Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Johnson Survives Confidence Vote, Vows to Move On; White House Confirms Visit to Saudi Arabia in the Works; Gas Prices Hit Record Highs in the U.S.; Threats of Strong Storms and Excessive Heat Watch; Muslim Countries Slam India Over Anti-Islam Comments. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 07, 2022 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. If you're just joining us, let me bring you up-to-date with the stories we're following this hour. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is warning there would be a swift and forceful response if North Korea was to carry out a nuclear test. Sherman's warning came after meeting with South Korean officials in Seoul.

U.S. lawmakers are expected to meet in the coming hours to discuss gun policy measures. A small group of bipartisan Senators negotiating the issue is making progress but still there's more work do. The talks come as the U.S. is on track to have its worst year of mass shootings ever.

Now Boris Johnson is proving once again to be one of the most fortunate political escape artists in recent memory. The British Prime Minister has survived a closer than expected confidence vote in Parliament 211-148 votes. His time in office has been fraught with controversy. Mainly parties with his staff whilst the U.K. was under COVID lockdowns. The Prime Minister tried to put a positive spin on the vote calling it a convincing result. And says he plans to move on and focus on the things that are important to U.K. citizens.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What this gives us is the opportunity to put behind us all the stuff that I know that the media have quite properly wanted to focus on for a long time. To do our job which is to focus on the stuff that I think the public actually want us to be talking about. Which is what we are doing to help the people in this country and all the things we're doing to take this country forward.


FOSTER: Joining me now is Freddie Gray, deputy editor of the "Spectator." Freddie, just explain how bad this was for Boris Johnson. He's clearly very wounded and there are still those rebels who want to finish him off. And that could potentially still happen, couldn't it?

FREDDIE GRAY, DEPUTY EDITOR, THE SPECTATOR: Yes, I think it really could. I think it was pretty bad. It wasn't a disaster, he doesn't lose, but it was higher than, as I understand it, than team Boris was thinking. So, it is quite a serious wound and I think potentially it could be fatal if you look historically, leaders who have those types of votes of confidence go against them or go that narrowly for them don't survive very long. Thatcher didn't survive very long. Theresa May didn't survive very long after similar votes.

So, I think it is looking pretty bad. You can't ever put anything Boris Johnson. He is, as you suggested, the ultimate escape artist.


But there is a broader crisis, there's an economic crisis that will be very hard for him to turn the ship of state around, turn his government around when he's facing this bigger economic crisis on top of the "Partygate" scandal and lingering resentments over that.

FOSTER: He's effectively protected under the rules, isn't he, for a year. There can't be another confidence vote but could that change if a serious contender comes in and convinces those conservative lawmakers that that person is a better option. Could the system change to allow another election of a leader in the next year?

GRAY: Well, the rules are typically British in that that they are wonderful arcane. Very few people understand exactly how it works and it could always change. So, yes, it could change. I think there have been suggestions in higher Tory circles that it might change and there is certainly a large enough chunk of the Tory party that hates Boris. You've got to remember, Boris has never been popular with MPs. He's always been seen as the option that wins and that is why he has won, and that's why he became leader. But Tory MPs have never been comfortable with him. He's never been popular. He is never been clubbable among the Party. He's similar in that way, he's similar to a Trump in America, is that the party doesn't like him but they can see that he works with the electorate.

FOSTER: Isn't that what has changed, the polls now very negative toward Boris Johnson. And we saw over the weekend how whenever he turned up at a Jubilee event, he was booed. So, isn't this the turning point where the public now have gone against him and that's less reason for the MPs to keep him in office?

GRAY: That is exactly what is going on. That's exactly what a lot of Tories think. However, you have to think about who comes after Boris and is there a credible winner, a credibly popular figure in the Tory front ranks. I don't see one. And I think that is the problem. Whenever, you know, a crisis in leadership in the past in the Tory party, there's usually been an obvious candidate waiting in the wings.

There isn't one now I don't think. There are certainly people who would like to be. There certainly lots of people willing to stab Boris in the back in order to become leader. But are they -- will they be able to command popular majorities across the country? I think that that is extremely doubtful. And that leads us on to the broader crisis of leadership generally, not just in Britain, but worldwide. FOSTER: Is there, you know, the potential for MPs to try to find an

outsider? I mean, that's effectively what happened, was in it, with David Cameron. He wasn't, you know, a frontrunner to begin with and he was sort of plucked out of obscurity. Is there an option for them to do that? Is there any sort of campaign to do that?

