we are unfortunately going to have to. but what government can do is take the sting out of that adjustment — to make sure the increase is smaller, initially, spread over more years. and that's what today's £350 rebate does. but not everybody needs an extra £200 of help with their bills. i mean, with respect, you don't need an extra £200 to help with your bills. why is this going to everyone, rather than focusing more help on people who really, really need it? well, we are doing both of those things. the £200 is universal, but that's the bit that's repayable over time. so, we'll all receive a £200 rebate on our energy bills in october. that will be repayable, but over five years. so that will help families adjust to this price increase in slower time. i think that will make it more manageable for people's finances.
and then, the other component is targeted on those who need it most, and that's £150, for the vast majority of families. four out of five english households will get £150 in april, as a discount to their council tax bills. but we have deliberately not done thatjust for people on benefits. i think this is a price shock which is significant enough that even those on middle incomes will feel the pinch of this. i wanted to make sure that we could do something to help them. and that's why it will cover, as i said, four out of five english households. but you've always, as chancellor, you've always styled yourself as someone who will be straight with people. people are going to feel the pinch in the next few months, aren't they? can you be honest about that today? yes. and that's why i know people are worried about this, and it's people's number—one concern, is the cost of living and, in particular, rising energy prices. but what they'll see today is a government that has listened to that and has responded with what i think is a targeted, proportionate and fair intervention to help them. and £350 energy bills rebate, i think, will make a big difference to people and lessen that anxiety. if you say, though, that
you understand how people will feel the pinch, why — as many in your party want — are you going ahead with raising national insurance in april? i know that that money has been specifically put aside for the health service, but there are other ways of finding that money, are there not? well, you know, there aren't actually, and i think the people's number one priority and you talked about, you know, what do people want? i know that people's number one priority when it comes to public services is the nhs, and right now, the nhs is confronted with unprecedented backlogs. i think that's an unacceptable situation. we want to address that and at the same time, do the thing governments have not done for years and that's reform social care and the prime minister deserves enormous credit for tackling that challenge. you can't take on a big challenge like that without funding it properly and sustainably, and that's what this new levy does. it is a new levy, and people should feel reassured that every penny that they pay is going direct to the thing that they care most about, which is the nhs and social care. it doesn't exactly make you... in a responsible and fair way to do that. but it doesn't exactly make you the low tax thatcherite
that you claim to be. i mean, are you comfortable with the level of government intervention that's happened under your leadership at the treasury? it's a high tax, high spending economy. i'm also a chancellor that had to grapple with, hopefully a once in a century pandemic, the biggest economic shock in 300 years, borrowing that skyrocketed to the levels that we haven't seen since world war two. and i have to take the world as it is, not as i would like it to be. but what we are now on is a path to rebuild the economy after coronavirus. we're getting our borrowing and debt down back to responsible levels. now you live and work in this building where there were multiple gatherings during lockdown. were you aware of any of them? you know, no, iwasn�*t. i know people seem to think that i'm spending all my time there staring out of this window behind me. but, actually, during this time i was working on all these things that we've just been talking about. setting up the furlough scheme, making sure that we could support businesses. helping people through what was a very difficult period. so for the record, chancellor, you knew of nothing of any of these gatherings, even when that happened outside that
window — you knew nothing? as i said, people think i'm standing out here, looking outside that window. i spend half my time in the treasury is, as well as working here. but what i was focused on at that time, as were many people, is making sure that we could help the country through a period of enormous anxiety. it was... and it was incredibly busy. that was my focus then — getting people, protecting theirjobs, helping them through tough times, supporting business. that's my priority today. it was reported, though, that you walked into the cabinet room at the end of boris johnson's birthday celebration. did that not happen? yeah, i'm in the cabinet room for a covid meeting, much like the other 100, 200, god knows how many other covid meetings i've been to. what did you see when you walked in? i mean, this is one of the things that's now being investigated, it's something that broke the rules. what did you see? yeah, i mean, you're asking me about something that happened almost two years ago. but, as i said, i went to that cabinet room as i did many other times for covid meetings, and it's right that we allow this police investigation to continue. but what did you see —
what did you see? you were there, what did you see? i mean, you're asking me about something that happened over two years ago, and i walked into a meeting with a group of people, as i do all the time. but it's right, and i know this is frustrating for people, that we're having to wait for all these things. i find it frustrating... but we don't have to wait, you could tell us on that instance, what did you see and did you walk in and think, "ah, there are too many people in here, this doesn't feel right"? no, i mean, that's... no because i've been part of — honestly — hundreds of covid meetings, which do involve lots of people because it's a complicated issue. it's one that we were grappling with a lot. but i think the broader point is these things are the subject of a police investigation, and it's frustrating for me, for you, everybody watching, that it's taking time. but i think it's important for people to understand that, like in any other police investigation, whether it's this or anything else, it's right that it's allowed to carry on independently. but, chancellor, also, you know there is no legal reason why people couldn't clear these things up right now. no charges have been laid, no arrests have been made. at the end of the day, this is likely, if anything, to result in people getting fixed penalty notices.
