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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

British PM Faces Calls To Resign; Russian Troops Leave Kazakhstan; Most Powerful Passports. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired January 12, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

Tonight, could this be the last straw? The British prime minister facing criticism after admitting he attended a garden party during lockdown in


Then, we go inside Kazakhstan just before Russian troops are set to leave - - a move the president has called a success.

And how powerful is your passport? The 2022 ranking up ahead.

Rage, regret and growing repercussions, the British prime minister is facing a severe backlash after admitting he attended a Downing Street

garden party while the rest of the country was under lockdown. Apologizing in parliament, Boris Johnson says he understands the anger people are

feeling over the event in May 2020 and said that he must take responsibility.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I want to apologize. I know the rage, they feel with me and with the government I lead, when they think

that in Downing Street itself, the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules. And though I cannot anticipate the

conclusions of the current inquiry, I have learned enough to know that there were things we simply did not get right.


NOBILO: The U.K.'s opposition leader, Keir Starmer, is calling on the prime minister to resign, saying, quote, the party is over. Whether there

was a double meaning is unclear, but Mr. Johnson visibly flinched when confronted about hosting a gathering while the rest of the country



KARL TURNER, BRITISH LABOUR MP: He was hosting a boozy party in Downing Street. So how does he think he can still maintain the one rule for him and

another for the rest of us? He cannot and he must resign.


NOBILO: And if a picture's worth a thousand words, a meme can say all. Even major brands like Ryanair are trolling the prime minister. This meme

shows Mr. Johnson at a party with the words, "I don't know I'm at a party." The prime minister had said he thought he was at a work event.

Guto Harri is the former adviser to Boris Johnson and joins us now.

Thanks for joining the program tonight, Guto.

Do you think this is the most vulnerable the prime minister has ever been?

GUTO HARRI, FORMER ADVISER TO BORIS JOHNSON: Yes. It's an extremely toxic issue. It resonates across the United Kingdom, it has caused enormous

anxiety and unease on the benches behind him in the British parliament and very senior people across his party are now questioning whether he is the

right man to take them into the next general election. So to put it in a nutshell, he is over the next few days, fighting for his political life.

NOBILO: Let's talk about that apology, I'll put the word apology in quote marks because to me, it sounded like one of those apologies where you just

say I'm sorry you feel that way, but I'm not going to go the whole hog and really give the full apology. You have been in government and adviser to

Boris Johnson, you know communications.

What was your reading of it?

HARRI: I can see why people say that, but to me, I heard him apologize many times in repeated attacks and questioning. It was heartfelt, he meant

it, he expressed real remorse, real regret. He wishes this had not happened.

And it's a very rare thing in any country for a politician of that seniority, you know, a leader of a country to actually apologize at all. So

in that sense, I think he was sincere and heartfelt and has, I think, taken some of the sting out of this and given him a little bit of breathing


But he did not, I suspect, provide enough context, enough explanation. I wouldn't even try to justify at this point, but enough explanation and

context in which this had happened. So, he's not out of the woods yet, and may be in trouble on an ongoing basis.

NOBILO: It's interesting you say you heard Boris Johnson apologize on numerous occasions because obviously what we've been hearing in the media

and what many people have been saying is that that isn't his usually pattern. In fact, when there is scandal, controversy, his approach is just

to not address it, sometimes to kind of disappear and avoid the media all together.

So what do you make of this? I thought the fact he was apologizing now when he almost never apologizes publicly as prime minister gave it additional

significance but you said that he apologizes more frequently than that.

HARRI: Yeah, he was very comfortable when I worked for him as mayor of London, apologizing for all kinds of things at the drop of a hat and

speaking his mind and being honest about being in difficult situations.


He is famously said things in the past about there being no catastrophes, only opportunities for further catastrophes and used to laugh these things

off. His humor now grates for some people in the U.K., but still has a capacity to communicate with people who are more often than not, not

interested in politics, people outside of what you call the beltway in the U.S., outside the 25 here in the United Kingdom, people untouched by


And I think those people would have looked at him today with a little less of the sort of journalistic cynicism if you like, as standard as that is,

and say that's a big deal for a man who's prime minister, for a man who literally is in charge of a country to prostrate himself and say I am so

sorry is quite a big deal.

Now, they'll still be feeling sore with him but I think it has given me a bit of breathing space, and the trick now will be to persuade not the

British public, as we don't have opportunity to vote on who needs us for another two or three years yet, but his party could ditch him as they have

ditched many leaders in the past.

So all the effort now behind closed doors, behind the scenes to persuade them that he is still a winner for them.