GRAY: There are certainly little campaigns forming around people like Nadhim Zahawi. He was sort of 100 to 1 so long ago, and he's come into 20, according to some bookmakers now. Some people like Kemi Badenoch is sort of a surprising figure. And I think it's possible that I think any of those mini campaigns, if you like, have got any coherence. The more obvious candidates, Jeremy Hunt, Liz Truss, possibly Ben Wallace, they are well established but I think it is fair to say the membership wouldn't be altogether comfortable with them.

FOSTER: OK, Freddie Gray, thank you very much indeed. It's going to be a roller coaster again over the next few months.

Now coming up on NEWSROOM, the Southwestern U.S. is dealing with some record-breaking heat.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And hottest temperatures of 2022 upon us across the Southwestern U.S. Looking at temperatures up to 115 in a few spots, as many as 50 records possible. We'll break this down, coming up in a few minutes.




KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We just don't believe dictators should be invited. And so, we don't regret that and we will stand -- the president will stand by his principle.


FOSTER: The White House Press Secretary there explaining why the U.S. did not invite the leaders of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba to this week's summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. But it seems not all dictators are created equal because we're hearing that the U.S. president is getting ready for an official visit to Saudi Arabia next month. And that would mean a meeting with its powerful Crown Prince. The White House says if engaging with a foreign leader is in the best interests of the American people, then President Biden will do it. Last year his administration called for U.S./Saudi relations to be recalibrated. Now the State Department is pointing to signs of progress.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: I think what we've seen over the course the past 16 months with our Saudi partners compared to where we were in January of last year to where we are now just a few days after the humanitarian truce was extended in Yemen, speaks to the progress that we've seen. It's a relationship that is now on steady footing.


FOSTER: Oil could be a talking point in that meeting. Saudi Arabia is OPEC's largest producer and last week OPEC agreed to pump more oil as Russian production drops. Supply shortages have pushed gas prices to record highs around the world including in the U.S. Americans are now paying $4.87 at the pump for a gallon of gas. That's up 25 cents in just the last week. And make no mistake, they're feeling it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel that our friends in Europe are taking the brunt of all this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To complain about a few dollars more without thinking about what the rest of the world is going through and the sacrifices that people in other nations are making and they are really getting hit by high energy costs, I say suck it up, drive less, conserve in other ways.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know when these prices are going down. It is driving me crazy. I'm looking at this thing right now, $5.99, are you serious? But what can you do? You drive the car, you got to put gas in the car.


FOSTER: In addition to high gas prices the Biden administration is continuing to grapple with the ongoing baby formula shortage. The White House has just provided a progress report on the state of the nation's supply. The most recent data shows an in-stock rate of 74 percent for the week ending May 29. Over the past several weeks in stock rates were around 79 to 81 percent. And before the formula recall, that kicked off the supply shortage, rates were between 88 percent and 90 percent.

Turning now to weather across the U.S. we're expecting severe and scattered storms in the Midwest and scorching temperatures out West.


Our Pedram Javaheri has the forecast from the CNN World Weather Center. Good morning -- Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Yes, good morning, Max. You know, some things never change when it comes to the month of June across the Central United States. Severe weather yet again across this region and we do have at least an enhanced risk, and increased risk there across portions of Nebraska, portions of northern Kansas where we do have a severe thunderstorm threat that could potentially produce a couple tornadoes.

But generally, the strong severe gusts and large hail become the primary threats. And in the last 24 or so hours, we had upwards of 100 plus severe weather reports. You notice how well it split between wind and hail damage reports. And in fact, some of these hail reports as impressive as they come, 2.75 inches in Spearville, Kansas, that is the size of a baseball. Once you get up to 4 inches in diameter that is the size of a softball diameter hail stone falling out of the skies. Incredible storm across that region.

The severe weather threat does want to shift a little farther towards the east. What do you pick out here? It looks like a whale to me. It's a level one concern there generally, for winds and hail, expands all the way across areas of even the Northeast here going into the afternoon hours of Wednesday. But again, a level one risk. Thunderstorms in place here, we do have concerns for some localized flooding, some heavy rainfall, maybe as much as 4+ inches in a few pockets. And could include some larger cities say around Kansas City, St. Louis, Nashville, Memphis could see some flooding throughout and across the region.

Southwest, big time heat -- excessive heat watches there, some 50 plus record temperatures possible, about 10 million Americans across the Southwest dealing with these temperatures that are July-like in nature getting up close to 110, even closing to 115 degrees across the Southwest into this weekend -- Max.