there is no legal reason why you can't tell us what you remember happening in the building where you work and live. yes, but... which i'm happy to and i said i don't... i don't spend my time staring out of that window. i was spending my time focused on doing the things that hopefully people can remember and made a difference to them and a part of why i think the economy is in quite a strong position today and as recovered well from coronavirus. that's what i was focused on at the time. are you comfortable with how your next—door neighbour has handled all of this? i think it's right that the prime minister's apologised, as he's done in parliament, and has committed to taking on board all the suggestions in sue gray's report and making those changes. of course, that report makes for difficult reading. i share people's frustration and anger about the situation. of course i do, but i'm glad that he's apologised. i'm glad that he's making the changes that he is. many of our viewers and many of your colleagues believe that boris johnson doesn't always tell the truth. do you think he always tells the truth? yes, of course he does. he's the prime minister of the united kingdom. and you think that he's always told you the 100% truth?
yeah, of course he does. he's the prime minister, i support him and we work hard delivering on the things that we were elected to do. and that's, i think, what people would expect from me — is to support him in delivering that agenda. but 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? no... 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 myjob right now is to help them with the cost of living and in particular, rising energy bills. they would have seen today me and the government taking action with the energy bills rebate, £350 of support, done in a fair, proportionate, targeted way, a responsible way to help them. and that's what i've done for the last year and a half that i've had this job. that's what i'll continue to focus on going forward. forgive me for pushing you on this because this is no longer a hypothetical situation because there are conservative mp who are pushing for a vote of no confidence in the conservative leader. would you rule out running
to replace him if we end up in that situation? again, i think it is a hypothetical situation. it's not a hypothetical situation. it is, laura. i mean, i know a few of my colleagues have said that, and they'll have their reasons for doing that. but, you know, i don't think that's the situation we're in. the prime minister has my full support, and what people want from me is to be getting on with myjob, which is what i'm doing. it's why we're announcing what we are doing today. it's more than enough for me to focus on helping people with the cost of living and rebuilding our economy after the biggest shock in 300 years. believe me, you know, i've got a lot to focus on and myjob is to deliver that. you've also built up a pretty sort of glossy, full social media profile, which is unusual, the first chancellor to do that. who do you follow on instagram or who do you look at? who do i look at? well, you know... do you have time? maybe you don't and somebody else does it for you. no, no... well, i probably spent time doing it. i don't spend as much time... i flick through at the end of most days and most of my colleagues, to be honest, actually. and ijust have a good round of what my colleagues are up.
oh, right, so the cabinet's all on insta late at night. the cabinet is in step. but just actually mps being being out and about. i do also follow, i mean, you know, whether it's my... there's lots of fitness things i follow as well. so there's that. what kind of thing? well, you know, i get in trouble when i talk about these things, but in general, so the various peloton instructors and everyone else that i that i follow. so peloton rather thanjoe wicks? high end! i do somejoe wicks as well, yeah. and then during lockdown, we were doing a lot of these tiktok dances as well at home. so there was that, but there's no time for that any more, so... that's all past, is it? these family tiktok dances were fun. ok, chancellor, thank you very much. thanks very much. yeah. laura, i don't know if he'll put a peloton subscription in our basket of goods because i think it's a quite niche, kind of rich person's kind of thing. i don't think that that would be something that most newscasters or most people would find a necessary item. but it is interesting. i mean, it'sjust striking. you know, aside from inflation, that's one particular thing. the amount that people are going to have to pay over and above what they've been paying the last couple of
years isjust huge. and there was some pretty dreary stuff from the bank of england today about actually how tough the pinch is going to be for millions of people. and do you remember all that chat around the tory conference about our high wage economy? it's like where is that gone, you know?! and you wouldn't find a government minister saying that today and energy, chris, has become this huge sort of totem for all of this, hasn't it? completely. absolutely, and i should chip in, actually, as we always keep an eye, don't we, on how things are varied around the uk? i know we're going to come on and talk about northern ireland. there's been a huge amount of politics here in northern ireland over the last couple of hours. there is a separate arrangement here, as far as cost of living. massive issue here as well, of course, and what happens around protection or help for bills. and one of the last acts of the first and deputy first minister — sorting out a deal to try and help those, in particular lower income families, those on benefits with an additional £200 of support. so a different picture here in northern ireland, but attempting to dream up a package
that is, if not exactly the same, then trying to address the very same issues around cost of living. laura, did rishi sunak seem like somebody who's got the kind of the weight of the economic world on his shoulders? now, chris, you are in belfast, where the weather looks lovely, i have to say! and you're there to do an episode of any questions on radio 4 on friday, which is only sort of the third most exciting thing that's been happening in northern ireland, politically, the last day or so. do you want to just fill us in on some of the other big developments that have been happening there today? yes, so i'm off to portaferry on the ards peninsula in county down tomorrow for pm and any questions. by complete coincidence, i was coming anyway. and then there's been this absolute deluge of news here, with a resignation of the first ministen _ so not just advisers, as we're hearing about at westminster, but the first minister, paul givan. if you're watching on bbc one, pretty much now is the point at which he stops being first minister, at midnight thursday into friday. it means michelle o'neill, the deputy first minister, also no longer in post. and, of course, all of this bubbling up as a result of one of the conversations we've had