NOBILO: I agree that there is a lot of cynicism in journalism and the media towards the prime minister. I mean, it's tricky on a day like today

because there's just so many things to get into and it's hard to actually find balance in the story. I agree that it's taken some of the wind out of

the sails of critics within the conservative party because he did apologize.

But you say rightly that Boris Johnson has previously been successful because of his ability to communicate with the public and there's something

about him that people oddly find relatable or that they like. I feel like the reason this story has so much traction, and why it is making such

impact is because it's visceral, and some of Boris Johnson's responses in the media have been seen as contemptuous of the public, and indeed the very

act himself where he attended this party when people couldn't see loved ones and were dying alone, it does actually seem heartless and inhumane for

a prime minister to not be thinking that through and realize how wrenching that juxtaposition is.

HARRI: Yes, and that's why it's extremely toxic. People have suffered enormous pain and grief and absence and loneliness over the last few years

and that was because of very, very specific prescriptive rules, agreed on Downing Street and the conservative benches of parliament, so then the

people applying those rules were not abiding by them, themselves, is extremely offensive, and that's why this thing resonates so loudly.

Now, the only thing that could be said that it's not a justification, but people, you know, when you do provide a context that these were people who

were going into work, working night and day, trying to roll out, you know, supporting schemes of businesses, trying to get a vaccine program off the

ground, they're working extremely hard, didn't exactly get in a cab and charge off to a party.

They were at their place of work in the first place, and yes, they did go out and socialize afterwards. It's unforgivable, but some would say it's

understandable and over time, he has to hope that British public will get that context. I'm not sure, some people will never forgive him, but if the

party give him another shot, then by the next general election in two or three years, I think even that party will have been long forgotten.

NOBILO: Yeah, I mean I understand the attempt to be reasonable there. However, I can't just imagine a bunch of nurses and doctors inside a

hospital congregating, 30 of them outside in like the parking area, having a party with some booze. So I don't really know why people who work in

government long hours should be doing it.

Just finally, Boris Johnson has had so many scandals throughout his political career. Yes, a lot of people were big fans of him. He has had his

achievements but there you have been so many scandals.

When you consider, you know, the expectations for a prime minister like Theresa May, who said the act to run through a field of wheat and compare

that to Boris Johnson who seems to survive any political scandal that comes his way, does that last forever? Can anything take him down?

HARRI: Well, it's one of those where he's, you know, had many lives if you like, but a number of significant conservatives have told me over recent

weeks he's on the last one now. But you never know.

You know, in the end, this is a man who, as they contemplate whether they ditch him, it is the equivalent of making that judgment call that Tiger

Woods is never going to win a major golfing tournament again.


Or that, you know, Tim Henman in this country will never win Wimbledon just because they haven't won the latest contest they're involved in, or Lewis

Hamilton, because he lost the last one. It's a big call because this guy has on won two elections in London which is a default left-leaning city, he

managed to break the mold and the last general election, he managed that only Margaret Thatcher has ever achieved from the right.

So again, it's a big call for his party to decide he is now a loser and I think what they look over the precipice, they may well step back from that

brink and say let's give him a chance, as long as he gets a grip, as long as he puts good people in order, as long as next time somebody is daft

enough to invite people to a party that is banned under their own rules, somebody in the top team would have noticed that and stopped it happening.

NOBILO: Yeah. Guto Harri, thank you so much for joining us and giving us your insights. I do apologize for the journalistic cynicism, can't avoid in

these circumstances. Thanks so much.

The president of Kazakhstan is praising a Russian-led peacekeeping force for helping stabilize the country after antigovernment protests turned

violent. He calls the mission a success and says the troops will begin withdrawing from Kazakhstan on Thursday.

Our Fred Pleitgen is in the Capitol of Nursultan with more.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can see that the situation still is pretty tense here on the ground of the

Capitol, of Kazakhstan in Nursultan. It certainly is a certainly a lot of law enforcement on the streets and military on corners as well a and key

areas of the city remained cornered off, and the palace you can see behind me.

However, the government saying they have the situation under control not just here but in the hardest hit city which is Almaty, where 103 people

were killed in that city alone as protests unfolded.

Now, the Kazakhstani government told us that things became very, very difficult for them as those protests and especially the rioting unfolded

here in this country, in fact, a senior member of the government here told me that they were very close to losing control of Almaty.

ERZHAN KAZYKHANOV, DEPUTY HEAD OF PRES. ADMINISTRATION, KAZAKHSTAN: They frightened civilian population. They were looting properties, were

attacking businesses. All this things created a very big threat among the population, and if they were to take control of the city, that might be,

would have been even bigger problem for central authorities to control the situation.

