The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 19 October 2017

Also in Portrait of the Week: American-backed forces claim control of Raqqa and Donald Trump decertifies Iran nuclear deal

Portrait of the Week - 19 October 2017
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Theresa May, the Prime Minister, and David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, went to Brussels and had dinner with Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. They came up with a joint statement that ‘efforts should accelerate over the months to come’. But by this week’s meeting of the European Council, Britain was deemed not to have done enough about the price it would pay to allow the EU to discuss trade matters. No great hope was held out that it would be any better by the next meeting in December. Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit spokesman, said: ‘There is no way we would vote for a no deal.’ Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, when asked about Brexit by a Commons committee, said: ‘I think it is unthinkable there would be no deal.’ Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, apologised for saying in a television interview: ‘The enemy, the opponents, are out there. They’re on the other side of the negotiating table.’ Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, went rowing on the lake at Chevening with Ivo Sramek, the deputy foreign minister of the Czech Republic. For a day the sun turned to blood and the sky turned orange.

In a televised press conference Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, said that 130 Britons who travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight for Isis had died. He said that the tempo of counterterrorism operations was the highest he had seen in 34 years at MI5, with 20 attacks foiled in the past four years, including seven in the past seven months. Omid Saidy, aged 20, from Fulham, London, was fatally stabbed outside Parsons Green Underground station after confronting a drug dealer, police said. The Home Office proposed a mandatory six-month prison sentence for people caught twice carrying acid in public. The Metropolitan Police, in a new Crime Assessment Policy, decided not to investigate thefts of less than £50, car crime and some assaults, unless a suspect is already identified. Roy Dotrice, who played John Aubrey in Brief Lives 1,782 times, died aged 94.

The annual rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Prices Index, rose to 3 per cent in September, the highest since April 2012. The September figure governs the rise in state pensions. By the Retail Prices Index, inflation was 3.9 per cent. Unemployment fell by 52,000 to 1.4 million. Sainsbury’s said it was cutting 2,000 jobs from its ‘human resources’ staff as part of cost-cutting plans. Round pound coins ceased to be legal tender.


US-backed forces claimed control of Raqqa, Isis’s headquarters in Syria, after the evacuation of about 275 Syrian fighters for Isis and their families, along with hundreds of civilians. Turkish soldiers and armoured vehicles crossed into the Idlib province of Syria, bordering a Kurdish enclave. Iraqi government forces captured from Kurdish fighters key positions outside the disputed city of Kirkuk. Haider al-Abadi, the Prime Minister of Iraq, said that his forces sought to ‘protect the unity of the country, which was in danger of partition’. Two leaders of the Catalan separatist movement, Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, were held in prison without bail, under investigation for sedition. All but two chicks in an Adelie penguin colony of 36,000 in the east Antarctic died in this year’s breeding season because of unusually high amounts of ice.

President Donald Trump of the United States decertified its adherence to the international nuclear agreement with Iran, leaving it to congress to decide what sanctions should be in force against Iran. A federal judge in Hawaii ruled against Mr Trump’s revised ban on citizens from eight countries entering the United States. President Xi Jinping opened the Communist party congress. A lorry full of explosives destroyed hotels, government offices and restaurants in Mogadishu, killing at least 281 people and injuring another 300. President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines declared the city of Marawi ‘liberated’ from militants backing Isis after a siege of five months in which more than 1,000 were killed.

Sebastian Kurz, the 31-year-old leader of the right-leaning Austrian People’s Party, saw victory in the general election, with the far-right FPO (Freedom Party of Austria) and the SPO (Social Democratic Party of Austria) neck-and-neck behind, making a right-wing coalition likely. At least 36 people died as hundreds of fires spread across central and northern Portugal. On American websites, Anne Frank costumes were advertised for Halloween.