for yonks on newscast and brexitcast, around the whole business of the northern ireland protocol. edwin poots, the agriculture minister, saying yesterday that he didn't think that the whole business of the checks on goods coming over the irish sea into northern ireland should be continuing and we've seen a response from the government at westminster, haven't we? saying that, actually, well, hang on a minute, they didn't know this was coming. we should try and reach some sort of arrangement. the european commission not happy. they've been talking to the foreign secretary, so politics absolutely all happening here. as i landed here a couple of hours ago, paul givan was on his feet, resigning. thenjeffrey donaldson, the leader of the democratic unionist party, was giving a news conference, as were sinn fein. so huge turbulence yet again here at stormont, as far as governance in northern ireland is concerned. and, chris, if you haven't been following it closely and if everyone isn't as sad as us and have spent months and months talking about the protocol — to ask a really simple question, why does it really sort of matter? of course, it's of huge
importance to people who live in northern ireland. but in the bigger picture, why does it matter? because it does matter hugely. but why? how would you summarise it? yeah, it's a good question, isn't it? because protocol is probably one of the dullest words in the english language, isn't it? speak for yourself! and yet it really matters here, really matters, because it was the... you could pull out a few more from your binders, actually, adam, couldn't you? but right at the heart of the brexit deal was this idea, wasn't there, of the the northern ireland protocol. trying to square that really difficult circle about how you keep the border on the island of ireland here open between northern ireland here in the uk, the republic down the way in the eu. how do you keep that border open, which was part of the deal from the good friday agreement going back 20 years, whilst accepting that the uk is out of the european union and out of the structures of the european union, the customs union and the single market, and obviously the republic down the way isn't. so, the deal for northern ireland was cooked up, keeping northern ireland in the single
market for goods and, crucially, having checks on stuff crossing the water, crossing the irish sea from great britain into northern ireland. but, of course, that is something that if you're a unionist here and you really cherish the connections between northern ireland and the rest of the uk, with england, scotland, wales, you absolutely detest and it's what the unionists absolutely hate and they've been threatening for ages... when i was last here in the autumn with any questions, it was a big topic then. they were threatening for ages to pull down the structures of devolved government, to pull out of the assembly, first and deputy first minister, because the deputy first minister from sinn fein has to stand down if the first minister of the dup stands down. and that is now what is happening. so it's that kind of fundamental, isn't it, laura, about how the uk holds together? and if you're a unionist in northern ireland, you absolutely do not want to see anything that separates you here in northern ireland from the rest of the uk.
gosh, it's complicated but also so fundamental to everything, isn't it, really? and, you know, a long running conversation that has actually all those warnings and threats, actually becoming real under the storm clouds of stormont. yeah, the literal storm clouds because chris looks really wet in his mac there. anyway, that's all for this episode of newscast. thank you very much for watching and listening. and if you want to listen to more, you can subscribe to our daily podcast on bbc sounds. although, next week, i'm actually going on holiday. i don't want any of you thinking that i've resigned too! bye. bye— bye. bye. newscast... newscast from the bbc. that evening.
good evening. it's felt much colder for most today, despite the sunshine, and wintry showers will continue as we go through this evening and overnight, particularly across scotland, potentially even at lower levels here. the wind eases off for a time, but under the clearing skies, a widespread frost will develop. and that frost after the rain and the sleet of the morning and the showers mean the risk of ice is high. there's some warnings out, particularly in the north. but by morning, we're starting to see the approach of a weather front, which will initially give some more snowfall. but then it's milder air coming in off the atlantic on a strengthening wind, gales in the north, and that will push that cold air out of the way. driest and brightest for longest in southern and eastern areas, perhaps until after dark here. brightening up with a few wintry showers towards the north. but temperatures, they are a little higher than those of today, but i still think it'll feel cold because of the cloud, the rain and that wind, which will again be a feature of the weather on sunday, eventually blowing the rain out of the way in the south, but plenty more showers will follow.
china joins russia in opposing the expansion of nato as the two countries move closer together in the face of western pressure. president putin was the guest of honour in beijing. the two sides said there were no forbidden areas of cooperation. their meeting came ahead of the start of the winter olympics in beijing, pared back by covid and boycotted by several western leaders. we'll bring you all the latest from our correspondent in beijing. also tonight — downing street insists that borisjohnson is still in control — after the resignation of another aide — and two more tory mps coming out against him. the number of children and young people in england needing specialist support for mental health issues hits a record high during the pandemic. because you didn't really have school, you didn't have much to wake up for.