PLEITGEN: Now, the government is saying it's continuing its crackdown of the people who took part in the protest and those who were behind the

protest as well. The government here continues to insist there were foreign forces at play, however so far has not named which forces it believes were

behind all of this and the government also says one of the reasons why it managed to get the situation under control, again, was the fact that you

had foreign forces that were deployed here to the country, those forces of course were led by the Russian Federation.

Now, the Kazakhstani government says right now it has the situations under control. To an extent where those forces can leave, that exit of the

foreign forces to begin on Thursday and it's said to take about 10 days.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Nursultan, Kazakhstan.


NOBILO: A lot of talk, little trust and no agreements. After four hours of tense discussion between NATO and Russia, diplomats from the two sides met

Wednesday in Brussels, hoping to find a peaceful solution to the stand-off over Ukraine. But neither side is budging and both blamed each other for

the crisis.


WENDY SHERMAN, U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: We have made it clear, and we told the Russians directly again, today, that if Russia further invades

Ukraine, there will be significant costs and consequences well beyond what they faced in 2014. Russia's actions have caused this crisis and it is on

Russia to deescalate tensions and give diplomacy the chance to succeed.


NOBILO: Russia has some 100,000 troops massed at the Ukrainian border, but it says NATO's at fault because it refuses to stop expanding closer to

Russian territory, threatening its security.

A top Russian diplomat says the impasse is hurting both sides.


ALEXANDER GRUSHKO, RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): NATO's expansion has led to an end to oil corporation in the areas of

common interest. We have no common agenda. Absolutely, none. And that is clear, because we can't have the positive agenda we used to have, such as

combating terrorism.


NOBILO: NATO says it's made its position on Ukraine very clear.


And as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told our Nic Robertson a short time ago, it's up to Russia to decide which way this is going to go.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: They understand that they will have consequences. Then, of course, what nobody knows is whether they,

despite those consequences will choose once again, to use armed forces against Ukraine.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The world heard you say this clear answer many times. Are they just not listening to you?

STOLTENBERG: So our answer is very clear, to sit down, and discuss, engage in balanced arms control, transparency, risk reduction.

ROBERTSON: But there's no indication that they're willing to engage in that.

STOLTENBERG: Well, that remains to be seen, because Russia was not ready in the meeting today to agree to a series of meetings.

ROBERTSON: Why not, do you believe?

STOLTENBERG: Well, I think it's because Russia needs to now take these proposals back and discuss them in Kremlin.

ROBERTSON: Given President Putin's avowed view, his longevity in power to come, where is the compromise when he demands to talk about NATO and

Ukraine and membership and NATO pulling back forces to the east?

STOLTENBERG: NATO allies have today made it clear, in which issues we are ready to sit down and discuss, make compromises, talk to Russians on arms

controls and all the areas but also made it very clear we are not willing to compromise for instance on the right of every nation to decide its own


ROBERTSON: Right now, the ball is firmly in the Kremlin's court.

STOLTENBERG: Yes, we're waiting for the answer to our proposal, to conveniences (ph) in meeting, addressing wide and important issues for

European security.


NOBILO: But Russia's response? Its deputy foreign minister says Russia is ready to use military means if diplomacy can't assure its security. And as

to who must act first, he told Nic this.


ROBERTSON: The NATO secretary general today said that the ball is now in the Kremlin's court. Your turn to answer?

GRUSHKO: No, the ball is in NATO court.


NOBILO: China is reportedly building hundreds of new structures along its disputed border with Bhutan. "Reuters" reports the building boom appear to

be happening in six locations along Bhutan's border, its western border, with much of it going on close to where Bhutan, India, and China all come


China's been locked in border disputes for decades with both of those countries and allies say China may be looking to create underground reality

and build new settlements inside Tibet.

Still to come on THE GLOBAL BRIEF tonight, a new court ruling means that Prince Andrew's legal woes are far from over. We'll go over all the

ramifications for the royal family up ahead.



NOBILO: A U.S. judge denied Prince Andrew's motion to dismiss the sexual abuse lawsuit against him. Now, it's looking more certain than ever that a

senior British royal will face a U.S. court in public and the nature of allegations against him cast a dark shadow over the royal family.

Here's what's going on. Prince Andrew is being sued by Virginia Geoffrey, a woman who says she was being trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein to the prince

when she was 17 years old. She says the prince knew that she was underage at the time. Prince Andrew strongly denies all of these claims and his team

has tried to dismiss the suit.

