Having recalled Parliament to debate British military action over Syria, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, found the government defeated, much to his surprise, by 285-272, thanks to 30 Conservatives and nine Liberal Democrats voting with the opposition. He immediately told the Commons: ‘It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly.’ Next day, Lord Ashdown, the former leader of the Lib Dems, tweeted: ‘In 50 years trying to serve my country I have never felt so depressed/ashamed.’ Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister said: ‘We’re not going to keep asking the same question of Parliament again and again.’
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revised its forecast for growth in the British economy this year from 0.8 per cent to 1.5 per cent. Vodafone, a British company, agreed to sell its stake in America’s most powerful mobile phone company, Verizon, for £84 billion. Gareth Bale was sold to Real Madrid by Tottenham Hotspur for £85 million. Mesut Ozil was sold by Real Madrid to Arsenal for £42.4 million. Cliff Morgan, the rugby player and commentator, died, aged 83. Seamus Heaney, the poet, died, aged 74. David Jacobs, the broadcaster, died, aged 87. Rolf Harris, aged 83, was charged with nine counts of indecent assault of two teenaged girls in the 1980s. King Edward VI School in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare was educated, admitted girls for the first time.
Net migration to Britain rose to 176,000 in the year ending December 2012, from 153,000 in the year to September 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics. It said that in 2012, 25.9 per cent of births were to mothers born abroad, and it estimated that 7.6 million people were born abroad. The 37-storey skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch Street, nicknamed the Walkie-Talkie, focused autumn sunshine and melted a parked car.
Just as the world was expecting the United States to attack Syria, President Barack Obama announced that he would consult Congress first. His announcement came less than 48 hours after the parliamentary defeat of the British government on attacking Syria. ‘What we are envisioning is something limited,’ he said. ‘At the same time we have a broader strategy that will allow us to upgrade the capabilities of the opposition.’ John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, had said earlier that the number killed in the chemical attack on parts of Damascus on 21 August was 1,429, including 426 children. He said that the Syrian government was guilty. Later, Mr Kerry said that tests on hair and blood indicated the use of sarin. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that more than two million people had fled Syria, with 716,000 in Lebanon, 515,000 in Jordan and 460,000 in Turkey. Another 4.25 million were refugees inside Syria. President Bashar al-Assad told Le Figaro that foreign intervention would ignite a ‘powder keg’ in the Middle East. An artist ploughed a portrait of the Pope on a field near Verona after he proclaimed 7 September a day of prayer and fasting for Syria.
Israel mounted an unannounced air-defence missile test over the eastern Mediterranean. An Egyptian court closed down four television channels accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, including Al-Jazeera and the Brotherhood’s own channel. At least 60 people were killed in a series of car-bomb attacks mainly in Shia districts of Baghdad. In August more than 800 were killed in bombings in Iraq. Major Nidal Hasan, a US army psychiatrist, was sentenced to death for killing 13 people at the Fort Hood military base, Texas, in 2009, in retaliation, he said, for US wars in the Muslim world. Ariel Castro, convicted of keeping women captive at his home in Cleveland, Ohio, was found hanged in his cell. Diana Nyad, aged 64, became the first person to swim from Cuba to the United States without a shark cage; it took 53 hours.
The Japanese government is to spend £300 million building a wall of ice round the ruined Fukushima nuclear power station. Microsoft agreed to buy Nokia’s mobile phone business for £4.6 billion. Eighty thousand South African goldminers went on strike for higher pay. Nelson Mandela, aged 95, was discharged from hospital, to be looked after intensively at home. The makers of Flora margarine withdrew an advertisement in South Africa that showed a bullet marked ‘Uhh Dad, I’m gay’ flying towards a heart made of china. CSH