FOSTER: Thanks, Pedram.

Meanwhile a disturbing new report from Oxfam outlines the surging price of climate change and how the world is failing to keep up with it. Oxfam's report shows that from the year 2000 to 2002, extreme weather-related and humanitarian funding was valued at $1.6 billion. But in the last year though that number has risen to nearly $16 billion, a more than 800 percent increase. The research also says the wealthy nations that cause the most harm to the climate are only paying about half the funds needed.

Just ahead, Muslim countries are outraged after controversial comments by some officials in India's ruling party about the Prophet Muhammad. We'll have a live report from New Delhi, next.



FOSTER: Several Muslim countries are condemning controversial comments made by some officials in India's ruling party about the Prophet Muhammad. These countries have also summoned India's diplomatic representatives and demanded an apology. The controversy has even led to Indian-made products being removed from stores in Kuwait. You can see a shopkeeper here removing and covering up Indian products on the shelves in this video. Our CNN's Vedika Sud joins me live from New Delhi. So, Vedika, does this apology from India's ruling party seem sincere?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Well, Max, at least the Indian government as of now is making all the right noises. It's certainly in damage control mode after at least 14 Islamic countries have come out and expressed their anguish, anger and outrage over controversial comments made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party members. One official made a comment on the television and another tweeted a controversial comment on the Prophet Muhammed.

And which there are several countries have summoned Indian diplomatic representatives to their foreign offices. They've complained to them and they've lodged a strong protest. Now let's take the example of Qatar. Now the Qatar foreign office did summoned the Indian ambassador to Qatar. They have after that issued a statement and will read an excerpt from that. It says --

The state of Qatar calls on the Indian government to immediately condemn these remarks and publicly apologize to all Muslims in the world.

Now the response from the Indian embassy spokesperson in Qatar is quite interesting and intriguing in fact. I'm again going to read an excerpt from that.

It says that the ambassador conveyed that the tweets do not in any manner reflect the views of the government of India. These are views of fringe elements.

Interesting comment there, Max. All of a sudden, a BJP member becomes a fringe element while the BJP members in fact are a part of a mainstream political party. So, the Indian government has taken all measures possible to distance themselves from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party agenda -- the party known as the BJP, in this case. But they do know that there is a lot at stake here, Max.

We do know of the trade transactions between the Gulf nations and India and how heavily those countries -- rather these states rely on trade transactions with India and the other way around. We also do know how India relies on the Mideast, especially for crude imports. So, this point in time the Indian government is certainly on an overdrive attempting to make every possible attempt to reach out to these Islamic countries and keep them after the controversial remarks made by the BJP officials.

Now you also spoke of officials coming in from Kuwait. Now what we see out there is a lot of these shops, a lot of these supermarkets are pulling off goods belonging to India, Indian goods from the racks there. This after there's been a massive call to ban Indian products in the region and that's the reason why you see these supermarkets actually taking off those Indian goods from the racks.

So, at this point in time, it's a very difficult situation for the Indian government. They are trying to reach out to the Islamic countries and they are making every attempt possible to say just one thing, these are comments by individuals and they do not represent the view that the Indian government has at this point -- Max.

FOSTER: All right, Vedika Sud in New Delhi. Thanks for taking us through that.

Now, Paramount Studios may be heading into a legal danger zone over the rights to Top Gun.

[04:55:00] Paramount faces a copyright infringement suit from the family of the author whose magazine article inspired the original 1986 film. They say that the studios didn't reacquire the rights for its new blockbuster sequel "Top Gun Maverick." In a statement, to CNN, Paramount said, quote, these claims are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.

Apple unveiled a new bag of tricks for iPhone users as it kicked off its annual developer conference. There was no mention of a new Apple product though as had been rumored. But there are updates to look out for in the new iOS 16, the next generation mobile software. It'll let iPhone users edit or unsend iMessages and mark them as unread. People will also an able to add widgets to their locked screen like weather and calendar event and also track live activities like the progress of an Uber ride or sports updates. And for the Apple watch, a new medications app will let users track and manage their meds.

And before we go, get ready, it's time for an adorable baby picture. This is the newest photo of Prince Harry and Meghan's little girl Lilibet taken as she celebrated her first birthday on Saturday at Frogmore cottage here in England. Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor is named after her great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth. Prince Harry and Meghan were in U.K. for the Queen's Jubilee -- an unprecedented 70 years on the throne -- taking after her father.

Thanks for joining me. I'm Max Foster in London. "EARLY START" with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett up next. You're watching CNN.