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Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Brexit games, Trump’s win, and the EU stops the clock

30 March 2019

9:00 AM

30 March 2019

9:00 AM

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The House of Commons voted to take Brexit business into its own hands, passing by 329 to 302 an amendment by Sir Oliver Letwin. This was immediately described by Sir Bill Cash in the House as ‘constitutional revolution’. Three ministers resigned so as to vote for the amendment: Alistair Burt, Richard Harrington and Steve Brine. The Commons move followed a sorry visit to the EU summit of the other 27 heads of government by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, who ate pizza outside the room where they all enjoyed dinner. She had asked for Brexit to be delayed till the end of June, but was told that it would take place on 22 May if parliament voted for her withdrawal agreement. If not, Britain would have to decide on 12 April whether to leave with no deal or to accept a longer deferment entailing elections to the European Parliament. Asked about a place in hell for Brexiteers, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said: ‘According to our Pope, hell is still empty. It means there are a lot of places.’

Hundreds of thousands marched peacefully through central London under the banner ‘Put it to the people’, though a good proportion wore little stickers saying: ‘Bollocks to Brexit’. An online petition demanding the revocation of Article 50 gained more than five million signatures. Mrs May had broadcast to the people, telling them they were ‘tired of MPs talking about nothing else’. This annoyed MPs. Paul Maynard, a government whip, told her that MPs had said that they would not vote for the withdrawal agreement unless she agreed to resign. Mrs May invited some Brexiteers to a nice Sunday afternoon at Chequers — including Boris Johnson, who arrived driving without a seat belt, Iain Duncan Smith, who came in an open-top Morgan and Jacob Rees-Mogg, who brought his son Peter. Mr Johnson then wrote an article demanding: ‘Let my people go.’ Mr Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group split on the choice between Mrs May’s deal and the danger of no Brexit at all.


Elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly were delayed until the end of August. The Bank of England left interest rates unchanged. Cardiff said it would not pay Nantes the £15 million for the transfer of Emiliano Sala, who died in a plane crash on the way to his new team. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall made the first official royal visit to Cuba.

Abroad

The campaign team of President Donald Trump of the United States did not conspire with Russia before the election of 2016, according to the report by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who had spent two years investigating. Mr Trump tweeted that this was ‘complete and total exoneration’. Mr Trump officially recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, hurried back from Washington when a rocket from Gaza hit a house 20 miles north of Tel Aviv, wounding seven; Israel responded with air strikes. The Pentagon authorised $1 billion for army engineers to build a new wall along the border with Mexico. The President of Mexico wrote to the King of Spain asking for an apology for the invasion of 1519.

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (backed by the United States) finally captured Baghouz, the village on the Euphrates that was the last territorial redoubt of the Islamic State. International aid tried to reach the 230,000 displaced by the floods in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaed Salah, the Algerian army chief of staff, demanded that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika be declared unfit to hold office.

Apple unveiled its new television streaming platform, Apple TV+, for which programmes would be commissioned. The European Parliament declared that EU states must stick either to summer time or standard time: Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, said: ‘Clock-changing must stop.’   CSH


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