Today, a federal judge has said the case has grounds to continue and Buckingham Palace released a statement saying, quote, we will not comment

on an ongoing legal matter.

Here to help us break it all down, CNN royal correspondent Max Foster in Hampshire, and CNN legal analyst Areva Martin in Los Angeles.

Max, we just read there's no comment from Buckingham Palace, are we likely to hear anything from the royal family? Because this is having a huge

impact on how they're perceived, surely.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the statement we got from the palace, not commenting on what is to be a legal matter, can't seem to get

involved in this and interfering with the legal process. They're having to leave it all and referring us constantly to Prince Andrew's team.

There is no positive way forward, frankly, for Prince Andrew's team. Either he goes to trial and, you know, you have all of that detail coming out in

public. He has to disclose all of this private information that Giuffre's side are looking for or he doesn't respond at all, and there's a judgment

at the end of it which may well find him guilty in his absence, or he tries to settle out of court which would be very expensive, Giuffre knows she's

in a very good position here, and it does imply or has the optics of that he's accepting some wrongdoing in that process, and it won't resolve it

really for him in terms of PR.

And then there's the question of, well, will he get the finances to settle out of court? He's largely financed by the question. Does she accept that

her money is used for that, effectively getting involved? A huge dilemma for Prince Andrew and the wider monarchy.

NOBILO: Absolutely. That's very tricky.

Areva, can you explain what happens next? We're expecting written questions in depositions?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, because the judge rejected the position to dismiss by Prince Andrew and his team, this case moves forward.

It moves forward towards trial and to get ready for a civil trial such as this, there is the discovery process where each side gets to ask the other

side questions about their claims and their defenses and depositions can be scheduled, depositions of not only Prince Andrew, but other individuals who

may have knowledge or information about the allegations in the original complaint and about the defense that Prince Andrew is putting forth in this


So, we should expect more information coming out, more details about the allegations and defense. But this is a huge moment for the plaintiff in

this case, as we know, Prince Andrew and his team trying to get this very serious case, sexual assault and rape allegations dismissed for some time.

But the judge today said, no, the case moves forward.

NOBILO: So, presumably now, there'll be a battle now to get Prince Andrew deposed. Do you think there will be a fight over where this happens, in the

U.S. or U.K.?

MARTIN: Absolutely. I think Prince Andrew's team is not going to make it easy for the plaintiff to depose Prince Andrew but eventually I'm convinced

he'll have to sit under deposition, under oath. Now, whether that takes place in New York City or some place in the U.K., is yet to be determined.

But with this judge's ruling, it's pretty clear that this case will move forward.

Max said there is a possibility of a default judgment, if he could just go away and stop responding but that process would allow the plaintiff to move

forward, getting a default judgment against, but I don't expect that to happen given the legal team that he has assembled. So, I think he's going

to participate in the discovery process and continue to defend himself and make assertions as he has that these allegations are untrue.

NOBILO: And, Areva, who are the other people who could be brought into this Epstein case?

MARTIN: Great question, Bianca. One thing we know from an interview that Prince Andrew gave is that he made these allegations, he made the

statements that these allegations can't be true because on one of the nights in question, he said he was at home with his family, with his


So that brings him into question as to whether his children can be deposed because they are in some ways, witnesses to his defense, was he actually at

home with them? I think he said eating piece pizza, will his kids corroborate that story that he gave? Also, he said this couldn't happen

because he has some medical condition where he doesn't sweat.


So will the plaintiff's lawyers try to get subpoenas, medical subpoenas to get access to his medical records? So, he gave an interview in the media

about pending litigation and whenever you do that, anything you say can be used in that litigation against you. So we should expect that interview to

be picked apart by the plaintiff's attorney and anyone that may have information about this case may find themselves getting a deposition notice

or subpoena.

NOBILO: Areva and Max, thank you both so much for breaking that down for us.

MARTIN: Thank you.

NOBILO: You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back.


NOBILO: Well, travel may still be largely off the cards for now, but a leading global citizenship firm has revealed a list of the world's most

powerful passports for this year. Topping the ranking, Japan and Singapore, with passport holders able to travel to 192 destinations without a visa

according to the index from Henley & Partners. Germany and South Korea occupying second place, Finland, Luxembourg and Spain are the third most

powerful, while the U.K. and the U.S. come sixth in the ranking.

Well, we are, of course, THE GLOBAL BRIEF, with a couple of passports up on our sleeves as well, the team working today from the country's highlighted

on the map, shout out to my grandma in New Zealand as well.

That's our show for tonight, from our team, goodbye, haere ra, ciao, adios, and see you later, mate.