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Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

30 June 2012

6:00 AM

30 June 2012

6:00 AM

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A computer failure left millions of customers of RBS and NatWest without access to their money for days; a man was held in jail over the weekend because his bail payment could not be traced, and other customers feared that their credit ratings would suffer because of missed payments for mortgages and regular direct debits. Alistair Darling, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, launched the campaign against Scottish independence called Better Together. England was knocked out of Euro 2012 in a penalty shootout with Italy.

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The government introduced, at the instigation of the Liberal Democrats, a bill for a reformed, mostly elected House of Lords. Sir Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England said: ‘I don’t think we are yet halfway through’ the economic crisis. The government cancelled a 3p-a-litre rise in fuel duty due in August, at least until January. Government borrowing in May rose to £17.9 billion, compared with £15.2 billion a year earlier. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, suggested that those under 25 could lose the right to housing benefit, to save £1.8 billion as part of cuts to welfare expenditure, and other savings could be made by limiting the benefits of larger families. South London Healthcare, an NHS hospital trust, was to be put into the care of an administrator as it laboured under debts of £69 million; other trusts were found to be loaded with liabilities through private finance initiatives. A hoard of Celtic and Roman coins from the first century bc, weighing 15cwt and worth perhaps £10 million, was found in Jersey.

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British-born jihadis were making their way to Arab countries for training in terrorism, according to Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, who gave a public lecture. He said the Olympic Games were an ‘attractive target for our enemies’. A handshake with Martin McGuinness, the former IRA commander now Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, was a feature of the Queen’s two-day visit to the province; she also met relatives of the 11 people murdered by an IRA bomb at Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, in 1987. The Westminster clock tower commonly called Big Ben, after the bell it houses, is to be renamed the Elizabeth Tower in honour of the Queen’s jubilee. Rain swept the country leading to more floods; hosepipe bans by South East Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Veolia Water Central and Veolia Water Southeast remained in place.

Abroad

The EU should have the power to rewrite national budgets, according to a document prepared for an EU summit on the eurozone crisis. Before the summit, the heads of government of Italy, Germany, France and Spain met in Rome. ‘The euro is irreversible,’ declared Mario Monti, the unelected prime minister of Italy. But when the markets reopened, Spain asked for European funds to recapitalise its banks. Moody’s downgraded the credit rating of 28 of them. Cyprus said it was applying for assistance too. Agents of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund visited Greece to examine its austerity plans. Wolfgang Schäuble, the finance minister of Germany, said that Greece should jolly well ‘implement the agreed programme without hesitation’. Antonis Samaras, the new Prime Minister of Greece, could not attend the EU summit, because he was recovering from surgery for a damaged retina. Vassilis Rapanos resigned as the new finance minister of Greece after collapsing.

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Mohammed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, was declared the winner of Egypt’s presidential elections, with 51.73 per cent of the vote (in a turnout of 51.58 per cent), beating Ahmed Shafiq, the former prime minister. Syria shot down a Turkish military jet. President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria sacked the minister of defence and national security adviser after 150 died in a week of church bombings by Boko Haram and retaliatory killings. An Indonesian court sentenced Umar Patek to 20 years in jail for his part in the Bali bombings of 2002 that killed more than 200. Saudi Arabia is to allow properly dressed women athletes to compete in the Olympics.

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Fernando Lugo was removed as president of Paraguay after the senate voted to impeach him. Three ultra-Orthodox Jews were arrested in Israel after Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Shoah, was defaced with graffiti blaming Zionists for exploiting the genocide. In the Galapagos, the last Pinta Island giant tortoise, Lonesome George, died, aged only about 100.


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